Dee Cercone/Everett Collection

(Photo by Dee Cercone/Everett Collection)

All Mark Wahlberg Movies Ranked

During the early ’90s, while he was flashing his abs and modeling underwear as Marky Mark, few could have suspected that beneath Mark Wahlberg’s b-boy cap lurked the soul of a thespian. Now, that’s no longer the case — with dozens of roles and a pair of Academy Award nominations to his credit, Wahlberg has compiled an impressive filmography since making his big-screen debut in Danny DeVito’s 1994 comedy Renaissance Man. Since then, he’s branched out quite a bit, showing a flair for drama (Boogie Nights), comedy (Ted), and blockbuster action (Shooter, the Transformers franchise) along the way. It’s never a bad time to look back on Mr. Wahlberg’s career — and with that in mind, we’ve rounded up all of his major roles, sorting the bunch by Tomatometer. Where do your favorites rank? Read on to find out.

#43

Max Payne (2008)
15%

#43
Adjusted Score: 20098%
Critics Consensus: While it boasts some stylish action, Max Payne suffers severely from an illogical plot and overdirection.
Synopsis: After the murders of his family and his partner, maverick cop Max (Mark Wahlberg) becomes hell-bent on revenge. Teamed with... [More]
Directed By: John Moore

#42
Adjusted Score: 34021%
Critics Consensus: Cacophonous, thinly plotted, and boasting state-of-the-art special effects, The Last Knight is pretty much what you'd expect from the fifth installment of the Transformers franchise.
Synopsis: Humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving the future lies buried... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay

#41

Renaissance Man (1994)
12%

#41
Adjusted Score: 12980%
Critics Consensus: Renaissance Man tries to simultaneously be a literary comedy, an inspirational drama, and a star vehicle that caters to Danny DeVito's strengths, but proves to be a master of none.
Synopsis: After getting canned from his advertising job, down-and-out divorcé Bill Rago (Danny DeVito) gets a gig teaching English at a... [More]
Directed By: Penny Marshall

#40

The Happening (2008)
18%

#40
Adjusted Score: 24339%
Critics Consensus: The Happening begins with promise, but unfortunately descends into an incoherent and unconvincing trifle.
Synopsis: An apocalyptic threat to humanity arrives out of the clear blue sky with a series of violent, inexplicable deaths spreading... [More]
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan

#39
Adjusted Score: 25962%
Critics Consensus: With the fourth installment in Michael Bay's blockbuster Transformers franchise, nothing is in disguise: Fans of loud, effects-driven action will find satisfaction, and all others need not apply.
Synopsis: After an epic battle, a great city lies in ruins, but the Earth itself is saved. As humanity begins to... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay

#38

Mile 22 (2018)
23%

#38
Adjusted Score: 33336%
Critics Consensus: Mile 22 lets the bullets fly -- and not much else -- in a thrill-deficient action thriller whose title proves sadly fitting for a film that feels close to a marathon endurance test.
Synopsis: CIA operative James Silva leads a small but lethal paramilitary team on an urgent and dangerous mission. They must transport... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#37

Daddy's Home 2 (2017)
21%

#37
Adjusted Score: 29137%
Critics Consensus: A formulaic comedy that's unlikely to spread much yuletide merriment, Daddy's Home 2 can only muster a few stray yuks from its talented cast.
Synopsis: Father and stepfather Dusty and Brad join forces to make Christmastime perfect for the children. Their newfound partnership soon gets... [More]
Directed By: Sean Anders

#36

Broken City (2013)
28%

#36
Adjusted Score: 33851%
Critics Consensus: Broken City's thinly sketched, formulaic script offers meager rewards for all but the least demanding noir aficionados.
Synopsis: Former cop Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) sees a chance at redemption for past sins when New York City's Mayor Nicolas... [More]
Directed By: Allen Hughes

#35

Mojave (2015)
31%

#35
Adjusted Score: 33722%
Critics Consensus: Mojave has no shortage of talent on either side of the camera; unfortunately, it amounts to little more than a frustrating missed opportunity.
Synopsis: A down-and-out artist (Garrett Hedlund) has a dangerous and shocking encounter with an evil drifter (Oscar Isaac) in the desert,... [More]
Directed By: William Monahan

#34

Daddy's Home (2015)
30%

#34
Adjusted Score: 34512%
Critics Consensus: Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg have proven comedic chemistry, but Daddy's Home suffers from a dearth of genuinely funny ideas - and lacks enough guts or imagination to explore the satirical possibilities of its premise.
Synopsis: Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) is a kindhearted radio executive who wants to be the best possible stepfather to his wife's... [More]
Directed By: Sean Anders

#33

The Lovely Bones (2009)
32%

#33
Adjusted Score: 41238%
Critics Consensus: It's stuffed full of Peter Jackson's typically dazzling imagery, but The Lovely Bones suffers from abrupt shifts between horrific violence and cloying sentimentality.
Synopsis: After being brutally murdered, 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) watches from heaven over her grief-stricken family (Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz)... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 37081%
Critics Consensus: Newton has star quality, but this exercise in style can't hold a candle to the original.
Synopsis: Regina (Thandie Newton) meets charming Joshua (Mark Wahlberg) while vacationing in Martinique, as she contemplates ending her whirlwind marriage to... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#31

Fear (1996)
46%

#31
Adjusted Score: 46649%
Critics Consensus: Fear has an appealing young cast, but their efforts aren't enough to consistently distract from an increasingly overblown - and illogical - teen stalker story.
Synopsis: When 16-year-old Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) meets 23-year-old David McCall (Mark Wahlberg) at a Seattle nightclub, she falls in love.... [More]
Directed By: James Foley

#30

The Big Hit (1998)
43%

#30
Adjusted Score: 43587%
Critics Consensus: The Big Hit seeks to blend the best of Hong Kong and American action cinema, but ends up offering a muddled mush that mostly misses.
Synopsis: Affable hit man Melvin Smiley (Mark Wahlberg) is constantly being scammed by his cutthroat colleagues in the life-ending business. So,... [More]
Directed By: Che-Kirk Wong

#29

The Gambler (2014)
44%

#29
Adjusted Score: 48455%
Critics Consensus: Well-paced and reasonably entertaining in its own right, The Gambler still suffers from comparisons to the James Caan classic that inspired it.
Synopsis: Literature professor Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) leads a secret life as a high-stakes gambler. Always a risk-taker, Bennett bets it... [More]
Directed By: Rupert Wyatt

