If October, November, and December are when the studios release their best films of the year, then August certainly is the month when they trot out their worst. The ones they hope you won’t notice. Lionsgate released three this weekend alone! In any other month, you could probably assume that any review opening with “Dumb as dirt and just as generic” (The Times on Fox’s HITMAN: AGENT 47) would be as bad as it got, but sadly, that is not the case here. Stephen Holden calls Lionsgate’s Pierce Brosnan starrer SOME KIND OF BEAUTIFUL “execrable” and “one of the worst films to sport the label romantic comedy,” Andy Webster suggests the apparent target demo for Gramercy/Focus’s R-rated SINISTER 2 is 9-year-olds, and Jeannette Catsoulis muses “If only that were true” to describe Peter Bogdanovich’s latest, SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY (begging the question, why dare the critics to use your title to slam your movie? You’d think the director of THEY ALL LAUGHED would know better. Badum-ching!)
But all is not lost. To give you a sense of just how rave-y A.O. Scott’s rave of Paul Weitz’s GRANDMA is, consider two things: 1 – In the second paragraph, he writes that the very existence of this film is “one thing that is absolutely right with the world,” and 2 – that isn’t even the quote SPC used in their ad. (They went with “Wry and Insighful. The wonder that is ‘Grandma’ can be summed up in two words: Lily Tomlin.” Which, to be fair, isn’t bad either.) Scott also calls J.P. Sniadecki’s THE IRON MINISTRY “a work of art – vivid and mysterious and full of life.” And about LEARNING TO DRIVE, Stephen Holden writes one of his quintessential I’m 99% Sure He Liked It reviews (“observant…concise.”) But hey, let no one ever call him a quote whore.
This weekend’s Damn With Faint Praise Award is split between Joe Swanberg’s DIGGING FOR FIRE (“He [Swanberg] doesn’t necessarily have a lot to say, but he always makes sure that he knows what he’s talking about”) and AMERICAN ULTRA (“The plot has a nice twist or two, and your theater is probably air-conditioned.”)