MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Back now with Day to Day. A horror remake, a comedy and a thriller are your movie choices this weekend. And to tell us what the critics thought of these new releases, here is Mark Jordan Legan with Slate's Summary Judgment.
MARK JORDAN LEGAN: The good news is some big movies are being released in February. The bad news is it's still January. And yes, the studios continue dumping their castoffs and orphans into the multiplexes. Liam Neeson, a fine actor, tries his hand at an action movie with "Taken." His daughter is kidnapped in Paris and - would you know it? - Neeson is a former spy, so he uses his special spy guy skills to find her at any cost.
(Soundbite of movie "Taken")
Mr. LIAM NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) You didn't really think I was going to come down there, did you?
Unidentified Man #2: I didn't think you were going to make such a mess.
Mr. OLIVIER RABOURDIN: (As Jean-Claude) It's the best I could do, I'm sorry.
Mr. NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) Sorry doesn't cut it anymore, Jean-Claude.
LEGAN: Critics are not that taken with "Taken." Some sort of, kind of like it. The Washington Post says, a satisfying thriller. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer shrugs, accomplished if misguided. And Entertainment Weekly adds, a propulsively outlandish actioner.
Next is yet another remake of a hit Asian horror film, this time the 2003 Korean title "Tale of Two Sisters," now called "The Uninvited." Elizabeth Banks stars as a teen's new stepmother, and the teen is convinced that Banks is up to no good - stepmom no good.
(Soundbite of movie "The Uninvited")
Ms. ELIZABETH BANKS: (As Rachael) You know what, Anna. I don't think this is going to work out.
LEGAN: Yeah, the critics don't think it's going to work either. Reviews are split. Real View shivers, a flawed production, but gratifying in the way it delivers. But Variety calls "The Uninvited" weak, even by the standard of uninspired recent Asian horror remakes. This is more likely to induce snickers and yawns than shudders and yelps.
But for those of you who love a romantic comedy, no matter what the plot is, maybe "New in Town" is just for you. Renee Zellweger stars as an ambitious, tough big city executive who accepts a temporary transfer to get a new factory going, only the factory is way out in the sticks. And you know what Hollywood thinks of as way out in the sticks - a field or two, couple squirrels, quirky-yet-wise town folk and one or two handsome studs in flannel shirts.
(Soundbite of movie "New in Town")
Unidentified Woman: It's going to get a heck of a lot colder.
Ms. RENNE ZELLWEGER: (As Lucy Hill) Colder? It gets colder?
Unidentified Woman: Want me to go over the fireplace?
Ms. ZELLWEGER: (As Lucy Hill) No, I'm a city girl, but I know how to light a fire.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. ZELLWEGER: (As Lucy Hill) Where's the switch?
LEGAN: Well, the nation's critics had no patience for this highfalutin city slicker. The Hollywood Reporter sighs, "strictly old hat, and a poorly assembled hat at that. But the Boston Globe is kinder - You've seen "New in Town" before, and you've seen it done better. Still, it's a sweet-hearted bit of anemia, pleasant and obvious. And there are a few honest laughs in it.
Well, you know, that's a relief. We need more movies like this where the blue states and red states come together and learn to understand each other in about 96 minutes.
BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living in the big, old city of Los Angeles.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.