This week at the movies: See Michael Fassbender navigate a drug underworld and play a mean slave owner (two different movies!); Johnny Knoxville makes a (jack)ass of himself.
Esteemed novelist Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) teamed up with director Ridley Scott (lots of awesome movies, including Alien and Prometheus) to write his first screenplay and make a movie that should be really amazing but falls far short of the possibilities. The all-star cast features Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem (playing another weirdo/bad person), and Cameron Diaz in a sordid tale about the drug underworld in Mexico.
Perfect For: You love Cormac McCarthy novels and want to see Penelope Cruz and Michael Fassbender make sweet, sweet love on the big screen.
What the Critics Say: All the high-toned gloss in the world can’t dress up this turd. Time magazine says: “The portentous, emotionally vacant film The Counselor, directed by Ridley Scott, plays like a parody of a Cormac McCarthy adaptation.” Ouch.
Our Take: Two hours of Michael Fassbender. That is all.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Remember Jackass? I know, you’ve tried really hard to forget the stunt TV series and film that featured Johnny Knoxville and his merry band of idiots willing to do dangerous things to themselves to prove they were men. But, there’s money to be made and so he is back. In this set-up, borrowed liberally from Borat and Bruno, Knoxville, dressed in grandpa drag, goes into real life situations with real life people, accompanied by a fake eight-year old grandson, and behaves badly to get a rise out of the unsuspecting bystanders.
Perfect For: You are a Jackass or Borat fan.
What the Critics Say: Critics have never been terribly kind to Jackass, but they are split down the middle. Writes Variety: “’Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa’ shows there's still comic life in this decade-old franchise - provided, of course, the sight of a senior citizen getting his penis caught in a vending machine is the kind of thing that brings a smile to your face.”
Our Take: It’s not for me personally, but we know there are people out there (several million, in fact) who love this.
12 Years A Slave
This is likely to be a frontrunner for the Best Picture during the Academy Awards. The flick is based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, a black man who was born free but was tricked and enslaved against his will for 12 years. The story traces his journey as he is sold between several different masters, played by Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, and Benedict Cumberbatch, each crueler than the next. If you’re looking for a feel-good movie sugarcoating the worst part of America’s history, move along.
Perfect For: Fans of great acting; history buffs.
What the Critics Say: With a Rotten Tomato meter rating of 97 percent, it’s fair to say, they liked it…they really liked it. The New York Times writes: The genius of "12 Years a Slave" is its insistence on banal evil, and on terror, that seeped into souls, bound bodies and reaped an enduring, terrible price.”
Our Take: Gotta see it.