Thursday, 28 April 2016

Top 10 Worst Nostalgia Critic Episodes


It may be possible to overstate this point, but it still stands: The Nostalgia Critic may be one of the single most important people in my life in terms of my own personal growth. Ever since I first watched one of his videos after being shown it by a friend in high school back in April of 2010 (hence why Meta Month is set during April), I have grown a sense of respect and appreciation for cinema that I doubt I would have ever found elsewhere. It is because of him that this entire blog exists to begin with, not to mention the numerous amazing experiences I have had watching films in the past 6 years that wouldn’t have had the impact that they did without his involvement. And dear lord, of all the video critics that I make a habit of regularly watching, he also has the best track record for outright pissing me off. No, I am not talking about drama involving Channel Awesome and its questionable business practices, nor anything else related to Doug’s actions as a person. I mean strictly in terms of his product, this guy sure has a way of getting under my skin. As such, time to kick whatever sense of loyalty and restraint I have been showing over the past month to the curb as I count down my picks for the Top 10 (or Bottom 10, depending on your outlook) Worst Episodes of the Nostalgia Critic. Why only 10? Because even this many just plain hurts to recollect and I’d rather reduce the amount of pain I’m intentionally subjecting myself to this time around. Also, I haven’t felt a real need to emphasize this particular point yet but, considering who I’m dealing with, I might have to this time around: These are just my own personal picks and in no way an objective list of his absolute worst; I’m going by gut instinct on a lot of these, so don’t freak out if one of your favourites is on here.

Special Mention: Any time he brings up TMZ
This isn’t relegated to a single video, instead being spread clean across two along with a few miscellaneous mentions then on, but it highlights one of Doug’s biggest issues that I’ll get into far greater detail about later on down the list so the discussion as a whole gets a special mention. That, and the main videos where this gets brought up (Top 11 South Park Episodes and his review of Steven Spielberg’s A.I.) aren’t that bad on their own terms.

#10: Signs
This review, much like a few others on this list, did at some point take up a spot on my list of his best, but then got dropped for one reason or another. For this one, it’s because of fellow reviewer Chris Stuckmann, who did a very detailed breakdown of the same film and explained why he holds it as near and dear to him as he does. Honestly, after that compelling of an argument, hearing the Critic stumble over those same potholes isn’t nearly as enthralling. It honestly started to feel like a Bad Movie Beatdown episode for me, where my enjoyment of the thing is hindered by just how much I can correct the critic in question on concerning the film. What? I’m already showing apparent disdain for one critic; might as well throw another one under the bus while I’m at it.

#9: Congo

With this one, it’s just a matter of not having the right approach to the subject. I’ll rarely if ever say this, but Roger Ebert was dead-on about this film: This was intentionally silly. I mean, between getting big name B-movie actors like Bruce Campbell and Joe Don Baker, Tim Curry’s phenomenally silly accent, the ape who loves being tickled, the fucking laser rifle?! If there was any inkling that he knew that this film had any sense of self-awareness, this would be fine, but no; he takes all of it at face value, in effect doing the film itself somewhat of a disservice. This should get somewhat higher a spot on the list, since an argument could be made (not by me) that this is a matter of incompetence, but as the Critic would actually acknowledge this point in a later video, it gets some mercy for him potentially calling mea culpa. The rest of these videos? Not so much.

#8: Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie

Doug has always tried to convey the idea that there shouldn’t be such a thing as a ‘guilty pleasure’, as no-one should feel guilt or feel abnormal in any way for liking certain media, something I seriously commend him for… when he sticks to it. Otherwise, in reviews like this, he comes across as astoundingly patronizing and condescending to the fans of the original material. That’s a pretty big accomplishment when you’re discussing a film that even fans of Power Rangers don’t seem to like, and you still come across as a judgmental asshole. This unfortunately will not be the last time that this uglier side of the Critic will be shown on this list.

The initial concept of Doug in character as Optimus Prime reviewing the original cartoon is a fairly interesting approach to take with it. And then a wave of subpar jokes come marching in and… well, you have a video worthy of being on this list. However, more than anything else, it’s the teeth-grinding banality of Soundwave’s want for a romantic comedy that officially shoots whatever good this video had going for it square in the face, leaving it to just twitch its way to completion. Seriously, it’s rare that you’ll ever see a joke drag so damn much that, before too long, you’ll be praying for the rapid-fire wit of a Seltzerberg production.

