We have a weird obsession with Roger Ebert that’s hard to explain. Maybe it was all of those guest appearances on Sesame Street with Siskel. We only bring it up because he’s at the center of a major internet brouhaha involving a movie critic named Armond White and a negative review of District 9. White, a critic for the New York Press, is known as a troll in the film world. He has hated every single movie in the Harry Potter and Pixar franchise. He liked Land of the Lost. Hated All the Real Girls; loved The Nanny Diaries. When it came time to review District 9 — which at that point had 49 positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — you can guess which way he went.
So a bunch of critics went bonkers and Ebert came to White’s defense, even though he wasn’t familiar with his rep. Which made people go even more bonkers to the point where Ebert felt the need to retract his post. Not that he disagrees at all with what the guy has to say:
It was White’s sheer bloody-mindedness that got to them. Unlike the apparent majority of those readers, I have seen the film. It enraged some readers when White wrote, “That cartoonish Mothership image suggests the high-concept inanity featured in ‘Children of Men’ and ‘Cloverfield:’ It’s apocalyptic silliness. Not ominously beautiful like the civilization-in-peril tableau that caps Roy Andersson’s ‘You, the Living.’.” WTF? You, the Living? The Swedish-Danish-Norwegian-German co-production playing in a few art theaters? Yes, “You, the Living,” which does have a hell of an ending. White’s comparison is completely reasonable. Roy Andersson’s “You, the Living” is certainly a better film. I fear those readers heads may explode if they learn that “We, the Living” is one of only three films so far this year with a perfect 100% reading on the Meter. No, you haven’t hard of the other two, either.
The fact that Roger Ebert wrote “WTF” makes our Friday. It’s almost as awesome as when he admitted to reviewing a film after seeing only the first eight minutes. So anyway, Ebert goes on to to defend most of White’s gripes with this film (Note: Ebert gave it three stars in his own review), and now people are going bonkers over that, too.
District 9 currently has a 91% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so obviously White isn’t the only one with some gripes.