This week, we’ve got a wild rumpus (Where the Wild Things Are, starring Max Records and Catherine Keener), a legal skirmish (Law Abiding Citizen, starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler), and unconventional parenting (The Stepfather, starring Dylan Walsh and Sela Ward). What do the critics have to say?
Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is one of the most beloved classics of modern children’s literature, but the brief text doesn’t necessarily lend itself to feature-length cinematic treatment. Critics have largely praised Spike Jonze for maintaining the spirit of the book while adding some visually daring touches to bring it to life; however, some feel the narrative is a little thin. Max (Max Records) is a troubled youngster who disappears into a fantasy world of his own making, populated by fluffy monsters who symbolize the various facets of his personality. The pundits say Wild Things may be a little too creepy for the wee ones, and it lacks a strong plot. However, the images Jonze crafts are so wondrous that older kids — and adults — will find the film to be a fascinating, poignant dreamscape.
Nobody says that a thriller needs to be completely plausible to be watchable. However, staying somewhere within the bounds of believability is generally required, and on this count, and several others, critics say Law Abiding Citizen fails. Gerard Butler stars as a man whose family has been murdered; he becomes enraged when the prosecutor (Jamie Foxx) makes a plea deal with the killer, and goes about exacting revenge. The pundits say Law Abiding Citizen isn’t just outrageously contrived; worse, it lingers a little too long over some gruesome violence under the guise of making a political statement about the judicial system. (Check out our interview with director F. Gary Gray, who shared his Five Favorite Films with RT.).
It appears the folks behind The Stepfather are being a little too strict with their baby, as it wasn’t screened for critics prior to release. A remake of the 1987 cult classic of the same name, the movie stars Dylan Walsh as a man who’s so perfect for Sela Ward that he must be hiding a dark secret. Kids, guess that Tomatometer!.
Also opening this week in limited release: