Even after watching it fifty or sixty times, I’m not sure if Better Off Dead is a bad movie, or a good movie making fun of bad movies. Regardless, it’s a funny movie, and when a comedy is funny you can forgive the visual cliches, the montages, and the ski race.
What I can’t forgive, though, is Siskel and Ebert’s smug, condescending, and dismissive review of Better Off Dead. Their specific complaint about the movie (I’m not making this up) is the sheer number of times it depicts the paperboy throwing a newspaper through a garage window. First Ebert alleges that he saw it happen nine times in the course of the film. Then Siskel complains while miming throwing a newspaper, “You see the window broken once, you see it broken twice, broken three times.” They really don’t like seeing a paperboy throw a paper through a window.
Here’s the problem, though: The thing they’re complaining about…it happens ZERO TIMES in the movie. Not only did they not wearily watch it happen nine times, they watched it none times. It doesn’t happen at all! They made it up!
“Man, this teen comedy was so hard to understand that I invented a scene in my own brain and spent all my time complaining about it.” Then they bemoan the fact (I’m not making this up) that the movie wasn’t directed by Fellini.
I’d disagree with their conclusion anyway–repetition is funny, and that statement isn’t even controversial–but they couldn’t even reach a conclusion I disagreed with. The thought of watching a teen comedy made them roll their eyes so far back they could no longer see the screen.