This week at the movies we’ve got matters of life ("Knocked Up," starring Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen), death ("Mr. Brooks," starring Kevin Costner and Demi Moore), and soccer ("Gracie," starring Elisabeth Shue). What do the critics have to say?
When director Judd Apatow titles a movie, you always know what to expect. Like, what else could something called "The 40-Year-Old-Virgin" possibly have been about? And Apatow’s newest flick, "Knocked Up," is just as bluntly advertised: a perpetually stoned schlub (Seth Rogen) impregnates a woman way out of his league (Katherine Heigl) after a one-night stand, putting the kibosh on his arrested development. But, like "Virgin," "Knocked" has a sweetness and depth that extends well beyong most comedies; critics call it a hilarious, poignant, and refreshing look at the rigors of courtship and child-rearing, with a sometimes raunchy, always witty script that is ably acted and directed. At 88 percent on the Tomatometer, "Knocked Up" isn’t just Certified Fresh, it even tops "Virgin"’s 82 percent.
In "Mr. Brooks," Kevin Costner plays a successful businessman and loving father with a big secret: he’s a serial killer on the down low. It’s an admittedly intriguing setup, and critics say "Mr. Brooks" gives its talented cast, which includes Demi Moore, William Hurt, and Dane Cook (!) a chance to take on some meaty roles, as well as providing audiences with some amusing, smarter-than-average plot twists and thrills. Unfortunately, the pundits also note that "Mr. Brooks" is overstuffed with said twists, making for a film that becomes more preposterous as it goes along. "Mr. Brooks" currently stands at 53 percent on the Tomatometer.
"Gracie" is the latest in a long line of inspirational sports movies that feature a dogged protagonist overcoming prejudice and family trauma. The film, a fictional treatment of star Elisabeth Shue’s high school sports career, tells the story of a 15-year-old (Carly Schroeder) who wants to play soccer at a time when there isn’t a girls’ squad at her school. Couple the sexism Gracie faces with the tragic death of her brother, and you’ve got the stuff that sports movies are made of, right? Well, critics say that "Gracie" can be rousing and touching in spots, but it’s ultimately undone by its predictable story arc and a lack of nuance. At 42 percent on the Tomatometer, "Gracie" is something of a draw.
Also opening this week in limited release: "The Trials of Darryl Hunt," a doc about a man falsely accused of murder, is at 100 percent; "Radiant City," a visually expressive doc about suburban sprawl, is at 91 percent; "Crazy Love," a doc about a remarkably dysfunctional relationship, is at 87 percent; "Day Watch," the second installation in Timur Bekmambetov’s vampire trilogy, is at 73 percent; "Pierrepoint – The Last Hangman," which tells the tale of a conflicted executioner, is at 73 percent; and the indie rom-com "I’m Reed Fish" is at 67 percent.