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 50178%
Critics Consensus: This remake of Planet of the Apes can't compare to the original in some critics' mind, but the striking visuals and B-movie charms may win you over.
Synopsis: Director Tim Burton ("Batman") reinvents one of the most acclaimed and beloved works of science fiction, Pierre Boulle's classic novel... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 46694%
Critics Consensus: In spite of its young leading man's heroic efforts to hold it all together, a muddled message prevents The Basketball Diaries from compelling as a cautionary tale.
Synopsis: Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio) is consumed by his life as a high school basketball star. Pressured by a wicked coach... [More]
Directed By: Scott Kalvert

#26

Ted 2 (2015)
44%

#26
Adjusted Score: 52367%
Critics Consensus: Ted 2 reunites Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane for another round of sophomoric, scatological humor -- and just as before, your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for all of the above.
Synopsis: Life has changed drastically for thunder buddies John (Mark Wahlberg), now a bachelor, and best pal Ted (Seth MacFarlane), now... [More]
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 50982%
Critics Consensus: While the special effects are well done and quite impressive, this film suffers from any actual drama or characterization. The end result is a film that offers nifty eye-candy and nothing else.
Synopsis: Based on a true story, the film tells of the courageous men and women who risk their lives every working... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen

#24

Shooter (2007)
47%

#24
Adjusted Score: 53178%
Critics Consensus: With an implausible story and numerous plot holes, Shooter fails to distinguish itself from other mindless action-thrillers.
Synopsis: A top Marine sniper, Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), leaves the military after a mission goes horribly awry and disappears... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#23

The Corruptor (1999)
48%

#23
Adjusted Score: 48470%
Critics Consensus: This uninspiring cop thriller doesn't measure up to Chow Yun-Fat's Hong Kong work.
Synopsis: Martial arts expert Detective Nick Chen (Chow Yun-Fat) teams up with his colleague Danny Wallace (Mark Wahlberg) to keep several... [More]
Directed By: James Foley

#22

Pain & Gain (2013)
50%

#22
Adjusted Score: 58134%
Critics Consensus: It may be his most thought-provoking film to date, but Michael Bay's Pain & Gain ultimately loses its satirical edge in a stylized flurry of violent spectacle.
Synopsis: Danny Lupo (Mark Wahlberg), manager of the Sun Gym in 1990s Miami, decides that there is only one way to... [More]
Directed By: Michael Bay

#21

Contraband (2012)
51%

#21
Adjusted Score: 56765%
Critics Consensus: It's more entertaining than your average January action thriller, but that isn't enough to excuse Contraband's lack of originality and unnecessarily convoluted plot.
Synopsis: Ex-smuggler Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) gave up his criminal ways long ago. But, he's forced back into the game after... [More]
Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur

#20

Rock Star (2001)
53%

#20
Adjusted Score: 56787%
Critics Consensus: Like its title, Rock Star is rather generic, being not so much about the heavy metal scene than about rock cliches and formula.
Synopsis: A comedy set in the world of '80s rock 'n' roll, "Rock Star" is the story of an office supplies... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Herek

#19

Four Brothers (2005)
52%

#19
Adjusted Score: 56987%
Critics Consensus: Despite striking a believable rapport among its principal actors, Four Brothers overwhelms with ultra-violent, vigilante-glorifying action and devolves into too many fractured, insubstantial thematic directions.
Synopsis: When an inner-city Detroit foster mother (Fionnula Flanagan) is murdered in a botched holdup, four of her now-grown adopted children... [More]
Directed By: John Singleton

#18

We Own the Night (2007)
57%

#18
Adjusted Score: 63369%
Critics Consensus: Bland characters, clichéd dialogue and rickety plotting ensure We Own The Night never lives up to its potential.
Synopsis: In 1988, New York's police wage an all-out war on drugs, and guilty and innocent alike become casualties. Bobby Green... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 70061%
Critics Consensus: I Heart Huckabees certainly isn't for everyone, but audiences attuned to its quirky wavelength will find a singularly brainy screwball comedy that refuses to pander.
Synopsis: Environmentalist Albert (Jason Schwartzman) enlists the services of "existential detectives" Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) and Vivian (Lily Tomlin) to solve the... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#16

The Yards (2000)
64%

#16
Adjusted Score: 67342%
Critics Consensus: Featuring strong performances and direction, The Yards is a richly textured crime thriller with an authentic feel.
Synopsis: After serving time in prison for taking the fall for a group of his friends, Leo just wants to get... [More]
Directed By: James Gray

#15

2 Guns (2013)
65%

#15
Adjusted Score: 71508%
Critics Consensus: Formulaic and often jarringly violent, 2 Guns rests its old-school appeal on the interplay between its charismatic, well-matched stars.
Synopsis: For the past year, DEA agent Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and U.S. Navy intelligence officer Marcus Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) have... [More]
Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur

#14

Date Night (2010)
66%

#14
Adjusted Score: 74848%
Critics Consensus: An uneasy blend of action and comedy, Date Night doesn't quite live up to the talents of its two leads, but Steve Carell and Tina Fey still manage to shine through most of the movie's flaws.
Synopsis: Dragged down by the daily grind, suburbanites Phil (Steve Carell) and Claire (Tina Fey) try to invigorate their marriage by... [More]
Directed By: Shawn Levy

#13

Ted (2012)
69%

#13
Adjusted Score: 77414%
Critics Consensus: Ted's "romance versus bromance" plot is familiar, but the film's held aloft by the high-concept central premise and a very funny (albeit inconsistent) script.
Synopsis: When John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) was a little boy, he made a wish that Ted (Seth MacFarlane), his beloved teddy... [More]
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane

#12

Invincible (2006)
72%

#12
Adjusted Score: 77478%
Critics Consensus: As simple and authentic as the gritty South Philly invirons in which it's set in, Invincible sends a uplifting and heartfelt message packed with an athletic enthusiasm that shouldn't be missed.
Synopsis: Lifelong football fan Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg) sees his wildest dreams come true when he becomes a member of the... [More]
Directed By: Ericson Core

#11

The Italian Job (2003)
73%

#11
Adjusted Score: 78186%
Critics Consensus: Despite some iffy plot elements, The Italian Job succeeds in delivering an entertaining modern take on the original 1969 heist film, thanks to a charismatic cast.
Synopsis: After a heist in Venice, Steve (Edward Norton) turns on his partners in crime, killing safecracker John Bridger (Donald Sutherland)... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#10

