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August 28, 2015

Nobody likes the new At The Movies

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 29th 2008 7:02PM
Ben LyonsI admit, I still watch At The Movies. Though I miss both Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, I like having a weekly film review show that I can turn to. Of course, the show is a bit of a mess, and film critics Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz don't have a tenth the influence (or movie knowledge) of Ebert, but I still find myself tuning in every Sunday night.

Other people are turning in each week too, only they dislike the show even more than I do. Specifically, they can't stand new critic Ben Lyons, son of Jeffrey and the host of several other shows on TV, including Nickelodeon's My Family's Got Guts.

He also reviews movies and does entertainment reporting for E! Fans think he's a "quote whore" (he's the guy who called I Am Legend "one of the greatest movies ever made"), too buddy-buddy with celebrities, and only got the job because he's the son of film critic Jeffrey Lyons. These people have even started a web site, StopBenLyons.com.

To me, the young (27) Lyons seems to be not so much a film critic as just a guy who watches movies and then talks about them. There's a difference. The lack of something is very obvious when you watch Lyons. It's like getting film reviews from the sales guy who works in the cubicle next to yours, and I want more from my film criticism.

Co-host Mankiewicz is better, I guess, though he never smiles and never seems impressed by anything.

Any thoughts on this? Are you watching At the Movies?

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Bill H

It's all in the genes. Look who the fathers are.

Mank probably grew up in a household that explored foreign films, small indies and offbeat flicks in addition to the avalanche of Hollywood efforts. If you've seen him on TCM you know he's a pretty astute guy with a solid film background. He's no Ebert, but who is?

Lyons, on the other hand, is the son of a hack quotewhore. I admit that part of my issue is that he looks like he's eleven years old, but he hasn't had anything come out of his mouth that would snap me back to reality. And yes, part of it is that his tatse in movies is superficial and juvenile - even when he likes something he cannot explain why. When he dislikes something, it's often for the reasons that make the film special.

January 01 2009 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like Ben Lyons because he makes my TMJ feel less painful.

December 31 2008 at 2:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can tell you they are probably not raking in some young viewers. Me and my brother are younger and we definitely miss the classic discussions Ebert plus Roeper held (did not get to see much of Siskel and Ebert except on Archives unfortunately). Ebert helped me fall in love with talking about movies.

December 30 2008 at 11:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Siegler

When Richard Roeper walked out, and then Ebert a week after him (maybe it was the other way around), there was some stink made about a new venture for Roeper and reviews. I always assumed that meant a new TV gig. But I've not seen him do anything new TV wise. Did I miss something?

December 30 2008 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mary Ann

I agree with you about the new shows. I wish Richard Roeper would go ahead and start his new show. Also, I heard this week where Shootout will no longer be on AMC. If anyone knows where Shootout is going please post the answer on this site.

December 30 2008 at 1:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daune Calovini

I have been watching the show since it was Sneak Previews in Chicago. So, it's pretty hard to break a 35 year old habit. I still tear up when I think about losing Gene. The rotating host, filling in for Roger, was tough, but Richard was still a decent anchor. I totally agree with beeniebag12 that they must thing they're bringing in a younger audience with Lyons, but that's not who is going to watch the show! Here, it's on at 5:30am on Saturday! I want intelligent discourse. I don't watch some shill who doesn't even use proper grammar or know anything about movie history (I end up stopping the DVR and screaming, at least once a week). They didn't even mention his statement, in that article, about "No one makes better gangster movies than Guy Ritchie!" *blink* WHAT????? I watch, but it hurts. I don't even enjoy feeling superior to them. And poor "Mank" probably looks constipated, because he's got to sit across from the kid. I think he's getting tired of playing nice, too. He seems to be more cranky lately. It IS hurting his credibility. With the loss of my beloved At the Movies and John Leonard from CBS Sunday Morning, I'm lost. It's so depressing.

December 30 2008 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Key Rick

The Daily Show had a farcical movie critic for a while - I think his name was Frank DeFario? - and eversince I wondered why a full-fledged half hour movie critique show with a light-but-substantive tone wasn't available. I'm trustworthy of most of the reviews I read on Cinematical at my leisure; however, the absence of another team of critics on TV's just another of those bygones I guess viewers have to take in stride. There really are no substitutes or viable update contenders for the Siskel & Ebert of yesteryear.

The segment I dislike most on At The Movies now involves parceling out the criticism of one movie in particular to a 3-critic panel that usually comes in the middle of the show; the one where the founder(?)/blogger from Rotten Tomatoes and a couple other, albeit learned, talking heads participate. As if the two Ben's styles aren't enough to try to adjust to, suddenly their respective workloads are too heavy?

Hey, for a fraction of their salaries, I volunteer to take a stab at hosting.

December 30 2008 at 9:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Key Rick's comment

That'd be Frank DeCaro. I've always been a big fan of his as well. (And for any foodies reading, he's got a great collection of vintage celebrity recipes posted on his website.)

I'm not overthrilled with the new At The Movies either - when I saw that Lyons works for E!, my immediate thought was "Well, that explains a lot". (The only person I have an iota of respect for at E! is Joel McHale.)

I'm willing to grant Mank a little leeway because he was the host of the animation show on TMC, but it's still not enough to make me a regular viewer of ATM.

December 30 2008 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So glad tohear that it's not just me! When I turn this show on, I always think, where did they get these two boring guys. I have no interest in their comments - where is Richard Roper?

December 30 2008 at 6:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This guy should be a movie critic for teenagers. He was supposed to be hip and cool and it turned out to be lame and insipid.

December 30 2008 at 5:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason C.

After watching an episode, I thought a good name would be "At The Movies with Dumbass and Douchebag." (I like Mankiewicz well enough on TCM, but he seems very hard to please when it comes to modern movies)

I'd still rather watch it than the most insipid movie critic show around, Reel Talk, with Ben Lyon's father. Jeffrey Lyons and the British woman may be better at the skill of critiquing, but that doesn't mean they're not still nonsensical and ridiculous.

December 30 2008 at 5:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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