This week at the movies, we’ve got wrestlers ("Nacho Libre"), Tokyo drifters ("The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift"), time-delayed lovers ("The Lake House"), and lasagna-loving felines ("Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties"). What do the critics have to say?
I’m sure I speak for much of humanity when I say that each time I see Jack Black in a wrestling outfit on the posters for "Nacho Libre," I chuckle to myself. Heartily. The critics, who’ve actually seen the movie, have been a little less charitable. Black stars as a man who becomes a wrestler to raise money for orphans who live in the monastery where he grew up. While some critics say the film has its share of laughs, others say the sophomore effort of Jared ("Napoleon Dynamite") Hess is the very definition of sophomoric. At 49 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Nacho" is only sort of tasty. And it’s nowhere near "Dynamite" (71 percent).
In the third installment of the "Fast and the Furious" franchise, a new collection of thrill seekers head to Japan to engage in "drifting," that exciting brand of motorsport that values oversteering. Let’s be honest: Nobody is going to this one for anything but action, nifty driving, and other assorted cheap thrills (this ain’t "Two-Lane Blacktop"). And even utilizing those limited criteria, "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" only attains a modest amount of success. The critics say that while the driving sequences are reasonably cool, the characters are about as well-crafted as a pinewood-derby cart that ends up in a ditch. It’s currently at 41 percent on the Tomatometer, trailing the original "F&F" (at 50 percent).
There are a lot of reasons relationships don’t work out. Sometimes couples live too far apart, or have vastly different schedules. But what about a couple communicating across a two-year time difference — can this relationship be saved? Unfortunately for "The Lake House," starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, the answer appears to be no. The critics say the film’s premise (it’s a remake of the 2002 Korean film "Il Mare") is not necessarily a bad idea, but the execution is off; the film is neither effective as a romance or as a metaphysical puzzle. At 32 percent on the Tomatometer, this "House" looks like a fixer-upper. And how does it compare with "Speed," the last Reeves/Bullock collabo? Do you even need to ask?
The scribes’ response to "Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties" has prompted Critical Consensus to paraphrase from Charles Dickens‘ "A Tale of Two Cities": "[The critics] looked at [Garfield] sideways with a stronger concentration of keenness, closeness, and dislike, than was comportable with its wearer’s assumption of indifference." The operative words here are "indifference" and "dislike," as critics say "Garfield" wastes a talented voice cast (Bill Murray, Bob Hoskins, Tim Curry) in a dull, relatively laugh-free plot. At 17 percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes have one thing to say: Bad "Kitties!" (By the way, the original was at 13 percent.)
Also this week, in limited release: "Wordplay," a doc about New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz, is at 89 percent; G.W. Pabst‘s silent classic "Pandora’s Box," starring the staggeringly beautiful Louise Brooks, is at 83 percent; the gritty Brazilian love triangle "Lower City" is at 57 percent; the gay cult-fave comic strip adaptation "The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green" is at 33 percent; and Kevin Bacon‘s second directorial effort, "Loverboy," is at 14 percent.