Summary Judgment: 'Lookout,' 'Blades of Glory'

In this week's installment of Summary Judgment from online magazine Slate, we'll hear about the critics' verdicts on this week's new movies: Meet the Robinsons, The Lookout and Blades of Glory.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And now to the big screen and new movies this week. The online magazine Slate compiles Summary Judgment. Here is Mark Jordan Legan.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN: Congratulations, movie-goers. You made "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" the number-one movie at the box office last week. The pride is back, America. Now can any of this weekend's releases knock the turtles off that all-important pedestal? Maybe. "Meet The Robinsons," the latest computer-animation from Disney, tells the story of an orphan boy inventor who is taken to the future. Angela Bassett and Tom Kenny provide some of the voices.

(Soundbite of film, "Meet the Robinsons")

Ms. ANGELA BASSETT (Actress): (As Mildred) All right, Einstein, you owe Michael big-time.

Unidentified Person #1 (Actor): (As character) Well, unlocking the secrets of the brain took a lot longer than I expected, but it's finished, Mildred. I've recalibrated the headset.

LEGAN: The nation's critics pretty much enjoyed the ride. Zippy, if forgettable, shrugs the Los Angeles Times, but Variety calls "Meet the Robinsons" sharp-minded and plenty entertaining, and the Philadelphia Enquirer raves. Simply put, it's terrific.

Top screenwriter Scott Frank, who made a name for himself adapting classic Elmore Leonard crime capers like "Get Shorty" and "Out of Sight," makes his directorial debut with an original crime thriller of his own, "The Lookout." Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a young janitor who is pulled into a plan to rob the bank where he works.

Mr. JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT (Actor): (As Chris Pratt) They're all banks?

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) Uh-huh. That's right, Chris, they're all banks.

Mr. GORDON-LEVITT: (As Pratt) Why are you taking pictures of a bunch of banks?

Unidentified Man #1: (As character) Because I'm going to rob one of them.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LEGAN: "The Lookout" looks great to the critics. LA Weekly shouts: funny, tender and littered with elegantly written characters. The Chicago Tribune finds it small but satisfying, and USA Today applauds: A haunting, engrossing and intelligent thriller.

And hey, if you've been wondering what in the heck Will Ferrell can dress up as next, seeing he's been an elf, an anchorman and then a race-car driver, well how about a male figure-skater? That's right, Ferrell teams former "Napoleon Dynamite" star Jon Heder in the skating comedy "Blades of Glory."

(Soundbite of film, "Blades of Glory")

Mr. WILL FERRELL (Actor): (As Chazz Michael Michaels) Each tattoo tells a different tale. They're like chapters in my life.

Mr. JON HEDER (Actor): (As Jimmy MacElroy) Really? So what's that one about?

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. FERRELL: (As Chazz Michael Michaels) That one represents the dragon lady. You might know her as Michelle - Kwan.

Mr. HEDER: (As Jimmy MacElroy) That's Michelle Kwan, the most decorated figure-skater in U.S. history? You tapped that?

Mr. FERRELL: (As Chazz Michael Michaels) Sure did.

LEGAN: Just like the judges at a skating competition, the critics are split, but many embrace the silliness. Even though the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sighs sporadically funny but never really inspired, the Wall Street Journal finds it blissfully silly, triumphantly tasteless and improbably hilarious, and the New York Times cheers fast, light and frequently funny.

So you know, it's okay to poke a little fun at professional skating, but some of us show it the respect it deserves. In fact, if it wasn't for my darn hamstring injury back in '88, I would've skated as Tevye in the national tour of "Fiddler on the Ice." I'm telling you, when I would hit my double lutz followed by a quad toe loop during "Sunrise, Sunset," not a dry eye in the arena.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan, well he spins a mean double axel when he's not writing here in Los Angeles.

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