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Heckler: Entertaining, but extremely flawed
dyl_gon5 October 2008
It's a little weird – and very ironic - to review Heckler, a documentary that speaks out specifically on film criticism. Despite the title and promotional materials suggesting that it focuses on those who heckle stand up comedians, the film has a change of heart half way through, switching its efforts over to berating film critics. Therein lies one of the bigger problems with Heckler: the two topics don't have much to do with one another, despite Jamie Kennedy's, the star of the film, attempts at correlating them. Besides this major flaw, Heckler is an entertaining film. Personally, I disagree with nearly every point of view featured within Heckler, but the film held my interest, containing what must be hundreds of different interviews with celebrities.

The first half of Heckler focuses primarily on audience members at stand-up comedy shows who take it upon themselves to interrupt the performance, insult the comedian, or occasionally even try and steal the spotlight by finishing the jokes. While this may not seem like a big issue to most, the film demonstrates how hecklers have become an increasingly large problem for stand –up comedians. Interviews with a myriad of celebrity comedians, including David Cross, Bill Maher and Tom Green among others, show the frustrations, self-doubt and career repercussions comedians face because of unruly patrons. Heckler also documents some of the more extreme cases as well, including an assault on a stand-up by an offended viewer, a musician who smashes his guitar over an unruly mans head, and the infamous Michael Richards incident. This portion of Heckler does a good job of shedding light on an issue most people have never given a second-thought to.

This is soon abandoned in favor of bashing film critics, especially, but not limited to, the internet kind. There are a few legitimate points made about criticism, particularly how in the "internet" age, more attention is focused on deriding and humiliating the actors/directors who created the film, then critiquing the film itself. While this does show a gradual decrease in the quality of film criticism over the years, it's still very difficult to sympathize with the various film directors interviewed within the film, who all seem to take film criticisms, and the small jabs that come with many of them, way too far. Anyone working within the entertainment business has to have thick skin, it comes with the job. One of these featured directors is Paul Chilsen, who supposedly dropped out of film-making because his first feature got poor reviews. This isn't the fault of the critics; he simply wasn't cut out for the business.

However, no performer featured in Heckler comes across as infantile and whiny as the star of the film himself, Jamie Kennedy. It's a wonder the man ever made it through high school, as it is frequently demonstrated throughout the film that he is unable to take the slightest criticisms of his work. When confronting two teenage hecklers, Kennedy doesn't seem to care about the fact that his show was disrupted; his only concern seems to be that they didn't find it funny, as he begins to say "What do you know about comedy? Who are you to decide what's funny". They're your audience, Jamie. They paid money to see your show, and while they don't have a right to ruin it for others, they have every right to decide whether it's funny or not. If you don't feel like people should judge your work, perhaps you shouldn't be performing it for them.

Kennedy also begins meeting with critics who have given his last feature film, Son of the Mask, a bad review. It becomes more apparent that Kennedy just can't accept the fact that people dislike it or other films of his. He blames others for his own failures as an actor/writer. It's not just the insulting reviews that Kennedy has a problem with: he has a problem with any review that speaks negatively of the film. In Kennedy's dream world, everyone would be forced to enjoy every single piece of art out there, for fear of upsetting the artists. Kennedy takes offense to Richard Roeper's review stating he wanted to walk out of Son of the Mask. The ensuing confrontation is hilarious, as Kennedy attempts to change Roeper's mind by saying in all seriousness that the movie was trying to push new boundaries...by having a baby with super powers who could throw people. In another scene, Kennedy confronts a critic, Peter Grumbine, who seems to find Jamie's overreaction rather funny. At the end of the exchange, Jamie actually calls Grumbine evil, putting someone who dislikes his film among the ranks of Hitler, Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden. Even if you still have the slightest doubt after watching the movie that Kennedy is overreacting, the deleted scenes should clear everything up: Kennedy freaks out on a friend who merely said one of his comedy bits didn't work.

Perhaps the most alarming thing is many of the director's insistence that no one has the right to judge their work, that anyone who speaks negatively of their work misunderstands it. It shows a complete lack of consideration for the audience, and makes one wonder why these self-proclaimed masters of film even bother showing their work to audiences if they don't care about the reaction. The one exception is Uwe Boll, possibly the most hated man in the film-making business. While he does have an organized boxing bout with critics in the movie, letting off a bit of steam, he never once speaks out against film criticism. Perhaps this is why someone like Boll is increasingly getting better (his two latest movies have had some support) while people like Jamie Kennedy, Joel Schumacher and Eli Roth are continuously getting worse and worse. In the end, it's not film criticism that's destroying the film business, but Kennedy's (and others) inability to learn from the criticism.
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Genius on the fly
winner5512 August 2011
A few years ago I wrote that the infamous Monkees' movie "Head" was an accidental masterpiece. Rereading that review recently, I realized that many people may have thought I was writing sarcastically, ironically. I was not. "Head" IS a masterpiece of cinema, even though it undoubtedly was not what the Monkees or the filmmakers intended, it is just so brilliantly put together that whatever the motivations, a real document of the '60s had been produced.

"Heckler," similarly, is a film that reaches way beyond its initial intentions. Filmed 'on the sly' (i.e., whenever they could arrange an interview) over a three year period, the film evolved from a 'behind-the-scenes' tour documentary into a study into the relationship between comics and their hecklers, into an essay on the problematic relationship between performing artists and their critics generally (especially those on the internet, such as at IMDb). This evolution marks its 'accidental' character - the filmmakers are not trying for depth, they find it because it is there, and demands attention.

Some of this movie is funny, even hilarious, some even disturbing. As it should be. The film asks why we want to voice opinions of work that is solely intended to entertain us. Some of the answer to that is not pleasant to confront. Are we jealous of the more successful? Yet even the equally successful seem to have their opinions - why7 The film leaves the question with us, preferring to resolve the problem of how artists (of various genres) should deal with it (learn from it, burn it, move on).

