The Critics' Roundup: 'The Slap' and 'Kingsman'

The critics aren't in agreement about two twice-over remakes, one on TV and one at the movies.
The Critics' Roundup: 'The Slap' and 'Kingsman'
Image: Jaap Buitendijk
Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Alastair MacIntosh, Taron Egerton, and Sophie Cookson in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’

This week, it's all about remakes. NBC’s new miniseries The Slap, which premiered last Thursday, is an update of a 2011 Australian show that itself was based on a novel published in 2008. The story follows the consequences of one ill-considered action on the lives of an already troubled family. That action, of course, is a slap, dealt by a frustrated man to another couple’s misbehaving child. But in line with the bluntness of the inciting action itself, Slate’s Willa Paskin writes, “[The Slap] is not an elegant, adult, psychologically astute miniseries. Instead, The Slap is a bulldozer: bluntly, gracelessly effective.”

Paskin praises The Slap’s (if you will) heavy-handed treatment of its familial tensions, saying, “[it] can be didactic, diffident, cartoonish, yet despite being not quite good, I found it impossible to watch without emotionally engaging.” Paskin attributes the show’s emotional success to its cast, which Variety’s Brian Lowry agrees is “splendid . . . first-rate and loaded with ready-for-primetime players.” Lowry cautions that the cast, however excellent, may not be enough to carry the show: “Based on two episodes, it’s premature to give the show an unqualified endorsement. But it does represent the kind of drama that should appeal to a sophisticated palate if the ongoing quality justifies first impressions.” Vulture’s Brian Barret is also hesitantly optimistic about The Slap’s success, but he thinks the show’s real point isn’t a surface-level discussion of parenting techniques. “The Slap is as much a serious meditation on parenting philosophies as Moby Dick is a serious meditation ...

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Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
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The Critics' Roundup: 'The Slap' and 'Kingsman'
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