LA Weekly's Scott Foundas is generally considered a young star in the world of film criticism. He's known for combining an appreciation of pure entertainment with a love of high art (his Top Ten List for 2007 included both The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and Talladega Nights). But whatever his reputation, his profile in this week's issue still took real guts to write: It's an ode to Brett Ratner so counter the collective wisdom it might as well have been written for Slate.
Called "Brett Ratner, the Popcorn King," Foundas's piece tags along with the director on the Rush Hour 3 set and includes this assessment of Ratner's career thus far:
Which brings me to the other reason I’ve wanted to write about Ratner. It is an idea that may initially strike you as radical or preposterous, and which could jeopardize my standing in the film-criticism community. And yet, here goes: Brett Ratner is a talented filmmaker who deserves to be taken seriously.
Foundas's piece makes a decent case for Ratner being an above-average commercial filmmaker, though his argument depends quite a bit on you agreeing with him that the Rush Hour movies are actually pretty good. As for Ratner's famed party-hound image, Foundas has the benefit of even bigger party-hound James Toback to defend his subject:
"I think that just to enjoy a single life as Brett does is a serious detriment to being taken seriously. It’s as if to be sexually curious and freewheeling implies some form of retardation instead of some form of advanced or enlightened consciousness, which is what it just as often is."
Not everyone is buying what Foundas is selling, though, even within his own paper. Famed crank Nikki Finke responds to Foundas's piece on her LA Weekly blog, Deadline Hollywood Daily, with a sharp rebuke. After calling Ratner a "putz," "proudly undertalented," and "priapicly whorish," she addresses her co-worker Foundas. "Earth to Scott: either you need a vacation, or you need better drugs."