7 Mar

1. Rango/Parmount                                                Wknd/$  38.0            Total/$  38.0

2. The Adjustment Bureau/Universal            Wknd/$  20.9            Total/$  20.9

3. Beastly/CBS                                                Wknd/$  10.1                        Total/$  10.1

4. Hall Pass/Warners                                    Wknd/$    9.0            Total/$  27.0

5. Gnomeo And Juliet/Disney                        Wknd/$    6.9            Total/$  83.7

6. Unknown/Warners                                    Wknd/$    6.6            Total/$  53.1

7. The King’s Speech/Weinstein                        Wknd/$    6.5            Total/$123.8

8. Just Go with It/Sony                                    Wknd/$    6.5            Total/$  88.2

9. I Am Number Four/Touchstone            Wknd/$    5.7            Total/$  46.4

10. Justin Bieber/Parmount                        Wknd/$    4.3            Total/$  68.9


Rango opens at number one and like most non-Pixar animated films, this lacks the cohesion needed to be exceptional but is enjoyable nonetheless, especially if you like or know westerns.  It begins almost immediately with a “Greek chorus” of mariachi band playing and narrating much like Nat King Cole did in Cat Ballou.  Next a doomed desert frog screams at Rango after being taken by a hawk (wearing a Silver nosepiece like another character in Cat Ballou), “You son of a—-“ before being drowned out like the end of  The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.  It all culminates with an appearance by “The Spirit of the West” who looks and sounds a lot like Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name, complete with a bag filled with gold statues.  The story isn’t new of someone pretending to be a badass gunfighter and inadvertently becoming sheriff.  James Garner made a few movies about it.   The problem is the movie can’t decide if Rango is just running a game and merely stumbling into some sort of success as sheriff as when he kills the hawk that attacks the town.  Or he actually wants to be who he pretends he is as shown when he demonstrates some degree of deductive skill (which fits because the plot is lifted from Chinatown complete with a character based on John Huston).  But while these provided a steady stream of amusement for me, what about the kids who of course have no idea about these things?  What’s filling the void of actual storytelling and character for them?  Not much.


The Adjustment Bureau opens at number two and there are some moments when I become a total 12-year-old geek in spite of myself and this movie is one of them as any interest I had in the science fiction plot was completely destroyed by the movie looking like the most banal of love stories.  Of course the irony is, that interpretation is what most likely brought in a female audience that never would have seen it otherwise.  But I have to admit, even the plot of a group of secret men (whose fashion sense stopped in 1954) actually controlling everything in the world makes no sense to me given how much the world sucks.  It would make them the most colossal of sadists. Also, how do you think a tribesman in the rainforest feels about a white guy dressed like Don Draper controlling his life?  And after he’s told that if they stay together it destroys them both but still he fights it without some hint of their fallibility.  Which makes me wonder why exactly we’re on Matt Damon’s side.  Oh, for love.  And the 12-year-old in me again says, “Hell, no.”


Beastly opens at number three and I guess if the females over the age of 21 were in The Adjustment Bureau, then the rest were here in this retelling of Beauty and the Beast which also has to be one of the least convincing given how they “disfigure” him does nothing to alleviate his bone structure or six-pack abs.  Now he’s just a hot guy with a bunch of weird tattoos. He could be the guitarist in half-a-dozen bands.  He’s supposed to be ugly not a different kind of hot.  Hell, he might get more pussy this way.  Saturday Night Live nailed this perfectly in its parody where he turns into a dweeb.  Just as Dermot Mulroney looks like an uglier Keanu Reeves they should have hired two similar actors to play the character.  Of course some poor bastard would have to deal with being called “ugly” but I’m sure his frequent failure to get leading roles would have confirmed that for him long ago.  Man up, kid.


Hall Pass is down to number four and who keeps giving the Farrelly Brothers money to make these adolescent comedies?  They must really deliver on home video, because theatrically, they disappoint.  The Heartbreak Kid was saved by making almost $100M overseas, but Shallow Hal, Fever Pitch, Stuck on You and Osmosis Jones at best didn’t lose money.  Not to mention, they peaked artistically with There’s Something About Mary and it’s been downhill ever since.  There is nothing about this I find the least bit appealing from the premise of two guys getting a week off from marriage to try and get laid to the casting.  First off, who would marry these fucking adolescents to begin with?  If they’re like this now, they were worse years ago.  And second, since when is being married to Christina Applegate an issue!?! If she only fucks you once a year you’re still better off than 90% of the populace.  Not to mention the main reason men want to have sex with hot chicks is so they can brag to other men about having sex with hot chicks, so you’re still able to say you’re banging Kelly fucking Bundy no matter how infrequently.


The abomination known as Gnomeo and Juliet is down to number five and the list of people who had an overdue car payment to appear in this atrocity is staggering. James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ozzie Osborne, Julie Walters and Patrick Stewart!?!  Damn.  Maybe they were all tricked into thinking they’d actually be doing an animated Romeo & Juliet and then found out it was this shit after the contracts were signed.


Unknown is down to number six and I’m stealing the best line I read about this from the internet: “I think maybe he really wanted to be the star the Bourne series, but his agent said it wouldn’t do very well. So now he’s like, ‘You dropped the ball on the Bourne Identity, so I wanna see scripts where I’m in Europe, and I’m beating the living hell out of people.’” I’m man enough to admit when I’ve been out-snarked.


The King’s Speech is down to number seven and while winning an Oscar didn’t do much for it financially, it didn’t need to. It had already made over $100M off a $15M budget which is the only reason people make movies anyway.


Just Go With It is down to number eight and is there something in Nicole Kidman’s contract that says you can’t advertise that she’s in this movie? If so I can understand.  She got paid to go to Hawaii but no one associates her with this.  Well played, madam. Well played.


I Am Number Four is down to number nine, giving the pretty boy two bad movies in the top ten and sadly that’s both better and worse than Teresa Palmer whose second film Take Me Home Tonight, didn’t even break the top ten, but we’ll get to that.   It’s better because, well, it’s two films in the top ten.  It’s worse because at least she’s not the star of either and in this case is the best thing in it.  Timothy Olyphant is technically in two films as he does a voice in Rango, but like Dianna Agron (whose name sounds like she should be questing with hobbits) he’s got a day job.  These other two, not so much and pretty boy is one second away from playing the douchebag who loses the hot girl to the less-attractive-but-lovable lead.


Finally Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Closes out the top ten at number and the Saturday Night Live skit about him was dead on perfect.  “Swagger coach.”  Don’t make me like you, Miley Cyrus.


Not breaking the Top Ten is Take Me Home Tonight (told you we’d get to it) and you know you’re old when your youth is the subject of period films.  I was actually working in a video store right after graduating from college in 1988 like Topher Grace.  Granted, it was only part time and I didn’t live with my parents, but still.  It struck a little too close to home.  But honestly, the most 80’s thing about this movie is its lack of originality, which doesn’t stop at the song-based title, itself a very 80’s marketing technique (Jumping Jack Flash, Stand By Me, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, etc).  It’s also every 80’s comedy about the dweeb going after the hot girl that you’ve ever seen with absolutely nothing new to add, in fact there’s less.  Even the setting at a massive party is lifted directly from Sixteen Candles.  There’s so much wrong with this I have to think there’s half-a-script laying in the garbage somewhere—or that the writer is just some middle-aged hack cranking out a fantasy about the girl he never got. Honestly, it could be either one.  The girl in question (Teresa Palmer, who needs a new agent) was supposedly the hottest girl in school, but only Topher Grace is after her?  If it’s right after college every guy in school should have been at this party should be taking a shot of her, especially if they feel “transformed” after college.  In fact, a lot of them should have been his fellow geeks trying to stab him in the back.  And the film utterly ignores the irony of him dismissing a girl from high school who was hot for him at the party.  Self-awareness is as missing from this as any use of the time period.  Honestly, aside from some fashions and pop culture references, there’s no hint of the time frame.  Nothing even remotely culturally relevant specifically to 1988.  On one hand there are no painful “winking” jokes about things we know are going to happen, but on the other hand, what’s the point in setting it 23 years ago if you’re not going to make use of what happens over the next decade and how it pertains to the main character.  There aren’t even the required-by-movie-law scenes at the end that tell the characters’ various fates over the unfolding decades.  We’re even hinted at something the first scene with Topher Grace and a classmate who did find his way ultimately pertains to his future, but it’s never followed upon, though he reflects back to it in the film’s final scene. The movie. just. stops.  Given that Topher Grace is clearly a slacker the 90’s should have been a golden age for him, but we’re given not a clue.  His twin sister was an aspiring writer, his stock movie character best friend (fat, drunken, horny) had just lost his job and was at loose ends and even the girl hates her investment-banking job.  All we know is that three of them had breakfast together. The end.  Oh, and “Take Me Home Tonight” is never used in the film.


