Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Rise of the Planet of the Apes is Certified Fresh

Plus, The Change-Up could use some more laughs.

by | August 4, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got intelligent primates (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, starring James Franco and Freida Pinto) and a body swap (The Change-Up, starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman). What do the critics have to say?

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

82%

It seems we will never exhaust our collective need for Planet of the Apes movies. The 1968 sci-fi classic spawned four sequels, a remake, and now a prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And guess what? The critics say Rise is one of the best of the bunch, with dazzling effects, thought-provoking ideas, and plenty of action. While working on a cure for Alzheimer’s, a brilliant scientist (James Franco) unintentionally gives a chimp named Caesar extraordinary intelligence; soon, the simian is questioning his place in the world, while passing on his superior brain power to his fellow apes. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a swingin’ good time — it’s briskly paced, emotionally satisfying, and much smarter than your average blockbuster.

The Change-Up

25%

That staple of late-1980s cinema — the body switching comedy — is back full force with The Change-Up. However, some things should be left dormant, and critics say the subgenre that sired 18 Again and Dream a Little Dream is one of them — they find The Change-Up to be an oddly sour, gimmicky comedy that never establishes a consistent tone. Two old friends — one a married, overworked lawyer (Jason Bateman), the other a single softcore actor — relieve themselves in a magic fountain and find that they have switched bodies. At first, they each enjoy a change of scenery, but isn’t the grass always greener on the other side? The pundits say that although Reynolds and Bateman each do a good job of playing the other, they’re stuck in a sophomoric comedy that veers between gross-out gags and schmaltz. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some of cinema’s most memorable body swaps.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Bellflower, an indie action flick about a pair of weapon-manufacturing friends preparing for the Apocalypse, is at 89 percent.

  • Cold Fish, a horror/black comedy about a seafood vending-couple who are also brutal serial killers, is at 71 percent.

  • Mysteries of Lisbon, an operatic Portuguese drama about an orphan who goes looking for the truth of his origins, is at 71 percent.

  • The Whistleblower, starring Rachel Weisz and Monica Bellucci in a drama about a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia who uncovers a human trafficking ring, is at 62 percent.

  • Magic Trip, a documentary about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters’ acid-fueled 1964 cross country trek, is at 62 percent.

  • Gun Hill Road, a drama about a man just released from prison who finds his family has gone through some dramatic changes, is at 54 percent.

  • The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll, about a troubled rock star and his guitar-wiz buddy rekindling their friendship, is at zero percent.

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