17 Mar


1. Oz The Great & Powerful/ Disney            Wknd/$ 42.2             Total/$145.0

2. The Call/TriStar                                           Wknd/$ 17.1              Total/$  17.1

3. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone           Wknd/$ 10.3              Total/$  10.3

4. Jack the Giant Slayer/Warners                Wknd/$   6.2              Total$   53.9

5. Identity Thief/Universal                            Wknd/$   4.5               Total/$123.7

6. Snitch/LGF                                                   Wknd/$   3.5               Total/$  37.3

7. 21 & Over/Relativity                                    Wknd/$   2.6               Total/$  21.9

8. Silver Linings Playbook/Wein                  Wknd/$   2.6               Total/$124.6

9. Safe Haven/Relativity                                 Wknd/$   2.5               Total/$  67.0

10. Escape From Planet Earth/Wein            Wknd/$   2.3               Total/$  52.8


Oz the Great & Powerful holds disappointingly at number one and also in this as a Winged Monkey is Zack Braff and honestly it was the role he was born to play.  But for a prequel they never bother explaining why he’s the only winged monkey in a bellhop’s outfit while the Wicked Witch of the East has flying baboons that aren’t wearing anything. I guess they planned ahead for the miserable sequels that will undoubtedly be coming to do so.  It’s time to face the fact that Sam Raimi isn’t some talented genre director who made good—wait, that he is. He is a talented genre director, but given unlimited money and freedom outside of that genre he becomes utterly rudderless and misguided, creating the same empty crap as Michael Bay or any other half-dozen hacks, albeit with a tad more skill. Spider-Man only succeeded because it was in fact a genre film, but even there you saw the failings come to light.


The Call opens at number one and this is a sorely needed hit for Halle Berry.  And it is a hit. A $17M return on a $15M film the opening weekend?  Couple this with a return to playing Storm in the third X-Men movie (shut up! I will not acknowledge that they made more than two!) and Halle might actually have successes to match her level of fame.  I’ve said for years that the real female action movie is the suspense thriller—the “estro-thriller” if you will—and once again this proves me right. If Halle’s got a brain in her head she’ll realize that the throne once held by Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs, Flightplan, Panic Room) has been abdicated and Ashley Judd (Kiss The Girls, Double Jeopardy) has stopped trying to claim.  It’s wide open for an actress of “a certain age.”  Unlike male action movies, the estro-thriller has a woman striving to save lives, not seek revenge or shoot a lot of people. If anything, they only kill the one bad guy (always a guy) and only as a last resort at the end of the movie.  It helps that the life she’s trying to save is actually that of another woman, so that’s two, two-times the double X chromosome (again, Silence of the Lambs is the perfect model and clearly someone here remembered).  Halle Berry needs to be on another one of these as soon as possible.  Yeah, I know she did one with sharks that about four people saw and she was one of them (her fiancée who was in it was another), but that didn’t follow the “estro-thriller” rules and that’s why it failed and not even the promise of her in a bikini could save it. That it may or may not have been awful is irrelevant.


The Incredible Burt Wonderstone opens at number three and is considered a flop and I can’t say I’m surprised or disappointed by that.  First of all, while Steve Carell’s small screen career is based on him being a jerk, his big screen career is him always being sympathetic.  From the The 40-Year-old Virgin to Dinner For Schmucks he was always someone who was nice before anything, even when he was annoying. Some might say he went to the well too much with it, given the failure of Crazy, Stupid Love but I blame that more on Ryan Gosling the man everyone woman claims to love but only so long as they don’t have to pay for it, as all his movies tend to tank.  People like Carell nice and while artistically speaking it’s admirable that he tried to change it up, it’s not something people are going to pay for given how they’re used to getting it for free in their living rooms.  Now, I’m not disappointed because my pet peeve of inappropriate age casting is on full display.  It was eight years ago he played The 40-Year-Old virgin so how the fuck is Olivia Wilde now his leading lady!?!  Even a 40-year-old woman would have been too young for him, but they went above and beyond offensiveness by casting someone freaking 30.  Last I heard Carell made money with Catherin Keener and Tina Fey as his leading ladies. With Keira Knightley and Olivia Wilde, not so much. Are we learning anything?


