Grown-Ups Return to At the Movies

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2009 5:41 PM CDT
AO Scott and Michael Phillips, the two new hosts of 'At the Movies'.   (Buena Vista Entertainment)

(Newser) – ABC execs seem to be trying their hardest to atone for the “two Bens” period of At the Movies, replacing Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz with two of print criticism’s best—AO Scott of the New York Times and and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune. The result is a huge improvement, although it's not perfect, writes John Young for Entertainment Weekly; it's missing "that energy that comes from the sense that a memorable verbal assault may be right around the corner."

Scott and Phillips are excellent critics, but the format neglects some of what made the Siskel and Ebert era great. The new hosts recommend viewers “See it,” “Rent it,” or “Skip it”—a total cop-out, Young argues: "Should I see the movie — yes or no?" Allowing amiable disagreement gets at another weak point: The critics are a bit too friendly. Siskel and Ebert were compelling because they often passionately disagreed—“Scott and Phillips might as well be fishing buddies,” Young writes.