Weekend Movie Guide: Cowboys & Aliens & Brohawks & Smurfs

MOVIES OPENING THIS WEEK: Cowboys and Aliens, Attack the Block (in select cities), Crazy Stupid Love, The Smurfs. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of reading all the rest of this, let’s put it this way: Attack the Block is the one you want to see, at least until The Guard comes out.

COWBOYS AND ALIENS: Jon Favreau takes a break from Iron Man to film Bourne in the desert with James Bond and Indiana Jones. It has other things boys like as well, like aliens, ‘splosions, and Olivia Wilde. No dinosaurs though. Weak, dude.

RottenTomatoes: 44%

Gratuitous Review Quotes:

Actually, the ampersand in the title is a tad misleading, since the genres never fuse into an extraterrestrial horse opera. A more accurate label would be Cowboys, Then Aliens, Then Cowboys Again, Then a Big Mess of Aliens. There’s no whole, just parts. -Rick Groen, GlobeandMail

Cowboys & Aliens has fun moments, but it’s a plodding entertainment because it mostly tastes like leftovers. -Owen Glieberman, Entertainment Weekly

The movie gets by on the strength of agreeable talent who enjoy playing along and can endure the horse manure and space goo being shovelled. -Pete Howell, Toronto Star

Armchair Assessment: Yeah, it’s pretty stupid.

FUN FACT: Spielberg has produced three movies so far this year (four, if you count I Am Number Four, which came from his company, Dreamworks), all of them about alien invasion (Super 8, Transformers 3, Cowboys & Aliens). Maybe he knows things.

NEXT PAGE: Attack the Block

ATTACK THE BLOCK: Edgar Wright’s buddy Joe Cornish does a British version of Super 8 that doesn’t suck. In other words… ‘s about aliens attackin’ da block, innit, bruv. Trust.

RottenTomatoes: 88%

Gratuitous Review Quotes:

Irreverently funny without ever being spoofy…The one-liners are hilarious, and Cornish has a deft touch at weaving social commentary on urban gentrification into the narrative. – Ian Buckwalter, NPR

“Attack the Block” is the other alien-invasion movie opening today, the lousy one, the one from Britain. In Britain, it’s probably just a regular bad movie, but here – with accents that are barely comprehensible and in-jokes about council flats, not to mention a swerving handheld camera and some of the cheapest effects since “Night of the Lepus” – it’s surprising this thing ever got released. -Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, quite possibly my least favorite critic in the history of film criticism.

Attack the Block strains somewhat to deliver a climactic moral, but the way it slyly shifts our sympathies to Moses and his crew (at the expense of another species, granted) without overplaying their deprivation puts more serious-minded indies to shame. -Marc Holcomb, Village Voice

Armchair Analysis: Well, here’s the long version. The short version is, while this summer needs another alien invasion flick like Brett Ratner needs another hot pocket, this one’s by far the best of the bunch. Plus it’s got black people with British accents. How do they come up with this stuff?!

NEXT PAGE: The Smurfs

THE SMURFS: The Smurfs are back, and now they’re in New York for some reason! Also, they have funny accents and dance to hip hop.

RottenTomatoes: 19%


Okay, so the plot of Smurfs is that these pointless blue things live in a mushroom village in a magical land (or “The Middle Ages” if you’re whatever stupid person edited the Smurf Wikipedia page) where they get all hopped up on magic berries and dance jigs for 20 hours a day, and are eternally being chased by a bald guy in a dress named Gargamel (Azaria) who wants to “extract” their “essence” (I WILL GIVE YOU $500 IF YOU CAN PROVE THAT ISN’T A WEIRD SEXUAL THING). But, apparently, once in a “blue moon” (not a thing), a watery butt-tunnel opens up to New York City. So of COURSE the stupid Smurfs (plus Gargamel) fall through the magic hole and have to go live with Neil Patrick Harris and learn/teach a few lessons about the importance of family and believing in yourself and gardening and whatever.

There’s Clumsy Smurf, whose “personality” is f*cking everything up. There’s Gutsy Smurf, who wears a kilt and is constantly throwing himself off of tall buildings for no reason (“SMURFABUNGA” IS NOT A WORD. ALSO, WHY ARE YOU SCOTTISH?). -Lindy West, The Stranger

Armchair Analysis: You know, I think Lindy pretty well covered it.

NEXT PAGE: Crazy, Stupid, Love

This is how it made Baby Goose feel that I didn’t get to see this film.

CRAZY STUPID LOVE: Baby Goose plays Hitch, helps Steve Carell win his wife back after she cheats on him. Written by Dan Fogelman and directed by the guys who wrote Bad Santa (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa).

RottenTomatoes: 74%


A multi-threaded and well-organized comedy full of pleasant surprises and appealing characters. -Eric D. Snider, Film.com

The workmanship and effort are evident in every straining moment, but the end result is so completely phony as to be without value. -James Rocchi, MSN

Pity the crowds expecting another cute comedy like “Date Night” who wind up at “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” It’ll be like asking for a burger and getting served escargot. -Kyle Smith, NY Post

Armchair Analysis: I had a hard time getting past that part of the synopsis where Steve Carell has to win back a wife who cheated on him, or the dumb pick-up artist/mentor story again, or the ladies-man-discovers-he-cares story, or… honestly, it looks like a pile of broad comedy clichés got jizzed into a dramedy. But I enjoy Ficarra and Requa, and the good reviews have me second-guessing myself.  Hey, girl, somethings never go out of style. Also, the kid in it is named “Jonah Bobo.” I mean, it’s no Yolanda Squatpump, but still, a humorous name.