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The Top One Movie of the Week

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Our critics choose from Date Night, Letters to God, and The Square.

The Top One Movie of the Week

In Nerve’s new film feature, our two critics pore over the new releases and argue over what to see. In a perpetually crowded field, we’ll help you narrow down your options.

ANDREW: For me, Date Night is this week’s clear front-runner, even though I usually avoid such relentlessly promoted high-concept comedies — especially when the premise, a middle-aged suburban couple shooting for romance in the Big Apple, involves a lot of shooting, thanks to a deadly case of mistaken identity. Action comedies rarely do well by either of their component genres, and the involvement of director Shawn "Unnecessary Pink Panther Remake" Levy doesn’t exactly inspire a whole lotta confidence, but come on: Steve Carell and Nerd America’s Sweetheart Tina Fey together at last as the harried marrieds? A hall-of-fame supporting cast including Kristin Wiig, Common, Taraji P. Henson, James Franco, Ari Graynor, the ever-luscious Mila Kunis as a character named "Whippit," and for all the ladies and gay gentlemen, a shirtless Mark Wahlberg? Count me in… unless, of course, the ad campaign manages to cannibalize every second of the film before Friday rolls around!

SCOTT: I’ll admit it’s hard to argue with that cast. As far as teaming up Thursday-night-sitcom stalwarts Carell and Fey, the only real question is, "What took so long?" Kristin Wiig may be overexposed on Saturday Night Live, but since I haven’t watched the show on a regular basis since the first George W. Bush administration, that doesn’t bother me. And Ari Graynor is comedy’s best-kept secret (although the secret may be out since she stole the show in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist). That said, Date Night basically screams "Wait for me to show up on HBO and rerun every other hour until the end of time." You singled out Shawn Levy’s Pink Panther remake, but let’s not forget his many other crimes: both Night at the Museum movies, as well as an equally unnecessary remake of Cheaper by the Dozen. And yet, Date Night could still take the top honors this week, given the extremely weak competition. Care to make a case for the inspirational Christian cancer movie Letters to God?

ANDREW: Uh… no offense to co-stars Lisa Curtis, Christopher Schmidt, or Ralph Waite (as "Cornelius Perryfield" — who I’m guessing must be some kind of comical magician or eccentric zeppelin pilot) — but a film about a young cancer patient writing letters to God pretty much sounds like a Hallmark Holiday Special. Let’s just say I’m not exactly the target audience for the nice people at Possibility Pictures (designed, according to Wikipedia, to be "the DreamWorks of faith-based movies"). So instead, perhaps we should turn our attention to The Square. The trailer makes it out to be some kind of Australian version of Blood Simple, starring an actress with the awesome last name Van Der Boom. (I’m thinking she could team up with "Bombshell" McGee for the greatest female buddy flick since Flatbed Annie & Sweetiepie: Lady Truckers.) Could this unlikely sleeper turn out to be our Top One Movie of the Week?

SCOTT: I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the target audience for Letters to God isn’t reading Nerve anyway — and I’m sure the movie will reach the people who want to see it without any help from us, judging from the success of 2008’s similar faith-based indie Fireproof. In any case, it’s not going to get any help from me. I’m much more intrigued by The Square, which I unaccountably missed when it played SXSW last year. All my life I’ve been waiting for Australia’s answer to the Coen Brothers — I just didn’t realize it until now. Sure, there’s no guarantee that Nash and Joel Edgerton can live up to such comparisons, but given my reservations about Date Night and my complete lack of interest in Letters to God, The Square easily wins my endorsement by default. All that remains to be seen is whether we’re unanimous this week, or if we’ve come to our first split decision. Back to you…

ANDREW: Hmm, a heavily promoted mainstream comedy vs. an under-the-radar foreign indie (which was actually released Down Under back in 2008). One seems great on paper, but could easily underwhelm, while the other might be a sleeper cult hit that would give us hipster street cred as early promoters of the Edgerton Brothers. On the other hand, Date Night might be just as funny as it promises and The Square could simply wind up being another Coen/Tarantino wannabe (albeit with Australian accents). Still, given the clear Davey vs. Goliath nature of the match-up (and despite the fact Date Night will probably wind up being my own date-night movie this week), I’ll add my thumb to yours for our official endorsement.

THE TOP ONE MOVIE OF THE WEEK: The Square

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