About Me

Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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  • Is the Pope Catholic?

    By kyle | January 31, 2014

    Yep, even the new one. Why I think Rolling Stone, The Advocate, Time and The Times are projecting a fantasy liberal dreamboat Pope Francis on top of the real one, who isn’t a revolutionary and is saying the same things his predecessors did. My op-ed in today’s Post.

    UPDATE: Thanks to Father Z’s blog for the mention.

    Topics: Religion | 88 Comments »

    Hitchens V. Hitchens

    By kyle | April 25, 2010

    Peter Hitchens takes on Christopher Hitchens in a new book that makes the case for God. Apparently the last time the brothers aired their differences publicly, they nearly came to blows. I’d buy a ticket to that.

    Topics: Books, Christopher Hitchens, Religion | 3 Comments »

    Review: “Lourdes”

    By kyle | February 19, 2010

    A paralyzed woman walks again during a visit to “Lourdes.” My review is up.

    Topics: Movies, Religion | No Comments »

    Onward, Christian Soldier

    By kyle | January 12, 2010

    Hollywood’s Christian blockbuster is finally here. Remember how, after “The Passion of the Christ,” Hollywood was going to get wise and make some big mainstream movies that acknowledged the Christianity of a majority of this country? Didn’t happen. Until now. “The Book of Eli” is not only a well-done action picture but an overtly, unabashedly Christian one in which Denzel Washington plays a soldier of God. He’s on a divinely-inspired quest — yes, a literal mission from God — to take The Book to the West as a swarm of wrongdoers led by Gary Oldman try to stop him.

    In a post-apocalyptic wasteland (the movie hedges its bets on the usual war-or-environment question: this time, both have occurred), an unidentified man known as the Walker (a badass Denzel) strolls through the nightmare defending himself and slaying vicious predators who try to rob him along the way. The one semi-organized remnant of humanity is led by a Mussolini-loving leader (Gary Oldman) who is introduced reading a copy of a bio of Il Duce. Oldman has sent his gangs out looking for a copy of a specific book, although his men are dunces and can’t read.

    They come back with whatever books they can scrounge up — including, hilariously, a copy of “The Da Vinci Code” (the movie is landing a little jab on the Dan Brown book’s message) but not The Book.
    Because the only copy left of the Bible is the one Denzel is determined to carry to the West, having heard the voice of God commanding him to do so. Moreover, the Walker seems to be divinely protected: In a shootout, every bullet seems to whiz past him. Even the heavy villains have started to notice the aura of untouchability about him, and they find it unnerving.

    The Oldman character wants The Book because he’s convinced its words will enable him to control the world, not just the dirtbag town he oversees. But the Walker is the Christ standin determined to redeem mankind with the Bible.

    The movie is ingeniously designed, the action set pieces are well-executed and it has wit (who would have guessed what the last 45 rpm record in the world might be?). It’s also got guns galore. It’s like “The Road Warrior” as rewritten by St. Peter Paul. (But note: It also has a fond shout-out to Islam and Judaism). It’s going to do heavenly business at the box office.

    A couple of readers want to know what the shout-out to Islam is. I’m reluctant to give it away, since doing so would involve telling you the entire last act of the movie, which contains lots of surprises, but let’s just say it’s a respectful reference to the Koran. (Or the Qu’ran, as the movie calls it.)

    Topics: Books, Movies, Politics, Religion | 42 Comments »

    Review: “Ayn Rand and the World She Made”

    By kyle | November 1, 2009

    I highly recommend Anne C. Heller’s biography, “Ayn Rand and the World She Made,” which gives an invigorating look into the ideas but is unsparing about Rand’s wretched personality. My review is up. The book is currently at no. 70 on

    Topics: Books, Business, Economics, Europe, New York City, Philosophy, Politics, Religion | No Comments »

    Headline of the Day

    By kyle | October 4, 2009

    Socialism and Christian-bashing Crash at Box Office. True. On the other hand, the fall’s big hit movie is a cartoon about how humanity is destroying the world because it loves consumption and technology too much. As for Michael Moore, I find it hard to believe anyone but film critics hasn’t tired of his shtick by now.

    Topics: Movies, Politics, Religion | 1 Comment »

    Ricky Gervais, Holy Terror

    By kyle | October 4, 2009

    In my Sunday column I wonder why Ricky Gervais went out of his way to insult believers in religion in his new film flop, “The Invention of Lying.”

