At the Movies (1982–1986)

TV Series   |    |  Talk-Show


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At the Movies (1982) Poster

The show that made Siskel and Ebert famous. These two Chicago-based movie critics sit around and review movies, giving either "Thumbs up" or "Thumbs down." Noted for the good-natured ... See full summary »

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5 September 2009 | elshikh4
This could be the most interesting buddy-show ever !
Out of the most prominent duos that the American TV showed in 1982 (Sam and Diane of "Cheers", Laura Holt and Remington Steele of "Remington Steele", or Cagney & Lacey of "Cagney & Lacey") still Siskel & Ebert are one of the most interesting, informative and droll duos ever been in a show not in 1982 only but at all. Thanks for the miracle of internet that made me watch countless episodes of their show.

Gene Siskel, who began working for the Chicago Tribune in 1969, teamed up with Roger Ebert, the film reviewer of the Chicago Sun-Times, in 1975 to host a show which eventually became "Sneak Previews". In 1982 their new show, "At the Movies", was produced. Then after 4 years its commercial version "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies" was made with just more lights in and around the show. Their duo, and not the show, ended with Siskel's death in 1999.

I felt that Siskel was the more charismatic and the less emotional. Ebert with his corpulent presence, baby face, big glasses, and the way he straightens his sitting before saying anything important was more innate and close to a movies nerd who at one moment would suppress his anger with fading low tone.

When asked, on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, what he thought was the biggest difference between himself and Ebert, Siskel unhesitatingly replied: "I'm a better reviewer than he is." But a few moments later, he said that anyone who read a Roger Ebert review would read "an extremely well-written review". Thumps Down for that Gene. You should never have said it. This is no sagacity. And even if he was speaking what he thought the truth, then he should've left the viewers to say it, not him.

Siskel and Ebert's "dislike" for each other was well known in the industry. You can see clearly that it was a love/hate relationship. But I felt that Siskel was the bully one. And you can observe how he was starting it. From slightly provocative notices like "Yes, I agree with you, but you forgot that...", instead of "yes, and I think also that…". To explicitly ugly ways to ruin Ebert's attempts to say something funny. And you'd never see Ebert using the same style with Siskel.

There are some of the 1980s outtakes, present at youtube, that touch off that where Siskel even curses Ebert, and begins – what seems as usual joking – a non-stop, running gags about Ebert's love of food. True that Ebert fought fire with fire perfectly, but that was mean to begin in the first place. They both refused to be guest star in movies or TV shows, unless the animated TV series "The Critic" ! I bet they accepted it just for one scene where they fight by bare hands in airplane to smash its door and continue fighting on the wing ! Not for the main plot about them being separated then can't stand a partner else the other.

I liked the show's opening credits and format. For one reason their setting in the empty theater somehow represented that they own the cinema, or that they're the viewers whom stay for more time, than the regular viewer, to discuss, debate, and evaluate. It's easy to notice the show's effect when you find the duo's famous remarks and expressions in numerous other reviews we read.

Richard Roeper, or Ebert's Chicago Sun-Times colleague, was a fine successor after Siskel's death. He's a bit childish, but that's a nice characteristic of all things (In fact neither Ebert nor Siskel looked that young even in their thirties !). You can't decide was it a relationship where Roeper was the funny lead, and Ebert was the wise mentor? Or that Ebert was the old lead, and Roeper was his sidekick ?! I think it was kind of a father/son relationship where both got the same intelligence. After Ebert left for his health problem, I kind of couldn't care less with what the show presents.

Sometimes it wasn't satisfying enough to review a movie in 3 minutes (half of them are for telling the story), but that's the show's specialty and time anyway. And I hated the matter of "I couldn't agree more" !!; there wasn't any drama there, and instead of disagreeing with one of them and agreeing with the other, you find yourself disagreeing with both of them there ! (Pulp Fiction, Titanic; I was mad not to see someone with me on these ?!).

It got its moments. Fun went to extremes at times. Memorably ; "where are your beard and red suit Santa ? You gave them away as gifts ?" that's what Siskel said to Ebert when the last was praising the crappy (Cop and ½). "This movie is starring Jessica Alba's buttocks and Paul Walker's pecs, and if you asked me; Alba's rear end is a much better actor" Roeper about (Into the Blue). Ebert screaming his head off "CAROL ANNE, CAROL ANNE" imitating the way that the lead of (Poltergeist 3) was yelling the heroine's name with for 300 times, then Siskel sorrowful question "why they didn't think for one time to say "Carol" for a change ?!!". "She wasn't good, and I'm talking about her face" Siskel criticizing (Demi Moore) in (The Scarlet Letter) !. And finally Ebert's wicked note : "This is the only movie that none of the 44 reviewers, who were attending the special viewing, went to the bathroom during it !" talking about (Basic Instinct 2) !

These buddies didn't have the sexuality or the stardom of the leads of "Cheers", "Remington Steele","Cagney & Lacey", only their arguments, being more cultural, and believe it or not, more persistent too.

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