Critics Consensus

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Is Certified Fresh

Plus, Pitch Perfect 3 hits a sour note, The Greatest Showman isn't particularly impressive, Downsizing comes up short, Father Figures wasn't widely screened, and Certified Fresh hits Darkest Hour and The Shape of Water expand to wide release.

by | December 21, 2017 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we have — deep breath — a wild adventure (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart); some part-three harmony (Pitch Perfect 3, starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson); the life of a circus legend (The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron); some short people (Downsizing, starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig); a couple of guys in search of their dad (Father Figures, starring Owen Wilson and Ed Helms); a famous cigar aficionado (Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas), and proof that, as George W. Bush once insisted, man and fish can coexist (The Shape of Water, starring Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones). What are the critics saying?

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) 76%

We’ve lost Robin Williams, the kids in the original cast are all grown up, and the book the movie was based on is just a slender 32-page tome that wouldn’t seem to offer much in the way of sequel potential. The world wasn’t exactly crying out for a follow-up to Jumanji, in other words — which is part of what makes this weekend’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle such a pleasant surprise. While critics admit that this sequel is far from perfect, it turns out there’s a surprising amount of story to be spun from the idea of a game that pulls its players into a fantasy world; toss in a game cast led by Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, and Dwayne Johnson, and you’ve got yourself an effects-enhanced adventure that offers enough silly all-ages fun to justify the price of a ticket. There’s certainly no shortage of options at the cineplex this weekend, but families seeking a fizzy chaser after catching Coco and The Last Jedi can expect to find this Jungle fairly welcoming indeed.

Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) 29%

To put it mildly, the exploits of a cappella singing groups is not the stuff Hollywood franchises tend to be made of. So hats off to the Pitch Perfect trilogy, which took the simple tale of a college student lured into joining a singing troupe — inspired by a non-fiction bestseller — and turned it into a smash hit that spawned an aca-saga. That being said, critics definitely cooled on Perfect with the second installment, which squeaked into Fresh territory despite diminishing returns; unfortunately, Pitch Perfect 3 does not represent a reversal of fortune for the franchise, which appears to be going out on a fairly emphatic sour note. The gang’s all back for this third chapter, but critics say that aside from squeezing more box office cash out of the goodwill they generated with the original, there’s no real reason for this — although a certain number of laughs is inevitable when you round up a cast this talented, they’re too few and far between to justify your movie dollar.

The Greatest Showman (2017) 57%

There are passion projects, and then there’s The Greatest Showman. First announced nearly a decade ago, this musical biopic about circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum has persisted during a stint in development hell that would have wilted most other movies — due largely to Hugh Jackman’s persistence in remaining with the film even as it struggled for years to secure studio funding. It took a long time, but Jackman’s faith paid off: along with a starry ensemble that includes Michelle Williams and Zac Efron, Showman ended up securing the services of Oscar-winning songwriting duo Pasek and Paul, and as a showcase for its leading man’s non-Logan abilities, it ended up being thoroughly well-timed. Unfortunately, it isn’t very good, at least as far as critics are concerned: reviews describe a movie with an overwhelmingly madcap energy that puts a glossy spin on Barnum’s life, leaving many of the thornier questions surrounding his legacy bumped to the margins between musical numbers. The scribes are just about evenly split on this one, so if you’re a big Jackman fan or just jonesing for a Hollywood musical, you might get your money’s worth; still, all in all, The Greatest Showman looks like a perplexing missed opportunity.

Downsizing (2017) 47%

Overcrowding and the global struggle for safe and secure natural resources are very real problems — and ones that could definitely benefit from being explored in a wide release directed by one of the film industry’s more acclaimed writer-directors, working with a terrific cast of talented Hollywood veterans. Oscar winner Alexander Payne gives it his best shot with this weekend’s Downsizing, starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as a harried married couple who opt to take advantage of newly developed shrinking technology and start life over in a miniature community. It’s a setup that could lead in all sorts of fascinating potential directions, and critics say that’s part of the problem — with no shortage of thought-provoking themes to tackle, the movie fails to fully develop any of them, and starts promisingly, only to frustratingly fizzle out. It’s rare that we get a mainstream feature this ambitiously original, and the end result is far from a failure; still, those who seek it out at theaters may want to downsize their expectations.

