Friday Flicks: What Says Summer More than a Movie Called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter?

Grab some popcorn and check out the movies you should see (or avoid) this weekend.

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To Rome With Love

Woody Allen’s latest film was originally slated to be called The Bop Decameron. Perhaps he figured that the putting of a city in the title of last year’s Midnight In Paris did the trick – it took in a ton of money and resulted in a Best Picture Oscar nomination – so he’s at it again in the form of To Rome With Love.

And as with Midnight in Paris, Allen is able to pull in a stellar cast (Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, himself) as he sets about telling a bunch of different stories based in the beautiful Italian capital. The plots rarely intersect, so you’re left in the capable hands of Baldwin and Eisenberg’s architect (as both current and younger versions), Penélope Cruz’s prostitute and (among others) Roberto Benigni’s blue-collar worker grappling with sudden fame.

But the critical reaction doesn’t make you think Allen will be in the frame for Oscar glory next year. “Allen the writer-director has gone tone-deaf this time around, somehow not realizing that the nonstop prattling of the less than scintillating characters almost never rings true,” is the view of The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s time to pack up the Vuitton and come home, Woody. Your inspiration is thin, you’re running out of euros, and you’re having a bad day,” pans the New York Observer. But across town, the New York Times is far more positive: “One of the most delightful things about To Rome With Love is how casually it blends the plausible and the surreal, and how unabashedly it revels in pure silliness.” And perhaps TIME’s Mary Pols nails it best of all, noting that, “I may have been mystified grappling with why nothing coalesced from the various narratives, but I didn’t suffer much trying.” In other words: when it doubt, enjoy the view.

PHOTOS: Woody Allen’s Life and Career

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: All this week’s releases have their merits but it never pays to underestimate  Pixar, which is why there’s nothing Brave about choosing the princess flick as our favorite.

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