Opposable Thumbs

Opposable Thumbs by Matt Singer

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Opposable Thumbs:

Thumbs were never the same.

Quick synopsis:

The story of how Siskel and Ebert changed how we review movies.

Fact for Non-History People:

1963’s Cleopatra cost about $31 million to make it. In today’s dollars, that would be $600 million or $200 million more than Avengers: Endgame.

Fact for History Nerds:

Ebert wrote a movie called Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. It didn’t do well, but now has a cult following.

My Take on Opposable Thumbs:

If I am being honest (and shouldn’t you expect that from a review?), there was very little chance I would dislike this book. As someone who vividly remembers at least one version of Siskel & Ebert, it was a question of whether I would just “like” the book or “love” the book. Fear not, I loved it. Matt Singer goes full biography on the various iterations of shows which Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert argued about the movies. It seems amazing now with the sheer number of people yelling at each other on television, but they are the originals. Their disagreements were legion, and many people loved the fact they were watching a show with two people who hated each other.

Of course, Singer explains that none of it was that simple. Singer dives into the back and forth between the two critical juggernauts and hilarity ensures. Siskel was a master prankster and it is amazing Ebert never stabbed him. Ebert could dig into Siskel’s insecurities with the best of the them. They argued constantly. They also knew they needed each other. The anecdotes in this book are top notch and will give you an even higher level of respect for the two men. At the same time, 90% of their actions would probably cause an HR complaint today. If you have any affection for Siskel & Ebert, then this is a must read. If you have respect for people who were two of the best ever, then this is a must read or if you want to know why shows like Pardon the Interruption are terrible rip-offs of a much better product, then this is a must read. Basically, if you are human, you’ll enjoy this book.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Penguin Group Putnam.)


So damn good. Read it! Buy it here!

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