I learned a lot from this movie. The cinematography is - well, anyone who could hold a camera and hit the record button did so. The editing is wonderful. There's no intrusive commentary except a handful of title cards. The people are real and captured in as real a manner as the present day (post 'reality TV) allows. It's just a brilliantly put together venture, however it came about.

My favorite part? - and I think the decisive moment of the film - Andrew Dice Clay's confrontation with a worm of a CNN commentator who had not the slightest idea what he was talking about, and then moved on to a story about Art Carney! You won't learn a lot about the mysteries of the universe, but you may learn something about yourself.

(2 BTW notes - (1. The dance towards the end is fascinating. 2. The 'bonus' material on the DVD is uniformly excellent.)
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Here's My Constructive Criticism
CaptainADD21 July 2010
In this documentary, Jamie Kennedy says that movie critics should make a point of giving "constructive criticism," that is, instead of just saying that a movie sucked, say why it was bad and what could have been done to make it better. This is one of the parts that I agree with, so I'll try to do that here.

The first 20 minutes or so were exactly what the DVD cover and title claim to be- a documentary about how stand-up comedians deal with hecklers. Listening to the comedians' war stories and methods of dealing with hecklers is hilarious and a fascinating subject.

But then the movie veers off course when Kennedy makes a ham-fisted comparison equating movie critics to hecklers. Plenty of others here have explained why that's a bad comparison, so I don't need to explain why again.

From that point on, it feels like the movie is nothing but JK whining that no one liked Son of the Mask. I'm a bit bitter about the bait-and-switch done here. He shows us a brief clip of SotM that's supposed to convince us that the whole thing is funny, and assumes that this gets us 100% on board with his belief that everyone who criticized it is totally wrong and/or mean-spirited. And EVERYONE he finds either didn't watch it or didn't like it. He mopes around between sadness and anger, never once stopping to consider that just maybe Son of the Mask really was a bad film.

In fact, he seems to be really stuck on the idea that there is no such thing as a bad film whatsoever. Kennedy argues that because every opinion on a movie is just an opinion, not a fact. However, most people would agree that if a film is universally hated by both professional critics and the viewing public, tanks at the box office, and gets singled out by Rotten Tomatoes as one of the 100 worst films of the decade, as Son of the Mask was, then it's a pretty safe bet to call it a bad movie. There is such a thing as a bad film.

He has some valid points about how mean-spirited and personal-level criticisms of films are excessively cruel, but these points seem to get lost in the mess of the post-heckler part of the movie. It's unfocused and has a lot of logical leaps. One minute all movie critics are scum, the next minute Roger Ebert is a great and well-respected exception (even though he's just as famous for tearing into truly bad films as writing great reviews), the next we see some kid saying that Ebert is an idiot and an out-of-context clip that makes Beyond the Valley of the Dolls look really bad, completely missing the point that that film was intentionally schlocky. One minute a professional movie critic is a valid career with a legitimate purpose, the next they're all scum again. One minute he's accepting of the idea of constructive criticism that doesn't attack on a personal level, the next 25 minutes, no one should ever have a negative opinion about anything.

We're treated to a parade of famous flop-makers that we're supposed to feel sympathy for, but don't, because we're still not convinced that there's no such thing as a bad movie. Bringing in people involved with incredibly bad movies like Joel Schumaker, Carrot Top, and Uwe Boll to argue your point only further cements the idea that your movie was bad and that you're just being bitter about everyone's natural reaction to it.

However, I thought that the part about how the Web has made everyone into an elitist critic with a tendency to hate everything was interesting ("0 out of 4 waffles?"). I find people who come to IMDb, give a good-but-not-great movie 0/10 stars and a review of "THIS WUZ The WURST MUVEE EVER LOLz!" to be some of the biggest morons on the planet, and their opinions to be about as worthless as he says they are. JK also has an interesting idea where he confronts some of his harshest, most personal-level critics to see if they'll say the same things to his face. But his reaction to one of those is so terribly immature and unfunny (and I'm no prude) that it ruins the whole exercise.

In conclusion, I think that Kennedy made this film too soon. His emotions about everyone's reaction to Son of the Mask were still too raw, and that got in the way of his ability to make a coherent documentary. Had he made it two or three years later, he probably would have been thinking clearly enough to leave out some of the moments that I'm sure felt gratifying to him, but just alienated his audience, like his contradictory opinions on Ebert or his treatment of the last critic he met in person.
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Funny and thought-provoking - creators vs. destroyers.
addicott1 January 2009
The title: Heckler might lead one to believe that the whole film is about standup comedians and their drunken, attention-starved arch-rivals. The gaze shifts quickly to film critics, both established and the legions of self-appointed online experts (like me... hey, wait a minute!!!). Apparently producer Jamie Kennedy has a bone to pick after the thrashing he got for his role in Son Of The Mask. (I sense he might not have been as motivated for this project if he'd just won the Oscar.) But it's not just him - he pulls up a virtual who's who of comedy and just about everyone seems traumatized and disillusioned to some extent.

Getting dozens of great comic talents like Harland Williams and Bill Maher to speak candidly for any length of time on any topic is a sure-fire way to guarantee some entertainment value. Ironically, this approach got more laughs out of me than most feature film screenplays.

Oh, there I go. I keep forgetting I'm part of this problem.

I was surprised to see the extent and the intensity of the online vitriol. A lot of what gets said does seem excessively mean and uncalled-for. Apparently morbid, extreme insults are a cheap way to gain notoriety and generate lots of web hits. (Just like shouting "YOU SUCK" is a quick and dirty way to gain attention from everyone in the auditorium.)

This picture clearly distinguishes doers from I-could-do-betters and the latter group doesn't fare very well under scrutiny. They showed a clip from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, screenplay by Roger Ebert, that makes makes Malibu's Most Wanted look worthy of the Palme D'or by comparison. And when 4 internet critics accept director Uwe Boll's challenge to a boxing match, well... let's just say they won't be lambasting his fight the way they did his films. (He pretty much knocks them all out, back to back, without even breaking a sweat.)

