The Hunger Games
There is only one movie opening wide this weekend and that’s because any other movie that dared to face off against it, would surely die a quick box office death. The Hunger Games will be all you and your family will be hearing about for the next few weeks. It is being called “this generation’s Star Wars”, and the “next Harry Potter” and it’s easy to see why. Set in a dystopian future where grown men have blue hair and government leaders look like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, the story—based on the best-selling trilogy of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins—is about a heroine, Katniss Everdeen (played by the great new star, Jennifer Lawrence, who was amazing in Winter’s Bone), who is chosen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, where 12 girls and 12 boys square off against each other in a literal survival-of-the-fittest contest that is aired on television. In this twisted real-life Survivor, only one person lives. The cast is stocked with stars—Elizabeth Banks plays the wicked leader Effie Trinket, Stanley Tucci as the blue-haired host of the Games, Lenny Kravitz stars as a stylist, and Donald Sutherland, the evil ruler of the new world.
Perfect For: This is a family affair, and it could reach nearly everyone—teens and grownups alike—but we can see RomCom fans and those who don’t like sci-fi staying home.
What the Critics Say: Mostly positive, but some are on the fence. Writes Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers: “The Hunger Games has epic spectacle, yearning romance, suspense that won't quit and a shining star in Jennifer Lawrence.” Roger Ebert gives it a solid, if unadorned, recommendation: “The Hunger Games is an effective entertainment, and Jennifer Lawrence is strong and convincing in the central role.” But Time mag’s Richard Corliss was seriously underwhelmed: “Can The Hunger Games, in the movie version directed by Gary Ross, successfully navigate the crossing from page to screen? Our answer: Eh.”
Our Take: An original story in Hollywood? Can’t wait to see it.
Jeff, Who Lives At Home
Jeff, Who Lives At Home is just a little comedy/drama starring Jason Segal (the Muppets), Ed Helms (the Hangover), and Oscar winning actress, Susan Sarandon. The close-up tale features Segal as a man adrift, living at home and looking for meaning in his life. His older, more successful, but just as adrift, brother is played by Helms. Their mom is Sarandon.
Perfect For: Fans of the dramedy—a drama that makes you laugh a little; a comedy that makes you cry. Think 50/50 without the cancer.
What the Critics Say: Despite flopping at the box office, the critics say it’s worth your money. And everyone loves Sarandon. Even the difficult-to-please New York Times gives it a positive review: “You come to like Jeff and even to admire him. The aura of holy foolishness that hangs around him is not just bong exhaust: he turns out to be the hero of a disarmingly sincere spiritual fable.”
Our Take: We’d see it, but we might wait to Netflix it.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
The title is a mouthful but so is the story. Ewan McGregor plays a fisheries expert enticed by Emily Blunt, a consultant, to help a man who lives in the Yemen make fly-fishing a possibility in the desert. Though he is reluctant to try, he’s pushed along by Kristin Scott Thomas, the press secretary for the Prime Minister. Part RomCom, part drama, possibly all treacle, the film is the work of Chocolat director Simon Beaufoy.
Perfect For: Indie film fans who like eco-conscious topics; people who think Ewan McGregor is handsome and will watch anything he does.
What the Critics Say: Mixed bag. Time magazine praised it for trying and failing: “Salmon Fishing was a novel first and you can see how all these juggled balls could stay in the air on the page, but in movie form, many of them just seem extraneous.” But USA Today writes: “Despite sporting the worst cinematic title since The Chumscrubber, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen hooks some charming laughs and a quaint romance by not delving too deeply into its subject matter.”
Our Take: We’ll sit this one out.