Critics Consensus: Water for Elephants Is A Little Soapy

Plus, African Cats? footage is purr-fect, and guess Madea's Big Happy Family?s Tomatometer.

This week at the movies we've got a big-top romance (Water for Elephants, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson); a maternal fixer (Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, starring Loretta Devine and Bow Wow), and familial felines (African Cats, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson). What do the critics have to say?

Water for Elephants

60%

Nowadays, the word "melodrama" is mostly used pejoratively, but it wasn't always so: melodramas were the stock-in-trade of great directors like George Cukor and Douglas Sirk. However, we live in more cynical times, and critics say the Depression-set Water for Elephants has an evocative sense of its time and place but lacks the burning passions required to pull off this type of romantic weepie. Robert Pattinson stars as a cash-strapped aspiring veterinary student who gets a job with a travelling circus troupe and falls for the star performer (Reese Witherspoon). The pair bond over their shared love of animals -- particularly pachyderms -- but our heroine is married to the abusive, manipulative owner of the circus. Will these crazy kids make it -- and jerk some tears in the process? The pundits say Water for Elephants is handsomely mounted and occasionally swoony, but it's not quite passionate or sweeping enough to overcome its predictable script and languid pacing.(Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down Witherspoon's best-reviewed movies)

Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family

38%

With the recent exception of last year's For Colored Girls, Tyler Perry's directorial efforts tend to hit theaters without screening for critics beforehand, and his latest, Madea's Big Happy Family, continues the trend. Perry again stars as the no-nonsense, straight-talking titular matron; this time out, her children are each plagued by a variety of problems, and Madea takes it upon herself to set matters right. Kids, let's play Guess the Tomatometer!

African Cats

71%

Do you like kitties? Adorable, exotic kitties? If the answer is yes, you'll probably be in heaven with African Cats, though critics say that while the film captures some awe-inspiring footage of these great felines in the wild, it also has a tendency to anthropomorphize its subjects. Samuel L. Jackson narrates the movie, which follows a lioness raising her cub in a pride, and a cheetah mother raising her litter alone; both moms face plenty of danger and hardship on the savannah. The pundits say that if you can get past the film's persistence in equating the trials of these creatures to those of their human counterparts, you'll be treated to a remarkably intimate and visually stunning portrait of survival in wild.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Comments

Dakota -Kapodaco- Gordon

Dakota Gordon

I'm guessing Madea's Big Happy Family will be a failure, like most of his movies, I actually saw some potential for Water For Elephants, but I guess not, good to know Morgan Spurlock is still out there making credible movies.

Apr 21 - 05:02 PM

The Reaper

Iron Will

Financial failure? What? Those films make tons at the BO. Critical? Sure, but does it look like Perry cares?

Apr 21 - 06:03 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

That's true. He probably doesn't care, and his movies do get cash money.

Apr 21 - 06:36 PM

Stepping Razor

Stepping Razor

Exactly, The Reaper. I'm no Tyler Perry fan, but his movies do make money. And his lame movies are really no different than all the other junk making money these days.
Always interesting how people let their dislike of a style of movie, or a certain director, lead them to call a movie a failure despite evidence to the contrary.
I personally can't stand such junk as Transformers Revenge of the Fallen or Avatar, but failures they were not.

Apr 21 - 11:12 PM

Dakota -Kapodaco- Gordon

Dakota Gordon

Uh, yeah, I meant to a critic's standpoint, I'm aware of the cash flow it makes -.- ugh

Apr 22 - 06:10 AM

ap sirius

karl anderson

when a film only costs 10 mil to make , it does well almost by default....lol

Apr 22 - 10:22 AM

Obamarama O.

Obamarama O

Yall go in see your stupid vampire elephants. I'm seeing Madea cuz taht shit is funny! I get all my posse together and we go and we have fun! The crowd is hyped and laughing its always a good time at the movies!!

Apr 22 - 01:25 PM

The NewHampshire Database

Kirk McCarty

Let me guess...you're black.

Apr 23 - 08:52 AM

Spencer S.

Spencer Saunders

Those Tyler Perry movies are really made fast. There's always like 2 or 3 a year. Ugh.

Apr 23 - 12:46 PM

Aurora B.

Aurora Bellard

cuz he likes Madea he has to be black? really? i feel like we should be past this. Because i'm black and i don't care for Madea at all.

Apr 23 - 04:08 PM

Corey H.

Corey Helfand

Dude, that was kinda awfully racist of you.

Apr 24 - 02:33 PM

Not L.

Not Likely

How is that racist when that's the exact audience the movie is targeted for?

Apr 25 - 01:04 PM

Abraham Smith

Tyler Lublin

I think Madea's big happy family will have a 26% tomato-meter.

Apr 21 - 05:04 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

hugely disappointed with the rating for Water For Elephants...I thought it might be something special because the book was good`...I guess I should have expected no less from a Pattison movie....

Apr 21 - 05:24 PM

Irukandji

Chris Skoufis

Happy that African Cats got positive reviews.Knew Water For Elephants wouldn't get that great of reviews.Big Happy Family....I'll peg my guess at 10-35%

Apr 21 - 05:52 PM

Clint D.

Clint Davis

Looks like another big weekend for Rio but Water for Elephants will be close behind

Apr 21 - 06:01 PM

The Reaper

Iron Will

Financial failure? What? Those films make tons at the BO. Critical? Sure, but does it look like Perry cares?

Apr 21 - 06:03 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

That's true. He probably doesn't care, and his movies do get cash money.

Apr 21 - 06:36 PM

Stepping Razor

Stepping Razor

Exactly, The Reaper. I'm no Tyler Perry fan, but his movies do make money. And his lame movies are really no different than all the other junk making money these days.
Always interesting how people let their dislike of a style of movie, or a certain director, lead them to call a movie a failure despite evidence to the contrary.
I personally can't stand such junk as Transformers Revenge of the Fallen or Avatar, but failures they were not.

Apr 21 - 11:12 PM

Dakota -Kapodaco- Gordon

Dakota Gordon

Uh, yeah, I meant to a critic's standpoint, I'm aware of the cash flow it makes -.- ugh

Apr 22 - 06:10 AM

ap sirius

karl anderson

when a film only costs 10 mil to make , it does well almost by default....lol

Apr 22 - 10:22 AM

Andy Smiles At Me

Sarah Hanna

I'm not all that surprised that WFE is getting bad reviews. It'll be interesting to see how it does in the box office this weekend.

Apr 21 - 06:08 PM

NTROST

Anthony W.

Bad reviews? It has more good than bad marks. I love how people think a 54% rating is "bad". Talk about being over-dramatic. Technically, a 54% rating isn't close to bad. Bad would be in the 20s or something BUT a 54% mark bad? Come on...The tomatoemeter is really misleading. I've seen many 50% range films & they weren't bad. They were more adequately moderate.

Apr 22 - 11:08 PM

Andy Smiles At Me

Sarah Hanna

When I said that, it was at 44%. And yes, it IS getting bad reviews. Even 54% isn't very good. Heck, my local paper gave it 1 1/2 stars. I hardly call it being over-dramatic, which you have said more than once, I see. I don't necessarily trust all of the critics or even the audience ratings, but even 54% is a good indicator, especially when the negative reviews keep pointing out the same failings.

Apr 23 - 02:31 PM

filmmaniac123

Aakash Kumar

madea movie can get 17%

Apr 21 - 06:19 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

Dang, I thought WFE would be at least in the 60s. Madea movies aren't great, but they are a bit watchable for me. I wonder what the rating will be.

Apr 21 - 06:33 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

That's true. He probably doesn't care, and his movies do get cash money.

Apr 21 - 06:36 PM

Steffi T.

Steffi T

The Hollywood Reporter review for Water for Elephants has far more positives than negatives... Rotten rating? Somebody's got pie in their eye there. Doesn't help us when your results are skewered. Maybe deserves a relook? Movies that split the critics deserve at least a close and fair reading of what they say!

Apr 21 - 06:45 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

lol so who was it that kept saying Water for Elphs (see what I did there?) will be a good movie displaying Paleface's acting potential? haha. I hope it fails at the BO and, checkitout, puts the final nail in Edward's coffin! amiright, huh, amiright?

Apr 21 - 06:47 PM

Ricky M.

Ricky Murphy

right you are watcher, right you are.

Apr 21 - 08:48 PM

dudemeister

dude meister

Personally Watcher, I think the guy deserves a chance, and that's 'cause of one guy. Leo. I mean, you guys remember what Leo was like back in the day. We all hated him, we all thought he was a pussy, an awful actor, and we all wanted him to go away. Then came Gangs of New York. Now we all love him, all think he's a badass, and call him of of the best actors of his generation. So I won't write him off JUST yet.

Apr 22 - 08:34 AM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Dude, Leo made What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Marvin's Room, Quick & Dead (which kinda sucked, but still pretty badass) and the freakin' Basketball Diaries way before he stained his rep with Titanic.
Pattycake though is a different story. Dude was lifeless in Harry Potter (unlike when reading the book - I was glad when he died (please tell me he dies at the end of Twihard) and he was/is lifeless in every single movie he's in. Terribad actor.

Apr 22 - 08:38 AM

Skyler H.

skyler harrington

Unfortunately, Mr. Pattinson doesn't die. I am dreading the upcoming promos for BD as the fourth book has the most absurd plot of any installments (and that's saying a hell of a lot).

Apr 22 - 09:40 AM

dudemeister

dude meister

While I am in no way defending his fucking awful performances, I'm just saying PERHAPS he might turn ut a good performance, I just think we should wait on writing him off, who knows, he might end up being shit in every film he's in. As for Leo, I guess that wasn't the best example. How about... James Franco and Jake Gylenhall. Up until recently, I thought those two were terribad myself, now they're two of my favorite young actors working today.

Apr 22 - 10:21 AM

Mike B.

