Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Cowboys and Aliens is All Mixed Up

Plus, The Smurfs has critics feeling blue, and Crazy, Stupid, Love is sharp and funny.

by | July 29, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got bronco-busters and extraterrestrials (Cowboys and Aliens, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford), little blue people (The Smurfs, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Katy Perry), and modern romance (Crazy, Stupid, Love, starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling). What do the critics have to say?

Cowboys and Aliens


What is Cowboys and Aliens? Is it a Western? A sci-fi thriller? An homage? A parody? Well, say critics, it’s all those things and more, though it’s not quite as seamless – or as fun – as one might have hoped, given the talents involved (and the B-movie promise of its undeniably awesome title). Daniel Craig stars as a mysterious man with no memory of his past who stumbles into a rough-and-tumble town called Absolution, where he’s treated with disdain by a tyrannical lawman (Harrison Ford). However, when hostile space invaders blast away at the community, they turn to the stranger for help. Critics say what could have been a giddy, action-packed romp is bogged down by serious tonal problems; though Cowboys and Aliens has a top-notch cast and moments of genre-bending fun, we’re never sure how seriously to take the action onscreen, and the result is an odd hybrid that never fully takes flight. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Craig’s best-reviewed films, as well as our gallery of movie genre mashups.)

The Smurfs


Many a Gen-Xer has a soft spot for the Smurfs, those diminutive blue folks who enlivened our youthful Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, not all is smurfy in Smurfland; critics say the live action/ CGI hybrid The Smurfs is pretty thin stuff, an unfunny, less-than-thrilling family film with plenty of crass innuendo but almost no magic. Neil Patrick Harris stars as a New York workaholic who must help the Smurfs get back to their village – they’ve been chased out by their archenemy Gargamel, and they must navigate the Big Apple in the meantime. The pundits say The Smurfs feels like a nostalgic cash-grab, with a generic plot and little of the charm that made these elfin creatures appealing to begin with.

Crazy, Stupid, Love


When it comes to romantic comedies, sometimes great acting can give shape to uneven material. Critics say that’s largely the case with Crazy, Stupid, Love, a fitfully rewarding effort enlivened by its star power. Steve Carell stars as a newly divorced middle-aged guy who hasn’t been on a date in years and has almost no way with the ladies. He ends up tagging along with a good-looking younger playboy (Ryan Gosling) and learning a thing or two about contemporary amour. The pundits say Crazy, Stupid, Love too often resorts to sitcommy scenarios, though it’s also insightful, funny, and occasionally quite touching, thanks to a cast that also includes Emma Stone and Julianne Moore.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Interrupters, a documentary about a group of “violence interrupters” who attempt to combat urban violence in Chicago, is at 100 percent.
  • The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle in a dramedy about a gruff Irish policeman who teams with an incredulous FBI agent on a drug investigation, is at 93 percent (Check out our interview with Gleeson here).
  • Attack the Block, an action/comedy about a group of inner city London kids who defend the city against an alien invasion, is Certified Fresh at 91 percent.
  • The Future, directed by and starring Miranda July in the tale of an unmarried couple whose maturity is tested after adopting a stray cat, is at 91 percent.
  • Point Blank, a French thriller about a nurse who finds himself caught in the crossfire of rival gangsters as he attempts to save his kidnapped wife and child, is at 88 percent.
  • Sleep Furiously, a lyrical documentary about life in a Welsh farming community, is at 79 percent.
  • Good Neighbors, starring Scott Speedman and Jay Baruchel in a thriller about the residents of an apartment building who become fascinated with a series of local murders, is at 65 percent.
  • The Devil’s Double, starring Dominic Cooper in a dual role as Saddam Hussein’s hard-partying son Uday and as his reluctant body double, is at 61 percent.

