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Summary Judgment: New Movies

ANTHONY BROOKS, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Anthony Brooks.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

I'm Madeleine Brand with a shocking, shocking development in Hollywood.

Three big movies hit theaters this weekend and all three are getting rave reviews. That has just stunned Mark Jordan Legan. Here he is with his weekly report on what movie critics are saying. It's called Slate's Summary Judgment.

Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN: I don't want to say it's a rarity for all three major releases to get critical acclaim, but the last time that happened we had six more weeks of winter.

So let's start with "Live Free or Die Hard." And you can tell by that title it's a documentary about our health care system and - no, wait, that's not it. It's the fourth installment of the "Die Hard" series. And Bruce Willis returns as legendary cop, John McClane.

(Soundbite from movie "Live Free or Die Hard")

Mr. JUSTIN LONG (Actor): (As Matt Farrell) You just killed a helicopter with a car.

Mr. BRUCE WILLIS (Actor): (As John McClane) I was out of bullets.

Mr. LEGAN: The critics say sit back and enjoy the ride. Fast moving, with energetic stunt work and nice thriller moves, shouts the L.A. Times. And the Christian Science Monitor says "Live Free or Die Hard" is easily the best in the series since the first one.

And next we have "Ratatouille." And you can tell from the title it's a documentary that tackles the U.S. health care system and - no, that's not it. It's an animated gem from Pixar and Brad Bird, the man who gave us "Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles." A young rat dreams of becoming a master chef in Paris.

(Soundbite from movie "Ratatouille")

Unidentified Man #1: I have got to teach you about food. Close your eyes. Now, take a bite of that. No, no, don't just fork it down.

Unidentified Man #2: Too late.

Mr. LEGAN: The film critics say c'est magnifique. Rolling Stones squeals, a hilarious and heartfelt wonder. And The New York Times raves, "Ratatouille" is a nearly flawless piece of popular art.

And now we come to "Sicko." Yes, Michael Moore has finally made a documentary about me. No, no, "Sicko" is not about me. It's about the troubled American health care system, and Moore sheds light on the complications and problems that surround it.

(Soundbite from documentary "Sicko")

MICHAEL MOORE (Filmmaker, "Sicko"): He sawed off the tops of two of his fingers.

Unidentified Man #3: And I just zipped and it was that quick.

Mr. MOORE: His first thought?

Unidentified Man #3: I don't have insurance - how much is this going to cost?

Mr. MOORE: The hospital gave him a choice: reattach the middle finger for $60,000 or do the ring finger for $12,000.

Mr. LEGAN: "Sicko" basically gets very robust, healthy reviews. Moore's most assured, least antagonistic and potentially most important film, says The New York Daily News. And New York magazine called "Sicko" Moore's best film, a documentary that mixes outrage, hope and gonzo stunts in the right proportions. So maybe Michael Moore's next documentary can tackle health violations in restaurants, namely the ones that let rodents prepare meals. Or maybe, actually - oh, you know what, I don't feel very well. If you need me, I'll be in Canada.

BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer and hypochondriac living in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mark Jordan Legan