Critics Consensus

Thursday, Jul. 30 2009, 05:01 PM

This week at the movies, we've got the tears of a clown (Funny People, starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen), extra-terrestrial visitors upstairs (Aliens in the Attic, starring Kevin Nealon and Tim Meadows), and a robbery gone wrong (The Collector, starring Josh Stewart and Madeline Zima). What do the critics have to say? With Funny People, Judd Apatow is attempting to walk a fine line: keep 'em laughing while documenting the trials of a famous comedian staring death in the face. Critics say the results are uneven: the film is stellar (and hilarious) for much of its running time, but stumbles in its long third act. Adam Sandler stars as George Simmons, a famous (but lonely) funnyman who's been diagnosed with a terminal disease.

Thursday, Jul. 23 2009, 04:27 PM

This week at the movies, we've got an evil adoptee (Orphan, starring Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard), a battle of the sexes (The Ugly Truth, starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler), and some powerful guinea pigs (G-Force, with voice work by Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz). It's been a while since we've had a little-kid-is-pure-evil horror flick. And the pundits say that Orphan, while derivative an overly dependent on false scares, is better-crafted and smarter than average. News flash: Women are looking for deep, meaningful relationships, while men are cretinous pigs. That's the premise of The Ugly Truth, which critics say is labored, clichéd, and overly raunchy. G-Force is the tale of four super-intelligent special agents who have been tasked with saving the world. Oh, and they happen to be guinea pigs.

Thursday, Jul. 16 2009, 04:07 PM

This week at the movies marks the return of the young wizards of Hogwarts with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. How does the latest installment stack up with the critics? The Harry Potter franchise has maintained a level of quality nearly unmatched in recent times. And critics say the latest, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is no exception. This time out, Hogwarts has become a gloomy place, with suspicions running high and hormones running wild; in addition, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is steeling himself for a big showdown against the forces of evil. Half-Blood Prince isn't the best reviewed in the series -- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban holds that honor - but it's still Certified Fresh.

Thursday, Jul. 09 2009, 04:10 PM

This week at the movies, we've got Austrian audacity (Bruno, starring Sacha Baron Cohen) and graduation gratification (I Love You, Beth Cooper, starring Hayden Panettiere and Paul Rust). What do the critics have to say? Sacha Baron Cohen has become one of cinema's most daring provocateurs - and astute social critics. Critics say his latest vehicle, Bruno, is at once laugh-out-loud funny, teeth-grittingly awkward, and disarmingly intelligent - though it's a few notches below his last gonzo doc, Borat. I Love You, Beth Cooper attempts the same high-wire act as many wild teen comedies - it promises raunchy laughs, but also tries to something to say about the teenage condition. Unfortunately, the pundits say Beth Cooper fails on both levels.

Tuesday, Jun. 30 2009, 03:24 PM

This week at the movies, we've got crime and punishment (Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale) and prehistoric domesticity (Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, with voice work from Ray Romano and Queen Latifah). What do the critics have to say? Public Enemies hits theaters with an impressive pedigree -- it's directed by Michael Mann and stars two of contemporary cinema's biggest names in Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. And although critics say the picture offers plenty to admire, it's strangely muted overall. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is the third film in a series that saw its critical fortunes dwindle from the first movie to the second. And the scribes say that this one's not much better.

Thursday, Jun. 25 2009, 04:37 PM

This week at the movies, we've got robots in disguise (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, starring Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf) and a family in disrepair (My Sister's Keeper, starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin). What do the critics have to say? Most folks like their blockbusters big, loud, and loaded with spectacle. However, the masses also tend to enjoy good characters and some semblance of a plot, two things the pundits say are sorely missing from Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. A lot of movies walk a fine line between being emotionally involving and seeming merely manipulative, and critics are essentially split on which side My Sister's Keeper falls.

Thursday, Jun. 18 2009, 03:24 PM

This week at the movies, we've got Biblical bloopers (Year One, starring Jack Black and Michael Cera) and an engagement of convenience (The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds). What do the critics have to say? On paper, Year One sounds so promising; it's an Old Testament goof starring Jack Black and Michael Cera (as well as an embarrassment of other top comedic talent) directed by Harold Ramis. Unfortunately, critics say the film's jokes are nearly as ancient and musty as its protagonists. No one attends a romantic comedy expecting a reinvention of the wheel; what they want is a fresh take on the familiar. So while some critics find The Proposal sweet and charming, others say it's formulaic to the point of tedium.

