This week at the movies brings us stories of camaraderie. We have a man and his dog ("Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit"), sisters ("In Her Shoes"), disgruntled restaurant employees ("Waiting…"), and men who bond over gambling ("Two for the Money"). Which of these films will get some love from the critics?
Is Wallace and Gromit the funniest duo in animation history? The critics say their feature film debut, "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," is powerful evidence for that claim. The quirky, cheese-loving inventor and his remarkably sentient and competent canine companion became popular in their Oscar-winning shorts, but critics say this film is something else altogether: funny, wild, eccentric, but also touching. At 95 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Curse" is a blessing. Or, more to the point, it’s the best-reviewed wide release of the year so far. Director Nick Park is batting a thousand; his first feature, "Chicken Run," was another runaway critical success, scoring 97 percent on the Tomatometer.
Sometimes you look at siblings and wonder how they could possibly be related. "In Her Shoes" tells the story of two sisters who are polar opposites except for their shoe size; it also describes Curtis Hanson‘s involvement in the film, as his last was "8 Mile." But the critics say it’s a good fit. The performances by Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and (especially) Shirley MacLaine help elevate what could seem clichéd into a warm and involving drama. At 69 percent on the Tomatometer, "In Her Shoes" is a good fit.
Gross-out comedy is tricky business. If you cross the line, a movie can just end up being disgusting. The critics say that’s just one of the problems with "Waiting…," a film that covers similar ground as "Office Space" and "Clerks," but with a greater focus on gags than people. Ryan Reynolds stars as a deeply jaded chain restaurant employee dedicated to high jinks, not customer service. Many of the pranks can’t be described in family newspapers, and the scribes say that’s the problem, they’re too over-the-top to be funny. At 25 percent on the Tomatometer, critics say you’ll be "Waiting" for laughs.
Al Pacino stars as the head of a sports betting agency, with Matthew McConaughey as a once-promising quarterback with an almost preternatural ability to pick winners in "Two for the Money." While the scribes say Pacino is his usual high-strung, compelling self, the rest of the movie is something of a fumble. Like a prima donna wide receiver who never makes the big play, this one’s a bit more flash than substance. At 15 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics say "Two for the Money" is a losing bet. But Pacino should be fine; his combined Tomatometer is at 71 percent.