This week at the movies, we’ve got an angry cop (Lakeview Terrace, starring Samuel L. Jackson); a disgruntled hunchback (the CGI Igor, with voice work by John Cusack and Molly Shannon); a haunted dentist (Ghost Town, starring Ricky Gervais and Greg Kinnear); and a date from hell (My Best Friend’s Girl, starring Dane Cook and Kate Hudson). What do the critics have to say?
Say what you will about the films of Neil LaBute, but give him this: while he rarely delivers a fun time at the movies, he’s no slave to convention. Unfortunately, critics say Lakeview Terrace offers an intriguing setup before devolving into a routine thriller finale. Samuel L. Jackson stars as a strict, emotionally damaged LAPD who objects to his new neighbors’ interracial marriage; after extensive harassment, the young couple (played by Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) fights back. Pundits say the problem with Lakeview Terrace is that it presents a realistic, charged scenario before jumping the rails in the final act, substituting smart characterization with generic vigilante tropes. At 36 percent on the Tomatometer, you may not want to visit Lakeview Terrace.
“Ugh, Sam’s at it again…. chewing the scenery at three in the morning…”
It’s one thing to make a macabre children’s film; it’s another to make one that doesn’t deliver much entertainment. Critics say the film is something of a Frankenstein’s monster, stitching together recycled parts from Shrek and The Nightmare Before Christmas. The titular hunchback (voiced by John Cusack) is tired of being a lowly lab assistant; he wants to be an evil scientist in his own right. But when one of his creations, a monster named Eva (Molly Shannon) turns out to be really sweet at heart, Igor begins to rethink his priorities. While the pundits say Igor has moments of Tim Burton-esque visual invention, it’s a pretty mediocre affair, filled with shopworn pop-culture references and manic action but few laughs; plus, it’s probably a bit too dark for the wee ones. At 20 percent on the Tomatometer, Igor could use more brains.
“You too can have your very own Contour Chair.”
Ricky Gervais is a very funny man, but thus far, his movie career has consisted of supporting roles. However, with Ghost Town, the man who brought so much cringe-worthy wit to The Office and Extras takes center stage — and the pundits say the result is delightful. Gervais stars as Bertram Pincus, who has a near-death experience and discovers he can see ghosts — and they’re pretty annoying, especially the caddish Frank (Greg Kinnear). But those specters are of some help, as Bertram learns to be a better person — and find love in the process. The pundits say Ghost Town is a perfect fit for Gervais’s talents, and the film emits awkward laughs and warmth without devolving into schmaltz. At 84 percent on the Tomatometer, Ghost Town has plenty of blithe spirit. (Check out this week’s Total Recall for a ghoulish compendium of some of our favorite cinematic apparitions.)
“For the last time, I am not pug-nosed!”
Given that it wasn’t screened prior to release, it’s unlikely critics will be BFFs with My Best Friend’s Girl. Dane Cook, Kate Hudson, and Jason Biggs star in this romantic comedy about a guy who’s so obnoxious he convinces potentially straying women to stand by their men — before falling for his main homey’s boo. Kids, call up you best friend’s girl and ask her for insight in guessing the Tomatometer! (And don’t forget to check out Dane Cook’s five favorite movies here.)
“The woman you’re replacing is very special. She won the GE Followship. Now send Tracey in.”
Also opening this week in limited release:
Fraulein, a story of complex friendship set against the backdrop of a changing Yugoslavia, is at 83 percent.
Virtual JFK, a documentary that explores how the assassinated president would have handled the Vietnam War, is at 75 percent.
The Western Appaloosa, starring Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen as two lawmen who must get past their mutual appreciation of the same woman (Renée Zellweger) in order to save their town, is at 71 percent.
The Brazilian import Elite Squad, about the pressures of working the police beat in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, is at 58 percent.
Finally, quasi-props to fullmetal_medji for coming the closest to guessing Tyler Perry’s the Family That Preys‘ 52 percent Tomatometer.
Recent Samuel L. Jackson Movies: