This week at the movies, we’ve got a Southern-fried fairy tale (The Princess and the Frog, with voice work Anika Noni Rose and Keith David) and inspiration through rugby (Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon). What do the critics have to say?
The Princess and the Frog has gotten plenty of notice for two reasons: it marks Disney’s return to traditional cel animation, and it features an African American heroine. However, critics say that it’s also a rousing, heart-warming, and likable (though somewhat predictable) movie that works on its own with or without the curiosity factor. Set in 1930s New Orleans, the film follows Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose), a beautiful aspiring chef who’s turned into a frog after succumbing to a nefarious spell by Doctor Facilier (Keith David), a voodoo magician. Will Tiana return to human form? Will she be able to rescue the handsome prince? The pundits say The Princess and the Frog is hardly groundbreaking, but it has enough energy, catchy tunes, and excitement to render most objections moot. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down David’s best-reviewed work.)
Sure, Invictus is yet another inspirational sports film, but critics say Clint Eastwood‘s drama about how sports helped heal South Africa is a strong, well-crafted entry in the genre. Morgan Freeman stars as Nelson Mandela, who, in the tense heady days after the end of Apartheid, was looking for a national symbol of unity. He found one in the South African rugby team, captained by Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), who face long odds in the World Cup. The pundits say that Invictus is sometimes too stately and glosses over some of the complexities of the times, but excellent work from Freeman and Damon, as well as a typically assured hand from Eastwood and exciting game footage more than compensate. (Check out The Great Directors: Clint Eastwood for an overview of the star’s work behind the camera.).
Also opening this week in limited release:
Finally, props to Critic Alex Hagani and Alejandro R. for correctly guessing Armored‘s 44 percent Tomatometer, and to Alejandro P. and hatingvindiesel for pinpointing the fact that Transylmania would get a big goose egg.