This week at the movies, we’ve got aerial adventure (How to Train Your Dragon, starring Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson) and an ’80s flashback (Hot Tub Time Machine, starring John Cusack and Rob Corddry). What do the critics have to say?
In the world of CGI animation, DreamWorks has long played second fiddle to Pixar. However, critics say that if How to Train Your Dragon is any indication, the gap between the studios may be narrowing. Dragon tells the tale of Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), a scrawny Viking who wants to kill dragons, just like his old man (Gerard Butler). However, after a chance encounter with a friendly dragon, he begins to rethink past prejudices — while soaring above the clouds on the monster’s back. The pundits say the Certified Fresh How to Train Your Dragon‘s visuals are awe-inspiring, utilizing the 3-D effects to the fullest — and if the plot’s not quite as strong, the voice cast is game and the script is mercifully free of vulgarity. (Speaking of vulgarity, check out Dragon star Craig Fergusen’s Five Favorite Films here.)
Hot Tub Time Machine boasts one of the funniest titles in recent memory. And critics say the movie’s pretty good, too — it’s a throwback to 1980s raunch-fests that’s elevated by an excellent cast. John Cusack stars as a recently-dumped guy who joins his friends for some wild debauchery at a ski resort. The next morning, the gang wakes up in 1986 — how’s that for a hangover? — and tries to save their future selves from misery. The pundits say Hot Tub Time Machine is indifferently crafted and occasionally overdoses on kitschy 1980s references — but it’s also audaciously funny much of the time, thanks to strong performances and a go-for-broke sense of energy. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some of our favorite cinematic time machines.)
Also opening this week in limited release: