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Slate's Summary Judgment: 'Firewall,' 'Curious George,' 'The Pink Panther'


And now our weekly digest of what the critics are saying about this week's new movie releases, as compiled by the online magazine Slate. Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.


Starting things off in wide release, we have Steve Martin attempting to fill the shoes of the late, great Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther. Martin stars as the legendary bumbling French Inspector Clouseau. Beyonce Knowles and Kevin Kline also star.

(Soundbite of The Pink Panther)

LEGAN: The critics are fairly split on the Panther. Even though the Wall Street Journal says this slap-dash farce sustains a baseline of goodwill that often spikes into delight at Martin's beguiling nonsense,any of the detractors agree with The New York Times, which sniffs, Much of The Pink Panther feels like trying on old clothes that no longer fit.

Next up, also in wide release, is the action thriller Firewall. Harrison Ford stars as a bank security expert who's forced to find a flaw in his own system and steal $100 million after a criminal mastermind kidnaps his family. I tried something like this once and all I got was free checking. Paul Bettany and Virginia Madsen also star.

(Soundbite of Firewall)

LEGAN: Most of the nation's critics shrug, Been there, done that. Entertainment Weekly says, If you feel like you've seen it before, it's because you have. And the Hollywood Reporter advises, The amount of enjoyment one gets out of Firewall depends on one's tolerance for watching thugs terrify an innocent family for most of the movie. And finally we close with the animated children's film, Curious George. A classic storybook character loved by generations is finally brought to the big screen with Will Ferrell providing the voice of the man in the yellow hat. Drew Barrymore and Joan Plowright also provide voices, but not as George. He stays silent, as he should.

(Soundbite of Curious George)

LEGAN: The nation's critics say take the kiddies and relax. The New York Times gushes, With top drawer voice talent and old-fashioned two-dimensional animation that echoes the simple colors and shapes of the book, Curious George is an unexpected delight. And the Seattle Post Intelligencer adds, What a rare pleasure to see a classic book adapted for the screen and walk out feeling neither bored, offended, nor outraged.

Now look, I have kids and we enjoy the book, but you have to admit, the ridiculous plots are always the same. The man in the yellow hat takes the monkey somewhere and then says, Now George, I'm going to leave you alone for about 10, 15 minutes with all these priceless antiques. Come on, he knows George is obsessive-compulsive. Let's be honest. The man in the yellow hat is nothing more than an enabler, all right? An enabler.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mark Jordan Legan