Our weekly roundup offers a brief look at this week's new film releases. For a full selection of reviews for these and many more films, visit Metacritic Movies. [Updated 4/16 at 6:10p]
Something for everyone
The good news? Early reviews have been mostly positive for the much-anticipated Kick-Ass, an R-rated action-comedy based on Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr.'s comic. But there are two even more acclaimed films opening in limited release this weekend (and coming to other cities soon). The Spanish-language thriller The Secret in Their Eyes was this year's foreign film Oscar winner, while the wholly unconventional and highly entertaining art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop shines a light on the world of street artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey.
|Death at a Funeral||WIDE||R||Comedy||51||8,11,3||n/a|
|Exit Through the Gift Shop||LIMITED||R||Documentary||86||15,0,0||n/a|
|The Secret in Their Eyes||LIMITED||R||Foreign||76||16,1,2||9.0|
|Compare to the "best" wide releases from recent weeks:|
|Why Did I Get Married Too||4/2||PG-13||Dramedy||43||2,10,2||7.2|
|How to Train Your Dragon||3/26||PG||Family/Adventure||74||29,4,0||9.3|
|Death at a Funeral (2010)||51|
|Lakeview Terrace (2008)||47|
|The Wicker Man (2006)||36|
|The Shape of Things (2003)||59|
Neil LaBute, who hasn't directed a good film in a decade, helms this scene-for-scene American remake of Frank Oz's 2007 British farce of the same name. Set at a funeral where anything that can go wrong does, this black comedy features a mostly African-American cast headed by Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, and Martin Lawrence.
What the critics like: Roger Ebert calls it "the best comedy since "The Hangover," though so far he appears to be the only critic laughing quite so much. A handful of other reviewers thought some, but not all, of the humor worked.
What they don't like: There seems to be little reason for the remake, as many reviewers point out that the first film is only three years old, and the new take doesn't offer any improvement. Critics who found the original unfunny -- and there were several -- feel the same way about this in many ways identical remake. The Onion finds the cast other than Rock to be too shouty. The humor is neither edgy nor fresh; Variety deems the jokes "stale" and the characters "flat."
|How to Train Your Dragon||74|
|Hot Tub Time Machine||63|
|Youth in Revolt||63|
Based on the comic book about an average teenage boy who is inspired by comic books to become a real-life superhero, this very violent but darkly comedic R-rated action film stars Nicolas Cage and is directed by Matthew Vaughn, best known for 2005's Layer Cake 73. Note that despite appearances, this is not a film for young children.
What the critics like: Many critics feel that the action indeed kicks ass, and that the film is true to the comic. Almost every critic is praising Cage's over-the-top performance, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (previously best known as Superbad's McLovin) is also drawing raves. Most reviewers find the film funny, outrageous, and exciting. Fans of superhero movies should be pleased, and the film is more fun than other recent comic book movies.
What they don't like: A number of critics are troubled by the relentless violence. Roger Ebert finds the film "morally reprehensible" as a result of its many scenes of violence inflicted by and upon children, and his fellow Chicago critic Michael Phillips concurs. Other critics feel that the film was partially or wholly unsuccessful at blending comedy, social satire, and violence; the result is a mess that isn't as much fun as it should have been. And several critics note that Kick-Ass is much less subversive and shocking than it thinks it is.
A surprise -- but well-received -- screening at this year's Sundance festival, Gift Shop focuses on the world of guerrilla street art, and secretive UK artist Banksy in particular. At least, that was the intention; as the documentary progresses, it becomes a portrait of the filmmaker (Thierry Guetta) instead, with Banksy serving as director. An unusual approach, to be sure -- but one that critics are loving. The film opens in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York this weekend, and will arrive in additional cities over the next few weeks.
What the critics like: It's a fresh, unpredictable, and -- above all else -- entertaining take on the art documentary genre. Both New York Magazine and Entertainment Weekly call it "exhilarating," with similar praise coming from other publications. The Village Voice also echoes other sources when it describes the film as the "definitive portrait of street-art counterculture." Oh, and it's funny, too.
What they don't like: Nothing. We have yet to see any negative words used to describe the film.
This year's Academy Award winner for best foreign-language film, Argentina's El Secreto de Sus Ojos spans two generations with a story that manages to combine political drama, romance, comedy, and a crime thriller. The film screens in Spanish with English subtitles.
What the critics like: The cast is strong, and the cinematography even stronger. The dialogue is witty, and the story is intelligent and well-constructed, but also accessible enough to appeal to a wide audience, with the thriller aspect adding plenty of twists and turns. Some critics have praise for the direction by Juan José Campanella, though others feel it's a bit too close to TV's Law and Order, which he's directed many times.
What they don't like: The Village Voice, virtually alone so far in its hatred, calls the film both ridiculous and "ludicrous" and Campanella's direction "overconfident." Time Out New York agrees that Secret is a bit too "enamored with its own brilliance," coming across as shallow and rote, but that publication still finds the film not unpleasant.
Next week in Metacritic
Opening wide next Friday, April 23rd, are the Jennifer Lopez comedy The Back-up Plan and the comic book adaptation The Losers. Here are the trailers: