5 Gems From Jeffrey Wells, Film Criticism’s Greatest Troll
To say that Jeffrey Wells is America’s worst film critic is to do a disservice to just how truly, incredibly terrible this man is at his job.
A movie blogger and entertainment reporter for the cesspool of industry gossip known as Hollywood Elsewhere, Wells developed a strange cult following of hate-readers for his stream-of-consciousness posts on everything from Uma Thurman’s face to how fuckable Cameron Diaz is (answer: not so much these days). He recently made headlines again after a screening of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant, featuring a very cold Leonardo DiCaprio as a 19th century fur trapper on a quest for revenge. Taking a page out of the Dr. Pepper 10 playbook, Wells warned the “unflinchingly brutal” film was not for women or “sissies.”
Wells was excoriated on Twitter for the comment, and in true Wellsian fashion, his version of a mea culpa to triple down. He claimed that the woman next to him was forced by her delicate constitution to “[shield] her eyes every five or ten minutes and even going into a curled-over, fetal-tuck position at times, literally bending over and almost chirping like a chipmunk during the extra-violent or extra-gross scenes and being such a total candy-ass that I nudged her a couple of times.” As you know, one woman’s behavior is obviously indicative of her entire gender. (It must be why all those female meteorologists dress alike!)
These comments might have seemed like the absurd, outrageous remnants of Mad Men-era sexism, but for Jeffrey Wells, it’s just another day in the neighborhood. If you’re new to the plague upon mankind that is his writing, here are 5 of Wells’ most infamous controversies.
Feel free to rage-click away.
1. Move over, actress too fat.
Wells may have spawned Amy Schumer’s incredible 12 Angry Men parody, in which the comedienne ruthlessly mocks the idea that she’s too ugly for basic cable. After the trailer for the Judd Apatow-directed Trainwreck debuted in February, Jeffrey Wells took issue with the idea that anyone who looks like “Jennifer Aniston‘s somewhat heavier, not-as-lucky sister who watches a lot of TV” could believably star in a romantic comedy.
“Director Judd Apatow is once again introducing a chubby, whipsmart, not conventionally attractive, neurotically bothered female comic to a mass audience—first Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids (’11), then Lena Dunham in HBO’s Girls (’12) and now Amy Schumer, the star and writer of Trainwreck as well as the star of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer. She’s obviously sharp and clever and funny as far as the woe-is-me, self-deprecating thing goes, but there’s no way she’d be an object of heated romantic interest in the real world.”
Wells had the same criticisms about Jennifer Lawrence, who apparently nobody wants to fuck either.
After the Hunger Games film franchise debuted in 2012, a number of critics—including the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis and the Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy—remarked that star Jennifer Lawrence didn’t look hungry enough. McCarthy particularly called attention to the actress’ “baby fat.” But no one went harder on the fat-shaming bandwagon than Jeffrey Wells, who remarked that Lawrence is “too big” to play the love interest of co-star Josh Hutcherson: “She’s a fairly tall, big-boned lady.”
Jeffrey Wells has elsewhere proved himself an equal opportunity fat-shamer by calling out A-list actors Chris Pratt, Vince Vaughn, and Jason Segel for being “quite overfed.” Wells wrote that Segel “has a chunky, blemished ass and little white man-boobs, and he could definitely use a little treadmill and stairmaster time and a serious cutback program regarding pasta, Frito scoop chips, Ben & Jerry’s and Fatburger takeout.” If any of this surprises you, remember that this is the guy who once compared child obesity to heroin addiction.
2. This movie doesn’t have enough nude photos in it.
You’re Jeffrey Wells, and you’ve just seen 3:10 to Yuma. You thought it was OK, but it was missing something. Suddenly, it hits you: While you greatly enjoyed the movie’s topless scenes featuring Vinessa Shaw, you might be more favorable toward the movie as a whole if the director, James Mangold, were to personally supply you with nude photos of Ms. Shaw. That’s a reasonable request and something that normal people totally do, right?
Ever the go-getter, Jeffrey Wells personally emailed Mangold to inquire—but he swore he wasn’t going to do anything creepy with them. A copy of the correspondence was leaked to Deadline, and Wells really missed an opportunity by not titling the subject line “RE: Tits or GTFO to Yuma?” He pleads:
“I am on my knees, Mr. Mangold, saying thank you, thank you and thank you again for persuading Vinessa Shaw to do her first flat-out, boob-baring nude scene. I was in heaven as Crowe drew her on his notepad. Please tell me there’s somebody on the Yuma team who can slip me some stills of the shooting that day… please. I’m serious. I know you think like I do in this respect, so please … as one good hombre to another … you don’t have to be the guy who passes along the stills. Just tell the still photographer or the editor or whomever caught her as she posed. I’m not a sleazebag either—I don’t pass along stills to the Mr. Skin crowd or my friends. This would be just for my, myself & I.”
