I did not realize that Ben Mankiewicz and Ben Lyons had been replaced as hosts of “At The Movies,” the show formerly known as “Siskel & Ebert” and “Ebert & Roeper” before Roger Ebert’s thyroid cancer surgery left him unable to speak.
I like Ben Mankiewicz as a host on Turner Classic Movies, and I used to enjoy Ben Lyons’ father Jeffrey when he hosted a similar movie review show on public TV. But the Mankiewicz / Lyons version of “At The Movies” just didn’t seem to carry the same weight as Ebert & Roeper, much less Siskel & Ebert. The younger, hipper critics seemed to be performing as much as reviewing.
New hosts Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and A.O. Scott of the New York Times took over (I now find out) in September, and from the episode I saw tonight they have much the same tone and outlook that Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert brought to the program. They don’t seem to be trying to impress the viewer with how clever they are; they’re just passionate about movies and like talking about them in an intelligent way.
In addition to their regular movie reviews, they’ve apparently spent the past few weeks counting down their top 10 movies of the decade, and they revealed their top picks tonight. Scott’s, much to my delight, was “WALL-E.”
I’ll have to set “At The Movies” up on the DVR.