With over $115 million in the bank after just three days of work at the domestic box office, Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland hardly needs the opinion of a bunch of critics to boost its success. Good thing too, since the critics couldn't be more mixed on it scoring the film a 53% at both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Those on the positive side like At the Movies' Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott have been polite in their praise calling the film "interesting" while the detractors are using words like "disposable", "fiasco" and "catastrophe." I suppose every generation needs their own Return To Oz or Hook. But to every yang there is a yin and it was unlikely that Disney was going to put the words "ugly mess" onto their ads.
If you saw the TV spots earlier in the week, you may have come across one where Johnny Depp says he is thinking of words with the letter "M". Lo and behold the next thing we see is:
"Masterpiece." "Mischievous." "Miraculous." "Must see." - Lisa Stanley
"Magical." "Madly inventive." "Magnificent." - Pete Hammond
Curiouser and curiouser. Quite fortunate that Disney was able to find two people to use words that start with that particular letter. Rosie Perez apparently kept giving them "Q" words, but not Hammond and Stanley. Cynical though we may be about Pete Hammond and his tastes, the man does write reviews. Normally glowing, easily blurbable ones, but reviews nonetheless. And we were, indeed, able to find those words within the context of an actual review. Stanley, on the other hand, is not really one to put critiques into print. So we have to wonder if her four "M" words were of her own creation or were they provided to her by the Disney marketers to fit a clever ad idea and she signed on to whatever her favorite studio asked of her.
You see, Lisa Stanley LOVES Disney. So much so that she has been pretty much monogamous towards them during her career as a blurbist. Maybe they are the only junket list she is on, but in 2006 & 2007 she was cited exclusively on ten Disney films and made it a complete dozen with another pair in 2009.
"****" (The Guardian)
"You've never seen anything like it." (Cars)
"Wickedly funny!" (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest)
"Justin Long is wickedly funny." (Old Dogs)
"Laugh-out-loud funny!" (The Game Plan)
"The funniest comedy of the fall." (Dan In Real Life)
"The hottest movie of the summer!" (Step Up)
"Fun for the whole family!" (Hannah Montana: The Movie)
"A must-see for the entire family! Heartwarming! An adventure with a twist that will leave you breathless." (Bridge to Terabithia)
"Heartwarming and inspirational." (Eight Below)
"The most inspirational movie of the year." (Invincible)
"The greatest adventure of all time." (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End)
Oh, the attention this must bring Miss Stanley. And her radio station is so proud of her too, posting a complete photo gallery of every "M" word she got onto the ad. Seems like the only ones I can associate with her are "misleading," "misguided," "moronic," and "mental." But I don't want to upset Bob Corolla, now do I?
Who is Bob Carolla, you ask? Well, he is the Director of Media Relations for NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) and he is not happy with the release of horror remake, The Crazies. In a statement he sent out to the press, he let us know that the film "has nothing to do with mental illness in the real world, but links an extremely stigmatizing title to an extremely stigmatizing plot." I think most people got that when they heard it was a MOVIE, just as they did in not labeling every motel owner with mommy issues a Psycho or condemning The Frighteners as a fringe group with cameras and actors looking to scare people.
"Language + stereotype = stigma," says Carolla though and that we should all write to Overture films and its CEO, Chris Albrecht, "that the film's title and linkage of violence to the buzzword 'insanity' stigmatizes people with mental illness." Carolla is nowhere to be found this week in protest of a character referred to as a "Mad Hatter." Peter Travers says that "Depp is a marvel" in that role. (Ugh, another "M" word.) Oh, so that's what Pete Hammond was referring to as "madly inventive" and what The Hollywood Reporter called "truly, madly, wonderful." What precisely is Carolla's take on the Lewis Caroll character? Personally I believe there is a word for someone who keeps asking why a raven is like a writing desk: Crazy.
It's like the Sarah Palin "retarded" thing all over again. A shame that Breck Eisner didn't hire someone with a mental illness who could counter Carolla's plea for empathy. But he certainly got some critics in his favor to playfully poke the badger. Or just be amazingly uncreative in their praise.
"Insanely entertaining." - Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"The Crazies is insanely scary...The suspense is mind-blowing." - Capone, Ain't It Cool News
"The Crazies will get into your head." - Claudia Puig
"You'd be crazy to miss it." - Conor Nolan, The People (UK)
Ah, well. Sometimes the people who have gone completely bonkers are the best ones. And sometimes they are just Lisa Stanley.