This week at the movies, we’ve got Biblical bloopers (Year One, starring Jack Black and Michael Cera) and an engagement of convenience (The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds). What do the critics have to say?
On paper, Year One sounds so promising; it’s an Old Testament goof starring Jack Black and Michael Cera (as well as an embarrassment of other top comedic talent) directed by Harold Ramis. Unfortunately, critics say the film’s jokes are nearly as ancient and musty as its protagonists. Black and Cera star as a pair of lazy hunter-gatherers who have been banished from their tribe. They become nomads and unwittingly provide a guided tour of the Book of Genesis, meeting the likes of Cain and Abel and visiting Sodom along the way. Critics say that as a satire, Year One is more profane than sacred, lacking the smarts of such previous historical comedies as History of the World: Part 1 or Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Worse, as a comedy it’s undisciplined, relying too much on the actors’ mugging at the expense of funny situations or dialogue. (Check out our collection of some of Jack Black’s most memorable movie faces.)
No one attends a romantic comedy expecting a reinvention of the wheel; what they want is a fresh take on the familiar. So while some critics find The Proposal sweet and charming, others say it’s formulaic to the point of tedium. Sandra Bullock stars as a high-powered (but ice-cold) book editor who’s in a pickle: as a Canadian citizen, her work visa is about to expire. So she enlists her assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her to stay in the country, and travels with him to meet his wacky family in Alaska. Will these crazy kids make it? Some pundits say The Proposal is better than most of its genre, with good chemistry from its leads and a scene-stealing supporting turn from Betty White. Others, however, say it squanders its actors with increasingly farcical proceedings and generic plotting. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down Bullock’s best-reviewed movies, as well as our interview with Betty White, where she tells us her Five Favorite Films.)
Also opening this week in limited release: