Each week, we bring you our staff picks for the best movies coming out that you should make a trip to the theater for. Here are our recommendations for the best movies coming out in theaters this week.
Our recommendation for this week might at first make you sigh and say, “Another zombie movie?” It’s a valid reaction, as it certainly seems like Hollywood has sucked the life out of the zombie fad by spinning the idea in every different way imaginable. The reason this movie is worth going to see is not for the zombie theme, but for the change of pace from star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gives his first real dramatic performance in the movie. And surprisingly after many years of making increasingly worse and worse action franchise films, Schwarzenegger nails the role of the father seeking to protect his daughter who has been infected with the zombie virus we’re all now fully familiar with.
You would expect Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin to be the one having critics spilling all the ink on raves about her performance as the zombie daughter, but it’s Schwarzenegger that makes this worth watching. The film got slightly mixed reviews after debuting at Tribeca and currently has a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but most have been pleasantly surprised by Schwarzenegger’s low-key take on the loyal and grieving father. When the daughter is diagnosed with the disease, she’s locked in a government ward where she’ll be executed when her transformation is complete. Unable to cope with his daughter spending her final days in suffering, her father removes her from the hospital to bring her home to transform, at which point he’ll also need to kill her before she kills him and her stepmother. It’s a litany of a father’s worst fears all happening at once. The dynamic between Breslin and Schwarzenegger makes for an affecting and powerful father-daughter relationship, critics said. “This may be the most subtle work he has ever done in movies, pre or post political career,” said Deadline of Schwarzenegger’s performance. The megastar has only very rarely worked in independent film, but the decision to do so here has served him well.
2. Hot Pursuit
This slapstick action comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara has been getting pretty terrible reviews, with a current 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but we’re recommending it anyway due to the chemistry between the lead actresses. This would be a good, light movie to go laugh at with your mom for Mother’s Day, which is exactly why the studio chose to release it this weekend. While the movie’s script and jokes fail to serve them, Witherspoon and Vergara are a fine comedic pairing. But on the flip side of that coin, the fact that the script is so bad makes it more painful to see two funny actresses have to make such terrible jokes.
Witherspoon plays another version of her uptight type-A comedic characters from Legally Blonde and Election, which were both hysterical performances, but the character here is over-the-top and lacking in depth. Vergara is another sexy, hot-blooded Latin like her character on Modern Family. Witherspoon is a police officer who must get Vergara, the wife of a deceased drug lord, to trial to testify against the leader of the cartel. The pair are chased across Texas by cartel members and crooked cops in this roadtrip buddy comedy. If you’re the person who doesn’t mind being hit over the head with continual (and really nonsensical) jokes about Witherspoon’s height and Vergara’s age, then this would be an enjoyable film to go see this weekend. If you’re going to want to scream at the movie screen about how Vergara looks like she’s 10 years younger than her age and no one could ever mistake her for being 50 as the news reporters do in this film, then you might want to skip out on this one.
3. The D Train
Jack Black and James Marsden star in this bromance in which Black gives one of his more nuanced performances than usual. Black plays a guy who has wanted to be in the popular crowd, “well-liked” as Willy Loman would’ve said, for his entire life. He decides the way to finally become cool is to bring the most popular guy from his high school, Oliver Lawless (Marsden), who is currently the face of Banana Boat, to come with him to their high school reunion. This sends him on a quest to Los Angeles to get Lawless and convince him to go to the reunion. He doesn’t bank on Lawless having some unpredictable plans of his own. Lawless agrees to go to the reunion, but ends up taking over Black’s character’s entire life in the process. The movie is getting decent reviews for the performances from the two leads, with a 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The D Train is a comedy bromance that leans towards a subversive side of the genre for featuring two movie stars; i.e. there’s real question about the main characters’s feelings for each other. The homoerotic tension is played for laughs and also teeters on the edge of leaving the audience to question if the two really have romantic feelings for each other. Critics are saying the movie is much darker than at first meets the eye. “And while it dwells in a much darker realm than American humor generally ventures into, what it uncovers is worth a stare. Maybe even a shudder,” said The Wall Street Journal.
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS.