Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: "Vice," "Ant Bully" Are OK; "Tucker," "Scoop" Lack Laughs; "Little Miss" Shines

by | July 27, 2006 | Comments

This week at the movies, Crockett and Tubbs are back on the beat ("Miami Vice," starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx); an ant bully gets cut down to size ("The Ant Bully"); John Tucker must die ("John Tucker Must Die"); Woody Allen’s got a hot new scoop ("Scoop"); and a Sundance crowd-pleaser ("Little Miss Sunshine") hits theaters. What do the critics have to say?

"High concept" was a buzzword for Hollywood in the 1980s, and virtually nothing embodied that idea more than "Miami Vice," which creator Michael Mann has described as "MTV Cops." Crockett and Tubbs became synonymous for a certain type of glamorous, slightly campy crime fighting that was nonetheless thoroughly engaging. Twenty years later, the film version takes a much darker approach; Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx are deep undercover in a gritty film that’s more like Mann’s "Heat" than "Starsky and Hutch." Maybe that’s the problem; while critics say "Miami Vice" looks terrific and features some outstanding action scenes, they also note that the film is a bit too self-serious and much too long. It currently stands at 55 percent on the Tomatometer, and it’s Mann’s worst-reviewed film since 1983’s "The Keep" (Heard of it? Yeah, me neither).

"Perhaps you’d understand it better/ Standin’ in my shoes/ It’s the ultimate enticement/ It’s the smuggler’s blues."

How’s this for a dream cast? Nicolas Cage, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Paul Giamatti, and Bruce Campbell star in "The Ant Bully," the latest CGI spectacle for the kids. "The Ant Bully" tells the story of a 10-year-old boy who takes out his frustrations on anthills, but subsequently finds himself shrunk down to ant-size, where adventures ensue and he learns a thing about life. The critics say the film is visually remarkable, but lacks originality and a strong narrative. It currently stands at 48 percent on the Tomatometer.

"Run for your lives!"

Missing the mark by a long shot is the romantic vengeance comedy, "John Tucker Must Die," a teen sex laffer about a three-timing lothario ("Desperate Housewives" junk Jesse Metcalfe) and the trio of girlfriends (a cheerleader, a hippie, and a brainiac) out to get him. Critics say that a few too many sight gags and clunky jabs at pop culture savvy make "Tucker" unwatchable for anyone over the age of thirteen; even then, they say it’s one of the better teen flicks to come around of late. Take from that what you will. At 25 percent on the Tomatometer, "Tucker" is far too aptly titled.

"John Tucker Must Die": A movie in dire need of conflict resolution.

News flash! Rumors of Woody Allen‘s career resurgence may have been greatly exaggerated. The scribes say his latest, "Scoop," is more than a little disappointing in the wake of last year’s Certified Fresh "Match Point." Like that one, "Scoop" is set in London, stars Scarlett Johansson, and there’s a murder at the center of the plot. But "Scoop" is a comedy, and an unsuccessful one at that; critics say it relies way too much on hackneyed schtick. At 39 percent on the Tomatometer, "Scoop" is looking like yesterday’s news. And it’s one of the worst-reviewed films of Allen’s great career.

"Little Miss Sunshine": The weakest street gang ever.

"Little Miss Sunshine" was a big hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and now that it’s hitting the theaters, the scribes are just as enthusiastic as the folks in Park City. This tale of a dysfunctional family hitting the road for a child pageant is Certified Fresh, and features sharp performances from its ensemble cast, particularly Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell. At 94 percent, this one’s a ray of "Sunshine." And it’s the third-best reviewed film of the year with 40 reviews or more. (Check out RT’s interview with co-directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton here.)

Also out this week in limited release: The idiosyncratic doc "I Like Killing Flies" is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; "Brothers of the Head," to our knowledge the only mockumentary about a pair of Siamese twins who are lead singers of a fictitious 1970s punk band, is at 87 percent; the French thriller "13 (Tzameti)," about a Georgian immigrant in France, is at 87 percent; "The Photographer, His Wife, Her Lover," a documentary about the last days of celebrated photographer O. Winston Link, is at 80 percent; "Darshan – The Embrace," a doc about one of India’s most famous spiritual guides, is at 44 percent; "Another Gay Movie," an "American Pie"-style comedy, is at 33 percent; and the muckraking Libertarian documentary "America: Freedom to Fascism" is at zero percent.

The Best Reviewed Films Of 2006 With 40 Or More Reviews:
1. Kekexili (98%)
2. Wordplay (95%)
3. Little Miss Sunshine (94%)
4. Fateless (94%)
5. Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (93%)

Recent TV- To- Film Adaptations:
49% — Strangers with Candy (2006)
10% — Aeon Flux (2005)
80% — Serenity (2005)
15% — The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
25% — Bewitched (2005)

Recent CG Animated Films
70% — Monster House (2006)
76% — Cars (2006)
75% — Over the Hedge (2006)
58% — Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
19% — The Wild (2006)

Worst Reviewed Woody Allen Films (As Star Or Director)
29% — Scenes from a Mall (1991)
32% — Casino Royale (1967)
38% — Don’t Drink the Water (1994)
38% — Celebrity (1998)
40% — King Lear (1987)

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