I was all prepared to write about mythical creatures today as a tie-in with How to Train Your Dragon, but over on Twitter, it appeared that filmmaker Kevin Smith was fighting dragons of his own: demon film critics who did not support his latest film, Cop Out. I'd have written off Smith's Tuesday night tweets as him having a bad day, like we all do occasionally, and using social media to spread it around. But a number of writers paid more attention to the details than I would have, and were considerably annoyed by Smith's allegations: that we write scathing reviews to get attention, and that we are biased because we often see films for free at press screenings. Furthermore, on the same day everyone was a-twitter (sorry) about Smith, the long-running TV show At the Movieswas canceled. A sad day for film criticism, indeed.
All this news reminded me that some of my favorite characters in film are critics. They often get the wittiest and nastiest dialogue, and most of them are pompously elitist. You'd think that we were all members of a vast internet Algonquin Round Table. Terrible things often happen to them as a result, but since we're supposed to hate critics, that's all right. Critics like this are as rare in real life as the unicorns and dragons I originally considered writing about, but they are lots of fun to watch onscreen. Here are seven of my favorites. (Before you all ask me where Jay Sherman is, let me point out that these are all characters in movies, and no one has adapted The Critic for the big screen ... yet.)