So as a documentary, I found Heckler to be very enlightening and provokative. (What am I doing here, picking apart other people's movies? Why don't I get off my ass and try making one?)
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Good, but could have been great.
houlihanb6 April 2009
I have never written a film review here before, but Heckler actually compelled me to do so. One thing I gleaned from the movie was an appeal to critics: Don't be mean for the sake of being mean. Instead, make the criticism constructive. I aim to do that here.

I will start by saying I really enjoyed hearing the perspective of all the performers and artists on the subject of heckling and criticism. Since the interview subjects are funny and talented people, the resulting string of talking heads is actually quite entertaining. As for the subject matter, I have always been sympathetic towards comedians who have to endure hecklers while on stage, but this movie really hit the point home. Also interesting was the footage of actual heckling incidents, and the sometimes shocking reactions from the performer.

Jamie Kennedy, the de facto host of the movie, was good for the most part, but some sequences were more effective than others. He was at his best when his humor was self-deprecating. When Jamie confronted a critic, read their review out loud, and then sat there with a sort of deflated, forlorn look on his face as the critic continued to insult him, that was good stuff. But when he went on the attack, such as insulting one guy's babysitting job, or asking a critic about his sex life, he was turning into the very mean-spirited critic that he had been admonishing. If he instead became the better person, and turned the other cheek, he would have been a more sympathetic (and funnier) character. Still, his performance overall was good.

As for the treatment of film criticism, I felt like there needed to be more balance. There should have been some acknowledgment that film critics provide a valuable source of consumer information. When I go to see a movie, I have to make a 1/2 hour to 1 hour drive, sometimes pay for parking, pay $10 or more admission, and devote 2 hours of my life to watching it. Before doing so, I would like to know if it is worth the money, time, and effort. Film reviews are an essential tool in making this determination. I am a consumer, and a movie is a product I am purchasing. How is it any different from reading reviews for any other product before purchasing it? Why are car reviewers not berated for what they do? How about Consumer Reports, which reviews just about any product you can think of? As for internet reviewers, how about the customer reviews on amazon.com, or rei.com, or any major internet retail site? They may not be professional reviewers, but their opinions can be meaningful in large numbers. When 100 owners give something a good (or bad) review, that is useful information if I am thinking of purchasing that product. I think it is also a false argument to suggest that film critics lack credibility because most of them have never made a film themselves. Back to the car reviewer analogy, I bet most of them have never manufactured cars, but they have driven enough of them to separate a finely tuned machine from a lemon.

So, while I enjoyed Heckler overall, I couldn't help but leave a little disappointed knowing it could have been much better if it was made with a little less hostility and a little more thoughtfulness. With this approach, I think these filmmakers could turn a good movie into a great one.
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How can you be a movie critic if you haven't filmed any movie in your life?
sensei_11058523 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Documentary against hecklers and critics... and maybe even guy who has an opinion... the next three questions were in the movie, so i'll try to give my opinion...

1. How can you be a movie critic if you haven't filmed any movie in your life? - WTF!? Guys, this is the lamest and dumbest excuse ever! I haven't been president nor politician so far, but it doesn't mean that I can't criticize them or their work.

2. Everybody has an opinion about everything today... - Of course, is it wrong to have an opinion? A lot of comedians also have some kind of social criticism in their act. Is it me, or is this exactly the same opinion that we talk about?

3. We don't have thick skin, we also have feelings... - Yeah, humans usually have feelings, but you shouldn't feel bad and sad if some low life loser/nerd/idiot or how else you call them, wrote or said something offending to you or about you. You should work on your self-esteem. If you're more popular, more people will talk about you, and not all talk is cool. Get used to it. It's the price you have to pay.

I don't consider myself heckler, nor critic, not even basher of anybody's work, but this documentary and people in it are really asking for it. Folks, get used to it, it's part of life and especially part of entertainment, stop bitching about it so much.
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Policing the Police
Bill-27612 April 2011
I want to try to be as fair to this film as possible, because it's clear from the comedians interviewed in this film that criticism from anyone can be taken very personally.

Since this film isn't about hecklers so much as it is film critics (it's a bait and switch), let's address the latter. Comedies in general have always been held, fairly or unfairly, to the same standards by most movie critics as an Oscar nominated Meryl Streep film. And that is unfortunate. I can be guilty of the same comparisons. However, I don't see that changing anytime soon, and as long as Adam Sandler's target audience remains 12 year old boys, many critics are not going to recommend his films. Sure there may be a caveat ("If you're a pre-teen...") but generally, critics are looking to recommend films not to genre-specific buffs or age groups, but to all audiences (unfortunately this isn't really examined in this documentary).

"Heckler" takes an almost defeatist approach at the hands of film critics when actually there is a solution. Using eBay or even IMDb as a prototype, the buyer and sellers on ebay, and the critics here on IMDb are graded by the readers or themselves, thus helping to weed out unnecessary incendiary and non-constructive deals and/or reviews. Does it work for movie reviews? Do audiences have a way to grade Roger Ebert or Leonard Maltin? No, but it's likely to happen very soon.

I would compare the current film critic industry to the news media in general before profiteering became so prominent post Cronkite. The news media and their personalities have nearly lost any and all respectable viewers. Bill O'Reilly draws 4 million viewers to win his 8:00 time slot. But that's only 1/4 of 1 percent of the population. The 4th estate has been so inept, and the difference between "experts" with special interests so intertwined, that's it's taken Jon Stewart to create what I've been calling "The 5th Estate" to police the 4th estate, because they haven't been doing their job of working for the public, but rather the government, special interests or themselves. And that's where I see the process of film criticism heading--toward a state of viewers policing and correcting, if necessary, critics reviews.

I like Jamie Kennedy based on what I saw from "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment". I haven't seen any of his films but they don't appear to be targeted at me. There's a place for silly farce, slapstick and toilet humor (The Farrelly Brothers...) And there's a place for very sharp dialog comedies with small but adult themes like "The 40 Year Old Virgin", "Superbad" and "The Hangover". Unfortunately, Kennedy's film fall into the former category, and it's difficult to gain traction among critics who only want to recommend films to wider audiences than the 12-18 year old demographics in the Adam Sandler vein.

