Fox 4's Shawn Edwards isn't just a blurb whore 

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What makes him different, he believes, is that he talks to the people in the streets and the barbershops. Take "The Screening Room" segment he hosts with Russ Simmons each Friday on Fox 4's morning show. "We don't do that for hardcore cinephiles," Edwards says. "We're doing it for that mom who's trying to get her kids ready for school that morning, for that person who's getting ready to go to a job that they hate."

He thinks of the guys he knows who work construction, guys who call him "Popcorn Man" in honor of the segment's popcorn-bag rating system. These guys don't care about the Oscars. "They really get gung-ho about action and horror movies. And when I'm at my mom's church groups, they only want to know when the next Denzel movie is coming out."

He's getting worked up, but he also sounds tired of having to say this. "People just want to know if the movie is good or bad and if they can take their kids."

He smiles, and up comes another blurb: "I take great pride in keeping it real."


Chicago film critic Erik Childress takes issue with this argument for averageness. "The average Joe doesn't recommend as many movies as these people do," Childress tells The Pitch. "And even when the regular movie­goer disagrees when some highfalutin critic pans I Am Legend, more often than not they will usually go, 'It wasn't that bad' or 'That was all right.' Not 'The best movie of the year!'"

Childress tracks what he calls "blurb whores," cataloging them for CriticWatch and HollywoodBitchSlap.com. "These are nothing but hyperbole-laced phrases designed for no other reason than to either get your name in the paper or to prove that you have no discernible language skills whatsoever," he says.

Since 2003, Childress has annually named one critic "Whore of the Year." The 2007 recipient: Shawn Edwards, for more than 30 raves appearing in ads. "Compare the movies Shawn recommends to the percentage of critics who recommended them at Rotten Tomatoes, and you'll begin to understand why he is one of the most untrustworthy critics out there," Childress says.

Some samples:

Fred Claus: "One of the funniest comedies of the year!"

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium: "The most magical film of the year!"

Resident Evil: Extinction: "The most exciting movie of the year!"

Edwards agrees that his superlatives don't reflect the language of his everyday constituency. "That's movie-critic talk. Real people don't think of things in terms of 'best of the year.' But on television, you've got to be a little over-the-top. Sometimes you want to be a little shocking."

A recent example of "a little shocking": reviewing Fool's Gold, on February 8, he said, "Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are this generation's greatest screen couple." Then, as if Childress were scowling at him right there in the studio, he half-shouted: "That's right! I said it!"

He loves movies, but not indiscriminately. In February, he complained that Fool's Gold was plotless, calling it in his review "a Romancing the Stone wanna­be." The same month, he savaged Over Her Dead Body: "Eva Longoria-Parker has gone from a desperate housewife to a desperate actress. While watching this new movie, I felt like I had fallen into a pit of quicksand, and as I was sinking to my death, I could see Eva Longoria-Parker standing over me yelling, 'Sucker!'"

His pans, too, are blurblike.

Thirty seconds after dismissing Dead Body, though, the superlatives returned and he called the Miley Cyrus Hannah Montana concert film "both the future of movies and concerts." He added, of Cyrus herself, "She's ginormous and the savior of pop music."

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