3. It’s time to celebrate this woman’s “last fuckable day.”
He might suck at soliciting nudes, but if there’s anything that Jeffrey Wells does excel at, it’s explaining why this conventionally attractive person is not as conventionally attractive as you think. He’s like a Vox explainer mixed with Donald Trump.
In the past, Wells has particularly set his sights on Uma Thurman and Cameron Diaz for aging, as all human women do (except for Raquel Welch). When What Happens in Vegas debuted in 2008, the movie blogger thought the premise stretched credibility. Was it because the film’s plot is a far-fetched opposite-attract romance in which two hotties who hate each other are forced to split a Vegas jackpot after drunkenly getting married? No, it’s because Cameron Diaz is five years older than her love interest, Ashton Kutcher.
Here’s his take:
“Thing is, Kutcher looks his age (if not a year or two younger) and she looks…well, like she’s almost nudging 40, no? The last time Diaz radiated anything close to a spring-chicken glow was when she costarred in There’s Something About Mary (’98).”
Those comments are strikingly reminiscent of yet another Amy Schumer skit, “Last Fuckable Day,” in which actresses Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Patricia Arquette, and Tina Fey argue that there’s always a day when the media decides an aging actress is no longer desirable. For Uma Thurman, that day was February 11, 2015—after the Pulp Fiction actress debuted a surprisingly controversial makeup choice on the red carpet than many mistook for bad plastic surgery. This was the date that Wells decided to publicly disavow all knowledge of Thurman’s hotness. “If this is the new Uma then I’m no longer interested…no offense,” Wells wrote.
4. Women are like dogs—no, wait, the world would be better off if they were like dogs.
After taking in Neil LaBute’s reasons to be pretty in 2009, Jeffrey Wells mounts a defense of telling your girlfriend she’s just average-looking, which he believes is a “compliment”: “If you substitute ‘normal’ for a letter grade of B-plus, B, B-minus or C-plus, you could almost see ‘normal’ as a kind of compliment.”
In what might be the most hypocritical thing he’s ever written—considering that he’s devoted his entire career to telling women why they aren’t hot enough and will, thus, never land a man—he argues that lackluster ladies are better off. According to Wells, these women ”have tasted a little rejection and have come to understand that love and relationships are a two-way street and that it’s not all about them and their whims or whatever.” He continues, “By this standard women who are Cs should be even better (sweeter, kinder, fairer-minded, more spiritually resourceful, more turn-the-other-cheek) than Bs, and that C-minuses and Ds would be better still and so on.”
In fact, life would be a lot better if we stopped praising women all the time and reminded them that, really, all of them are nothing but Cs and Ds:
“They’ve all been taught that all they need to do is look around and send certain signals and guys all around them will drop to their knees and start panting like dogs. Life would be heavenly and rhapsodic if women had the personality and temperament of dogs — forever loyal, non-judgmental, constantly affectionate. But that’s a loser’s dream.”
5. If your child has a disability, don’t take him to the movies.
But Jeffrey Wells doesn’t just hate women, gays, and fat people: He has enough disdain to share with everyone. If everything you’ve read thus far isn’t shameful enough, what might be perhaps Wells’ lowest moment was in 2013, when the blogger called out a child with Down Syndrome for “ruining” a screening of Gravity by being too loud. “The guy was making spastic noises all through the film,” he said. “Audible to many but nobody squawked except for my friend’s dad.”
Wells stresses that he doesn’t blame the child exactly—it’s his parents that are the real “morons”—but he negates that claim by being Jeffrey Wells. “He appeared to be significantly impaired in that he would yell out loud every few minutes, thus distracting everyone else in the theater,” Wells writes. “This is no more different than someone chatting on their cell phone, or texting with a bright LED light, or a group of teenagers showing up to do everything but watch the film at hand.”
If you’re ever in a movie theater with both a little boy with Down Syndrome and Jeffrey Wells, do us all a favor and have this troll escorted from the premises immediately. Until then, please do us all a favor, Jeff, and shut up so we can enjoy our movies in peace.
(Big h/ts to Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey and Jim Emerson of the Scanners blog for making this research a whole lot easier.)
Image via Hollywood Elsewhere
Nico Lang is a Meryl Streep enthusiast, critic, and essayist. You can read his work on Salon,Rolling Stone, L.A. Times, Washington Post, Advocate, and the Guardian. He’s also the author of The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions and the co-editor of the best-sellingBOYS anthology series.