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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'G.I. Joe': Will it really get better reviews than 'The Hangover'?

August 4, 2009 |  2:43 pm

Give Paramount credit: The studio hasn't exactly been coy about the prospects of dismal reviews for "G.I. Joe," this weekend's special-effects action extravaganza that is expected to be about as aesthetically satisfying as "The Mummy," "Van Helsing" and all of the other delightful fare brought to us by director Stephen Sommers. As Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore bluntly told the Associated Press, the studio wants to avoid all the critical sniping it endured with its recent "Transformers" release, which was eviscerated by critics yet has earned untold hundreds of millions around the world.

Gi-joe-char-poster-3 So Paramount isn't screening "G.I. Joe" for critics, with Moore telling AP that "we want audiences to define this film." As my colleagues Ben Fritz and Claudia Eller pointed out the other day, the studio has entirely sidestepped the Hollywood press, preferring to go directly to the heartland -- advertising the movie at the Country Music Television Awards and staging its premiere at Andrews Air Force Base before 1,000 service members and their families.

But the studio has shown the film to a carefully selected scrum of fanboy reviewers, including the King of All Geeks, Aint it Cool News' Harry Knowles, who -- big surprise! -- have fallen head over heels in love with the film. Or as HitFix's Drew McWeeny  put it: "[It's] one of the most successful little-boy adventure movies in a long time." It's unlikely that their gushy enthusiasm will change the mind of any serious critics (though as a fan of demolition derbies, I'm hoping the New York Times assigns Manohla Dargis to review the picture).

But it has totally thrown a monkey wrench into Rotten Tomatoes, the critical aggregation site that prides itself on providing an accurate barometer for film critic opinion. With only fanboy reviews to pick from, Rotten Tomatoes is now giving "G.I.Joe" a comically elevated 80 score, a higher rating than even the beloved "The Hangover" earned earlier this summer. There's nothing Rotten Tomatoes can do until more reviews come in, but I think it will be fun to follow the film's score as it descends from such rarefied heights into the critical netherworld.

How low can it go? Will "G.I. Joe" end up with an even worse score than such dreck as "I Love You, Beth Cooper" or "The Ugly Truth"? Stay tuned: We'll be providing periodic updates as the steep plunge begins.

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