Critics Consensus: Semi-Pro is Semi-Good, Boleyn Girl Not Quite Movie Royalty

Plus: Penelope tries hard, but doesn't quite enchant.

This week at the movies, we've got hapless hoopsters (Semi-Pro, starring Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, and Andre Benjamin), snouted socialites (Penelope, starring Christina Ricci and James McAvoy), and scandalous siblings (The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Bana). What do the critics have to say?

Will Ferrell has made a mini-career for himself yuking it up in wacky sports comedies. Some, like Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory, were winners with the critics, while others (Kicking and Screaming, anyone?) have fallen below the Mendoza Line. It appears the pundits are putting his latest, Semi-Pro, in the latter category. Ferrell stars as Jackie Moon, the owner of a struggling American Basketball Association (yep, the league with the red, white, and blue ball) squad that's on the verge of folding; worse, the NBA may soon buy the only solvent ABA squads, so the team has to start winning in a hurry. The pundits say that while Semi-Pro offers occasional laughs, its shooting percentage isn't all that high; it's never as deliriously funny as it should be, and sags under the weight of too much sentiment. At 23 percent on the Tomatometer, Semi-Pro is looking as pretty as a Ben Wallace free throw.


"So you guys will watch this but not Brothers Solomon? Come on!"

A lonely lass with a swine's schnoz, Penelope (Christina Ricci) isn't your average girl. And the scribes say Penelope isn't your average movie -- and despite moments of enchantment, this modern-day fairy tale is something of a mixed bag. Penelope is a poor little rich girl who suffers from a strange curse: she's got a pig snout, and can only be saved by the proper suitor. The critics say Penelope is never short on whimsy and charm, but it's uneven and a little short on magic. It's currently at 55 percent on the Tomatometer. (Check out our inventory of fairy tales for grownups here.)


Penelope getting ready to practice some American Ninja moves.

The Other Boleyn Girl has all the makings of a juicy tale of period intrigue: a love triangle, political machinations, and a stellar cast. Unfortunately, critics say the film can't quite put all the pieces together. Based upon the bestseller by Philippa Gregory, Boleyn is the story of two sisters (Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson) vying for the ardor of the King of England (Eric Bana) -- and finding themselves in a romantic tug-of-war that threatens to destabilize the nation. The pundits say the movie looks terrific, and the plot has intrinsic interest, but Boleyn ends up devolving into over-plotted, melodramatic territory while leaving certain elements of its plot underdeveloped. At 45 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics aren't quite in love with this Girl.


"Hold me, like you did by the lake on Naboo, so long ago when there was nothing but our love."

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Chop Shop, the story of a 12-year-old orphan fending for himself in gritty New York City, is at 88 percent.

  • Beyond Belief, a doc about a pair of Boston women who travel to Afghanistan after their husbands are killed by terrorism, is at 80 percent.

  • Chicago 10, which combines documentary footage and animation to tell the story of the riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, is at 78 percent (check out our take from Sundance here).

  • The Unforeseen, a doc about the fragile balance between home-ownership and the environment, is at 75 percent.

  • City of Men, the follow-up to City of God, about a group of youngsters growing up amidst the drug trade in Rio, is at 71 percent.

  • Bonneville, a road movie starring Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Joan Allen, is at 45 percent.

  • Vivere, the story of three desperate women on the run, is at 40 percent.

 


"Cool, we can make our 80 million margaritas out here."
 

And finally, props to Splendidisolation, man in the water, I am evil homer, kubla, ilovetacobell, bwozar07, and Pilgermann, who all, ahem, got 'er done by successfully guessing that Witless Protection would earn a big zero percent Tomatometer. Good to see some folks around these parts aren't totally lacking in wit.
 

Recent Will Ferrell Movies:
------------------------------------
44% -- The Wendell Baker Story (2007)
69% -- Blades of Glory (2007)
73% -- Stranger than Fiction (2006)
72% -- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
41% -- Winter Passing (2006)

Recent Christina Ricci Movies:
--------------------------------------
66% -- Black Snake Moan (2007)
23% -- Home of the Brave (2006)
20% -- The Gathering (2006)
23% -- I Love Your Work (2005)
16% -- Cursed (2005)

Comments

yankeessuck.zach

Zach Williamson

i dont really care what the ratings are. Im gonna be seeing Semi-Pro

Feb 28 - 05:40 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Im still gonna see SEMI PRO, I wanna also see Chicago 10 and City of men but there not playing anywhere around me. So ill probably see SEMI PRO and BE KIND REWIND. Have any of you seen BE KIND REWIND, is it good?

Feb 28 - 06:09 PM

Poor_Frisco

Christian Estabrook

Be kind Rewind was good. but not the best work of Jack Black or Michael Gondry. It had quite a few chuckle worthy moments, but wasn't hilarious. it was an endearing and experimental film that was decent, but won't leave a lasting impression. reccomended over other things this weekend because i don't think semi-pro looks that great.
6.5/10

Feb 28 - 11:34 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

I really liked Be Kind Rewind, but many of the people I've talked to -- lots of them movie journalists, surprisingly -- didn't get it. It's a really charming film, chock-full of Gondry's signature whimsy. Deserves more of a shot.

I also thought Semi-Pro was funny; yeah, Will Ferrell does the same shtick over and over, but it's a good shtick. 1970s 1970s basketball short shorts Will Ferrell's granny free throws = funny. 27 percent on the Tomatometer is waaaaay low - trust me, it's much better than that.

...especially when it's up against The Other Boleyn Girl, whose Tomatometer is at 45% despite being a poorly adapted, awfully-acted excuse for a period piece. I warn you all, there is far too little bodice-ripping, far too much overacting (thanks to Natalie Portman), terrible direction, too much melodrama, and ridiculously one-note characters. The book is much better, and even that's a bit overdramatic for historical fiction. Go see Semi-Pro.

Feb 29 - 10:16 AM

Kimmycat24

Kimberly Gibson

I am going to see Penelope. I like Christina Ricci and James McAvoy. They make an interesting couple. I watched the trailer and the setting and costumes give the movie a whimsical look. It does look like a fairy tale set in modern times. I love the positive message of self-acceptance that all women young and old need to hear in today's looks-obsessed culture. If I had a teenage daugther, I would take her to see this movie.

Feb 29 - 06:39 AM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

I really liked Be Kind Rewind, but many of the people I've talked to -- lots of them movie journalists, surprisingly -- didn't get it. It's a really charming film, chock-full of Gondry's signature whimsy. Deserves more of a shot.

I also thought Semi-Pro was funny; yeah, Will Ferrell does the same shtick over and over, but it's a good shtick. 1970s 1970s basketball short shorts Will Ferrell's granny free throws = funny. 27 percent on the Tomatometer is waaaaay low - trust me, it's much better than that.

...especially when it's up against The Other Boleyn Girl, whose Tomatometer is at 45% despite being a poorly adapted, awfully-acted excuse for a period piece. I warn you all, there is far too little bodice-ripping, far too much overacting (thanks to Natalie Portman), terrible direction, too much melodrama, and ridiculously one-note characters. The book is much better, and even that's a bit overdramatic for historical fiction. Go see Semi-Pro.

Feb 29 - 10:16 AM

Elixor

Daniel Klooster

Thanks for the warning Jen-Jen. I was honestly on the fence on whether to go see this one this weekend and I'm falling behind on my movies to see.

I also must admit that hearing that there is a lack of bodice-ripping is disappointing.

Feb 29 - 11:51 AM

spoo

R Lamb

Am I the only one that doesn't like Will Ferrell's shtick? I haven't laughed more then a couple times per each of his movies since A Night at the Roxbury and that only had the awkward "why am I laughing these same cheese bits from the same kinda funny SNL bit" laughs. Usually the three laughs I have in Ferrell movies are from the other actors, I can only laugh at the same shtick so many times before it makes me want to go postal.

Feb 29 - 02:40 PM

MMacKK

Alex Mackenzie

Will Arnett getting the films he deserves?!
C'mon!

Feb 29 - 05:20 PM

MMacKK

Alex Mackenzie

Or if you will...
Come on!

Feb 29 - 05:20 PM

Product_of_You

Steven Edwards

I was supprised, I thought The Other Boyelyn girl was quite good. I strongly disagree with the girl above. I thought the acting was quite great. I really can't stand Natalie Portman (and usually avoid her movies), but I thought she was spot on in the role.

Mar 2 - 12:44 AM

mysticalgenesis

Bryan Andrews

MMacKK, if you start doing Gob's chicken dance I'll have you thrown off the boards. :-P

Mar 5 - 09:58 PM

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