New movies this week
The gist: John Cusack stars as a surprisingly lucid Edgar Allen Poe in a faux murder mystery about someone murdering people in the manner of Poe's stories. Wait, how did they find the guy walled up after looking for that cask of Amontillado? R
The cast: Cusack, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, Alice Eve, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Kevin McNally.
The buzz: After The Wire, murders in Baltimore rarely draw second looks these days. "This wannabe Sherlockian thriller is like a night spent at Madame Tussauds, watching mannequins strangle other mannequins," the New York Daily News says.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
The gist: An animated pirate adventure from the Chicken Run people that has more star power than that Disney franchise, costs only a fraction of that budget to make and clocks in under 90 minutes. Sign us up! PG
The cast: Voices of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Brendan Gleeson, David Tennant, Brian Blessed and Imelda Staunton.
The buzz: A big winner, especially for younger buccaneer buffs in Tampa Bay. "A curiosity cabinet of visual pleasures but so breezy and lightly funny that you may not realize at first how good it is," the New York Times says. "(You're too busy grinning.)"
The gist: Jason Statham is an ostracized loner who takes on organized crime to save a young Asian girl. It's not The Transporter because the girl is only 12 and Statham is broke. It's not The Mechanic because he's an MMA fighter, not a hit man. It's not The Bank Job because he's not a thief. It's not a lot of things. R
The cast: Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke, James Hong, Anson Mount and Chris Sarandon.
The buzz: What are you really expecting here? "Safe is the worst Jason Statham movie since the last Jason Statham movie, carrying on the bargain-budget action star's tradition of building a body of work out of, well, dead bodies," the AP says, as if that's a bad thing.
The Five-Year Engagement
The gist: A Nicolas Stoller-Judd Apatow version of what happens when the last rom-com you watched ends and that happy couple can't pull the trigger on an actual marriage. R
The cast: Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Lauren Weedman and Mimi Kennedy.
The buzz: Typical fare from this team, edgy but not what you'd consider completely coherent. "Between the jokes about drinking mead out of deer hoofs, about tiny tykes armed with crossbows, about meeting cute in a bunny suit and a Princess Di getup, there's serious stuff to consider," the Philadelphia Inquirer says.
The gist: Nothing could be funnier than father-and-son professors in Talmudic studies vying for recognition. Take note, Judd Apatow. PG
The cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Alma Zack, Albert Iluz, Shlomo Bar-Aba and Yuval Scharf.
The buzz: Hey, we weren't joking, the critics say. "Israeli writer-director Joseph Cedar's tale of two Talmudic scholars set in present-day Jerusalem, while not exactly side-splitting, is quietly riotous," the Denver Post says.
The gist: It's like Three Men and a Baby, except with women. Meh. No Steve Guttenberg, no ticket money. R
The cast: Krysten Ritter, Kate Bosworth, Rachel Bilson, Geoff Stults, Justin Kirk and Fallon Goodson.
The buzz: How many pregnancy jokes and single mom-dating riffs can you bear? "It's more like watching an extended sitcom than a movie," the Arizona Republic says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org