Armond White is notorious--at least in film geek circles--for praising universally panned schlock--such as Norbit or G.I. Joe--while giving scathing reviews to comparatively sophisticated, intelligent entertainments. If a film has a 99% or a 1% on the Rottentomatoes Tomatometer his is probably amongst the lonely reviews found in that very narrow band of dissenters. His reviews are often well-written and interesting, if unconvincing, and clearly willfully provocative. And it often seems like the review is just a pretense to garner himself attention, and a chance to speak on some tangentially related subject.
This month's issue of First Things, which is an explicitly Judeo-Christian publication which focuses on religion and public life, features a negative review of Disney's Tangled by none other than Armond White himself. In the review he focuses on the way that the modernized version of Rapunzel removes all elements of faith and transcendence from the original Brother's Grimm fairytale. At first I found myself somewhat perplexed by this. I've read many of his reviews before and none gave me any inkling that he was a particularly pious fellow. But then it hit me. What does Armond White do? He's a professional contrarian and provocateur; and there could hardly be anything more provocative and controversial in the world of Hollywood than writing, in the pages of a religious journal, about it's overt secularization and how it is a bad thing.