A recording career and starring roles on In Living Color and his very own sitcom sound like they would have been enough to keep Jamie Foxx out of the movie game during the ’90s. But indeed, Foxx the multi-hyphenate found time to debut as a comedy movie lead for The Truth About Cats & Dogs in 1996 and then delivered his first dramatic performance in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday three years later. But that was all a prelude to his big 2004, when Foxx was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award with the Michael Mann/Tom Cruise thriller Collateral and took home Oscar gold that night for Best Actor, thanks to the musical biopic Ray.
He teamed up with Mann again for Miami Vice in 2006, the same year of musical sensation Dreamgirls‘ arrival. Due Date, Valentine’s Day, Rio, and Horrible Bosses were four $100 million-grossing box office hits in a row, so with his reputation as a guy who can get awards and put butts in seats cemented, there was only one place to go left: Casa de QT. Working with Quentin Tarantino produced the brassy Western Django Unchained, which would go on to become the director’s biggest B.O. draw.
Django would be Foxx’s last Certified Fresh movie for a while, through a stretch of years that has included The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Robin Hood, and White House Down. 2017’s Baby Driver brought back some of that critical acclaim, and so has his latest: Just Mercy, a true story legal drama featuring Foxx as Walter McMillian, who was imprisoned for a murder in 1986 he did not commit. Co-starring Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson, see where the critics place Just Mercy as we rank all Jamie Foxx movies by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus: Ridley Scott's revisionist take on this oft-told tale offers some fine acting and a few gripping action sequences, but it's missing the thrill of adventure that made Robin Hood a legend in the first place.
Synopsis: After the death of Richard the Lion-Hearted, a skilled archer named Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) travels to Nottingham, where villagers... [More]
Critics Consensus:Miami Vice is beautifully shot but the lead characters lack the charisma of their TV series counterparts, and the underdeveloped story is well below the standards of Michael Mann's better films.
Synopsis: A case involving drug lords and murder in South Florida takes a personal turn for undercover detectives Sonny Crockett (Colin... [More]
Critics Consensus: Like most sequels, Rio 2 takes its predecessor's basic template and tries to make it bigger -- which means it's even busier, more colorful, and ultimately more exhausting for viewers outside the youthful target demographic.
Synopsis: Blue macaws Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and their three children are comfortably settled in the city -- perhaps... [More]
Critics Consensus: While the cast is outstanding and the special effects are top-notch, the latest installment of the Spidey saga suffers from an unfocused narrative and an overabundance of characters.
Synopsis: Confident in his powers as Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) embraces his new role as a hero and spends time... [More]
Jennifer Lawrence’s latest collabo with director David O. Russell has the 25-year old actress starring as Joy Mangano, a single mother and entrepreneur who invents the Miracle Mop. The movie is aptly called Joy and (see if you can follow us on this one) inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery: all the single female titles that we think you might enjoy watching.
Rating: PG-13, for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language.
The sequel to last year’s Divergent might be even more violent and intense than its predecessor. It’s also oppressively dour. But because the film carries a PG-13 rating — to make it accessible to the tweens and young teens who also were the target audience for the YA novel source material — there’s minimal bloodshed accompanying the massive gunfire. This time, the rebellious Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her boyfriend, Four (Theo James), are hiding out with some other folks, trying to figure out how best to take down the totalitarian dictator Jeanine (Kate Winslet). But Jeanine is after Tris, too, to put her through a series of simulations which will open a magical box that contains an important message, or something. This sometimes means Tris must endure harrowing imagery and fight dangerous battles. In real life, she and Four also have sex, but we don’t really see anything; the act is implied through kissing and naked backs. If your kids have seen the first film, they’re in for a lot of the same here.
The playful penguins who stole every scene in the Madagascar series have gotten a movie of their own. Part origin story and part spin-off, it explains how Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private became globetrotting super spies and it follows them on an all-new adventure. John Malkovich lends his rich voice to the shape-shifting bad guy they’re after: an angry octopus who’s pretending to be a mad scientist. He kidnaps penguins from zoos and aquariums around the world with plans to inject them with a serum that will turn them into hideous versions of themselves. He hopes they’ll seem less appealing to the masses, but they actually become more silly than frightening. The penguins end up in several dangerous situations but they always find a way to escape. There’s a lot of silly spanking among the animals as well as some fart jokes and flatulence puns, but it’s the kind of harmless, puerile humor that routinely cracks kids up. Nothing here is shocking or inappropriate. This is totally suitable for all ages, although a lot of the pop-culture gags are just for us grown-ups.
Rating: PG, for some mild language and rude humor.
This movie is terrible. But if it’s the only family-friendly film available for rental… well, it’s still terrible. It’s a modern-day version of the enduring stage musical, which has been moved from the Great Depression to present day Manhattan. This time, the plucky orphan Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) moves in with a billionaire cell-phone mogul (Jamie Foxx) and melts his heart… in song! The celebration of materialism is seriously amped up here, which is sort of depressing. Annie enjoys a helicopter ride around New York City and hands out free phones to her foster-kid friends. Cameron Diaz is rather shrill and inept as Miss Hannigan but she’s not as intimidating as she’s been in previous versions; she’s more pathetic than anything else. And Annie briefly finds herself in danger when she goes off with a couple who pretend to be her birth parents, but she’s not hurt in any way. Suitable for all ages.
Rating: PG, for violence including battle sequences and intense images.
Mature tweens and older will probably be fine watching this massive biblical epic from director Ridley Scott, which makes his Oscar-winning Gladiator look like a tiny indie by comparison. With the use of massive visual effects, Scott tells the Old Testament story of Moses leading hundreds of thousands of Hebrew slaves out of Egypt to freedom. That means plagues — lots and lots of plagues — from frogs to locusts to boils. (The boils are especially gross.) And because everything has gotten so chaotic and overpopulated under the reign of the inept Ramses (Joel Edgerton), slaves are thrown into enormous fires to thin out the city. There are also several elaborate battle scenes, perilous chariot chases and a pummeling wall of water once Moses (Christian Bale) has finished parting the Red Sea. And be warned: besides the violence and the subject matter, the film runs nearly two and a half hours, which might be quite a slog for younger viewers.
This week on home video, we’ve got an Oscar nominee, a surprisingly successful animated spinoff, a Biblical epic, and an ill-advised remake. Then we’ve got a few decent choices in the smaller releases, including Chris Rock’s Certified Fresh comedy and a couple of selections from the Criterion Collection. Read on for details:
First it was a comic strip, then it was a musical, and then it was a film (twice), so it’s sort of understandable that the makers of 2014’s Annie — whose producers include such names as Will Smith and Jay-Z — would want to do things a little differently this time. Plus, they hired a few talented actors and the adorable star of Beasts of the Southern Wild to play the titular orphan. What could go wrong? A lot, according to the critics, who saddled the film with a 28 percent Tomatometer score for its reliance on clichés, syrupy sweetness, oddly staged musical numbers, and crass messaging. Quvenzhané Wallis is as charismatic as ever as the little girl who’s swept into the political machinations of wealthy mayoral candidate Benjamin Stacks (Jamie Foxx), who initially uses Annie for her PR value but ultimately falls for her charm. But essentially everything else about this production rubbed critics the wrong way, which renders this remake a missed opportunity.
Speaking of missed opportunities, who could have predicted a biblical epic directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale would have misfired as badly as Exodus: Gods and Kings did? Maybe people were burnt out on Old Testament stories by high profile directors, having already witnessed what Darren Aronofsky did with Noah back in March. Whatever the case, Scott’s retelling of Moses’ (Bale) journey was poorly received by both critics and audiences alike, earning a lukewarm box office total and earning a 28 percent score to match Annie‘s. Exodus has its moments, critics said, but the updated visual effects and few story embellishments (Moses as a sword-wielding general?) weren’t quite enough to erase memories of The Ten Commandments, and the newer film suffered from the comparison. For those who are interested, however, the Blu-ray release features a historical guide, a number of deleted or extended scenes, and few featurettes exclusive to the 3D release if you decide to go that route.
Back in 2009, director Tomm Moore’s film The Secret of Kells earned an Oscar nod for Best Animated Feature, thanks to an enchanting mythological tale and its unique, hand-drawn art style. Earlier this year, he repeated the feat with Song of the Sea, which employed those same signature elements en route to an impressive Certified Fresh 98 percent on the Tomatometer and another Academy Award nomination. Song explores the Celtic myth of the selkie, a creature that takes the form of a seal underwater and that of a human on land, as told through the story of a young boy named Ben and his young sister Saoirse, who live in a lighthouse with their father. When Saoirse discovers a shell flute that plays a mystical tune, they learn a magical secret about their mother, who passed away years earlier. Song of the Sea is visually spectacular and rich in story, which makes it both an artful film and an excellent choice for family viewing.
DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar franchise is one of the rare few that has gotten better with each installment, and it’s been so successful that a few of the side characters — The Penguins of Madagascar — got their own TV show on Nickelodeon. In 2014, those pesky penguins even got their own movie, and it turned out pretty good. Unrelated in plot to the TV series, Penguins of Madagascar follows Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private as they attempt to thwart the nefarious plans of Dr. Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), an octopus with an anti-penguin vendetta, after a dashing wolf (Benedict Cumberbatch) recruits them into his super-secret spy organization. Thanks to its vibrant colors, brisk pacing, and manic silliness, Penguins of Madagascar entertained most critics and earned a 72 percent on the Tomatometer. Its constant, frantic energy might be a bit too much for some adults to handle, but it’s harmless fun that will certainly keep the kids occupied for a while.
ALSO AVAILABLE THIS WEEK:
The Way He Looks(2014) (91 percent), a Brazilian coming-of-age story about the struggles of a blind teenager. Top Five(2014) (88 percent), Chris Rock’s Certified Fresh comedy about a comedian (Rock) who reflects on his life as he’s being interviewed by a journalist (Rosario Dawson). Son of a Gun(2014) (60 percent), starring Ewan McGregor and Brenton Thwaites in an Australian crime thriller about a petty criminal on the run with a notorious armed robber after the pair break out of jail. Vice(2015) (0 percent), starring Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane in a futuristic thriller about a lifelike robot who becomes self-aware and escapes from a pleasure resort. The Soft Skin(1964) (91 percent), François Truffaut’s 1964 drama about a married literary scholar who engages in an affair with a stewardess, gets a new Criterion Blu-ray this week.
The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation announced the “winners” for the 35th Annual Razzie Awards on Saturday, February 21st, recognizing the worst achievements in film for 2014. The big “winner,” taking four out of the six statuettes for which it was nominated, was Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. Read on for the full list.
Rating: PG-13, for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.
It’s the last film in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy and it has the words “battle” and “armies” in the title, so naturally it has a ton of graphic violence and a high body count. But even before all the fighting begins between various orcs and dwarves and elves, the fearsome dragon Smaug (menacingly voiced once again by Benedict Cumberbatch) wreaks fiery havoc on the innocent citizens of Laketown. If your kids are old enough to have seen any of the previous J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations and have been OK with them — and they’re curious to know how this series ends and then leads up to The Lord of the Rings — they’ll probably be fine. But for younger and less mature viewers, this is pretty intense, and the mythology might be confusing, and it is extremely long at nearly two and a half hours.
Rating: PG-13, for some mild language and rude humor.
This modern-day version of the enduring stage musical has been moved from the Great Depression to the present day, with the plucky orphan Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) moving in with a billionaire cell-phone mogul (Jamie Foxx) and melting his heart… in song! The notion that material wealth equals happiness is definitely magnified in this adaptation, with Annie enjoying a helicopter ride around New York City and distributing free phones to her foster-kid friends. So that’s kind of a bummer. Cameron Diaz is rather shrill and inept as Miss Hannigan but she’s not as intimidating as she’s been in previous versions; she’s more pathetic than anything else. And Annie is briefly in peril when she goes off with a couple who pretend to be her parents, but she’s not hurt in any way. All in all, this movie is harmless. But it’s also terrible.
Rating: PG-13, for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.
The third and (theoretically) final film in the Night at the Museum trilogy finds security guard Larry (Ben Stiller) and the rest of the historical gang traipsing off to London to solve the mystery of their mobility. Everything here is pretty tame (and often lame). The giant, marauding dinosaur skeletons might seem briefly scary for very young kids. The tiny Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan characters are in danger when they get stuck in an air-conditioning vent, but it’s played more for slapstick humor than anything else. And there is the vague threat that these museum pieces might transform into their formerly stiff selves — including the impish Capuchin monkey — in a way that’s slightly sad, but resolves itself quickly. Decent for all ages.
This live-action reboot of the franchise featuring modified, crime-fighting, pizza-eating turtles is a Michael Bay production. So it’s essentially a Transformers movie, complete with shiny action sequences and destructive battles that place innocent bystanders in harm’s way. The turtles themselves may be cute and cool and wacky in other incarnations but here, the special effects make them odd-looking in an off-putting way. Still, they emerge from the sewers to defend New York City, as they must, with the help of Megan Fox as a fearless TV reporter. The enemy is a giant robot samurai named Shredder. He’s working with a wealthy, evil scientist (William Fichtner) who wants to rule the city by releasing a deadly toxin. Explosions, gunfire and general mayhem abound as a roaming group of marauders called the Foot Clan terrorize the city and take hostages. My son wasn’t quite 5 years old when I took him to see this, and he was a bit frightened of Shredder, but only briefly. “I really liked it,” he said. So there you go.
Rating: PG, for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images.
Because there aren’t enough sci-fi thrillers based on young adult novels set in rigidly structured, dystopian futures, here is yet another. The tween and teen readers who are the targets for the James Dashner book will know what they’re getting into here. Still, this is a pretty violent and often harrowing PG-13 film. Dylan O’Brien stars as Thomas, a young man who finds himself in a pastoral square called the Glade. He has no idea who he is or how he got there, similar to the dozens of other teenage boys who arrived before him and have forged their own society. But Thomas soon grows curious about the dangerous maze that lies outside the giant concrete walls surrounding the Glade. Ravenous, speedy creatures await in those dark corridors, and we see them tear some of the characters apart. The big reveal which explains how all these kids ended up here and what they’re intended for is filled with gunfire and it grows deadly pretty quickly. This is not for the young or the squeamish.
It would be nearly impossible for director Peter Jackson to top — or even equal — the sweep and grandeur of the Lord of the Rings movies, and while the reviews for the first two Hobbit films were generallypositive, many found something lacking. Critics say The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings this trilogy to a close in reasonably rousing fashion, but while the battle scenes are visually striking, the story is more than a little thin. After going up against the fire-breathing dragon Smaug, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and makeshift battalions of men, elves, and dwarfs must join forces to fight off an onslaught of orcs and restore order to Middle-earth. The pundits say that Jackson’s visual sense is as strong as ever, but this conclusion to The Hobbit saga lacks the human touch and weightiness that made the Lord of the Rings films such revered classics. (Check out our Hobbit Headquarters for much more on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, including features, interviews, and countdowns.)
At this point, you pretty much know what you’re getting with a Night atthe Museum movie: a few good laughs, a bunch of famous people playing historical figures, and little to offend — or stir — anyone in your family. Critics say that’s basically the deal with Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which offers up some decent slapstick and a few new faces but never quite coalesces into anything truly enchanting. This time out, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) finally ventures outside the stuffy confines of those crazy museums; instead, he goes on a globe-trotting mission to preserve the magic that animates the museum’s historical populace. The pundits say Secret of the Tomb will probably please the kiddies, and Robin Williams shines in one of his last performances, but it’s largely a slack, so-so affair. (Take a look at this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Stiller’s best-reviewed movies.)
Annie is one of Broadway’s most durable and beloved productions, but it hasn’t fared nearly as well on the big screen. John Huston’s 1982 version drew decidedly mixed reviews, but critics say this update is even more of a misfire, a surprisingly tuneless, left-footed affair in which a number of big names deliver performances of wildly varying quality. Quvenzhané Wallis stars as the titular orphan, who lives with a mean foster mom until Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), a businessman with political ambitions, takes her in. The pundits say that while Wallis is charming, the biggest problem is that this Annie is a musical starring talented people who, with a few exceptions, aren’t necessarily the best singers or dancers. (Watch our interviews with Wallis, Foxx, and co-stars Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, and Bobby Cannavale.)
After winning strong reviews in limited release, Wild is going wide this weekend, and it’s already generating Oscar buzz for the strength of Reese Witherspoon’s lead performance. Based upon the bestselling memoir from Cheryl Strayed, Wild is the story of a woman reeling from the death of her mother and her recent divorce who decides to walk the entire Pacific Crest Trail by herself in an attempt to get back on track. The critics say this Certified Fresh drama is a thoughtful, emotionally potent character study with strong performances and beautiful natural locations.
What’s Hot on TV:
Homeland (Certified Fresh at 81 percent) wraps up its fourth season Sunday night, and critics say the show has had been smart, tense, and focused, making for the strongest iteration since its hard-hitting first season.
Thanks to some smart, creative storytelling and spectacular performances, The Affair (Certified Fresh at 94 percent), which has its season finale on Sunday night, is a somber, bewitching exploration of truth and desire.
Also opening this week in limited release:
The Duke Of Burgundy, a drama about an erotic relationship between two entomologists in a lavish country estate, is at 100 percent.
In the musical remake Annie, Cameron Diaz plays Miss Hannigan, who in this version of the film, is a singer who failed to join any number of 90s pop super groups. Grae Drake asks Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, and Bobby Cannavale which group they would have liked to join. There are some crossover answers, and, as is customary, everything eventually ends in a Spice Girls sing-a-long.
Ep. 072 – Holiday Movie Preview
Welcome to the Rotten Tomatoes podcast with Editor in Chief Matt Atchity and Senior Editor Grae Drake. This week they are joined by Senior Editor Tim Ryan and Editor Ryan Fujitani aka The Velvet Smog to talk about the most important movies coming in the Fall and Winter season all the way from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar to Tim Burton’s Big Eyes.