Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Leatherheads Has its Ups and Downs; Nim's Island is Stranded; Guess The Ruins' Tomatometer!

Assessing the week in film criticism.

by | April 3, 2008 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got gridiron giggles (Leatherheads, starring George Clooney and Renée Zellweger), isle imagination (Nim’s Island, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin), and archeological anxiety (The Ruins, starring Shawn Ashmore and Jena Malone). What do the critics have to say?

George Clooney gets compared to Cary Grant all the time, so it’s only natural he would try his hand at Grant’s prime métier — the screwball comedy. Unfortunately, critics say the football laffer Leatherheads, in which Clooney stars and directs, is something of a mixed bag. Set in the early days of pro-pigskin (in the days when college was king), Leatherheads tells the tale of the struggling, ragtag Duluth squad, which has scored a major coup by tapping a college gridiron hero (played by John Krasinski) to team with aging pro Dodge Connolly (Clooney); however, the team is also under fire from an aggressive beat reporter (Renée Zellweger). The pundits say Leatherheads is a funny, amiable affair, but it could take some pointers from the no-huddle offense, which, like screwball comedy, emphasizes quick thinking, deft interaction, and risk. At 54 percent on the Tomatometer, Leatherheads is being thrown for a loss. And it’s Clooney’s worst-reviewed directorial effort to date — well below Good Night and Good Luck‘s 94 percent. (Check out our interview with George Clooney here.)

“Look, we’re running a flea flicker, and that’s final! Do I look like I’m negotiating?

A sort of Swiss Family Robinson crossed with Indiana Jones, the critics say Nim’s Island is solid family fare — with the pros and cons that implies. Abigail Breslin stars as Nim, a precocious girl who lives on a South Pacific island with her father (Gerard Butler), a scientist; when he goes missing, Nim turns to the hero of her favorite book (also played by Butler) — and the tome’s author (Jodie Foster) — for help. Critics say Nim’s Island has an old-fashioned sense of wonder and adventure — as well as a healthy dose of girl power — that makes for an above-average kids’ adventure. But they also note the movie offers a predictable storyline and some hackneyed slapstick. Nim’s Island currently stands at 48 percent on the Tomatomenter. (Take a look at a clip from the film here.)

Abigail Breslin won’t be so joyous when she realizes she’ll need to eat grubs and berries to survive.

It appears the folks behind The Ruins feared its critical reputation would be left in ruins, since it was barely screened before its release. Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, and Shawn Ashmore star in this tale of a group of tourists who find danger lurking at a remote archaeological site — an obvious oversight by the Lonely Planet people. Kids, take your noses out of that atlas and guess the Tomatometer!

“We should have brought a tent!”

Also opening this week in limited release:

The French import Water Lilies, a delicate coming-of-age drama involving a trio of middle school girls, is at 90 percent (check out our take from Cannes here);

Jellyfish, which follows three Israeli women as their lives intersect at a wedding reception, is at 87 percent;

Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese‘s document of the Rolling Stones live (with special guests like Jack White and Christina Aguilera), is at 82 percent (check out this week’s Total Recall for a look at some of Scorsese’s lesser-known work);

Flight of the Red Balloon, Hou Hsiao-hsien‘s remake of the French classic starring Juliette Binoche, is at 69 percent;

Wong Kar-Wai‘s latest, My Blueberry Nights starring Norah Jones, Jude Law, and Natalie Portman, is at 49 percent (check out our take here, and our interview with Jones here);

And Sex and Death 101, a black comedy starring Winona Ryder and Simon Baker, is at 40 percent.

“While I’ve got you guys here, I wanted to talk about my vision for Freejack 2…”

And finally, props to Grendel-san for correctly guessing Superhero Movie‘s 17 percent Tomatometer, presumably while doing battle with Beowulf-san. One question for ya, G.S: is it hard to type with only one arm?

Recent Jodie Foster Movies:
43% — The Brave One (2007)
87% — Inside Man (2006)
38% — Flightplan (2005)
77% — A Very Long Engagement (2004)
77% — The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)

Recent George Clooney Movies:
91% — Michael Clayton (2007)
70% — Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
33% — The Good German (2006)
73% — Syriana (2005)
94% — Good Night and Good Luck (2005)

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