Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Street Kings & Smart People Flunk

Cataloguing this week's critical voices.

by | April 10, 2008 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got crooked cops (Street Kings, starring Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker), misanthropic academics (Smart People, starring Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker), and dead dance attendees (Prom Night, starring Brittany Snow and Idris Elba). What do the critics have to say?

On paper, Street Kings would seem to have the right ingredients for a sharp, thoughtful police procedural. Its director, David Ayer, scripted Training Day, and one of its screenwriters, James Ellroy, is the man behind L.A. Confidential. Unfortunately, the critics find Street Kings less than arresting. Keanu Reeves stars as a cop who’s trying to find the killer of his former partner; all signs eventually point to another member of the force. The pundits say Street Kings has plenty of flash but not enough grit, and its script is weighed down by clichés, overheated dialogue, and moral uncertainty. At 21 percent on the Tomatometer, Street Kings may be forced to turn in its badge and gun. (Check out this week’s Total Recall for our roundup of cinema’s nastiest corrupt cops.)

“Essentially, I want to make Point Break II.”

Smart People stands out from a long list of recent indie dramadies about terminally morose smarty-pants types simply by virtue of its impeccable cast. But critics say this one’s got too much brains and not enough heart. Dennis Quaid stars as an acerbic lit professor who, when not alienating his children, is courting a former student (Sarah Jessica Parker) and dealing with his slacker brother (Thomas Hayden Church). The pundits say Smart People is elevated by its excellent cast and patches of sharp dialogue, but ultimately, they feel it’s too thinly plotted and emotionally one-note to truly satisfy. At 44 percent on the Tomatometer, Smart People doesn’t quite make the grade.

“You’re pregnant again?”

The critics are getting stood up by Prom Night, which wasn’t screened prior to release. A remake of the not-so-hot original of the same name (36 percent), Prom Night is the story of a high schooler who, after surviving a traumatic experience, is revisited by sinister figures from her past on the night of her prom. (And you thought wearing the same dress as someone else was all you had to worry about.) Hey kids, try to muster up the courage to guess the Tomatometer!

“I wanted Mediterranean blinds!”

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Bra Boys, a documentary about Aussie surfers, is at 100 percent.
  • Young@Heart, a doc about a group of seniors performing songs by the likes of Sonic Youth and the Ramones, is at 89 percent.
  • The Dhamma Brothers a doc about a group of maximum security prison inmates finding solace in meditation, is at 83 percent.
  • The Visitor, a drama about a forlorn economics prof whose life changes after a chance encounter, is at 82 percent (check out an exclusive clip from the movie here).
  • Never Forever, a drama about a woman who takes desperate measures to conceive a child, is at 80 percent.
  • A Four Letter Word, a comedy about a gay playboy who decides to settle down, is at 67 percent.
  • Young & Restless in China, a doc that follows nine twentysomethings living and working in modern China, is at 67 percent.
  • Stalags, a doc about pornographic, Nazi-themed pulp novels in Israel, is at 40 percent.
  • Chaos Theory a comedy about a risk-averse guy who learns to cut lose starring Ryan Reynolds and Emily Mortimer, is at 38 percent.
  • Dark Matter, a drama about a young PHD student whose life devolves into violence, is at 31 percent.

“What did the five fingers say to the face?”

Finally, props to Coastermonkey61 and unbreakable_samurai for coming the closest to guessing The Ruins‘ 38 percent Tomatometer. Nicely done, folks.

Recent Keanu Reeves Movies:


60% — The Great Warming (2006)

36% — The Lake House (2006)

67% — A Scanner Darkly (2006)

52% — Ellie Parker (2005)

71% — Thumbsucker (2005)

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