This week at the movies, we’ve got self-improvement (Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel), mysterious altruism (Seven Pounds, starring Will Smith and Rosario Dawson), and rodent adventures (The Tale of Despereaux, with voice work by Matthew Broderick and Dustin Hoffman). What do the critics have to say?
After a disastrous detour to dramatic territory with The Number 23, Jim Carrey is back to the realm of wacky comedy. Unfortunately, critics say his return is only sporadically successful in Yes Man. Carrey plays Carl, a man gripped by depression who enters a self-help program that encourages its devotees to say yes to each and every question. However, Carl finds answering in the affirmative can sometimes have negative consequences. The pundits say the film has its moments, thanks to Carrey’s manic energy, but it’s ultimately little more than a series of comedic set-pieces that don’t build or cohere; worse, we’ve already seen Carrey do a pretty fine variation on this theme in Liar Liar. At 40 percent on the Tomatometer, you may want to say “no” to Yes Man. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Carrey’s best-reviewed films.)
“What’s it called? Gallipoli? Sounds hilarious!”
It’s unsurprising that Will Smith would want to shed his blockbuster baggage every once in a while and throw himself into a smaller, more dramatically weighty role; unfortunately, critics say his latest, Seven Pounds, is more leaden than anything else. Smith stars as Ben, an IRS agent haunted by past misdeeds. As a way of making amends, he decides to practice random acts of kindness on strangers, a plan that goes in intriguing directions when he falls in love with terminally-ill Emily (Rosario Dawson). Some pundits have given Smith credit for attempting riskier material, but they also say Seven Pounds doesn’t follow the rules of logic very closely, and its tone is somber and portentous. At 35 percent on the Tomatometer, Seven Pounds may not be worth your 10 dollars.
“I’m really sorry that I said girls ain’t nothin’ but trouble.”
Another week, another so-so animated feature. The Tale of Despereaux is a fantasy tale about a heroic little mouse who becomes an outcast for refusing to conform; he befriends a group of rats, with whom he shares a journey of self-discovery and adventure. The pundits say Despereaux looks pretty good, and is mercifully free of the toilet humor and pop culture references that have become commonplace in animated features. However, it’s also lacking a sense of magic, and doesn’t really take dramatic flight. At 42 percent on the Tomatometer, this mouse is a tail’s-length behind Ratatouille.
“Man, it’s taking forever to read this book!””
Also opening this week in limited release:
The Class, the 2008 Palme D’or winner at Cannes, which follows a teacher during a tumultuous year in an inner-city Parisian high school, is at 96 percent.
Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, a documentary about the reclusive crooner and cult favorite, is at 88 percent.
Recent Jim Carrey Movies: