Eric’s Sack of Mail: errors, age differences and ‘Brick’

Here’s another edition of Eric’s Sack of Mail, where we respond to e-mails of general interest that are not angry or stupid. You can always reach me through the e-mail link at the top of this page.

First, a reader named Casey writes in with a correction:

The review for “Ultraviolet” reads: “I guess it makes sense, being known as ‘Hemophages,’ but I didn’t remember what ‘-phage’ meant, only ‘hemo-.’ My Latin isn’t what it should be.”

And yet “hemo-” and “-phage” are both from Greek. The equivalent Latin word is “sanguivore” (from “sanguis,” “blood,” and “voro,” “I eat”), which, a quick search reveals, is a real word people use.

Doh! Casey is right, of course. My secret shame is that I often confuse Greek and Latin things, not just with word origins but all their crazy gods, too. (OK, the gods were weren’t “Latin,” per se, but Roman. But you know what I mean.) I must work harder on this in the future.

Next, Zoe wrote in with some comments on the movie “The Cookout.”

You’re probably WAY OVER this topic, but I had the “pleasure” of watching the cookout for the first time today (thank God, for free!). And I too came upon your site by accident. Why? Because half way through the movie I couldn’t take anymore and I frantically looked up the film to find out who directed it. That’s how I found your review. I read it. All of it.

Now I don’t know how you feel about Black people, but I am a Black woman, and I hate this movie. Hate might be a strong word, but yes, I think I hate this movie. You were rather diplomatic in your review. Bless your heart. This was a piece of crap. And I don’t usually call films crap being that I am a filmmaker myself. But it just baffles me to no end how in the new millennium there can still be a market for this horrible stereotyping of ANYBODY. And it got funding! Wow. And why is Mr. Danny Glover in here? Sorry, I could go on, but I won’t torture you. Thanks for your review. I fully agree. Just sad.

I like black people just fine, Zoe, but thank you for asking.

To tell you the truth, I had honestly forgotten this movie existed until Zoe brought it up, and even then I had to re-read my review to bring any details to mind. Sometimes I use the word “forgettable” to describe a bad movie, and apparently that was literally true in this case.

Our next letter comes from Tim, who has noticed a recent trend in my reviews. He writes:

What’s with your recent obsession with age differences in movie reviews? You’ve mentioned the (surprisingly large) age differences of the actors in the movies “The Benchwarmers,” “The Shaggy Dog,” “Slither,” and another one that you gave a bad review to that I can’t think of off the top of my head.

Just wondered if this was some new thing that you’ve decided to make particular note of when reviewing bad movies, or “Slither.”

I think it’s a coincidence, actually. I’ve mentioned it for different reasons.

In “Slither,” the age difference between one character and his wife is actually acknowledged in the movie itself and figures into the plot. (She married him for financial security.) So my mentioning it wasn’t a criticism but merely part of the plot summary. In “The Benchwarmers,” I mentioned it to point out a logical flaw, in that David Spade and Jon Heder are supposed to have gone to school together, yet in real life they are 15 years apart. And in “The Shaggy Dog,” I mentioned it for the reason you’d think: Tim Allen is old and busted while his wife is young and hot. (Hollywood has a history of giving leading men love interest who are much younger.)

That said, if it’s a bad movie, an unrealistic age difference between characters can be worth mentioning, if only to pile on one more thing that’s wrong with the movie.

Oh, and I don’t know what the other review would have been. I thought it might be “Firewall,” where Harrison Ford is 63 and Virginia Madsen is 44, but a quick glance at my review shows I didn’t mention it. I remember noticing it, though, and even writing about it at one point before changing my mind. Did you read my rough draft?

Finally, a reader named Ben has this question:

Hey, why is “Brick” rated R? I read another review of it that said there is literally no swearing in it, and no sex/nudity. Is the violence really enough to warrant an “R”?

There is indeed literally no swearing in it, nor sex, nor nudity. The R comes from one scene where someone gets shot, and it’s shown fairly realistically. The only violence besides that is a lot of fistfighting. Unless someone is particularly bothered by violence, they should ignore the R rating in this case and pretend it’s a PG-13.

That does it for this round of Eric’s Sack of Mail. Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing letters that aren’t stupid or angry!