We lost the second half of Siskel and Ebert this week. I'm a bit sad and their sardonic reviews aired every late night of my childhood weekends. I thought it would be fun to cull some of Roger Ebert's reviews of Cher's theatrical releases, which were often, of late, very generous:
Zookeeper: "Look, a great movie this is not. A pleasant summer entertainment it is. I think it can play for all ages in a family audience, it's clever to have the animals advising humans on their behavioral strategies, and besides, I'm getting a teensy bit exhausted by cute little animated animals. The creatures in this zoo all have the excellent taste to be in 2D."
Burlesque: "In this scene and throughout the movie, Cher looks exactly as she always does. Other people age. Cher has become a logo...Is this the movie for you? It may very well be. You've read my review, and you think I'm just making snarky comments and indulging in cheap sarcasm. Well, all right, I am. Burlesque shows Cher and Christina Aguilera being all that they can be, and that's more than enough."
Stuck on You: "The movie is funny, but also kind-hearted. Much screen time is given to Rocket (Ray "Rocket" Valliere), a waiter in the burger joint. He's a mentally challenged friend of the Farrellys, who makes it clear here why they like him. Their approach to handicaps is open and natural, and refreshing, compared to the anguished, guilt-laden treatment usually given to handicapped characters in movies. The fact that Walt hopes to be a movie star is less amazing, really, than that the Farrellys had the nerve to make a comedy about it."
Tea with Mussolini: "I enjoyed the movie in a certain way, as a kind of sub-Merchant-Ivory mix of eccentric ladies and enchanting scenery. I liked the performances of the women (including Cher; people keep forgetting what a good actress she can be)...But the movie seemed the stuff of anecdote, not drama."
Faithful: "Faithful is the kind of movie that's diverting while you're watching it, mostly because of the actors' appeal, but it evaporates the moment it's over, because it's not really about anything. Nothing is at stake, the relationships are not three-dimensional enough for us to care about them, and it's likely that nobody will get killed. That leaves the physical presences of the actors and the wit of the dialogue--enough for a play, but not for the greater realism of a movie."
Mermaids: "The mom in Mermaids is played by Cher. Not only played by Cher, but in an eerie sense played as Cher, with perfect makeup and a flawless body that seems a bit much to hope for, given the character's lifestyle and diet...The central pop culture detail here is Cher, who, like Bette Midler in the somewhat similar Stella, does not entirely suffer her famous persona to disappear inside the role....And yet, perversely perhaps, I found this an interesting movie. I didn't give a bean how it turned out, and I found a lot of it preposterous, but I enjoyed that quality. Why do we look at movies? To learn lessons and see life reflected back at us? Sometimes. But sometimes we simply sit there in the dark, stupefied by the spectacle. Mermaids is not exactly good, but it is not boring. Winona Ryder, in another of her alienated outsider roles, generates real charisma. And what the movie is saying about Cher is as elusive as it is intriguing."
Moonstruck: "The movie is filled with fine performances - by Cher, never funnier or more assured; by Dukakis and Gardenia, as her parents, whose love runs as deep as their exasperation, and by Cage as the hapless, angry brother, who is so filled with hurts that he has lost track of what caused them. In its warmth and in its enchantment, as well as in its laughs, this is the best comedy in a long time."
Suspect: "Suspect is fun when Cher and Quaid interact; she does a convincing job of playing a lonely career woman, and he's a slick lobbyist with more charm than substance. There are lots of good supporting performances, including a tricky one by Liam Neeson as the deaf-mute who gradually reveals his true history. But the closing revelations made me rethink the whole plot, and made it look less like a case of jury-tampering than audience-tampering."
The Witches of Eastwick: "The women are played in the movie by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon, and they have a delicious good time with their roles. These women need to be good at double takes, because they're always getting into situations that require them. When they're together, talking up a storm, they have the kind of unconscious verbal timing that makes comedy out of ordinary speech. We laugh not only because they say funny things but because they give everyday things just a slight twist of irony. But it's Nicholson's show. There is a scene where he dresses in satin pajamas and sprawls full length on a bed, twisting and stretching sinuously in full enjoyment of his sensuality. It is one of the funniest moments of physical humor he has ever committed...Fantasies usually play better on the page than on the screen, because in the imagination they don't seem as ridiculous as they sometimes do when they've been reduced to actual images. There are some moments in The Witches of Eastwick that stretch uncomfortably for effects - the movie's climax is overdone, for example - and yet a lot of the time this movie plays like a plausible story about implausible people. The performances sell it. And the eyebrows."
Mask: "Cher, on the other hand, makes Rusty Dennis into one of the most interesting movie characters in a long time...Mask is a wonderful movie, a story of high spirits and hope and courage. It has some songs in it, by Bob Seger, and there has been a lot of publicity about the fact that Peter Bogdanovich would rather the songs were by Bruce Springsteen. Let me put it this way: This is a movie that doesn't depend on its sound track. It works because of the people it's about, not because of the music they listen to."
Silkwood: "It's a little amazing that established movie stars like Streep, Russell and Cher could disappear so completely into the everyday lives of these characters."
Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean: "A richly textured mixture of confessions, obsessions, and surprises . . . Cher’s performance here is a revelation.”
Chastity: Not reviewed.
Good Times: "Good Times has its moments. Sonny and Cher are asked to make a movie, and look for a story. Their search takes the form of spoofs on established film cliches: The Bogart-type detective movie (with camera angles lifted from "The Maltese Falcon"), the Western, the jungle tale. Friedkin is inventive with his camera, and Sonny and Cher, although they lack the Beatles' spontaneity, work the veins of comedy and pathos with some success. There are moments that sparkle. And Cher, in a solo, reveals a surprisingly gifted singing voice. Good Times is no classic, but in ambition and achievement it's better than most movies of its type. Adults may find it diverting. and the kids, I suppose, will go because they want to see Sonny and Cher singing all those songs."