Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: Game Plan Fumbles, Kingdom is Overthrown, Feast Is Semi-Appetizing, Elah Worth a Visit

What the critics are saying about this week's crop of movies.

by | September 27, 2007 | Comments

This week at the movies we have parenting quarterbacks (The
Game Plan
, starring
The Rock),
FBI agents (The
Kingdom
, starring
Jamie Foxx and
Jennifer
Garner
), lonely citizens (Feast
of Love
, starring
Greg Kinnear
and Radha
Mitchell
), and one angry father (In
the Valley of Elah
, starring
Tommy Lee
Jones
and
Charlize Theron
).  What speaketh the critics?

After generating middling box office returns for films like
Doom,
Walking Tall
,
and The Rundown,
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson takes a career readjustment into comedy.  In
The Game Plan
,
Johnson plays a high-flying quarterback whose bachelor lifestyle is interrupted
when he’s suddenly confronted with a 7-year-old daughter he never knew he had
from a prior relationship. While some critics are impressed with The Rock’s
charismatic performance, most are exasperated by the movie’s excessively
saccharine tone and formulaic plot that’s stretched to a nearly two hour
runtime. With 33 percent on the Tomatometer, critics are sending The Game
Plan
back to the drawing board. (Check out our Total Recall Game Plan
feature
here
.)
 




The Rock practices Vulcan mind-melding.


From documentaries like
No End in Sight

and Fahrenheit 9/11
to narrative pieces like
The Situation

and Rendition,
no conflict has gotten as immediate a cinematic response as the one we’re
currently embroiled in.  The latest movie to join the fray:
The Kingdom
,
starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner about FBI operatives trying to locate
terrorists in the Middle East.  While The Kingdom wants to do good by
exploring the topic of international politics and subterfuge, critics claim that
the drama is manipulative and the film quickly descends into war genre
trappings, treating enemies as generic moving targets.  The Kingdom fails
to accomplish its mission at 46 percent on the Tomatometer.
 




“And
here’s what would happen if Saudi Arabia doesn’t get enough Nintendo Wiis."


With
Everything
is Illuminated
a few years behind us and
Watchmen
coming up,
the idea of some novels being too complex to be adapted suddenly seems passé. 
Feast of Love,
based on a novel by

Charles Baxter
about a community of people looking for emotional
connections, could also have been deemed too sprawling and multi-faceted to
adapt convincingly.  So while they haven’t found any weak links in the fine
ensemble cast, critics call Feast of Love a hodgepodge of sentimentality
that’s ambitious but fails to go in-depth with its characters. And the film’s
congenial manner, coupled with its total lack of cynicism on love and human
relationships, makes for a pleasant time at the movies, if not a riveting one.
At 56 percent, Feast of Love is for those willing to gorge on romance at
the multiplex.



“Would you believe I have some advice on this matter?”


Ever since being catapulted to the limelight with his
much-discussed Best Picture Oscar win for the racial melodrama
Crash
,
Paul Haggis
has been a divisive figure in the film community.  And his latest directorial
effort,
In the Valley of Elah
, doesn’t look to buck the trend. Elah stars
Tommy Lee
Jones
as a gravel transporter trying to uncover the mystery the death of his
son, a Marine recently returned from Iraq. Critics say that while some of
Haggis’s themes and symbolic images are heavy-handed, In the Valley of Elah
is an otherwise engrossing murder mystery and profound antiwar statement,
featuring a mesmerizing performance from Jones. With 69 percent on the
Tomatometer, Elah showcases some peak performances. (Check out our review

here
.)




“Okay,
in this scene, you’re outraged about something. Really outraged. Go with it."


Also opening in limited release:
The Price of
Sugar
, a documentary about the Dominican Republic’s corrupt sugar
production, is at 86 percent;
Outsourced
, a
comedy about an office drone teaching his replacement in India, is at 85
percent; Lust,
Caution
,
Ang Lee
‘s controversial erotic thriller, is at 79 percent (check out our
review

here
);
The Darjeeling Limited
,
Wes Anderson‘s
new comedy/drama about three soul-searching brothers, is at 65 percent;
The Man of My Life
,
a French import about the sexual politics between three neighbors, is at 53
percent; Trade,
a high-minded thriller about the sex trade and human trafficking, is at 20
percent.




"Ooo, a MacGuffin."

And, finally, it’s game over for last week’s round of Guess the Tomatometer. m_ioannidis hit it on the nose on guessing Resident Evil: Extinction‘s 26 percent Tomatometer.

Recent Jamie Foxx Movies:
——————————————
47% — Miami Vice (2006)
78% — Dreamgirls
(2006)
13% — Stealth (2005)
61% — Jarhead (2005)
71% — Shade (2004)

Wes Anderson Movies:
——————————————
56% — The
Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
(2004)
79% — The Royal
Tenenbaums

(2001)
86% — Rushmore (1998)
77% — Bottle Rocket (1996)

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