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

Star Wars First Look Black Mirror Thanksgiving Ghostbusters NBC Academy Awards police drama Fargo X-Men cancelled DC Comics leaderboard screen actors guild game of thrones biography Nominations cartoon black comedy cancelled television gangster Comedy hollywood Cosplay serial killer Lionsgate cults VICE TCA doctor who Star Trek HFPA Crackle Pet Sematary spider-man sag awards politics news Infographic ghosts 21st Century Fox women PBS historical drama Animation Netflix remakes SXSW 94th Oscars satire cops nfl dceu Tomatazos war twilight Countdown MGM a nightmare on elm street Ellie Kemper TV Land strong female leads zero dark thirty Mudbound Brie Larson Women's History Month Christmas docuseries debate slasher 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Holidays Acorn TV Exclusive Video travel History book anthology Sony OWN Pirates zombie Best Actress theme song Dark Horse Comics japanese 45 Esquire finale Marathons superman die hard canceled Baby Yoda Spectrum Originals critic resources Britbox blockbusters films witnail Kids & Family Fantasy young adult trailers GIFs Set visit black sequels godzilla latino Neflix indie Extras Trivia Prime Video hispanic monster movies italian Image Comics australia IFC summer preview psycho feel good stand-up comedy Amazon hist Trophy Talk BBC America 1990s crime drama crime vampires Apple Disney Plus Calendar deadpool saw Pop dreamworks summer TV preview political drama Nickelodeon APB Fox Searchlight Western FOX Comedy Central BBC Turner Classic Movies Writers Guild of America Instagram Live Hallmark Christmas movies facebook President Certified Fresh Awards Tour Emmy Nominations Photos HBO USA Network Arrowverse Podcast CBS All Access 24 frames Paramount Pictures halloween Winter TV Reality Competition scary cinemax adenture 71st Emmy Awards Best Director lord of the rings tv talk romance New York Comic Con mob mission: impossible Trailer Grammys based on movie comiccon razzies Red Carpet live action Elton John Action TCA Winter 2020 international singing competition TNT crossover rotten movies we love period drama Food Network name the review Superheroes Sundance TV slashers Comic Book royal family IFC Films robots marvel comics Apple TV Plus mutant TV One documentary indiana jones asian-american king arthur Peacock Sneak Peek high school FXX canceled TV shows venice Captain marvel Horror VH1 Spike movies fresh Video Games scene in color series interviews documentaries posters TCA Awards jurassic park Universal directors Awards MCU broadcast Logo obituary Funimation Marvel Television Marvel japan Binge Guide new zealand psychological thriller comic South by Southwest Film Festival Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fast and furious VOD Tumblr Rocky First Reviews 20th Century Fox Cartoon Network DirecTV Quiz joker 2016 72 Emmy Awards Television Critics Association worst zombies ABC Film Festival Comics on TV rt archives blockbuster dramedy Geeked Week MTV Pride Month Drama USA pirates of the caribbean Rom-Com best Showtime TLC ID revenge Amazon Prime Video The Academy comic book movies kong Comic-Con@Home 2021 YouTube Discovery Channel Paramount Polls and Games HBO Go golden globe awards dexter Paramount Network PlayStation Indigenous BET Awards live event 007 Oscars mcc TBS FX The Walt Disney Company action-comedy Mindy Kaling Toys kids 93rd Oscars DGA Black History Month nbcuniversal dogs ABC Signature social media biopic nature LGBTQ rom-coms Year in Review harry potter festivals franchise toy story free movies Star Wars Celebration cancelled TV shows batman DC Universe Best Actor Disney streaming service Sundance Now cancelled TV series miniseries RT History laika TIFF boxoffice Classic Film Creative Arts Emmys Teen casting golden globes Marvel Studios Mystery Broadway popular Netflix Christmas movies new york science fiction BAFTA reviews Lifetime true crime disaster unscripted TV movies NBA spain Music sitcom Oscar Apple TV+ christmas movies spanish language streaming movies 4/20 video on demand SundanceTV Tarantino GoT supernatural vs. sopranos hispanic heritage month Pixar screenings Focus Features TCA 2017 superhero Biopics mockumentary transformers The Witch GLAAD dc series Musicals king kong Vudu Superheroe 2021 telelvision Reality television Family comics classics adaptation Election stoner Hulu Super Bowl YouTube Premium chucky natural history CW Seed 73rd Emmy Awards trophy Watching Series FX on Hulu spy thriller Tags: Comedy CNN Summer Shudder boxing sequel Hear Us Out target scene in color Sci-Fi Disney Channel Rock Avengers legend spanish parents Emmys heist movie 2015 stop motion San Diego Comic-Con Amazon Studios Columbia Pictures ViacomCBS teaser worst movies aapi anime video AMC award winner target Travel Channel Hallmark National Geographic Bravo Mary Tyler Moore 79th Golden Globes Awards streaming kaiju MSNBC Mary Poppins Returns A&E Tubi RT21 suspense Nat Geo Alien obi wan olympics Paramount Plus prank binge marvel cinematic universe dragons Wes Anderson Crunchyroll genre elevated horror concert Hollywood Foreign Press Association Pop TV Chernobyl ITV DC streaming service scary movies dark criterion The Purge Film Disney+ Disney Plus Sony Pictures WarnerMedia Fox News Best and Worst Shondaland festival SXSW 2022 children's TV The Walking Dead 2017 composers Starz spider-verse Country Adult Swim ratings jamie lee curtis E3 emmy awards American Society of Cinematographers toronto renewed TV shows Native medical drama A24 ESPN OneApp Warner Bros. Amazon Prime quibi movie Spring TV El Rey Anna Paquin Endgame Opinion new star wars movies Pacific Islander spinoff Best Picture AMC Plus cats discovery Song of Ice and Fire WGN romantic comedy diversity game show CMT Schedule critics The Arrangement versus The CW CBS Heroines Cannes wonder woman NYCC Masterpiece rt labs critics edition Martial Arts justice league Winners TruTV Rocketman Legendary comic book movie halloween tv BBC One archives thriller 99% Holiday richard e. Grant Chilling Adventures of Sabrina breaking bad Lifetime Christmas movies art house streamig comic books all-time TCM talk show animated IMDb TV LGBT Character Guide 2020 book adaptation cars Interview cooking summer TV YA BET See It Skip It Mary poppins Walt Disney Pictures football SDCC YouTube Red universal monsters know your critic Lucasfilm green book technology scorecard comedies Musical Disney Fall TV what to watch scene in color film series independent Tokyo Olympics sports E! TV renewals adventure james bond Turner Syfy PaleyFest HBO Max scene in color docudrama Freeform Sundance TV Stephen King 90s 2018 reboot aliens crime thriller hidden camera Epix south america ABC Family Ovation 2019 french Box Office blaxploitation basketball foreign Premiere Dates Valentine's Day space Television Academy rt labs Universal Pictures child's play rotten werewolf