Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Dark Shadows Doesn't Scare Up Enough Laughs

Plus, I Wish is graceful and touching, and God Bless America is a wild black comedy.

by | May 10, 2012 | Comments

This week at the movies, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp reteam to spoof the 1970s horror soap opera Dark Shadows, with help from Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, and Chloë Grace Moretz. What do the critics have to say?

Dark Shadows


Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have made plenty of witty, macabre pictures together. Unfortunately, critics say their latest, Dark Shadows, lacks their particular brand of black magic — despite moments of oddball inventiveness, the film suffers from jarring tonal shifts that prevent the story from resonating. Based on the 1970s soap opera, Dark Shadows stars Depp as Barnabas, a wealthy 18th century playboy who becomes a vampire after breaking a witch’s heart. After a long slumber, Barnabas awakes to find himself in the 1970s — and in the center of the squabbling family that now occupies his old mansion. The pundits say Dark Shadows looks fantastic, and Depp is enjoyable as always, but the movie never finds a consistent rhythm, mixing campy jokes and gothic spookiness with considerably less success than earlier Burton/Depp collaborations. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Depp’s best-reviewed movies.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Portrait of Wally, a documentary about the legal battle over a painting by the great Egon Schiele, is at 100 percent.

  • Sleepless Night, a French thriller about a dirty cop involved in a botched heist, is at 100 percent.

  • Under African Skies, a doc about a reunion between Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo for the 25th anniversary of their Graceland collaboration, is at 100 percent.

  • You Are Here, a sci-fi drama about a woman who collects documents and recordings of a secret parallel world, is at 100 percent.

  • The Chilean import Bonsái, a dramedy about a struggling writer looking for inspiration for his autobiographical novel, is at 93 percent.

  • Patience (After Sebald), a cinematic essay on the work of writer W.G. Sebald, is at 93 percent.

  • Nobody Else But You, an offbeat mystery about the investigation into the death of a Marilyn Monroe lookalike, is at 88 percent.

  • Hirokazu Koreeda‘s I Wish, aa drama about a boy who hopes for a miracle to reunite his divorced parents, is at 87 percent.

  • A Bag of Hammers, starring Jason Ritter and Rebecca Hall in a dramedy about a pair of con men who reconsider their ways when they mentor a 12-year-old boy, is at 67 percent.

  • The Road, a horror movie about the discovery of terrifying secrets in the search for missing teens, is at 67 percent.

  • God Bless America, a black comedy about a terminally ill man who reacts violently to what he sees as the stupidity of contemporary culture, is at 62 percent (check out director Bobcat Goldthwait’s Five Favorite Films here).

  • Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, a dramedy about a pregnant woman who makes an impulsive road trip to visit her estranged mother, is at 50 percent.

  • Where Do We Go Now?, a comedy about a Lebanese town divided along religious and gender lines, is at 47 percent.

  • Transit, starring Jim Caviezel in a thriller about a family on the run from ruthless killers after stumbling upon a stash of money, is at 43 percent.

  • Girl In Progress, starring Eva Mendes and Matthew Modine in a dramedy about a teenager who attempts to stake out a life independent from her preoccupied mother, is at 35 percent.

  • Tonight You’re Mine, a romantic comedy about two young rockers who are accidentally handcuffed to each other, is at 33 percent.

  • The Cup, starring Brendan Gleeson in a drama about a jockey overcoming adversity with the help of a veteran horse trainer, is at 29 percent.

  • Hick, starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Blake Lively in a drama about a pair of young hitchhikers who run into trouble on the open road, is at zero percent.

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