UK Critics Consensus: The Wackness aint Wack, but Babylon Blows

Vin Diesel sinks while Ben Kingsley swims

by | August 29, 2008 | Comments

So the big movies out this week are Vin Diesel-powered Babylon A.D., yet another Judd Apatow-produced comedy about immature losers – Step Brothers with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly – and the 90s coming-of-age teen drama The Wackness, starring a bong-chugging, Olsen twin-snogging knight of the realm, Sir Ben Kingsley. What did the UK critics have to say?

Denounced by its director, the Vin Diesel sci-fi action flick Babylon A.D. flops into the cinema with UK critics mirroring the US critics’ response, pretty much universally denouncing it for its indecipherable plot, tacked on action sequences, and wholesale shameless plundering of sci-fi flicks Children of Men and Blade Runner. With the Tomatometer tallying the UK response, Babylon A.D. has shot from a pathetic 0% to a measly 7%. When one of the only positive review reads, “It’s utter codswallop, yet enjoyable if you unplug your brain.” (The Times), you know you’ve got a stinker on your hands.

Will Ferrell teams up with John C. Reilly again, and with their last effort Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby garnering a respectable 73% on the Tomatometer, the standards are set high, but can they repeat their success with Step Brothers? It’s had a mixed response from the UK scribes, with the general consensus being that if you like the relentless, absurd and puerile shtick peddled by Farrell and Reilly in Anchorman, Talledega Nights and Semi-Pro, then you’ll fall for Step Brothers too. On the other hand, if the sight of two grown men behaving like 12-year-olds, and sporting prosthetic testicles, seems a bit infantile to you, then steer well clear. Step Brothers is currently the black sheep of the family at 53% on the Tomatometer.

Is 1994 too recent to be considered a period piece? The critics didn’t think so with most UK critics rating The Wackness fresh, mainly for the ever-versatile Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of the bong-smoking, long haired, last hippy on the block, Dr Squires, but also for its touching and quirky story of adolescence and love in mid-90s New York. The performances save the movie from its meandering, and at times soppy, sauntering pace, and at 67% on the Tomatometer, it has just enough Dopeness to stop it truly being The Wackness.

Also worth checking out…
Badlands. Terrence Malick’s 1973 debut gets a limited re-release. This masterpiece is worth seeking out. Currently 100% on the Tomatometer.

Times and Winds. Lilting and meditative, Reha Erdem’s story of three adolescents in rural Turkey captivates with intimate details and long takes of the endless countryside. 83% on the Tomatometer.

Quote of the Week
“A sci-fi actioner that sees bald hero Vin Diesel back, stomping around the future like a small, gun-toting penis.”
Babylon A.D. – Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro.

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