This week at the movies, we’ve got heroic miners (The 33, starring Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche), yuletide revelers (Love the Coopers, starring Olivia Wilde and Diane Keaton), and a gridiron underdog (My All American, starring Aaron Eckhart and Sarah Bolger). What do the critics have to say?
The story of the brave Chilean miners who were rescued after being trapped more than 2,000 feet underground is the kind of real-life inspirational tale that practically begs for a big-screen adaptation. Unfortunately, critics say The 33 shoehorns its inherently dramatic tale into a formulaic disaster movie template. If you watched the news in 2010, you know the basic outline: a cave-in traps a group of mine workers for nearly two months, and the film follows events both below and above ground, as the miners’ families and supporters try to stay strong while a rescue team goes to work. The pundits say the cast of The 33 does well with its limited characters, but the film is ultimately too predictable and surface-level to fully resonate.
The holidays can turn even the staunchest Scrooge into a gooey sentimentalist, so there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with a film that follows an age-old seasonal recipe. Too bad, then, that critics say that despite its all-star guest list, Love the Coopers is louder — and less funny — than a bad Christmas sweater. Diane Keaton stars as the matriarch of the Cooper clan, the members of which are all on shaky ground in their personal lives as they gather for presumed seasonal merriment. Will everyone hit some sort of low point before banding together in celebration? The pundits say Love the Coopers might jerk a tear or two, but mostly, it’s alternately too gloomy and too contrived to achieve any kind of festive goodwill.
With so many inspirational sports films in the world, it takes something truly special to rise above the competition. Unfortunately, critics say My All American, the directorial debut of Rudy and Hoosiers scribe Angelo Pizzo, fails to distinguish itself from the pack, even if it’s earnest and well-acted. Based on the true story of college football player Freddie Steinmark, the film stars Aaron Eckhart as University of Texas coach Darrell Royal, who spots talent in the undersized Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) and offers him a full scholarship. Upbeat and dedicated, Steinmark leads the 1969 Longhorns through a legendary season even as he is struck with tragic news. The pundits say My All American is uplifting and heartfelt with strong performances from its cast, but it’s predictable and far from subtle, and viewers with an aversion to schmaltz should steer clear.
Into the Badlands is loaded with off-kilter potential that’s left largely unfulfilled — although its well-choreographed action sequences should satisfy martial arts fans.
Often unfunny and occasionally creepy, Donny! draws unfavorable comparisons to any number of superior improvisational comedies.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release