Doug Walker’s The Nostalgia Critic, which if you’re a webhead, you’ve probably seen and if you’re a nerd webhead you probably own the t-shirt (if there is one) has heaps of clever pop-cultural dissection. Walker’s catchphrase, “Hello, I’m the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don’t have to!” is good branding for his concept: he (mostly) reviews past movies to let us know if they still hold up. Most of the ones he reviews, however, do not…and that’s by design.
Full up with clips, which apparently, if they are used for satirical purposes can be displayed willie-nillie – just watch his latest review of The Last Action Hero, where you get A LOT of the movie in his too-long review – the reviews are of the snarky variety and Walker is quite talented with his snark. Wearing a black blazer, black hat, t-shirt and red neck-tie, the bespectacled nostalgia critic is something of a geek with a hell of a personality. His timing is always good, his voice registers somewhere in the mid-to-high range when excited and his quips can be something really special. When lamenting the lack of important info, like a title and other important bits in the early Cloverfield trailers in ep 91, he brilliantly proclaims, “My predictions of what that monster is, is that it’s JJ Abrams gigantic ego terrorizing the city with his pretentious advertising!” I readily disclaim any consensus with the comment on Abrams, but the sentiment did give me quite a laugh.
Cloverfield trailer?! You exclaim. Yes, he’s been around a while. Oddly, the first review for the Nostalgia Critic is of Transformers: The Movie in April ’08, which is only a little over a year after its release. Hmm…nostalgia? Well, that said, he does then delve into some oldies but not-always-so-goodies like The Last Action Hero, Pokemon: the Movie, Godzilla (1998), Short Circuit 1 and 2, and even Full House.
Critic is a bit random in its choices. There are lots of cartoon entries for better or worse and frankly the show seems more for entertainment purposes than a real exploration and/or analysis of old(ish) films (mostly 80s and 90s pop), so on some level there’s a ‘who cares’ factor, though you definitely get your fair share of laughs from each ep. I also tend to wonder if he stays away from the good stuff because a) it’s probably not as easy to be funny when you like a thing and b) he needs to be satirical in order to show clips. Point is, for the most part you should visit for the fun, not the depth.
However, smattered throughout the reviews are Top 11 lists which are generally worth a look for the nostalgia factor and sometimes some actually pretty smart analysis. Number 72, ‘90s Sports Montage’ though not a top 11 is an anthology ep that’s good for some laughs and a solid breakdown of uplifting kids sports movies, ie The Sandlot, Bad News Bears, The Mighty Ducks, etc. This again suffers from the too much of a good thing factor as it runs at least ten minutes, where five would have done, but it’s worth a look. Number 54, ‘Top 11 Saddest Moments’ is pretty solid too. You can peruse his many eps (93 so far) and pick out the lists you like and you’re sure to get a viewing experience.
Another thing worth mentioning are a couple of digressions, one being ‘The Search for Nostalgia Chick’, (played by TheDudette), which was a contest to find a female critic to cover more chick-y flicks (though still decidedly geeky). And also Nostalgia Critic’s ‘epic battle’ with Angry Video Game Nerd that amounted to a faux war of nerd words between the two critics that lead to a staged battle at a video game event in New Jersey. It’s cheesy and looks like something Kevin Smith might cream his pants for both in its geekdom and shoddy production value, but there are some laughs to be had.
So, if you haven’t gleaned it yet, the bad news is that his shows can run a bit long for my taste. I mean seriously, he pans The Last Action Hero, saying, “It’s dull! It is so boring!” then proceeds to show a lot of the movie and talk about it for over twenty minutes. Sorry, but it was egregious. Is it funny? Sure, sometimes, but after a while, I just don’t want to know about how bad it is anymore. This happens quite a bit, ep 67, ‘Top 11 Drug PSA’s’ I liked, would have loved at half the length. You get the idea. Oh, and the production quality throughout is lackluster as well, but personally I think his personality more than makes up for it.
Anyway, you can catch these reviews once a week and you probably should because this will become a little more than a footnote in history since his fanbase is growing pretty rapidly and he just pumps out so much content, including articles, podcasts, blogs, etc, all found at thatguywiththeglasses.com. And it’s a real business too for its production company, Channel Awesome, making $32,000 just from that show in ad revenue last quarter on Blip.tv with ads from Puma and Starburst. That’s all I got: Watch him. Laugh. Don’t watch too long.