Critical Consensus: "Mr. and Mrs. smith" Happy Together; "Howl's" Moving Fresh

by | June 9, 2005 | Comments

This week at the movies is a study in camaraderie: two college students on the run, a boy and two young superheroes, a teenage girl befriending a wizard, and Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton. And, oh yeah, Brad and Angelina. Here at Rotten Tomatoes, we know that the relationship between critics and films can be a little rocky at times. Which of this week’s wide releases will get some love and which will be kicked to the curb? Read on to find out.

Currently the most photographed human beings on the planet, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie team up in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” Doug Liman’s hotly anticipated tale of a bored suburban couple who just happen to be assassins – and are assigned to kill each other. “Brangelina” (as the tabloids call them) do indeed kill in this one, and critics say the onscreen sparks between the two stars are vastly more explosive – and interesting—than the many, many, many action sequences. At 64 percent on the Tomatometer, this one sure ain’t no “Gigli” – But it ain’t “The Big Sleep,” either.

Have characters in horror flicks ever been to the movies? Don’t they know that what they think will be a pleasant weekend in the woods will become a vortex of unspeakable horror and bloodshed? At least with the heroines of “High Tension,” they’ve got an excuse: They’re French, so they might have missed “Halloween,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” or “Friday the 13th.” Director Alexandre Aja has clearly seen those, and many other horror flicks, and critics say the film plays best when it works within, and expands upon, the established norms of the slasher genre. But, at 58 percent on the Tomatometer, many have complained about a late-in-the-game twist that turns the high tension into a low blow.

Every kid in the world has an active imagination. And every kid has wanted his or her daydreams and imaginary friends to transcend said imagination and be realized in some tangible form. This usually means busting out the crayons or maybe a video camera, not a multi-million dollar budget and cameos from celebs. But not every kid is the son of Robert Rodriguez. And while the director is adept at creating phantasmagoric visions (see “Sin City”) only 35 percent of critics say he has a winner with “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D,” which is based upon the stories of Rodriguez’s seven-year-old son. The tale of a boy whose imaginary friends come to life and need his help to defeat evil on the planet Drool, these “Adventures” lack a certain magic.

Cedric the Entertainer is one of the funniest guys around. So it would seem natural that he would shine in an update of “The Honeymooners,” which, for those who’ve been “to the moon” and missed the last half century of popular culture, was a wildly popular and influential 1950s sitcom starring Jackie Gleason and Art Carney. Unfortunately, the critics have smacked the update right in the kisser. Despite the presence of a pretty solid cast, the scribes have derided the lack of laughs beyond a couple of mildly amusing gags, landing “The Honeymooners” at 14 percent on the Tomatometer.

No remakes for Hayao Miyazaki. The master of Japanese animation consistently creates worlds that are powerfully and poignantly original. His latest, “Howl’s Moving Castle,” is no exception. It tells the story of a teenage girl who has been turned into an elderly woman by a wizard, and enters a fantasy kingdom in turmoil. Miyazaki’s work is never less than intriguing and beguiling, and the critics have fallen under the spell of “Howl,” with 90 percent approving of the film’s surreal storyline, detailed animation, childlike wonder, and an absence of pandering gags.

Brad Pitt
Average Tomatometer: 62%
Last Five Films with Tomatometer:
55% – Troy (2004)
55% – Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
73% – Snatch (2001)
57% – The Mexican (2001)
67% – Spy Game (2001)

Angelina Jolie
Average Tomatometer: 36%
Last Five Films with Tomatometer:
22% – Taking Lives (2004)
73% – Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
14% – Alexander (2004)
24% – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
16% – Beyond Borders (2003)

Hayao Miyazaki
Average Tomatometer: 96%
Last Five Films with Tomatometer:
98% – Spirited Away (2002)
92% – Princess Mononoke (1997)
100% – Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
100% – My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
100% – Castle in the Sky (1986)

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