Gone from the top ten is Drive Angry, the latest entry on Nicholas Cage’s “I’ve got to pay off the IRS” tour.  Well at least that’s what we’re blaming his choices on now. Back when he was doing shit like Con Air it was just because he was a whore.  The irony is, money from movies like Con Air are what got him into trouble and this movie is actually better than Con Air. Not that it’s saying much.  This is very much the type of 70’s grindhouse flick that Tarantinio and Rodriquez keep trying so hard to do as a self-aware exploitation flick, which is why you have sex, cursing, nudity, violence and car chases almost as soon at the lights go down.  It’s not a bad plot. Nicholas Cage is such a badass he escapes from hell to save his granddaughter (I guess the marketing team thought saying it was his daughter made a 50-year-old man seem younger) ironically from Satan worshippers—whom Satan himself doesn’t so much care for.  We know this from the movie’s best character: The Accountant who is sent to bring Cage back.  He has all the best lines and is played to perfection by William Fitchner, the guy you call when Christopher Walken isn’t available because he is the only person who could have done this role better.  Honestly, for a B-movie it’s not bad at all and in the hands of someone a tad more talented could have been a true guilty pleasure.


Another Oscars came and went and as usual I spent it at my traditional Oscar party, though this year the person who always cheats off me, but changes one or two answers to win declined to play.  Didn’t save me, though.  Every year I make the mistake of voting with my heart instead of my mind and it costs me.  This time it was wanting The Kids Are All Right to win something, which was stupid. It was going to be The Black Swan and The King’s Speech all the way.  Any idiot knew that.  And to top it off I invited an equally knowledgeable friend to the party and she won.  Bitch.  Okay, it’s been a week, but here’s what I remember…the show itself blew but it being good is the only time it’s remarkable. Sucking is the status quo.  Why they decided to go with actors WHO NEED SCRIPTS TO BE INTERESTING is beyond me. There’s a reason stand-up comedians and talk show hosts usually get this job. They know how to think on their feet.  And doing the Billy Crystal bit where they insert themselves into other films just fell flat…what the fuck was the normally reliable Cate Blanchett wearing?  It looked a giant cameo and there should be a picture of her great-grandmother there…at least we now know who Scarlett Johansson was fucking to get her hair that way….while he had a certain amount of charm, watching Kirk Douglas was painful.  We were all afraid he was going to drop dead right there…I’ve no hate for Melissa Leo and frankly she should have been cursing more…Christian Bale didn’t forget his wife or daughter’s names. He tries never to discuss them in public, so get the fuck over it…given that fucking Berlin has an Oscar and so does Lionel Richie, that Trent Reznor now has one should not be shocking. But if you didn’t know GenX was middle-aged before, you sure as shit know it now.  Somewhere Courtney Love laughed because she looks a lot better than that…my god. Did Oprah not have the biggest tits in the world?…so sue me. I liked the bit where they turned movies into musicals. It was certainly funnier than anything the hosts did.  And how long is James Franco going to insist he wasn’t stoned? It’s better to be stoned than to stand up there and openly not give a shit. Kiss your future Oscar chances goodbye otherwise…unlike the hosts, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law actually had chemistry and I’d rather watch their homoerotic bickering…Randy Newman is a plague on music.  But “Short People” rocks…with all due respect to Lena Horne you’d have been better off including more people than giving her a segment of her own.  Not to mention her granddaughter Jenny Lumet is an Oscar nominated screenwriter.  A little more appropriate than Halle Berry unless your goal was to match up Hollywood’s favorite light-skinned Black women…I was joking for weeks that Annette Benning will never win because everyone is getting back at Warren Beatty for either fucking them or fucking their wives, daughters and girlfriends.  It’s getting funnier because it seems to be true…I love those schoolkids from YouTube, but ending with them and the winners was a mistake. They find new ways to fuck it up every year.  We got rid of that five nominees presenting bullshit only to do something even more stupid.

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