New movies this week
Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family
The gist: Tyler Perry's last try with dramatic filmmaking (To Colored Girls … etc.) fell flat, so he's back to wearing a dress and cracking jokes. That'll be good for about $30 million — or more, considering the Old Spice Guy is in it. PG-13
The cast: Isaiah Mustafa, Loretta Devine, Shad "Bow Wow" Moss, Perry, Cassi Davis and Shannon Kane.
The buzz: There are no reviews for this one, but there rarely are any preview screenings for Madea movies. That doesn't seem to hurt box-office receipts.
The gist: The woman from Slumdog Millionaire plays a Palestinian girl growing up in Israel. Will she become a constructive member of society working toward a peaceful coexistence or a terrorist tool of the PLO? PG-13
The cast: Hiam Abbass, Freida Pinto, Yasmine Al Masri, Ruba Blal, Alexander Siddig and Omar Metwally.
The buzz: The pieces are all there, but they don't fit together quite right. "Miral plays like an art project that took a wrong turn somewhere between Soho and Ramallah. It seems the Middle East is unstable ground not just for diplomats, but for aesthetes as well," NPR says.
Water for Elephants
The gist: An adaptation of the novel about a veterinary student who falls for a performer in a traveling circus. Too bad Reese Witherspoon spoiled it in interviews and said Robert Pattinson was no good in their love scene because he was sick that day. PG-13
The cast: Witherspoon, Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, Paul Schneiger, Jim Norton and Hal Holbrook.
The buzz: A few critics like it, but the majority think this one isn't worth the price of admission. "Witherspoon and Pattinson are a three-ring snooze-fest together, bringing little passion to a love story supposedly so fiery, it blows the roof off the big top," the AP says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org