Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: "Descent" and "Talledega" Leave "Listener" and "Barnyard" in the Dust

by | August 3, 2006 | Comments

This week in movies, we’ve got tough chicks fighting for their lives ("The Descent"), a redneck racing saga ("Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"), a psychological thriller starring Mork from Ork ("The Night Listener"), and farm animals who just wanna have fun ("Barnyard: The Original Party Animals"). Which flicks will get the critical seal of approval?

"The Descent" — Certified Fresh!

Two constants in Hollywood are that (A) foreign flicks generally don’t have widespread appeal and (B) horror flicks don’t get critical praise, like, ever. "The Descent," about six female spelunkers whose weekend cave-diving adventure turns deadly, has defied these tenets — a low-budget import from Scotland, of all places, this female-driven frightener has critics on the edges of their popcorn-strewn seats. The scribes say that director Neil Marshall ("Dog Soldiers") has masterfully created a claustrophobe’s nightmare, and has added a compelling meditation on morality, vengeance, and the depths to which we might go for human survival. High marks also go to the cast of relatively unknown actresses, who manage to balance sex appeal and strength as believable adventuresses. At 90 percent, this gory thriller has earned RT’s Certified Fresh stamp — and is on track to becoming the best-reviewed horror film of the year!

"Talladega Nights" — sponsored by Wonder Bread and Old Spice

Perennial jester Will Ferrell stars as hard-driven, bumbling NASCAR ace Ricky Bobby in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," a high-octane comedy set in the all-American world of race car driving. Inescapably drawing comparisons to 2004’s "Anchorman" (which, like "Talladega," starred Ferrell and was co-written by director Adam McKay), there’s no doubt that Ferrell is on his comedic game in this sweet-natured send-up of the NASCAR world. Critics also agree on the strength of Ferrell’s supporting cast (including John C. Reilly as Ricky Bobby’s steadfast racing buddy, and British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen ("Da Ali G Show") as his scene-stealing gay French rival). But is it funny? While the largely-improvised laughs are occasionally uneven, critics say the highs are indeed hilarious and worth the ride. At 73 percent on the Tomatometer, go ahead and buckle up for "Talladega."

Robin Williams in the JT Leroy-ish thriller, "The Night Listener"

"The Night Listener" marks another revisiting of comic genius Robin Williams to that oh-so-foreign milieu — dramatic acting — in a psychological thriller adapted from Armistead Maupin’s story of the same name. Williams plays Gabriel, a lonely nighttime radio host who forges a relationship with a young abuse victim named Pete (Rory Culkin), but begins to question the truth behind Pete’s story; eventually, he wonders if Pete really exists at all. The critics say that, despite a real-life relevancy in light of such fictitious media sensations as J.T. Leroy, any suspensefulness built up by Patrick Stettner‘s creepy, atmospheric direction fizzles out with muddled storytelling; perhaps, too, funnyman Williams has been slightly miscast in a sad-sack role that requires more believable misery. However, many scribes are quick to point out the film’s unusually brief 81-minute runtime, if that gives you any more incentive to buy a ticket, but at 45 percent on the Tomatometer, you probably want to tune out this "Listener."

When the farmer’s asleep, the cows cut loose in "Barnyard"

Are you in the mood for an animated tale of farm animals who party when the humans aren’t looking? How about one with a rebellious boy cow as the hero? "Barnyard" offers up such fare with the story of Otis (voiced by Kevin James), a fun-loving cow who would rather carouse about the farm than protect its denizens from ravenous coyotes, a duty that his father (Sam Elliott) tries in vain to impart to him. With a voice cast that includes Wanda Sykes and Courteney Cox, "Barnyard" aims for comedic targets in the form of anthropomorphized animal laughs, gross humor, and sight gags (courtesy of "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" director Steve Oedekirk) — lowbrow humor that, critics moan, appeal only to the senses of children under the age of eight. Unfortunately for the chaperones of the target demographic, aside from some spontaneous musical numbers and a few adult-oriented jokes, there’s not much here to entertain grown-ups. At 33 percent, "Barnyard" is only for parents who love their kids enough to sit through it.

Also opening this week, albeit in limited release: "My Country, My Country," a political documentary about the Iraq 2005 election, is at 100 percent; French romantic thriller "The Bridesmaid" is at 83 percent; the coming-of-age tale (and Sundance fave) "Quinceanera" is at 81 percent; retiree rom-com "The Boynton Beach Club" is at 55 percent; the prison cell drama "Jailbait" is at 14 percent; and gay teen drama "Vacationland" is at — gulp — 0 percent.

