This week at the movies, we’ve got a wacky workplace (Extract, starring Jason Bateman and Ben Affleck), crazy love (All About Steve, starring Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper), and video game violence (Gamer, starring Gerard Butler and Ludacris). What do the critics have to say?
Mike Judge is one of contemporary cinema’s finest chroniclers of the working life — and what a madhouse it can be. His first feature, Office Space, was a riotous exercise in workplace absurdity, but critics say his latest, Extract, isn’t quite as funny — or as insightful. Jason Bateman stars as the owner of a flavoring factory with plenty on his mind: his wife’s affections are waning, one of his employees has suffered a cringe-worthy injury, and his best pay gives him questionable advice, usually while under the influence. The pundits say Extract has some very funny moments and several fine performances, but overall, the film feels slighter and more uneven than Judge’s previous work.
Sandra Bullock’s pure likability has elevated plenty of so-so romantic comedies, but she can’t always overcome the deficiencies of a terrible script. Case in point: All About Steve, which critics describe as one of the worst in the actress’ solid career. Bullock stars as a woman who falls head-over-heals for a TV cameraman (Bradley Cooper) after a single blind date and proceeds to follow him around the country. The pundits say All About Steve is an oddly creepy, sour film, featuring a heroine so desperate and peculiar that audiences may be more likely to pity than root for her. (Also, be sure to check out our rundown of the Best Stalker Movies in this week’s Total Recall.)
It appears the folks behind Gamer are afraid that it’s the cinematic equivalent to the N-Gage, since it wasn’t screened for critics prior to release. Gerard Butler stars as the main character in a futuristic MMORPG, but with a twist: he’s a living, breathing human being, and he’s being controlled by a teen gamer. Kids, turn off that Atari Jaguar and guess that Tomatometer!
Also opening this week in limited release: