Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: I Am Legend All Over the Map, Chipmunks Hits Sour Note

And Holiday is less than Perfect.

by | December 13, 2007 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got the last man on earth
(I Am Legend, starring
Will Smith), Alvin, Simon,
and Theodore (Alvin and the Chipmunks, starring
Jason Lee),
and mommy kissing Santa Claus (The Perfect Holiday, starring
and Morris Chestnut). What do the critics have to say?

The hotly-anticipated
I Am Legend
stars box office champ
Will Smith as
a man who finds he’s the last of the human race. It’s an intriguing premise, but
critics say the film is something of a mixed bag. Smith plays scientist Robert
Neville, the only survivor of a worldwide plague. As he roams the abandoned
streets of New York City, he slowly comes to the realization that he’s not
alone: a band of bloodthirsty quasi-humans have been watching him. Critics say
the film features outstanding work from Will Smith; they also
note the film’s excellent production design and interesting philosophical
questions about the nature of humanity. But there’s also the feeling from many
pundits that while the movie starts out contemplative and intriguing, it heads
into schlocky B-movie territory as it goes along, jettisoning the elements that
made the setup so intriguing. At 57 percent on the Tomatometer, this one isn’t
quite legendary. (Check
here for
our Total Recall feature on I Am Legend author Richard Matheson.)

"You guys don’t super size meals anymore?"

It appears the big-screen version of
Alvin and the Chipmunks
gives lie to the theme song of the group’s Saturday
morning incarnation, which said Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were "coming on
stronger than ever before." In fact, critics say this may be the weakest
vehicle for the helium-voiced rodents yet.
Jason Lee stars as David Seville,
the impresario behind the famed band of singing, anthropomorphic woodland
creatures, who run afoul of the record industry. The pundits say despite a few laughs, this is pretty bland stuff: dated, weakly constructed, and lacking in three-dimensional characters of the human or CGI variety. Kids, sing along!
"Twenty-eight-percent Tomatometer-time is here/time for toys, and time for

The Chipmunks rehearsing their cover of "Pink Moon."

Another week, another ribald-but-sentimental
holiday comedy. The latest entry in the subgenre is
The Perfect Holiday
, a film critics say is inaccurately
titled. Holiday tells the story of a single parent (Gabrielle
) who takes her kids to see Santa (Morris Chestnut) at the local mall, and
starts thinking she might like to be Mrs. Claus. The critics say the film
squanders an excellent cast that also includes the likes of
Queen Latifah,
, and
Charlie Murphy (oops, I mean "Chaaahhlllie
Murphaaaay") on a shopworn script that delivers few laughs and less cheer.
At 20 percent on the Tomatometer, you may want to skip this

Queen Latifah ignores the elephant in the room.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Nanking, a documentary about the Japanese invasion of China
    in the early days of World War II, is at 95 percent on the Tomatometer.

  • The
    Kurdish drama Half Moon, about a family band journeying to
    Iraq to play a concert celebrating Saddam’s fall, is at 100 percent.

  • The Kite Runner, which
    tells the story of the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan from the perspective
    of a family, is at 63 percent. (Click
    here for
    our interview with writer David Benioff,
    here for
    author Khaled Hosseini, or maybe even
    here for our
    chat with Khalid Abdalla.)

  • Look, a drama shot on security cameras that ties together
    several storylines, is at 58 percent.

  • Goodbye
    , a drama about a prison guard who befriends Nelson Mandella,
    is at 44 percent.

  • Francis Ford Coppola‘s
    Youth Without
    , starring
    Tim Roth as a writer who ages in reverse after being
    struck by lightning, is at 34 percent. (Check out our interview with editor
    Walter Murch

    Tim Roth doing his best Lady from Shanghai impression.

Recent Will Smith Movies:
66% — The Pursuit of Happyness
69% — Hitch (2005)
34% — Shark Tale (2004)
59% — I, Robot (2004)
24% — Bad Boys II (2003)

Recent Queen Latifah Movies:
93% — Hairspray (2007)
61% — Arctic Tale (2007)
73% — Stranger than Fiction
55% — Last Holiday (2006)
56% — Ice Age: The Meltdown