If you go over to Moviefone right now, and look at its excerpts from the Metacritic guide to reviews of Live Free or Die Hard, you’ll see a Variety review by yours truly quoted thusly: “Criminally short on laughs as it tries to wring humor from dull activity by dim bulbs.” Also: Metacritic interprets the overall review as giving the movie a 30 score out of a possible 100.
There’s just one problem: I didn’t review Live Free or Die Hard for Variety – Todd McCarthy did. And he liked it. And, not incidentally, so did I.
So what review is Moviefone quoting? My 2006 Variety review of the similarly titled Live Free or Die – a movie that, to be brutally honest, really did deserve a 30 score. You can see for yourself by clicking on the “Read the full review” link on the Moviefone page – it’ll take you right to this.
This would be, at best, mildly amusing if it weren’t for the nasty e-mails I’ve been receiving from people who really, really like Live Free or Die Hard, and who want to, ahem, chastise me for daring to give it a mere 30 score. (A verbatim quote cut-and-pasted from one: “Some of us are looking for real constructive cricism[sic], not some washed out loser who can't hack it with the ladies, so i'll[sic] take out my problems on people who have a real job...The movie was great, it was action packed, and kept my attention, definetly[sic] not a 30.”) I wouldn’t describe the response as a flood – more like a trickle, actually – but the fact that anyone would send me such an e-mail is.... well, pretty freakin’ weird. See, these people had to have clicked to the full Variety review to get my e-mail address, right? But if they did this – well, couldn’t they see it was a review of an entirely different movie?
You know, I read in Time magazine recently that, according to the latest results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, more than a quarter (27%) of high school seniors are functionally illiterate. I see evidence of this in college classes I teach all the time. But it’s a bit disturbing to see more confirmation in my Microsoft Outlook inbox.