Critics Consensus: Jennifer's Body Is Hot, But The Movie Isn't
Plus, The Informant! is offbeat and funny, Cloudy is tasty and wacky, and Love Happens doesn't.
Megan Fox is the "it" actress of the moment, and Diablo Cody (Juno) is one of Hollywood's hottest writers. Unfortunately, critics say their combined efforts can't elevate Jennifer's Body above typical teen horror fare. Fox stars as a high school student who's possessed by a demon, one that implores her to feast on her fellow students. The pundits say Jennifer's Body doesn't quite work as a horror flick or as a satire; despite flashes of wit, it's not all that funny, nor is it ever particularly scary.
Steven Soderbergh is one of mainstream cinema's most enigmatic, unpredictable directors. It's a good thing, too, because his latest, The Informant!, is about an enigmatic, unpredictable guy, and the result, critics say, is odd but offbeat and entertaining. Based upon a true story, The Informant! stars Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre, an executive for a massive agri-business. He discovers a price fixing scheme within the company, and becomes an FBI informant; however, he's got some problematic secrets of his own. The pundits say Damon is outstanding - nerdy, manic, and in way over his head - and though the film occasionally strains for wackiness, it's ultimately both light-hearted and thoughtful.
It's tough to adapt a beloved (and relatively brief) children's book into a feature length film while maintaining the spirit of the original. Luckily, critics say Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs avoids most of the potential pitfalls, and the result is a laugh-filled, mouth-watering family treat. Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) is a small-town inventor who constructs a machine that turns precipitation into sustenance, much to the confusion of his fellow citizens - particularly the spunky meteorologist Sam Sparks (Anna Faris). The pundits say Cloudy's CGI is remarkably detailed and whimsical, and the film features plenty of absurdist touches and riotous slapstick - as well as sharp vocal performances from Bruce Campbell (!) and Mr. T (!!).
In a romantic comedy, chemistry is an elusive thing -- you know it when you see it. Unfortunately for Love Happens, critics say the chemistry between its leads is almost non-existent. Aaron Eckhart stars as a self-help author with a secret, and Jennifer Aniston plays a lonely florist who stumbles into his life; will these two crazy, messed-up kids make it? The pundits say Love Happens is bland, sad, and bereft of laughs - a downbeat, clichéd mediocrity that can't be salvaged despite the presence of two appealing stars. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we run don some of cinema's most iconic couples.)
Also opening this week in limited release:
- The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, a documentary about the Pentagon official who leaked Vietnam documents to the press, is at 100 percent.
- Claire Denis' 35 Shots of Rum, a drama about an aging subway driver and a neighbor with a crush on him, is at 93 percent.
- Harmony and Me, a lo-fi indie comedy about a lovelorn hipster, is at 86 percent.
- Disgrace, starring John Malkovich as a college professor whose affair with a student has broad societal implications, is at 85 percent (check out Malkovich's Five Favorite Films here).
- Jane Campion's Bright Star, starring Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw in a period drama about poet John Keats' young love, is at 81 percent.
- Paris, starring Juliette Binoche in a family dramedy that doubles as a love letter to the City of Lights, is at 71 percent.
- The Burning Plain, starring Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger in a time-jumping drama about a woman with a mysterious past, is at 44 percent.
Finally, props to Jared A. Jared A. for coming the cloeset to guessing I Can Do Bad All By Myself's 59 percent Tomatometer.