FOUR FILMS ADDED TO MARQUEES
Four new films will crowd into an already overcrowded box office over the weekend, and analysts are having a hard time predicting which of them will be able to claim victory. Warner Bros./New Line's romantic comedy He's Just Not That Into You appears to have an inside track, especially since Valentines are ubiquitous (the actual Valentines Day hits next weekend) and since going to the movies is not on everyone's mind at this time of year. However, Into You is likely to face stiff competition from The Pink Panther 2, starring Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau. It will be competing for the family audience with Coraline, the first "claymation" film ever to be shot in 3-D. Finally, there's Push, starring Dakota Fanning, a sci-fi thriller likely to appear to teenage boys -- who ordinarily decide which film will land in first place.
MOVIE REVIEWS: HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU
Critics, for the most part, are just not into He's Just Not That Into You, starring Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Scarlett Johansson and Drew Barrymore as women whose objects of affection are, well, just not that into them. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times concludes his review with something of a spoiler, saying that the movie "ends on an unsatisfactory note. Stop reading now because I am going to complain that most of its stories have happy endings. Not in the real world, they don't. In the real world, the happy endings come only with a guy who's really into you." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post is one of several critics who compare the movie with Sex and the City, saying that it's basically a PG version of the TV series/movie feature, "minus the designer shoes and the laughs." Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post writes that "it's like Sex and the City without the shoes or Mamma Mia! without the Abba." In the New York Times, Manohla Dargis notes that the book on which the movie is based actually derives from an episode of Sex and the City, saying that the scriptwriters take "this bit from a 30-minute show and [turn] it into an overextended 2 hours and 12 minutes." Similarly, Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News comments that the TV show "mined this material more successfully in just thirty minutes." On the other hand, Claudia Puig in USA Today finds the movie pleasant enough, saying that it "succeeds more with clever one-liners than in its uneven scenarios. But it's light and entertaining, and its heart -- visible amid the cynicism -- is in the right place." And Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle concludes that despite its numerable faults, it amounts to "a thoughtful movie about love, and that rarely happens anymore. Let's take it and like it."
MOVIE REVIEWS: THE PINK PANTHER II
Roger Ebert suggests that the best thing about the latest Pink Panther movie starring Steve Martin is the credits. "They made me miss the golden age of credits, when you actually found out who the actors were going to be, and maybe saw a little cartoon in the bargain!" However, he continues, "As the movie began, my smile faded. The actors are let down by the screenplay and direction." Kyle Smith of the New York Post, who didn't like the first Steve Martin Panther flick, likes the latest one even less. "I thought that once you were injected with something small but horrible, it meant you didn't have to deal with the disease again," he comments. But Stephen Holden may have put his finger on the real problem with Martin's portrayal of Inspector Jacques Clouseau: he's no Peter Sellers. Holden observes: "His Clouseau lacks the demonic glee Mr. Sellers put into a character who seemed to originate from the inside out. Mr. Martin's Clouseau is a skillful gloss right down to the phony French accent, which lacks the layers of oratorical pretension Mr. Sellers put into it. Why is it, I wonder, that any number of actors can play James Bond, while Clouseau now and forever belongs to Mr. Sellers?" John Anderson in the Washington Post writes that Martin's performance "will have a similar effect on a multiplex that a slammed oven door has on a soufflé." And Greg Quill in the Toronto Star hits at Martin's portrayal even harder, saying that the movie represents "the sad nadir of his career, the worst movie he has ever made, a sorry, inexplicably dumb waste of money, talent and time."
MOVIE REVIEWS: CORALINE
Surprisingly, the animated film Coraline is getting some of the best reviews of the young year. "Is it premature to assign it classic status?" asks Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Tom Maurstad in the Dallas Morning News writes that "sweet and creepy blend beautifully" in the film. "Coraline," he adds, "is the best kind of children's entertainment -- smartly told and deeply felt." Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune calls it "an adventurous movie with brains, personality, a look and a knack for inducing shivers." Peter Howell in the Toronto Star says that it "leaps off the screen, whether you see it in 3-D or not." And his fellow Torontonian, Jennie Punter, writes in the Globe and Mail that Coraline is "quite possibly the best 3-D movie ever made."