See This, Skip That: From 2 Guns to Smurfs 2

08/02/2013 at 04:00 PM EDT

See This, Skip That: From 2 Guns to Smurfs 2
Universal Pictures; Sony Pictures Animation
Wahlberg and Washington are too much fun in 2 Guns, but PEOPLE's writers say the little blue sprites will leave you smurfing annoyed.

See this:

2 Guns

Some couples are just so gosh darn likable, you want to see them together all the time. I'm not saying Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington should drop their wives for each other – though I'm pretty sure there'd be a PEOPLE cover in it for them if they did – but they might want to consider a movie marriage. With the easy chemistry and natural swagger they bring to the film, 2 Guns could be a whole new franchise.

Based on Steven Grant's testosterone-heavy graphic novel of the same name, 2 Guns pits Navy intelligence officer Michael Stigman (Wahlberg) against DEA agent Bobby Trench (Washington). The hitch is that they have no idea that they're both undercover for Uncle Sam. That becomes a problem when a sanctioned op to relieve some drug dealers of a few bucks lands the fellas in a $43 million hole, setting the traffickers, various government agencies and a random psychopath named Earl (a delightfully venomous Bill Paxton) on their tail.

It's no shock that a movie called 2 Guns is violent (Earl has a particular penchant for torture), but it is a surprise that it's so funny. Stigman can't help winking at every woman he sees, while Trench has a warier, more street-smart vibe. The combination is broadly entertaining – you just want to hang out with these dudes when they're not ducking bullets or blowing up diners.



It's also a blessed relief that there's nary a giant robot, terrorist attack or superhero with existential issues in the film's 109 minutes. Director Baltasar Kormákur instead delivers a movie that revels in how circumscribed this world is, not to mention one that's patently ridiculous (though never dumb) – an homage to classic buddy-cop movies that's just as heavy on the grit as it is on the humor. That said, the film takes itself so lightly, it won't leave a deep impression. But the feeling is great while it lasts. – Alynda Wheat

Skip that:

The Smurfs 2

Anyone with a basic grasp of math has always found the ratio of male to female Smurfs a little troubling. The Smurfs 2, the latest entry in the summer onslaught of animation sequels, further darkens this questionable legacy by revealing that Smurfette wasn't even born a Smurf. This blue man group's lone femme apparently was created by Gargamel as a kind of golem designed to infiltrate and destroy them who only later became endowed with Smurfiness. That means Smurfette, brought to squeaky life by the voice of Katy Perry, now has two personality traits: 1. She's a girl, and 2. She's inherently evil.

In this outing, she is largely a self-pitying damsel in distress, the victim in a kidnapping scheme that will culminate in Gargamel stealing the Smurfs' magical essence. Or at least that is what he keeps explaining to his cat, Azrael. Played by both the pixels that constitute our main characters and an actual cat (and voiced by cartoon legend Frank Welker), the clumsy tabby provides one of The Smurfs 2's chief pleasures. Unfortunately, like most other creatures in a film entirely too reliant on slapstick violence, poor Azrael takes enough bonks on the head to Smurf a concussion. The big additions to the franchise are a new species of shorties called Naughties. While not particularly funny, at least one of them is a girl, which is a great relief to those of us whose offspring prefer Happy Meal toys female-gendered, no matter what their origin.

– Oliver Jones

But catch this gem:

The Spectacular Now

Thanks to standout performances in Rabbit Hole and the updated Footloose, Miles Teller is respected as a fine young actor who makes his presence known in small roles. Now he'll be known as a guy who can carry a movie.

Teller stars as high-school senior Sutter Keely, the happiest of drunks, who charms all and sundry until he passes out on the front lawn. The incredibly talented Shailene Woodley plays Aimee Finicky, the “good girl,” and it's her front lawn. Since Sutter finds himself recently dumped, he figures Aimee will do as good as any for a new drinking buddy. Since Aimee's always followed the rules, Sutter looks like a dandy way to break a few. Together, they begin a relationship that transcends cliché teen neediness into a scarier, more consequential adult variety.

The Spectacular Now isn't a terrifically eventful film. It's more of a tone poem about the turning points in life – one that openly wonders whether Aimee will lift Sutter up, or if he'll bring her down. It's neither a spoiler nor an equivocation to say that the answer is: both. Teller is so subtle in how he shades his character as well-meaning but about as toxic (and contagious) as avian flu. Woodley, meanwhile, is just as a delicate, giving Aimee cracks without making her pathetic. The Spectacular Now is a lovely confluence of both their talents, and one well worth your time.

– Alynda Wheat

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