Summary Judgment: 'Miami Vice,' 'Little Miss Sunshine,' 'Scoop'

Slate contributor Mark Jordan Legan reviews what critics are saying about this weekend's movie releases — Miami Vice, Little Miss Sunshine and the Woody Allen comedy Scoop.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick.

NOAH ADAMS, host:

And I'm Noah Adams.

A new crop of movies arise in the multiplex today and with it comes our digest of what the critics are saying. It's a weekly service compiled for us by the online magazine Slate. Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN reporting:

First up in limited release is the family road comedy Little Miss Sunshine. A big hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival, it stars Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette as parents who drive their dysfunctional family to Southern California so their little girl can compete in a kiddy beauty pageant. Steve Carell and Alan Arkin also star.

(Soundbite of movie, Little Miss Sunshine)

Ms. JILL TALLEY (Actress): (As Cindy) Sheryl, it's Cindy. Remember when Olive was here last month she was runner-up in the regional Little Miss Sunshine? Well, they just called right now and said that the girl who won had to forfeit her crown. I don't know why. Something about diet pills. But anyway, now she has a place in the state contest in Redondo...

LEGAN: The critics rave about this spot of sunshine. USA Today cheers, There's nothing inherently sunny about Little Miss Sunshine and that's part of the fresh and clever lunacy of this deliciously dark comedy. And Newsweek beams, Sweet and smart, there's been no more satisfying American comedy this year.

Next up, also in limited release is the latest film from Woody Allen, Scoop. In this London-based comedy, a young journalism student is contacted by a dead reporter who needs her help chasing the story of a lifetime. Hugh Jackman, Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson star.

(Soundbite of movie, Scoop)

Ms. SCARLETT JOHANSSON (Actress): (As Sondra) Well, I was just showing father around. He loves English homes.

Mr. WOODY ALLEN (Actor): (As Sid) Yes, I was very impressed with your cellar. I have a wonderful cellar myself. No wine, but it's rodent free.

LEGAN: Many of the critics feel Mr. Allen should take a rest. Even the good reviews are rather underwhelming. The New York Times finds it oddly appealing. And the Minneapolis Star Tribune says Scoop is a carefully crafted combination of light suspense and frivolous comedy. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gripes, A disappointing backslide from the mini-comeback of last year's Match Point. And the Washington Post doesn't mince words, bluntly shouting, The worst movie Woody Allen has ever made.

And finally, in wide release we have the big screen version of the hip 1980s TV series Miami Vice. Director Michael Mann revisits the characters he helped develop, with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx stepping into the designer shoes of Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas.

(Soundbite of movie, Miami Vice)

Mr. JAMIE FOXX (Actor): (As Detective Tubbs) So, what's going on?

Mr. COLIN FARRELL (Actor): (As Detective Crockett) As in?

Mr. FOX: As in there is undercover and then there is which way is up.

Mr. FARRELL: What, you think I'm in so deep I forgot?

Mr. FOX: I will never doubt you.

LEGAN: Critics are split on this one. Many compliment the action scenes, but have trouble with the clich├ęd plot. Even though, the Chicago Tribune says, It's a dazzler, and the Arizona Daily Star bellows, Full-blooded and furious. Entertainment Weekly warns that Miami Vice, as entertaining as some of it is, is so cool it's almost too cool. It takes the sin and much of the juice out of ice. And the New York Observer sneers, Crummy, pointless and brain-dead.

Hey, brain-dead or not, this show helped me find my look in the '80s and it's a look I still use today. I've got my three-day stubble, my linen pants, my loafers with no socks and my Italian blazer over a pastel t-shirt. Too bad this is radio, ladies, because you should see the stares I get.

CHADWICK: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer. He lives in Los Angeles.

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