The Tomatometer rating – based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and
television critics – is a trusted measurement of movie and TV programming quality
for millions of moviegoers. It represents the percentage of professional critic reviews
that are positive for a given film or television show.
From the Critics
From RT Users Like You!
The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
The Tomatometer is 75% or higher, with 40 reviews (movies) or 20 reviews (TV). At least 5 reviews from Top Critics.
Percentage of users who rate a movie or TV show positively.
Flaxgirl and I rented [i]Gigli[/i] tonight, in that adventurous "Let's see if it's that bad" spirit that caused us to sit down in Washington and watch all of [i]The Master of Disguise[/i]. [i]Gigli[/i] is not as bad as that. Mind you, it's awful, but it's not 0/10 awful. Just 1/10 awful. Just D- awful. Review below. We also got [i]The Debut[/i], which Flaxgirl has wanted me to watch with her forever. The film is all about Filipino families. She found much of it hilarious in that "it's funny because it's true way." Even I, with my brief few months of indoctrination into the ways of Filipino families, could recognize some traits in the onscreen family that I'd seen in hers. Interesting, at any rate. Review lower down.
Amazingly, [i]Gigli[/i] manages not to be as bad as all the hype - but at the same time, it's still a truly awful movie. Imagine a bad episode of [i]Seinfeld[/i] stretched out to feature length... then stretched some more. Unconscionably, [i]Gigli[/i] runs 121 minutes, mostly due to a lot of repeated lines and entire scenes that appear to be improvised (and if they weren't, they might as well have been).
Why [i]Seinfeld[/i]? Because all [i]Gigli[/i]'s dialogue can't hide that this is a film about nothing. Larry Gigli (Ben Affleck) is assigned to kidnap Brian (Justin Bartha), the mentally challenged brother of a federal prosecutor. His boss doesn't trust him, so he also assigns Ricki (Jennifer Lopez) to the job of guarding the kid. Then everyone sits around for two hours talking about nothing, and not even in that interesting way that some movies have. The dialogue is painfully bad and every scene drags on far longer than it should. Add to that the utter lack of chemistry between Lopez and Affleck as they're supposedly falling for each other - they do so because that's what movie characters do, but there's never the slightest sense that the situation is at all natural - and you've got a really difficult movie to watch.
There are a couple of amusing sequences, such as when Brian asks Larry to read to him before falling asleep and Larry, with no real reading material in the house, reads the description on the back of a bottle of Tabasco sauce. Most of what seems like it's supposed to be funny isn't really, though - and even worse, the film makes a horrendously executed attempt at being serious, mostly by playing violins during scenes that would seem goofy otherwise (and still do, of course, but now we know it isn't intentional).
The backlash against [i]Gigli[/i] as "the Bennifer movie" was unfortunate, but to suggest the movie doesn't deserve a whole lot of razzing is giving it far too much credit. When you try to salvage a film with no worthwhile plot or dialogue by plugging in a couple of camera-friendly stars and calling in favors to get cameos from actors with actual chops (Christopher Walken I know will appear in anything, but what in God's name was Al Pacino doing in this, even uncredited?), you're still not going to end up with much - [i]Gigli[/i]'s attempts to gloss over its myriad problems are far too evident for it to be anything other than an unmitigated disaster.
[b]The Debut (2001)[/b]
Films that aim stories about particular subcultures at a majority white audience are rarely very novel except in location. [i]Bend It Like Beckham[/i] is a good recent example; it's a fairly standard sports-meets-romance sort of film, except the heroine happens to be an Indian living in Britain. In the case of [i]The Debut[/i], the same is more or less true. It's not like we haven't seen kids breaking away from familial expectations before, we just haven't seen it in the context of Filipino families.
Two basic conflicts spin in opposite directions throughout the movie. At the beginning, Ben (Dante Basco) is clearly attached more to white culture; he draws pictures from white models, has only white friends, is interested in a white woman. At the same time, his parents are resistant to his art and insist that he go to UCLA and become a doctor. By the end, they've met in the middle; Ben is more attached to his family and Filipino culture in general, while his family is more accepting of the idea of him going to art school. Sure, it's utterly rote, and the execution is a tad obvious (look, he's drawing all white models! Oh, and now he's seen the error of his ways and is drawing Asian models!), but it's handled well enough not to offend.
