Paramount Officially Hides G.I. Joe From Critics Who Won't Consult Their Inner Children

When even your own leading lady can't fake the funk on behalf of your late-summer tentpole, it might be time to reconsider exactly how that movie is perceived -- and where. That's the scenario Paramount faces with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which, after weeks of skeptical speculation by critics and other industry insiders, the studio has officially withdrawn from review consideration. Unless, that is, you're one of a select few discriminating professionals Paramount can trust to blow smoke up its ass -- with the aid of the inner 10- to 13-year-old for whom G.I. Joe was apparently made.

Paramount hasn't been especially shy of late about sharing its overall Joe strategy: Avoid the snooty coasts, and target boys, Midwesterners and military families for whom the wholesome story of Duke, Ripcord and other American heroes will yield the most emotional resonance. In other words, the ones who think the studio is doing them a favor by awarding them first dibs on a blockbuster so unprecedentedly bad that film reviewers can't handle it. Seriously -- this is a first. Review-proof or not, no major tentpole with a budget over $100 million has ever been guarded this secretively before.

Paramount brass argues that they want to avoid the mess that made Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen history's highest-grossing worst-reviewed movie. Translation: Hasbro, which simply wants to sell toys and spent at least $300 million co-financing both Transformers and Joe to do it, isn't cool simply taking the money and running. Parents read bad reviews, too, and that's bad for business.

So what would be better for business? How about cherry-picking a handful of dozen pliant, Web-based critics who can namecheck both the movie's and the toys' target demographics in their reviews, not to mention artificially boost Joe's all-important Rotten Tomatoes score (at least for opening weekend) without totally selling themselves out? It's a tall order, but that's why they're Paramount:

· "G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra is... a summer movie, through and through, pure pulp preposterousness, one of the most successful little-boy adventure movies in a long time." -- Drew McWeeny, HitFix

· "Stephen Sommers' film captures the silly energy that made the series such a childhood favorite and finds a way to fulfill the expectations of fanboys from 13 to 30 (okay, 33) in the process." -- Todd Gilchrist, SciFi Wire

· "G.I. Joe may not be a great movie, but it sure is a hoot and a half, just make sure to find that inner child in you that still likes to play pretend." -- Jimmy O, JoBlo's Movie Emporium

· "If I was 10 years old, GI Joe would be one of the best movies I had ever seen. As a grown up it's one of the better summer movies; a delightfully light, fun and action-packed kick in the ass." -- Devin Faraci, CHUD

Mission accomplished! If only Universal could have swung something like this with the critical establishment's inner comics for Funny People.

· No go: Paramount won't show critics `G.I. Joe' [AP]

· G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra [Rotten Tomatoes]