Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

The Blurbs

June 4, 2010

'Sex and the City 2' Is 'Wildly Uneven'

In this week's edition of The Blurbs—the feature in which we take a close look at those critic blurbs that are a fixture of ads for movies—see breakdowns of ads for 'Sex and the City 2,' 'Prince of Persia,' 'Get Him to the Greek,' and more.

David Goldenberg

The critic blurb is a staple of arts advertising. Yet if you look behind some blurbs, you'll find quotes out of context, quote whores, and other questionable ad practices. Blurb Racket exposes the truth behind critics blurbs in movie ads from the New York Times. Movie titles link to, which compiles movie reviews in a far-more honest way than do movie ads. See the inaugural Blurb Racket column for background and useful links, and find out what critics think of the racket.

"It's way too long and it's all over the map."—Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood on Sex and the City 2

Sex and the City 2 (New Line)
Metacritic Score: 28

Scott Mantz, Access Hollywood: "Laugh-out-loud hilarious!"
Actual line: "… the [first] movie itself was kind of a downer, and it lacked the fast pace and the sharp writing that made the TV series so much fun. And with a running time of 2 hours and 25 minutes, it was far too long. Returning writer/producer/director Michael Patrick King must not have gotten the memo about the excessive running time, because 'Sex and The City 2' is even longer than its predecessor (though just by a minute). But thanks to a fun vibe, a faster pace and a screenplay that's both poignant and laugh-out-loud hilarious, it's an improvement in just about every other way."
Not quoted: "… it's wildly uneven, it's way too long and it's all over the map (literally and figuratively). And most of the supporting characters have barely-there storylines (especially the men). … the girls take off to Abu Dhabi for an all-expense paid vacation. This is where the proceedings get a little silly and somewhat pointless …"

Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia (Disney)
Metacritic Score: 50

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "Loaded with action and humor."
Actual line: "Prince of Persia is bulimia-light on substance, but it's quick on its feet and loaded with action and humor."
Not quoted: "Prince of Persia is too cozy and safe to excite the senses … Sadly, nothing pops up to take us by surprise. There's no Johnny Depp around as Jack Sparrow to twist the plot into perversely funny shapes. … What's missing in Prince of Persia is a sense that all the running, jumping, climbing and fighting is leading to something. The best video games challenge you to reach the next level. Prince of Persia is content to skim the surface."

Get Him to the Greek
Get Him to the Greek (Universal)
Metacritic Score: 64

Jordan Hoffman, UGO: "I laughed so hard I couldn't see!"
Not quoted: "… the subplot with Colm Meany as the Vegas musician Dad doesn't really go anywhere … it is a little annoying that so many of the films produced by Judd Apatow exist in the echo chamber of celebrity …"

Finding Bliss
Finding Bliss (Phase 4)
Metacritic Score: 27 "Funny, raucous, clever and insightful."
Actual line: "Screening for the first time in LA at Method Fest on Sunday, March 29, 'Bliss' features a slate of top-notch talent in a funny, raucous, clever, insightful and tight screenplay."
Not quoted: "(Full disclosure: LA.COM is a proud sponsor of Method Fest.)"

Harvey Karten, Movieweb: "A fun picture with no pretensions."
Not quoted: "The story has a copout ending, a sentimental one since Jeff, the good-looking director who is lusted over by the women in his casts, is someone other than he at first appears."

Micmacs (Sony)
Metacritic Score: 61

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: "Jeunet is back. Drawing on influences as varied as Toy Story, Children of Paradise, and TV's Mission: Impossible."
Actual line: "Director and co-writer Jean-Pierre Jeunet is back doing what he likes best, which is moving eccentric characters around a board in a miniature game of fate and chance. … The colorful misfits (among them a contortionist and an inventor of elaborate mechanical toys) in their Pee-wee's Playhouse of a commune are sometimes a tad too colorful in their circusy quirks. But working with expressive cinematographer Tetsuo Nagata (who also shot Splice, reviewed this week), Jeunet maintains a firm control of his dreamscape creation, drawing on influences as varied as Toy Story, Children of Paradise, and TV's Mission: Impossible."

