Current At the Movies co-hosts Ben Mankiewicz and Ben Lyons have been fired from their seats on the syndicated movie review show At the Movies. And the world couldn’t be happier.
They are being replaced by Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips and New York Times critic A.O. Scott. This is fantastic news. Now, finally, this show can return to being something worth paying attention to. The change is credited as being a return to the show’s roots, with “two traditional film critics.”
The show began in 1975, when is was hosted by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, up until Siskel’s death in 1999, whereupon he was replaced by Richard Roeper. And from there the whole thing started to go downhill.
I can’t say I was ever nuts about Roeper, so when Ebert had to leave the show in 2006 due to health issues, the show started to suck a little bit more. But the saving grace was that, often, Roeper’s guest host would be a real movie critic like Phillips or Scott.
But when that format was canned last year in an effort to find some hip young talent that would reach a hip young movie-critic-loving demographic that doesn’t exist, that’s when we saw the dawn of Lyons and Mankiewicz, and everything went to hell.
You couldn’t find a hack anymore shameless than Ben Lyons, a hip young moron pulled from the E! channel who didn’t know the first thing about movies or any kind of film history. He was only in the game to see himself quoted. There’s a poster out there for I Am Legend, in which the shameless words of this kiddo are plastered across the top reading “One of the greatest movies ever made.” Guys like this shouldn’t even be allowed to see movies.
Mankiewicz, a host on Turner Classic Movies, was’t quite as bad, but wasn’t exactly that great either. When you’re put next to Lyons and you come out as only “not quite as bad,” that’s a good sign that you should hit the road, too.
So, in other words, this news is fantastic! I’m a big admirer of Phillips and read his reviews very often. While, obviously, I can’t always agree with the man, he’s a smart guy and I have great respect for his work. A. O. Scott, can be a little bit on the cocky and arrogant side for my tastes, but like Phillips he’s a smart guy who knows what he’s talking about and he’s a real movie critic.
It’s nice to see that this show is about to become something respectable again. It’s even nicer to see that someone had a hell of a brainchild in the idea that a movie review show should be hosted by movie critics. Ratings went down when a couple of hacks took over the show, and now they’re righting that wrong. Just goes to show that real film criticism is not dead, America! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!