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At the Movies With Peter Travers: “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Law Abiding Citizen”

There’s only one film you need to catch this weekend At the Movies, and it’s the cinematic adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. The film is a must-see for everyone of every age, and Rolling Stone‘s movie critic Peter Travers awarded it four stars in the new issue of RS.

It takes a director like Spike Jonze, who Travers calls “one of the most imaginative filmmakers out there,” to create such an incredible tale out of a children’s story that only had 10 sentences. All the performances are incredible, from newcomer Max Records — “Best performance by a child this century,” says Travers — to the voice work from James Gandolfini and Lauren Ambrose. And no, the PG film is not “too scary” for younger audiences. “This is a movie for everybody, and Spike Jonze has done something special,” Travers says of this visual and emotional tour de force.

Now it’s time for Travers to tell us Where the Scum Bucket Films Are.

To begin, there’s the suspense thriller Law Abiding Citizen, starring Jamie Foxx and Gerald Butler. By now you’ve seen the commercials, but here’s a brief synopsis: The film is about Clyde (Butler) whose wife and child were killed, only to see the murderers let go because of a deal with prosecution, then Clyde seeks revenge on everyone involved in the case, even from behind bars. This is what we call a “paycheck movie,” one that steals heavily from Charles Bronson’s Death Wish series. There’s gore galore if you can’t wait until Saw VI, but the ending is so confounding and stupid that you’d wish you just waited for the film to go to Netflix.

Finally, there’s The Stepfather, starring that guy from Gossip Girl and that plastic surgeon from Nip/Tuck. Critics aren’t being allowed to see this movie prior to its release, which in 99 out of 100 cases means the film is no doubt headed on a one-way path to Scum Bucket. How many of these movies do we get a year? In 2009 alone, we’ve already had the child-turns-on-family film (Orphan) and the stepmom-turns-on-family film (The Uninvited), so this week we get the stepdad-turns-on-family film. This movie is a remake of a 1987 film of the same name featuring Lost‘s Terry O’Quinn in the titular role. That movie was just released on DVD, so go rent that and save yourself the time and energy of going to see the new Stepfather in theaters.

Get more from your favorite RS writers — follow Peter Travers on Twitter.

This Week’s Reviews:
Where the Wild Things Are
Law Abiding Citizen
Antichrist

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