Lone Survivor (2013)
75%

#10
Adjusted Score: 83667%
Critics Consensus: A true account of military courage and survival, Lone Survivor wields enough visceral power to mitigate its heavy-handed jingoism.
Synopsis: In 2005 Afghanistan, Navy SEALs Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matthew "Axe"... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#9
Adjusted Score: 98336%
Critics Consensus: All the Money in the World offers an absorbing portrayal of a true story, brought compellingly to life by a powerful performance from Christopher Plummer.
Synopsis: In 1973, kidnappers demand $17 million from billionaire J. Paul Getty in exchange for his grandson's release. Getty refuses to... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#8

The Other Guys (2010)
79%

#8
Adjusted Score: 85926%
Critics Consensus: A clever parody of cop-buddy action-comedies, The Other Guys delivers several impressive action set pieces and lots of big laughs, thanks to the assured comic chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: Unlike their heroic counterparts on the force, desk-bound NYPD detectives Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) garner no headlines... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#7

Traveller (1997)
79%

#7
Adjusted Score: 79094%
Critics Consensus: Though it may not explore its core issues as deeply as some may like, Traveller is nevertheless a smart and funny portrait of a relatively unfamiliar subculture with some strong performances.
Synopsis: A con man (Bill Paxton) teaches a novice (Mark Wahlberg) the rules for membership in an Irish-American grifters gang.... [More]
Directed By: Jack N. Green

#6

Patriots Day (2016)
81%

#6
Adjusted Score: 97608%
Critics Consensus: Patriots Day offers a stirring, solidly crafted tribute to the heroes of a real-life American tragedy without straying into exploitative action thriller territory.
Synopsis: Tragedy strikes on April 15, 2013, when two bombs explode during the Boston Marathon. In the aftermath of the attack,... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 98691%
Critics Consensus: Deepwater Horizon makes effective use of its titular man-made disaster to deliver an uncommonly serious -- yet still suitably gripping -- action thriller.
Synopsis: On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, igniting a massive fireball that... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#4

The Fighter (2010)
91%

#4
Adjusted Score: 99782%
Critics Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
Synopsis: For Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), boxing is a family affair. His tough-as-nails mother is his manager. His half-brother, Dicky (Christian... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#3

The Departed (2006)
90%

#3
Adjusted Score: 102528%
Critics Consensus: Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality we come to expect from Martin Scorsese.
Synopsis: South Boston cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes under cover to infiltrate the organization of gangland chief Frank Costello (Jack... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#2

Boogie Nights (1997)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 97458%
Critics Consensus: Grounded in strong characters, bold themes, and subtle storytelling, Boogie Nights is a groundbreaking film both for director P.T. Anderson and star Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: In the San Fernando Valley in 1977, teenage busboy Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) gets discovered by porn director Jack Horner... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#1

Three Kings (1999)
94%

#1
Adjusted Score: 98635%
Critics Consensus: Three Kings successfully blends elements of action, drama, and comedy into a thoughtful, exciting movie on the Gulf War.
Synopsis: Just after the end of the Gulf War, four American soldiers decide to steal a cache of Saddam Hussein's hidden... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

It’s taken them awhile to get here, with plenty of twists, turns, fits, and starts along the way. But this weekend, the DCEU finally brings its first Justice League team-up to theaters — and in honor of this momentous occasion, we’ve dedicated this feature to a look at some of the less well-known critical favorites from this star-studded ensemble’s assembled filmography. Unfortunately, not all League members have enough Fresh films to their credit to merit inclusion — get you next time, Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher — but even with those omissions, we think you’ll find the results suitably super. It’s time for Total Recall!


Gal GadotDate Night (2010) 66%

(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

Ms. Gadot hasn’t made a ton of movies — before being handed the keys to Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, she was best known for playing a recurring supporting character in the Fast and Furious movies — so it’s a bit of a stretch to argue that her filmography has much in the way of “hidden gems.” But fans looking for a peek of the future Amazonian in her pre-stardom days can catch her brief appearance in Date Night, the 2010 Steve Carell/Tina Fey comedy about a workaday married couple whose plans for a night on the town go hilariously (and dangerously) awry. Popping up as the new girlfriend of the couple’s pal Brad (Mark Wahlberg), Gadot gets one of the movie’s more memorable (albeit cheapest) laughs with the heavily accented line, “You two make sex with us?”


Ben Affleck – Changing Lanes (2002) 77%

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

It’s a little difficult to argue for anything truly being “hidden” in Ben Affleck’s filmography at this point, but if you’re looking for an acclaimed film that audiences failed to turn up for, you could  do worse than 2002’s Changing Lanes, a tension-filled drama about the war of attrition that erupts after a car accident involving a beleaguered insurance salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) and a lawyer (Affleck). Examining uncommonly thorny themes of race and privilege, wrapped up in good old-fashioned high-octane Hollywood thrills, Lanes wasn’t quite the box office smash it seemed poised to become, but in the fallow period that followed, it offered a reminder of Affleck’s gifts — and looking back, it also served as a prelude to some of the more thoughtful stuff he’d deliver in years to come.


Henry CavillI Capture the Castle (2003) 79%

(Photo by Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Cavill was a surprise choice when Warner Bros. picked him as the new face of the Superman franchise, but there’s no denying he looks the part — and as evidenced by his supporting role in this acclaimed adaptation of the 1948 Dodie Smith novel I Capture the Castle, that’s been the case long before he donned the cape and tights. As the good-hearted Stephen Colley, Cavill doesn’t have a ton to do other than moon over lead character Cassandra Mortmain (Romola Garai), but as an early look at his screen career, it’s interesting — and solid filmmaking besides, especially if your tastes run to period romance.


Amy AdamsJunebug (2005) 86%

(Photo by Sony Pictures Classics)

By 2005, Amy Adams had scored roles in a number of mainstream productions, including Serving Sara and The Wedding Date — but it wasn’t until she starred in a tiny $1 million indie film that people really understood what she could do. As the pregnant chatterbox Ashley Johnsten, Adams took what was technically a supporting part and walked away with Junebug, earning an Academy Award nomination in the process — and jumpstarting a career that she was close to walking away from prior to finally enjoying her breakout success.

