Slate's Summary Judgment: 'Sharkboy and Lava Girl,' 'The Honeymooners,' 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'

Slate contributor Mark Jordan Legan looks at what the critics are saying about this week's major movie releases, including The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl, The Honeymooners and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Well, another weekend is upon us. Are there any movies worth your time? Here's our weekly digest of what critics are saying about the new releases, courtesy of our partners at the online magazine Slate. Mark Jordan Legan has this Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN reporting:

First up in wide release, we have a remake of the classic 1950s TV sitcom "The Honeymooners." Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps try and fill the shoes of the legendary Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, who originated the roles of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton.

(Soundbite of "The Honeymooners")

Unidentified Man #1: We've got to get to these pipes.

Unidentified Man #2: Look, just fix it, OK? It'd be good to have some peace and quiet around here.

(Soundbite of crashing noise)

Unidentified Man #2: Go.

Unidentified Woman #1: Oh, my God.

Unidentified Man #2: You...

LEGAN: The nation's critics feel like sending this comedy `To the moon, Alice.' Even though Roger Ebert enjoys it, calling it `a surprise and a delight,' the Hollywood Reporter moans, `A lackluster affair, devoid of laughs and just about anything else one might construe as entertainment.' And the Philadelphia Inquirer bang-zooms with, `Not only an insult to the original; it should be shown in film schools as proof of how pointless a movie can be.'

Next up, we have the family film "The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl" in 3-D. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, who has brought us everything from the hit "Spy Kids" franchise to this year's gritty "Sin City," he now delivers an action-adventure fantasy written in large part by his young son.

(Soundbite of "The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl")

Unidentified Boy: Both of you are just a dream, and when I open my eyes you'll be gone.

Unidentified Girl: We're still here, Max.

LEGAN: The critics did not bring their inner child along on this one. Even though the LA Weekly says it is a `slight but immensely enjoyable charmer,' The Washington Post found it `astoundingly boring and frankly tedious to sit through.' And The Village Voice slams it, quote, "Based on characters created by Rodriguez's seven-year-old son, Racer Max, the film doesn't belong in wide release. It belongs on a refrigerator door alongside spelling tests, old lunch menus and notices from the PTA," unquote. Whew! That's tough.

`Hey, Racer Max, how was your summer? I got a new puppy and lost another tooth.' `Man, I got ripped by The Village Voice.'

And finally, in wide, wide release, we have "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." You might have heard something about this movie, which stars these actors named Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? They play a married suburban couple who lead secret lives, secret even from each other, as--you guessed it--professional assassins. Of course they end up trying to kill each other, but--Did I mention?--they're married.

(Soundbite of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith")

Mr. BRAD PITT: (As Mr. Smith) We have an unusual problem, Jane. You obviously want me dead, and I'm less and less concerned for your well-being. So what do we do? We shoot it out here? Hope for the best?

Ms. ANGELINA JOLIE: (As Mrs. Smith) That would be a shame because they would probably ask me to leave once you're dead.

LEGAN: Forget what the critics thought. What does Jennifer Aniston have to say about it? Well, until she releases her review, we'll have to deal with the fact that many critics complain about the script and the over-the-top violence, but almost all agree that these kids have on-screen heat. `A rousing, sexy, romantic comedy,' purrs the New York Daily News. The Hollywood Reporter shouts, `Pitt and Jolie make one swell combative couple,' but Variety grouses, `The sheer weight and volume of mayhem toward the end is numbing and meaningless.' And The Arizona Republic complains, `"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" has a beginning, but it lacks the always important middle and end.'

Now apparently there was some kind of off-screen relationship here, but the entertainment shows and the tabloids are being very hush-hush about it. Darn them and their low-key respectable ways!

BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living in Los Angeles.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News and slate.com.

(Credits)

BRAND: I'm Madeleine Brand.

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