Just in time for the holiday, two blockbusters are hitting screens today: Transformers and License to Wed. Here's a cheat sheet on which one to choose when beating the Fourth of July heat.
Transformers twiddles its big, fat, stupid robotic thumbs for the better part of two hours before jabbing them into your eye sockets and fingerfucking your brain in the last twenty minutes. Yes! It’s torture enough waiting for the iPhone and the second coming of Jesus without wondering when, exactly, this saga of dueling giant robots is going to get to the hardcore action havoc. Don’t get me wrong, Transformers is totally hysterical from frame one. Director Michael Bay never met a rhetorical apocalypse he didn’t love. Dude could film a round of Jenga with greater shock and awe than the collapse of the World Trade Center. So giant robots turn into cars! (More specifically and profitably, they turn into Pontiacs and Hummers and GMC pickup trucks.) And jets! And helicopters! And boom boxes! And cell phones! And then they fight one another! On some very basic level, I don’t think you can fuck up the essential kick of a movie about metamorphic robots — no, not even you, Mr. Bay. But by and large, Bay is ignorant of what Steven Spielberg, here serving as a producer, has always understood about action. Any yahoo can yield a couple hundred million dollars and max out the CGI, but it takes old-school filmmaking chops to connect synthetic mayhem to the gut. -- Nathan Lee
A blitzed-looking man stumbling out of a screening of License to Wed, a dreadful excuse for unromantic comedy, and volunteered that the best part of the movie was when Robin Williams got socked in the jaw. No argument here, but if you like your Williams spewing rat-a-tat gags and substituting stand-up for acting, you’ll love him as an obsessive priest bearing down on a dewy-eyed engaged couple (Mandy Moore and The Office's John Krasinski) in Ken Kwapis’s high-concept, low-minded riff on the current vogue for marriage-prep classes. Mistaking sadism for satire, sight gags for physical comedy, and stupidity for good nature, the movie has the Rev. drive a wedge between the happy couple by spying on them, banning them from sex and equipping them with animatronic babies that emit blue poop. All of this is designed to bring them the shocking news that weddings may be fun, but marriage is serious business. Moore, who made a great high school meanie in The Princess Diaries and Saved!, is nothing more than a series of toothy reaction shots here. The lone saving grace in this mean-spirited rubbish is Krasinski, serenely refusing to chew scenery with the rest. -- Ella Taylor