Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Zack and Miri Makes For Laughs

Plus, Changeling is too stiff, but RocknRolla hits some strong notes. And guess Haunting's Tomatometer!

by | October 30, 2008 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got adult film amateurs (Kevin Smith‘s
Zack
and Miri Make a Porno
, starring
Seth Rogen and
Elizabeth Banks); a missing
persons mystery (Clint Eastwood‘s
Changeling
, starring
Angelina Jolie and
John Malkovich); gangster gunplay (RockNRolla, starring Gerard Butler and
Thandie Newton); and an unhappy birthday (The Haunting of Molly Hartley,
starring Haley Bennett). What do the critics have to say?

Kevin Smith was purveying a blend of sweetness and vulgarity years before
Judd Apatow. So how does his latest, Smith’s
Zack
and Miri Make a Porno
,
stack up at a time when it seems every other comedy in theaters is a blend of
naughty and nice? Critics say it’s reasonably successful, mostly because of the
warmth and good humor of stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. They play the
titular heroines, platonic housemates who fall on rough financial times and
decide to go into the blue movie game; gross-out laughs and romance bloom. The
pundits say the edge may have worn off Smith’s patented style, and much of the
film is pretty juvenile. But it’s got a strong cast, and that helps redeem some
rough patches. At 63 percent, Zack and Miri Make a Porno is reasonably
potent.


At least these production values beat your typical Uwe Boll
movie.

As a director, Clint Eastwood has helmed a number of impeccably crafted,
emotionally resonant films. However, critics say
Changeling
is stylishly
made, but largely bloodless. Angelina Jolie stars as woman whose son goes
missing for several months; when the authorities finally return him, she
protests that they’ve got the wrong boy. Critics say Changeling does
an excellent job of replicating 1920s Los Angeles, but the pacing’s a bit too
stately and the story suffers from excursions into melodrama. Changeling
currently stands at 52 percent on the Tomatometer. (Check out
this week’s Total
Recall
, in which we count down Eastwood’s best-reviewed directorial efforts.)


Rotary phone around the neck: the bling of the Great
Depression?

Guy Ritchie is not a filmmaker of broad thematic range, but his twisty,
hard-boiled crime yarns are also not all created equal. With
RockNRolla
,
the critics say he’s back on solid footing after last year’s critically-reviled
Revolver. Gerard Butler stars as a crook in on a convoluted scheme to rob
a crime boss (Tom Wilkinson); gunplay, pyrotechnics, triple-crossings ensue. The
pundits say RocknRolla isn’t exactly a paragon of subtlety, but it’s
fast-paced, funny, and breathlessly exciting, even if it’s way over the top. At
61 percent on the Tomatometer, RocknRolla riffs nicely.


“Hey, RT reader. You eat apples. I act in Entourage.”

The Haunting of Molly Hartley won’t be able to cast its spell on critics since it wasn’t screened
prior to release. Haley Bennett stars as a girl who has some trepidation about
turning 18, and who can blame her? She won’t be able to vote in this election,
since the Devil is planning on reclaiming her soul. Kids, take a break from
carving pumpkins and guess that Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Dear Zachary: A Letter
    to a Son About His Father
    , a wrenching documentary about a man’s search for
    the details of the life of a murdered friend, is at 100 percent.

  • The British import Eden Lake, which tells the tale of a couple on a
    romantic getaway gone horribly wrong, is at 81 percent.

  • The Matador, a documentary about one participant in Spain’s national
    sport, is at 71 percent.

  • Splinter, a horror
    film about a couple that gets carjacked on a camping trip by a pair on the run
    from the law and runs afoul of a parasitic monster, is at 71 percent.

  • Amos Gitai’s One Day You’ll Understand, starring European film legend
    Jeanne Moreau as a woman searching for the truth about her family’s relationship
    with the Nazis, is at 56 percent.


“I knew we should’ve taken our vacation at Wolf Creek.”

Finally, props the indiefilmfan2 and TheGreatOne13 for coming the
closest to guessing Saw V‘s 14 percent Tomatometer.

Recent Kevin Smith Movies:

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