This week at the movies, we’ve got a pop songbird (Hannah Montana: The Movie, starring Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus), a mall cop (Observe and Report, starring Seth Rogen and Anna Farris), and plenty of dragon balls (Dragonball: Evolution, starring Justin Chatwin and Chow Yun-Fat). What do the critics have to say?
Ok, let’s get this out of the way upfront: if you fall within the target demographic of tween girls, you’re unlikely to be swayed by what the critics have to say about Hannah Montana: The Movie. Still, the pundits say the film is unlikely to draw many converts — or parents — into Hannah Montanah’s orbit. Miley Cyrus stars as the titular hero, who alternates between a life of pop-star celebrity and a down-to-earth existence in a small town. But will success spoil her? Will she forget her Tennessee roots? The pundits say the movie is inoffensive and good-natured, but painfully thin in the plotting department and fails to capitalize on its star’s natural charisma and charm. It’s also several notches below Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, which notched an impressive 70 percent on the Tomatometer. (Check out our interview with Miley’s dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, in which he tells us about his five favorite movies.)
What is it about mall cops that screenwriters find so hilarious? Observe and Report follows on the heels of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but happily, critics say this time out the fledgling formula is more successful. Seth Rogen stars as Ronnie, a rent-a-cop who takes mall security very seriously. However, when a flasher starts trouble, Ronnie is on the case, hoping it will be a springboard to the police academy — and a relationship with a make-up saleswoman (Anna Farris). The pundits say Observe and Report is one of the weirdest — and creepiest — mainstream comedies in quite a while, an odd mix of sadness and hilarity that provides ample teeth-gritting chuckles. But some also note it’s very dark and occasionally cruel.(Have a look at this week’s Total Recall, in which we list Seth Rogen’s Best Movies.)
For non-initiates, the Dragonball universe (detailed in graphic novels, video games, and a TV seires) can seem all but impenetrable. But critics say that’s the least of its big-screen incarnation’s problems; of greater concern is that Dragonball Evolution is simply dull and generic. Justin Chatwin stars as Goku, a young martial artist who seeks training from Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat) after the evil Piccolo has slain his grandfather; Goku and Piccolo end up in a race to acquire the Dragon Balls, magical spheroids that grant wishes to their possessors. The pundits say Dragonball Evolution is a dull slog, with so-so special effects and little of the complex mythology that spawned such cult devotion to the books and the TV show.
Also opening this week in limited release: