Sad but true: Apparently actor/comedian Jamie Kennedy, who is almost precisely my age, hails from a Philadelphia suburb where I spent most of my high school weekends, and seems like a guy I'd definitely get along with on a social level if we were both famous or both nobodies, officially hates me. Here's what I've gathered so far:
Tonight a documentary called Heckler played at the Tribeca Film Festival. How do I know this? Because I've just received a handful of emails from my NY-based colleagues, all of whom found it very amusing that Jamie Kennedy trashes one of my reviews in the film. (Apparently the movie is about how comics deal with hecklers, but is also about how comic actors deal with online film critics.) I've not yet seen the movie, but from what I've been told Mr. Kennedy reads through my entire review of a lame-ass movie called Stricken, mentions me by name, and then says "eFilmCritic ... whatever that is." (Keep in mind the movie he's talking about is called Stricken ... whatever that is.)
By the way, eFilmCritic (along with its sister website, Hollywood Bitchslap) is a pretty popular movie review site that's been going strong for the better part of a decade now. We actually have the largest collection of original movie reviews on the internet, and our readers include famous folks like Jamie Kennedy. Having said that, can we forgo the "whatever that is" bullshit already? It's not my fault if the only reviews you read come from your local paper or Variety.
But it's all good. Obviously as a film critic I can't be a whining hypocrite and not weather the storm when a little criticism is flung my way. (For the record, go find a copy of Stricken and tell me I'm wrong about the movie.) Although I wouldn't have minded defending my criticisms (as several critics in the film were asked to do), I honestly have no problem with Jamie Kennedy bashing my work in his new movie, because lord knows I've spent plenty of time bashing Kennedy in my movie reviews...
Wait a sec. That's not true at all. Just a few searches through my old reviews yield the following opinions:
From my (positive) review of Malibu's Most Wanted: "Jamie Kennedy has proven he can be a damn funny guy. Somehow wresting the Scream spotlight from the frothing lunatic that is Matthew Lillard and capably presenting a consistently amusing TV series, it's clear that Jamie has some solid comedy chops."
From my (negative) review of Stricken: "The only cast member worthy of note (and probably the only reason this movie from 1998 is just now receiving a video release) is Jamie Kennedy, star of Scream and the surprisingly funny TV show The Jamie Kennedy Experiment."
From my (very negative) review of Son of the Mask: "What's saddest about the whole obnoxious affair is that lead actor Jamie Kennedy seems to be trying really hard. It's like watching a guy on the Titanic trying to save the ship using only a sponge and a bucket."
From my (very negative) review of Kickin' It Old Skool, which I wrote less than 24 hours ago: "Truth be told, I held a small semblance of positivity as I walked into Kickin' It Old Skool, as I find that Jamie Kennedy can (on occasion and usually in small doses) be a pretty funny guy."
Somehow I doubt any of these things are mentioned in Heckler, because criticizing your critics is good juicy fun, but acknowledging a compliment, well, that's just boring. I'm wondering what sort of insight will be attached to the dissection of my Stricken review, but my advice to Mr. Kennedy or anyone who is very sensitive to stinging criticisms is this: Stop making movies this awful. I'd love to sit down and watch Kickin' It Old Skool with Jamie Kennedy, a bong, and a pizza. He seems like a pretty smart guy, so there's literally no way he could look me in the eye and say it's a good movie. Even on a "guilty pleasure" level, the thing's about as base and amateurish as a movie can possibly be.
Anyway, here's the official Heckler website. Check out the trailer and tell me if you think it's a little bit funny that they use a positive blurb from The NY Sun ("whatever that is") in an effort to sell their movie to an audience. See, this is what I call hypocrisy. What is it? If some writer admires Son of the Mask, they're OK, but if they trash it then that writer is some virgin loser who lives in his mother's basement? If I see Heckler and sincerely enjoy it, than I'm a professional writer who's both intelligent and insightful. If I see Heckler and think it stinks, then I'm a pathetic dork who knows nothing. Sorry, doesn't wash.
Despite the fact that I'm criticized in the film for daring to share my own opinion about a bad movie, I hold no ill will towards Heckler. (I'm told it's a pretty fun movie.) I'm just hoping it offers more insights than the generally-offered retorts, both of which are specious at best and insipid at worst. One is "I'm right and you're wrong because I'm rich and semi-famous while you are poor and anonymous." The other is "Oh, you dorky movie critics are nothing but failed filmmakers." I've had both of these responses thrown at me from several actors and filmmakers over the years, and both statements pretty much signal the end of the conversation. For the record, 1. "Yes, you're rich and semi-famous and I am poor and anonymous, so why do you even care what I have to say?," and 2. "I know a lot of film critics, and as far as I can tell, none of them are failed filmmakers. They're professional writers who have an insatiable appetite for movies." Which explains why they walk into Kickin' It Old Skool hoping to say nice things and walk out both disappointed and nauseous.
I'll be back with an update once I actually see all of Heckler for myself. I feel shitty even talking about a movie I haven't seen yet, frankly.