Today’s Weekend Arts section of The New York Times had a pretty tepid review of the Melissa McCarthy/Sandra Bullock buddy-cop movie The Heat as its cover story. But they forgot to add a byline! Can you guess which noted movie critic wrote the following passages? (And no Googling the actual review online, because the by-line does appear in the Times’ web version, so that’s just cheating.)
- “It’s obvious enough how Ms. McCarthy and Ms. Bullock fit into this taxonomy, since Ms. McCarthy has already served as the Galifianakis to Jason Bateman’s Bateman in “Identity Thief.” It might however be noted that Ms. Bullock made her name as something of a Galifianakis to Keanu Reeves’s Bateman in “Speed.” But this is getting much too academic.”
- “Mullins (McCarthy), a tornado of aggression whose favorite idioms are both anatomically precise and anatomically impossible, terrorizes suspects and supervisors alike.”
- “You a narc?” one of Mullins’s brothers asks Ashburn, but of course she doesn’t understand him because he doesn’t pronounce the “r” and she hasn’t seen Ted, The Departed or Good Will Hunting…”
- “(Surgery, oddly enough, is not as funny as scatology.)”
- “A simpler, and probably more relevant, way to describe this movie would be to say that it’s around two hours of Melissa McCarthy spewing profanity while Sandra Bullock cringes, flutters her arms and sighs in exasperation. If you need another reason to see it, I can’t in good conscience supply one…”
- (McCarthy) evokes performers of the past — male and female, slender and portly, Gleasonesque, Stoogelike and Burnettian — but scrambles their influences, along with her own peculiar quickness and grace, into something fresh and unpredictable.
Now, here’s the time for the multiple choice quiz. Does these excerpts read like:
a) The exasperation of Manohla Dargis regarding Hollywood’s long-standing gender restrictions for women in film?
b) The poetically acerbic takedowns from Robert Silvers’s former assistant and NYT’s co-chief film critic, A.O. Scott?
c) An affront to Stephen Holden’s indie sensibilities?
d) The high-brow takedown of pop culture ephemera from New York Magazine‘s TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz, a former NYT movie reviewer who might have to keep his byline out of the paper due to a conflict of interest?
So how did you do? The answer can be found here. (For comparison, we were able to correctly guess it by the second graph.)