Summary Judgment: 'Producers,' 'Kong,' 'Family Stone'

Writer Mark Jordan Legan rounds up what movie critics are saying about this weekend's releases, namely The Producers, King Kong and The Family Stone.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

So what are critics saying about all the new releases out this week? That's what we bring you every week with our digest of the reviews compiled by the online magazine Slate. Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN reporting:

First up in wide release, we have Mel Brooks and his singing Nazis from the smash hit musical "The Producers." Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick recreate their Tony Award-winning roles, which are played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder in the classic 1968 original film. Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman also star.

(Soundbite of "The Producers")

Unidentified Man #1: Under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than he could with a hit.

Unidentified Man #2: You bloody little genius.

LEGAN: The nation's critics are a bit hard on the movie. The New York Daily News warns, `If you've seen the play, treasure the memory and protect it. The movie will attack it like a virus.' And the LA Times finds it `reinforces the danger in returning to the same material one time too many.' But Variety applauds it calling "The Producers" `exuberant and hilarious.'

Next up in wide release, we have the holiday comedy "The Family Stone." Dermot Mulroney brings his new girlfriend Sarah Jessica Parker home for Christmas to meet his dysfunctional New England family. Diane Keaton and Claire Danes also star.

(Soundbite of "The Family Stone")

Unidentified Woman #1: I don't know what I did to you, I really don't. But, you know, I don't care whether you like me or not.

Unidentified Woman #2 : Oh, of course, you do.

LEGAN: The critics are split on this one. The Hollywood Reporter shrugs, `The film spends too much time on unconvincing romantic comedy contrivances to be consistently engaging.' The New York Times says, `Parker's nimble performance is reason alone to see this creaky fairy tale.' But Rolling Stone admits, `I fell for this one. Keaton, a sorceress at blending humor and heartbreak, honors the film with a grace that makes it stick in the memory.'

And we end with the big gorilla, Peter Jackson's epic remake of the classic 1933 film "King Kong." Jack Black and Adrien Brody lead the adventure, but it is Naomi Watts who steps up to fill the shoes once worn by the legendary Fay Wray.

(Soundbite of "King Kong")

Unidentified Man #3: About the scene today with young Bruce...

Unidentified Woman #3: I know it wasn't what you wrote, but Mr. Baxter felt very strongly that when a man likes a woman, he must ignore her. And if things turn really hostile, then--no?

Unidentified Man #3: Interesting theory.

LEGAN: The nation's critics all want to beat their chest and howl good things. The Washington Post calls it, `187 minutes of mesmerization, astonishment, thrills, chills, spills, kills and ills. The best popular entertainment of the year.' The New York Daily News shouts, `the most thrilling, soulful monster picture ever made.' And the Detroit News roars, `monstrous, monumental, magnificent.' Wow. An interesting side note, yet another picture set during the Great Depression, first "Cinderella Man" and now "King Kong." OK, who would win in a fight: Russell Crowe or King Kong? Well, if a telephone's involved, I gotta go with Crowe.

CHADWICK: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer taking calls in Los Angeles.

I'm Alex Chadwick. Stay with us on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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