This Rotten Week: Predicting Grown Ups And Knight & Day Reviews

By Doug Norrie 2010-06-20 14:59:26discussion comments
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This Rotten Week: Predicting Grown Ups And Knight & Day Reviews image
Going into Friday, after over 400 reviews, the Toy Story franchise had received exactly zero negative words.  Not one critic had a bad thing to say about any of the first three installments of arguably the greatest animated movies of all time. (Probably not arguably, just actually.)  How difficult is this feat?  Consider this: in the Rotten Tomatoes “Best Of” there are 100 movies with more than 20 reviews that have received a critical consensus of 100%.  Most of these are the classics The Godfather, Wizard of Oz, etc. and more recently documentaries like Man on Wire.  But two of those movies are Toy Story and Toy Story 2.  What's remarkable about their appearance on the list (Toy Story 2 especially) is the sheer number of reviews given to the movie.  With the internet's far reach, far more opinions are tallied, making perfect critical consensus that much more difficult, almost impossible.  Just think about how many movies have been made in the last 60 or so years and there twenty, in the history of movies, considered perfect.  Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are 10% of the list.

Toy Story 3 began the weekend pitching a perfect game for the simple and easy fact, it is a beautiful movie.  Josh said as much in his review. And he was joined by a chorus of others extolling the virtues and perfection of a movie about love and friendship and all things good. 

Unfortunately, the world is a cruel place with more than a smattering of uber-douchebags who, because they are given a voice, feel the need to remind us they are better, superior and ultimately douchier than those of us with little things called hearts.  One of these guys is Armond Smith of the New York Press (one of two critics out of almost 150) who gave Toy Story 3 a negative review. 

I was prepared for this.  I knew the Toy Story story was too good to be true.  And maybe I jinxed it last week when I predicted a 100% critical consensus for the movie.  Cynically, I waited for the 99% consensus to show up.  And Friday it did.  Armond White's review of the movie is more a glorification of his own egotistical view of his perceived intelligence than it is a review of a movie.  I won't even give the link because I don't want to give him any more publicity than he deserves, but check out his Rotten Tomatoes track record.  This is a guy who simply doesn't get it.  And by “it” I mean life.

Is it overboard to get upset over a movie review?  Possibly.  But White's review is more than words on a computer screen.  Armond White seems like the kind of guy in the back of the room who laughs when someone makes a mistake.  Who fries ants with a magnifying glass. Who thinks babies are annoying.  He hates giving to poor people because “they'll just spend it on drugs.”  Who wakes up every morning waiting for rain.  Who drives slowly in the left lane.  Who gives shitty tips.  Who tattles on his coworkers to his boss.  Who dislikes movies everyone else loves.  Why?  Because he can. 

Let's take a look at what this Rotten Week has to offer.   

Knight & Day

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV has a gift.  It's the thing that makes Top Gun awesome the 50th time around.  It's the thing that made Jerry Maguire such a memorable flick.  It's the thing that presumably allowed him access to Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman's nether regions for extended periods of time.  It's the thing that makes him likeable even after he jumps on Oprah's couch like a nutbag, uber-crazy person.   It's the thing that makes his Scientology obsession sort of forgivable.  That thing is charm, and Cruise has it in ridiculous amounts.   Just watch the Knight and Day trailer to get a sense of what I am talking about.  I had no desire to see this movie at all but after two and a half minutes of trailer found myself saying, “Man, Cruise does it again. I'm rooting for that guy.”

Don't get me wrong, Tommy isn't perfect.  He's had stinkers out there in the last couple of years, but they are few and far between.  When Cruise is in a movie, fair chance the critics will like it.  Why? Because Tommy charms the freaking socks off those mopes in the audience.  When he stars in a movie you can almost lock up at least $100 million at the box office and a positive Tomatoemeter score.  The guy is smart.  He picks his spots.  He isn't oversaturated and lately, if anything, has made a concentrated effort to become more fun-loving and relatable to the common folk (see: Les Grossman). 

Even though Knight and Day has been tracking poorly, I still like its chances.  Director James Mangold is also a guy who picks his spots having helmed 3:10 to Yuma (88%) and Walk the Line (82%) in the last five years.  Cameron Diaz's track record isn't spectacular, but honestly, Cruise is the real star here.  Diaz could be just about anyone. ***

***Quick sidenote:  Is it me or does Diaz star in a lot of movies that could be confused with porn titles?  Examples include The Box, What Happens in Vegas, The Sweetest Thing, and her upcoming film Bad Teacher.  I'm just saying.  I'm just saying.

The Rotten Watch for Knight and Day is 66%.

Knight & Day reviews


 
Grown Ups

Grown Ups is the kind of movie that happens when a bunch of aging, soon-to-be-forgotten, former stars realize the calls from their agents, offers of quality roles, endorsement requests, and gigs are have become a thing of the past.  Actors, who a decade or so ago were at the tops of their games, starring in television shows and movies, are now seeing the Irrelevance Train bearing down on them with more urgency. 

From a studio perspective, Grown Ups is clearly a case of throwing a bunch of shit against a window, hoping even a little of it sticks and that someone thinks it's a funny picture.  Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider are household comedic names who've collectively been in a bunch of terrible movies.   I guess the studio said, “Well, at one point or another these guys have done something funny.  Maybe if we jam them all together on screen a funny thing or two will just kind of happen.”  Consider this “All-star team's” collective body of work.  Since 2005, they've starred in 15 movies (some of them overlaps that I, thankfully for them, didn't count twice) and have come out with an average 32% Tomatometer score. 

Director Dennis Dugan doesn't do them any favors either having collaborated with some of these guys on turd sandwiches like You Don't Mess With the Zohan, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and The Benchwarmers.  Don't expect much from Grown Ups except jokes some little kids will think are funny.  The Rotten Watch for Grown Ups is 19%.        

Grown Ups reviews


   
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Recapping last week: I think you got the point about Toy Story 3.  Meanwhile, Jonah Hex was predictably bad, but was even more terrible than I expected (Predicted 39%, Actual 15%).  I thought as much, yet had trouble pulling the trigger on such a low score.  I'm trying to learn my lesson with the Grown Ups prediction. 

Next week, we will bend some air for the last time and watch a bunch of heartthrob vampires and werewolves brood deeply on screen.  It's going to be a Rotten Week!
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