5 Dec

1. Twilight: Breaking Dawn 1/Summit           Wknd/$   16.9            Total/$ 247.3

 2. The Muppets/Disney                                     Wknd/$    11.2            Total/$   56.1

 3. Hugo/Paramount                                           Wknd/$     7.6            Total/$   25.2

 4. Arthur Christmas/Sony                                Wknd/$     7.4            Total/$   25.3

 5. Happy Feet 2/Warners                                 Wknd/$     6.0            Total/$   51.8

 6. Jack and Jill/Sony                                         Wknd/$     5.5            Total/$   64.3

 7.The Descendants/FoxS                                  Wknd/$     5.2            Total/$   18.1

 8. Immortals/Relativity                                    Wknd/$     4.4            Total/$   75.6

 9. Tower Heist/Universal                                 Wknd/$     4.1            Total/$   70.8

10. Puss in Boots/Dreamworks                        Wknd/$     3.1            Total/$ 139.5


Twilight: Breaking Dawn holds onto number one giving everyone at the studio an early Christmas, while despite being a bit of a disappointment creatively, The Muppets holds at number two.  Let me put it this way: the best jokes involve humans.  That shouldn’t be the case.  Animal has a decent presence throughout the movie, but the funniest joke about him is that in the knock-off version of The Muppets, “The Moopets” his role is played by David Grohl. A human is funnier than Animal of all the muppets. Speaking of which the “star” portion of the traditional star cameos in a Muppet movie is pretty lame.  There’s not a single A-lister.  Instead there are people like Sarah Silverman, Rashida Jones, Kim Jeong and Judd Hirsch.


Hugo actually moves up to number three and this is proving to be a bit of a surprise success as who thought Martin Scorsese + Children’s Film + 3D would amount to anything but a misguided disaster?  Shut up! You did not think this would be good either.  There’s even Oscar buzz starting so it’s starting to look like I might have to see this after all.


Arthur Christmas holds at number four followed by Happy Feet 2 at number five, making four out of the top five being family films and while there are cannibalizing their audience, it also means that every weekend there’s a new film for the kids to go see ironically sustaining them all. Though it sucks to be mom & dad, especially when it’s also the holiday season.


Jack & Jill is down to number six and while it doesn’t get the attention of dramas or action films, comedians are equally as likely to hit a certain age then start pairing themselves onscreen with younger women. And it’s clearly Sandler because it’s his production company and has been for most of his career.  His former leading ladies are all now 40-somethings like himself. Winona Ryder, Bridgette Wilson, Julie Bowen… Now it’s Katie Holmes, Jessica Biel and Emmanuelle Chirqui. To be 40 and be his onscreen love interest you either have to look like Salma Hayek or be the director’s wife, as in the case of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann.


The Descendants opens wider and rises to number seven, followed by Immortals at number eight and also in this is Mickey Rourke who continues to be a casting challenge by never missing an opportunity to trash his previous projects. In this case he was explaining why Immortals wouldn’t be a piece of shit like Iron Man 2. Not that Iron Man 2 wasn’t a piece of shit (it so was), but no one wants to hear that and for future producers and directors you have to take into account no matter what he says now (he once praised his work with Megan Fox…) you have to realize that later Rourke might be ripping your film to pieces (…as he did to the movie he made with Megan Fox).  Of course for the rest of us, it’s fun to watch.


Still hanging around at number nine and actually rising is Tower Heist and also in this is Matthew Broderick and do you think he would sit around with Eddie Murphy and talk about how great the 80’s were?  And clearly he didn’t make the same choice about his body over his face the way both his wife and co-star, Ben Stiller did.  Is he eating the leftover food on Sarah Jessica Parker’s plate?  And this makes “zero” box office hits in the Broderick/Parker household this fall thanks to the crash and burn of I Don’t Know How She Does It.


Finally Puss In Boots returns to the top ten at number ten.


I bought a Playstation 3 at the beginning of the year pretty much because of a single game: Need for Speed. It was always one of my favorite games because not only do you race, but also you get chased by cops and have to evade them. One of the ways in which I rationalized it is that a) it was a Sony bluray player as well and you could stream Netflix through it.  The former obviously got use, but that wound up becoming a quite useful feature as well, because it allows you access to all kinds of crappy movies and TV shows you’d never watch, but can fast forward through them to see your favorite star naked. Yeah, you tell yourself you’ll watch all those classic and indie films, but you never do.  As it is only now after literally months since I started it, I finished an actual movie: 13 Assassins, which could just as easily be called The Seven + Six Samurai, as like the classic film it’s about the gathering of a disparate group of samurai, this time not to protect a group of villagers, but to go on a suicide mission to kill the evil nephew of the shogun who is a murderous psychotic and a rapist (one girl he chops off her arms and legs). Again like The Seven Samurai, the movie is basically a lead-up to a giant battle in a small town between the 13 samurai and the hundreds of retainers to the evil nephew, who ironically loves the idea there’s a bunch of people trying to kill him.  It’s a hard formula to screw up as dozens of successful remakes and variations of The Seven Samurai have shown (there was even one in the Star Wars comic book with Han Solo) and they don’t screw it up here.


But I did buy my first videogame in almost a year thanks to a Black Friday sale. Yes, it was a new Need for Speed game called “The Run” which is great on paper. It’s part role-player as you’re a driver on the run from the mob who enters a coast-to-coast race, which will allow you to pay off your debt. You start in San Francisco, into Las Vegas, through Chicago and into New York. I name those cities because according to the game these are the only major cities in North America. This should have been a chance to rip through every major city and on every major highway in the USA, but they miss it.  Yes, it’s fun fighting cops and running from the mob (at one point they come after you with a helicopter which you can take down by hitting it with your car in a jump), but I’d easily sacrifice those for a more varied racing experience. I burned through this in a week (which never happens), but fortunately was able to resell it on eBay at cost, so no harm, no foul…except now I want more, more, more…


I hate to give them credit but those Zales commercials are damn good. In fact, the worst thing about thing is the fact it’s for Zales.  You get this gorgeous, romantic moment with great music that’s negated by the fact it’s from a cheap jewelry company. Granted that one commercial has a girl who when shot in close up looks like a small boy, making it slightly creepy (which is the only one you can’t watch on YouTube which I think is no coincidence) but they’re all good, because it’s not really about the jewelry, but about the emotions it represents. The woman sees the gift, but doesn’t look at it again, turning all her attention to the man who gave it to her as opposed to other commercials where she never really stops looking at the rock.  The former is about lover the latter is about the love of things. And the music is awesome.  There are three songs. The ones in the snow is “Lost In The Moment” from Daniel Lee Kendall and is my favorite. The one in traffic or leading to the bedroom is “You Ain’t Alone” from Alabama Shakes and is a clear rip of Joe Cocker’s version of “A Little Help From My Friends, but it’s still good. The one from dinner is “Diamonds In Her Eyes” from Pajama Club and features none other than Neil Finn from Split Enz and Crowded House. They’ve got a seriously tasteful person in charge of music.


Death’s continuing her year-end tradition of cleaning house.  One hit disco wonder and one time porn star Andrea True passed as did boxing great Smoking Joe Frazier, football great Bubba Smith, Heavy D, comedian Patrice O’Neal, actor John Neville, one of the last Wizard of Oz munchkins, Andy Rooney and one of my favorite directors, Ken Russell.

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