So, after more than two decades At the Movies, which introduced the movie going public to mega-critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, is coming to an end. It's kind of a sad day for cinephiles because one of the truly iconic pillars of the movie world will be no more.
While it's true that the show was never the same after the death of Gene Siskel and the untimely departure of Roger Ebert, the show was still a staple and one of my go to resources when it came to movie reviews. I thought Richard Roeper did a fine job at carrying to torch, and things went down hill when Disney decided to go in a different direction, thus giving the show a facelift with younger hosts (Ben Mankiewicz and Ben Lyons). You know that you're living in different times when movie review shows are also getting rebooted.
Some people blame the Two Bens for the show's downfall, but I always thought that assertion was unfair. Disney was expecting two relatively unknown critics to step into a movie review dynasty that changed how we rate almost everything nowadays (thumbs up or thumbs down). Siskel & Ebert didn't just change the movies, but our pop culture fabric. Of course these two newbies didn't stand a chance, and they couldn't even use the trademark thumbs due to a legal squabble between Ebert and the Mickey Mouse Company. The show was pretty much brand new, but with the same title (that's where Scrubs got the idea!)
I didn't mind the Two Bens, but Disney-ABC really dropped the ball when they tried yet another reboot, but this time ousting the new hosts for At the Movie B-teamers, A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips. I don't care what people said about Mank and Lyons, they were way more interesting than Scott and Phillips, and that's when I stopped watching the show in favor of rottentomatoes.com and its show on Current TV.
Regardless of how you felt about the people sitting in the chairs, At the Movies is synonymous with movie criticism, and it's a shame that the balcony is going to be closed for good. Sure, the Tomatometer and Metascores are in vogue now, but they will never beat "Two Thumbs Up".