"Heckler" is not a documentary I would recommend because it's filmed to be more of a defensive commentary on Kennedy's movies (or at least a cathartic release for Kennedy to confront his critics) than anything constructive about critics of comedy--which ironically and to it's own point, is self-defeating. The day will come when the poison arrows are graded. Jamie Kennedy is not for everyone, but that's OK, and great! But like Sandler and even Vince Vaughn, David Spade, Tina Fey etc... he needs to realize this himself, and the sooner the better.
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In a way I understand but.....
stagedlined46630 July 2015
No artist likes receiving criticism. I understand that might be frustrating to have your hard work not pay off. But you can do one of two things, you can thrive on criticism or you can be so indulged with your self and whine about it. Guess which one is practiced in this movie.

To be fair I did like the first fifteen minutes of this documentary. Where it was about how hecklers during comedy shows need to stop and be polite etc. That part made sense. I for one hate it when people are rude during any form of entertainment. But when Jamie Kennedy changes the topic to attacking critics that's where it fell apart.

Not only are Jamie Kennedy's antics childish and rude, but also completely contradicting to the message against hecklers. And it doesn't help that Kennedy makes a fool of himself when he is interviewing a critic who gave one of his films a bad review.

Now on a positive note I at least do get behind some of what this documentary is trying to say. There are some critics who are bad at their jobs. Not giving the proper criticisms of the product's content and instead criticizing on how hot the actors are, and how many parts of a movie suck. But not all critics are like that. There are those who know what they are doing and give good constructive criticisms.

But what I can't get over is how is seems that most of these comedians and other artists think that critics should not even exist. That is just petty and unprofessional. Shouldn't artist be glad that their are critics to point out flaws so that the artist can try better next time? Well not for our Mr. Kennedy apparently.

So in the end I thought is was a terrible documentary. I'll admit I like the first few minutes, but after that it becomes an indulgent, childish and just down right disgusting experience.

So if there are any inspiring artists of any kind, I'd implore you to swallow your pride and listen to your critics. But only the ones that have actual good constructive criticisms. And if you don't you'll become egotistical hacks like the people that made this movie.
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Jamie Kennedy is a whiny little @#$*%
totire-a27 June 2009
This movie is complete garbage. I would have turned it off less than halfway through, but I thought I would indulge Jamie Kennedy who I sometimes find amusing. However, after the first 15-20 minutes the film no longer deals with the topic of hecklers at all. Instead, Kennedy goes off on a whining tantrum where he confronts his critics asking them why they didn't like his movies. Instead of accepting the fact that he has made some pretty terrible movies (Malibu's Most Wanted, Son of the Mask) he confronts his critics and makes them explain why they said the things they said. What he should have done was turn the tables and explain to the public why he makes such shitty movies. Honestly, he made hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars for those movies. Criticism comes with the territory. Suck it up, stop whining, and make some movies that are entertaining. I honestly wish he would come interview me for "Hecklers 2", but we all know that nobody who watched the first one would ever green light a sequel.

Just an absolutely 100% self indulgent piece of garbage that should be avoided at all costs.
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A commendable concept with less than fulfilling results
Mojochi22 September 2008
I suspect, as I'm one of the very few people to review this documentary, thus far, there is some likelihood that Jaime Kennedy might actually read it, as was evidenced in the film itself, often being his tendency.

I sincerely hope he does, as nobody can avoid criticism, and those that ignore it completely are destined to eventually loose touch, in some way, with their benefactors. We all face criticism. I work alongside surgeons, who give criticism to those who perform inadequately, the likes of which make the kind of harassment that a comedy heckler gives look like a prepubescent, shooting spitballs, from a straw. Entertainers don't have a corner on the market of pressure stress

I'm 38, live in my own home, and yes, I have opinions on what is or isn't entertaining, which coincidentally, I don't hold alone. I frequently agree on the value or valuelessness of entertainment with others. I'd suggest, that though we're not entertainers, we're still valid in our opinions, especially when they're informed, multitudinous and as it happens, the source of your income. I'd also mention, that I've spent some nights of my own singing dinner theater, and having people talk over it, and yes, it is rude, and ignorant.

Heckling is pointless, but though many critics are completely useless, vindictive attention whores, that doesn't negate the fact that hecklers and critics are wholly different things, simply sharing commonalities, and it doesn't mean that every critic is equally guilty of such. I know that when I've reviewed things, I try avoiding being a total prick, but as I'm occasionally a prick in daily life, some of that may show though. It's called Human nature.

I rarely spend the time to write a poor review, as can be confirmed on my comment history page, which only contains fourteen other reviews, to date, over the past two years, half of which are glowing recommendations. I rarely take pot shots at someone, because there is not much use in it, but I'll admit that when a piece of entertainment fails dismally to entertain, there's a small amount of fun that can be acquired in compensation, by publicly railing on it. Most of us have done it, in some way or another and that doesn't make us all terrible people.

On the point of the film, which I'll keep as separate from personal commentary as possible, in this wholly intertwined situation, I'm in agreement with the majority of the other critical reviews, I've seen here. The film begins interestingly, entertainingly, thought provokingly & humorously. The interviewed participants are some of the most qualified sources to be questioned on the subject of hecklers, and offered a captivating look into the lives touched by this kind of cruelty, that's endured, and the ignorance involved in perpetrating it.

Truthfully, the relevance of the Michael Richards scandal provides a welcome environment, for a film specifically devoted to the topic of those that have heckled comedians throughout Stand-up's history, & how it's been dealt with. However, the discussions in "Heckler" eventually became discussions about critics, never to return, or to find a commonality which could substantiate the digression, and was held as if it was synonymous with the subject of hecklers, which it's most assuredly not.

The film was doing something interesting, when it was handling the issue of the comic or performer, struggling against poor social conduct. That's captivating. Switching over to showing people complain about having to accept that others find their work less than sensational isn't. Brother, if I want to see that, I'll ask one of my crappier co-workers about their last performance evaluation.

