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

2019 Amazon Prime Video Star Trek BBC America anime ID HBO Max royal family composers IFC Films police drama Alien obi wan broadcast DirecTV 24 frames Amazon sequels MGM Indigenous marvel cinematic universe streaming Paramount golden globe awards X-Men Action FOX ABC Academy Awards green book Rocky Superheroe crime USA all-time 2015 comedies pirates of the caribbean zero dark thirty Universal Pictures Trivia Heroines spanish language Sony Logo Star Wars Reality Competition Black History Month Comic-Con@Home 2021 Polls and Games ABC Family foreign BBC One Black Mirror diversity First Look medical drama Apple TV+ TV renewals wonder woman crime drama National Geographic Biopics summer TV preview Walt Disney Pictures festivals BAFTA Pirates Disney streaming service finale popular Amazon Prime TV One TCA Awards Netflix Disney Channel The CW PaleyFest halloween tv 72 Emmy Awards rt archives Marvel Studios dogs TCA 90s blockbuster Rom-Com American Society of Cinematographers Warner Bros. emmy awards crossover Election cancelled TV shows GLAAD hispanic Hollywood Foreign Press Association debate 2016 2018 book anthology animated james bond TV Best Actress Creative Arts Emmys NYCC Summer lord of the rings what to watch A&E robots comic book movie Red Carpet discovery women kids 93rd Oscars VH1 hidden camera DC streaming service NBA renewed TV shows Spectrum Originals teaser know your critic cars japan Ghostbusters CBS casting Spring TV Tarantino Marvel Television AMC Plus Awards Tour Music 73rd Emmy Awards superman crime thriller Epix sequel Chernobyl best Syfy Superheroes hist indie game of thrones summer preview fresh Freeform Video Games latino docudrama Women's History Month halloween TV Land directors Hear Us Out WarnerMedia spider-verse kaiju joker MTV Fall TV President Teen rt labs GIFs doctor who Star Wars Celebration golden globes Apple TV Plus transformers SXSW Pet Sematary SXSW 2022 Universal Grammys classics CBS All Access 45 supernatural Turner Classic Movies fast and furious MSNBC DC Comics dark cancelled justice league critics docuseries Mystery Fargo australia Crackle deadpool The Walking Dead a nightmare on elm street venice free movies romantic comedy Apple New York Comic Con live action scary Marathons 79th Golden Globes Awards spain disaster science fiction based on movie vampires worst Pop Pacific Islander universal monsters target blockbusters Britbox monster movies E3 Turner dramedy game show 94th Oscars PlayStation zombies black comedy elevated horror Television Academy cooking Native YouTube Food Network cats TV movies Captain marvel Peacock Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt criterion screen actors guild prank Song of Ice and Fire Schedule ITV versus Best Director godzilla BET nbcuniversal dragons dceu Adult Swim werewolf 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Fantasy interviews Lucasfilm rt labs critics edition SundanceTV chucky streamig HFPA Christmas Brie Larson kong OneApp comic books Sundance Now ESPN Watching Series canceled leaderboard Film children's TV south america festival space dreamworks San Diego Comic-Con ratings PBS biopic quibi football The Walt Disney Company FX on Hulu Acorn TV 20th Century Fox feel good Winners Extras olympics reboot vs. Amazon Studios CMT Paramount Plus Best and Worst Spike heist movie Lionsgate comic psychological thriller ABC Signature biography stand-up comedy superhero Sundance TV legend richard e. Grant 99% Exclusive Video hispanic heritage month Podcast TBS LGBTQ Country DGA Rock Nickelodeon Classic Film WGN saw archives king kong thriller Comedy tv talk Drama video new york Showtime Cartoon Network talk show History screenings summer TV TIFF technology Infographic italian gangster Set visit scene in color series spanish Tumblr suspense Pixar Legendary scene in color sitcom Mary Poppins Returns Trailer Tokyo Olympics Box Office Hallmark DC Universe TCM stoner adenture SDCC Pop TV Arrowverse reviews sports Mudbound Geeked Week mockumentary Shudder harry potter USA Network Martial Arts cinemax razzies Writers Guild of America The Arrangement Starz mcc critic resources 2020 period drama new zealand IMDb TV Musicals Super Bowl travel Oscar live event South by Southwest Film Festival parents Tags: Comedy Vudu MCU Image Comics HBO Go Tomatazos genre twilight scorecard Valentine's Day Nominations Nat Geo nfl canceled TV shows Best Actor name the review international streaming movies GoT Year in Review Holidays ghosts slasher award winner spinoff mission: impossible TNT comiccon target scene in color Sneak Peek cops natural history independent TCA Winter 2020 Bravo laika satire Emmys Disney+ Disney Plus nature Funimation basketball Cosplay Marvel french Fox Searchlight slashers remakes Hulu boxing Esquire Masterpiece Lifetime Christmas movies obituary art house trophy blaxploitation cancelled TV series 71st Emmy Awards dc video on demand TLC mutant historical drama El Rey Chilling Adventures of Sabrina miniseries VOD boxoffice Broadway A24 Photos FXX CNN Interview young adult Wes Anderson Netflix Christmas movies Instagram Live mob 2021 The Witch indiana jones Tubi black CW Seed Thanksgiving dexter 1990s VICE Mindy Kaling series unscripted hollywood documentary BBC IFC Sci-Fi Mary poppins zombie Emmy Nominations The Academy political drama news toy story singing competition Disney Cannes Television Critics Association Holiday Comedy Central HBO toronto Baby Yoda king arthur 21st Century Fox cancelled television Travel Channel AMC rotten Horror Focus Features Pride Month Endgame child's play rotten movies we love cults scary movies Crunchyroll Discovery Channel Paramount Pictures Avengers Trophy Talk die hard television scene in color film series action-comedy Binge Guide comic book movies romance YouTube Premium aapi stop motion RT21 revenge Comics on TV Quiz BET Awards Oscars Film Festival new star wars movies Toys book adaptation Lifetime ViacomCBS adaptation Family Musical true crime Shondaland posters See It Skip It Certified Fresh telelvision 2017 Disney Plus spy thriller Character Guide psycho worst movies high school FX comics marvel comics Fox News Comic Book OWN asian-american LGBT Ovation movie breaking bad Elton John documentaries franchise 4/20 Hallmark Christmas movies Best Picture sag awards trailers Paramount Network serial killer strong female leads Anna Paquin movies jurassic park facebook Countdown spider-man sopranos Mary Tyler Moore concert war adventure APB Kids & Family theme song films cartoon RT History Stephen King Calendar Neflix Awards Western E! Ellie Kemper christmas movies NBC Animation aliens The Purge batman politics TruTV Sony Pictures TCA 2017 Winter TV witnail Prime Video YouTube Red social media Opinion japanese 007 Reality Rocketman rom-coms Premiere Dates jamie lee curtis Columbia Pictures Dark Horse Comics First Reviews YA binge Sundance