TAGGED AS: Certified Fresh
This week at the movies, we’ve got a battle between bros and parents (Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron), another trek down the yellow brick road (Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, with voice performances by Lea Michele and Dan Aykroyd), and a wild night on the town (Moms’ Night Out, starring Sarah Drew and Patricia Heaton). What do the critics have to say?
Most frat comedies seem content to rip off Animal House, but occasionally a movie comes along that shows the keg isn’t completely tapped. The critics say Neighbors can get pretty gross at times, but it’s well-acted and often surprisingly insightful about the anxieties of growing older. Mac (Seth Rogan) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are a married couple with an infant child who think they’ve found the perfect home — that is, until a fraternity moves next door. Soon, our heroes are locked in battle with Teddy (Zac Efron), the frat’s president; hilarity ensues. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Neighbors has no shortage of lowbrow laughs, but the performers — particularly Byrne — make the characters relatable, and the result is both highly amusing and smarter than average. (Check out our video interview with the stars, as well as our gallery of the worst movie neighbors.)
The Wizard of Oz is just as dazzling today as it was 75 years ago, and the reasons why are clear: it looks terrific, it features great songs, and (most importantly) it’s got a great story. Critics say the inverse is true of the new animated film Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return — with its dated visuals, so-so tunes, and meandering plot, this trip over the rainbow is unlikely to become a perennial family favorite. Shortly after returning to Kansas, Dorothy (voiced by Lea Michele) is whisked back to Oz to help pals old (Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man) and new (Wiser the Owl, Marshal Mallow, and China Princess) rescue Glinda the Good Witch from the evil Jester. The pundits say Legends of Oz is a less-than-magical affair that feels more suited to the cutout bin than the multiplex.
This Mother’s Day, we hold these truths to be self-evident: that the hardworking moms of the world deserve some free time, and that moviegoers could use more female-centric comedies. So it’s unfortunate to report that critics find Moms’ Night Out to be predictable, uninspired, and seriously short on laughs. Stay-at-home mom Allyson (Sarah Drew) really needs to unwind, so she plans a night out with her BFFs. Naturally, everything goes haywire immediately, as the ladies get into trouble on the town while their husbands mostly fail to hold things together at home. The pundits say Moms’ Night Out earns a stray chuckle here and there, but it mostly feels more like a sitcom than a movie. (Check out star Patricia Heaton’s Five Favorite Films.)
Sol LeWitt, a documentary about the unassuming but highly-regarded conceptual artist, is at 100 percent.
Chef, directed by and starring Jon Favreau in a comedy about a chef who quits his job at a swanky restaurant to operate a food truck, is Certified Fresh at 86 percent (check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down co-star Scarlett Johansson’s best-reviewed movies).
Fed Up, a documentary about the ways in which the food industry is culpable for the obesity epidemic, is at 86 percent.
Llyn Foulkes One Man Band, a documentary about an eccentric and obsessive outsider artist, is at 86 percent.
Palo Alto, starring Emma Roberts and James Franco in a drama about four interconnected high school students with a bunch of personal issues, is at 85 percent.
The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in an adaptation of the Dostoyevsky novel about a lonely man who finds himself pushed aside by his doppelganger, is Certified Fresh at 83 percent.
The Wedding Video, a comedy about a videographer who makes a startlingly honest film about a couple’s big day, is at 69 percent.
Stage Fright, starring Minnie Driver and Meat Loaf in a slasher flick about a murder-plagued performing arts camp, is at 39 percent.
Before the Winter Chill, starring Daniel Auteuil and Kristin Scott Thomas in a drama about a man torn between his wife and a troubled younger woman, is at 33 percent.
Devil’s Knot, starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth in a fictional take on the story of the West Memphis Three, is at 32 percent.
God’s Pocket, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in a drama about a blue-collar neighborhood upended by a suspicious death, is at 29 percent.