Critics Consensus: Zack and Miri Makes For Laughs

Plus, Changeling is too stiff, but RocknRolla hits some strong notes. And guess Haunting's Tomatometer!

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This week at the movies, we've got adult film amateurs (Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno, starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks); a missing persons mystery (Clint Eastwood's Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich); gangster gunplay (RockNRolla, starring Gerard Butler and Thandie Newton); and an unhappy birthday (The Haunting of Molly Hartley, starring Haley Bennett). What do the critics have to say?

Kevin Smith was purveying a blend of sweetness and vulgarity years before Judd Apatow. So how does his latest, Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno, stack up at a time when it seems every other comedy in theaters is a blend of naughty and nice? Critics say it's reasonably successful, mostly because of the warmth and good humor of stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. They play the titular heroines, platonic housemates who fall on rough financial times and decide to go into the blue movie game; gross-out laughs and romance bloom. The pundits say the edge may have worn off Smith's patented style, and much of the film is pretty juvenile. But it's got a strong cast, and that helps redeem some rough patches. At 63 percent, Zack and Miri Make a Porno is reasonably potent.

At least these production values beat your typical Uwe Boll movie.

As a director, Clint Eastwood has helmed a number of impeccably crafted, emotionally resonant films. However, critics say Changeling is stylishly made, but largely bloodless. Angelina Jolie stars as woman whose son goes missing for several months; when the authorities finally return him, she protests that they've got the wrong boy. Critics say Changeling does an excellent job of replicating 1920s Los Angeles, but the pacing's a bit too stately and the story suffers from excursions into melodrama. Changeling currently stands at 52 percent on the Tomatometer. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down Eastwood's best-reviewed directorial efforts.)

Rotary phone around the neck: the bling of the Great Depression?

Guy Ritchie is not a filmmaker of broad thematic range, but his twisty, hard-boiled crime yarns are also not all created equal. With RockNRolla, the critics say he's back on solid footing after last year's critically-reviled Revolver. Gerard Butler stars as a crook in on a convoluted scheme to rob a crime boss (Tom Wilkinson); gunplay, pyrotechnics, triple-crossings ensue. The pundits say RocknRolla isn't exactly a paragon of subtlety, but it's fast-paced, funny, and breathlessly exciting, even if it's way over the top. At 61 percent on the Tomatometer, RocknRolla riffs nicely.

"Hey, RT reader. You eat apples. I act in Entourage."

The Haunting of Molly Hartley won't be able to cast its spell on critics since it wasn't screened prior to release. Haley Bennett stars as a girl who has some trepidation about turning 18, and who can blame her? She won't be able to vote in this election, since the Devil is planning on reclaiming her soul. Kids, take a break from carving pumpkins and guess that Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, a wrenching documentary about a man's search for the details of the life of a murdered friend, is at 100 percent.

  • The British import Eden Lake, which tells the tale of a couple on a romantic getaway gone horribly wrong, is at 81 percent.

  • The Matador, a documentary about one participant in Spain's national sport, is at 71 percent.

  • Splinter, a horror film about a couple that gets carjacked on a camping trip by a pair on the run from the law and runs afoul of a parasitic monster, is at 71 percent.

  • Amos Gitai's One Day You'll Understand, starring European film legend Jeanne Moreau as a woman searching for the truth about her family's relationship with the Nazis, is at 56 percent.

"I knew we should've taken our vacation at Wolf Creek."

Finally, props the indiefilmfan2 and TheGreatOne13 for coming the closest to guessing Saw V's 14 percent Tomatometer.

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