Darkest Hour (2017) 84%

Dozens of actors have played British politician Winston Churchill, and the pivotal moments he presided over during World War II have been dramatized countless times — so if you want to depict any of the above on the big screen, you really need to set yourself apart. At this point, it would probably be unreasonable for anyone to expect — or want — an actor or filmmaker to reinvent the beloved Prime Minister; for a Churchill picture to succeed, it simply needs to offer a version of the man and his times that offers verisimilitude as well as emotional impact. Critics say director Joe Wright does just that with Darkest Hour, and he pulls it off largely thanks to an incredible performance from a barely recognizable performance from Gary Oldman in the central role. Working under heavy prosthetics, the acclaimed veteran delivers some of the finest work of his career — and reviews describe a smartly crafted, hard-hitting drama that looks like an immediate awards season favorite.

The Shape of Water (2017) 92%

Guillermo del Toro has a feverish imagination and a singular eye for alluringly disturbing detail — qualities that have been his biggest blessing as well as a frustrating curse during his filmmaking career. After rattling off a string of early classics, he’s sometimes struggled to keep his footing in the Hollywood system, with some projects (like the late, lamented At the Mountains of Madness) dying in development, while others (Crimson Peak) didn’t quite meet critical or commercial expectations. Still, when he’s on his game, there’s nothing like a del Toro movie — and with The Shape of Water, critics say he’s most definitely on his game. Set in Baltimore during the early ’60s, it combines all the dark, beautifully realized fantasy his fans have come to expect with a poignant romance brought powerfully to life by Sally Hawkins (as the night shift janitor at a research facility) and Doug Jones (as the mysterious amphibian creature held captive there). Reviews describe a film that follows an admittedly familiar narrative arc, yet still packs a mighty visual and emotional wallop; whether you’re in the mood for a love story, a creature feature, or just feeling overdue for a new and thoroughly satisfying del Toro experience, it looks like The Shape of Water is perfectly pleasing.

Father Figures (2017) 17%

There’s no movie fun quite like the fun of a well-matched comedy team, and the stars of this weekend’s Father Figures definitely know how to get laughs by working with other people: Ed Helms stole more than a few scenes as part of The Office‘s talented ensemble, and Owen Wilson was half of the duo that brought you Wedding Crashers, for Pete’s sake. Team ’em up for a road trip comedy about a couple of brothers out to determine the identity of their dad — and add in an eclectic supporting cast that includes Glenn Close, J.K. Simmons, and Christopher Walken — and you’d seem to have yourself the makings of a yukfest for the ages. We only have a handful of reviews in, so it’s still early, but at the moment, it looks like critics have found Father Figures to be less than the sum of its parts; reviews describe a comedy bereft of energy or purpose, with a handful of funny moments (and a memorable Katt Williams cameo) that aren’t enough to make up for and overall lack of laughs. If you’re in the mood to see any of these stars do their thing this weekend, seeking out some of their better earlier work would seem to be your safest bet.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Crooked House (2017) , an adaptation of the 1949 Agatha Christie mystery, is at 89 percent.
  • The Post (2018) , Steven Spielberg‘s star-studded look at the days leading up to the release of the Pentagon Papers, is Certified Fresh at 84 percent.
  • Happy End (2017) , writer-director Michael Haneke‘s latest look at the miserable underbelly of human nature, is at 68 percent.
  • Hostiles (2018) , starring Christian Bale as a U.S. Army vet tasked with bringing a dying Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) back to his tribal lands, is at 64 percent.
  • Bright (2017) , starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton as two very mismatched cops in a world populated by humans, orcs, elves, and fairies, is at 27 percent.
  • Hangman (2017) , starring Al Pacino as a detective on the trail of a serial killer, is at zero percent.

