This week at the movies brings us the profound discoveries of a great Kazak journalist ("Borat," starring Sacha Baron Cohen), a battle between Santa and Jack Frost ("The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," starring Tim Allen), and a tale of rats in the sewer ("Flushed Away," featuring the voice work of Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman). What do the critics have to say?
Jagshemash! Here in U.S and A., what do critic say about "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan?" They like! In fact, the scribes are almost universally pleased with the film, and some are going as far as calling it one of the funniest comedies ever. Part satire, part shockumentary, "Borat" follows the gleefully sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic title character (Cohen) on a cross-country trek to learn more about our strange nation; along the way he dredges up the seamy underbelly of American prejudice and ignorance. At 95 percent on the Tomatometer, "Borat" is not only Certified Fresh, it’s the best reviewed wide release of the year, topping such acclaimed movies as "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party," "The Departed," and "United 93." That’s a good thing, since Borat himself has said if the movie doesn’t do well, he will be execute.
It doesn’t sound like the most auspicious subject for a film: mice and rats are flushed down a toilet, where they find a bustling municipality in the sewer. However, in the hands of Aardman Productions, the endlessly imaginative company responsible for "Chicken Run" and "Wallace and Gromit," anything is possible. And so it is with "Flushed Away," which tells the upstairs-downstairs tale of a coddled mouse who finds action and adventure after a trip through the plumbing. Critics say that while "Flushed Away" may not achieve the dizzying heights of "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (which scored 95 percent on the Tomatometer), it’s an eccentric, inventive family film with plenty of laughs. At 76 percent on the Tomatometer, "Flushed Away" is critically sanitized for your viewing pleasure.
"The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," was barely screened for critics, much like star Tim Allen‘s last flick, "Zoom." The big difference is that "Clause" at least has a couple good reviews, whereas "Zoom" had none. The story of Santa’s duel with Jack Frost for control over Christmas, "Clause" hasn’t exactly enchanted the critics who have seen it; they say the movie is labored and mostly mirthless. It’s currently at 29 percent on the Tomatometer.
Yes, Virginia, there is a "Santa Clause 3."
Also opening this week in limited release: "Commune," a documentary about the Black Bear Ranch in California, is at 100 percent; "Romantico," a heartbreaking documentary about a musician working illegally in the U.S., is at 100 percent; Pedro Almodovar‘s "Volver," starring Penelope Cruz in a complex tale of womanhood, is Certified Fresh at 90 percent; "Wondrous Oblivion," the story of a boy and his neighbor who bond over the game of cricket, is at 60 percent; "Death & Texas," a death penalty satire, is at 60 percent; the twisty thriller "Unknown," starring Greg Kinnear, is at 29 percent; "Shottas," a based-on-true-events Jamaican crime flick, is at 20 percent; and "Zerophilia," a gender-bending rom-com, is at 18 percent.
Pedro Almodovar and Penelope Cruz take a spectral walk down memory lane with "Volver." Check out our retrospective of the Spanish director’s work here.
Finally, we’d like to bestow props upon the whimsically monikered killthemall4444, who correctly predicted that the equally whimsical "Saw III" would wind up with a Tomatometer of 28 percent. Congrats, ktm4444.
Best Reviewed Wide Releases of 2006:
95% — Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
93% — Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
93% — The Departed
90% — United 93
88% — Inside Man
84%– Akeelah and the Bee
83% — Slither
83% — The Descent
80% — A Prairie Home Companion
79% — Catch a Fire
Recent Tim Allen Movies:
0% — Zoom (2006)
28% — The Shaggy Dog (2006)
4% — Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
55% — The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
22% — Who Is Cletis Tout? (2002)
Recent Sacha Baron Cohen Movies:
72% — Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
55% — Madagascar (2005)
55% — Ali G Indahouse: The Movie (2002)