Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: Bucket Gets Kicked, The Orphanage is Certified Fresh, In the Name of the King Not Screened

Also: Kite Runner flies reasonably high, Veggietales fairly tasty, First Sunday has sinned.

by | January 10, 2008 | Comments

This week
at the movies, we’ve got two wild and
crazy guys (The Bucket
, starring
Jack Nicholson
and Morgan Freeman),
pious crooks (First Sunday, starring
Ice Cube and
Tracy Morgan), botanical
buccaneers (The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggietales Movie),
haunted expatriates (The
Kite Runner
), tormented mothers (The
), and Uwe Boll (In
the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
, starring
Jason Statham
and Burt
). What do the critics have to say?

How can a
movie directed by Rob Reiner and starring
Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman
possibly fail? If, say critics, it has a really contrived, sappy script, which
is the problem with
The Bucket List
Nicholson and Freeman star as a couple of sixtysomethings who, after discovering they each have terminal
illnesses, team up to do all the living they can in the time they have left —
in the form of skydiving and tattoo-getting, among other things. Pundits say the
two stars give it their all, but they’re undercut by a predictable plot that
overdoses on schmaltz. At 44 percent on the Tomatometer, Bucket probably
shouldn’t top your list.

"I never would’ve put strip solitaire on my list."

Ice Cube


Tracy Morgan
are talented people. Unfortunately, critics say their despite
their combined ability to generate intermittent chuckles, they’re unable to save

First Sunday. The film is a tale of two incompetent crooks who contrive a
plot to rob the local house of worship. However, their plan goes awry rather
quickly, and the pair has a crisis of faith. Pundits say First Sunday has
its moments, but it’s ultimately undone by a script that lacks nuance and
consistency; others aren’t buying the sentimentality of the last act. At 25
percent on the Tomatometer, First Sunday might need to do penance.

Ice Cube in the first Sunday the Friday after next.

Fear not,

The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggietales Movie
no plank-walking, keel-hauling, or bottles of rum. But guess what? Critics say
it’s clever enough to keep you entertained. The latest in Christian animation’s
most venerable franchise since
Davey and Goliath
, Pirates follows
the comic misadventures of Larry the Cucumber, Mr.
Lunt and Pa Grape, as they are transported from their humdrum lives back in time
to the days of William Kidd — and trouble on the high seas. Pundits say while Pirates,
may be several cuts below
, it’s sweet and inoffensive, with a
positive message and some good laughs.
At 67 percent on the Tomatometer,
this Pirates‘ life may not be for everyone, but at least it won’t make
you want to mutiny.

"We’re off to see the Eggplant Wizard!"

Khaled Hosseini
‘s novel


Kite Runner
drew widespread praise for its tale of
youngsters living through a tumultuous period in Afghani history. And critics
say Marc Forster’s big-screen adaptation does a reasonably good job of
translating the book’s sweep — while still taking some liberties. Kite
stars Zekiria Ebrahimi and
Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada as two youngsters who survive both the Soviet invasion and the rise
of the Taliban — albeit with some pretty heavy emotional baggage. The scribes
say Forster gets some great performances from his child actors, and captures the
visual beauty of the war-torn land. But some say the film doesn’t quite have the
same impact as the novel, dialing up some of the big emotions while skimping on
nuance. Still, at 65 percent on the Tomatometer, this Kite flies
reasonably high. (Check out our interviews
here and

"Take dictation, please. Possible candidates for kite flying

If you
feel the fine art of cinematic suspense has drowned in a sea of gore, critics
say you’re in for a treat with

The Orphanage
. Produced by
Guillermo del Toro, The Orphanage follows Laura (Belén
) and Carlos (Fernando Cayo) , the adoptive parents of Simon (Roger
Príncep), an orphan suffering from HIV. The boy has a host of imaginary friends,
and what he says about them starts sounding pretty sinister. The scribes say
Juan Antonio Bayona‘s film is loaded with dread and spooky atmospherics, but it
also succeeds as a heart-wrenching psychological portrait. At 85 percent on the
Tomatometer, The Orphanage is Certified Fresh. (Check out our interview
with Bayona and screenwriter Sergio Sanchez
here and our review from Cannes

"Oh, crap, I didn’t mean to screen Manos, the Hands of

Yes, Uwe
Boll, everyone’s favorite critical pariah, has a new movie out:

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
. No it wasn’t screened for critics. But
what did you expect, given the fact that the man’s career Tomatometer is at five
percent? Critics don’t really dig him, especially the one he knocked out. Dungeon

Jason Statham
Ray Liotta,
Leelee Sobieski,

, and
Matthew Lillard in a tale of a regular guy who must do battle with beasts
conjured by an evil sorcerer; swordplay no doubt ensues. Hey kids, stop laying
siege to that dungeon and guess the Tomatometer! (And read our [qualified]
defense of Mr. Boll’s work in this week’s Total Recall.)

Just pretend it’s your agent, Jason.

opening this week in limited release:

  • Liberty Kid
    , a drama about the
    after-effects of 9/11 on several blue-collar New Yorkers, is at 100 percent on
    the Tomatometer.

  • Hong Sang-soo‘s
    Woman on the Beach
    , a subtle rom-com
    about a filmmaker with writer’s block, is at 94 percent.

  • The Business of
    Being Born
    , a documentary about several couples and their experiences with
    childbirth, is at 71 percent.

  • The Turkish import
    Times and Winds
    a deceptively simple tale of three youngsters coming of age in a small village,
    is at 73 percent.

It looks like Anne Geddes is going in a more avant garde direction.

props to
tabascoman77, both for boldly announcing that
One Missed Call

would end up at zero percent on the Tomatometer, and for his excellent taste in
hot sauce. Personally, I like the garlic Tabasco, but that’s just me.

Morgan Freeman Movies:
93% — Gone Baby Gone (2007)
42% — Feast of Love (2007)
24% — Evan Almighty (2007)
62% — 10 Items or Less (2006)
52% — Lucky # Slevin (2006) 

Uwe Boll
4% — BloodRayne (2006)
1% — Alone in the Dark (2005)
4% — House of the Dead (2003)
11% — Blackwoods (2002)

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