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Posted at 3:50 PM ET, 11/10/2010

Gene Shalit: Bidding farewell to the punniest movie critic in history

By Jen Chaney

Tomorrow marks the official send-off for "Today" show movie reviewer Gene Shalit, who is leaving his Critic's Corner after 40 years of summarizing the best and worst of American cinema with as many puns as he could muster.

No matter how honest some of his reviews may have been -- contrary to prevailing wisdom, Shalit actually did pan his share of flicks -- it's his inability to resist a groan-inducing play on words that we'll remember most.

The "Today" team plans to bid Shalit adieu tomorrow with what one assumes will be a drippily sentimental video montage ... and one also filled with loads of puns. This blog post was originally intended to beat them to the punch by compiling some of the best puns in Gene Shalit History, except that a problem arose: it's challenging to find a solid archive of Gene Shalit's reviews on the Web. The veteran critic doesn't have a linkable library of his work on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic or even, that I could see, the Today show Web site.

That said, I did manage to dig up a few highlights, which I'll share after the jump. But first a bit of advice for Mr. Shalit: when you begin the next phase of you career, which reportedly will involve continued work on the Internet, post some of your classics on your blog or Web site. A guy who has put in so many years on the job simply "must stash" his reviews somewhere. (Already groaning? Oh, it gets better after the jump.)

Gene Shalit on "Fantastic Four": "A movie that's fantastic -- 'four' everybody!"

On "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor": "This movie is filled with wonders for every family. For kiddies, for daddies and, of course, for mummies."

On Peter Jackson's "King Kong," for which Shalit had to invent new words to convey his adulation: "Fabularious! A brilliantological humongousness of marvelosity!" (I love the end of the segment, when Matt Lauer says: "Look up the word rave in the dictionary, that's it right there." Coincidentally, in the dictionary definition of "rave," you'll also find the phrase "brilliantological humongousness of marvelosity.")

On "Funny People," which Shalit rips to shreds: "It's ineffable because without the letter 'f,' [Judd Apatow] would have no script."

And on the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler surrogate mother comedy "Baby Mama," in which Shalit provides the following ridiculous plot summary: "Fey, who is inflexible and controlling, and Poehler, who is her polar opposite, share an apartment. And they become wombmates." Look, I didn't say it, Shalit did.

Got your own favorite Shalit-isms? By all means, post a comment and share.

By Jen Chaney  | November 10, 2010; 3:50 PM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  
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This movie truly was a Superman 4: The Quest for Peace...

Posted by: ozpunk | November 10, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I think just reading the word "wombmates" has killed my desire to be a writer. I actually met Gene Shalit 15 years ago when I worked in a bookstore and he came in to autograph his book (the name of which escapes me, but I still have it somewhere). He was very polite and his mustache entered the place minutes before he did. At 84, the man deserves a rest.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | November 10, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

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