Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Water for Elephants Is A Little Soapy

Plus, African Cats? footage is purr-fect, and guess Madea's Big Happy Family?s Tomatometer.

by | April 22, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies we’ve got a big-top romance (Water for Elephants, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson); a maternal fixer (Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family, starring Loretta Devine and Bow Wow), and familial felines (African Cats, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson). What do the critics have to say?



Water for Elephants

60%

Nowadays, the word “melodrama” is mostly used pejoratively, but it wasn’t always so: melodramas were the stock-in-trade of great directors like George Cukor and Douglas Sirk. However, we live in more cynical times, and critics say the Depression-set Water for Elephants has an evocative sense of its time and place but lacks the burning passions required to pull off this type of romantic weepie. Robert Pattinson stars as a cash-strapped aspiring veterinary student who gets a job with a travelling circus troupe and falls for the star performer (Reese Witherspoon). The pair bond over their shared love of animals — particularly pachyderms — but our heroine is married to the abusive, manipulative owner of the circus. Will these crazy kids make it — and jerk some tears in the process? The pundits say Water for Elephants is handsomely mounted and occasionally swoony, but it’s not quite passionate or sweeping enough to overcome its predictable script and languid pacing.(Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Witherspoon’s best-reviewed movies)



Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family

37%

With the recent exception of last year’s For Colored Girls, Tyler Perry’s directorial efforts tend to hit theaters without screening for critics beforehand, and his latest, Madea’s Big Happy Family, continues the trend. Perry again stars as the no-nonsense, straight-talking titular matron; this time out, her children are each plagued by a variety of problems, and Madea takes it upon herself to set matters right. Kids, let’s play Guess the Tomatometer!



African Cats

73%

Do you like kitties? Adorable, exotic kitties? If the answer is yes, you’ll probably be in heaven with African Cats, though critics say that while the film captures some awe-inspiring footage of these great felines in the wild, it also has a tendency to anthropomorphize its subjects. Samuel L. Jackson narrates the movie, which follows a lioness raising her cub in a pride, and a cheetah mother raising her litter alone; both moms face plenty of danger and hardship on the savannah. The pundits say that if you can get past the film’s persistence in equating the trials of these creatures to those of their human counterparts, you’ll be treated to a remarkably intimate and visually stunning portrait of survival in wild.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

Opinion 45 YouTube spanish language Lionsgate mockumentary crime thriller AMC CBS All Access teaser President spinoff adventure Music book ESPN space Fantasy Mindy Kaling golden globes blaxploitation Red Carpet animated BBC Comedy Central free movies ITV Paramount GoT Extras VH1 Disney streaming service children's TV disaster Star Wars Action Paramount Network American Society of Cinematographers Mudbound Spectrum Originals cars 24 frames strong female leads The CW YouTube Red Stephen King Valentine's Day Tarantino MTV Quiz Mystery crime facebook aliens ghosts OWN Polls and Games Sundance Freeform breaking bad BET Photos Disney Plus Schedule war Film Starz award winner finale Tomatazos game show 2018 The Purge cats Amazon Anna Paquin comic crossover Infographic period drama police drama USA Network Nominations DGA zombies casting canceled TV shows Watching Series tv talk boxoffice Emmys Character Guide docudrama Country Superheroe IFC NYCC theme song kids Lucasfilm SDCC GLAAD Arrowverse TLC cinemax HBO Max CMT Mary Tyler Moore Teen biography Netflix hist Kids & Family Ellie Kemper thriller Syfy FOX Apple TV+ NBC psycho Lifetime green book Super Bowl ratings PBS Podcast Peacock sports 2016 dceu singing competition hispanic DC Comics video E3 Pride Month Amazon Prime Video Brie Larson Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Walt Disney Pictures dc spy thriller RT21 Heroines USA History technology cooking cancelled television Trivia true crime Women's History Month TV Showtime See It Skip It crime drama 2017 Captain marvel Turner Classic Movies Spike Trophy Talk mutant anime binge cancelled TV shows Vudu canceled Christmas Emmy Nominations Black Mirror Song of Ice and Fire psychological thriller science fiction The Walking Dead Cannes Pet Sematary Set visit witnail Box Office zero dark thirty TBS RT History quibi composers renewed TV shows Marathons Nickelodeon VICE Holidays sequel vampires ABC batman Apple El Rey Shondaland DirecTV Sneak Peek New York Comic Con television E! Binge Guide doctor who Certified Fresh TCA 2017 adaptation dragons richard e. Grant romantic comedy Mary poppins First Look Disney Channel Superheroes Sci-Fi PaleyFest game of thrones San Diego Comic-Con First Reviews Dark Horse Comics A&E diversity 20th Century Fox Tumblr Ovation Adult Swim talk show festivals Premiere Dates DC Universe Comedy Masterpiece Reality Awards Tour transformers justice league elevated horror Bravo TruTV Rom-Com Columbia Pictures TNT latino revenge 21st Century Fox Winter TV Best and Worst what to watch Martial Arts based on movie Writers Guild of America halloween Elton John Film Festival Biopics WarnerMedia Acorn TV TV Land Star Trek Logo travel LGBT serial killer Food Network TCM CBS Amazon Prime social media Interview Calendar The Arrangement cancelled TV series robots SundanceTV Chernobyl movies CNN harry potter Turner Grammys Warner Bros. TIFF Animation Disney Family jamie lee curtis Pirates slashers Television Academy cops Awards historical drama Thanksgiving medical drama streaming south america Creative Arts Emmys MSNBC Video Games Pixar Drama romance dramedy WGN ABC Family HBO Year in Review Winners BBC America Oscars Shudder discovery unscripted 007 Rock anthology Hulu DC streaming service political drama spider-man natural history Cartoon Network comiccon Reality Competition GIFs 2015 Pop Nat Geo Sony Pictures series TCA SXSW Classic Film MCU Rocketman foreign The Witch Universal 71st Emmy Awards Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Toys YouTube Premium Ghostbusters stand-up comedy YA toy story CW Seed joker miniseries Election Comics on TV Western Spring TV nature Marvel National Geographic IFC Films Fox News Musicals cancelled Mary Poppins Returns FX cults sitcom Musical APB Horror Trailer X-Men 2019 Fall TV LGBTQ supernatural Esquire Summer politics Crackle spain Sundance Now Comic Book Epix Countdown Britbox TV renewals zombie Cosplay FXX Rocky