Thursday, Jun. 11 2009, 04:27 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a railway heist (The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta) and some magical financial advice (Imagine That, starring Eddie Murphy and Yara Shahidi). What do the critics have to say? The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, from 1974, was a stylish mix of comedy and thrills that, despite its reputation, is just dated enough to warrant. However, critics say that Tony Scott's take, while slick and hyperkinetic, lacks the grit and cool of the original. Imagine That has an intriguing premise, especially in these economically tumultuous times: what if a child's fantasy world could predict the ebb and flow of the stock market? Unfortunately, critics say Imagine That does little with its setup, despite solid work from Eddie Murphy and newcomer Yara Shahidi.

Thursday, Jun. 04 2009, 04:36 PM

This week at the movies, we've got bachelor party mayhem (The Hangover, starring Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms), space-time continuum wackiness (Land of the Lost, starring Will Ferrell and Danny McBride), and travel travails (My Life in Ruins, starring Nia Vardalos and Richard Dreyfuss). What do the critics have to say? There's nothing wrong with frat house comedy when it's done right. And critics say The Hangover is one of the best in recent years, a wild ride of debauchery and tastelessness that delivers laughs at a frightening clip. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis star as three dudes who just wanted to have a killer bachelor party.

Thursday, May. 28 2009, 03:51 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a high-flying house (Up, with voice work by Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer) and a demonic curse (Drag Me to Hell, starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long). What do the critics have to say? At this point, raving about Pixar is almost cliché. Every one of the company's features is Certified Fresh, and all but one is about 90 percent on the Tomatometer. But there's a reason for such critical adulation: Pixar continues to expand the boundaries of the animation medium, and the critics say Up is yet another winner. Plus, Sam Raimi started out making perversely entertaining horror fare like the Evil Dead movies before helming blockbusters like Spider-Man. With Drag Me to Hell, the pundits say he's back and in outstanding B-movie form.

Thursday, May. 21 2009, 04:18 PM

This week at the movies, we've got deadly machines (Terminator Salvation, starring Christian Bale and Sam Worthington); historical hysterics (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, starring Ben Stiller and Amy Adams); and dance fever (Dance Flick, starring Damon and Craig Wayans). What do the critics have to say? With Terminator Salvation, director McG has brought the venerable sci-fi/action series back to the screen, with plenty of chases, explosions, and yes, machines. But critics say he's forgotten the key ingredient that made the originals so compelling -- the human factor. Christian Bale is John Connor, leading the human resistance against Skynet, which has conquered our dystopian planet with its armies of Terminators.

Thursday, May. 14 2009, 04:30 PM

This week at the movies, Robert Langdon is back on the case, investigating shadowy machinations around the Catholic Church in Angels & Demons, starring Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor. What do the critics have to say? The Da Vinci Code was a worldwide phenomenon; adapted from Dan Brown's bestseller, it raked in box office receipts despite widespread critical derision (and the threat of boycotts from Catholic groups). The good news is that critics find the follow-up, Angels & Demons, to be tighter and more exciting; the bad news is that their reaction is still pretty tepid. This time out, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) isn't challenging Catholic orthodoxy; he's trying to protect church officials from attacks by the mysterious Illuminati, with help from Italian scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer).

Thursday, May. 07 2009, 05:07 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a brand new Enterprise (Star Trek, starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto) and a failed delivery (Next Day Air, starring Donald Faison and Mike Epps). What do the critics have to say? It boldly goes where no Trek has gone before. This new Trek will live long and prosper. No matter what clichés they may use, there's no getting around the critics' main point: JJ Abrams' Star Trek is stirring mainstream entertainment, and breathes new life into the moribund franchise. It's an origin story, one that tells the tale of how Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) became, well, Kirk and Spock. The pundits say Abrams' action-packed, visually remarkable take on such venerable material will reward both fans and newcomers alike.

Thursday, Apr. 30 2009, 03:16 PM

This week at the movies, we've got everyone's favorite mutant (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman and Liev Schriber), a rake's progress (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner), and interstellar conflict (Battle for Terra, featuring voice work by Evan Rachel Wood and Luke Wilson). What do the critics have to say? Forced to choose, most X fans would select Wolverine as their favorite. Well, he's got his very own feature film, and unfortunately, the critics say it's a few cuts below the previous X-Men movies. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past has a mildly intriguing premise: what if an unrepentant rake was shown the consequences of his philandering, no-strings-attached ways?

Thursday, Apr. 23 2009, 03:35 PM

This week at the movies, weve got bare-knuckle bouts (Fighting, starring Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard), the wonders of nature (Earth, narrated by James Earl Jones), a musical friendship (The Soloist, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx), and some office intrigue (Obsessed, starring Idris Elba and Beyonce Knowles). What do the critics have to say? Look, you pretty much know what youre getting into with a movie called Fighting: lots of tough-as-nails dudes beating the stuffing out of each other. And the pundits say that while director Dito Montiel does his best to infuse interesting characterization and a sense of place, Fighting is still a shopworn underdog sports movie.

Thursday, Apr. 16 2009, 04:30 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a high school do-over (17 Again, starring Zac Efron and Leslie Mann), some journalistic thrills (State of Play, starring Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams), and cardiovascular action (Crank High Voltage, starring Jason Statham and Bai Ling). Plus, we've got Every Little Step, a documentary about A Chorus Line; Lemon Tree, about a conflict over a lemon grove on the Israeli/Palestinian border in the West Bank; American Violet, a drama about a single mother who must battle accusations of drug dealing; Is Anybody There?, which stars Michael Caine in the tale of a boy who meets a free-spirited occupant of his parents' old folks home; The Golden Boys, starring David Carradine and Mariel Hemingway in a comedy about three retired sea captains who could use a woman's touch in their drab Cape Cod house; and The Sleep Dealer, an indie sci-fi drama about exploited third-world workers in a futuristic dystopia. What do the critics have to say?

Thursday, Apr. 09 2009, 04:25 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a pop songbird (Hannah Montana the Movie, starring Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus), a mall cop (Observe and Report, starring Seth Rogen and Anna Farris), and plenty of dragon balls (Dragonball Evolution, starring Justin Chatwin and Chow Yun-Fat). What do the critics have to say? Ok, lets get this out of the way upfront: if you fall within the target demographic of tween girls, youre unlikely to be swayed by what the critics have to say about Hanna Montana the Movie. Still, the pundits say the film is unlikely to draw many converts or parents into Hannah Montanas orbit.

Thursday, Apr. 02 2009, 04:30 PM

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). Plus, we've got Tulpan, a visually remarkable tale of unrequited love on a Kazakh steppe; The Song of Sparrows, about a runaway ostrich; Sugar, a drama about a Dominican pitcher determined to make it to the big leagues; Forbidden Lie$, a documentary about the fallout from a fabricated memoir; The Escapist, a British prison break thriller starring Brian Cox and Joseph Fiennes; Paris 36, a period piece about some neighborhood friends who attempt to mount a musical; Bart Got a Room, a comedy about a nerdy high schooler seeking a prom date; Gigantic, starring Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel in an indie comedy about the strange relationship between two wayward twentysomethings; Enlighten Up!, a documentary by a devoted yoga practitioner who attempts to use the ancient art to transform her skeptical subject; and Alien Trespass, an homage/parody of 1950s sci-fi flicks. What do the critics have to say?

Thursday, Mar. 26 2009, 04:29 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a war of the worlds (Monsters vs. Aliens, with voice work by Reese Witherspoon and Seth Rogan), a demonic abode (The Haunting in Connecticut, starring Virginia Madsen and Martin Donovan), and a royal rumble (12 Rounds, starring John Cena). Plus, we've got Ramin Bahrani's Goodbye Solo, about the strange relationship between a Senagalese cab driver and a gruff old southerner; Shall We Kiss?, a Woody Allen-esque French romantic comedy about the implications of a single kiss on a multitude of characters; Fred Durst's The Education of Charlie Banks, starring Jesse Eisenberg in a tale of coming of age in 1970s New York; and Spinning into Butter, a drama about racial tensions at an elite Vermont college starring Sarah Jessica Parker. What do the critics have to say?

Thursday, Mar. 19 2009, 04:20 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a bromantic comedy (I Love You, Man, starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel), ominous numerology (Knowing, starring Nicolas Cage and Rose Byrne), and corporate mischief (Duplicity, starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen). We've also got a thriller about immigration from Central America (Sin Nombre), a showbiz dramedy (The Great Buck Howard, starring John Malkovich and Emily Blunt), a doc about an Italian fashion icon (Valentino: the Last Emperor), an indie crime caper comedy (Skills Like This), and a cinematic essay about artist/filmmaker Michel Auder (The Feature). What do the critics have to say?


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