February 19th, 2011
12:08 PM ET
Identity issues are clearly the theme at the box office this weekend, with Liam Neeson’s “Unknown,” sci-fi thriller “I Am Number Four” and the gender-bending comedy “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” all opening in theaters Friday.
Yet it seems that not one of the three films truly stands out for critics, with each earning measured reviews.
Variety warns Liam Neeson fans that “Unknown" may not be as badass as you’re hoping for. Neeson, who stars as a man who awakes from a coma after an accident while on a trip overseas to discover that another man has assumed his identity, is more “clueless prey” than “ruthless predator” in this one.
But, if you “ignore the pileup of implausibilities” as Rolling Stone’s review notes, “'Unknown’ becomes a diabolically entertaining con game.” It may "jerk you around," but perhaps you should "suck it up" as the review suggests, adding that "the ride's worth it.”
“I Am Number Four,” meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have that same redemptive quality. The movie unfolds a tale (based on the novel by Pittacus Lore) of John Smith, the fourth of nine aliens being hunted down in order. USA Today calls it “a cookie-cutter action film that hopes to stand on the shoulders of ‘Twilight’ and ‘Spider-Man’ but plays like Spider-lite.” The problem, the reviewer says, is that there isn’t much to distinguish this movie from others of its kind.
The New York Times also wasn't impressed, calling "I Am Number Four" "only marginally more fun than a week's worth of detention."
And then we come to Martin Lawrence’s return to the fat lady suit with “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son.”
Few reviewed this threequel, about Lawrence's FBI agent who must again go undercover as a woman of substantial size, this time taking his also-disguised stepson Trent, played by Brandon T. Jackson, with him. A series of events leads up to the duo's need to hide out from mobsters at an Atlanta-area all-girl arts school. The Orlando Sentinel called it “a humorless mash-up of ‘White Chicks’ and ‘Glee,’” adding that Lawrence seems to have become “trapped in the one persona that still pays the bills,” with the problem being that the persona “isn’t funny anymore.”
But the Hollywood Reporter would beg to differ – at least for those who are into this kind of cross-dressing shtick.
“While not likely to increase the Big Momma audience, the movie isn’t likely to disappoint either if one is prone to love men-in-drag comedy,” THR notes. Although there are numerous flaws with the film, the review tries to look on the bright side: “In other words, the movie could’ve been worse.”
Which will you be seeing this weekend?
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