Rex Reed has been a film critic for a long time—too long, one might argue—a fact that, every once in a while, is made evident in his reviews. There was the time he turned a review of Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy into a bizarre, offensive rant about how Koreans are weird and kimchi is gross, and the time he devoted significant space in his review of Identity Thief to calling Melissa McCarthy fat. And don’t forget his review of The Cabin In The Woods, which was not only mean-spirited, but riddled with errors, or V/H/S 2, which he reviewed despite not having seen most of it.
However, Reed’s latest, a pan of Guillermo Del Toro’s interspecies romance/love letter to cinema The Shape Of Water, marks a new low. As well as referring to Sally Hawkins’ character as “mentally handicapped” (she’s mute) and “pathetic,” the review initially listed the film’s writer and director as “Benecio Del Toro,” meaning that Reed not only can’t tell two very different Latino men with the same last name apart, he can’t be bothered to spell-check their names. Adding eyebrow raise to side eye, he refers to this mystery director as being “Spanish,” a statement that applies to neither the Benicio (Puerto Rican) or Guillermo (Mexican) Del Toros.
That particular fact-checking error has since been corrected—although the review still refers to Octavia Spencer’s character as a “fellow toilet scrubber”—but not before Twitter pounced on it like a panther on a piece of raw meat. The backlash was big enough to reach the Del Toro who actually directed the movie, and his response is quite diplomatic, all things considered:
Huh. Between this and Rian Johnson being chill as fuck about people threatening him because Star Wars: Episode VIII—The Last Jedi wasn’t faithful to the story arc they came up with playing with their action figures back in 1986, it’s almost as if well-adjusted people, like wildly successful Hollywood film directors, don’t really get worked up over things like this. As if there’s more to life than making mean-spirited digs and trolling people on the internet. Anyway, feel free to discuss in the comments below.