Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Drive is Certified Fresh

Plus, Straw Dogs falls short of the original, and I Don't Know How She Does It is too predictable.

by | September 15, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a lonely stuntman (Drive, starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan), home invaders (Straw Dogs, starring James Marsden and Kate Bosworth), and a hard-working mom (I Don’t Know How She Does It, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Pierce Brosnan). What do the critics have to say?



On paper, Drive sounds like a pretty standard action flick. However, it all comes down to execution, and critics say Drive is an artful, tense genre picture with outstanding performances and a moody tone that’s all its own. Ryan Gosling stars as a stuntman who moonlights as a criminal getaway driver. He falls in love with a down-on-her-luck single mother (Carey Mulligan), but in the process of protecting her from underworld forces, he too is caught in the crossfire. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Drive is a smart, stylish, unnerving thrill ride that recalls the existential road movies of the 1970s, with Gosling giving a magnificent, career-defining performance in the lead and director Nicolas Winding Refn making an impressive American debut. (Check out our interview with Gosling here, as well as our list of the greatest movie car chases.)

Certified Fresh

Straw Dogs


Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 shocker Straw Dogs was one of the great director’s most visceral provocations, a blunt psychological thriller in which a nominal pacifist finds his breaking point. Critics say this remake has moments of raw power as well, but it falls short of the original’s bleak vision, and ends up being a decent revenge tale rather than a cinematic descent into barbarism. James Marsden and Kate Bosworth star as David and Amy, a pair of Hollywood types who retire to her Deep South hometown so he can work on his screenplay. Soon, however, the locals are needling them because of their flashy ways, and Amy’s old flame makes his menacing presence felt. The pundits say Straw Dogs has moments of real suspense, but it lacks Peckinpah’s sense of dark ambiguity, and its red state/blue state conflict feels too pat. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down co-star James Woods’s best-reviewed movies.)

I Don’t Know How She Does It


I Don’t Know How She Does It has a premise that plenty of people can relate to: its protagonist feels pressured to maintain her professional and family duties without losing her mind. Unfortunately, critics say the movie doesn’t do its subject justice, instead relying too heavily on screwball humor and wish-fulfillment fantasies in place of insight. Sarah Jessica Parker stars as a high-powered executive who’s trying her best to balance the responsibilities of work, marriage, and child-rearing. She’s working on a big project with an attractive colleague (Pierce Brosnan), and finds that her career is taking up far more time than her family. The pundits say I Don’t Know How She Does It‘s strong cast does its best, but for the most part they’re given types, not characters, to play, and the plot is too predictable to fully resonate.

The Lion King


The Lion King was one of the crown jewels of Disney’s late-1980s-to-mid-1990s animation renaissance, and if you missed it the first time around, you’re in luck — it goes wide this weekend in glorious 3D. The Lion King is the tale of Simba, a cub who grows up to follow in the footsteps of his murdered father King Mufasa while battling his evil uncle Scar. This two-time Academy Award winner wowed the critics upon its release in 1994, and it’s easy to see why — it’s by turns tender and thrilling, and it’s filled with toe-tapping tunes and breathtaking visuals.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Silent Souls, a drama about a man who journey across Russia with his best friend in order to bury his deceased wife, is at 89 percent.
  • Happy, Happy, a deadpan Norwegian comedy about a pair of married couples who share awkward secrets, is at 80 percent.
  • My Afternoons with Marguerite, starring Gérard Depardieu as a nearly illiterate man who forms a bond with a well-read and highly intelligent elderly woman, is at 79 percent.
  • The Mill and the Cross, starring Rutger Hauer and Charlotte Rampling in a cinematic recreation of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting The Way to Calvary, is at 75 percent.
  • The Weird World of Blowfly, a profile of the legendary X-rated songwriter, is at 57 percent.
  • Jane’s Journey, a documentary portrait of renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, is at 50 percent.
  • 3, a drama about two married people who are each powerfully attracted to the same man, is at 50 percent.
  • Gus Van Sant’s‘s Restless, starring Mia Wasikowska in a drama about a love affair between two damaged young people, is at 42 percent.

Finally, mad props to The Dude, filmfanatic, Kadeem S., and KnowledgeReigns for correctly guessing Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star‘s zero percent Tomatometer.

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