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Michael Musto

The Most Vicious Reviews Written About GlitterShowgirls, and Other Camp Classics

The Most Vicious Reviews Written About Glitter, Showgirls, and Other Camp Classics


Also: Will Gaga do well in Judy’s and Barbra’s famous role?

The potential horror of sitting through terrible movies is more than made up for by the chance to read (or write) reviews skewering them for the caca they are. And so, for your sadomasochistic delectation, I've rounded up some of the most sneeringly enjoyable pans in history, concentrating on camp classics that, if truth be told, I happen to love. Well, some of them. Bon appetit.

"Showgirls is a cold, soulless, misogynistic motion picture. It has one aim only: to suck in money. Artistic integrity, intelligent scripting, heartfelt acting and sincere filmmaking are all absent. The final scenes are intended to teach something about ethics, but that's a hypocritical stance for a motion picture without a moral compass."--ReelViews

"It sucks when Mariah Carey sings. It sucks when she does not sing. That the nature of its sucking shifts in between does not register and does not matter."--Antagony & Ecstasy re: Glitter (2001)


"Britney Spears' technique indicates she's a graduate of the Brady Bunch Acting Academy."--Film Quips Online review of Crossroads (2002)

"A bore is starred."--the Village Voice on the Barbra Streisand vehicle A Star is Born (1976)

"Things go downhill rapidly as the movie descends into horror material that is so laughably grotesque, yet so visually cool it remains fatally unfunny."--Globe and Mail review of The Neon Demon (2016)

"Obscure and pointless personal fantasy, financed at great expense by a major film company as a rather seedy monument to Anthony Newley's totally uninteresting sex life, and to the talent which he obviously thinks he possesses. The few mildly amusing moments are not provided by him."--Halliwell's Film Guide on Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (1969)

"At Long Last Love never quite sinks, but then it never leaves the pier."--Vincent Canby, New York Times (1975)

"This foolish attempt at recreating the lush musicals of the 1930s offers fabulous art deco sets, memorable Cole Porter songs, and slick production values, yet it goes down like a stricken elephant."--TV Guide's Movie Guide on At Long Last Love

"Cole Porter fans, steer clear. Actually, everybody steer clear."--Film 4

"The success of a movie like The Sound of Music makes it even more difficult for anyone to try to do anything worth doing, anything relevant to the modern world, anything inventive or expressive."--Pauline Kael (1965)

"...Square and solid sugar. Calorie-counters, diabetics, and grown-ups from eight to 80 had best beware."--Judith Crist on The Sound of Music


"Jumpin' Jack Flash is not a gas, it's a bore. Anyone who's been longing for a film in which an office worker talks dirty to a computer terminal should find Jumpin' Jack Flash just what they've been waiting for."--Variety (1985)

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a motion picture whose awfulness can hardly be imagined on a human scale; its derangement and crazy invention stretch beyond the limits of imagination....This film is so terrible that it goes 'round the other side of terrible and comes back in some kind of unbearable psychotic beauty."--Antagony & Ecstasy

"Despite boasting several important moral lessons, the period piece is more artificial than a polyester teddy bear stuffed with Splenda and Cheez Whiz--and about as appealing."--The Wrap on Little Boy

"When the end of Get Hard finally arrives, it's 95 minutes too late."--Vue Weekly

"Let's pretend prison rape jokes are funny (they're not) and cheap homophobia jokes are funny (also not). Even with all those concessions, Get Hard still isn't that funny."--Columbus Alive

"Oy! A lumbering, overwrought and somewhat risible production that in all its bathos cries out for a flurry of Woody Allen neurotic Jewish jokes. "--Ozus' World Movie Reviews on Yentl (1983)


"A movie whose chuckles (six, I counted) are outnumbered by helicopter shots of the Wynn resort in Las Vegas."--The Wrap's Alonso Duralde on Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

"Only Ross Hunter would remake a 1937 movie into a 1932 one."--Judith Crist on the musical reworking of Lost Horizon (1973)

"It can't even be enjoyed as camp."--Newsweek on Lost Horizon

"Every joke is obvious, every joke is predictable, and strangely, every joke is repeated."--Sky Movies re Vacation

"The movie doesn't stick together in one's head; this thing is like some junky fairground show--a chamber of horrors with skeletons that jump up."--Pauline Kael on The Towering Inferno (1974)

"More fun than getting stabbed, at least" on The Roommate (2011)


"For those who like to watch folks pull the wings off flies."--Judith Crist on See No Evil (1971)

"The question becomes, How much punishment can the audience take and still keep on howling?"--East Bay Express on The Room (2003)


But back to A Star Is Born, the 1976 Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson starrer that was the third incarnation of the story of an exciting woman with a rising career as her drunken husband's stumbles in despair. (It could be the story of...well, a lot of real-life Hollywood couples, sometimes with the genders switched.) Two versions came before it--1932's What Price Hollywood? (which became a model for the later incarnations) and 1937's A Star Is Born with Janet Gaynor and Frederic March, a pungent drama that's a great example of Hollywood on Hollywood. But it became a whole other animal--a glorious musical--in 1954, when George Cukor directed Judy Garland and James Mason in an erratically edited and uneven but beautiful oddball of a movie, with Cukor's framing eye at its finest and Judy's tremulous vulnerability and spirit reaching new levels with her rising-star spunk, sad-spouse histrionics, and delivery of the heart wrencher "The Man Who Got Away." The Barbra version? Well, I wouldn't say a bore was starred, but in bringing it into a more pop-rock-flavored world and making the plot more diffuse, that remake didn't exactly result in a whole lot of cultural urgency. And that perm! And now comes Lady Gaga, about to star in one more remake, costarring and directed by Bradley Cooper. With new music (and, I'm sure, all new outfits), this could either be another unwittingly campy blowout a la Barbra's or it could be a heartfelt answer to Judy's. Gaga certainly has the drive and stretching muscles for the assignment, and the best bet would be something that would preserve what's essential about the film while making the material relevant again. It's possible a rewarding time is born, and if that isn't achieved, it could be good for a laugh, and besides, a sixth remake can't be far behind.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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Michael Musto