Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 Is Criminally Unfunny

Plus, Unfriended offers solid thrills, Monkey Kingdom shines, and Game of Thrones is Certified Fresh.

by | April 16, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a silly security guard (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, starring Kevin James and Raini Rodriguez), tech-savvy teens (Unfriended, starring Shelley Hennig and Renee Olstead), and parental primates (the Disneynature documentary Monkey Kingdom). What do the critics have to say?


Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

5%

Despite a lukewarm reception from critics, Paul Blart: Mall Cop was a sizeable box office hit. So naturally, we’re treated to Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, which critics say lacks even the modest charms of its predecessor — it’s indifferently performed, tonally jumbled, and almost entirely bereft of laughs. Kevin James returns as the self-important Blart, who’s been invited to a security guard convention in Vegas. Will our hero overcome gluttony and boorishness to thwart a brazen art heist and rescue his kidnapped daughter? The pundits say Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is a startlingly empty experience, one that James’ inherent likability does little to enliven. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some of cinema’s most critically-panned second installments.)



Unfriended

62%

At first blush, Unfriended sounds pretty gimmicky: it’s a horror movie that consists entirely of footage from its teenage characters’ computer screens. However, critics say the result is smart and deeply unsettling, a clever thriller that has a thing or two to say about teen angst and modern communication. The plot: on the anniversary of a classmate’s death, a group of high schoolers are being hunted — via Skype — by her malevolent spirit. The pundits say Unfriended is an intelligent blend of form and content that feels utterly contemporary. (Watch our video interview with the cast here.)



Monkey Kingdom

93%

Who doesn’t love monkeys? Critics say Monkey Kingdom might be Disneynature’s best film to date, and its breathtaking footage of primates in the wild makes for action-packed viewing. Narrated by Tina Fey, the film follows a group of toque macaques who live in the Sri Lankan jungle near an abandoned temple, with special attention paid to a single mother and her child who are trying to fit in with their new community. The pundits say Monkey Kingdom‘s stars are a playful, colorful bunch, and if the film sometimes anthropomorphizes them, they’re still likely to please animal lovers of all ages.

What’s On TV:


Bloody action and extreme power plays return full throttle, as Game of Thrones (Certified Fresh at 97 percent) enjoys a new-found liberation from the world of the source material, resulting in more unexpected thrills.

With tight adherence to its source material’s history, high production quality, and a no-nonsense dramatic flair, Marvel’s Daredevil (Certified Fresh at 97 percent) excels as an effective superhero origin story, a gritty procedural, and an exciting action adventure.

Beautifully filmed and brilliantly acted, Wolf Hall (Certified Fresh at 100 percent) masterfully brings Hilary Mantel’s award-winning novels to life.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Alex of Venice, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Chris Messina in a drama about a woman who reinvents herself after her divorce, is at 82 percent.
  • The Oscar-nominated anti-war drama Tangerines, about two immigrant farmers who refuse to abandon their crops even with war on the horizon, is at 75 percent.
  • Felix & Meira, a drama about the tentative romance between a middle-aged atheist and a married Hasidic woman, is at 73 percent.
  • The Dead Lands, an adventure film about a Maori warrior who seeks to avenge his father’s murder and stave off an attack from a rival tribe, is at 60 percent.
  • True Story, a drama about a journalist working on a story about an accused killer who used the reporter’s name as an alias, is at 50 percent (check out our interview with stars Jonah Hill and James Franco).
  • Beyond The Reach, starring Michael Douglas in a thriller about a billionaire hunter who frames his guide for murder after accidentally shooting a man, is at 35 percent.
  • Child 44, starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace in a period drama about a Soviet secret police agent on the trail of a serial killer, is at 23 percent.
  • Monsters: Dark Continent, a sci-fi action film about a platoon of American soldiers who must fight off an alien attack, is at 22 percent.
  • The Squeeze, starring Jeremy Sumpter and Christopher McDonald in a dramedy about three troubled young people who escape an institution and go on a road trip, is at 14 percent.
  • The Road Within, starring Dev Patel and Zöe Kravitz in a dramedy about three troubled young people who escape an institution and go on a road trip, is at 13 percent.

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