Roger Ebert, Dead at 70: Remembering His Miami Movie Reviews

Categories: Film and TV

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Legendary film critic Roger Ebert died of cancer yesterday at age 70. For almost half a century, Ebert's sharp assessments and lovable humor guided America's film audiences, through his post as film critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, his TV shows with Gene Siskel (and later, Richard Roeper), and his film festival, Ebertfest. In an era when movie critics often struggle to outthink and overintellectualize, Ebert kept it real, praising deserving lowbrow flicks alongside great classics.

That's especially apparent in his reviews of movies set in Miami, which range from the iconic (Scarface) to the absurd (2 Fast 2 Furious). Whether he loved them or hated them, his explanations, descriptions, and critiques showcase Ebert's unique blend of everyman film sensibility paired with a genius talent for the written word. Here are a few of our favorites.

Scarface
"The Tony Montana character is above all a performance artist, a man who exists in order to gloriously be himself. From the film's opening shots, in which he is one more disposable Cuban ex-con in a Florida detention center, his whole drive is to impress his personality and will on others. He begins with no resources or weapons, except for his bravado, and fakes out more powerful men simply by seeming dangerous and resourceful. His act is a bluff, so there is no sense in underplaying it." (Sept. 28, 2003)

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
"The movie basically has one joke, which is Ace Ventura's weird nerdy strangeness. If you laugh at this joke, chances are you laugh at Jerry Lewis, too, and I can sympathize with you even if I can't understand you. I found the movie a long, unfunny slog through an impenetrable plot. Kids might like it. Real little kids." (Feb. 4, 1994)

Bad Boys
"This movie is so good-looking it deserves a decent screenplay, instead of one more lope down memory lane. The movie gives us a Miami filled with midnight glitz, shot with the flair of a fashion photographer - backlit monochrome tilt shots and all. It has relentless editing, slick action sequences, and blows up stuff real good.

But what is it about? Two cops. Buddies. Partners. Narcs. ... The plot is like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces supplied by 48 HRS, Internal Affairs, Beverly Hills Cop and Lethal Weapon." (April 7, 1995)

The Birdcage
"Now comes the remake of the most seductive target, the comedy "La Cage aux Folles" (1978), which is about a gay man whose son wants him to play it straight for a few days. All of this will be familiar if you've seen the original, or the two sequels, or the Broadway version. ... What makes Mike Nichols' version more than just a retread is good casting in the key roles, and a wicked screenplay by Elaine May, who keeps the original story but adds little zingers here and there ("Live on Fisher Island and get buried in Palm Beach - that way you'll get the best of Florida!")." (March 8, 1996)

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