This week at the movies brings four studies in aviation. What happens when you’re trapped on a plane with a creepy seatmate? (See "Red Eye.") Is it ever too late for Cupid’s arrows to take flight? (Check out "The 40 Year-Old Virgin.") Were the unsung heroes of the Allies in WWII… pigeons? ("Valiant," this one’s for you.) Isn’t it cool when those Supercross dudes, like, totally go up in the air, and like, for a few seconds, y’know, it looks like they’re, like, flying? (Ahem…."Supercross: The Movie.") And most important of all: which of these flicks will fly with the critics?
Alfred Hitchcock once famously declared, "I like to play the audience like a piano." Wes Craven is no Hitchcock (who is?), but in his finest moments, his work embodies the spirit of that sentiment. And critics say "Red Eye" is one of Craven’s finest moments. Much like many of Hitch’s films, the plot strains credibility, but who cares; brisk, paranoid, and tense, this is excellent popcorn fare, with stars in the making Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy getting their share of props. "Red Eye" soars, scoring 84 percent on the Tomatometer. And it’s Craven’s best reviewed film since "Scream" (87 percent) in 1996.
Speaking of overdue props, Steve Carell has been stealing scenes from movies for a while (and he was in those weirdly funny FedEx commercials — am I the only one who remembers that?). So now that he’s getting his shot in the spotlight, he’s unsurprisingly making the most of it. Critics are showing a lot of love for "The 40 Year-Old Virgin," a film that continues the recent trend of mixing tasteless humor with aching sincerity. At 85 percent, "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" may be worth a date. And it’s getting better reviews than even the surprise comedy megahit of the summer, "Wedding Crashers" (currently at 74 percent).
So CGI is the wave of the future? Maybe. But technology can only go so far; a movie still has to tell a compelling story. Critics say even the technology isn’t that good in "Valiant," a tale of carrier pigeons’ heroism in WWII. And though it features voice work from some of our favorites from across the pond (Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, John Cleese, Hugh Laurie), the writers say it’s plucky but impersonal, and too odd in its plot to make much sense to younger viewers, the assumed target demographic. At 24 percent on the Tomatometer, this bird’s having trouble achieving takeoff. And it’s the worst-reviewed CGI film ever, sinking lower than last year’s "Shark Tale" (35 percent).
Since there is apparently little appeal in "Segway: The Movie" or, perhaps "Jet-Ski: The Movie," X-treme fans will have to make do with "Supercross: The Movie." But according to critics, there couldn’t be much less appeal to this teen romance in between totally radical and tubular stunts. The reason old-school exclamations make sense in this context is that the plot of this movie is pretty dated; heck, "Don’t Worry Baby," the classic Beach Boys song about romance and drag racing, pretty much told the same story in three minutes. But "Supercross" does soar above the competition in one respect: at three percent on the Tomatometer, it’s among the worst reviewed movies of the year.
Worst Reviewed Movies of 2005 (So Far):
1. King’s Ransom — 0%
2. Alone in the Dark — 1%
3. Supercross: The Movie — 3%
4. Son of the Mask — 4%
5. Modigliani — 4%
6. Fascination — 5%
7. Harry and Max — 5%
8. The Perfect Man — 6%
9. Elektra — 7%
10. White Noise — 9%