It actually sort of disappointed me that this film was derailed, because when I came across the DVD, I had an impressed reaction to the notion that the subject of hecklers be discussed, in detail, via documentary, and in that way, the film's title is false advertising, or at least misleading to the film's true intent.

That's really all there is to say, of consequence, about the film, and the only thing that remains to say about the concept of dealing with criticism, is to offer some advice which I hope is beneficial.

You, as a performer, must have as widely diverse feedback as possible, or you will surely wither on the vine, or worse, be disregarded like yesterday's newspapers. Criticism is one of the ways that happens. Does that mean that every buttmunch claiming themselves a critic should have a direct plumbing line plunged directly into your soul, for the purpose of relieving themselves on you?

Of course not. So watchyagonna do about it, Punk? I'd suggest becoming savvy enough to be able to tell who's who, and just exactly what's valid and what ain't, disregarding the latter. It's not as hard as it might seem. I do it every time I'm on this website. It takes me about three or four sentences to know whether someone's completely full of crap, marginally literate, stupid, or whether they have an intelligent, informed, & worthwhile opinion. Jay & Silent Bob couldn't, so they kicked their asses

Get hip and start making the distinction, plus, be open to taking some lumps occasionally. You're a celebrity, for having become someone who entertains large masses of people. There are benefits that come with that, that the rest of us will never have. You can have a blessed life because of it. There's also consequences to it, and you need to come to grips with them, or get out. That's the nature of the beast. It can derail you if you let it. Ask Kurt Cobain, or Heath Ledger about their stress

People are mean, for no good reason, to each other just as often as they are to you. It just isn't headline news like everything else YOU do. Have some humility, and don't expect that you should be treated like a Faberge Egg.
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Classic - much better than you'd expect
jadavix8 August 2019
I'm assuming nobody went into "Heckler", a documentary directed by Jamie Kennedy, and expected something as entertaining, hilarious, and insightful as it was. Watching it again just now I couldn't believe how gripping it still was; a rare film from the 21st century in which I did not want to miss a moment.

The movie takes the form of a rapid-fire series of testimonials from a staggering variety of individuals on the titular subject of heckling. At first it seemed that comedians would be the only people included in the film, which would have been fine by me - what other career choice features more contact with hecklers? However the movie's scope expands to feature filmmakers, musicians, dancers, models, sportspeople. Those who aren't interviewed are featured in archive footage, like the late Ronald Reagan and Barbra Streisand. George Lucas makes a personal appearance, as does the great Arsenio Hall.

In the process of putting these short form interviews together, Kennedy and his co-producer seems to have stumbled upon a startling fact as regards criticism in the internet age: that many critics are now no better than hecklers, not really criticising a performance or film but merely focusing their efforts on vicious attacks toward the people involved.

The movie is less successful as a kind of "journey of discovery" of Kennedy, who repeatedly questions critics about their harsh reviews of his much maligned movie "Son of the Mask", He wants to know why the critics hate him/his movie, when really he should be asking why the overwhelming majority of its viewers feel the same way.

His stand up is not much better, and you almost can't blame people for heckling - though I'm with Joe Rogan: A question I had throughout both my viewings is whether the material would be more powerful if it came from a genuinely respected comedian, somebody who had come through negativity to the bright light at the end of the tunnel as all comedians who end up success stories do. I'm still not sure about that. But one thing I do know is that "Heckler" is a classic documentary.
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not my sorta thing
FFAxDAVID6 November 2008
Admittedly i watched this because i was expecting from the reviews a funny movie/documentary,so is probably my own fault for expecting something its (presumably) not trying to be.

From what i can tell it is in fact a documentary made to somehow make us feel sorry for comedians etc for the heckles they get,and i went into it expecting it to be more about showing how comedians handle the hecklers and turn a heckle into the funniest part of their shows (which if handled correctly is often the case),but alas its not.

If you want to sit through an hour n half of Jamie Kennedy moaning about fact that a lot of people don't find him funny and getting others to moan about hecklers then sure,pay to see it,but if (like i was),your looking for a few laffs this is not for you.(this is NOT by the way a criticism of the movie,its just a comment in the hope that someone else does not assume like i did that its intentionally supposed to be funny-least i hope its not,because it is'nt lol)
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excellent except for kennedy
gs2025 July 2010
I don't understand anyone's objection to this documentary. It is excellent in its interviews with many of the greatest minds in modern American comedy and it also brings forth some very cogent points about how we treat celebrity.........it is quite good with, of course the exception of jamie kennedy.........kennedy does not have the skill or delivery of don rickles or almost ANY of the comedians who have adopted that particular style of comedy.......attack, insult and put down comedy takes a very accomplished timing and delivery that he just doesn't have......that coupled with his annoying personality and punch me in the face demeanor just puts people off........most importantly, he is sadly not funny and is a poor actor as well.

However that does not negate the excellent interviews and archival clips in this offering.

So, if you want to enjoy this show just turn off the sound when kennedy is speaking and you will see how entertaining the rest of the film really is.
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I can't Heckle this one
tuckywoodproductions17 April 2009
As a filmmaker myself I know how deep it may hurt to read a negative review. It is true that everyone is a critic these days. It's very easy to sit behind a computer and bash somebody else's work. I also believe that there are a lot of disgruntled critics out there, who could not swing it in the biz themselves, so they take their anger out on other peoples work. I watched this movie at the perfect time. My film STASH came out about a month ago and has seen it's fair share of mixed reviews. Some good and some bad. The thing is that people will actually attack you personally. Geez..if you don't like the movie, tell us what you don't like about it and move on. Jamie Kennedy has experienced this many times, and this is a brilliant movie for him to do. I really enjoyed this film, and highly recommend it to any artist that has or is getting to release their product onto the world. The internet critic can be brutal and this was a very therapeutic watch for me. Thanks you Jamie for putting this out!!!
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How do you give a bad review to a movie whose whole point is how much bad reviews hurt celebrities' feelings?
patrickjnorton21 September 2008
There are only two reviews on here, and one of them (the gushing, 10 stars, 'I laughed my ass off' review) is obviously a plant. but the other guy basically has it right. the movie starts off solidly, examining the interaction between live performers and hecklers, and interviewing comedians who've had to deal with hecklers while they, the comedians, are performing. that was interesting, and had some funny moments when the performers get to fight back. I can't imagine being a stand-up, let alone dealing with a heckler, so you get a good sense of the terror you feel when you start to lose control of an audience. but then the movie goes much broader and begins to examine all hecklers, or critics, and their motives behind posting bad or mean reviews of movies. while it seems perfectly reasonable to me to at least call out the critics when they stop reviewing and start recklessly bashing, problems arise when they start naming movies that got viciously bad reviews, and most of the movies they name are frankly terrible. Jamie Kennedy seems stunned that people didn't like "Malibu's Most Wanted" or "Son of the Mask", and even while interviewing his critics never really listens to their responses. he argues that they have no real intellectual basis for critiquing his or others' films because they've never been in the entertainment industry. by his logic the bloggers have no right because they're just losers writing from their parents' basements, and the professional critics have no right because they're just failed writers themselves who never made it in their desired profession. who then, if not his audience or his actual critics, can criticize his movies? In my humble opinion, the beginning of this movie worked quite well, if only because no one likes a heckler, they interrupt a performance and try to divert attention to themselves. Todd Glass (interviewed in "Heckler")has a great youtube video up of him destroying a heckler, not simply for interrupting his and others' sets, but for treating the wait staff badly. It's great, and he puts her in her place. But criticizing a movie, no matter how viciously or stupidly, just isn't the same thing. The film was watched, allowed to run its full course, and either you liked it or you didn't. In the same way that various comedians argue that if an audience member doesn't like a show they have the right to quietly leave, people in the entertainment industry have the right to stop reading reviews by people whose opinions they know to be no better than idiot hecklers. They don't complain when the critics love their films, so they're going to have to live with it when they occasionally hate them. "Heckler" in the end just didn't work for me.

(Editor's note: after this review, Patrick was promptly maced and escorted out of IMDb by security.)
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Critic, not Heckler (misleading title)
siroilassuper29 July 2009
this film has several problems but not one related to what the film was supposed to be about. Heckler starts great and for about 30 minutes I really enjoyed the film. then, a change of subject happens. This film should be called something else because it is not about hecklers.

I'll try to keep it simple and positive - what I've liked; first 30 minutes. situations in several stand up comedy acts where we see how professional comedians deal with hecklers. not only that, it is also nice to hear their opinions on the subject.

the rest of the film? well, I don't even know what to say. it completely changes the subject. it is not about hecklers, it is about a plague called offensive film 'critics' (which I acknowledge that it is a serious plague). however I thought I was going to watch a film about hecklers (you know, with the title and all) and instead I get this guy feeling emotional about how these guys on the internet and newspapers treat his work.

I mean, it is nice to see him confronting some of these 'critics' and you kind of wish that this stuff could be done more times, but after a while it is just boring. (is this a criticism? can I write this? because you know, that's what I felt. it was boring. no personal attacks to the director or any cheap slander. I m talking about the rest of the film. Boring. )

sorry, it was a bit painful after the half time.
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Starts in the right place, but then looses it
JimmyG10026 January 2010
The irony isn't lost on me that I am reviewing a documentary that specifically targets critics. I don't review much, but I felt I had something to say about this piece.

Now, I find Jamie Kennedy funny. Not hysterical, but I like him in films like Scream and even his cameos in Harold and Kumar and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Hell I even get a chuckle watching some of his movies when I catch them on TV. I wouldn't mind seeing his stand up act. I certainly wouldn't heckle him.

However, this movie seems to be spreading the message that nothing is bad to everyone, and shame on us if we so choose to tell someone we didn't like their movie. I haven't seen Son of the Mask, but from what I can tell, it was truly an amazingly horrible film. What this film won't face up to is that, while there are many underrated movies out there, some things, in fact, ARE just plain bad.

But I'm getting off track, as this movie seems to. It is, of course, called "Heckler" and the first half of it covers the art of heckling and the response stand up comics have to it very well. I loved hearing the stories of every comedians worst heckler. I loved the different responses they thought to give and their thought process behind it. After all, nobody likes a heckler. You want to sit down and watch a show, what you don't want is some obnoxious person interrupting to contribute their own thoughts or lack there of.

But about half way into the movie it diverts from heckling into reviewing. As if to say harsh reviews are equal to heckling. It bashes movie critics as if they are all stupid elitists that have nothing better to do than poo-poo on the film you just made. And you know, I can see their point, especially in the harsh and unwarranted personal attacks critics put out there. However, critiquing films is not equal to heckling. Heckling interrupts the show, it ruins everyone's experience of it, it's not criticizing anything it's just being an ass.

The most ridiculous part probably comes during the Carrot Top interview. This is when Jamie Kennedy sits across from Carrot Top and seriously asks him why people find him to be an easy target. Carrot Top. I'm sorry, but when you look as ridiculous as Carrot Top when he preforms his routine, why not just design your own prop bulls eye?

You see what this film doesn't show is people accepting criticism for what they put out. They have Uwe Boll fighting his critics as if by fighting them that's going to make him a better filmmaker. You have Jamie defending Son of the Mask. You know what's better than making a documentary that goes after people that didn't like your movie? How about laughing at yourself and how bad your film really was? I mean appreciate all the people who liked it, but don't be so sad when someone posts a bad review of you online. That's not heckling.

I only wish this movie would've spent more time with stand up and less time asking why people are rude online. I mean overall it's a pretty good doc, the parts about heckling are great, the focus group stuff was interesting too and I wish they had gone more into that, but it gets a little too sensitive at times defending actors and directors for stuff that is really just plain bad, and I only wish they would admit that.
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Jamie Kennedy faces his critics, literally
kezopster20 April 2009
What a fun, insider look at hecklers and how they impact stand-up. The sheer number of different comedians who lend a story or an opinion to this movie is remarkable. If it had stopped there, it would have been an okay movie, but not very fulfilling. After setting up the initial premise, Jamie Kennedy wisely makes it more personal by confronting his own critics... both critics of his stand-up shows as well as critics of his movies (most notably, "Son of the Mask").

While other commentators say the movie veers off at this point, I disagree. Instead, I believe the movie hones in on its subject matter. From the sophomoric audience heckler being put on the spot to the sometimes equally sophomoric film critic being put front and center to speak for themselves... this is where the movie earns its chops.

Mixed in with these incidences of one-on-one confrontations with his critics, Jamie continues with anecdotes from other comedians, actors, and directors and their opinions of critics. It's not a movie about "what right someone has to express an opinion" as much as it is a movie demonstrating the impacts of that person expressing an opinion. Some comedians express clear zeal about slapping down a heckler; while others make it clear their feelings about hecklers. It's interesting to see how some comedians seem to just take a heckler in stride as being part of the business versus others who seem to believe that hecklers interrupt the flow of the show.

If you like stand-up comedy, but this movie on your "must-see" list right up there with "The Aristocrats" and a few others. It's fun, interesting, and entertaining. And if you object to the focus the movie takes on Jamie Kennedy, remember: it's his darn movie and who else could give us such a wonderful insider's view of bad reviews than someone who's received so many! Keep laughing, Jamie!
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Jamie Kennedy and fellow actors/comedians unite to get revenge on film critics and audiences alike
Jackpollins9 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Jamie Kennedy has always been hated by film critics everywhere, and now he gathers his fellow actors/comedians to get revenge on those who hate their stuff. It explores how people go to comedy clubs just to yell "you suck" at them. Jamie Kennedy and comedians like Nick Swarsdon, Lewis Black, Bill Maher, David Cross, Dave Attell, Bobby Lee, Jon Lovitz, Kathy Griffin, ETC gather to tell these people to stop bothering them. They make such good points as if you don't like me, don't go to see my stand-up, at least i'm the one telling jokes, and my job is not to take crap from everyone. This is entertaining and insightful with some good stand-up bits. Waiting on the other side is an insight on film critics. Although these comedians cannot defend their criticisms with movie critics as well, Jamie Kennedy digs deep enough to prove good enough points. In fact, he does research. He went online and found wafflemovies.com. They wrote a review of Son Of The Mask, and hysterically quoted "who the hell is this guy?" Jamie Kennedy is extremely funny, and is right to get his revenge for getting panned. This is a great movie.... entertaining, funny, and insightful. I loved this movie. Seek it out at your local video store, and see it at all costs... you will not regret it.
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Started off pretty good
Alemme0113 March 2013
I went into this movie expecting an 80 minute documentary on hecklers. Instead, what I got was a documentary that talked about hecklers for 30 minutes, and spent the rest of the time talking about critics.

The first half was, despite none of the comedians making me laugh, interesting. It gave insight on why a heckler does what they do. It also gave a pretty good look at how the comedians could, sometimes, be in the wrong. (Hitting them with a guitar? That definitely was a little too far.)

Then, around the 35 minute mark (or so), the focus shifted to "other types of hecklers" - critics.

First off, I don't think anybody really cares about critics. I mean, I've often wondered why a heckler would do such a thing, but I always assumed (most) critics were just crabby ***holes. And you what the movie did? It just confirmed it for 40 minutes straight.

Second off, why did they stop talking about hecklers? It was interesting enough. If they couldn't come up with any other things to say about hecklers, then maybe they should've ended it at this point.

Third off, the whole critic segment seemed like hippie crap to me. Yeah, yeah, they said "constructive criticism," but I still got the idea that these people just don't want to hear anything negative. Especially Jamie Kennedy. Why on Earth did he think Son Of The Mask was "pushing the envelope," or however he put it? Because there was a talking baby? Okay, I haven't actually seen Son Of The Mask, but the trailers are clearly making it out to be what I thought it would be - a brainless comedy. Plus, when these critics gave him reasons - albeit unspecific ones - all he resorted to was asking them about when the last time they had sex was. What does that have to do with why they don't like your act?

Overall, I would suggest the part that is actually about the title group of people. When they start talking about critics, don't bother. Except maybe for Henry Winkler's take on things.
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It just made me sad more than anything.
hedcraft6 January 2013
These comedians want you to like them so much, you can almost tell they're on the verge of tears knowing that somebody thinks they suck. It starts out strong, with some great comics talking about how much they love verbally destroying hecklers, but quickly degrades into a string of second-rate comics talking about how much it sucks when people say mean things about them. They run out of actual footage after about a half hour, so the last half of the movie is Jaime Kennedy tracking down people who gave him a bad review and trying to make them feel bad by talking about how chicks totally want to screw him. It's entertaining in the same way it would be to watch a group of autistic children diving for quarters. You'll probably laugh, but you won't feel good about it after.
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Is this good or bad?
rollercoasterjustin27 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Obviously if it was really good or bad, It would be either a one or a zero.

It starts off interesting showing comedians getting heckled/telling stories about getting heckled. What would be more interesting would be having the comedians reveal their own heckling techniques. You get to see some classic (ie Old) videos of Bill Hicks and Ronald Reagan dealing with hecklers. Also Brian Holtzman will chew you up if you dare criticize him.

But then around the time that Craig Ferguson starts talking about film criticism is when it turns into Jamie Kennedy V. Critics. It shows mean reviews he got for Malibu's Most Wanted and Son of the Mask. Various comedians also take pot-shots at mainstream critics like Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel, Gene Shalit, and Leonard Maltin for being a tad hyperbolic.

Many critics will love to just hate this cause it stars Jamie Kennedy (Or as he likes to think it is), I'm more annoyed that comedian Andy Kindler is complaining in this movie....

RANT Andy Kindlers stand up is about him cutting down comedians and comedy. His claims to fame are making a list about "How to be a hack comedian" and "If anyone could prove Whoppi Goldberg was funny." I don't know about you but those sound like heckling personally.

Basically if you feel sorry for Jamie Kennedy, Tom Green, Uwe Boll, and Perez Hilton. This is a great movie for you. Otherwise, Just watch until Craig Ferguson appears and just turn it off. You'll also miss seeing Jamie Kennedy's butt.
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Geeky Randy's PERSONAL summary
Geeky Randy13 February 2015
As a 'Top Reviewer' on IMDb, I have written many film reviews in my time; however, almost all of them are capsule reviews that include a plot summary, brief pros/cons, and maybe a quick noteworthy piece of trivia to add an eensy bit of fat. However, none have been more personal than HECKLER. Here is a rare PERSONAL summary:

I first watched HECKLER a couple of years after its release. Nobody likes a heckler, so the generic title was really an eye-catcher for me. Also, being a horror movie fan, I have a soft-spot for Jamie Kennedy who played Randy Meeks in the first three SCREAM films—possibly the horror genre's most underrated supporting character. My first viewing was at a buddy's studio apartment, and he and I both really enjoyed it.

What brought me to replay this movie a few years later:

I had recently discovered that one of my books had gotten a * out of ***** on Amazon.com by a reader. It included something along the lines of "the characters are as flat as the paper they're printed on" and some other harsh words that I don't wish to continue breathing life into. Deep down, I knew I shouldn't have cared; I get reviews and some of them are good, some are mixed and some are bad—this person's review made it pretty clear that they either didn't understand important elements of the story and/or it simply wasn't their cup of tea. On the surface, however, it was difficult not to be hurt.

I actually decided to give HECKLER a replay and it really helped. Not only did it remind me that others receive this on a similar scale, but also that I created something that puts me in the spotlight to get heckled. In a way, whether my work was praised or criticized, I made an accomplishment that put me in a position to get reception from others—and just being able to have myself out there in front of the world like that is quite an achievement, and that fact is what I should be focused on.

Also, Perez Hilton made a commendable comment in a deleted scene, explaining that because he dishes criticism, he has to accept criticism from others in return. While it might be an obvious point, it's an easy one to forget when you're down-in-the-dumps due to a bad review. I have written hundreds of reviews; and, yes, on occasion, I am willing to be blunt. Therefore, I need to move on and not let such a First World problem affect me creatively or emotionally.

HECKLER is an excellent comfort film for anyone who is in a positioned to be heckled or negatively reviewed.

***½ (out of four)
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No comment...... on second thought
Quinoa198421 June 2009
A friend of mine once said something that I think is important to mention when bringing up the documentary Heckler produced and featuring as its guide/interviewer Jamie Kennedy, and it's about the whole process of movie-making. There's usually considered to be three steps: the writing, the shooting, and the editing. But there is a fourth part, arguably, and that is the film with an audience, how they react to it. I mention this because this friend of mine is an aspiring filmmaker who once made short films in college and would intentionally sit in with the audience to see how the film was received by his fellow student filmmakers and other people, and then would get reactions from everybody afterwords. As someone else, myself, who has also made short films and aspires to direct on a professional level, it is the most sobering and soul-crushing experience imaginable to be told a) your movie was great, b) your movie was a piece of s***, and c) what *was* that? And, the question comes, what if they were to write either (or all) of these?

So, as someone who has been on both the end of the creative stick and that of being in that leper colony of people who write on this God-forsaken den of vice and misery known as the inter-web, I respect and admire Jamie Kennedy for what he's done here. I'm reminded why I do what I do on here, and why this "comment" on his production of Heckler I've made personal - because, frankly, so does he here. At the same time I also have to realize with this movie, for everything about it that is funny- and at times it's not just funny but f***ing funny (re: Deep Roy's jacuzzi rant, Kennedy's confrontation with his own critics), it goes without saying that the documentary itself is not that great. It's insightful, it's meaningful, and I know that aside from little tid-bits and a few anecdotes, it's not staying in my collection as more than a rental. I would preface this by saying "I'm only being honest", but that would in turn suggest I lie often enough to have to mention it.

But, then again, what the hell am I doing on here than to say what works or doesn't? How can I write or say something constructive about a movie that is about the very subject of a monkey throwing verbal or written feces at a creative traveler? Do I write that it needs more, well, criticism on critics? On the nature of heckling? On maybe relaying the ratio of blood-alcohol content in a comedy club or at a keyboard to how reactions come out? Heckler can't really get much better, or worse, than it is. It's a series of stories and opinions from people talking about people who have an opinion. It is worthwhile to see that. Nobody can say they're not in the audience on some level, even if, as George Lucas says, you're a creator and not a destroyer. If you're at all in any field of entertainment, you create AND you destroy, to one degree or another, sometimes in crude terms like the gossip bloggers, and sometimes, well, you're Roger Ebert.

Whew. Bottom line, 'the fourth stage', as my friend calls it, is never an easy thing. If it weren't, then I and the creators wouldn't be here. Just remember the scene in History of the World Part 1: for every man making a cave painting, there's someone coming around to bring his urine sample to the equation. Perhaps Jamie Kennedy will, or already had by the end of the movie miraculously enough, come to terms with that fact of being in a business of comedy and movie-making: this is what you do, and that is most certainly what "they" do was well. It's a face. Certainly this is a first step into a world where both he and, in fact, Stanley Kubrick are fair game. And yes, I just compared Jamie Kennedy to Stanley Kubrick, so I may have just devolved this entire discourse. Whatever.
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Serious perspective
cole-morgan30 November 2012
Jamie, you freaking rock man. I don't review movies on IMDb often but I had to throw one your way.

I've worked in film/TV production for a few years on the side and have seen this up close. I think this film said what needed to be said and they should show it in schools as a lesson in humanity.

I started watching this as it was recommended on Netflix after I watched Joe Rogan's stand-up and was looking for something short before a meeting later in the day. I was so hooked, I skipped the important meeting and finished the film. I definitely got more perspective from the film than any meeting. I don't want to overstate this - I just really think more people should see this film.

Bravo sir.
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