[i]The Debut[/i] practically seems written to be "The White Person's Primer for Asian Subculture," complete with Ben's two white friends who seem enthralled by the novelty of all things Filipino acting as the guides/surrogate audience members. Obviously part of the desire to get the film made was that Filipinos in the United States don't see themselves onscreen all that much - unless you're one of the eight people who saw [i]Surf Ninjas[/i] - but there still seems to be a conscious effort to expose the culture itself to a wider audience. At least, let's hope that's what it was; otherwise, all the dance sequences would feel like padding just to get the film up to its already brisk 88-minute running time.
[i]The Debut[/i] is an easy film to identify with, whether you're Filipino or not; even if your family didn't have big wooden spoons hung up on the wall, you know what it's like to feel embarrassed by your parents, or to want to do something your parents don't think is what you should be doing with your life. Writers Gene Cajayon and John Manal Castro do a good job of mixing that universality with a lot of specifics to the Filipino culture, which keeps a pretty standard plot from seeming too stale. The acting you can take or leave, but it doesn't take much away from the movie despite some performers who aren't really up to snuff. [i]The Debut[/i] is still a passable little film that gets its point across and does so in breezy fashion.
ESPN should stick to what they do best - broadcasting sporting events, and talking about sporting events. Their attempts to enter into the field of drama have yet to produce anything that even rises to the level of mediocre. [i]Playmakers[/i], for all its popularity, was aggressively terrible, and the promos suggest that the upcoming [i]Tilt[/i] will be no better and possibly even worse. The most recent entry into this canon of crap, [i]3[/i], tells the story of Dale Earnhardt, a man millions of racing fans adored, without ever giving the audience a single reason why Earnhardt was ever popular - or for that matter, why racing is popular.
Reductive in the worst possible way, [i]3[/i] attempts to suggest what made Earnhardt a legend on the NASCAR circuit, but never gets off the ground. Instead, it does an excellent job in painting Earnhardt and the racing community in general as stubborn bastards responsible for their own short lives. Characters pay lip service to the thrill of racing, but mostly seem concerned with not dying; Earnhardt keeps waking up in cold sweats with nightmares of crashes, all of which serve as heavy-handed foreshadowing of the film's penultimate scene, Earnhardt's fatal crash at the 2001 Daytona 500.
There's no real point or place in the film's flow (such as it is) to these scenes, which seem only to be inserted to be ominous. The film has no problem making the five minutes before Earnhardt's crash into a gallery of ominous scenes that make it even clearer what's going to happen as though we didn't already know; this after utterly glossing over the death of Earnhardt's friend in a practice run shortly before the Daytona 500 he actually wins.
Glossing over is what the film does best. Earnhardt's dad is alive, and then he's dead, and then we move on. The entire decade of the 1980s is pretty much skipped over without a second thought. In one scene Dale's girlfriend is apparently on the verge of leaving him, and we cut from her walking away in tears to... the happy couple in the honeymoon suite! Terrific.
But the greatest sin is the way the film feigns lionization of Earnhardt and racing while doing neither. Racers in the film are portrayed as hard-headed good ol' boys who get themselves killed because they don't know when to quit. This may or may not be true, but it's not exactly a flattering portrait, now is it? A movie whose credits sequence runs like the kind of montages we saw when Princess Diana died should probably make its subject seem a little more worthy of canonization. There's never even the sense that Earnhardt is a great racer except that it's worked into the dialogue constantly that he is - and even then, he goes from "loose cannon" to "best racer ever" seemingly overnight.
It's a bad sports movie and it's a bad movie overall. Barry Pepper does a good enough job with what he's given (which isn't much, besides "bad prosthetics"), but that's about all there is to praise. Just stop already, ESPN.
Every now and then, a film comes along that challenges our views on the society we live in. [i]Hotel Rwanda[/i] was such a film, questioning how the West could let the Rwandan genocide go on, but 20 years before that, a film was released that called America's attention to the terrible problem of racial injustice in this country. That film was [i]Breakin'[/i].
The most amazing thing about [i]Breakin'[/i] is its subtlety. Despite the racially-charged nature of the subject material, it is never actually mentioned that the reason Ozone and Turbo are disdained by the white dance teacher Franco is that they are black - instead, it is claimed by Franco that they are "amateurs" and their "street" moves wouldn't fit in on a professional stage.
Such comments are patently allegorical, however. Ozone and Turbo are perceived as a threat because of their African descent, and claims that they are amateurs are merely attempts to distract from the larger racial issue. Franco, and white society as a whole, also feel a competition with Ozone for the attention of Kelly, the white dance prodigy who takes up breakdancing. The fears of miscegenation held by white society come to the forefront as Franco attempts to disdain Kelly's new partnership.
In true [i]Wizard of Oz[/i] fashion, the characters are representations of political figures. Ozone and Turbo represent the two halves of the civil rights movement. Turbo is Martin Luther King Jr., well-mannered and polite and thus appealing to white liberals, while Ozone represents Malcolm X, the brooding radical who refuses to cater to white society to gain equality. In a poignant moment at the final dance competition, however, Ozone gives in long enough to perform along with Turbo and Kelly, though he remains defiant in the face of his white challengers. Still, this moment is symbolic of the decline of radical groups like the Black Panthers, and a reminder that overall, the civil rights movement did not achieve its goals due to overt radicalism.
A fascinating exploration of culture clash and filled with breathtaking choreography, [i]Breakin'[/i] is a true masterpiece of film. If not for its reminder of this country's ability to come together, we might still be living in a time where blacks were considered second-class citizens. It just goes to show you the power film can have.
(Yeah, just kidding.) [url="http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5192&reviewer=385"]http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5192&reviewer=385[/url]
In [i]The Darjeeling Limited[/i], Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman play brothers, the three sons of a father who died a year previous after being hit by a car. The brothers haven?t spoken since, until they are abruptly reunited for a train trip through India that eldest brother Francis (Wilson) promises will be a spiritual journey. It is, although perhaps not in the way he intends.
Anderson has, for most of his career, been a master craftsman with emotions. Even as his directorial eccentricities are dismissed as pretentious or simply too precious, Anderson the writer/director has shaped characters propelled by strong human emotions, from love and loss, to guilt, grief and anger. He does all this while understanding the existence and value of humor in such situations, giving the best of his work a healthy mix of emotions from both ends of the spectrum, making it feel achingly real even as his backdrops are often odd or extraordinary.
[i]The Darjeeling Limited[/i] sees Anderson returning to form after stumbling with [i]The Life Aquatic[/i], a film that bore the superficial marks of an Anderson work but seemed to be faking the heart. [i]Darjeeling[/i] is in the mold of Anderson?s triumphs - [i]Rushmore[/i] and [i]The Royal Tenenbaums[/i] - in the way it gathers a cast of rather disparate individuals (here as in [i]Tenenbaums[/i], a fragmented family) and makes the audience care about all of them, in spite of their various flaws. [i]Darjeeling[/i] is not as good at this as Anderson has been, but it gathers strength as it goes along and ultimately makes for an appealing ride.
When I saw the film it was preceded by [i]Hotel Chevalier[/i], Anderson?s short-film companion piece which adds little to the proceedings aside from giving [i]Star Wars[/i] fans everywhere a long-awaited glimpse of Natalie Portman?s nude body. As [i]Darjeeling[/i] goes along, there are a few things that are fleshed out having seen [i]Chevalier[/i] first, but mostly it feels like another culmination of Anderson?s worst impulses - cute little touches here and there, but no emotional bedrock. Fortunately, [i]Darjeeling[/i] is another matter. The relationships between the film?s lead triumvirate ride an emotional roller coaster; first the brothers seem jarred to be in one another?s presence again, and then things deteriorate - even as they try to trust each other, they end up doing it less and less, leading to a big fight that gets them kicked off the titular train.
It?s here that the movie kicks into another gear entirely. Anderson?s films have always been fairly dialogue-heavy, but [i]Darjeeling[/i] is often at its best in quieter moments. The three brothers have clearly spent much of their lives talking past each other, as they do for the first 30 or 45 minutes of the film. Once off the train, Francis? planned itinerary goes out the window, and the film begins to draw out its characters? emotions in long spells of quiet, where faces and movements are more telling than the words that filled the movie?s first half. Anderson?s casting of Brody pays off particularly well here; a Best Actor winner for a film, [i]The Pianist[/i], in which his character spends much of his time alone and silent, Brody is especially well-suited for this kind of work, and he adds gravitas to the proceedings while still being able to maintain Anderson?s traditional tightrope act between comedy and drama.
All this probably sounds like I loved the film. I did like it - it?s emotionally solid and India provides a colorful backdrop that virtually serves as its own character. With that said, it?s far from perfect. For one thing, it feels rushed; perhaps this is connected to the strong interplay between the characters in the second half, but it seemed to wrap up awfully quickly. For another, while the film has solid character arcs, the narrative itself seems a bit awkward, lurching from plot point to plot point in the second half as if far too eager to reveal what happens next. Given the beauty of the quiet moments, I found myself wishing they could have lingered a bit more, but perhaps Anderson was wrestling with his impulses on this one and just found it too difficult not to move to the next conversation.
