Is Richard Brody Okay?

The famously contrarian New Yorker film critic's reviews have been kookier than usual lately
Dewey Saunders/Getty, YouTube/New Yorker
The Front Groan

The job of a critic often requires a bit of provocation. To exalt a film that everyone else thinks is trash (and vice versa) is definitely one way to get people to read your work. That being said, something is going on with the New Yorker’s film critic Richard Brody. His taste has never really made sense, but recently he’s fired off a few opinions that make me wonder if he bonked his head.

The first was on October 7, when he called Lyle Lyle Crocodile (a movie in which Shawn Mendes plays a singing crocodile who befriends a human boy) “good and clever fun.” Brody’s brief review in the “Goings On About Town” section of the magazine seems to be the film’s most glowing — Calum March decried the film’s “writerly laziness” in the New York Times — but maybe he was just in a silly mood that day.

Then, Brody reviewed Amsterdam, David O. Russell’s horribly reviewed movie that’s set to lose $100 million. Brody’s peers were mixed — Manohla Dargis wrote for the New York Times that it was “best enjoyed if you don’t pay it too much attention.” It currently has a 32 percent from critics and a 59 percent from audience on Rotten Tomatoes. Brody, as you might have guessed, loved it.

“Russell does more than fill the film with its high-wattage parade of stars, who energize the proceedings from beginning to end,” Brody wrote, “He creates vivid and forceful characters — slightly heightened caricatures whose unnaturally emphatic presences befit the air of serendipity that gives history the oddball heroes it needs, and that gives them the happy ending they deserve.”

What he sees is so different from what you and I see.

Finally, to cap off his week of batshit opinions, Brody wrote about Tár, a movie I believe is good because my colleague Fran Hoepfner said it was. A lot of other people were on Fran’s side, and the film is getting lots of early Oscar buzz for its stár, Cate Blanchett. If you have figured out how Brody’s Law works by now, you will know that our guy hated it.

Tár is a regressive film that takes bitter aim at so-called cancel culture and lampoons so-called identity politics,” he wrote. Later, he said that he thought the movie was “utterly unilluminating about the music on which it’s centered.” Utterly unilluminating!

Brody has a good track record of being right about 50 percent of the time, but it does seem that the scales have tipped in recent weeks. He was, of course, one of the only critics who loved Don’t Worry Darling (he called the twist “stunning”). If he’s gone off the deep end permanently, I will miss him. But at least we’ll always have the list where he said that Eddie Murphy in Norbit was one of the greatest performances of the century. On that, we agree.