This week’s wide releases will take us on a journey. We’ll walk a couple blocks ("16 Blocks," "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party"), take a dip in the ocean ("Aquamarine") and feel the rays of the sun ("Ultraviolet"). And the critics will be our guide.
With the first two "Lethal Weapon" films, Richard Donner perfected a certain kind of action-buddy template, and he gives it another try in "16 Blocks." Bruce Willis and Mos Def star in this tale of a cop who must transport a witness across town to testify in court, but must make it past a bunch of bad guys first. Critics say the film is a solid action picture with interesting characters, but it’s still a little too formulaic. It’s currently at 49 percent on the Tomatometer, well below Donner’s best-reviewed action film ("Superman," 94 percent) and Willis’ ("Die Hard," 92 percent).
We’ve missed you, Dave Chappelle. We were deeply concerned when you went on hiatus. We were afraid we’d lost the comedy voice of a generation. We needn’t have worried, say critics. "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party" is a raucous return to the spotlight, and Dave’s incisive, observational wit appears to be as sharp as ever. Directed with style by Michel Gondry and featuring exceptional musical performances by some of hip-hop’s heaviest hitters (including — will wonders never cease — the reunited Fugees), this is one swingin’ "Party." It currently stands at 93 percent on the Tomatometer, and if that number holds, "Block Party" will be the best reviewed wide release of the year. It’s also nearly 50 points higher than Chappelle’s career Tomatometer of 44 percent. Heck, even he makes fun of "Half Baked.")
"Aquamarine" tells a fish-out-of-water story — or, better yet, a mermaid-out-of-the-ocean story. A couple of teenage girls discover a mermaid who, like Ariel before her, is looking for love, preferably on dry land. As you can probably guess, the target audience for this movie is ichthyologists. Sorry, I meant teenage girls. Critics say that demographic will dig it to an acceptable degree, but their parents and the fellas will be feeling a bit seasick. At 50 percent on the Tomatometer, "Aquamarine" is a tad soggy.
Extensive exposure to ultraviolet rays can be very harmful, particularly to the eyes. So the people behind the futuristic action flick "Ultraviolet" did the critics a favor by not screening the film for them. Whether it’s harmful for audiences, we can’t say at this point. Just be warned.
Speaking of which, it’s time to announce the winners of last week’s Guess the Tomatometer contest. Mizzoucritic was one point off in his/her evaluation of "Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion," which landed at 32 percent, and lovelykeira came the closest to "Doogal"’s score of six percent. So the next time we’re in Mizzou’s neck of the woods, we’ll get dinner at Shakespeare’s Pizza to celebrate. Go Tigers.