The Weinsteins' ebullient backstage musical "The Sapphires," which chronicles the success of an all-girl Aboriginal band out of Australia in the 1960s and boasts a break-out performance from Irish star-on-the-rise Chris O'Dowd, and Adam Leon's SXSW and Cannes entry "Gimme the Loot," a well-shot love story set against the backdrop of graffiti pranksters in New York City, are receiving the top marks from critics this week.
Meanwhile, DreamWorks Animation's newest entry "The Croods" is getting middling to decent reviews, as is French-Canadian export comedy "Starbuck" and Welsh high school musical "Hunky Dory" -- featuring live-singing pre-"Les Miserables" -- starring Minnie Driver.
The deadly dull and not-funny "Admission," while starring the likable duo of Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, is rounding out the bottom of the pack, with jokes "that land as lightly as badminton birdies." We look forward to the next comedy actually written by Fey.
Gimme the Loot Dir. Adam Leon, USA | Sundance Selects | Joshua Rivera, Tashiana Washington, Ty Hickson, Zoe Lescaze | 100% Fresh | A.V. Club: "It’s a bright, lively movie, with a vision of New York as a multicultural free-for-all, where everybody’s always looking to see what they can take from everybody else."
The Sapphires Dir. Wayne Blair, Australia | Weinstein Company | Cast: Chris O'Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Miranda Tapsell, Shari Sebbens | 92% Fresh | The Hollywood Reporter: "An exuberant celebration of Aboriginality that fizzes with humor and heart; its soulfulness goes beyond the embrace of a jukebox full of Motown, Stax and Atlantic Records hits."
The Croods Dir. Chris Sanders, USA | Twentieth Century Fox | Cast: Catherine Keener, Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds | 77% Fresh | Austin Chronicle: "A spirited and eye-popping stealth charmer." | Our TOH! "Immersed in Movies" feature on "The Croods."
Starbuck Dir. Ken Scott, Canada | Entertainment One | Cast: Patrick Huard, Julie LeBreton | 68% Fresh | Total Film: "Huard's charm offsets the plot contrivancies, while Ken Scott's finely balanced direction humanizes the high concept." | "Starbuck" Director Ken Scott Not the First to Remake His Own Movie.
Hunky Dory Dir. Marc Evans, USA | Gravitas Ventures | Cast: Minnie Driver, Danielle Branch, Aneuirn Barnard, Robert Pugh, Owen Teale, Haydn Gwynne, Adam Byard | 56% Rotten | New York Times: "At various moments this endearing but sudsy movie, which spills all over the place, evokes “High School Musical,” “Glee” and “Billy Elliot.” But unlike them, it feels less like a corporate product than like an earnest, eccentric expression of its creators’ nostalgia for the twilight of a musical lotus land before the Sex Pistols and the Clash changed everything." | Our TOH! review.
Admission Dir. Paul Weitz, USA | Universal Pictures | Cast: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Gloria Reuben, Nat Wolff | 37% Rotten | New York Times: "Mr. Weitz lines up a target placed at the explosive intersection of class, race, region and every other source of societal anguish, and then does not so much miss as aim in another direction — or several — letting fly a volley of darts that land as lightly as badminton birdies." | Our TOH! interview with Tina Fey.