It’s officially May: Flowers are blooming, and the weather is warm. But Peter Travers isn’t spreading any sunny vibes in his April Scum Bucket round-up. Rolling Stone‘s movie critic takes aim at the month’s most repulsive cinematic mistakes, from head-scratching religious dramas to big-budget comedy eye-rollers.
First is Lost River, the screenwriting and directorial debut of actor Ryan Gosling. “You probably haven’t heard of it,” Travers adds – but nobody’s missing out. “He decided to make a movie about Detroit and the poverty there. Then he made it surreal. He made it incomprehensible. He made it awful.” Up next is True Story, which stars Jonah Hill as a fact-fudging New York Times writer attempting to redeem his image by interviewing a death row inmate. “For a movie about facts, it keeps fudging everything,” Travers says. “It keeps making things up. No! You can’t do that, people.”
Helen Mirren is great in the otherwise terrible drama Woman in Gold, which focuses on an Austrian woman’s quest to reacquire her family paintings looted by the Nazis. Travers keeps his critique short and sour: “You have to good actors with a good script. You don’t have it this time.” Even worse is Blackbird, which stars Monique as the mother of a gay son in a conservative Mississippi town. Travers reads some gag-worthy dialogue from the film and calls out the lead actress directly: “Monique, you should be ashamed of yourself.” Still, it’s tough to trump the awkwardness of “faith-based movie” Little Boy, which finds a child in WWII trying to pray for his father’s safe return. Our critic calls it a “confused, cliché-ridden piece of crap.”
Michael Douglas tanks in a major way with the limp thriller Beyond the Reach (“Why? Why do you do this kind of garbage?”), and the unpleasant mystery Child 44 – starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman – proves that “even the greats can fall down.” Age of Adaline kicks off the top three with its beyond-tired plot of melancholy immortality. And as for Number Two, The Longest Ride? “Nicholas Sparks, can I say more?” Travers asks, calling the dopey love story “boring and absolutely repulsive from first scene to last.”
But no April film landed with a more resounding thud than Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, which finds Kevin James reviving his trademark pratfalls and fat jokes. “There’s not a line, not a moment in this movie that’s funny,” says a baffled Travers. “And yet people keep going to it.”