Lackluster collection of movie reviews from Loder (Bat Chain Puller: Rock and Roll in the Age of Celebrity, 1990).
A presence on the music scene since the late ’70s, the author is one of music and pop culture's most knowledgeable and likable writers. Best known for his print work with Rolling Stone and his small-screen work with MTV, Loder has proven to be both a trustworthy news reporter and an incisive rock tastemaker, so one would assume that when he turned to film criticism, his opinions would be sharp and compelling. Unfortunately, in this overlong collection, that's far from the case. Part of the problem is that the era of films on which he focuses is one of the most creatively feeble in showbiz history, so it's little wonder that the majority of the essays take a negative tone (hence the book's title). Loder relies on glib jibes that fail to provide illumination or insight—e.g., of the romantic comedy Valentine's Day, he writes, "It has the radiant glow of a Hollywood pitch meeting”; of the prehistoric comedy Year One: "the picture's desperate, teen-baiting assemblage of fart jokes, dick jokes...and urine inhalation are a dreary reminder that no matter how far removed the setting's supposed to be, the land of lame Hollywood japery is always near at hand.” The author tries to justify his lightweight approach by explaining in the introduction that he's not a film critic, but rather a movie reviewer, but that's a cop-out. If you criticize something, you are, by definition, a critic; unfortunately, this talented and charismatic scribe isn't a particularly notable one.
If Loder weren't Loder, this book would be exactly where it belongs: online, as part of a blog.