#6: Osmosis Jones

To quote Oancitizen: Everything is a remix; originality is overrated. Case in point, this review that spends its entire time comparing the titular film to the then-recent release of Inside Out and pointing out the numerous similarities between them. It gets exceptionally tedious with how often its brought up, but what makes it even worse is that it ends on a note where the similarities are acknowledged and then brushed aside with “Well, this film did them better”. That’s a pretty spiteful way to close out what could’ve been a more nuanced take on the subject that I know for a fact the Critic is capable of doing.

I freely admit that this review actually has some fairly funny jokes, especially when he gets to the lunacy of Ice-T as a kangaroo. But one of the jokes he makes about how the money used for the extravagant musical number could’ve been used to feed starving children crosses the line between cringe comedy and just plain unfunny. Nevermind the fact that the joke itself is extended beyond its welcome, this is a statement that you could make about any film ever made. Yeah, instead of making films, why don’t we use that same money to feed starving children? That is a very slippery slope to take.

#4: The Matrix Reloaded

He had a potentially cool idea and completely pissed it away. The first Matrix review had a premise in its storyline segments involving an underground of people who don’t like the Matrix movies, something that honestly sounded kind of interesting even as a person who honestly loves the series (okay, save for Revolutions, which even I can’t find the wherewithal to defend). It at the very least managed a decent level of parallel between the film’s narrative and the film’s reception. And then came this review, which sabotaged that entire concept with some backhanded connotations that the people who actually do like the movies are in some way brainwashed to do so. Way to combine two things that I hate seeing you do (wasting potential and back-pedalling on your own morals) into a single unlikeable package, dude.

#3: It

My gripes with this review are mainly of a personal nature, given my sheer admiration for the film in question. That said, this marks an important part of my growth as a film buff as this was the first time that I had the feeling that maybe, just maybe, what a critic says isn’t gospel. And indeed, his constant showcasing of what I consider to be blatant misunderstanding of the material given and endless mocking that ends up reaching points of seriously uncalled for, was such an occasion. This is another review that flip-flopped with me on what I thought of it, and it does have some decent jokes, but after so much time thinking it over I’ve come to the conclusion that I flat-out hate this video. I’d even go so far as to say that this tapped into a specific vein of fanboy rage that I hadn’t felt this strongly before or since. Well, at least until Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby came out.

#2: Airborne

I’m kind of surprised that this guy could honestly get to me on a purely ethical level, but here we are. His comments about the main character’s very 90’s ‘dude, just chill’ faux-philosophizing are founded and he makes some decent points… except the majority of his comments appear to be attacking the fact that he is a pacifist. Throughout the entire review, the Critic keeps bringing up the character’s stance of non-violence as him being a wuss, which I take some serious issues with and it really shows the Critic to be a bit of a jackass. Except where such things could usually be guarded by the fact that he is playing a character, that doesn’t quite excuse the fact that this goes beyond just character mockery and starts making the Critic (and by extension Doug to a certain extent) out to be the kind of person that would shoot flower-carrying protestors in the face. It’s fucking abhorrent and, no, it being a joke doesn’t excuse the matter.

#1: Eight Crazy Nights

This marks the absolute nadir of Doug’s attitude concerning letting people enjoy what they want to enjoy, with a video that outright mocks the fan base of the given film and does everything it can to belittle people who commit the heinous crime of finding joy in something like this. Nevermind that his mockery of Whitey gets especially grisly when it isn’t called for, and his joke about calling Adam Sandler goes on for way too long; this tops the list because it betrays a core principal of Doug’s film-going philosophy, even more so than he had already done, and it reaches a level of hypocrisy that is usually reserved for only the truly loathsome pieces of human refuse out there. No, I don’t care if this is a Happy Madison production that we’re talking about; I would be saying this exact same thing regardless of whoever’s name is attached to it. Unlike Mr. Walker here, I will not go back on my words as I say them: No-one, I repeat no-one, should be made to feel guilty/stupid/any way inferior for liking anything meant for popular consumption. You are not less of a person just because you like Adam Sandler movies, in much the same way that you are not less of a person if you happen to like any of the videos I have so far listed; that's your right. When someone time and again continues to belittle people for their tastes, that is where I rather vehemently put my foot down and no more so than with this utter waste of time and energy.

Good God, it actively hurts to think about all this crap and the fact that this guy means as much to me as he does only makes it worse. You know the old saying: Never meet your heroes. Well, for the three of you that are still reading this and aren’t already spewing bile in the comments section, next time will be a return back to our usual cheery selves as I look into the more positive works of the Nostalgia Critic and, hopefully, better explain how this guy could leave such a massive impact on me.

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