I got a great question from Rosie Powell:
Why does the media criticize Roger Moore for the numerous quips he utters in his Bond movies, when Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Pierce Brosnan have been equally guilty?
First of all, let’s agree that “guilty” is not quite the right word. There is nothing wrong with having humor in the Bond films. Even Casino Royale, among the darkest of Bond films, has “Do I look like I give a damn?” and “That’s because you know what I can do with my little finger.” Fans object when movies become silly and over the top, not when they have the occasional quip.
One of the things that gets Roger Moore singled out is he didn’t take the character seriously. He played the role tongue-in-cheek (as he acknowledged on more than one occasion). Now, if a serious guy gets in a serious fight, and at the end, pulls himself together and says “Shocking, positively shocking,” the audience can understand that as a tension-lightening moment. He eases the tension of the fight for himself and for us. He proves he’s cool. But when a silly guy gets in a silly fight and ends it with “Play it again, Sam,” he’s just proving he’s silly.
Moore’s humor was never balanced by a serious anything. He didn’t carry himself well in a fight, he didn’t throw a convincing punch, he couldn’t run at all, and he wore safari suits. On the rare occasion when he played the role seriously, he did quite well. There are fine scenes in TSWLM, FYEO, and Octopussy that attest to that.
Moore also carries the water because his movies had lots of silly flourishes besides the quips. He had double-taking pigeons, a “Bondola,” and cutesy musical references.
Roger Moore fans are the ones least likely to be happy with CR, or even with Timothy Dalton; they want a lighter Bond. So if he gets praised for the humorous version of Bond, it’s only fair he gets criticized for it as well.
Let’s look at the other actors, though. Connery is treated with great respect for creating the part, and being pretty damn brilliant, but most fans rake him over the coals for DAF. Now, I love DAF, but that’s a minority view.
Lazenby certainly doesn’t get the pass, but he only made one movie, and a lot of people (hardcore fans excepted) just don’t count him when talking about Bond.
Brosnan brought a lot of seriousness and drama to Bond, even though he quipped. I always felt like Brosnan was playing Bond as a man who joked in order to get through life. He just had to keep making the puns in order to keep going. He was intensely physical in the role; threw a great punch, ran like the wind. There was nothing fundamentally silly about his movies (except for the second half of DAD). So, like Connery, he’s treated seriously and criticized when the movies get jokey.
But Moore’s movies were all jokey, often excessively so, and that’s the bottom line.