Critics Mixed in Final Reviews of Ricky Gervais' Golden Globes

Ricky Gervais - 68th Golden Globes - Inside Image - 2011
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One called him a "bully," another says the show became "lethally dull" when he disappeared the second half.

Ricky Gervais incensed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (president Philip Berk told The Hollywood Reporter his jabs "definitely crossed the line," Robert Downey Jr. called him "mean spirited") and hardly raised ratings -- but what did the critics think?

"Ricky Gervais was just too nasty," fumed the Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara. "The host pulled no punches, but he should have knocked himself out….The opposite of dull and deferential is not snotty and abusive."

McNamara continued, "As far as the actual awards went, it was an evening filled with many wonderful moments -- Katey Sagal won a much-deserved award for her role in FX's Sons of Anarchy, Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch for Glee, Steve Buscemi for Boardwalk Empire, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale for The Fighter, Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right, Colin Firth for The King's Speech, Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network -- all of whom were by turns gracious, witty and above all in tune with the elastic but still professionally proscribed form of the awards show. Photos: Golden Globe parties

"Gervais, on the other hand, was busy defining the role of the perfect host by defying it. Poking fun at big stars is in the job description. But televised teasing requires a lightness of touch or else it quickly becomes bullying," she added.

Indie Wire
said Gervais gave a "a go-for-broke performance that would become —and I‘m not exaggerating – legendary, a benchmark by which other flameout hosting gigs are measured." But after Gervais mysteriously disappeared for the second half of the show, "the rest of the three hour show became lethally dull."

The New York Times compared Gervais -- and Christian Bale, who won the first award of the night, best supporting actor for The Fighter -- to feuding politicians. Photos: Globes' red-carpet fashion

"It’s so rare for presenters to be at open war with their host, and at times it almost looked as if Mr. Gervais and Mr. Bale were intent on bringing to Hollywood some of the incivility and extremism that veins political discourse," wrote the paper's Alessandra Stanley.

TV Guide called Gervais out for "slaughtering any number of sacred cows while torching some of Hollywood's most prodigious egos. As host of the otherwise innocuous Golden Globe Awards for the second (and possibly last) time, he didn't just bite the proverbial hand, he spit it back out and mocked it again for good measure."

The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman defended Gervais, calling him "scathing and hilarious in a way that made for entertaining television but no doubt bruised some egos and all but killed any chance he'll host again."

The show overall was "compelling – if sometimes wince-inducing – television. Given the staid lameness of most awards shows – hello Emmys – at least he kept those who are not in the industry laughing uproariously," Goodman added.