Top One Movie of the Week: Cyrus, Jonah Hex, I Am Love, and Toy Story 3

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Our critics choose between Cyrus, Jonah Hex, I Am Love, and Toy Story 3.

Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex


ANDREW:  So, most weeks, Cyrus would be a shoo-in for my Top One Movie of the Week. For one thing, I’ve already seen and enjoyed it (with you, in fact) at SXSW 2010. And even if I didn’t already know it was good, I’d be inclined to pick this tale of a schlumpy divorcée battling for the affection of a single mom against the woman’s clingy maladjusted son simply because the divorcée is played by schlumpy national treasure John C. Reilly, the mom is comeback sweetheart Marisa Tomei, and the film’s eponymous little weirdo is played by the ubiquitous but reliably hilarious Jonah Hill. Plus, the film is the studio debut of mumblecore masters Jay and Mark Duplass, who’ve entertained me in the past with films like The Puffy Chair and Baghead, while also earning my cinematic respect with their neo-Cassavetes dedication to character over CGI and real human behavior over Hollywood cliché. And yet, while Cyrus is a solid, low-wattage base hit, I’ll admit it’s definitely up against some grand-slamming, big-budget mainstream (and even foreign) competition as we approach the Summer Movie Solstice.

SCOTT: I agree that Cyrus is a solid candidate this week, even if I didn’t dig it quite as much as you did at SXSW. The first hour is an accomplished exercise in the squirmy school of behavioral comedy perfected by the likes of Larry David and Ricky Gervais, but I did have some third-act issues… in fact, I’m not entirely convinced there was a third act. It’s still very much worth seeing, however (particularly considering the level of competition for your comedy dollar this summer), and I wish nothing but success for the Duplass brothers. As for the "grand-slamming, big-budget mainstream competition" you mention…

Jonah Hex

SCOTT: Y’know, back when I was a wee lad starved for entertainment, I used to read just about every DC comic under the sun… except Jonah Hex. In fact, I didn’t know anyone who read Jonah Hex, or (in those pre-internet days) anyone who’d ever heard of Jonah Hex besides me. My ten-year-old self would have bet good money we’d all have jetpacks before a blockbuster-sized adventure of the weird western hero ever hit movie theaters, and yet here we are. Clearly Hollywood is running out of comic-book properties to adapt, but at least Josh Brolin‘s scar-faced bounty hunter isn’t just another superpowered man in tights. If this is what it takes to get a big-screen western in 2010, then what the hell; maybe I can put up with the corny one-liners, excessive pyrotechnics, and waxen presence of Megan Fox… especially with John Malkovich on hand to chew up all that pretty scenery.

ANDREW:  I’m split just about exactly down the middle on Mr. Hex. On the one hand, the terrible movie version of Wild Wild West (not to be confused with the totally awesome ’60s TV version) proved that bigger (and louder and more CGI-drenched) is seldom better when it comes to old-timey frontier shenanigans. Plus, I’m not entirely sure I really want to stare at Brolin’s icky mutilated mug for two hours. I mean, seriously, that is some gross-ass make-up. But, in the "pros" column, the movie features crossbows that shoot dynamite. I mean, damn! Not only that, but my wife actually wants to see Hex for some inexplicable reason — possibly because, in addition to Brolin and Malkovich, the intriguing cast also features Will Arnett, Michael "The Best Part of Revolutionary Road" Shannon, The Wire‘s unnervingly ectomorphic Lance Reddick, and Tom "Luke Duke" Wopat. And, hey, you know what else, haters? I not only saw Jennifer’s Body, but I thought Megan Fox was pretty damn good in it — and even if I didn’t, any enemy of Michael Bay and Shia "The Boof" LaBeouf is a friend of mine, so I’m totally down for wishing Ms. Maxim’s new franchise well. 

I Am Love

ANDREW: But we both know Hex isn’t the real 800-pound movie gorilla in this week’s competition… and neither, for that matter, is I Am Love, an Italian import with a fairly baffling trailer and a premise which may (or may not) fall somewhere in the food/sex genre much beloved by critics and people other than myself. Still, the festival reviews have been rapturous, and Tilda Swinton can never be counted out (though, to be frank, I’d probably be more excited about writer/director Luca Guadagnino‘s romantic tragedy if it was packing a little more crossbow dynamite). Yourself?

SCOTT: I can’t say I’m a big fan of gustatory eroticism either, but I am generally in favor of weird Tilda Swinton movies, so I’d say this one could go either way. It’s true that the reviews have been generally favorable, but I’m seeing certain key words in the less enthusiastic write-ups… words like "glacial," "baroque," and "overwrought." Now, it’s true that some of my favorite films are glacial, baroque and overwrought, but still — I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger on this one.

Toy Story 3

SCOTT: And so we come to this week’s heavy hitter, Pixar’s follow-up to the movies that put them on the map more than a decade ago. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are back as Woody and Buzz Lightyear, who are dropped off at a day-care center (along with the rest of the toys, including Don Rickles‘ irascible Mr. Potato Head) after their owner finally departs for college. I have no doubt this installment will be just as funny, entertaining, and heart-tugging as the first two, and yet I can’t help feeling disappointed that Pixar has returned to the sequel well after its recent success with more unorthodox fare like WALL-E and Up. And I definitely think it will manage to do just fine this weekend without my endorsement (which would be the equivalent of naming Coca-Cola the Top One Refreshing Carbonated Beverage of the Week). So despite my (slight) reservations, I’m sticking with Cyrus this week.

ANDREW: And yet, as a certified (Diet) Coke addict, not voting for it as my top beverage would be just as unlikely as me not voting Toy Story 3 as my Top One Movie of the Week. For one thing, while WALL-E and Up both had their moments (especially Up‘s now-legendary opening sequence), I’d count either of the previous Woody & Buzz adventures as more consistently enjoyable. Sure, our other cinematic contenders may all be perfectly good, and yes, I may be setting myself up for disappointment, but at this point I consider just about any Pixar flick a must-see, especially one dripping with so much nostalgia and Rickles. (Plus, I’m dying to find out if the story’s… uh… fastidious Ken Doll actually turns out to be family entertainment’s first openly gay cartoon character!)

Scott’s Top One Movie of the Week: Cyrus

Andrew’s Top One Movie of the Week: Toy Story 3