If you’re looking for definitive proof of how our culture (and particularly our film culture) is steadily devolving and dumbing itself down, check out the new Ben Lyons-Ben Mankiewicz version of “At The Movies“, which premiered a few days ago. This is not a TV show about how good or bad the latest movies are. It’s a show about the End of Civilization as some of us have known it. If the Eloi of George Pal‘s The Time Machine were to produce their own movie-review show, this is how it would play.
The Two Bens’ views on Burn After Reading pretty much say it all.
The whole show feels way too rushed — the producers apparently said to everyone involved, “Just keep it simple and keep your foot on the accelerator and take no detours.” The show is obviously aimed at under-35 morons who just want to see a few clips and maybe absorb a couple of fast cracks before they channel-surf onto the next distraction.
Lyons is the glib lightweight — one of those empty but sociable motor-mouths for whom the expression “if I ever have an original thought it would die of loneliness” was originally coined. Mankiewicz is clearly the more thoughtful and reflective of the two, but he’s been told by the producers to repress his natural instincts and to keep things fast and shallow.
Don’t even think of comparing this to the original Roger Ebert-Gene Siskel show of the ’70s, which was primarily aimed at people who (a) read movie reviews on occasion, (b) had at least a couple of years of college under their belt, and (c) actually liked movies as experiences with all kinds of layers and echos and reflections contained within. The Two Bens show is aimed at the apes.

Yvete Mimieux as “Weenah,” the prettiest and most obviously sexual “Eloi” in George Pal’s The Time Machine.

Ask yourself this — if and when a subsequent “At The Movies” show is produced for the 2025 generation (i.e., 17 years hence), how can it be more dumbed-down than the current one? I’m going on the assumption that each generation henceforth is going to be less educated, less literate, less worldly, more ADD, more into video games, less cultured, less travelled, etc.
Variety‘s Anne Thompson hates the show also.