"The Great Gatsby" - If any piece of classic American literature should be depicted on film with wildly decadent and boldly inventive style, it's "The Great Gatsby." After all, who was the character of Jay Gatsby himself if not a spinner of grandiose tales and a peddler of lavish dreams? And Baz Luhrmann would seem like the ideal director to bring F. Scott Fitzgerald's story to the screen yet again, to breathe new life into these revered words, having shaken up cultural institutions previously with films like "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!" But in Luhrmann's previous films, there still existed a fundamental understanding of the point of the stories he was telling; beneath their gorgeous trappings, they still reflected the heart and the purpose of the works from which they were drawn. His "Great Gatsby" is all about the glitter but it has no soul - and the fact that he's directed it in 3-D only magnifies the feeling of artificiality. His camera rushes and swoops and twirls through one elaborately staged bacchanal after another but instead of creating a feeling of vibrancy, the result is repetitive and ultimately numbing. Rather than creating a sense of immersion and tangibility, the 3-D holds you at arm's length, rendering the expensive, obsessive details as shiny and hollow when they should have been exquisite. Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan star. PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language. 141 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Peeples" - The people of "Peeples" make a better impression than most collections of oddballs in the weary mold of comedies centered on meeting the prospective in-laws. They still overstay their welcome, though. With a long, boring buildup that finally pays off with scattered laughs in the second half, "Peeples" also manages to leave a better impression than the "Tyler Perry Presents" tag on the posters might imply. This is broad comedy, but nowhere near as broad - or boorish and shrill - as producer Perry's own family adventures (for disclosure's sake, there are screechy relations here, but Perry's Madea fortunately isn't among them). Craig Robinson moves up from caustic supporting player on "The Office" to show himself an engaging romantic lead in the chubby, lovable, gregarious Jack Black school, while Kerry Washington lightens up from heavier drama as the love of his life, a daddy's girl whose daddy - a stern federal judge played by David Alan Grier - naturally doesn't approve. Screenwriter and first-time director Tina Gordon Chism (her previous scripts include "Drumline") crafts a predictable "Meet the Parents" riff, though she fills it out with a pleasant supporting cast of kooks who, while not always interesting, at least are not off-putting. PG-13 for sexual content, drug material and language. 95 minutes. Two stars out of four.
- David Germain, AP Movie Writer