It may be a bit scattershot, but The [i]Darjeeling Limited[/i] combines strong character work with an interesting setting well enough to give Wes Anderson another winning film. When one of the worst things you can say about a film is that it ended too soon, it?s certainly a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half.
In many ways, the Coen Brothers as filmmakers have always placed style on a pedestal well above substance. If anything, the style of their films sometimes serves [i]as[/i] the substance; take [i]The Big Lebowski[/i], for example, a fairly straightforward yarn once you dig past the layers of zany characters and crackling dialogue. Their latest, the modern Western [i]No Country for Old Men[/i], is not about to break this mold; the problem is that neither the style nor the substance seem up to the task of carrying a two-hour film.
The basic plot of [i]No Country[/i] follows Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin), who comes across the remains of a drug deal gone bad while out hunting. Moss makes off with a satchel containing two million dollars, but makes the mistake of returning to the scene later that night with a jug of water for a dying man. The man is now quite dead, and Moss has alerted those looking for the money to his presence at the scene. He soon finds himself in a grim chase, fleeing before the hired killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem).
The Coens? slow pace and lack of music for most of the film make much of [i]No Country[/i] a severe drag, although these factors both contribute to ratcheting up the tension. We, the audience, know what manner of a man is after Moss long before he realizes it himself, and we fear for him. At the same time, the Coens implicitly ask us whether we [i]should[/i] be fearing for him ? Moss, after all, is basically a thief, and while that doesn?t place him as far out on the continuum of sin as the murderous Chigurh, it certainly doesn?t make him the hero of the film. Chigurh himself appears to operate using a very warped sense of morality, though certain scenes in which he apparently kills out of sheer convenience suggest otherwise.
The film?s true hero, assuming there can be said to be one, is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who in curiously ironic fashion is always one step behind the actual action. The film opens with narration from Jones, discussing how many of the sheriffs he knew as a young man didn?t even wear guns; this is subsequently contrasted with the violence Bell comes across throughout the film. But if the film is Bell?s story ? and it opens and closes on him, suggesting as much ? he is an oddly passive observer for much of it. [i]No Country[/i]?s moral lessons ? in particular the idea that a punishable offense is a punishable offense, even if it seems odd that someone less moral is doing the punishing ? come from the Moss/Chigurh plot, though the irony is that Moss might have gotten away clean if not for the fact that his morals got the best of him. The film?s ideas get a bit muddled as a result. What, exactly, is it saying about morality if the real moral seems to be that evil triumphs and no good deed goes unpunished?
It?s the character of Chigurh that provides the stickiest subject. How he fits into the plot to begin with is frustratingly unclear, and his motivations are correspondingly hazy. For example, after being hired to track Moss, he kills the two men who hire him. Why, we don?t know. My guess would be that Chigurh ? who rolls through the film like a force of nature more than a character ? acts almost as a kind of avenging spirit, punishing everyone who is in any way guilty. However, our first encounters with him feature him murdering a deputy who had the temerity to arrest him and then a motorist for no other reason than, I assume, that Chigurh does not want to be seen driving a police car. These muddy the character?s waters, and even if he is placed into the film as a sort of avenger, it?s not clear how that connects to Bell?s story, nor how the vaguely supernatural nature of that angle would mesh with what otherwise seems to be an attempt at a realistic portrayal of place and time on the part of the Coens.
The Coens leave us a lot to chew on, but unfortunately they don?t present it in the most appealing package. While the deliberate pace and lack of music add to the tension, they also ? particularly in places where the tension is not as high, such as the opening hunting scene, which takes place long before the chase begins ? create a plodding, shift-in-your-seat, check-your-watch experience that ranks up there with the most restless I?ve ever felt in a theater. I don?t inherently have a problem with slow pacing, but many scenes felt like they could have been told in half the time, if not less, without sacrificing anything in meaning. I found this to be more distracting than anything; rather than encouraging me to search for hidden themes, the slow movement simply began to drain my enthusiasm for watching the film at all.
The Coen Brothers have made good films, and they?ve made great films, but with [i]No Country for Old Men[/i] I?m not willing to make a case that they?ve done either. It?s a morally complex work, to be sure, but it creeps along so slowly with a wisp of a plot that the depth becomes difficult to parse ? and even beyond that, the Chigurh character is so slippery that he casts doubt on any argument you?d care to make for the film?s sense of morality. [i]No Country[/i] may be an evocative portrait of a place and time, but what kind of meaning that setting offers regarding morals and humanity is anyone?s guess.