Top One Movie of the Week

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Our critics choose from Iron Man 2, Babies, Mother and Child, and Casino Jack and the United States of Money.

ANDREW: ZING!!! POW!!! ZAP!!! Enough with the twee indie dramas and Human Centipedes… that THX Dolby surround-sound explosion you hear is the SUMMER MOVIE SEASON BLASTING DOWN THE DOOR (even though Memorial Day Weekend is still weeks away, and Clash of the Titans, How To Train Your Dragon, and Alice in Wonderland kinda jumped the gun in the whole 2010 blockbuster race). But from this point on, there’s a big A-list "event" film hitting theaters (and fast-food chains) pretty much every damn week until Labor Day, starting with Iron Man 2, one of the rare CGI orgies my lovely Polish bride actually wants to see with me, thanks to the goodwill left over from the witty, well-crafted original and the presence of comeback king (and human special-effect) Mickey Rourke in the cast as the villainous Whiplash. Plus, Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau — a big-budget Hollywood director who seems to care about making his films good as well as profitable — is back for seconds, which gives me hope Part Deux will avoid the perils of sequel slump… but wait, there’s more! This time around, Robert Downey, Jr.‘s wisecracking superhero will be joined not only by Don "the Chead" Cheadle (replacing Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes), but also Nerve All-Star SCARLETT FRICKIN’ JOHANSSON kicking ass in a leather catsuit!!! I mean, Jesus… the only thing I’d be more psyched for would be uncensored behind-the-scenes footage of Rourke and Downey, Jr. trading pre-rehab war stories and the (alleged) hissing on-set catfights between Johansson and co-star/GOOP maven Gwyneth Paltrow. So I guess the big question is: are you Team ScarJo or Team Gwynnie? (And, oh yeah, are there any other movies coming out this week?)

SCOTT: Much as I enjoyed Ms. Paltrow’s work in the first Iron Man movie, there are few phrases that will get me to open my wallet faster than "Scarlett Johansson in a leather catsuit." And sure, Downey’s initial outing as ol’ metalhead was a delight, and Favreau did manage to construct one of the breeziest superhero blockbusters of our time… but can lightning strike twice? I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the early reviews have not been encouraging, and for all the reasons you would expect: too many villains, too many storylines, too many special effects… in other words, Batman Forever. So there’s ample reason to be skeptical, but maybe Favreau and company have earned enough goodwill to secure our Top One Movie of the Week honors. At the risk of coming off as a hater of cute tiny humans, I don’t expect those honors to go to the documentary Babies, which follows one year in the life of four infants in Mongolia, Namibia, San Francisco, and Tokyo. The trailer makes it look like March of the Penguins in people form, although there’s probably little chance that any of the wee babes will be eaten by seals. What do you think? Ninety minutes of crying, diaper-pooping, and "cultural and maternal nudity" sound good to you?

ANDREW: Ah, yes… nothing gets the ol’ biological clock ticking faster than ooohing and aaahing at four adorable, racially diverse little critters for an hour or two (as opposed to… the rest of your life), accompanied by the scent of hot buttered popcorn (as opposed to… fresh poo) and a tranquil New Age soundtrack (as opposed to… SHRIEKING AND SHRIEKING AND SHRIEKING at 2 a.m…. and 3 a.m…. and 4:45and…). Um, okay, so maybe I’m not exactly the target audience for Bébé(s) (the cooler-sounding French title of Thomas Balmes‘ admittedly sweet and seemingly well made baby extravaganza). So let’s move on to Mother and Child, Rodrigo García‘s indie drama about the less cuddly side of parenthood, starring the generally reliable Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson (as badass S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury… I mean, uh… as a guy named Paul who has sex with Naomi Watts). I know it’s a longshot, but is it possible you’re having inexplicable cravings for a weepy adoption drama?

SCOTT: I doubt Vegas is giving favorable odds on that particular outcome, although I’m starting to feel like the world’s most heartless man here. (He hates babies and motherhood! And probably kittens, too!) I’m sure Mother and Child is as heartfelt and well-acted as García’s earlier efforts Nine Lives and Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, but as long as I’m embracing my cold, dark heart, I have to say that Casino Jack and the United States of Money looks like the safest bet for my movie-going dollar. Alex Gibney‘s documentary about the rise and fall of Washington super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff may not be good for my blood pressure during the "rise" portion, which is sure to provoke outrage at the innumerable ways in which our political system is broken… but the "fall" part of the story should provide some of the same sweet schadenfreude of corrupt douchebags getting their comeuppance that Gibney’s Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room did a few years back. It’s not a rip-roaring summer blockbuster and it’s definitely not the sentimental choice, but it is my Top One Movie of the Week.

ANDREW: Holy mackerel, now there’s a twist ending I wasn’t expecting: Abramoff defeats Iron Man! Although, now that you mention it, Gibney’s documentary would be the perfect Mother’s Day outing in my family, since there’s nothing Ma Osborne likes better than getting all worked up about government corruption and skulduggery (and then actually going out and fighting it through political activism, as opposed to my strategy of getting drunk and angrily watching The Daily Show). And I may indeed check out Casino Jack eventually. But dude: Scarlett. Catsuit. Case closed.

Andrew’s Top One Movie of the Week: Iron Man 2

Scott’s Top One Movie of the Week: Casino Jack and the United States of Money

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