This week at the movies, we’ve got a hairy situation (Tangled, with voice work from Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi); cabaret dreams (Burlesque, starring Christina Aguilera and Cher); a revenge rampage (Faster starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton); and amour pharma (Love and Other Drugs, starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal). What do the critics have to say?
Disney has always had a knack for taking classic fairy tales and making them fresh. And while the critics say Tangled, a reimagining of Rapunzel, may not have the depth of the studio’s animated classics, it’s a visually stunning, emotionally resonant piece of family entertainment. The charming rogue Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi) takes refuge in a tower, where he’s held against his will by Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), a spunky gal who’s looking to escape her isolated existence. The pundits say Tangled blends old-school storytelling with state-of-the-art animation, and the result is a film that’s funny, romantic, and exciting.
It’s no sin for a movie musical to have a predictable plot, and Burlesque‘s tale of a small-town girl trying to make it in the big city is as old as the hills. However, critics say the movie doesn’t quite go over-the-top enough to make it all worthwhile. Christina Aguilera stars as Ali, whose showbiz ambitions take her to the Burlesque Lounge. After a few stumbles, she’s taken under the tutelage of the club’s proprietor (Cher). Will she achieve her dreams? The pundits say X-Tina and Cher acquit themselves well, and the musical numbers have their moments, but ultimately Burlesque lacks the grit and plotting of such showbiz classics as Cabaret.
After a detour into family-friendly territory, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson veers back into action with the revenge thriller Faster. Unfortunately, critics say this is only a decent genre picture, one with some solid thrills that succumbs to skin-deep characters and some pacing issues. Johnson stars as a fresh-out-the-joint ex-con on a mission to avenge the death of his brother, who was murdered during the job that sent him to prison. However, a veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton) is on his trail, and it turns out there’s more to Johnson’s plot than there appears. The pundits say Faster is more ambitious than your average action flick, but ultimately the characters don’t resound as they should, and the plot twists are a bit too pat.
It’s a terrific premise for a romantic comedy: can a philandering pharmaceutical rep pitching a male enhancement pill actually find love? Too bad, then, that critics say Love and Other Drugs is something of a misfire, with attractive, charismatic leads but an inconsistent comic tone. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a swingin’ Viagra pitchman who finds himself under the spell of a free-spirited woman (Anne Hathaway); romance and raciness ensue. The problem, pundits say, is that Love and Other Drugs squanders its stars on a script that can’t decide if it wants to be heartfelt or raunchy, and the result is a movie that has its moments but can’t totally cohere.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Undertow, a ghost story about a Peruvian fisherman’s forbidden love, is at 85 percent.
Nutcracker in 3D, a star-studded, darkly political take on Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic, is at zero percent.