Recent Will Ferrell Movies:
Curious George – 69%
Winter Passing – 41%
Melinda & Melinda – 51%
Kicking and Screaming – 43%
Bewitched – 25%

Tag Cloud

Arrowverse DirecTV Bravo FOX TCA Oscars Pirates historical drama joker festivals Lucasfilm Dark Horse Comics social media latino Music Spring TV Photos CBS mockumentary Winter TV 2019 cinemax toy story revenge BET 71st Emmy Awards A&E Character Guide Red Carpet First Look comic crossover vampires ghosts NYCC Anna Paquin Reality sitcom Disney Plus X-Men Apple TV+ Marathons slashers golden globes TruTV Rocky Superheroes Ellie Kemper Teen Valentine's Day ITV based on movie TCA 2017 Nickelodeon FX discovery batman dragons Cosplay Mary poppins Apple Summer Toys unscripted Television Academy supernatural Western BBC America RT History casting Superheroe WGN award winner crime war cats Amazon Prime Video teaser mutant DC Universe Musicals disaster CW Seed talk show doctor who Premiere Dates YouTube Premium Universal MCU ABC Family elevated horror Certified Fresh Fox News Extras game of thrones diversity HBO Country Pop VH1 Vudu PBS YouTube Year in Review Rom-Com WarnerMedia Pet Sematary Comic Book Podcast psycho Shudder The Walking Dead Stephen King Super Bowl TNT dc hist crime thriller APB cancelled television Film Captain marvel ratings E3 transformers GLAAD Syfy zero dark thirty Shondaland Brie Larson south america Family cooking TCM Tumblr hispanic Trailer period drama Spectrum Originals PaleyFest cancelled FXX composers facebook Drama singing competition TBS Film Festival canceled TV shows Netflix Columbia Pictures The Arrangement NBC SXSW SDCC Walt Disney Pictures Ovation adventure Crackle The Purge Warner Bros. aliens Emmys Hulu Tarantino political drama Schedule Countdown IFC dceu spy thriller Quiz Tomatazos medical drama Writers Guild of America Sci-Fi RT21 zombies Marvel Mindy Kaling cults Pride Month National Geographic jamie lee curtis HBO Max Star Wars Horror book Cannes Acorn TV cars Mudbound finale sequel Calendar TLC Emmy Nominations Paramount Network Election The CW Ghostbusters Women's History Month MSNBC Thanksgiving Logo Epix Starz Cartoon Network Martial Arts CBS All Access cancelled TV series Holidays travel Peacock Awards Tour adaptation 2016 American Society of Cinematographers Animation Trophy Talk streaming tv talk Mary Tyler Moore Sony Pictures free movies ESPN 20th Century Fox VICE green book Sundance New York Comic Con AMC BBC Polls and Games video Fall TV 2017 serial killer Amazon Prime technology President children's TV romantic comedy television TIFF Lifetime Heroines DC streaming service The Witch natural history justice league spain biography 45 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina blaxploitation Disney Channel Adult Swim Chernobyl El Rey series Sundance Now kids cancelled TV shows LGBT History Trivia Mary Poppins Returns First Reviews cops USA Network ABC docudrama harry potter LGBTQ politics 24 frames SundanceTV what to watch Lionsgate sports richard e. Grant Britbox Rock comiccon Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt E! Interview GoT zombie 2015 Reality Competition 21st Century Fox game show halloween Nominations Masterpiece breaking bad true crime CMT Song of Ice and Fire nature Kids & Family witnail animated Comics on TV Watching Series Freeform dramedy anime DC Comics space crime drama spinoff binge USA Christmas Food Network Paramount Winners boxoffice miniseries Black Mirror DGA movies foreign spider-man theme song Comedy Esquire Set visit See It Skip It Star Trek stand-up comedy Action Comedy Central Video Games Musical 007 MTV Rocketman YA Pixar Amazon robots thriller Nat Geo romance TV Land renewed TV shows Mystery Elton John 2018 TV renewals Showtime OWN Spike police drama strong female leads Opinion CNN quibi Biopics science fiction Disney psychological thriller TV Awards Sneak Peek Creative Arts Emmys canceled Infographic IFC Films Fantasy anthology Binge Guide GIFs Grammys Box Office Disney streaming service YouTube Red San Diego Comic-Con spanish language Best and Worst