This week at the movies, we’ve got a reformed supervillain (Megamind, with voice work from Will Ferrell and Tina Fey); a crazed cross-country trek (Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis); and some pained, poetic women (For Colored Girls, starring Thandie Newton and Janet Jackson). What do the critics have to say?
Megamind shares some cosmetic similarities with a couple of recent animated features – namely, The Incredibles and Despicable Me. Still, critics say Megamind has a strong voice cast, strong visuals, and a loopy sense of humor that help to make up for a slightly stale premise and some pacing problems. After apparently defeating his nemesis, Metro Man (Brad Pitt), Megamind (Will Ferrell) finds that his fair city has taken a turn for the worse. Needing an image makeover, he imports a new rival to fight – and hopefully gain some popularity in the process. The pundits say Megamind is generally decent, with a few big laughs and some impressive artwork, but its many pop-culture references mostly serve to remind audiences of the superhero flicks they’ve seen — and loved — before.
Director Todd Phillips scored big with The Hangover, and Due Date seemingly has all the elements in place for a stellar follow-up: it’s got a red hot cast, and its combination of cross-country tomfoolery and antisocial behavior would seem to be right in Phillips’s wheelhouse (he directed both Road Trip and Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, after all). Unfortunately, the critics say Due Date is just so-so, an occasionally unpleasant trip that lacks the headlong comic intensity of The Hangover. Robert Downey Jr. stars as a dad-to-be who’s trying to be with his wife for the birth of their child. However, when he has problems with his flight, he hastily hitches a ride with an antisocial oddball (Zach Galifianakis); hi-jinks ensue. The pundits say Due Date benefits from its stars and several excellent cameos, but it slavishly follows the templates of a number of other road comedies and suffers from both poor taste and a lack of forward momentum. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we list some memorable movie road trips.)
On the surface, For Colored Girls has a lot going for it. It’s based upon a Tony Award-winning play by Ntozake Shange; it’s got a fantastic cast that includes Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, and Kerry Washington, just to name a few; and its director, Tyler Perry, has been riding a relative critical hot streak lately (his 2009 helming effort, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, got the best notices of his career, and he was a producer on the Oscar-winning Precious). Unfortunately, critics say For Colored Girls largely bowdlerizes the play’s evocative, impassioned language in favor of grim melodrama. For Colored Girls is the tale of eight African American women, each in the midst of a personal crisis, and how their lives intersect. The pundits say that while For Colored Girls was made with the best of intentions — and contains some dynamite acting — it’s ultimately undone by Perry’s over-the-top scripting and direction, and the result is a soapy, painful slog.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Ne change rien, a documentary about the working methods of French chanteuse Jeanne Balibar, is at 100 percent.
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, a doc about the disgraced Wall Street crusader-turned-New York governor, is at 94 percent.
Four Lions, a comedy about a quartet of inept British jihadists, is at 84 percent.
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, a low-budget indie musical about an uncertain romance between a jazz musician and a student, is at 71 percent.
Red Hill, an Aussie crime drama about a young detective in the midst of a prison escape crisis, is at 69 percent.
Outside the Law, a drama about three Algerian brothers whose lives intersect after following their own destinies, is at 56 percent.
Finally, props to August M., Doomz Davo, Easter In The Batcave, Jacob The Basterd, and trukandji for coming the closest to guessing Saw 3D‘s nine percent Tomatometer.