Valerie Atherton

Sorry Neil… please don’t fire me. FSR may be home to the second most interesting movie blogger on the web (the debate rages on as to who that might be), but the number one slot goes to a newcomer in the world of online movie reviews. As good as we are, this new blog has a much higher LPP ratio (laughs per post) and it’s only a month old. Now I freely admit that I don’t know if this is a legitimate blog, a satirical poke at online reviewers, or viral marketing for an upcoming movie about dumb blondes. Several of the commenters on the site think it’s a joke, but most of them believe it’s as real as a blog can be. If it’s a viral marketing ploy or an intentionally humorous site then I say bravo to its creators. If it’s real then I’m simultaneously highly entertained and worried for the future of America.

Valerie Atherton’s Playground and Intellectual Department is the funniest goddamn blog I’ve read in a long time. She claims to be an eighteen-year old from Malibu, CA, who previously had a successful stint as a tween model and was voted Best Smile in high school. If that hasn’t perked your interest in what she has to say about movies, how about her reasons for starting a blog in the first place?

I grew up being told by my parents and teachers and friends that there was something special about me, that I would go on to do big things. So here I am! I have decided that I want to be a writer because I think I have a unique perspective on things (a young, hip perspective from my generation) and can offer intelligent things to be read. I call it Valerie Atherton’s Playground and Intellectual Department! Why? Because sometimes it’ll be silly like playing at a playground and sometimes it’ll make you stop and think about stuff.

The reason I think it’s worth sharing and worth giving traffic to is that there’s some fascinating movie reviews and critical thinking on display here that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Each of Valerie’s reviews is a gem of enlightenment and laughs. Take the recent war movie, Tropic Thunder for example. Did you know it was the first movie ever made about the making of a movie? It’s true, regardless of what you may think about Day for Night, State and Main, Adaptation, or any of the other films that aren’t about making movies. Or that jokes about obese people are “the same as making fun of people with cancer or without eyeballs?” Or even the real reason Robert Downey Jr. pretended to be a dude pretending to be a black dude?

I was able to walk away with a little insight into Hollywood because of this movie, though. I had no idea how few black actors there were in the world. In Tropic Thunder, there are two roles for black actors and only one of them is actually played by a black actor. Robert Downey Jr., of the movie Ironman, has to pretend to be black because not enough black people tried out for the movie. So, I really think Hollywood should open acting schools so black people can attend and they can fill the roles that need black people. That’s just my opinion, though.

Valerie’s Clone Wars review provides some history on the Star Wars saga as well as insight into the film itself. “The whole movie is about a war between a robot army and the other army that dresses like robots,” she says in what is probably the most succinct summation yet on the animated bomb. I haven’t seen the movie, but now that I know it’s filled with “openly gay slugs” and “warriors who prefer the use of glowing swords and magic to ray guns” I’ll be sure to check it out.

Since beginning in 1999 with Episode I-The Phantom Menace, George Lucas’ Star Wars series has been taking audiences (mostly boys) to a galaxy far away in space. Due to its popularity, two more movies followed: Episodes II and III. These were released in the theater. In 2004, three more movies followed but were sold only as a DVD box set and never shown in theaters… Who knows where this story will go in the next episode. Will the robots end up winning the war? Will there be any romantic developments between Anakin and Padawan? We will have to wait and see.

Not even the second biggest film of all time can escape Valerie’s critical eye. Her review of The Dark Knight is a masterpiece in its own right, full of wisdom and insight that shows her to be quite the knowledgeable Batman fan. She speaks of his supernatural and magical abilities including his super human strength and ability to fly, and that although he started in comics in 1939 he never found popularity until Batman Begins. “From then on, there was no stopping the Caped Crusades!” Valerie proceeds to give a complete recap of The Dark Knight with multiple “Spoiler” warnings strategically placed after each actual spoiler. I hesitate to actually quote more because the entire thing is just too goddamn perfect. Check it out here to learn about Batman’s sadness, The Joker’s desire to be friends with Batman once he’s released from jail, and how Harvey Dent’s rage causes his face to spontaneously combust into flame! Okay, one quote about Heath Ledger’s performance.

Everyone is talking about how amazing Heath Ledger was and I will be no different. He was amazing. Whether you liked him or not, you have to admire the fact that any actor that finds out he’s dying and decides that his last role will be a bad guy is pretty brave. I found it sometimes hard to watch The Joker, like when he was hunching over and his mouth was dry (anyone who has taken medication knows about the dry mouth), because it was so obvious that Heath was really sick, but kept going and that is what a true actor does who is dedicated to his crafts.

Lest you think I’m simply being an asshole picking on a teenager with a blog, Valerie’s been dropping her blog link in comment threads across the web asking (spamming) for folks to come play in her playground. She’s hit mostly other movie forums including Cinematical, SlashFilm, and Premiere, but has also popped up on Stuff White People Like. The content of her MySpace page is conspicuously lacking for an eighteen-year old girl, in that she has no real friends there and it pretty much just copies the info from her blog. While that hints towards a possible marketing tool, the blog itself has no single thread or outside link that could connect it to a future movie or web site. The responses she’s received from her self-advertising efforts have been pretty harsh, but hysterical in their own right. She also has supporters made up mostly of supposed family members and guys who want her to upload a picture of her tits.

Regardless of whether Valerie is real or not, I’m perfectly happy directing more traffic to her blog. She’s entertaining and at the end of the day, motivation doesn’t really matter. So if you’re reading this Valerie, ignore all the haters (but please don’t delete their equally priceless comments.) The fact that there’s so many of them only proves you’re doing something right. Not sure what that something is, although I know it’s not research. Welcome to the blogosphere Valerie! Keep up the entertainment. Maybe we can do lunch at Comic-Con 2009…


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