Originally Posted by Rammitinski
Then, which seemed pretty suddenly (after they had been national for not long), they started rating many of these mediocre films a lot better than they often were, and this was so noticable to the viewers that there was much speculation that they had been "bought off". The Disney connection was mentioned a lot. That seemed to be when a lot of people stopped taking them seriously.
I think it's a natural tendency of many film critics, in the early parts of their careers, to want to be perceived as experts in the subject, and thus to act extra "critical" and uncompromising in their opinions. When I was in film school, every single person in my class (myself included) would only ever praise the artiest and most pretentious of art films. We were all completely dismissive of any sort of populist entertainment.
But, as we get older, we realize that movies don't need to be perfect, or profound, to be entertaining. Sometimes, simple pleasures are pleasures all the same.
This isn't always the case, of course. Some people just get more intracaible and hard-headed as they get older. As I recall, the late Vincent Canby was like that, until the New York Times finally shuffled him off to do theater reviews for the last few years of his life.
I don't think that Ebert mellowing in his tastes and opinions is all that unusual.