A Four-Star Job

In Reports from Green Lake by Brady Carlson0 Comments

Even Richard Gere movies look good through the eyes of Green Lake’s movie critic

One of the great cinematic mysteries was solved a few years back when Sony Pictures admitted that in-house writers were making up the positive quotes in their movie commercials. But while that practice ended, the movie industry’s practice of churning out boring, formulaic movies continued with no end in sight. With J-Lo failing to delight and Joel Schumacher somehow remaining off welfare, a new mystery was born: who was writing the positive quotes for these stinkers?

Movie critic Don Sawyer, that’s who. And he doesn’t cheer for these movies just to be nice, or to get his name in print. Sawyer genuinely likes every movie he screens, and that’s a testament to his positive nature, if possibly also an indicator of his total lack of taste.

“Being a film reviewer is a four-star job, absolutely top-notch,” Sawyer said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Sawyer is a lifelong Green Laker whose cheerful demeanor belies a childhood filled with rage, rebellion and lots of drugs. “He was a jerk,” says Sawyer’s juvenile probation officer, Sergeant Gary McCann (retired). “I’d never seen a stoner who was so paranoid and angry. Usually they’re just lazy and hungry. But Donny, we all figured he was on a one-way trip to nowhere. I used to tell him that all the time, too, but he never seemed to straighten his act out. Just like the damn kids today, skateboarding in my damn driveway.”

But that trip was delayed during the turbulent 1960’s, when Sawyer attended Appleton State University. He trained as a screenwriter, but stood out from peers only due to his poor hygiene and limited writing skill. “God, what a jerk,” said Dr. Emil Redfazio. “He couldn’t write, and when he came to class he spent most of his time interrupting people. I quit teaching because of him.” Only one of Sawyer’s screenplays, a comedy called Mr. Double Doobie: The Firehose That Never Came Home, was ever sold to a studio, and was panned mercilessly when it was released in 1969. Legendary film critic Pauline Kael wrote that “any movie that’s based on the premise that Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ refers to flatulence should be brilliant, but screening this picture winds up being about as useful as appeasing Hitler.”

“It [the review] hurt like hell,” Sawyer said. “Not so much the words, but that fact that Pauline actually flew out here so she could hit me over the head with it.” The injuries from Kael’s attack needed over a hundred stitches to heal and left Sawyer in a coma for a week- “but when I woke up,” he says, “I had an epiphany- instead of risking my life by writing screenplays, I should be writing film reviews! Plus, I was coming down so bad, I couldn’t move.”

Sitting in Green Lake General’s Film Critic Beating Victim Wing, Sawyer spent a lot of time watching movies on a projector set up in his room by special request. (“Special request, my hinder,” said Nurse Joan French, who worked in the wing. “We gave him the movies so he’d stop asking if everybody else had finished their pudding. Some attitude on that guy, I tell you.”) “Reviewing the movies was actually easier than I thought,” Sawyer recalls. “I mean, my movie wasn’t too great, so everything I watched was better. So I wrote positive reviews.” After finishing his recuperation Sawyer went to work for the Green Lake Flagbearer, who worked on his behalf to license the column to a national press syndicate (“That way we didn’t have to work in the same office as that load,” said one Flagbearer employee.) Now millions read Sawyer’s weekly column, where even the lowliest screen talents can count on a strong review.

It’s no surprise that the movie studios love a cheerleader like Sawyer reviewing their films. “We couldn’t have written more useful reviews ourselves, and I mean that literally cause we tried,” said Gwen Pitt of Global International Films. “A juicy quote from Sawyer for one of our junky movies is more than worth putting up with his repulsive eating habits and bad attitude.” Sawyer was honored in 2001 by the Motion Picture Producers’ Guild as “Critic of the Year,” which he accepted “in the name of all the great movies out there, especially the Disney ones starring Jonathan Taylor-Thomas!”

For his part, Sawyer is unapologetic about his universal love for today’s movies. “Some people think it’s all a put-on, that I’m just kissing up to the movie houses to get my name on their commercials. But I can’t help it that Hollywood is in a golden age. They’re all just putting out tremendous movies. Take The Mexican, for example. Now there’s a movie where they lined the stars up and made one of the funniest movies of all time. Or Pluto Nash… gold! That one really put Eddie Murphy’s comedic genius on display. That joke about Hillary Clinton on the money, I can’t stop laughing about it!” Sawyer has especially high hopes for new stars like Vin Diesel, “who rocks our world every time he’s on screen. He’s got such an intelligent screen presence. And he’s got muscles, too!”

With a successful column being printed, syndicated and quoted regularly, Don Sawyer’s star is truly on the rise. And on the heels of his success, he’s returning to the root of his success: penning a screenplay called Son of Firehose, a sequel to his first film. “It’ll be a family-friendly smash hit for youngsters and the young at heart,” says Sawyer. “Besides, Pauline Kael’s dead now, so there’s no risk!”

