RIP Joel Siegel

The film critic Joel Siegel died on Friday. Roger Ebert has a valiant tribute to him, pointing out how Siegel persevered as a critic for ten years despite being diagnosed with colon cancer and that he was a better writer than his television appearances gave him credit for. One of the last times Siegel made it into the headlines was when he walked out of a screening of Clerks II, causing the filmmaker Kevin Smith to don him “a dick with a mustache” and go into over-the-top histrionics on a radio show, cutting Siegel no slack whatsoever. Smith’s most recent entry on his blog has him urging you to see Live Free or Die Hard. But there is no mention of Siegel’s passing.

I always felt Siegel to be far more effusive about mediocre movies than he needed to be. But given the choice between a film critic who maintained his cool when a hypersensitive filmmaker tried to sandbag him on a radio show and that same hypersensitive filmmaker urging his audience to fill up Hollywood’s coffers, I’ll choose the former, if only because Siegel kept mostly silent about his personal hangups and had no personal stake in what he did other than expressing his enthusiasm.

[UPDATE: This afternoon, Smith has updated his blog, where he calls out one “George Prager,” who left multiple comments on this Hollywood Elsewhere thread, and writes the following: “More than that, I don’t know what was expected of me: Joel and I had a blow-up, it went away, a year later, he died. No reason to write a blog about it, really; I tend to eulogize relatives only.”]


  1. That Kevin Smith-Joel Siegel debacle was lame. Ambushing a guy on live radio because he SPEAKS during your movie and storms out—a distraction lasting ten seconds—equals pantywaisted-ness to the nth. So you ambush him on live radio surrounded by your pals and whine like a little baby. All without revealing who you really are. What a puss, and as his website reveals, a SHILL. I never read Joel Siegel’s reviews, unfortunately. I briefly saw a story about him on the news last night but didn’t register its meaning. Sad deal.

  2. P.S. If you read Kevin Smith’s blog entries—I read the series dedicated to Jason Mewes’ heroin troubles—you’ll see that, prose-wise, he’s a truly inept writer. Solid on the dialogue, I suppose, but stick to that, S.B.

  3. At least Smith’s self-aware enough to post on his blog now about the blowup and that he feels like ass over it. And he’s right about the obits; it’s odious to insert a minor incident into a man’s life story because it happened within the last year.

    The question is, does that say anything about Siegel’s effectiveness as a critic? If an obit writer decided not to write about the “Clerks II” blowup, what would have replaced it?

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