The Top One Movie of the Week

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Our critics choose from Kick-Ass, Death at a Funeral, Exit Through the Gift Shop, The Perfect Game, The Secret in Their Eyes, and The Joneses.




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.

SCOTT: Are we sick of superhero movies yet? Lionsgate certainly hopes not, as their bid for big-screen comic-book glory, Kick-Ass, leads this week’s parade of new releases. Based on the Marvel Comics series by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., Kick-Ass isn’t exactly a straightforward men-in-tights adventure; judging from the red-band trailer, it’s more like a cross between superheroes and SuperbadAaron Johnson stars as a geeky teenager who decides to become a costumed vigilante despite his lack of super-powers, and soon inspires a veritable Justice League of imitators, including Nicolas CageChristopher Mintz-Plasse, and Chloe Grace Moretz. As directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake), Kick-Ass promises to be raunchier and more violent than the average Marvel adaptation, and it could very well be our Top One Movie of the Week. There’s some intriguing competition this week, however. How about Neil LaBute‘s foray into comedy (the intentional kind, not the Wicker Man kind) with Death at a Funeral?

ANDREW: I feel like I should be excited about a movie with McLovin and a foul-mouthed eleven-year old kicking ass, especially when the action looks more reliant on good ol’ fashioned wirework than wall-to-wall CGI… and yet I feel a curious ennui. Could it be the ominous presence of blah-movie bellwether Cage in the cast? Or superhero fatigue, as you suggest? Or maybe I just got my fill of "regular" people engaged in wish-fulfillment heroics in last week’s ’80s-style empty-calorie comedy Date Night.

But I’m definitely curious about Funeral, screenwriter Dan Craig‘s African-American adaptation of his own 2007 British family-dysfunction comedy (featuring Peter Dinklage as a guy named "Frank," as opposed to the original, which featured Dinklage as a guy named "Peter"). True, the project’s brilliantly unhinged star Tracy Morgan (like fellow Funeral attendees Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence) tends to be way funnier when he’s not appearing in big-screen comedies… but who knows? Going into his latest feature with low expectations might yield a pleasant surprise — or am I just fooling myself?

SCOTT: I can’t say I’m a big fan of the whole "instant remake" phenomenon. It’s not like the original 2007 Death at a Funeral was some inaccessible foreign art film — it was directed by Frank Oz, for Pete’s sake. Still, the new version does boast a killer cast, and I’ll admit to being perversely amused by the idea of Neil LaBute directing a mainstream comedy — although judging from the slapsticky trailer, I suspect he’s playing it safe this time around just to prove he’s still hirable.

I’m more intrigued by the mysterious documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, described in the trailer as "the world’s first street-art disaster movie." Ostensibly, Gift Shop was meant to be an inside look at graffiti artists, notably the pseudonymous Banksy, but when the footage shot by original director Thierry Guetta proved unusable, the focus shifted to Guetta’s own burgeoning street-art career under the name "Mr. Brainwash." Whether the movie is an accurate depiction of events or a complete hoax is a matter of some dispute, but either way, it sounds fascinating. Or perhaps I can interest you in the Argentinian thriller The Secret in Their Eyes? Or the Little League drama The Perfect Game?

ANDREW: Not to damn with faint praise, but Gift Shop sounds like the kind of indie curiosity I’d definitely check out (along with a dozen other indie curiosities) as part of the all-you-can-eat cinematic smorgasbord of a film festival like Sundance, where it premiered. Yet even after reading your description and seeing the trailer, I’m still not sure whether I care enough about Mr. Brainwash to dub his potential hoaxumentary my Top One Movie of the Week.

As for The Perfect Game, I’ll admit I assumed it was just some cheesy new kid-flick full of belching and hugging and learning about the absence of "I" in team — and, indeed, those elements may well be present in this true story about a Mexican team facing racism and other obstacles to compete in the 1957 Little League World Series. But, unlike the precocious little shits in Hollywood’s typical family movies, the kids in Game seem like actual human beings facing actual challenges. Plus, it’s easy to root for a cast featuring Cheech MarinLost‘s Emilie de Ravin, and the undervalued Clifton Collins in the Walter Matthau slot as the team’s troubled coach. I know inspirational dramas aren’t our usual cup of warm cocoa, but given your soft spot for (North) America’s favorite pastime, this one might actually have a shot at the pennant.

SCOTT: Much as I love baseball, baseball movies do tend to dwell on the cornball aspects of the game (with a few notable exceptions like last year’s powerful Sugar). So I’d be hesitant to pick The Perfect Game. I’m more inclined to take a chance on the time-shifting Secret in Their Eyes, which jumps between a murder investigation in turbulent ’70s Argentina and its present-day aftermath. And we haven’t even mentioned the zeitgeist-y drama The Joneses, starring Demi MooreDavid DuchovnyAmber Heard, and Ben Hollingsworth as a team of high-end marketers posing as the new family in a wealthy neighborhood. Still, I’m going to go with Exit Through the Gift Shop, if only because my Twitter feed has been alight with rapturous praise from our fellow film bloggers all week. And you? Final answer?

ANDREW: Well, the phrase "starring Demi Moore and David Duchovny" doesn’t exactly inspire a whole lotta confidence in my filmgoing heart, so I think I can drop The Joneses from contention without too much regret. And while The Perfect Game sounds charming, I have to admit I’m more likely to rent it than rush out to see it this Friday. Unfortunately, I also feel the same about Exit Through the Gift Shop, which brings us to our first split decision. And, as for my half of the split: though the teenager in me wants to see Kick-Ass (especially since my wife will be out of town this weekend, allowing me to indulge in a film I know she would hate), the adult in me is pretty impressed by the current rating for The Secret in Their Eyes on Rotten Tomatoes, and I suspect director Juan José Campanella‘s thriller will be the most satisfying of this week’s new releases. Therefore, I hereby declare it my Top One Movie of the Week!

SCOTT’S TOP ONE MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Exit Through the Gift Shop