Ezra MillerThe Stanford Prison Experiment (2015) 84%

(Photo by IFC Films / courtesy Everett Collection)

Miller’s only been making movies for a decade, but he’s already put together a résumé full of under-the-radar winners, including We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. If we have to pick just one hidden gem, however, we’re going with 2015’s Stanford Prison Experiment, in which Miller joined Billy Crudup and Michael Angalono as the leads in a harrowing dramatization of the titular psychology experiment, in which students were divided into “prisoners” and “guards” in an effort to see how quickly and thoroughly their social mores would break down. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t pretty.) He’s clearly got the chops for big-budget fantasy and adventure, but if the roles in tights ever dry up, he’s clearly got nothing to worry about.


Amber HeardFriday Night Lights (2004) 82%

(Photo by Universal)

Before it was an acclaimed cult favorite on the TV dial, Friday Night Lights was a Buzz Bissinger non-fiction book about life on the Texas high school gridiron — and then it was a Peter Berg drama starring Billy Bob Thornton as a football coach with the weight of a small town’s hopes and dreams on his program’s shoulders. In hindsight, it seems awfully easy to say Lights was always destined to play out more powerfully on the small screen, but the film stands up pretty well on its own — and if you’re looking for an early glimpse of the DCEU’s future Mera, this version boasts the added bonus of having Amber Heard, making her film debut in a supporting role as Maria.


Jeremy IronsMargin Call (2011) 87%

(Photo by Walter Thomson/Roadside Attractions courtesy Everett Collection)

Margin Call, writer/director J.C. Chandor’s dramatized take on the financial crisis of 2007-08, managed to turn banking shenanigans into legitimately pulse-pounding drama. Mortgage securities and toxic assets might sound like awfully dry stuff for a movie, but in Chandor’s hands — and brought to life by a cast that included Irons as well as Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci — it proved not just strikingly timely, but powerfully resonant. Plus, as discerning film fans are well aware, if your movie’s cast of characters includes an unscrupulous CEO and you cast Jeremy Irons in the role, you’ve already won half the battle.


Diane LaneTrumbo (2015) 75%

(Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Bleecker Street Media courtesy Everett Collection)

A rare leading film role for Bryan Cranston, 2015’s Trumbo found the veteran character actor (and Breaking Bad star) playing the legendary screenwriter during and after his politically motivated fall from professional grace. Although certainly a star vehicle for its leading man, Trumbo wasn’t all about the writer’s professional travails; the story also focused on the impact of the scandal — and Trumbo’s reaction to it — on his relationship with his family, including his wife Cleo (Lane). Over the last several decades, Lane has more than proven her depth and range; with a gripping fact-based story and solid support from her co-star, Trumbo offered a compelling reminder.


Connie NielsenBrothers (2004) 89%

Subsequently remade for American audiences as a Jim Sheridan drama starring Natalie Portman as a woman torn between Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, the 2004 Danish thriller Brødre didn’t make much of an impact in U.S. theaters during its arthouse run. It marked a turning point in Connie Nielsen’s career, however, earning her the equivalent of a Danish Best Actress Oscar and proving the accolades she’d earned for her appearance in Gladiator were far from a fluke. While she’s continued to work steadily in the years since, Brødre remains a consistently thrilling example of what she’s capable of when she’s asked to carry a movie — not to mention a sobering reminder that even if it looks like your spouse has been killed in battle, you may not want to take up with their sibling.


J.K. SimmonsThe Ref (1994) 72%

(Photo by Buena Vista)

Everyone’s favorite gruff uncle, J.K. Simmons honed his craft for years in a series of “that guy” roles before landing the part of J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. He’s since become a dependable member of the Coen brothers’ stable of actors — and, of course, won a Best Supporting Oscar for his unforgettable performance in Whiplash — but all that really just scratches the surface of Simmons’ film career. In fact, for this feature, we’re going all the way back to his big-screen debut in 1994’s The Ref. His screen time, spent as a military commander being blackmailed by an unscrupulous student, only takes up a few minutes of one subplot in Denis Leary’s first film showcase, but it’s good for some laughs — and it proves the Simmons we love today has always been just as capable of commanding the camera.

Ciarán HindsMiss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) 78%

(Photo by Focus Features courtesy Everett Collection)

This 2008 rom-com from director Bharat Nalluri (working from a David Magee/Simon Beaufoy screenplay adapted from Winifred Watson’s 1938 novel) follows the gently scandalous misadventures of a dowdy London governess (Frances McDormand) who copes with her sudden unemployment by stealing a former co-worker’s assignment to manage the social affairs of an American starlet (Justice League co-star Amy Adams). Every period romance needs a dashing gentleman, and Miss Pettigrew filled its quotient with Hinds’ Joe Blomfield, a lingerie designer who falls for our heroine after their paths cross at a high society fashion show.

This week, RT on DVD & Blu-ray is back with Denzel Washington stalking the post-apocalyptic wastes in The Hughes Brothers’ The Book of Eli, plus comedic mishaps with Tina Fey and Steve Carell in Date Night. We’ve also got one of the year’s best in acclaimed French gangster drama A Prophet, the return of Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jenuet, Australia’s World War I drama Beneath Hill 60, and Sandra Bullock in the Oscar-winning football flick, The Blind Side.



[tomatometer]MovieId=770804147[/tomatometer]

The Book of Eli

The Hughes Brothers Albert and Allen made a memorable impact with their 1993 favourite Menace II Society, but have had mixed fortunes since. It’s been almost a decade since their adaptation of Alan Moore’s From Hell (which starred Johnny Depp), and their return to action yielded this post-apocalyptic thriller, with Denzel Washington as a lone prophet charged with delivering a holy book across a futuristic wasteland. Reviews and box office were mixed (the film bowed in the notorious January dumping ground in the US), but Eli is not without its supporters. Washington is always reliable, and his supporting cast includes Mila Kunis (soon to be seen in Aronofsky’s Black Swan) and none other than Tom Waits — a man suited to the dusty gray deserts of the film, indeed. Two-disc and Blu-ray editions come with extras, including several deleted scenes.



[tomatometer]MovieId=770808107[/tomatometer]

Date Night

Faring a little better critically — and a reasonable box-office hit earlier this year — Date Night brings together the comedic talents of 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey and every-other-mainstream-comedy’s Steve Carell. The two play a bored married couple who fall into a web of mistaken identity on an evening out in Manhattan, whereby they’re alternately pursued by cops, mobsters and Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy’s broad gunning for laughs — some of which do ensue, as does a swarthy cameo by Mark Wahlberg. While the film finds neither actor at the top of their (considerable) games, it’s a pleasant enough entertainment sure to pass a night in; date or otherwise. The Extended Edition (and Blu-ray) offers extra footage, and deleted scenes.



