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Summary Judgement: A Lesson About Satire

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is Day to Day from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And I'm Madeleine Brand. The blockbuster movie this weekend is clearly "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." To see what the critics think of the latest in the Indie opus, and another smaller movie, here is Mark Jordan Legan with Slate's Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN: The famous writer George S. Kaufman once said, satire is what closes on Saturday night. And unfortunately, that might be the case with the troubled political satire, "War, Inc." John Cusack co-wrote and stars in the dark comedy about a professional hit man who is hired by an American corporation to kill a Middle Eastern oil baron. Everyone from Hillary Duff to Sir Ben Kingsley to Dan Aykroyd stars.

(Soundbite of movie "War, Inc.")

Mr. JOHN CUSACK (Actor): (As Brand Hauser) What's my cover?

Mr. DAN AYKROYD (Actor): (As The Vice President) Trade show producer.

Mr. CUSACK: (As Brand Hauser) Trade show. What show? What show? What show?

Mr. AYKROYD: (As The Vice President) It's going to be huge, Hauser. Camera Lane is sponsoring a trade expo, Brand USA. It's our big launch, bringing democracy to this part of the world.

LEGAN: The film sat on the shelf for awhile, and many of the critics think it should have stayed there. USA Today calls it intriguing if flawed. But LA Weekly snarls, "War, Inc." squanders top-tier talent as well as our patience. And the Wall Street Journal gripes, a sorry excuse for political satire.

And continuing with an odd Hollywood trend, the reviving action heroes who might be passed their prime like Rambo, Rocky and John "Die Hard" McLain, the legendary Indiana Jones returns to the screen for the first time in 19 years in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Set in 1957, the famous archeologist battles the Soviets, jungle warriors, old flames, and even the McCarthy blacklist. But nothing can stop the power of the old fedora and a whip. Last time I saw someone with a fedora and a whip was in Vegas, and I had to pay extra.

(Soundbite of movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull")

Mr. HARRISON FORD: (As Indiana Jones) Legend says that a crystal skull was stolen from a mythical lost city in the Amazon. Whoever returns the skull to the city temple will be given control over its power.

LEGAN: Talk about a critic-proof movie, but the reviews are strong. Yes, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg seem to have another winner on their hands. Time Magazine says, once it gets going, Crystal Skull delivers smart, robust, familiar entertainment. The Boston Globe shouts, grand old-school fun, a rollicking class reunion. And the New York Daily News cheers, entertaining, inventive, and old-fashioned in the best way.

Now, of course, the studio was concerned that only the older fans of the previous three "Indiana Jones" movies would come. So to make sure the younger demographic shows up, that's why there's the Crystal Skull Happy Meals, the Crystal Skull flip-flops, and you know, I must say, this mocha-crystal-skull-achino (ph) is delicious.

(Sound of slurping)

(Sound of swallowing)

LEGAN: Ah!

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