Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Paul Is Sweet Sci-Fi Fun

Plus, The Lincoln Lawyer is Certified Fresh, and Limitless has its limits.

by | March 18, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a close encounter (Paul, starring Simon Pegg and Seth Rogen); some rough justice (The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei), and an experimental drug (Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro). What do the critics have to say?

Paul

70%

Simon Pegg’s filmography is littered with expert genre parodies (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), and director Greg Mottola is known for mixing big laughs with poignancy and intelligence. And although their new effort, Paul, may not live up to their previous work, critics say it’s an amiable, sweet road comedy that smartly sends up sci-fi references. Pegg stars as a fanboy who’s on a tour of America’s UFO landmarks along with his mate Nick Frost when he meets Paul (voiced by Seth Rogan), a crass, smart-mouthed little green man. With the Feds in hot pursuit, it’s up to our heroes to transport their alien pal to his intergalactic craft. The pundits say Paul isn’t the most disciplined comedy on the block, but it’s witty, warm, and smarter than your average road-trip romp.

The Lincoln Lawyer

83%

Matthew McConaughey’s big break as a leading man came with the 1996 adaptation of John Grisham’s A Time To Kill (not to mention Amistad the following year). So it’s nice to see him back in the courtroom, and critics say The Lincoln Lawyer is a good old-fashioned legal thriller with some interesting twists and an excellent performance from its star. McConaughey stars as a somewhat sketchy defense attorney who’s just landed the case of his career when he’s brought in to defend a millionaire bad boy (Ryan Phillippe). Soon, however, our protagonist discovers that not everything is as it seems. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Lincoln Lawyer won’t set the world on fire, but it’s skillfully made and entertaining, and it greatly benefits from a stellar cast. (Take a look at Phillippe’s Five Favorite Films.)

Limitless

69%

Limitless takes the concept of the Faustian bargain and gives it a contemporary spin: what if a revolutionary pharmaceutical could help you reach your full potential? It’s an interesting idea, but critics say the movie only partially fulfills it — it’s smart and slick, but also occasionally haphazard and frustrating. Bradley Cooper stars as a struggling writer who’s encouraged by a friend to try an untested miracle drug; soon, his brain is running on all cylinders and making big bucks on Wall Street. However, the drug has some serious side effects, and sinister forces want to get their hands on Cooper’s stash. The pundits say Limitless is stylishly directed and well performed, but in raising so many intriguing questions without answering them, the film can feel like a missed opportunity. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down Limitless star Robert De Niro’s Best Movies.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Nostalgia for the Light, a documentary about a research team in Chile’s investigations into big questions, is at 100 percent.

  • Bill Cunningham New York, a doc about the legendary New York Times fashion photographer, is at 91 percent.

  • Win Win, starring Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan in a comedy about a wrestling coach who ends up caring for a runaway, is at 89 percent.

  • Winter in Wartime, a drama about a youngster aiding the Resistance in Nazi-occupied Holland, is at 85 percent.

  • The Music Never Stopped, a drama about a father who attempts to treat his son’s brain ailment with music, is at 72 percent.

  • The Butcher, The Chef And The Swordsman, an action comedy about a butcher knife forged from the remains of legendary swords, is at 60 percent.

  • Desert Flower, the tale of a Somali woman who escaped an arranged marriage to become a model, is at 44 percent.

  • Cracks, starring Eva Green in a drama about jealousy and obsession at a remote all-girls boarding school, is at 39 percent.

Finally, want to win a Rotten Tomatoes shirt? First, watch a movie opening this week. Then, on Sunday, tweet your review and tag it #fresh or #rotten. We’ll choose 10 winners! Check us out on Twitter!

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