Tag Cloud

Creative Arts Emmys TCA Winter 2020 unscripted dogs ViacomCBS RT21 Disney Channel OWN reviews Music name the review blockbuster children's TV VOD Stephen King Super Bowl game show all-time Infographic YA blaxploitation Ellie Kemper Quiz revenge MCU kaiju spinoff Masterpiece TV One Drama james bond crossover 2017 die hard comiccon Superheroe Peacock cancelled chucky 4/20 Marvel Television sequel dark indie Photos classics Starz cults hollywood Amazon Studios Pop HBO robots Calendar justice league 72 Emmy Awards italian cinemax spy thriller SDCC VICE Opinion universal monsters Western BAFTA elevated horror TIFF festival Warner Bros. Anna Paquin Bravo french Sci-Fi Logo war Heroines Shudder zero dark thirty prank TLC HBO Go Reality Competition 71st Emmy Awards Film Festival slashers deadpool sports DC Universe Interview kong DC streaming service politics stop motion AMC Song of Ice and Fire video on demand A24 20th Century Fox Sneak Peek zombies stand-up comedy Watching Series Marvel Studios screenings theme song Fox News news 93rd Oscars game of thrones films Best and Worst independent dramedy Vudu Pop TV jurassic park Chilling Adventures of Sabrina The CW FX on Hulu talk show reboot vampires period drama Comics on TV 2015 teaser Travel Channel Black History Month Food Network what to watch Disney+ Disney Plus superman El Rey space streaming singing competition Winners See It Skip It ESPN spanish Endgame Trophy Talk disaster boxing GIFs 2018 Red Carpet black Trivia Fox Searchlight satire Britbox archives E3 romance fast and furious technology social media MSNBC rt archives rotten movies we love Biopics Box Office king kong spain nfl Lifetime Christmas movies Country San Diego Comic-Con NYCC documentary Emmys Television Critics Association Netflix rom-coms ID CMT Kids & Family Crunchyroll Comedy sag awards The Walt Disney Company Polls and Games docudrama Countdown Freeform transformers psycho australia comic books Tumblr Teen MTV TBS ABC Signature latino E! Sundance cancelled TV shows Paramount Plus diversity psychological thriller women true crime Television Academy Mary Tyler Moore franchise comics blockbusters anthology natural history Year in Review miniseries PlayStation Apple 2019 mutant Fantasy strong female leads VH1 cats japanese popular cancelled television crime adventure Mary poppins christmas movies Pet Sematary thriller television canceled TV shows serial killer FXX police drama Emmy Nominations FX Holiday 24 frames spanish language Academy Awards Sony Pictures Rock President Podcast Paramount Cosplay movie nature Hear Us Out green book CBS casting concert YouTube Premium cooking parents Video Games Avengers indiana jones Cannes Discovery Channel Lifetime series History documentaries venice criterion ratings Rocketman SXSW Epix Broadway joker stoner FOX 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Set visit Valentine's Day based on movie Certified Fresh werewolf Pixar Premiere Dates Lucasfilm golden globes jamie lee curtis book Hulu Sundance TV video Extras halloween Horror versus Winter TV USA PBS breaking bad The Academy aliens LGBT football ABC Family Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt golden globe awards DirecTV 007 Turner ABC richard e. Grant Nickelodeon batman trailers Crackle BET Awards fresh The Walking Dead dceu Rocky Nat Geo Captain marvel 99% GLAAD New York Comic Con Reality Hallmark Christmas movies X-Men 2021 TruTV toronto science fiction IFC Films WGN superhero travel Funimation Legendary Awards Tour TV Land First Reviews mockumentary Amazon Prime Video Arrowverse witnail BBC One docuseries free movies Disney streaming service remakes GoT romantic comedy Superheroes child's play Summer Toys crime drama Mudbound BET Nominations Musicals LGBTQ facebook kids 2020 TCM WarnerMedia boxoffice CW Seed HBO Max Sundance Now twilight Trailer Tubi Walt Disney Pictures BBC America Chernobyl Star Wars Apple TV Plus ITV Classic Film TCA 2017 Fall TV Marathons Black Mirror comic cops Animation renewed TV shows Comedy Central Musical heist movie comedies hist APB Disney screen actors guild best Amazon Prime Comic Book Marvel Tomatazos cartoon Columbia Pictures CNN Spectrum Originals Spike 2016 RT History directors saw The Arrangement festivals halloween tv worst supernatural zombie Grammys rotten IFC adaptation Pride Month pirates of the caribbean critics Apple TV+ Exclusive Video Thanksgiving canceled scary movies YouTube Family Amazon Christmas Tarantino TNT award winner Women's History Month Binge Guide Rom-Com asian-american Schedule toy story discovery Brie Larson Ghostbusters worst movies Hallmark 45 Disney Plus anime USA Network NBC Holidays sequels Shondaland Spring TV First Look obituary YouTube Red Character Guide Esquire nbcuniversal American Society of Cinematographers doctor who A&E Mary Poppins Returns binge medical drama Oscars hispanic mission: impossible historical drama Awards National Geographic Paramount Network TCA Awards finale Action cancelled TV series DC Comics SundanceTV harry potter crime thriller The Witch Universal hidden camera scorecard The Purge Election Mindy Kaling Alien dc godzilla Showtime Acorn TV telelvision DGA Ovation TCA composers Lionsgate tv talk Turner Classic Movies animated laika Star Trek CBS All Access Writers Guild of America new star wars movies BBC Dark Horse Comics emmy awards movies foreign Syfy Netflix Christmas movies Elton John Baby Yoda OneApp razzies quibi PaleyFest biography high school south america cars 21st Century Fox dragons Cartoon Network TV a nightmare on elm street sitcom ghosts political drama Film TV renewals monster movies book adaptation Adult Swim Pirates spider-man Martial Arts Mystery