Critics Consensus: Rush and Don Jon Certified Fresh

Plus, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is silly fun, and Baggage Claim isn't worth the trip.

by Tim Ryan | Friday, Sep. 27 2013

This week at the movies, we've got racing rivals (Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl); ravenous food (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, with voice performances from Bill Hader and Anna Faris); a lovestruck lothario (Don Jon, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson); and a desperate flight attendant (Baggage Claim, starring Paula Patton and Djimon Hounsou). What do the critics have to say?

Rush

89%

The best sports movies are about more than winning or losing -- they're about the inner workings of the people that play the games. Critics say director Ron Howard's Rush excels both on and off the track -- the racing scenes are incredibly tense, but it's the human drama and outstanding performances that push this film into the winner's circle. James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) are rival drivers with markedly different personalities and a shared history. As they battle it out for the 1976 Formula One championship, both drivers deal with personal traumas -- and find a measure of mutual respect. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Rush is full of visual fireworks, but its nuanced portrait of two fierce competitors is what ultimately resonates. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down Howard's best-reviewed films.)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

70%

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was a funny, exuberant surprise, so Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 was probably inevitable. Still, the critics say that while this sequel lacks the freshness of the original, it's an energetic, visually inventive family movie. After dealing with torrents of raining food in the first film, the residents of Swallow Falls now have a mess of leftovers to clean up. But Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), and the rest of the town have bigger concerns than spoilage when a veritable army of food/animal hybrids start wreaking havoc. The pundits say Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 should please the little ones, and their parents will be reasonably satisfied as well. (Watch our video interviews with the cast, and click through our gallery of the worst movie meals.)

Don Jon

81%

It's an old adage that what every actor really wants to do is direct. However, critics say that few thespians have the natural talent behind the camera that Joseph Gordon-Levitt displays in Don Jon, a funny, insightful romantic comedy that handles tricky material with aplomb. Gordon-Levitt stars as Jon, a skilled pickup artist who falls head over heels for Barbara, a beautiful woman with more traditional views on romance. Soon, however, Jon's porn addiction threatens to derail his real-life relationship. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Don Jon is a strong debut for Gordon-Levitt -- his film is witty, visually stylish, and well acted.

Baggage Claim

14%

Some material is so flimsy that even the most experienced actors prove unable to bring it to life. Unfortunately, critics say that's the case with Baggage Claim, a romantic comedy that's too contrived and clichéd to make much of an impression. Paula Patton stars as a flight attendant who wants to find Mr. Right before her sister ties the knot, so she hatches a plan to use her job to meet up with her exes and determine if they're marriage material. The pundits say Baggage Claim hits the same notes as a number of successful romantic comedies without establishing much personality of its own.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • On the Job, a thriller about a pair of prison inmates who are enlisted to commit contract killings in exchange for reduced sentences, is at 100 percent.
  • Muscle Shoals, a rockumentary about the legendary Alabama recording studio, is at 100 percent.
  • Inequality For All, a documentary about the gap in income between the rich and poor, is at 96 percent.
  • Metallica Through the Never, starring Dane DeHaan in a thriller about a young roadie who encounters a variety of strange situations and people while on a mission for the band, is at 90 percent.
  • We Are What We Are, a horror film about a family with a controlling patriarch and a dark secret, is at 88 percent.
  • Shepard & Dark, a doc about the friendship between playwright Sam Shepard and bohemian Johnny Dark, is at 71 percent.
  • Out in the Dark, a drama about a love affair between a Palestinian student and an Israeli lawyer, is at 69 percent.
  • Dark Touch, a horror film about an 11-year-old outcast with telekinetic powers, is at 60 percent.
  • Morning, starring Leland Orser and Jeanne Tripplehorn in a drama about a couple who have just experienced the death of their child, is at 50 percent.
  • As I Lay Dying, starring James Franco and Danny McBride in an adaptation of William Faulkner's novel about a family traveling through Mississippi to bury its recently deceased matriarch, is at 42 percent.

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