Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Interview Earns Mixed Reviews

Plus, Unbroken Is Well-Meaning But Conventional, The Gambler is a so-so bet; Into the Woods hits most of the right notes, and Big Eyes is a sharp black comedy.

by | December 24, 2014 | Comments

Merry Christmas! This week at the movies, we’ve got unlikely CIA operatives (The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco), a resilient war hero (Unbroken, starring Jack O’Connell and Domhnall Gleeson), an indebted English professor (The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman), fractured fairy tale characters (Into the Woods, starring Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick), and a subjugated artist (Big Eyes, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz). What do the critics have to say?


The Interview

51%

Look, we know you’ve probably heard all about how The Interview sparked an international incident. Now that it’s popping up online and in a few theaters, it’s fair to ask: is it any good? Well, critics say The Interview is pretty funny in spots, but its tone is more sophomoric than politically astute. Dave Skylark (James Franco), the host of a trashy talk show, and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) land the biggest interview of their careers: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). But before they journey to Pyongyang, the CIA recruits them to assassinate the Dear Leader. The pundits say The Interview works better as a bromance than as a political farce, and while the cast (especially Park) gives its all, the movie ultimately falls short as a satire of international relations and the media.



Unbroken

51%

The life of Louis “Louie” Zamperini seems tailor-made for a big-budget biopic. Unfortunately, not every great story makes for a great movie, and critics say that’s sadly the case for director Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken, a well-meaning, occasionally stirring epic that suffers from conventional storytelling and a lack of tension. Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was a track star who served in World War II, where he survived a plane crash by clinging to a raft for more than a month before being captured by Japanese troops and held in a prisoner of war camp for more than two years. He’s undoubtedly heroic, but Unbroken frequently feels too similar to other inspirational war films.



The Gambler

44%

Plenty of contemporary films borrow from the gritty imagery and moral ambiguity of mid-1970s thrillers, so a remake of The Gambler sounds like a solid bet. However, critics say that this slick, well-acted film never fully lures the audience into its protagonist’s plight. Mark Wahlberg stars as Jim Bennett, a self-destructive English professor whose gambling habit could cost him his fortune — and that of his family. Bennett turns to a loan shark for help, but he continues to sink into a hole, with potentially dire consequences. The pundits say The Gambler is slick and reasonably tense, but it lacks the existential moodiness of the classic crime flicks that inspired it.



Into the Woods

71%

The time seems right for a big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a meta-musical that deconstructed fairy tales long before Frozen or Once Upon a Time. Critics say Rob Marshall mostly does right by the play, maintaining its dark spirit and bringing an imaginative touch to the sets and costumes (though it’s still a little on the long side). A mashup of Cinderella, Jack And The Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel, Into the Woods finds all your favorite childhood characters converging and intersecting in a story about a baker and his wife who try to lift a curse that’s been placed on them by a malevolent witch. The pundits say Into the Woods is sometimes uneven, but it’s well-staged and features fine performances from a star-studded cast. (Watch our video interviews with stars Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Christine Baranski, and Tracey Ullman.)



Big Eyes

72%

Once in a while, director Tim Burton departs his beguilingly wacky fantasyland for the real world; Ed Wood, a biopic of the notoriously incompetent filmmaker, is one of his most beloved films. With Big Eyes, Burton takes on another strange-but-true story, and while critics say it’s thoughtful, visually striking, and well-acted, its overall tone is sometimes hard to define. Amy Adams stars as Margaret Keane, a painter whose images of children with oversized eyes were big sellers in the 1960s. There was just one problem: While Margaret painted, her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) took the credit and reaped the rewards, keeping his wife a virtual prisoner. The pundits say Big Eyes shows that Burton’s taste for black comedy is still strong, even if he never fully gets to the heart of his characters here.

What’s Hot on TV:


The pundits say The Missing (Certified Fresh at 96 percent) turns a routine premise into a standout thriller, thanks to heartfelt, affecting performances.


The critics say that a talented ensemble raises Benched (67 percent) above its trite writing, resulting in a nicely diverting half-hour of comedy.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

