A film critic friend wrote a couple of days ago to ask “who are Richard Brody and Ken Marks, and why are they sullying The New Yorker‘s critical reputation?

“I was reading the capsule movie reviews in the current issue (3/26) of the mag, and my eye happened to fall upon raves given to two of the worst films in current release: Norbit and Reno 911!: Miami. Brody describes Norbit as a ‘raucous, vulgar comic extravaganza’ and [seemingly] loved every moment of it. He concludes that Eddie Murphy is ‘clearly having a great time, and it’s infectious.’ He’s right about the infectious part, but more sober critics determined Norbit to be the kind of infection requiring cold compresses and heavy doses of antibiotics.

“More puzzling still is the review by Marks of Reno 911!, which most critics have judged to be a bad screen adaptation of a low-brow TV timewaster. Not so the exuberant Marks, who describes Reno 911! as ‘frickin’ hilarious,’ and determines that ‘laughs this big don’t come along often.’

“You may recall that Reno 911! opened cold, without advance critical screenings. This could well be the first New Yorker rave for a one-star movie that even the studio didn’t believe in.

“These two reviews raise the following questions: (1) Has The New Yorker ceased being a high-brow publication and ceded part of its movie coverage to slobbering fanboys?; (2) How did the phrase ‘frickin’ hilarious’ happen to make it past the mag’s legendary editors?; )3) Should not Richard Brody and Ken Marks get out more often, if they are so easily impressed by movies like these? Perhaps if they were exposed to movies of the kind reviewed by regular New Yorker critics Anthony Lane and David Denby, they might develop higher standards.”