[tomatometer]MovieId=770808780[/tomatometer]

A Prophet

Many films are flippantly likened to “a modern Godfather“; Jacques Audiard’s fearsome drama A Prophet is the rare film that arguably invites such accolades. Set largely in the French prison system, the film follows a young Arab man (Tahar Rahim) sentenced to six years, during which time he becomes at first a lackey for crime bosses and then, through instinct and cunning, a powerful underworld figure himself. Brutal and frequently unflinching in its portrayal of violence — get your ice-cream scoops at the ready for some crunchy eyeball action — A Prophet‘s robust direction and performances go a way toward making it a new classic of the crime genre — just look at that glowing critics consensus.



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Micmacs

If quirkiness is your thing — and we mean really your thing — then you may want to seek out Micmacs, the latest offering from Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The French fantasist has been away from the scene since 2004’s A Very Long Engagement, and this return is in keeping with his signature style: lots of exaggerated camera angles and expressions, that particular off-colour hue, and a surfeit of whimsical character traits. In fact, this story of a video store clerk (Danny Boon) who joins a circus troupe to take on some dastardly weapons makers almost plays like Jeunet’s greatest hits, touching on everything from Amelie to the director’s 1992 breakthrough, Delicatessen. Visually, it should be an interesting Blu-ray.



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Beneath Hill 60

Also this week we have Beneath Hill 60, Australian filmmaker Jeremy Sims’ account of Allied miners charged with tunneling under German lines at the Somme in World War I. Going up against some heady expectations — Peter Weir’s Gallipoli foremost among them — Sims’ movie managed to delight the majority of local critics, with many impressed by the visual scope of the modest production (it was filmed in Northern Queensland). Sims, whose previous feature Last Train to Freo became something of a cult item, again illustrates his talent for working with actors in tense, tight-knit scenarios, while extending his cinematic palate to embrace the widescreen action of the genre. It’ll be interesting to see how the movie fares critically if it gets an overseas release; but for now it stands as one of the best-reviewed local pictures of 2010.



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The Blind Side

And finally, here’s the film that won Sandra Bullock that Best Actress Oscar earlier this year — alongside her Worst Actress Razzie for All About Steve, but we digress. The Blind Side leaves few cliches unused in its tale of a homeless young man who becomes a star football player, thanks to the help of a caring woman. Despite its TV-movie nature, however, many critics were sufficiently entertained by the film, and Bullock’s turn in particular, proving that as America’s Sweethearts go, this lady appears to be well and truly back in the nation’s affections.

Welcome to another slow week for Home Video. There are a lot of direct-to-video releases, special interest videos, and random television collections available, but very little in the way of noteworthy movies. With that said, we’ve done our best to sift through what’s out there and bring some stuff we think you might be interested in. From screwball comedies to little-seen indies, from historical documentaries to martial arts classics, we’ve got a handful of picks that should appeal to a lot of people, so dig in and check out what’s new this week!



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Date Night

Steve Carell and Tina Fey built their resumes on television, but both have made relatively seamless transitions onto the big screen as of late. And when you consider the fact that both of them are known for bringing some of the best comedy to TV in recent memory, it’s not surprising that a film starring the two as a humdrum married couple innocently thrust into a seedy world of crime would generate big expectations. Luckily, critics felt that the film was pretty decent over all, awarding it a 68% on the Tomatometer and citing Carell and Fey as the glue that held the movie together. Of course, throwing in a few notable cameos from the likes of Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, and Mila Kunis doesn’t hurt either. Though some felt the film couldn’t quite decide if it wanted to be an action flick or a comedy, and it doesn’t quite utilize the talents of its leads to the fullest, it should still be an enjoyable screwball romp for anyone looking to settle down with a bowl of popcorn.



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Death at a Funeral (2010)

The 2007 British ensemble comedy Death at a Funeral, directed by Frank Oz, garnered relatively positive reviews, and though its plot was unabashedly farfetched, it succeeded in overcoming its faults with a healthy dose of silliness. In 2010, Neil LaBute (Nurse Betty, Lakeview Terrace) decided to remake the film for American audiences and recast the family with a string of top notch African American talent, including Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock, Keith David, Loretta Devine, Danny Glover, Tracy Morgan, and Zoe Saldana, among others. The result was, unfortunately, a poor reflection of the original, and despite an impressive lineup and a surprisingly faithful adaptation, the remake somehow lost something in translation and failed to hit its marks; currently, it sits at 38% on the Tomatometer. Still, if a wacky comedy is what you’re looking for, and you just can’t be bothered with the British accents of the original, you might find yourself picking this up at the video store this week.



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The Joneses

If you’re planning to lampoon consumer culture, it’s a good idea to make it sexy -— this way the people game for the critique are watching something pretty, and the people who don’t know it’s a critique get to check out the new Marc Jacobs and Balenciaga. Covert lifestyle advertising is really the name of the game (we all know what viral marketing is… in that way we know what “spies” are). So it’s a good thing that The Joneses, directorial debut of ex-adman Derrick Borte, makes all the high end consumer goods flaunted by stealthy lifestyle marketeers Kate (Demi Moore, Ghost, G.I. Jane) and Steve (David Duchovny, TV’s X-Files, Californication) look so uniquely appealing. Kate and Steve live with their two kids in an upscale housing community where their bag is to enforce, by way of slight social pressure, more expensive commodity seeking in their neighbors. Steve tells his golf-mate the solution to his ailing marriage is jewelry! (Well… there is some truth in advertising.) The neighbors follow suit without a clue that the Joneses aren’t actually a family. How this makes their Prada glasses any less attractive is anyone’s guess, but no one likes to be duped. DVD extras include videos of Steve’s job interview and a clip of his life after leaving “The Joneses.”



