Slang City Mail

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November 22, 2005
Slang of the Week: turkey (noun)
a really bad production, such as a movie, album or TV show

Rachel thought starring in All the Gravy, the heartwarming Thanksgiving film, would be her ticket to the stars, but since it was a turkey, she is still waitressing.

Celebrity quote:
“Philip Kaufman's Twisted walks like a thriller and talks like a thriller, but it squawks like a turkey.”
-Film critic Roger Ebert

This Thursday, millions of Americans will get together to eat too much, drink too much, argue with their relatives and hurt their backs playing football in the back yard. And since I’m off to exciting Cleveland (jealous?) to do the same, the newsletter goes out early this week.

In the 1970s, a turkey—to be specific, a jive turkey—was a person who lied or talked nonsense. Nowadays, outside of the supermarket, turkey is seen mostly in movie reviews by writers like Ebert, who is not shy when he doesn’t like a movie. Of the 1987 French movie One Woman or Two, he said, “Add it all up, and what you've got here is a waste of good electricity…I'm talking about the current to the projector.

Sometimes he is even more direct. I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, the name of his 2000 book on bad movies, most likely comes from a review of the1994 film North (although the original quote contains more “hated”s). But that isn’t quite as good as his review of 1988’s Last Rites, in which he asks, “Was there no one connected with this project who read the screenplay, considered the story, evaluated the proposed film and vomited?”