This week at the movies, we’ve got good greed (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, starring Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf); heroic owls (Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, with voice work by Sam Neill and Geoffrey Rush); and high school rivals (You Again, starring Kristen Bell and Jamie Lee Curtis). What do the critics have to say?
Few movie characters have personified the zeitgeist like Gordon Gekko; Michael Douglas’ masterful portrayal of an unscrupulous corporate raider resonated powerfully when Oliver Stone’s Wall Street was released in 1987 — just weeks after the stock market crashed. Now, with our economy again in turmoil, Stone and Douglas are back with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. However, if movie critics picked stocks, they’d probably rate this sequel as a “hold”; they say Money is slick, well-paced and strongly acted, but its story is haphazard and its moralizing occasionally heavy-handed. Shia LaBeouf stars as a financial wiz who’s dating Gekko’s daughter. Fresh from prison, Gekko becomes the young man’s mentor — but at what cost? The pundits say that Douglas, reprising his most iconic role, is excellent, and Stone’s direction is fast-paced and visually sharp. However, others find the movie over-plotted and less insightful than its predecessor. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Douglas’ best-reviewed films.)
Say what you will about Zack Snyder, but few would deny his strength as a visual stylist. The director of 300 and Watchmen returns with Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, and the critics say this CGI family flick looks remarkable, but gets bogged down by its generic storytelling. Legend tells the tale of a young owl who dreams of becoming a great warrior, but runs (ahem) afowl of his tribe’s hated enemies; he must complete an incredible journey in order to defeat them. The pundits say Legend is beautiful to look at, utilizing 3D technology to create a lush, tactile effect. However, others feel the plot is strictly pro forma, and its central conflict isn’t particularly rousing.
One would think that a wedding farce starring Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, and the indomitable Betty White would be good for some laughs — or at least a little sisters-are-doin’-it-for-themselves exuberance. Unfortunately, critics say that’s not the case with You Again, calling it contrived, tonally inconsistent, and oddly sour. Bell stars as a young woman whose brother is marrying her high school arch-rival; as it happens, the bride’s aunt (Weaver) has had a long-simmering beef with Bell’s mother (Curtis). The pundits say You Again‘s all-star cast is left stranded by the film’s formulaic script, which relies on overdone slapstick and unbelievable coincidences to propel the plot to a happy ending.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Waiting for Superman, Davis Guggenheim’s examination of what ails the American public school system, is at 89 percent.
Enter the Void, a hallucinogenic drama set in the Tokyo club scene, is at 73 percent.
And finally, mad props to Chris B. for guessing Devil‘s 44 percent Tomatometer.