This week at the movies, we’ve got snakes…. on a plane ("Snakes on a Plane," starring Samuel L. Jackson), slackers on a campus ("Accepted," starring Justin Long), and Duffs on the screen ("Material Girls," starring Hilary and Haylie Duff). What do the critics have to say?
"Snakes on a Plane," the movie with the greatest title since "Dude, Where’s My Car?", has captured the imagination of the blogosphere. However, it will have to wait to capture the imagination of the critics, since it wasn’t screened in advance. The plot involves an FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson) who, golly, would really like to expel those ophidians from the aircraft upon which he’s traveling. Since "SOAP" (as the fanboys and girls call it) has no reviews, we’re going to play our favorite game: Guess the @#&$*$ Tomatometer.
There’s something inherently appealing about a bunch of party-hearty students and their battles with the uptight squares; that’s why movie people keep trying to recapture the magic of "Animal House" and "Rock ‘n’ Roll High School." "Accepted" tells the story of a high school graduate (Justin Long) who’s having no luck getting into college, so he decides to start his own fake institute of higher learning. To his surprise, a bunch of like-minded outcasts join him. Critics say the movie has its share of laughs, but it never totally gels, and turns a little too sweet at the end. At 31 percent on the Tomatometer, "Accepted" has been waitlisted.
Critics can beg, and critics can plead, but they can’t see "Material Girls" (that’s right!), ’cause the audience members with the cold hard cash are always Mr. (and Ms.) Right. Or, perhaps the people behind the latest Duff sisters vehicle feel the film is in the same artistic league as Madge‘s "Body of Evidence." Guess this Tomatometer while you’re at it.
"Little Miss Sunshine" was a big hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and now that it’s hitting the theaters, the scribes are just as enthusiastic as the folks in Park City. This tale of a dysfunctional family hitting the road for a child pageant is Certified Fresh, and features sharp performances from its ensemble cast, particularly Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell. At 94 percent, this one’s a ray of "Sunshine." (Check out RT’s interview with co-directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton here.)
Also in theaters in limited release this week: "Factotum," the Sundance-approved Bukowski adaptation starring Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor, is at 75 percent; "The Illusionist," a tale of intrigue in turn of the century Vienna starring Ed Norton, Jessica Biel, and Paul Giamatti, is at 67 percent; Dutch import "Moonlight," a tale of risky teenage love, is at 60 percent; "Trust the Man," a rom-com starring David Duchovny and Julianne Moore, is at 39 percent; and "10th & Wolf," a story of mob family ties starring James Marsden and Giovanni Ribisi, is at zero percent.
Finally, props to XeternityX, who came closest to predicting "Pulse"’s 12 percent Tomatometer. Nobody got particularly close to "Zoom," still flying high at zero percent. Be forwarned when guessing the Tomatometers for this week’s unscreened releases: the average T-meter for movies not screened for critics is 11.75 percent.
Recent Samuel L. Jackson Movies:
25% — Freedomland (2005)
13% — The Man (2005)
82% — Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
18% — XXX: State of the Union (2005)
23% — In My Country (2005)