This week at the movies, we’ve got a scheming tween (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, starring Zachary Gordon and Steve Zahn); squabbling exes (The Bounty Hunter, starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler); and hazardous healthcare (Repo Men, starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker). What do the critics have to say?
It’s a (debatable) maxim that the book is always better than the movie. That certainly seems to be the case with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which critics say contains moments of insight and humor but never fleshes out its middle school characters with the same empathy as Jeff Kinney’s books. The movie stars Zachary Gordon as a kid who can’t catch a break with the popular crowd, so he tries out various activities in order to climb the social ladder — all the while chronicling his life in a journal. The pundits say Wimpy Kid accurately captures the uncertainties of the junior high years, but also features abrupt tonal shifts and a story that apes others of its ilk.
Given the right material, Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler are charming folks. Unfortunately, critics say The Bounty Hunter is decidedly the wrong material — clichéd, shrill, and lacking an ounce of chemistry between its usually winning leads. Butler plays a former cop who’s now a bounty hunter, and his latest assignment is bringing in his bail-jumping ex-wife. Will these crazy kids bicker? Will they relight the spark that brought them together in the first place? Can we expect a little of both, perhaps? Yes, say pundits, along with a shortage of laughs and smarts. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Aniston’s best-reviewed films.)
Alex Cox’s Repo Man is one of the 1980s’ wildest cult classics, mixing punk rock, aliens, and… Wait, wrong movie. Repo Men, critics say, is a satirical misfire that mixes slasher and sci-fi tropes but never makes the most of its unhinged premise. The plot: a corporation called the Union manufactures perfect artificial organs, but if transplant recipients get behind on their payments, “repo men” reclaim the organs by force. One such repo man is Jude Law, is Jude Law, who has trouble making his payments when he gets his own artificial heart… and… you can see where this is going. The pundits say Repo Men shows flashes of perverse wit, but ultimately squanders its cast on generic chase sequences and oodles of gore.
Also opening this week in limited release: