Between Jason Segel and Amy Adams in the new Muppet movie and Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays inĀ The Smurfs (Columbia), 2011 is asking Americaā€™s most sincerity-projecting personalities to shoulder an awful lot of the burden of selling innocent sentiment to a cynical nation. AndĀ The SmurfsĀ is a mighty hard sell, given its focus on loud, shallow, shrill humor, which comes nestled in the padding of plenty of pop-culture references and product placementā€¦

The hipper-than-thou but hipper-than-none romantic comedy Friends With Benefits (Sony) tries to have it both ways: It smugly exposes the ā€œliesā€ of Katherine Heigl rom-coms, but falls back on them in the end. Yet the chemistry between its young stars, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, is so electric, it hardly matters, especially when the two finally take their friendship to the sack and engage in lively pillow talk. Itā€™s almost unfortunate the film had to leave the bedroom at allā€¦

There are plenty of bright moments in the gloomy romanceĀ One Day (Universal), largely due to Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgessā€™ performances as friends who might become more. The film catches up with them on the same day every year, as they graduate college, endure disappointments, mature, and see their relationship evolve. Ultimately, though, the film is far too concerned with the ups and downs of Sturgessā€™ self-absorbed TV-talent asshole, at the expense of all other aspects of the storyā€¦

It would be hard to imagine a comedy less ambitious than 30 Minutes Or Less (Sony), a shaggy, aimless time-waster about a pizza-delivery man (Jesse Eisenberg, who is far too smart to convincingly play a pizza-delivery man) forced by a pair of would-be masterminds (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) to commit a bank robbery. Aimless and shapeless, 30 Minutes Or Less sets the bar ridiculously low, then defiantly shimmies under itā€¦


Our Idiot Brother (Weinstein) picked up a lot of buzz this year at Sundance, for good reason: Itā€™s exactly the kind of modestly quirky, accessible quasi-indie crowd-pleaser that goes over big with mass audiences. Jesse Peretzā€™s comedy-drama about a loveable slacker (Paul Rudd) whose free-spirited ways infect the lives of his uptight siblings coasts unashamedly on its protagonistā€™s charm and appeal, but it would be foolish to understate the explosive power of Ruddā€™s personal appeal.