Summary Judgment: 'Beerfest,' 'Idlewild,' 'Invincible'

Slate contributor Mark Jordan Legan summarizes what critics are saying about the week's new major movie releases — Beerfest, Idlewild and Invincible.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Every Friday we get the lowdown on what critics are saying about the weekend's new movies. It's compiled by the online magazine Slate. Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN reporting:

We start with the wide-release musical Idlewild. Set in the 1930s at a southern speakeasy, the members of the hit group Outkast lead an ensemble that also includes Terrence Howard, Macy Gray, and Ving Rhames.

(Soundbite of movie Idlewild)

Unidentified Man: (Singing) But one so vain that you're going to say, (unintelligible) at a little old place, Idlewild (unintelligible) and they don't play...

LEGAN: The critics are split on this adventurous film, with many applauding the musical sequences. While The New York Times frowns, The joint doesn't jump, it just twitches and stumbles, the Washington Post shouts, For all its shortcomings, Idlewild also has something that few films can pull off, moments of pure cinematic fabulousness and breathtaking dance sequences. And Entertainment Weekly says, It's a ramp, a ticket to a rowdy good time.

Next up is the feel-good sports drama Invincible, based on the true story of local bartender Vince Papale, who ignores staggering odds trying to make the team as a walk-on with the Philadelphia Eagles back in the 1970s. Mark Wahlberg and Greg Kinnear star.

(Soundbite of movie Invincible)

Mr. GREG KINNEAR (Actor): (As Dick Vermeil) I'm Dick Vermeil.

Mr. MARK WAHLBERG (Actor): (As Vince Papale): Vince Papale.

Mr. KINNEAR: (As Dick Vermeil) Vince, that's a pretty good workout you just turned in. Vince, you mind me asking you how old you are?

Mr. WAHLBERG: (As Vince Papale) I don't mind. Mind me asking how old you are, coach?

LEGAN: Despite the standard clichés, the nation's critics cheered this underdog story. USA Today admits it doesn't offer any surprises, but it's a well-made, fairly exciting movie that, like its hero, has heart. The Hollywood Reporter finds it a persuasive and enjoyable sports film, and the Village Voice chants, Invincible joins Rocky or Breaking Away as one of the few satisfying sports movies in which the foundation built upon a heap of clichés holds strong.

And we close with the film Snakes at a Beerfest. No wait, that's not right. Beerfest is the latest from the wild comedy troupe Broken Lizard, which also made the college cult favorite Super Troopers a few years back. For those of you still requiring a plot synopsis for a movie entitled Beerfest, you are not the core audience.

(Soundbite of movie Beerfest)

CROWD (Actors): (Chanting) (Unintelligible)

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As character) Oh, um...

Unidentified Man #3 (Actor): (As character) (Singing) Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall...

LEGAN: The nation's critics argue: less plot, tastes great. The Austin Chronicle sniffs, The vulgarity is so over the top and the decent jokes too few and far between. The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls it cleverly construed bad taste, but the Arizona Republic foams, Beerfest serves up a keg's worth of fun.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LEGAN: Well, that's a zany out-there idea, the beer Olympics. That could never happen. Why do I feel Anheuser Busch is text-messaging ESPN at this very moment?

(Soundbite of sigh)

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

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