Even Richard Gere movies look good through the eyes of Green Lake’s movie critic

One of the great cinematic mysteries was solved a few years back when Sony Pictures admitted that in-house writers were making up the positive quotes in their movie commercials. But while that practice ended, the movie industry’s practice of churning out boring, formulaic movies continued with no end in sight. With J-Lo failing to delight and Joel Schumacher somehow remaining off welfare, a new mystery was born: who was writing the positive quotes for these stinkers?

Movie critic Don Sawyer, that’s who. And he doesn’t cheer for these movies just to be nice, or to get his name in print. Sawyer genuinely likes every movie he screens, and that’s a testament to his positive nature, if possibly also an indicator of his total lack of taste.

“Being a film reviewer is a four-star job, absolutely top-notch,” Sawyer said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Sawyer is a lifelong Green Laker whose cheerful demeanor belies a childhood filled with rage, rebellion and lots of drugs. “He was a jerk,” says Sawyer’s juvenile probation officer, Sergeant Gary McCann (retired). “I’d never seen a stoner who was so paranoid and angry. Usually they’re just lazy and hungry. But Donny, we all figured he was on a one-way trip to nowhere. I used to tell him that all the time, too, but he never seemed to straighten his act out. Just like the damn kids today, skateboarding in my damn driveway.”

But that trip was delayed during the turbulent 1960’s, when Sawyer attended Appleton State University. He trained as a screenwriter, but stood out from peers only due to his poor hygiene and limited writing skill. “God, what a jerk,” said Dr. Emil Redfazio. “He couldn’t write, and when he came to class he spent most of his time interrupting people. I quit teaching because of him.” Only one of Sawyer’s screenplays, a comedy called Mr. Double Doobie: The Firehose That Never Came Home, was ever sold to a studio, and was panned mercilessly when it was released in 1969. Legendary film critic Pauline Kael wrote that “any movie that’s based on the premise that Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ refers to flatulence should be brilliant, but screening this picture winds up being about as useful as appeasing Hitler.”

“It [the review] hurt like hell,” Sawyer said. “Not so much the words, but that fact that Pauline actually flew out here so she could hit me over the head with it.” The injuries from Kael’s attack needed over a hundred stitches to heal and left Sawyer in a coma for a week- “but when I woke up,” he says, “I had an epiphany- instead of risking my life by writing screenplays, I should be writing film reviews! Plus, I was coming down so bad, I couldn’t move.”

Sitting in Green Lake General’s Film Critic Beating Victim Wing, Sawyer spent a lot of time watching movies on a projector set up in his room by special request. (“Special request, my hinder,” said Nurse Joan French, who worked in the wing. “We gave him the movies so he’d stop asking if everybody else had finished their pudding. Some attitude on that guy, I tell you.”) “Reviewing the movies was actually easier than I thought,” Sawyer recalls. “I mean, my movie wasn’t too great, so everything I watched was better. So I wrote positive reviews.” After finishing his recuperation Sawyer went to work for the Green Lake Flagbearer, who worked on his behalf to license the column to a national press syndicate (“That way we didn’t have to work in the same office as that load,” said one Flagbearer employee.) Now millions read Sawyer’s weekly column, where even the lowliest screen talents can count on a strong review.

It’s no surprise that the movie studios love a cheerleader like Sawyer reviewing their films. “We couldn’t have written more useful reviews ourselves, and I mean that literally cause we tried,” said Gwen Pitt of Global International Films. “A juicy quote from Sawyer for one of our junky movies is more than worth putting up with his repulsive eating habits and bad attitude.” Sawyer was honored in 2001 by the Motion Picture Producers’ Guild as “Critic of the Year,” which he accepted “in the name of all the great movies out there, especially the Disney ones starring Jonathan Taylor-Thomas!”

For his part, Sawyer is unapologetic about his universal love for today’s movies. “Some people think it’s all a put-on, that I’m just kissing up to the movie houses to get my name on their commercials. But I can’t help it that Hollywood is in a golden age. They’re all just putting out tremendous movies. Take The Mexican, for example. Now there’s a movie where they lined the stars up and made one of the funniest movies of all time. Or Pluto Nash… gold! That one really put Eddie Murphy’s comedic genius on display. That joke about Hillary Clinton on the money, I can’t stop laughing about it!” Sawyer has especially high hopes for new stars like Vin Diesel, “who rocks our world every time he’s on screen. He’s got such an intelligent screen presence. And he’s got muscles, too!”

With a successful column being printed, syndicated and quoted regularly, Don Sawyer’s star is truly on the rise. And on the heels of his success, he’s returning to the root of his success: penning a screenplay called Son of Firehose, a sequel to his first film. “It’ll be a family-friendly smash hit for youngsters and the young at heart,” says Sawyer. “Besides, Pauline Kael’s dead now, so there’s no risk!”

 

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