Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Semi-Pro is Semi-Good, Boleyn Girl Not Quite Movie Royalty

Plus: Penelope tries hard, but doesn't quite enchant.

by | February 28, 2008 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got hapless hoopsters (Semi-Pro, starring Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, and Andre Benjamin), snouted socialites (Penelope, starring Christina Ricci and James McAvoy), and scandalous siblings (The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman,Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Bana). What do the critics have to say?

Will Ferrell has made a mini-career for himself yuking it up in wacky sports comedies. Some, like Talladega Nights and Blades of Glory, were winners with the critics, while others (Kicking and Screaming, anyone?) have fallen below the Mendoza Line. It appears the pundits are putting his latest, Semi-Pro, in the latter category. Ferrell stars as Jackie Moon, the owner of a struggling American Basketball Association (yep, the league with the red, white, and blue ball) squad that’s on the verge of folding; worse, the NBA may soon buy the only solvent ABA squads, so the team has to start winning in a hurry. The pundits say that while Semi-Pro offers occasional laughs, its shooting percentage isn’t all that high; it’s never as deliriously funny as it should be, and sags under the weight of too much sentiment. At 23 percent on the Tomatometer, Semi-Pro is looking as pretty as a Ben Wallace free throw.

A lonely lass with a swine’s schnoz, Penelope (Christina Ricci) isn’t your average girl. And the scribes say Penelope isn’t your average movie — and despite moments of enchantment, this modern-day fairy tale is something of a mixed bag. Penelope is a poor little rich girl who suffers from a strange curse: she’s got a pig snout, and can only be saved by the proper suitor. The critics say Penelope is never short on whimsy and charm, but it’s uneven and a little short on magic. It’s currently at 55 percent on the Tomatometer. (Check out our inventory of fairy tales for grownups here.)

The Other Boleyn Girl has all the makings of a juicy tale of period intrigue: a love triangle, political machinations, and a stellar cast. Unfortunately, critics say the film can’t quite put all the pieces together. Based upon the bestseller by Philippa Gregory, Boleyn is the story of two sisters (Natalie Portman andScarlett Johansson) vying for the ardor of the King of England (Eric Bana) — and finding themselves in a romantic tug-of-war that threatens to destabilize the nation. The pundits say the movie looks terrific, and the plot has intrinsic interest, but Boleyn ends up devolving into over-plotted, melodramatic territory while leaving certain elements of its plot underdeveloped. At 45 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics aren’t quite in love with this Girl.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Chop Shop, the story of a 12-year-old orphan fending for himself in gritty New York City, is at 88 percent.

  • Beyond Belief, a doc about a pair of Boston women who travel to Afghanistan after their husbands are killed by terrorism, is at 80 percent.

  • Chicago 10, which combines documentary footage and animation to tell the story of the riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, is at 78 percent (check out our take from Sundance here).

  • The Unforeseen, a doc about the fragile balance between home-ownership and the environment, is at 75 percent.

  • City of Men, the follow-up to City of God, about a group of youngsters growing up amidst the drug trade in Rio, is at 71 percent.

  • Bonneville, a road movie starring Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Joan Allen, is at 45 percent.

  • Vivere, the story of three desperate women on the run, is at 40 percent.


And finally, props to Splendidisolation, man in the water, I am evil homer,kubla, ilovetacobell, bwozar07, andPilgermann, who all, ahem, got ‘er done by successfully guessing that Witless Protection would earn a big zero percent Tomatometer. Good to see some folks around these parts aren’t totally lacking in wit.

Recent Will Ferrell Movies:
44% — The Wendell Baker Story (2007)
69% — Blades of Glory (2007)
73% — Stranger than Fiction (2006)
72% — Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
41% — Winter Passing (2006)

Recent Christina Ricci Movies:
66% — Black Snake Moan (2007)
23% — Home of the Brave (2006)
20% — The Gathering (2006)
23% — I Love Your Work (2005)
16% — Cursed (2005)