The Shape of Water, as you may well know solely as an informed consumer of popular culture, is the acclaimed new film from Mexican master Guillermo del Toro. (You should see it! It’s good!) Those simple facts were apparently unattainable to Rex Reed, America’s worst working film critic, who published a “review” at the New York Observer in which he got the director’s country of origin wrong, and claimed the movie was made by actor Benicio del Toro. Whose name he misspelled.
The review claimed that the film was written and directed by “Benecio del Toro,” when it was in fact directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. (To be fair, this information is only available on unknown websites like “Google” and “IMdb.”) What’s that? Screenshot? As a matter of fact I do:
That credit was corrected overnight in the review, but a tweet preserving the error (and even its misspelling!) is still up, as of this writing:
And when the Observer’s ace editorial staff crashed back in to the CMS to straighten out the wacky del Toro mix-up, they didn’t manage to fix Reed’s aside about del Toro’s nationality:
Spanish, Mexican, same diff, right?
Now look, I’m well aware that nitpicking factual errors is dangerous territory, since none of us here on the World Wide Web are perfect and hell, I’ll probably run some howling embarrassment before the sun sets. But this is troublingly par for the course with Mr. Reed. His inability to keep Spain and Mexico or Benicio and Guillermo straight in his mind falls right in line with the casual racism that has prompted zingers like this, from his Oldboy review: “What else can you expect from a nation weaned on kimchi, a mixture of raw garlic and cabbage buried underground until it rots, dug up from the grave and then served in earthenware pots sold at the Seoul airport as souvenirs?”
And then there is his running difficulty with basic factual information about the motion pictures he’s reviewing, best embodied by his notorious review of Cabin in the Woods, which he claimed was about “an elaborate video game that allows paying customers to watch real people slaughtered according to the horror of choice,” and insisted included a scene in which “vampires circle the moon and suck the hot stud’s blood.” In his Shape review, that viewing comprehension issue manifests itself in this baffling piece of information:
Folks, “in fact,” her face is not burned into scar tissue. You can find many pictures and clips to confirm that fact. Like this one:
(And don’t get me started on “not as stupid and pointless as that other critically overrated piece of junk Get Out.”)
Also, he believes her deaf character is “mentally handicapped”?!?!
Point is, Rex Reed is a terrible critic who’s stopped caring decades ago but is somehow still being paid for his garbage opinions, and the hate clicks prompted by his occasional rakes to the face are apparently the only way the Observer can generate traffic. (The site has not replied to our request for comment about its editorial process.) But Mr. del Toro – the correct one – has responded about as gracefully as one would expect: