New movies this week
The gist: For some reason, the Coen Brothers decided the John Wayne version needed to be remade, so they put Jeff Bridges in lots of makeup, had him drawl unintelligibly and produced a very bleak effort about a girl hiring a bounty hunter. But hey, Jeff switched which eye Rooster lost in the Civil War. PG-13
The cast: Bridges, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper and Bruce Green.
The buzz: At least it's a good remake, although it's still pretty similar to the 1969 version. "In choosing not to reinvent the wagon wheel with True Grit, the Coens ironically seem radical by being conformists," the Toronto Star says.
The gist: Jack Black takes on the Jonathan Swift character who travels to Liliput, which makes sense, given his outsized personality. We can't make any fat jokes because he lost all that weight, you know. PG
The cast: Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly and Chris O'Dowd.
The buzz: Full of personality, short on quality. "An effects-driven children's movie enlivened by Jack Black but deadened by overreliance on those effects," the Hollywood Reporter laments.
I Love You Phillip Morris
The gist: The true story of a gay con man who falls in love with a fellow inmate then perpetrates one scheme after another to stay connected to him. The casting of the leads alone should tell you how wacky this one is. What a Christmas movie! R
The cast: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Antoni Corone and Brennan Brown.
The buzz: Did we mention this one is true? And entertaining, to boot. "The movie, written and directed by John Requa and Glen Ficara of Bad Santa fame, is all over the place. But it's also outrageously funny," Rolling Stone says.
The gist: How many comedies can you make out of a fake name and an "I'm watching you" gag? Three, at least. PG-13
The cast: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Owen Wilson, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner and oh, yeah, Teri Polo.
The buzz: Man, people are seriously hating this one. "The million-dollar cast doesn't make the vulgar penny-ante jokes any funnier," the Philadelphia Inquirer says. And they're being charitable.
The King's Speech
The gist: The true story of King George VI, who ascended to the British throne after his brother Edward VIII abdicated, but had to fight through both the Nazis and a speech impediment. R
The cast: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall and Derek Jacobi.
The buzz: This one is better than the other five combined, to read the critics' takes on it. Little Fockers was weighting the score, though. "The King's Speech is a warm, wise film — the best period movie of the year and one of the year's best movies, period," the Houston Chronicle raves.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org