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Movie Answer Man (09/03/1995)

Q. Do you like music? I do. What is your favorite song from a movie?

A. My favorite musical scene is in "Singin' in the Rain," where Gene Kelly plays a man who has just discovered he is in love, and he thinks she may love him, too. It's raining, but he doesn't care. He sings and dances his way through the rain, swinging from lampposts and stamping his feet in puddles, singing, "What a glorious feeling! I'm happy again!" Then a policeman sees him, so he calms down and walks quietly away, because his girl might not like him so much if he gets picked up for disturbing the peace.

Q. How many movies do you watch in a day?

A. I have seen as many as five or six, but on a usual moviegoing day the total is more like two, or maybe three. Movie critics look at a lot of their films in small screening rooms that seat fewer than 100 people, and we take a lot of notes, because when we write our reviews we don't want Mrs. Carlson to point out our mistakes.

Q. Would you like another job?

A. Not really. I have been doing this one a long time, and have come to love it. My career advice to you would be, take your time and figure out what you really enjoy doing, and then try to make that your job without thinking a whole lot about things like salary and status, because you will be working for a long time and it will help if you look forward to it in the morning.

Q. I hope I can have your job when I grow up.

A. Would Gene Siskel's job be OK?

Q. It must be fun going to movies all the time. You are lucky to have a job like this.

A. It is fun going to good movies, but not so much fun going to bad movies. Remember, I have to see them all. The consolation with the bad movies is that I usually get in free, and get to write about how bad they are in the paper.

Q. Did you like "Aladdin" or "The Lion King" better?

A. "The Lion King." But of all the recent Disney musicals, the best one is "Beauty and the Beast." Have you ever wondered why in almost all of these films, the little heroes lose their parents? I know it's sad, but I think it's because with a lot of grown-ups around, they wouldn't be able to be the stars.

Q. What is your job like?

A. Like going to the movies and then writing a letter to friends about what I thought while I was watching the film, and whether they should go. Try it yourself!

Q. I would love to get paid for watching movies.

A. I would go even if they didn't pay me. If I were not a movie critic I would still watch lots of movies every week. They're not just for entertainment, but are a way to share the lives of people all over the world, and learn how they live and how they feel. If a movie doesn't make you want to talk about it after you leave, it hasn't done its job.

Q. What do you do when you are off work?

A. Well, of course there are lots of family events and activities, and talking over everything with my wife, and doing stuff around the house, and then I like to read, travel, draw, cook and mess around with my computer. They say the one thing you never outgrow is your curiosity, but I don't believe that, because I've met a lot of grown-ups who don't seem curious about anything, as if all of the returns are in. Keep wondering why, and you'll never get bored.

Q. Do you think you are getting paid enough?

A. Yes, but my agent doesn't. That's why it's always important to have a good agent, children.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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