Mike Barnes

@dudemeister

With all due respect, I gave Robert Pattison a chance. I saw Remember Me and I absolutely hated it. His performance was the definition of overracting and the movie was manipulative and unsatisfying.
Leonardo Dicaprio has always been a great actor. got an oscar nomination at 19. What's eating gilbert grape, Marvins room, Titanic, catch me if yo can and of course his more recent films. Aviator, Blood diamond, the departed, Inception ect. James Franco may not have done any oscar worthy films until recently, but he's always beens solid. Jake Gyllenhaal's career was solid from the beginning. The 2 movies that got him famous were October Sky and Donnie Darko where his performances were excellent. Then came The Good Girl, Jarhead, Brokeback mountain (oscar nomination), Zodiac, Brothers, or more recently Source Code.

I cant believe Dicaprio, Franco, and Gyllenhaal (3 excellent actors) were just compared to Robert Patttison.

Apr 22 - 09:58 PM

NTROST

Anthony W.

@The Watcher
"Titanic" DIDN'T stain Leo's rep by any means. It was just the typical internet haters who hated on him like they do with anything when an actor is in a success film. "Titanic" today is considered a modern day classic now. The film is nowhere near as bad as the haters make it out to be but than again, the internet is mainly people being highly over-dramatic with their hate. The problem Leo had was about being taken seriously as an male leading actor because he had the baby face effect that some people felt he can't be taken seriously as a male lead. But he's proven them wrong on all levels.

Apr 22 - 10:52 PM

NTROST

Anthony W.

@Mike B.
Robert Pattinson overacted in "Remember Me"? Dude, he didn't overact...he's simply didn't act. The problem with Pattinson is he plays himself. He even has said this in a past interview that he plays himself in all of his roles. But the issue with that is you need significant charisma to pull it off. He doesn't have the quality chops to pull it off as he has about as much charisma as a 2x4 piece of wood. If you think Pattinson performance on "Remember Me" is the definition of overacting? Then my suggestion is take some acting 101 classes because his performance wasn't remotely close to overacting. Hell, if he would have overacted it would have been an improve among his stodgy & wooden performance.

Apr 22 - 11:00 PM

Mike B.

Mike Barnes

@NTROST

Well I thought he was quite wooden in some scenes, but others (like when he was angry) felt like overracting. Like the scene when he's pissed at his dad for forgetting his sister's birthday and he's whining to his dad about it. It's not believable at all and it certainly felt like he overacted in some scenes (such as that one) to me.

Apr 23 - 01:43 AM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

@NTFrost - Titanic - a modern classic? Haha, dude, what planet are you on? Titanic is one of the most hated movies of recent memory. Look at how long it took, and how many movies, for Leo to regain the respect he had lost from the general male movie-going audience... People started to forgive him around the time of Aviator (5 years later), it took Catch Me and Gangs to even bring him up in conversation, and not until he released Departed was that episode finally behind him. Titanic damn near almost ruined the career of a brilliant actor. The movie is awful, the song is awful, and even Supernatural recently took the piss out of it with the episode "My Heart Will Go On". I don't know what gaggle of schoolgirls you're talking about, but Titanic is almost definitely NOT regarded in any positive light whatsoever in any normal social circle.

Apr 23 - 01:43 PM

Wisenheimer

Joshua Dinsmore

Yeah, you're right Watcher. :)

Apr 22 - 12:53 PM

megahew

Bob Smith

Gee, talk about opinionated....

Apr 24 - 11:07 AM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Isn't that exactly what comments are for? I thought "opinionated" is something that everybody was supposed to be... guess not.

Apr 24 - 01:41 PM

megahew

Bob Smith

:(

Apr 26 - 05:27 AM

Isaac

Isaac H

Nothing to see this weekend. I probably won't be taking a trip to the cinema, unless it's to see Source Code which I STILL haven't gotten around to. Can't wait for Thor in two weeks. Hopefully it's well received.

I'm guessing 34% for Madea.

Apr 21 - 06:56 PM

sunsaz

Chris Moore

Sounds like a good weekend to catch up on what I've missed.

Apr 21 - 07:01 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Not surprised by elephants. It had a good cast going for it but Just from the trailer I could tell it would take itself to seriously. My top 5 predictions for the weekend
1 Madea 30 million
2 Rio 22 million
3 Elephants 19 million
4 screa4m 11 million ( That's one is a wild card but word of mouth has been strong so I think it will hold well but It could also take a huge dive
5 Hop 9 million ( Also sorta a will card, but I think it will see a rise thanks to Easter Sunday
African cats might break the top 5 but I'm thinking it will be close behind hop with around 8.9 million.

Apr 21 - 07:13 PM

ballermat982

ballermat 982

I think $30 million for Madea is a bit too optimistic, and I don't see African Cats being close to the top 5. Everything else I agree with though.

Apr 22 - 12:36 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Well Considering the last madea opened to plus 40 million I think 30 is more then reasonable. Though I would be happy to see it do less.

Apr 22 - 03:59 PM

ballermat982

ballermat 982

Anything's possible I spose, but seeing only 13 critic reviews so far must mean there isn't much buzz this time, hopefully.

Apr 22 - 07:24 PM

General Wiz

Carlos Flores

Oh I forgot I'm predicting 32 percent for made ( I know that's a bit high but I'm just guessing.)

Apr 21 - 07:16 PM

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