The Dictator (2012) -vs- You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008)

May 14, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Some movies take place in a world that we’ll call “comedy reality.” This is clearly not the real world, nor is it quite the anarchic spoof world of, say, Airplane! or Scary Movie, but it’s an unabashedly silly alternate reality — one in which a man can kick someone with both feet simultaneously, a fire can be doused with a hose full of hummus, and a cell phone can get left in a woman’s womb as she gives birth.

We come to you today from a different world, one of competitive film criticism, where two vaguely similar movies can wrestle each other for Smackdown supremacy! In today’s matchup, our opponents both feature beloved comedy stars playing arrogant and/or ruthless Middle Easterners who come to New York and are humbled and redeemed by hard work and a star-crossed romance. As everyone knows, you don’t mess with Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, but Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator is gonna give it a shot anyway… […]

There Will Be Blood (2007) -vs- Citizen Kane (1941)

August 21, 2009 Beau DeMayo

I recently got into a friendly debate with a close friend about “There Will Be Blood” and its quality. Of course, I couldn’t discount its quality. However, having only seen it once, I promised him I would check out the film when I had some downtime since he seemed to be building his very own church to the film’s sanctity. That promise lead to this review.
Let be outright and proceed from there: “There Will Be Blood” is clearly a better, more resonant film than “Citizen Kane” could ever hope to be. Should people consider “Citizen Kane” the best film ever made, then I suppose it so follows with “There Will Be Blood”…
Most of the time when we do a Smackdown, we take into account the factor of time and technology. It’s hard to compare “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” or Abram’s “Star Trek” when the technology in both — the cinematic techniques — have so vastly improved between films. Even films such as crime thrillers or horror flicks benefits from evolution in craft and technology.
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United 93 (2006) -vs- World Trade Center (2006)

September 11, 2007 Bryce Zabel

It’s been years, but if you close your eyes, all those horrific images are still with you. Both of these 9/11 films were released in 2006 during the run-up to the five-year anniversary of the events of that terrible day. At the time critics kept wringing their hands about whether or not it was too early to tell these stories. Looking back, the better question could easily have been what took so long? Making films is how we increasingly begin to process events like these. It doesn’t have to trivialize them or make them less important, although that can be the danger.

We’ll use box office stats to name our opponents. With that as the standard, World Trade Center becomes our champ with 163-million dollars worldwide. United 93 comes in as the challenger with only 76-million dollars. But, especially when it comes to material like this, the box office is only a point of reference and nothing more. Let’s say that you have the heart to re-live 9/11 on film with just one of them as we approach the 10th anniversary with Osama Bin Laden finally having paid with his own life. Which film should you watch? […]