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In the Shadow of the Moon Blu-Ray

It never hurts to be reminded every once in a while how small and insignificant we are in the scope of the entire universe, but it typically takes something like 2007’s In the Shadow of the Moon to do the trick. For the thought-provoking documentary, British directors David Sington and Christopher Riley pieced together footage from the various US space missions during the 1960s and 70s, even going so far as to dive into material that hadn’t been accessed for over 30 years. Then they inserted some modern-era commentary from some of the era’s surviving astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin. But what’s possibly most impressive about the film is the lasting imagery from space. Nothing else quite inspires the same kind of awe we experience when we gaze at images of the Earth, as seen from a spacecraft, and with that in mind, we are treated this week to a Blu-Ray version of the movie for the first time. Critics have deemed the film Certified Fresh at 94%, so you’re guaranteed to experience more than just pretty pictures; they’re utilized in perfect harmony with the historical accounts offered, and the attention to detail is spectacular. Special features include a Ron Howard intro and bonus interviews and stories.



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Louie Bluie and Crumb – Criterion Collection

Director Terry Zwigoff only surfaces every now and then to make a film, and when he does, it’s usually a good thing. This week, Criterion celebrates the man’s work with new releases of his first two films, both documentaries and one of which went on to amass a huge cult following. The first is 1985’s Louie Bluie, Zwigoff’s first film about obscure African American blues musician Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong. Armstrong himself is an entertaining character, and the film would be the first indication of Zwigoff’s penchant for shedding light on those subjects on the fringes of pop culture. The second film Criterion highlights this week is arguably the film that put Zwigoff on the map, so to speak: 1995’s Crumb. Crumb profiles the underground comic artist Robert Crumb and his family. Again, Zwigoff chose a topic foreign to mainstream America and focused on a subject who was, in and of himself, a fascinating person to see on screen. The film won widespread accolades, claiming the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and earning a 95% on the Tomatometer. Both films come with a great selection of extras, like commentary tracks, tons of unused footage, stills galleries (Howard Armstrong was also an artist), and accompanying booklets with essays. In addition, Crumb is also being treated to a Blu-Ray release, so if you’ve made the switch to hi-def, then this could be a great pickup.


The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk and Tai Chi Master – Blu-Ray

Those of you who are martial arts nuts will have a couple of new Blu-Ray releases to look forward to. This week, Dragon Dynasty releases two of Jet Li’s classic kung fu flicks in high definition, and if you’ve followed Li’s career since before he made the leap to Hollywood, you know that these are two of his most fun. The first is 1993’s Fong Sai Yuk, the first of a franchise starring Li in which he portrays the titular Chinese folk hero. The story is part romance, part political thriller, but the real draw, as with many of Li’s films, is the action choreography, directed by Cory Yuen; this is what a blockbuster looks like overseas. Similarly, another of Li’s 1993 films, Tai Chi Master, also featured sharply directed action by Yuen Woo Ping (who choreographed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Matrix films) and a co-starring role for Michelle Yeoh (Supercop). Though the Blu-Ray transfers aren’t the crispest you’ll find, this probably has more to do with the source film stock than the actual transfers themselves, so these might just be the best quality versions available now. If only for the quality of the two films themselves, these are worth a pickup for martial arts aficionados.



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National Lampoon’s Vacation and European Vacation – Blu-Ray

1983’s Vacation doesn’t have the mainstay-attraction that the holiday staple Christmas Vacation, does, but as the comedy that kicked off the franchise, it’s the strongest of the pack. Chevy Chase is perfect as the go-getter/goofball, Clark W. Griswold, who’s so determined to have a great summer vacation with the family, he naively drives them (literally) through hell and high water to get to (of all places) Walley World, where a giant, anthropomorphic moose is meant to dissolve their stresses and re-empower the family unit. Why he chooses to drive from Chicago (this is a John Hughes script, after all) to California for the amusement park, is beyond anyone, but his hopes are high and his memory for torture is short. Scripting on this Vacation is stellar, with more one liners for scene than can be recalled. And when Clark, in service of supporting the fam, slips into an almost fling with a slippery cover-girl (then super model, Christie Brinkley) it’s finally laid down: what the Griswolds are doing isn’t unwinding, it’s unraveling. Blu-Ray includes an introduction to the film with Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, and Matty Simmons and an audio commentary with director Harold Ramis, and actors Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, Anthony Michael Hall, Dana Barron, and Matty Simmons.

Written by Ryan Fujitani and Sara Vizcarrondo

This weekend, in a virtual dead heat for first place, Fox’s new comedy Date Night opened with about as much in ticket sales as the second session of the Warner Bros. 3D epic Clash of the Titans. Sunday estimates from the studios had the films separated by only $225,000 which is not enough to claim a decisive victory, but both films certainly pulled in solid amounts powering the overall marketplace to another very strong spring frame. Final grosses to be reported on Monday, after Sunday sales are counted, will determine the official rankings.

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The new Steve Carell-Tina Fey film Date Night attracted an impressive turnout grossing an estimated $27.1M in its first weekend of release. Debuting in 3,374 locations, the PG-13 film about a married couple’s disastrous evening out averaged a very impressive $8,032 per theater. Reviews were mixed but generally upbeat as audiences instead responded to the starpower of the two leads who have enjoyed much success in television and at the movies. In fact, this is Fey’s third number one hit comedy in April following 2004’s Mean Girls which she wrote and co-starred in as well as 2008’s Baby Mama. Produced for $55M, Date played as mainstream entertainment for adult audiences. Fox estimated a 34% Saturday-to-Sunday drop nearly matching the 35% decline Warner Bros. estimated for its Titans. If the rankings stay the same after final numbers are reported, Date Night will be the first 2D movie to take the top spot in six weeks.

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As expected, the 3D mythology remake Clash of the Titans fell sharply in its second weekend falling 56% to an estimated $26.9M. If estimates hold, it will finish the frame close behind in second place with a cume of $110.5M after 10.5 days. Titans was number one on Saturday and is estimated to be tops on Sunday too, but Date Night‘s stronger Friday on its opening day gives it the advantage over the three-day period. Warner Bros. could end up with roughly $160M by the end of Clash‘s run.

The big story this weekend came in third place where the 3D animated film How To Train Your Dragon witnessed a remarkably low 13% decline in its third round for an estimated $25.4M gross boosting the 17-day total to a terrific $133.9M. Short-sighted film industry watchers and impatient Wall Street investors prematurely dismissed Dragon and DreamWorks Animation after its less-than-stellar opening weekend two weeks ago. The company’s stock dropped 8% on the first trading day after the debut with analysts lowering their estimates for the final domestic take to just $152M. Dragon will now crush that mark next weekend and looks on course to break the $200M barrier too becoming the second biggest 3D toon of all-time behind just the $293M of Up.

