Jack Garner, Gannett News Service: Not only does "Meet the Fockers" take a consistently funny look at in-law relationships, it's as good a sequel as any fan of "Meet the Parents"...

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“Meet the Fockers”


Jack Garner, Gannett News Service: Not only does “Meet the Fockers” take a consistently funny look at in-law relationships, it’s as good a sequel as any fan of “Meet the Parents” could desire. Any fear that “Meet the Fockers” will be a tired retread is blown away by the hilarious performances of Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand.

Roger Moore, The Orlando Sentinel: “Meet the Fockers” is as tacky as its title, as crass as a kid learning his first cuss word. The surname that was just a throw-away giggle in “Meet the Parents” has become the central joke of a sequel that wallows in lowbrow toilet humor and cheap sexual sight gags. But there’s a zest to the vulgarity. When three Oscar winners and Ben Stiller embrace it, even the crudest of the crude can be a little funny.

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“The Phantom of the Opera”


Chris Hewitt, Knight Ridder Newspapers: Just so you know, I can’t stand the stage version of “The Phantom of the Opera.” The songs are all pitched at the same level of caterwauling, the pace is glacial and the love story works only if your idea of romance involves stalking, kidnapping and murder. Most of that stuff survives in the movie, but director Joel Schumacher and his sexy, good-not-great cast give the movie more energy and flow than the stage version. Things that are supposed to amaze us onstage — the “Masquerade” production number, the falling chandelier, the rococo cemetery, the opera house’s magical transformation from ruin to splendor — are legitimately amazing here.

Christy Lemire, The Associated Press: You can’t exactly go small when you’re doing a movie adaptation of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. But even walking in with expectations of grandeur cannot prepare you for the bombastic monstrosity that is “The Phantom of the Opera.” Simultaneously amped-up and rock-and-rolled down, presumably to make it palatable to a wider audience, the film is far more interested in earsplitting crescendos than in subtly touching the heart. Those who’ve never seen the musical may find themselves entertained, but they deserve better than this, a ghost of the real thing.


“Bad Education”


Rene Rodriguez, Knight Ridder Newspapers: Pedro Almodóvar has never been shy about experimenting with plot structure, but “Bad Education” is the closest he’s ever come to a metamovie, the sort of self-reflective, hall-of-mirrors contraption on which Charlie Kaufman has built his career. “Bad Education” is also, for Almodóvar, an uncommonly grim and pessimistic movie, practically devoid of the filmmaker’s trademark kitsch and humor. It isn’t quite as accessible as “Talk To Her” or “All About My Mother,” but the movie works up its own sort of rapture anyway. It’s Almodóvar’s ode to obsessive love, to artistic passion and to the cinema itself.

Jami Bernard, New York Daily News: Red is the color of passion. It is also the primary color of “Bad Education,” Pedro Almodóvar’s gloriously feverish ode to what drives us to do things great and terrible. The movie represents another leap in maturity from the writer-director of “Talk to Her” and “All About My Mother.”