Scott Marks 4:30 p.m., Dec. 5
Signal the booth announcer: “Today, on the Al Jazeera After School Special, a man’s world as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl. Waad Mohammed stars as Wadjda, the tyke Jonesing for a bike, in this feel-good triumph of the human spirit.” Wadjda had the makings of a masterpiece...in 1946. By today’s standards, this flatly-lit, grievously Americanized, and stunningly manipulative Saudi Arabian kidpic isn’t worthy of a slot on Disney-TV. (There’s even a rapid Spielberg pullback when our heroine first spots the coveted bicycle.) But, seeing how first-time director Haifaa Al-Mansour called the shots from under an abaya and the subject matter deals with the rights of women and children, critics are falling to their knees as though it was the second coming of The Bicycle Thieves. In truth, it’s barely a patch in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. If you are old enough to read subtitles, this is not a movie for you.
— Scott Marks