This week at the movies, we’ve got skulls ("Ghost Rider," starring Nicolas Cage), songwriters ("Music and Lyrics," starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore) secret worlds ("Bridge to Terabithia"), single parents ("Daddy’s Little Girls," starring Tyler Perry and Gabrielle Union), and spies ("Breach," starring Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe). What do the critics have to say?
In the world of popular music, there are a number of great songwriting duo: Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In "Music and Lyrics," Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore team up to write a tune, and critics say the movie is as disposable — and sweet — as your average summer hit. Grant plays a washed-up pop star commissioned to write a tune for a pop starlet; he discovers that Barrymore, who waters his plants, has a way with words, and the two make beautiful music together. The pundits say the film is as predictable as they come, but its stars elevate the material beyond the usual rom-com fare. At 66 percent on the Tomatometer, "Music and Lyrics" has a good beat, and you can dance to it.
Opening for Speed Metal! in Seattle, WA.
Ah, the pre-teen years. Such an angst-ridden period in one’s life. "Bridge to Terabithia," the story of two 10-year-olds who retreat into a fantasy land to escape the sadness in their lives, is a movie that understands what it’s like to be a kid, and for that, critics say it’s family entertainment of a very high order. "Terabithia" is a coming-of-age tale about friendship that doesn’t skimp on tragedy, but doesn’t lack for uplift, either. And it features engaging performances from its young stars, Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb. At 88 percent on the Tomatometer, "Terabithia" may be a worth a trip.
"Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt!!"
Madea may be gone, but Tyler Perry’s back with "Daddy’s Little Girls," his second film as a director, and the first in which he doesn’t play his no-nonsense, straight-talking alter ego. This time, he’s a single dad locked in a custody battle with his wife for their three daughters; he enlists a beautiful attorney (Gabrielle Union) to help, and romance blossoms. The pundits say Perry’s filmmaking skills have improved with this effort, but the film is ultimately too predictable and preachy to work. It currently stands at 22 percent on the Tomatometer.
"And I think American Idol should be on five times a week!"
Director Billy Ray is carving out an interesting niche spinning tales of frauds in high places. His first film, "Shattered Glass," told the story of the journalist/fabulist Stephen Glass; now comes "Breach," based upon the career of imprisoned FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen. Ryan Phillippe stars as a young agent assigned to check up on Hanssen (Chris Cooper), who his superiors believe may be leaking information to the Soviets. Critics say "Breach," despite a lack of explosive action scenes, is a first-rate mind-game thriller that authentically captures the culture within the agency. "Breach" is currently at 88 percent on the Tomatometer.
Chris Cooper practices a Bob Dole impression.
"Ghost Rider," the comic book adaptation starring Nicolas Cage as a stunt motorcyclist who finds his cranium ablaze after a Faustian bargain, was not screened for critics in time to make this week’s Critical Consensus. So get off your Harley and Guess that Tomatometer.
"Have you got any ibuprofen? I have a burning headache."
Also opening this week in limited release: "Avenue Montaigne," a comedy a about a young woman’s introduction to Paris and France’s official selection for Academy consideration, is at 82 percent; "Bamako," the tale of a troubled small town in Mali starring Danny Glover, is at 80 percent; and "Close to Home," a tale of young women in the Israeli army, is at 40 percent.
Parisians: never too cool for a staring contest.
Recent Drew Barrymore Movies:
71% — Curious George (2006)
64% — Fever Pitch (2005)
68% — My Date With Drew (2005)
42% — 50 First Dates (2004)
90% — Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut (2004)