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Beating Pixar’s Oscar winner may not be possible, but outgrossing other competitors like Monsters vs. Aliens, Ice Age 3, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs makes Dragon a powerful performer. The PG-rated film was indeed slow out of the gate, but amazing word-of-mouth coupled with school holidays for spring have made Dragon the must-see film for kids and parents. Competition for families and 3D screens remains extremely light for the next five weeks so the Viking pic’s strong run should continue. Reaching $250M cannot be ruled out at this point given the road ahead since Dragon will be able to earn at least five times its opening figure, if not more.

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Tyler Perry’s latest film Why Did I Get Married Too? followed his usual pattern – big opening, big drop. The Lionsgate release grossed an estimated $11M in its second frame tumbling 62% for a ten-day tally of $48.5M. A final take of roughly $65M seems likely. Fellow sophomore The Last Song starring Miley Cyrus fared much better declining by just 37% to an estimated $10M. With $42.4M in 12 days, Disney should reach a similar $65M.

The Mouse House also claimed the number six slot with its 3D juggernaut Alice in Wonderland which grossed an estimated $5.6M, off only 32%, for a $319.3M cume. The Johnny Depp smash now sits at number 22 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind Shrek the Third which hauled in $321M in 2007. The ogre returns next month with his own 3D installment.

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A trio of comedies followed. The time-travel pic Hot Tub Time Machine took in an estimated $5.4M, down 33%, for a $37M total for MGM. Sony’s The Bounty Hunter dipped 29% to an estimated $4.3M for a $56M sum to date. And the kidpic em>Diary of a Wimpy Kid eased by just 23% grossing an estimated $4.1M for Fox lifting the cume to $53.8M.

Vivendi opened the faith-based drama Letters to God in tenth place with weak results. The PG-rated film about a boy battling cancer bowed to an estimated $1.3M from 897 locations – very wide for this type of pic – for a poor $1,394 average.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $121M which was off 1% from last year which was Easter when Hannah Montana The Movie opened in the top spot with $32.3M; but up 56% from 2008 when Prom Night debuted at number one with $20.8M.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a wild night on the town (Date Night, starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey) and some supernatural snail-mail (Letters to God, starring Tanner Maguire and Jeffrey S. Johnson). What do the critics have to say?



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Date Night

Steve Carell and Tina Fey are two very funny people. So it seems like a no-brainer that a comedy featuring the two of them as a married couple out on the town would be a can’t-miss proposition, right? Well, sort of: critics say Date Night is best when its two stars are riffing off each other, and adrift when it focuses on its caper elements. Our heroes are a bored New Jersey couple that gets all gussied up for a trek to Manhattan – and, after a case of mistaken identity, find themselves on the run from assorted underworld characters. The pundits say Carell and Fey have tangible chemistry, and there are some excellent turns from various supporting players (including Mark Wahlberg, Taraji P. Henson, and James Franco), but ultimately, the action movie clichés push the comedic elements to the side. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Carell’s best-reviewed movies.)



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Letters to God

It remains to be seen if the Christian-themed drama Letters to God will warm hearts and jerk tears, since it was barely screened for critics prior to its release. Letters to God is the tale of an eight-year-old suffering from terminal cancer who writes missives to the Almighty – an act that inspires a down-on-his-luck postal worker to change his life. Kids, time to Guess that Tomatometer!


Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Misfortunates, a coming-of-age dramedy about a young man growing up in a wildly dysfunctional Belgian family, is at 100 percent.

  • The Aussie import The Square, a thriller about a man who becomes entangled in an adulterous affair, is at 96 percent.

  • Women Without Men, a drama about four Iranian women set during the era when the Shah seized power, is at 80 percent.

  • When You’re Strange: A Film About the Doors, a documentary about the Lizard King and his associates, is at 58 percent.

  • Who Do You Love, a musical bio of the legendary blues label Chess Records, is at 45 percent.
  • After.Life, starring Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci in a drama about a young woman on the cusp of death who attempts to revive herself, is at 31 percent.

Finally, mad props to De A Twist, who came the closest to guessing Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too‘s 35 percent Tomatometer.

Steve Carell

The next time you feel like your career isn’t going as smoothly as you’d like, or worry that your dreams may never come true, just remind yourself that, for quite awhile, the biggest credit on Steve Carell‘s résumé was a bit role in Curly Sue. Almost 20 years later, Carell’s perseverance (and tons of talent) have paid off, making him a star of not only some of the last decade’s top-grossing comedies, but one of TV’s most critically beloved sitcoms. This week, Carell teams up with fellow rising comedy star — and NBC alum — Tina Fey for Date Night, and we decided to honor the occasion by taking a look at the critical highlights of his career so far. It’s Total Recall time!


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10. Evan Almighty

After the enormous success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin made Carell a bankable leading man, Universal made the Bruce Almighty sequel a priority — a major priority, in fact, to the tune of a record-breaking $200 million budget. This put Evan Almighty in a bit of a pinch when it came time to recoup, and the largely negative reviews didn’t help; ultimately, despite a heavy marketing push from the studio and a storyline that included a bearded Carell building an ark, Evan was one of the year’s bigger disappointments. Still, it wasn’t all bad — David N. Butterworth was one of the critics who enjoyed the sequel, pronouncing it “Better than Bruce by at least two turtle doves and a 40-year-old virgin.”


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9. Bruce Almighty

Carell’s gift for unctuous smarm was already known to fans of The Daily Show, but few of them could have suspected he was capable of walking off with the funniest scenes in a Jim Carrey movie. That’s just what he did with Bruce Almighty, livening up the $484 million hit with his portrayal of Evan Baxter, the newsroom rival of Carrey’s temporarily omnipotent Bruce. “Yep, this is the Carrey America loves,” wrote Tom Long of the Detroit News. “Off-the-wall, over-the-top, elastic, spastic and fantastic.” And when Carrey declined to revisit the character, it was Carell the producers turned to for the sequel.


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8. Get Smart

If anyone was going to step into Don Adams’ shoe phones for a 21st century version of Get Smart, it had to be Steve Carell. Answering the question of what it would be like if The Office‘s Michael Scott bought a gun and became a bumbling action hero, Peter Segal’s update on the 1960s TV series paired Carell with Anne Hathaway for a round of globetrotting comic espionage that included the talents of Alan Arkin, David Koechner, Bill Murray, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. While the 2008 edition of Get Smart might not have been a classic, it delivered what it was supposed to: Comedy, action, and a setup for a sequel. As Tom Maurstad of the Dallas Morning News put it, “Instead of the show’s wacky, slapstick tone, Get Smart presents itself as an action-filled spy movie that just happens to be really funny. And for the most part, it succeeds.”


