Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Orphan Is Mixed Bag

Plus, The Ugly Truth ain't pretty, and G-Force doesn't accomplish its mission.

by | July 23, 2009 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got an evil adoptee (Orphan, starring Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard), a battle of the sexes (The Ugly Truth, starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler), and some powerful guinea pigs (G-Force, with voice work by Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz). What do the critics have to say?



It’s been a while since we’ve had a little-kid-is-pure-evil horror flick. And the pundits say that Orphan, while derivative and overly dependent on false scares, is better-crafted and smarter than average. Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard star as Kate and John, a couple that adopts a little girl named Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman). She’s oddly precocious, but soon, sinister events make Kate question who she is and where she came from. The pundits say The Orphan too often relies on jolts rather than tension, and features too many characters who are blind to the terror around them. But others say it’s a well-made, moody throwback that features fine performances and a forboding sense of doom. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down cinema’s most evil children.)


The Ugly Truth

News flash: Women are looking for deep, meaningful relationships, while men are cretinous pigs. That’s the premise of The Ugly Truth, which critics say is labored, clichéd, and overly raunchy. Katherine Heigl stars as a TV morning show producer who’s frustrated both professionally and romantically; when her station hires a sexist loudmouth (Gerard Butler) to dish out relationship pointers, she’s appalled at first, but soon finds herself following his advice. The pundits say The Ugly Truth seldom deviates from the romantic comedy playbook, offering forced comic setups and stereotypical characters.



G-Force is the tale of four super-intelligent special agents who have been tasked with saving the world. Oh, and they happen to be guinea pigs. It’s an inspired setup, but critics say G-Force is merely content to assault the senses, not create memorable characters or an involving plot. The film follows our tiny heroes, who are part of a secret government program that trains animals in the art of espionage; this fearsome foursome must save the planet from an evil industrialist bent on global domination. The pundits say G-Force is mostly uninspired, relying on obvious pop-culture references, spastic action, and so-so CGI effects.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • California Company Town, a documentary about communities in the Golden State that have become abandoned once their primary economic focus dried up, is at 100 percent.

  • In the Loop, an Iraq war farce about a miscommunication that leads to attack by U.S. and British forces, is at 93 percent.
  • The English Surgeon, a documentary about a London neurosurgeon who treats patients in Ukraine with little access to modern healthcare, is at 90 percent.

  • Import/Export, a drama about two European victims of the economic downturn, is at 80 percent.

  • The Answer Man, starring Jeff Daniels and Lauren Graham in a romantic comedy about a self-help author who is himself searching for truth, is at 36 percent.

  • Shrink, starring Kevin Spacey as a Hollywood psychiatrist who’s as troubled as his patients, is at 15 percent.

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