Critics Consensus: Fast & Furious Is Running On Empty
And Adventureland proves to be a great ride.
This week at the movies, we've got speedy cars (Fast & Furious, starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker) and a languid summer (Adventureland, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart). What do the critics have to say?
Fast & Furious is the fourth installment of the venerable cars-going-vroom franchise, and unfortunately, critics say it's the weakest of the lot. The principals from the first film, The Fast and the Furious -- including Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster -- are back, and they pick up where they left off. Diesel plays Dom, an ex-con who's still bitter at undercover cop Brian (Paul Walker), but soon, the pair join forces to investigate the death of a mutual associate. The pundits say this franchise is running on fumes; though Fast & Furious features some decent stunts, its groan-worthy dialogue, indifferent performances, and lack of dramatic momentum make for a pretty middling -- albeit shiny -- package. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we compile Vin Diesel's best-reviewed films.)
Greg Mottola is building a solid rep as an astute chronicler of coming-of-age joys and pains. Hot on the heels of Superbad is Adventureland, a dramedy that critics say dishes laughs and sentiment with a deft hand. Jesse Eisenberg stars as James, a college grad who gets a job at an amusement park. With the help of Em, a cute co-worker (Kristen Stewart), his wacky bosses (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), and his slacker co-workers (Martin Starr, Ryan Reynolds, and others) he learns a thing or two about life. The pundits say Adventureland is bright, funny, sharply acted and deeply heartfelt; throw in a killer soundtrack, and you've got a Certified Fresh movie. (Also, be sure to see which movies Greg picked as his Five Favorite Films.)
Also opening this week in limited release:
- Tulpan, a visually remarkable tale of unrequited love on a Kazakh steppe, is at 92 percent.
- Sugar, a drama about a Dominican pitcher determined to make it to the big leagues and lift his family out of destitution, is at 90 percent.
- The Iranian import The Song of Sparrows, about a runaway ostrich, is at 90 percent.
- Forbidden Lie$, a documentary about the fallout from a fabricated memoir, is at 86 percent.
- The Escapist, a British prison break thriller starring Brian Cox and Joseph Fiennes, is at 79 percent.
- Bart Got A Room, a comedy about a nerdy high schooler seeking a prom date starring Steven Kaplan and William H. Macy, is at 69 percent.
- Paris 36, a period piece about some neighborhood friends who attempt to mount a musical, is at 65 percent.
- Lifelines, a dark comedy about a family whose secrets are brought to light by their therapist, is at 62 percent.
- Enlighten Up!, a documentary by a devoted yoga practitioner who attempts to use the ancient art to transform her skeptical subject, is at 57 percent.
- Gigantic, starring Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel in an indie comedy about the strange relationship between two wayward twentysomethings, is at 54 percent.
- Alien Trespass, an homage/parody of 1950s sci-fi flicks, is at 31 percent.
Finally, props to Speaker for the Films for coming the closes to guessing 12 Rounds' 23 percent Tomatometer.