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Publishers WeeklyRabin (The Big Rewind) made his mark by eagerly analyzing many of cinema's greatest failures for his Onion-based blog, The A.V. Club. Culling from that source for this collection, he thoughtfully and humorously examines films that failed commercially and critically upon release, have a cult following, and "facilitate an endless procession of facile observations and labored one-liners." Even for films he labels "fiascos," his worst designation, Rabin's sympathy is apparent: Johnny Cash's performance in Gospel Road "reeks of high-school speech class," yet the film's home movie quality is "much of its scruffy charm." Rabin defends the makers of duds like Freddy Got Fingered by contemplating their work in greater contexts, arguing that the odd comedy can be seen "as a borderline Dadaist provocation, a $15 million prank at the studio's expense." But his compassion disappears when it comes to lousy adaptations of celebrated novels, and he accuses Adrian Lyne, for instance, of "transforming a great literary monster into a lovelorn sap" in his version of Lolita. This collection will appeal to readers who've seen many of the same flops; for the unfamiliar, Rabin's wit alone may not be enough to sustain interest.
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