Summary Judgment: 'Volver,' 'Borat'

Writer Mark Jordan Legan offers this round-up of what movie critics are saying about the weekend's releases. He looks at the Spanish-language film Volver and the animated film Flushed Away. He also checks out Borat: Cultural Learnings of America Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakstan.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And now, our weekly round-up of what the critics are saying about the new movie releases. Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment from the online magazine Slate.

Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN (Slate Magazine): First up in wide release is the satirical comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakstan. Sacha Baron Cohen, the British comedian who created the HBO series Da Ali G Show, takes one of his most popular characters - the confused Kaza reporter Borat, and has his camera crew follow him across America.

(Soundbite of film, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakstan")

Mr. SACHA BARON COHEN (Actor): (As Borat Sagdiyev) Look, there is a woman in a car. Can we follow her and maybe make a sexy time with her?

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) No, no, no...

Mr. COHEN: (As Borat) Let's get her.

LEGAN: The nation's critics say: we like. The New York Times says the brilliance of Borat is that its comedy is as pitiless as its social satire and as brainy. The Christian Science Monitor blushes: I don't mean to sound blurby, but Borat is the funniest comedy I've seen since - I don't know when. And the Washington Post raves: the result is a perfect combination of slapstick and satire, brilliant skewering of racism, anti-Semitism, sexism and that peculiar American affliction, we're-number-one-ism.

Next up in limited release is Volver, the latest from Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodóvar. Penelope Cruz heads a cast of strong, vital women who try and survive all that life throws at them.

(Soundbite of film, "Volver")

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #1 (Actress): (As character) (Speaking foreign language)

Unidentified Woman #2 (Actress): (As character) (Speaking foreign language)

LEGAN: The critics applaud Volver, calling it one of the director's best. It's very difficult to mesh fantasy with reality, but with great charm and a light touch, Almodóvar shows exactly how it should be done, cheers the Hollywood Reporter. Newsweek finds that Volver flows effortlessly between peril and poignancy, the real and the surreal, even life and death. And USA Today raves: With this, possibly his most subdued film, Almodóvar reinforces his status as one of the most distinctive and talented filmmakers working today.

And we close with the wide-release, computer-animated family comedy: Flushed Away. From the same creative team that brought us Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit comes the computer-animated story of the bustling sewer world beneath the streets of London and the creatures that inhabit it. Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman and Sir Ian McKellen are just a few of the thespians providing vocal talent.

(Soundbite of film, "Flushed Away")

Mr. HUGH JACKMAN (Actor): (As Roddy) All you have to do is just get me home to Kensington, and I'll make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. KATE WINSLET (Actress): (As Rita): How do I know this ain't just a load of old rubbish?

Mr. JACKMAN: (As Roddy) Well, I suppose you'll just have to trust me.

LEGAN: The critics were swept away. The Los Angeles Times gurgles: The film offers rousing adventures that kids will love and witty humor that adults can appreciate. The Austin Chronicle calls it wicked and smart. And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Flushed Away is filled to overflowing with mischievous gags for kids and adults alike. It gives potty humor a good name. Wait a minute. Potty humor doesn't need a good name. That defeats the whole purpose of potty humor. Let potty humor stay potty humor, and am I the only one who cares about family values?

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

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