Notoriety is a funny thing. Some people become known for redefining the boundaries of a certain profession, like with Andy Kaufman’s personal definition of “comedy.” Some gain infamy through schadenfreude, the main reason why people talk about Britney Spears and Michael Jackson. Peter Hammond’s claim to fame is that he liked, or pretended to like, a lot of bad films.
According to Radar Online, Hammond was just recently fired from his job at Maxim as part of a housecleaning exercise by its new editor-in-chief Jim Kaminsky. During his tenure at Maxim, Hammond made a name for himself by attaching words like “must-see” and “explosive” to critically-hated films like The Number 23, The Condemned and Evan Almighty.
Hammond has become low-hanging fruit in recent years. While Peter Travers and Jeffrey Lyons have gained names for themselves with superlative quotes that look good in ads, Pete Hammond has almost become ubiquitous with the art of polishing a turd. It’s hard to like the guy. He’s allowed one blurb to be rewritten for a television commercial because a CBS executive thought the wording of the review was too strong for the Super Bowl. eFilmCritic’s Erik Childress gave Hammond “The 2007 Michael Medved Bag of Douche Memorial Award.” A cursory glance at a newspaper will uncover at least one ad with a Hammond blurb attached to it.
That being said, quote-whores will always exist in some form. The primary function of a film review is to convince someone to buy a ticket or two to said film, just as the primary function of a site like Film School Rejects is to present an “edgy” take on film news. It’s all about putting asses in seats. The problem with Hammond, though, was twofold – no one reads a boobs-and-neat-gadgets magazine like Maxim for entertaining film criticism, and even reviews in which he rated a film mediocre were still enough for a blurb or two in some cases. A cursory glance at Hammond’s Rotten Tomatoes page shows that the comments sometimes don’t match the marks. For example, his on-the-fence review for P.S. I Love You still tells me that it’s a great date movie for getting laid over the holidays. Nudge-nudge, say no more, does your wife like photographs, that’s the vibe I get from the blurb.
Do I feel sorry for Peter Hammond? No – he still has a gig at Variety and he’ll find a job somewhere where his gift for shilling will be appreciated. Will I miss seeing his name attached to bad films? No, and if I ever do please hit me upside the head with Janet Stokes’ Film Advisory Board.