By Forrest Cardamenis | Criticwire March 22, 2013 at 12:02PM
Lots of new releases today, but not a ton of new reviews. The big reason, it seems, is that none of these new releases are doing particularly well with critics, many of them falling in in the "C" and low "B" area of our Criticwire scale. Nonetheless, with so many choices, you're bound to find something that works for you.
Making its way from Cannes is "The Sapphires" ("B", 19 ratings), a crowd-pleaser based on the true story of a group that toured Vietnam during the war:
"A fully realized and layered story that delivers both humor and compassion, fantastic music that truly takes you back to that point in time, and an unforgettable performance from O'Dowd that proves he can deftly deliver the heart as much as the laughs."
"Closer to 'The Commitments' than 'Dreamgirls' with its broad Down Under humor, the colorful pic counts on sensational song-and-dance numbers and O'Dowd's virtuoso comic turn to carry it through some bumpy key changes."
So far, the new release pulling in the best reviews is DreamWorks' caveman cartoon "The Croods" ("B+", 9 ratings):
"DreamWorks Animation has mastered 3D animation as well as any animation group but not the amazing storytelling prowess of Pixar."
With a star-studded cast, "Olympus Has Fallen" ("C", 14 ratings) feels like a wasted opportunity to some critics:
"If Fuqua and his producers would have budgeted for state-of-the-art effects instead of wasting the funds on an underutilized stable of award nominees, we might be characterizing this as an above average B-movie. Instead 'Olympus Has Fallen' is simply a middling mediocrity."
A full year after its South by Southwest premiere and awards wins, "Gimme The Loot" ("B-", 23 ratings) has arrived in theaters:
"Writer-director Adam Leon’s micro-budget indie has a poetic rhythm to its “day in the life” structure, as it attempts to navigate the economic and social disparities between Manhattan and the outlying boroughs."
Tina Fey's latest comedy, "Admission" ("B-", 13 ratings) has drawn a mix of cautious reactions:
"For one thing, Paul Weitz cannot find the right tone for a tale, set in the academic world, which might have worked better as a drama than a comedy; as helmed by Weitz, 'Admission' is not funny or witty enough."
"Even with a few stumbles here and there, 'Admission' has a solid emotional core, bolstered by director Paul Weitz's refusal to pass judgment over any of these characters."
Arriving from TIFF is the outlandish comedy "Starbuck" ("C-", 9 ratings):
"Perhaps the filmmakers love 'My Name Is Earl' and 'Amelie'? The leap from lack of focus, to suddenly helping, with montages, is pure fantasy. And there is pleasure in watching David secretly helping his progeny. However, this movie experience is superficial."
The rock 'n' roll coming of age "Hunky Dory" ("B-", 9 ratings) is admired in concept but receiving criticism for its execution:
"Director Marc Evans and screenwriter Laurence Coriat fumble both the musical side of their movie and the coming-of-age side. The characters fall too neatly into the standard teen-movie slots: the inspiring teacher, her jaded peers, her troubled students. And Evans doesn’t do near enough with the musical performances."
Finally, horror fans may want to check out "Come Out and Play" ("B-", 6 ratings), a remake of the little known film "Who Can Kill A Child?"
"It is a well crafted and engaging horror film that doesn't seem too intent on making people recognize its remake pedigree. It is also, though, a near carbon-copy of the original film, a beat by beat retelling of a known narrative."