Stephen Holden, New York Times: "A whiz-bang comedy filled with elaborate sight gags and contraptions worthy of Rube Goldberg."
Actual line: "This whiz-bang comedy is a live-action 'Toy Story' for grown-ups that channels the spirit of Buster Keaton. Filled with elaborate sight gags and contraptions worthy of Rube Goldberg, the film further establishes Mr. Jeunet as a genre unto himself, a sort of Gallic Tim Burton."
That's from Holden's brief description in a Tribeca Film Festival recap. In his full review in the Times, A.O. Scott wasn't as impressed, writing, "There is no question that the heart of 'Micmacs' is in the right place, but the movie is also a little thin."

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: "Poised between modern science-fiction and classic Jules Verne, wildly expressive actors and fabulous stories. Few filmmakers are as deliriously in love with filmmaking as Jeunet, or as skilled."
Not quoted: "Jeunet has a childlike sense of wonder and, to some extent, that hurts his story; to blame only the people who make the weapons, and ignore the terrorists and gangsters who use them, is naïve at best. … The casting—besides good-luck charm Dominique Pinon, in all of Jeunet's films—is a bit hit or miss. You get the feeling that, like Fellini, the filmmaker is looking for faces, not performances; some of the actors here are uncured hams."

Agora (Newmarket)
Metacritic Score: 57

David Edelstein, New York Magazine: "[Rachel] Weisz is excellent!"
Not quoted: "Given all the weighty colloquia, Agora has remarkably few bad laughs, and the CGI re-creations of ancient Alexandria are so detailed I wanted to freeze the frame and linger on the city's layout. I did keep being jarred by the chief loudmouth Christian stone-thrower, who looks like Topol in Fiddler on the Roof, down to the gap in his front teeth. But maybe the early Christians are meant to look Semitic—they mostly were."

A.O. Scott, New York Times: "Rousing! … Bristling with ideas … very moving!"
Not quoted: "The warning bell that 'Agora' sounds may be loud and at times a little grating …"

Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies
Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies (Arthouse)
Metacritic Score: 50

New York Magazine: "A dream slate of exactly right guests, including Martin Scorsese, Julian Schnabel, and Chuck Close."
Not quoted: "The unimaginative talking-head approach pales in contrast to the stunning innovation of its subjects."

Two in the Wave
Two in the Wave (Lorber)
Metacritic Score: 56

Richard Brody, New Yorker: "Kicks up a good splash!"
Actual line: "This cursory jaunt through the rise and shifting fortunes of the French New Wave, as seen in the work, friendship, and eventual enmity of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, kicks up a good splash but remains on the surface."
Not quoted: "Despite facile summaries, glaring omissions, and a gimmicky presentation, the smartly selected clips from films by Godard and Truffaut reveal surprising parallels in their work. Laurent's neat packaging of familiar material makes one yearn for a look outside the box."
The exclamation point makes this comment on the film sound like a rave rather than a tepid compliment to set up a harsh criticism. The phony punctuation wins this ad Gelf's Bogus Blurb of the Week Award.

Mademoiselle Chambon
Mademoiselle Chambon (Lorber)
Metacritic Score: 83

Jeannette Catsoulis, NPR: "Some of the best acting I've seen all year …"
Actual line: "The screenplay (by Brize and Florence Vignon) allows everything to happen in the gaps between words and the silences between scenes; emotions flicker but rarely ignite. This contemplative approach to temptation is so antithetical to the bodice-ripping pace of the average Hollywood love affair that audiences may find their patience strained. (And in truth the film would not have been harmed by a little less stasis and a little more heavy breathing.) But what this soap lacks in suds it more than makes up for in emotional intelligence: Rarely have actors been required to do so much with so little. In fact, were it not for some of the best acting I've seen all year, this Gallic Brief Encounter would be doomed."

Ondine (Magnolia)
Metacritic Score: 63

Ed Gonzalez, Slant: "Strikingly suggestive. There's real beauty in 'Ondine's' ambiguous sense of detail and understanding of how people relate to one another. [Director Neil] Jordan delights in subverting the clichés of the fairy tale."
Not quoted: "… the erratic editing, with its perpetual shifts in point of view, can feel counterintuitive …"

Scott Weinberg, Cinematical: "May be one of the best films Neil Jordan has made. Sweet and frankly lovely."
Not quoted: "Jordan (who wrote as well as directed) leads you in one direction, only to throw a few unexpected surprises into the mix. Nothing all that brilliant, truth be told, but the plot curves (both the obvious ones and the unexpected) manage to keep Ondine from becoming too pat, predictable, or saccharine."

David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.

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Article by David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.

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