There are plenty of probably worthwhile indies bouncing around the theaters this week: "Wordplay," "Lower City," "Loverboy"…feh. We’re weary and just not up to an array of tasteful or tastefully erotic indies. So here are some thrown-together quotes regarding the two films opening this weekend that, as our colleague Matt Singer points out, are both the work of young directors who made splashy indie debuts and followed them up by leaping immediately into the Hollywood big kids pool, giving everyone a chance to rag on how they weren’t that great to begin with.
+ "Nacho Libre": LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas: "Like the abominable ‘Napoleon Dynamite,’ director Jared Hessâ€™ second feature will doubtless capture the hearts and minds of 12-year-old boys everywhere, even if ‘Nacho Libre’ sacrifices the earlier filmâ€™s aggressive mean-spiritedness in favor of gentle slapstick lunacy."
Village Voice‘s Robert Wilonsky: "There is no movie more overrated in recent history than ‘Napoleon Dynamite’; it’s to cinema what the Doors are to rock and roll, a thing blindly and inexplicably championed as if it were a religion above being blasphemed by nonbelievers. And every time someone tries to explain its appealâ€”the deadpan comedy that plays like Bergman drama, the geek love that smells like self-loathing, the catchphrases that drop like rat pelletsâ€” it just slips a little further from my grasp."
Roger Ebert: "I have so often been assured that I missed the boat on ‘Napoleon’ that I plan to go back and have another look at it; but now here is ‘Nacho Libre,’ which has the same incomplete and fitful comic timing I thought I found in the earlier film."
Slate‘s Dana Stevens: "Personally, I never got ‘Napoleon Dynamite.’ Hess’ tribute to anomic misfits in an Idaho high school seemed like a Wes Anderson movie without the elegant wit or a Todd Solondz movie without the grim humor."
New York Times‘ Manohla Dargis: "’Nacho Libre’ marks a nice step forward for Jared Hess, who has started to shake some of the tics â€” the obsessively symmetrical setups, the menagerie of user-friendly geeks â€” that gave ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ the flavor of an American Gothic pastiche, David Byrne’s ‘True Stories’ as recycled for the Sundance generation."
+ "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift": New York Times‘ Nathan Lee (Stupid newspaper! Be more funny!): "The director, Justin Lin, proves that his overrated indie debut ‘Better Luck Tomorrow’ was a Hollywood calling card, while the writer, Chris Morgan, delivers none of the B-movie kicks that made ‘Cellular’ such a gas. The rapper Bow Wow co-stars with product placements by Nissan."
Roger Ebert: "Lin, still only 33, made an immediate impression with his 2002 Sundance hit ‘Better Luck Tomorrow,’ a satiric and coldly intelligent movie about rich Asian-American kids…That movie suggested Lin had the resources to be a great director, but since then he’s chosen mainstream commercial projects. Maybe he wants to establish himself before returning to more personal work. His ‘Annapolis’ was a sometimes incomprehensible series of off-the-shelf situations (why, during the war in Iraq, make a military academy movie about boxing?)."