Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: 21 is a Bust, Stop is at a Loss, Guess Superhero Movie's Tomatometer!

Also: Run, Fat Boy, Run can't quite go the distance.

by | March 27, 2008 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got blackjack brainiacs (21, starring
Jim
Sturgess
and
Kate Bosworth), strained soldiers (Stop-Loss,
starring Ryan
Phillippe
and
Abbie Cornish), rotund runners (Run,
Fat Boy, Run
, starring
Simon Pegg and
Thandie Newton), and masked marvels (Superhero
Movie
, starring
Drake Bell and
Leslie Nielsen). What to the critics have to
say?

Though it’s the story of some high–IQ high-rollers, critics say
21
deals
a so-so hand. 21 is loosely based on Bringing Down the House, the
true story of some MIT wiz-kids who formed an all-star team of card counters —
and took Las Vegas blackjack tables for a ride. The movie stars
Kevin Spacey
as an unconventional professor who schools his brainy students in the ways of
beating the casinos; it works for a while, until Ben (Jim
Sturgess
) starts
getting caught up in the high-rolling Vegas lifestyle. The pundits say the movie
has flashes of energy and smarts, but, for being based on a true story, it’s too
formulaic, and features plot developments that strain plausibility. At 41
percent on the Tomatometer, 21 may not be the safest bet. (Check out this
week’s Total Recall
for a roundup of some memorable gambling movies.)




“Now I want you to type 8008135 on your calculator.”

Kimberly Peirce‘s debut,
Boys Don’t Cry
, was heartbreaking and
impassioned, and critics say the same can be said of her follow-up,
Stop-Loss
.
Unfortunately, they also note that said passion has been channeled into a much
more uneven film. The title refers to a policy of soldiers’ tours of duty being
involuntarily extended;
Ryan Phillippe stars as one such serviceman, who, after
returning home from Iraq to his family, is called back into service, upsetting
his and his family’s lives. The pundits say Stop-Loss is sincere and
complex, and features strong performances, but it also veers into overwrought
dramatic territory and tries to cover too much ground. It currently stands at 53
percent on the Tomatometer.




“Let me play you my Iraq war movies protest song.”

Simon Pegg is one of the funniest men in the movies, but we all have our off
days. Case in point:
Run, Fat
Boy, Run
, a romantic comedy that never
reaches the riotous heights of previous Pegg projects.. Pegg stars as an affable
guy who did a horrible thing: five years ago, he left his pregnant fiancée (Thandie Newton) standing at the altar. Now, older and wiser, he decides to reclaim her
love — by ditching his bad habits and running a marathon. The pundits say the
cast is strong enough to generate some chuckles, but Run, Fat Boy, Run is
too mired in predictable rom-com plot points to truly soar. At 47 percent on the
Tomatometer,
Run, Fat
Boy, Run
is a bit too flabby.




Undoubtedly, Pegg would be in better shape if he were a Blondie fan.

It looks like the folks behind
Superhero Movie

are convinced the pundits won’t find it too super, since reviews have been
embargoed until the day of its release. The generally-awesome
Leslie Neilsen and
Tracy Morgan
star in this Zucker Brothers satire of costumed crimefighter tropes. Kids, take
a break from your discussion of the coolness of Doctor Doom and guess
that Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Italian import
    My Brother is an Only Child
    ,
    a coming-of-age story of two politically polarized siblings, is at 94 percent.

  • Alexandra, a delicate meditation on the Chechen war featuring Russian
    opera legend Galina Vishnevskaya, is at 93 percent.

  • Shotgun Stories,
    a story of a Deep South family feud that turns violent, is at 92 percent.

  • The Cool School,
    a doc about the Beat-era West Coast art scene, is at 88 percent.

  • Priceless, a farcical French rom-com starring
    Audrey Tautou,
    is at 83 percent.

  • Flawless, a diamond-heist flick starring
    Michael Caine and
    Demi Moore, is
    at 59 percent.

  • American Zombie,
    a fictional doc about a group of “high-functioning” zombies in Los Angeles, is
    at 50 percent (check out our interview with director Grace Lee
    here).

  • Chapter 27, a biopic of John Lennon’s assassin Mark David Chapman
    starring Jared Leto and
    Lindsay Lohan, is at 25 percent.




“Look what I found in my cereal.”

Finally, mad props to sliknik27 for correctly guessing
Shutter
‘s eight
percent Tomatometer, and to Amsterclam and Comment for
predicting
Meet the
Browns
‘ 32 percent score.

Recent Kevin Spacey Movies
————————————
23% — Fred Claus (2007)
77% — Superman Returns (2006)
42% — Beyond the Sea (2004)
31% — The United States of Leland (2004)
20% — The Life of David Gale (2003)