    Topics: History, Movies, Religion | 12 Comments »

    Thanks for the Link, HotAir

    By kyle | October 3, 2009

    HotAir picked me as one of their headlines for my item on the atheism theme of Ricky Gervais’s new movie, “The Invention of Lying.” Gracias.

    Topics: Comedy, Movies, Religion | No Comments »

    Ricky Gervais Takes on Christianity

    By kyle | September 28, 2009

    If you saw Ricky Gervais’s delightful romantic comedy “Ghost Town” last year and were looking forward to his new comedy, “The Invention of Lying,” be warned. The movie is a full-on attack on religion in general and Christianity in particular. It might be the most blatantly, one-sidedly atheist movie ever released by a major studio, in this case Warner Bros.

    Gervais delights in what a faith-based society would call blasphemy, setting up an imaginary world in which no one ever lies. Except his character, who spreads what Gervais obviously sees as the biggest lie of all: Belief in God.

    Gervais’s character is the first man ever to think of lying. In order to comfort the dying, he randomly hits on the idea of telling them that they will go to a better place and enjoy an afterlife. Citizens who automatically believe what they’re told (since no one, even advertisers, has ever told an untruth) start to spread the word, and soon Gervais is doing a gruesomely unfunny parody of Moses and the Ten Commandments. Except his rules are ten lies written on pizza boxes.

    Gervais sighs and winces as he spins his absurd made-up stories to the ignorant peoples of the world: There is a “Man in the Sky,” he says, who is looking down at all of us and is responsible for everything that happens. Yes, he explains to one woman, he gave your mom cancer — but he’s also responsible for curing her. The people aren’t happy that “The Man in the Sky” is behind all human suffering. “F— The Man in the Sky!” cries one citizen, and the crowd begins to get angry. A magazine cover exclaims, “Man in the Sky Kills 40,000 in Tsunami!” But Gervais’s character insists that whatever damage the Man in the Sky causes, he eventually makes up for it all in the end by providing a beautiful mansion for everyone after they die, at least for those who don’t commit three or more immoral acts, and by making it so that everyone can reunite with their loved ones in the next life. Later in the movie, Gervais will be outfitted like Jesus. The movie doesn’t have a joke to offer at this point; it just thinks it’s funny to show Gervais in long hair and a bedsheet. At the end, in a church, a minister is seen wearing a cross, so apparently somehow the Gervais character also came up with the Crucifixion story.

    Gervais is an atheist, which is fine, but his mean-spiritedness (even before the atheism theme enters the movie, it’s sour and misanthropic) and the film’s reduction of all religion to an episode of crowd hysteria are not going to be warmly received. Except maybe by critics.

    Topics: Comedy, Movies, Politics, Religion | 55 Comments »

    Judd Apatow, Conservative

    By kyle | August 10, 2009

    I like Ross Douthat, particularly his movie reviews, but he and I are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to his sort of faith-based reading of pop culture. Today he offers a column about how Judd Apatow’s movies are deeply moral and conservative. One hero retained his virginity until age 40 (a condition that was mocked as utterly ludicrous, though also pathetic, and was not in any way shown to be a wise idea). I am a bit stunned by this sentence:

    “No movie makes the idea of saving (and saving, and saving) your virginity look as enviable as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

    Wow. This character is emotionally, developmentally, almost physically crippled by retaining his virginity. Can there be anyone else who views “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” as making the case that putting off sex is the way to happiness?

    Douthat also notes that Apatow made a movie about a woman who accidentally got pregnant yet kept her baby. But that was only because the movie would have been over in five minutes (and not a comedy) if she got an abortion. The movie didn’t make a pro-life argument; it simply hurried by the decision to keep the baby because that was the path to comedy richness. I think Douthat’s social conservatism is overwhelming his sense of what makes a movie.

    [Spoiler alert} As for “Funny People,” how conservative is it? It’s in part about a woman who, after a vigorous extramarital bonking (that the movie never hints is immoral or wrong) and a couple of warm conversations, decides to dump her entire family for a rich and famous guy. She reverses this decision not because of morality but because she starts to notice that the rich and famous guy is a jerk who will be a lousy father. In other words, it’s not her sense of duty or fidelity or obligation that informs her decision. She acts selfishly (writ large; of course a parent’s selfishness includes his or her kids) all the way.

    Topics: Comedy, Movies, Politics, Religion | 5 Comments »

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