Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Interview Earns Mixed Reviews

Plus, Unbroken Is Well-Meaning But Conventional, The Gambler is a so-so bet; Into the Woods hits most of the right notes, and Big Eyes is a sharp black comedy.

by | December 24, 2014 | Comments

Merry Christmas! This week at the movies, we’ve got unlikely CIA operatives (The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco), a resilient war hero (Unbroken, starring Jack O’Connell and Domhnall Gleeson), an indebted English professor (The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman), fractured fairy tale characters (Into the Woods, starring Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick), and a subjugated artist (Big Eyes, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz). What do the critics have to say?

The Interview


Look, we know you’ve probably heard all about how The Interview sparked an international incident. Now that it’s popping up online and in a few theaters, it’s fair to ask: is it any good? Well, critics say The Interview is pretty funny in spots, but its tone is more sophomoric than politically astute. Dave Skylark (James Franco), the host of a trashy talk show, and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) land the biggest interview of their careers: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). But before they journey to Pyongyang, the CIA recruits them to assassinate the Dear Leader. The pundits say The Interview works better as a bromance than as a political farce, and while the cast (especially Park) gives its all, the movie ultimately falls short as a satire of international relations and the media.



The life of Louis “Louie” Zamperini seems tailor-made for a big-budget biopic. Unfortunately, not every great story makes for a great movie, and critics say that’s sadly the case for director Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken, a well-meaning, occasionally stirring epic that suffers from conventional storytelling and a lack of tension. Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was a track star who served in World War II, where he survived a plane crash by clinging to a raft for more than a month before being captured by Japanese troops and held in a prisoner of war camp for more than two years. He’s undoubtedly heroic, but Unbroken frequently feels too similar to other inspirational war films.

The Gambler


Plenty of contemporary films borrow from the gritty imagery and moral ambiguity of mid-1970s thrillers, so a remake of The Gambler sounds like a solid bet. However, critics say that this slick, well-acted film never fully lures the audience into its protagonist’s plight. Mark Wahlberg stars as Jim Bennett, a self-destructive English professor whose gambling habit could cost him his fortune — and that of his family. Bennett turns to a loan shark for help, but he continues to sink into a hole, with potentially dire consequences. The pundits say The Gambler is slick and reasonably tense, but it lacks the existential moodiness of the classic crime flicks that inspired it.

Into the Woods


The time seems right for a big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a meta-musical that deconstructed fairy tales long before Frozen or Once Upon a Time. Critics say Rob Marshall mostly does right by the play, maintaining its dark spirit and bringing an imaginative touch to the sets and costumes (though it’s still a little on the long side). A mashup of Cinderella, Jack And The Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel, Into the Woods finds all your favorite childhood characters converging and intersecting in a story about a baker and his wife who try to lift a curse that’s been placed on them by a malevolent witch. The pundits say Into the Woods is sometimes uneven, but it’s well-staged and features fine performances from a star-studded cast. (Watch our video interviews with stars Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Christine Baranski, and Tracey Ullman.)

Big Eyes


Once in a while, director Tim Burton departs his beguilingly wacky fantasyland for the real world; Ed Wood, a biopic of the notoriously incompetent filmmaker, is one of his most beloved films. With Big Eyes, Burton takes on another strange-but-true story, and while critics say it’s thoughtful, visually striking, and well-acted, its overall tone is sometimes hard to define. Amy Adams stars as Margaret Keane, a painter whose images of children with oversized eyes were big sellers in the 1960s. There was just one problem: While Margaret painted, her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) took the credit and reaped the rewards, keeping his wife a virtual prisoner. The pundits say Big Eyes shows that Burton’s taste for black comedy is still strong, even if he never fully gets to the heart of his characters here.

What’s Hot on TV:

The pundits say The Missing (Certified Fresh at 96 percent) turns a routine premise into a standout thriller, thanks to heartfelt, affecting performances.

The critics say that a talented ensemble raises Benched (67 percent) above its trite writing, resulting in a nicely diverting half-hour of comedy.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

Video Games Apple TV+ NBC Watching Series quibi Crackle Lifetime Premiere Dates scorecard talk show DC streaming service American Society of Cinematographers Disney+ Disney Plus IFC Films HBO Go nature dark Countdown Rom-Com fast and furious canceled free movies Pirates hist period drama Apple venice comic Mary Poppins Returns CBS All Access discovery binge E! cancelled television universal monsters Pet Sematary BBC documentaries remakes DC Universe tv talk Cartoon Network NYCC A24 Sundance TV Mary Tyler Moore Trivia singing competition book Syfy Toys The Walking Dead robots Tumblr Sundance Now dogs The Purge sitcom 72 Emmy Awards Ellie Kemper Rocketman Drama screenings 2019 Baby Yoda 2017 2015 Brie Larson worst Winter TV Kids & Family ID latino Cosplay Comedy Central aliens Discovery Channel 45 Holidays romance San Diego Comic-Con children's TV Star Trek parents Ovation TCM Emmy Nominations Teen BET Paramount Network satire Netflix twilight halloween archives YouTube Pride Month Anna Paquin Box Office DC Comics The CW TNT 4/20 Mudbound spanish reviews Extras adaptation Creative Arts Emmys Sony Pictures Musicals Superheroes zero dark thirty Awards canceled TV shows spinoff Disney streaming service Crunchyroll french Bravo Turner game of thrones cults deadpool Arrowverse reboot Western Red Carpet what to watch indiana jones Amazon Fantasy christmas movies japanese films FOX Marvel Studios Hear Us Out emmy awards Trailer Fox News Musical Mystery Universal Rock Spectrum Originals BET Awards italian Travel Channel Country YouTube Premium docudrama video 2016 Lucasfilm SDCC 99% sports spain Animation TV FX on Hulu GoT name the review movie concert Columbia Pictures festivals TIFF diversity FXX Dark Horse Comics stoner Logo Vudu blaxploitation Marvel jamie lee curtis Sneak Peek TV renewals Awards Tour vampires doctor who PlayStation unscripted 2020 Rocky ABC Family comics RT21 Comics on TV news Valentine's Day dceu breaking bad movies Peacock RT History Freeform mission: impossible spider-man PBS anime Television Critics Association Chilling Adventures of Sabrina DirecTV a nightmare on elm street boxing game show Esquire Chernobyl SXSW Reality Competition VOD chucky Sundance First Reviews foreign Holiday Polls and Games ABC directors Elton John festival politics Marathons Song of Ice and Fire CW Seed zombie Tomatazos OWN classics worst movies TruTV Television Academy Adult Swim mockumentary The Academy Certified Fresh Apple TV Plus richard e. Grant comic books Amazon Prime Video Starz biography theme song scary movies Black History Month The Arrangement versus BBC America Lifetime Christmas movies ratings Disney Plus obituary MSNBC Calendar supernatural toronto Schedule spanish language werewolf TBS miniseries Ghostbusters LGBTQ cinemax Turner Classic Movies based on movie Nominations renewed TV shows Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt History Mindy Kaling green book Spike Film Music Christmas Writers Guild of America best australia The Witch Spring TV Food Network SundanceTV south america Marvel Television cats crossover streaming Star Wars Pixar Funimation Stephen King Disney Channel cooking Emmys Showtime USA rt archives VICE MTV HBO cops Biopics GLAAD all-time Shudder X-Men finale Action Nat Geo disaster CBS screen actors guild WarnerMedia Tarantino social media spy thriller mutant 007 toy story Grammys asian-american golden globes sequels Heroines Set visit Photos See It Skip It Super Bowl TCA Awards BAFTA IFC First Look television elevated horror medical drama strong female leads TV Land Podcast Hulu hollywood Horror Summer Opinion GIFs harry potter TCA Alien batman historical drama technology casting video on demand science fiction joker E3 Family rotten movies we love USA Network independent thriller indie Britbox anthology child's play police drama series DGA Sci-Fi zombies PaleyFest Comedy football TCA 2017 Film Festival sequel black psychological thriller Women's History Month Best and Worst superhero psycho 2018 APB sag awards Infographic Black Mirror serial killer travel cars cancelled romantic comedy Fall TV natural history Thanksgiving franchise ESPN animated nbcuniversal rotten criterion Comic Book Cannes comiccon Character Guide comedies CMT Disney hispanic Hallmark crime thriller Walt Disney Pictures crime dragons war halloween tv AMC Captain marvel Year in Review Classic Film nfl cancelled TV series TLC crime drama TCA Winter 2020 HBO Max dc Hallmark Christmas movies Shondaland space Trophy Talk Academy Awards Masterpiece Tubi boxoffice 71st Emmy Awards laika MCU cartoon witnail 24 frames critics BBC One YA composers blockbuster facebook political drama VH1 Epix adventure true crime kids die hard revenge ITV slashers transformers OneApp Warner Bros. El Rey award winner cancelled TV shows Endgame james bond Pop TV Paramount dramedy teaser FX ghosts Acorn TV Election A&E New York Comic Con Interview Pop fresh National Geographic justice league Mary poppins LGBT Amazon Studios stand-up comedy Netflix Christmas movies Lionsgate 21st Century Fox Amazon Prime WGN Fox Searchlight Quiz documentary 20th Century Fox Binge Guide Superheroe Reality CNN President Winners Nickelodeon Martial Arts YouTube Red Oscars Avengers stop motion