Tag Cloud

Baby Yoda batman CNN Paramount Network Superheroe Disney Channel TV renewals Certified Fresh MSNBC Family LGBTQ 2015 binge elevated horror sitcom Reality Competition Calendar Best and Worst Star Wars TCA 2017 PBS social media teaser theme song canceled Warner Bros. joker VH1 breaking bad Walt Disney Pictures Awards Tour Fox News Star Trek television Emmy Nominations Netflix Amazon TIFF A24 Oscars toy story transformers Lifetime Christmas movies Acorn TV cults nature VICE Holiday sequel foreign revenge Set visit Pet Sematary HBO based on movie Creative Arts Emmys Marvel Studios Rocky game show Spring TV Grammys ABC Family Amazon Prime Shondaland BET BBC America TNT Sundance Now politics Winners Syfy cancelled TV shows Comedy Cartoon Network Nat Geo 21st Century Fox free movies El Rey Esquire CW Seed Comic Book serial killer Sundance streaming cancelled television American Society of Cinematographers ESPN cats festivals DGA discovery technology dragons hispanic Action Fantasy Sundance TV TCM halloween Nickelodeon diversity Mary Poppins Returns spy thriller slashers Nominations Tumblr TLC Holidays aliens Brie Larson Drama HBO Max Anna Paquin Comics on TV romantic comedy independent game of thrones Superheroes Trivia cinemax The Arrangement SundanceTV SXSW Stephen King The CW video Mary poppins book Fall TV justice league Quiz Red Carpet CBS All Access Starz Trailer YouTube E3 Podcast LGBT Biopics Comedy Central 2019 Toys strong female leads Shudder crime Chernobyl NBC Crunchyroll witnail GoT YouTube Red sports ITV Video Games war Vudu Crackle Interview richard e. Grant Election thriller Tubi Spectrum Originals GLAAD kids Sony Pictures Film Festival true crime travel cancelled Britbox Tarantino Marvel Infographic TCA Winter 2020 spanish language natural history Hallmark Christmas movies psycho Heroines TV Rock rotten movies we love Columbia Pictures green book historical drama Epix Super Bowl See It Skip It Marvel Television Year in Review Emmys Pop CMT San Diego Comic-Con screenings The Walking Dead WarnerMedia TCA Disney Plus Mindy Kaling Summer 2018 Turner Classic Movies reboot Musicals Pixar series Western comiccon Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Television Academy Logo Sneak Peek Adult Swim robots Country DC streaming service Binge Guide IFC Films biography werewolf BBC quibi DC Comics Mystery 007 name the review Trophy Talk Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt USA Network political drama police drama Valentine's Day mutant Schedule Freeform renewed TV shows zombies Lifetime History Pride Month SDCC The Purge E! tv talk Black Mirror documentary YouTube Premium science fiction Food Network christmas movies Marathons ABC finale First Look Hulu GIFs YA Captain marvel Discovery Channel ghosts indie Pirates Watching Series Women's History Month Dark Horse Comics miniseries unscripted talk show Opinion OneApp zero dark thirty 2017 stand-up comedy docudrama anthology boxoffice romance Animation crime thriller adaptation Arrowverse cops dramedy WGN facebook doctor who Christmas President anime Ovation ratings spain 71st Emmy Awards IFC Box Office DC Universe Apple TV+ Music spinoff Martial Arts Ghostbusters Mudbound disaster blaxploitation cars PaleyFest 24 frames Awards Apple TV Plus canceled TV shows APB Paramount Polls and Games Writers Guild of America Peacock TruTV comic Netflix Christmas movies Endgame Hallmark New York Comic Con Teen Elton John spider-man Ellie Kemper sag awards harry potter versus Extras latino 2016 2020 directors cancelled TV series RT21 dceu Reality vampires X-Men FOX Classic Film screen actors guild Universal medical drama jamie lee curtis Kids & Family casting Spike blockbuster Mary Tyler Moore Rocketman USA Character Guide Lionsgate comics Horror Disney streaming service FXX cooking TV Land National Geographic RT History Sci-Fi First Reviews Film animated AMC period drama FX award winner DirecTV Song of Ice and Fire crossover Winter TV adventure MCU 45 Masterpiece space south america what to watch Cannes TBS Apple MTV hist golden globes Avengers Tomatazos crime drama Cosplay Turner Premiere Dates Photos NYCC CBS supernatural The Witch cartoon dc Disney+ Disney Plus A&E 20th Century Fox composers Rom-Com mockumentary Lucasfilm singing competition movies zombie Musical psychological thriller Amazon Prime Video Bravo Countdown Academy Awards Disney Showtime OWN children's TV Thanksgiving