An eclectic assortment of films opening this week, including one that will be remembered come Razzie time.
I refer to Pixels (27), getting some of the most venomous reviews of the year, mostly directed at Adam Sandler. This seems to be another nail in the coffin of his career as a bankable feature star–will a sit-com be next? Josh Bell: “Of course, calling Pixels one of Sandler’s better movies is like calling a particular strain of Ebola somewhat less horrifically painful; either way, it’s not pleasant.”
The “prestige” opening this week is Southpaw (56), which I reviewed below, with Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer who starts high and ends up low. I found it to be a compendium of cliches, and while there may have been some Oscar hope with the Weinsteins for this they can forget it. Rodrigo Perez: “A very routine twelve rounds of tragedy, resilience and redemption, the boxing film Southpaw is a conventionally told dramaturgy high on intensity, but low on human insight or novel ways to tell a familiar story.”
For teenage girls there’s Paper Towns (57), based on a novel by the same author of The Fault in Our Stars. Cara Delevignge stars as the latest fashion model to attempt to break into acting; she’s mostly known for her bisexuality and her eyebrows, but is not getting rave reviews for her thespianism. Eric Henderson: “To hose down the white elephant in the room right off the bat, yes, it falls into place as a coming-of-age spin on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype.”
A better family drama may be Infinitely Polar Bear (64), which stars Mark Ruffalo as a father struggling with bipolar disorder. Marjorie Baumgarten: “With Infinitely Polar Bear, Forbes has created a warm family portrait, even though it sugarcoats the specter that mental illness casts on this group’s well-being.”
For those who want a really bad movie, VOD is offering Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser, a misbegotten attempt by David Spade to remain relevant. I would have really liked to see the pitch meeting for this and the idiots who spent money to make it. There is no Metacritic rating, but my local paper gave it one star: “You’d think that after 14 years, they’d have more than stale fart jokes and weak callbacks to bits that weren’t funny in the first place.”