rt archives dceu ESPN superman blockbusters festivals Lionsgate 2015 MSNBC TIFF Universal Funimation Anna Paquin Mindy Kaling Valentine's Day spanish chucky 007 Showtime Apple Calendar kaiju french 21st Century Fox Extras doctor who DC streaming service Disney transformers olympics animated legend NBC Amazon Prime YouTube Red Tarantino First Reviews DGA Box Office justice league cats boxing crime thriller TNT Cannes Women's History Month Oscars Film Festival cooking prank documentary vampires Walt Disney Pictures spider-verse concert political drama Television Critics Association godzilla facebook Action TCA Winter 2020 nfl rotten Amazon Studios spy thriller supernatural TV One teaser slashers razzies Comic-Con@Home 2021 Bravo Interview rt labs critics edition black comedy YouTube Premium Superheroes Spectrum Originals rom-coms Winter TV video Music latino james bond new star wars movies period drama young adult Grammys Rocky Discovery Channel Creative Arts Emmys Song of Ice and Fire Mary Tyler Moore know your critic ViacomCBS First Look The Arrangement Brie Larson Paramount Network sequel composers Pet Sematary comic book movies psychological thriller scary movies comiccon Apple TV Plus 2017 Polls and Games LGBTQ aapi Tokyo Olympics Western Toys Captain marvel mission: impossible Travel Channel franchise 20th Century Fox gangster comic documentaries vs. The Purge italian hollywood Sony Pictures laika kong Comedy Rocketman biography WarnerMedia nature Binge Guide cartoon Amazon Prime Video Heroines Tubi Marvel Studios Starz worst movies indie news fast and furious BET DC Comics rt labs adenture fresh Baby Yoda romance venice aliens slasher dogs Awards tv talk LGBT award winner obituary royal family dc king arthur Fantasy TV Tags: Comedy The Academy 2018 feel good revenge Musicals cancelled television The Walt Disney Company nbcuniversal foreign Ovation Disney+ Disney Plus Superheroe 93rd Oscars 24 frames cancelled TV series DC Universe Pride Month 45 PlayStation Lifetime posters a nightmare on elm street History Neflix toy story Nominations movie Rock high school Hallmark Ghostbusters all-time name the review 99% richard e. Grant Awards Tour adaptation game of thrones game show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina mockumentary medical drama FOX crime drama Image Comics Hear Us Out classics Chernobyl OneApp binge Holidays based on movie New York Comic Con NYCC Sundance Now ABC Family Mary Poppins Returns TCA emmy awards book deadpool kids police drama Winners Peacock Kids & Family A24 king kong VOD Netflix Christmas movies anthology comics live event series Year in Review 73rd Emmy Awards casting Turner Classic Movies strong female leads popular travel Arrowverse Family Trophy Talk Paramount 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards talk show comedies Pacific Islander spinoff mob japanese black boxoffice Trailer 2019 CBS All Access movies critic resources cults ratings Marvel Horror RT21 PBS Podcast superhero stand-up comedy El Rey zombies what to watch Syfy space renewed TV shows women hispanic Pixar international criterion video on demand Fox News south america debate RT History Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sag awards Spring TV films VH1 1990s Infographic politics Sneak Peek dexter TV renewals Premiere Dates Television Academy satire marvel cinematic universe TruTV toronto Fall TV mutant monster movies psycho Martial Arts Sundance Animation 72 Emmy Awards PaleyFest harry potter blaxploitation Trivia reviews DirecTV Wes Anderson Crunchyroll football Cartoon Network BBC America comic book movie 90s cancelled trophy Nat Geo spanish language Freeform archives Certified Fresh witnail Star Trek Alien halloween tv Ellie Kemper Disney Channel finale Shudder CMT hispanic heritage month directors Hulu zombie elevated horror cinemax Classic Film blockbuster The CW Amazon new zealand The Walking Dead streaming Black Mirror Nickelodeon Hallmark Christmas movies festival golden globe awards BET Awards cancelled TV shows Mary poppins GoT ID worst Schedule serial killer Columbia Pictures TLC sequels japan scorecard screen actors guild Exclusive Video diversity spider-man Instagram Live Shondaland Musical Disney streaming service live action Comic Book quibi Comedy Central action-comedy new york E! social media dramedy anime docudrama asian-american Food Network adventure twilight heist movie FX Comics on TV natural history Elton John leaderboard SDCC The Witch Watching Series 2016 USA biopic Crackle San Diego Comic-Con zero dark thirty TV movies sports HBO Max Best and Worst breaking bad Stephen King HBO australia Tumblr Logo Super Bowl scene in color Cosplay golden globes Photos E3 Pirates Spike National Geographic discovery Emmys YouTube ABC television rotten movies we love dreamworks 4/20 TCM Universal Pictures hist Tomatazos cops Britbox YA halloween Paramount Plus book adaptation Masterpiece Turner Legendary AMC werewolf canceled TV shows IMDb TV 2020 SXSW Endgame AMC Plus stoner 79th Golden Globes Awards VICE disaster theme song crime Character Guide HFPA Netflix Adult Swim Video Games Mudbound Prime Video parents Lucasfilm CW Seed green book Sundance TV target Election true crime Teen universal monsters child's play Thanksgiving BBC romantic comedy remakes lord of the rings Epix independent CNN IFC Films Holiday WGN 71st Emmy Awards Film Reality Competition NBA TCA 2017 IFC Drama Warner Bros. stop motion reboot Summer jamie lee curtis batman saw Marvel Television Marathons ghosts Countdown versus Esquire critics scary President robots Broadway cars technology trailers best suspense children's TV art house Country sitcom TCA Awards Fargo marvel comics Pop TV Land pirates of the caribbean singing competition genre Christmas mcc GIFs basketball X-Men historical drama Red Carpet MTV dark wonder woman spain USA Network canceled Reality ABC Signature Star Wars sopranos Academy Awards CBS Rom-Com See It Skip It BAFTA Acorn TV Avengers joker Writers Guild of America die hard Mystery 2021 OWN FX on Hulu telelvision dragons MCU Apple TV+ A&E Dark Horse Comics Set visit docuseries free movies thriller Opinion hidden camera Vudu unscripted BBC One screenings GLAAD Sci-Fi SundanceTV ITV HBO Go Pop TV Disney Plus crossover Biopics Quiz American Society of Cinematographers miniseries jurassic park Emmy Nominations christmas movies Black History Month Fox Searchlight war APB science fiction Lifetime Christmas movies comic books TBS FXX streaming movies indiana jones Hollywood Foreign Press Association