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7. Melinda and Melinda

Is life a comedy or a tragedy? That’s the question asked by Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda, which finds a pair of playwrights (Wallace Shawn and Larry Pine) using the character of Melinda (Radha Mitchell) to tell a comic (Shawn) or tragic (Pine) tale. Carell reunited with his Anchorman co-star Will Ferrell here — both of them on the comedy side, naturally — and although Melinda and Melinda didn’t earn Anchorman-sized grosses, many critics felt it was one of Allen’s better late-period efforts, including Ian Freer of Empire Magazine, who wrote, “It has great performances, snappy one-liners and a likeably tricksy structure, all wrapped up in an affirmative antidote to life’s daunting complexities. Welcome back, Woody.”


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6. Dan in Real Life

Though frequently called upon to play overbearing buffoons, Carell is equally adept with more complex characters — like Dan Burns, the widowed parent whose emotional rebirth forms the heart of Dan in Real Life. Dotted with the sort of painfully awkward situations Carell’s so good in, Dan also highlighted his dramatic gifts by giving him a character with difficult, and easily identifiable, challenges. The reviews suffered from critical exhaustion with indie dramedies about quirky families, but most writers were able to see past the surface similarities to other releases and recognize a warm-hearted film that managed to walk the line between sweet and saccharine — not to mention a fine performance from its star. As Time’s Richard Schickel put it in his review, “Now, everybody knows that Steve Carell is lovable.”

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5. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

In a movie full of eminently quotable one-liners, it’s saying something that Steve Carell’s character, Brick Tamland, probably uttered the most quotable of all — including the immortal “I love lamp” and “I think I ate your chocolate squirrel.” Whether spouting non sequitirs or bringing a hand grenade and a trident to a reporters’ brawl, Brick was the glassy-eyed doofus who underscored Anchorman‘s salty profanity with naïve, brain-damaged sweetness — and helped send the movie hurtling down the IQ ladder with such infectious glee that most critics couldn’t stop laughing long enough to voice their disapproval. Applauded Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer, “At its best it plays like modern-day Marx Brothers, in which every single thing that happens makes no sense and serves no purpose and nothing happens for any reason at all.”


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4. Over the Hedge

Carell made his first venture into animation voicework with DreamWorks Animation’s adaptation of the Over the Hedge comic strip, joining a colorful cast that included Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Wanda Sykes, William Shatner, and Nick Nolte. Hedge‘s menagerie of talking animals — including Carell, who voiced Hammy, a sugar-addicted squirrel with what appears to be the rodent strain of attention deficit disorder — struck some scribes as suspiciously similar to the critters DreamWorks unleashed for 2005’s Madagascar, but its sharp script and charismatic cast helped Hedge overcome most writers’ fears of a furry glut. Calling it a “brightly animated, frequently hilarious and perfectly cast comedy from the Dreamworks stable,” ViewLondon’s Matthew Turner praised Over the Hedge as “the best of the recent animal-themed cartoon features.”


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3. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!

After the brightly colored critical misfire that was How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Jim Carrey and Dr. Seuss may have seemed like a pairing to avoid, but all that changed with the 2008 release of Fox’s Horton Hears a Who!, which paired Carrey (as the soft-hearted elephant Horton) with Carell (as the beleaguered mayor of the tiny burg of Whoville) and came up with 86 minutes of CGI animation that families and critics could all enjoy. Supported by an impressive cast that included Carol Burnett, Seth Rogen, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, and Will Arnett, Horton expanded Seuss’ classic tale to feature length without sacrificing the gentle whimsy that has made the book such a perennial favorite, and enjoyed some of the year’s best box office as a reward. Observed Brian Webster of the Apollo Guide, “Taking on Seuss has proven a challenge for Hollywood, but a nice balance has been struck here between authenticity and new ideas. This one’s a winner.”


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2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin

R-rated comedies were an endangered species during the early aughts — and then along came Judd Apatow to reinvigorate the genre by proving that people would still turn out in droves to see them, provided the comedy included brains and heart along with the T&A. Case in point: The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Apatow and Steve Carell co-wrote the script, which gave Carell his long worked-for starmaking role: the good-hearted Andy Stitzer, whose quest to end his virginity sets up two hours of raunchy gags, Michael McDonald bashing, and inspired lunacy from Jane Lynch. $177 million in worldwide grosses later, Apatow and Carell were household names — and “Kelly Clarkson!” was an acceptable epithet — thanks in part to critical praise from writers like Paul Greenwood of Future Movies, who wrote, “It’s a joy to be in the hands of filmmakers who intuitively know the difference between rude and crude, who know that horny and heartfelt can exist in tandem and that jokes about race and sexuality are not the same as racism and homophobia.”


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1. Little Miss Sunshine

The movie business has always had its soulless, by-the-numbers side — that’s the “business” part — but it also has the unique capacity to deliver inspiring success stories like Little Miss Sunshine, which turned a first screenplay (written by Michael Arndt) and directorial debut (by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris) into a Sundance smash and, eventually, a $100 million hit. It was also a critical favorite, despite offering another indie-brewed family of eccentrics (and being yet another road trip movie in the bargain). This was thanks in part to the stellar cast, which included Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, a thunderously funny Alan Arkin, and Carell in an unusually dark turn as Frank Ginsberg, a gay professor whose obsession with a grad student led to a recent suicide attempt. “If you think you’ve seen it all before in a family road movie,” challenged Peter Howell of the Toronto Star, “you owe it to yourself to see what happens when somebody actually comes up with a few bright ideas.”


In case you were wondering, here are Carell’s top ten movies according RT users’ scores:

1. Little Miss Sunshine — 93%
2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin — 90%
3. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! — 86%
4. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy — 84%
5. Over the Hedge — 81%
6. Get Smart — 79%
7. Dan in Real Life — 78%
8. Bruce Almighty — 75%
9. Melinda and Melinda — 64%
10. Evan Almighty — 39%


Take a look through Carell’s complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for Date Night.

Finally, here’s Carell making a pitch for FedEx:

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