New movies this week
The gist: Guy Ritchie's take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective substitutes a lot of deductive reasoning for MMA-style fisticuffs. That could be good or bad, depending on your leanings. PG-13
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan and Kelly Reilly.
The buzz: Good actors, meh story. "Ritchie is all about the whooshing and headbanging, leaving no space between Holmes' words to savor their meaning," Rolling Stone says. "Downey is irresistible. The movie, not so much."
The gist: A musical about a film director who has to balance the insanity of the women in his life, based on Frederico Fellini's 8 1⁄2. But can they all sing? PG-13
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Stacy Ferguson and Sophia Loren.
The buzz: Apparently not. While some critics love it, the Hollywood Reporter (among others) finds plenty of faults: "The disappointments here are many, from a starry cast the film ill-uses to flat musical numbers that never fully integrate into the dramatic story."
The Young Victoria
The gist: What would the holidays be without a period piece about a British monarch's youth? Luckily, we don't have to find out this year. PG
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann and Mark Strong.
The buzz: Reviews are generally strong from most, but you can't please everyone with everything. "The film does look beautiful, and there's enough intrigue to inspire anyone to learn more about such a complex, fascinating life," the New York Daily News says. "It just would have been nice to see a little more of that complexity onscreen.
The gist: Do we really want to watch Baby Boomers flirt and cavort, cheat on each other and embarrass their kids onscreen? We could get that by going home for Christmas. R
Starring: Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, John Krasinski, and Lake Bell
The buzz: Yeah, there are funny parts, but look at the cast. "Cute and clever though the plot may be, everything is played out in the broadest possible terms without an iota of nuance or subtlety," Variety says, although others really love it. The critics are all middle-aged, though.
Up in the Air
The gist: A corporate downsizing specialist who lives on the road has to learn to deal with the new American economy, which doesn't value loyal employees or care about your lifestyle if you cost too much to deal with. Oh, and he falls in love, too, or something. R
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Tamala Jones and Chris Lowell.
The buzz: This movie came out around here last week, but got a wider release Wednesday, so you'll be able to see what critics are fussing about. "Timeliness can be tricky to pull off convincingly in movies. It's tough to capture an era while it's still happening, yet Up in the Air does so brilliantly, with wit and humanity," USA Today raves.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
The gist: More of this tripe, with a surprisingly able cast. We don't get it. But many, many people will head to the theaters to see it, anyway. Sigh. PG
Starring: Jason Lee, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate, Amy Poehler, and Justin Long.
The buzz: We think you'd get more entertainment playing old Chipmunks LPs at slow speed so the characters sound normal. Kids, ask your parents what LPs are. Meanwhile, USA Today isn't impressed, saying, "It seems as if no professional actors were hired in the making of this motion picture."
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org