Hi, I’m Harry, Gene Shalit’s parasitic twin. It may come as a surprise to you that Gene has a small human growing out of his back. Over the years, Gene has taken great pains to keep my existence a secret—that’s why he always tapes his segments for the Today show, so they can digitally edit me out. After all, who would take a freaky looking movie critic seriously?
Gene actually became a film critic because of me. When you’re growing up with a parasitic twin sticking out of you, other kids can be cruel about it. Our mother didn’t help matters by dressing us in the same outfits. So we escaped to the dark safety of the movie theater, where I could detach from him for a couple hours without a lot of screaming and fainting. Cinema also gave us something to share beyond plasma and DNA.
The downside is, I’ve also had to listen to four decades of shit like, “I’ll say it ogre and ogre again, I love Shrek 2!” and “Madagascar is zooperlative!” As conjoined twin, you have to learn to be patient in order to stay sane, but even I have my limits.
“If you’re going to be a whore, you should really wear a dress,” I told him.
“I haven’t met a parasite as funny as you since Frank Stallone,” he shot back.
“Seriously, Gene,” I said, “how can you look at yourself in the mirror?”
“A lot easier than you can, Harry.”
I try not to ride him too hard. Gene’s a good guy and takes pretty good care of me. He actually grew his hair out for me—it stores vital nutrients I could only otherwise get by digesting his internal organs. It’s like my own black, frizzy wheat field. But the matching Village People mustache was his own idea.
Anyway, we went and saw Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Gene, to his credit, didn’t give it a good review. He said it lasted too long, had nothing exciting and new, and the dialogue was flat. “The plot’s propulsion is slogged by scenes of sappy cooing.”
I hadn’t seen him this worked up since Ishtar. “That’s it,” I cheered. “Now kick Lucas in the balls!”
But Gene is, well, Gene. He can’t leave well enough alone without giving Lucasfilm, Ltd., its contractual Force Handjob. He eased up and summarized the series with: “Taking Star Wars as one mighty saga, George Lucas has irrevocably rerouted the course of filmmaking with his masterwork of motion picture imagination.”
“Let me ask you a question,” I said when the cameras stopped. “Does Lucas pat you on your head or pull your hair while you’re servicing him?”
“If you think movie reviewing is simpler than an Adam Sandler plot, why don’t you try it, hotshot?”
So, here I am.
Revenge of the Sith is most notable for not sucking as much ass as the previous two movies. Personally, I pretend that Episodes I and II were just bad nightmares I had after Gene OD’d on buttered popcorn. But then the first hour of Sith hit me with discount Jedis and ESL-student dialog. I was waiting for an Ebonics-speaking alien to show up so I could shit myself with rage like I did during Phantom Menace (Gene says I still owe him a shirt).
The real problem plaguing Episodes I through III is the “romance” between Anakin Skywalker and Padme. The whole series depends on their relationship. It propels Anakin to the Dark Side, sets the stage for Darth Vader, and results in Luke and Leia. Yet Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman play these two “characters” with the conviction of a pre-sex porn scene. I’ve felt more heat from Gene’s pancreas.
We had to use the can at this point, but when we got back our seats, Anakin had turned to the Dark Side. Now the movie got back to basics—lots of killing, not much yakin’. For the first time since 1983, a Star Wars movie made me believe that Lucas is a human and not a wide-necked, gray-bearded Skin Job.
But my brother’s summation of the series being “one mighty saga” is like saying that Gene and I have a lot in common, without mentioning that I’m sticking out of him. Instead, the Star Wars series is two brothers: one a sometimes goofy but nonetheless groundbreaking, entertaining, and successful movie critic, the other a shriveled caricature of the former, a grotesque abomination that most people would like to keep out of sight.
I’m Harry Shalit, and that’s all from the Parasitic Twin’s Critic’s Corner.