"Battleship" hit theaters this weekend, and the film -- directed by Peter Berg and starring Rihanna, as the unlikely face behind the gun, and Taylor Kitsch, as the even more unlikely man in charge -- appears to be yet another critical shipwreck. While HuffPost Entertainment's own Mike Ryan loved the would-be blockbuster enough to compose a (sincere, we think) love letter in tribute to its charms, the majority of reviewers sided with Kyle Smith of the New York Post, who snarked, "It makes 'Top Gun' look like the work of Orson Welles."
Elsewhere in movie-critic land, the Los Angeles Times whomped "What to Expect When You're Expecting," the San Francisco Chronicle manhandled Morgan Spurlock's "Mansome" (try saying that five times fast) and the AV Club dismissed "Hysteria" as little more than a collection of "cheap laughs." Even "The Dictator," from erstwhile critical darling Sacha Baron Cohen, was panned by Slate for leaving the viewer "neither laughing nor shocked."
Musicians came under fire too, with the AV Club categorizing Norah Jones as a "fascinating boring musician," and house music producer Deadmau5 informing DJ Pauly D that his new sizzle reel has "nothing really creative about it."
Can these ink-stained wretches all be right? Are this week's offerings the cultural equivalent of the Spanish Armada in 1588? Or do some of these folks need some sunshine and a back massage? Let us know in the comments which critical torpedoes landed and which fell wide of the mark.
Judging from the reviews, "What To Expect When You're Expecting" is basically "New Years Eve" with dirty diapers and baby bjorns, the reviews would have. With a 23 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this star-studded adaptation of the popular pregnancy guide failed to soothe the cranky critics. <em>The Los Angeles Times</em> whinged that the "disjointed" film is "<a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/movies/la-et-what-to-expect-20120518,0,2344465.story" target="_hplink">bloated by confusion.</a>" With so many characters and storylines, <em>The Times</em> found it hard to keep up. "The filmmakers should have considered bringing on someone from ESPN's 'SportsCenter' to give us the play by play."
The latest doc from "Super Size Me" stunt artist Morgan Spurlock gets a limited release this weekend, and while some were intrigued by the concept, at least one critic lost patience with all those celebrities chatting about male grooming habits. "This complete waste of 82 minutes finds documentarian Morgan Spurlock taking a look at current trends in men's grooming, featuring interviews with a random sampling of people who have no idea what they're talking about," <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/17/DDOG1OIFLS.DTL#ixzz1vFv6SDIl" target="_hplink">writes Mick LaSalle of <em>The San Francisco Chronicle</em></a>. "But they're famous."
Progressive house music producer Joel ZImmerman (better known as Deadmau5) was not a fan of 'Jersey Shore' nice-guy Pauly D's new DJ sizzle reel, and decided to make his feelings known on Twitter. "I didn't really enjoy it," <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/deadmau5" target="_hplink">Deadmau5 tweeted of the video</a>. "It looked like it cost about $150 to make, and nothing really creative about it." The two then got into a bit of a Twitter feud, though neither really seemed to be upset.
"Hysteria" is a period comedy about the invention of the vibrator, but most critics aren't <em>buzzing</em> with enthusiasm. (GROAN, amirite?) "Boy, people sure were dumb in the 1880s, huh?" <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/hysteria,75282/?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=feeds&utm_source=channel_film" target="_hplink">writes Noel Murray of the AV Club</a>. "That's the major takeaway from Hysteria, a broad period comedy that squanders a fascinating subject--the invention of the vibrator -- by refusing to see it from anything other than a modern, winking perspective."
HuffPost Entertainment Editor Kia Makarechi admitted that he thoroughly enjoyed watching the "Battleship," but later realized that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kia-makarechi/battleship-war-pentagon_b_1528178.html" target="_hplink">there's a problem with the continued militarization of our summer blockbusters.</a> Families taking children to summer blockbuster after intergalactic war thriller would do well to end the evening with a conversation about the sacrifices incumbent in such fantastically bright explosions," he wrote. At least one critic, however, complained that it wasn't bad <i>enough.</i> "Negative reviews are relatively easy to write, and often great fun to read," Christopher Orr of the Atlantic <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/05/battleship-not-as-bad-as-it-should-have-been/257355/?_r=true">pointed out.</a> (Don't we know it!) Alas, he concludes, "<i>Battleship</i> is substantially less awful than it could have been."
Sacha Baron Cohen's "The Dictator" may have a positive rating on <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_dictator_2012/" target="_hplink">Rotten Tomatoes</a>, but not all critics were charmed. "Most of 'The Dictator' had me neither laughing nor shocked, but just staring at the screen in anxious is-that-all-there-is? silence," <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2012/05/the_dictator_starring_sacha_baron_cohen_reviewed.html" target="_hplink">wrote Dana Stevens for Slate.com</a>. "The movie has a deadening sluggishness at its center, a sense of exhausted shtick on Baron Cohen's part and missed opportunities for the supporting cast. Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, and John C. Reilly, all gifted comic actors, do little more than drift in and out to set up punch lines." Audiences seem to be siding with Stevens, as "The Dictator" is tracking to finish a distant fourth at the box office this weekend.
Norah Jones may have taken home eight Grammy Awards for her debut album, <em>Come Away With Me</em>, but according to the AVClub, her "overall pleasantness" doesn't "<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/norah-jones-little-broken-hearts,73851/" target="_hplink">make her actual music any more energizing</a>." Her latest album, <em>Little Broken Hearts</em>, is classic Jones: It goes down smoothly, but "it never feels like something she burns to do."