Knocked Up (Universal). The new film from The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Freaks and Geeks director Judd Apatow is a hit with critics. The story of a regular "schlub" (Seth Rogen) who gets a one-night stand (Katherine Heigl) pregnant, Knocked Up"finds an unlikely route back into romance, a road that passes through failure and humiliation on its meandering way toward comic bliss," gushes A.O. Scott in the New York Times. The film also has wider resonance, notes Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum, who offers that it "may be the sharpest, most up-to-date commentary on current pop culture not involving Jon Stewart or Comedy Central." And Ella Taylor, writing in LA Weekly, adds up the ingredients that make Apatow's comedy work: "realism plus exaggeration, plus dirty talk, plus an unexpectedly sweet moral core that tells us life's a mess in which the best we can do is grope and muddle our way to a kind of decency." (Buy tickets to Knocked Up.)—D.S., June 1
Crazy Love (Magnolia). The story of Burt Pugach and his wife, formerly Linda Riss, is so strange it could only be true: In the 1950s, he hired men to attack her with lye when she left him, nearly blinding her. But she married him six months after he was released from prison in 1974. "Without excusing Pugach's crime, or explaining Riss' apparent forgiveness, [director Dan] Klores renders them as recognizable human beings, more like the rest of us than like incomprehensible monsters," writes Andrew O'Hehir in Salon. "The movie distills every functionally dysfunctional relationship you've ever had into one horrific case study,"New York magazine's David Edelstein observes approvingly. But the Village Voice is skeptical, warning, "What [Klores'] movie sells—at a time when women are staying single more than ever, scaring those who prefer the clearer rules of engagement—is a way of life whereby the acceptance of brutish 'romance' may be crazy, but easier than putting up a fight." (Buy tickets to Crazy Love.)—D.S., June 1
Double Up, R. Kelly (Jive). Is R. Kelly insane? Critics wonder as they contemplate the latest oversexed offering from the R&B superstar—a hip-hop-heavy LP featuring a song that rhymes painless with anus, as well as a tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. A negative review in Entertainment Weekly notes, "[T]here are moments of such supersonically unhinged sexual mania on Double Up—his ninth and horniest album—that you can only conclude that the guy … has completely lost whatever was left of his dirty mind." Kelly's megalomania shocks and awes as well. He boasts on one track that he's "the king of R&B," prompting the New York Times to observe, "Bragging and cursing and reeling off rapid-fire lyrics, Mr. Kelly acts as if he's the king of hip-hop too." But even if the album is uneven, the Washington Post argues, it's "brimming with those wonderful, arresting lyrical moments where Kelly's choice of words is so shocking, so provocative, so hilarious, you can't tell if you're listening to a fool or a genius." (Buy Double Up.)—B.W., May 31
No One Belongs Here More Than You, Miranda July (Scribner). The earnest, touching tales of love in this debut short-story collection by the quirky indie director of Me and You and Everyone We Know charm most critics—though some rankle at July's cloyingly sincere sensibility. The Los Angeles Times sings, "The engine that drives these stories is July's voice—the book is full of wistful, wonderful observations about the limits of connection, about the hopes and disappointments of intimacy." And New York magazine observes, "If the territory in No One Belongs Here More Than You seems familiar, her treatment of it is different, less coolly twee." But the New York Sun gripes, "The problem with Ms. July's writing, of course, is that even her metaphors seem to indicate something about youth culture. … Her voice is positioned as generational, and in fiction that can be distracting." (Buy No One Belongs Here More Than You.)—D.S., May 30
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (Disney). The third installment of producer Jerry Bruckheimer's swashbuckling series raked in an eye-popping $401 million in six days of international release, leading the Los Angeles Times to note, "In today's Hollywood, blockbuster franchises function almost as independent corporations that, once up and running, can't easily be mothballed. Which is why another Pirates is pretty much a given." For what it's worth, the two-hour-and-48-minute film has garnered mixed reviews. The Washington Post's Stephen Hunter muses, "A lavish spectacle illuminated by Johnny Depp's swishing as a slightly dainty pirate captain with better makeup than Paris Hilton, the movie has its dull moments, but not a lot of them." However, the Boston Globe's Ty Burr finds the overkill exhausting: "These movies go too far —visually, narratively, abaft and abeam—and still the filmmakers keep going, headed for the waterfall of spectacle run amok."—D.S., May 29
Lost Season 3 Finale (ABC). Wednesday night's two-hour season finale left critics reeling—and captivated. For the first time, the show looked into the future, and viewers learned that some castaways do, in fact, make it off the island. The San Francisco Chronicle's TV critic wonders, "How much drama does that suck out of the coming seasons?" but concludes, "I'm willing to bet that there's plenty of smart ways to tweak the drama and keep fans captivated." The Boston Globe sums up the finale as "a radical two hours that gave us major fake-outs, an army of dead bodies, the possibility of rescue, diverse portraits of heroism, and the most touching loss of the series so far." And Entertainment Weekly raves, "Lost flipped the switch on itself, revealing new dimensions to its creative world and grander ambitions in its exploration of redemption and damnation."— D.S., May 25
TODAY IN SLATE
Smash and Grab
Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?
Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.
The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team
The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
Forget Oculus Rift
This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.