Jack The Giant Slayer is down to number four and you know who else is in this movie, Ewen Bremmer, who played Spud in Trainspotting with Ewan McGregor as Renton. You know what doesn’t happen in this movie? Bremmer and McGregor sharing a scene. Yet another reason why it won’t recoup its losses and here’s hoping that Trainspotting sequel comes about!  Everyone is still out there working. Sick Boy is now Sherlock Holmes, Begby is Rumplestiltskin and Diane is both Brave and a mobster’s wife on Boardwalk Empire. Yeah, Tommy’s dead and being on Gray’s Anatomy is a fit metaphor for that.


Identity Thief is down to number five, followed by Snitch at number six and probably the only person happier than Bruce Willis about the GI Joe sequel coming out next week is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  I know I mocked him for jumping so quickly to family films when his action career stalled almost immediately, but given his lousy taste in them it was probably wise.  He’s also got Fast & Furious 6 this year too. Another franchise he wisely hopped on.  So here’s the lesson: The Rock cannot carry an action movie, but is a welcome addition to an established one needing a boost.


21 and Over is down to number seven and my mortal enemy, Silver Linings Playbook, holds at number eight and I’ve begun to draw others to my side who actually saw the movie and hated it.  Their rational dislike will only serve to obscure my irrational fervor.


Safe Haven is still hanging around at number nine and I still cannot fathom this steady stream of crap from the man who directed My Life As a Dog.  It’s just sad.


Finally Escape From Planet Earth closes out the top ten at number ten


TV never stops and no one is more grateful for this than I.  The “spring season/winter replacements” have begun and this means something good, something bad and something so bad it’s good. First off is Vikings and for some of my friends this is little more than straight up porn.  Coming from The History Channel it’s an attempt to dramatize the beginning of the Viking incursions into England with some degree of accuracy.  It’s one of those shows where its deliberate pacing isn’t slow, but makes it all that more enjoyable, like savoring a good wine. No one was more surprised than I to find out that the historically based Ragnar was none other than the guy who played that ill-advised Tarzan series a few years ago. He’s actually turned in to a decent actor as his pretty boy looks have faded into attractive manhood.  Of course Gabriel Byrne is a welcome addition to any show and this reminds me that he once played the doomed King Uther in Excalibur as he’s the duke here who is against going west, so you can imagine how that’s going to work out for him. In their attempts to be accurate we learn that Viking women had a great deal of power in their culture, they could fight and divorce their men.  We definitely get the fighting as Ragnar’s wife is so pissed she can’t go pillaging with him, she attacks him in the kitchen. This turns out to be little more than Viking foreplay. We also find out that the disgusting bowl scene from The 13th Warrior where they drink and blow snot into it was accurate. Ew.  Not good and not bad enough to be at least fun is Red Widow.  I like Radha Mitchell and they set this in San Francisco so I gave it a shot. First of all, it’s bad CGI San Francisco and really Vancouver. Strikes one and two as far as I’m concerned.  Third strike is how do you mess up a story where the daughter of a low level Russian mob boss gets pushed into the life when her minor league smuggling husband dies with a debt to a big Russian mob boss is beyond me. It’s pretty easy. She doesn’t want to do it, but because it’s in her blood, she takes to it like a fish to water in a way that surprises her. Well, they got the first part right. Here we get her just tortured by doing it and they drag. it. out.  It’s only 8 episodes people, you don’t have the time for this.  If you want a Red Widow drinking game, take a drink every time she’s says, “I’m mother” as she whines about her situation.  On the “so bad it’s good” front we have The Following, which was initially it was too dark for me.  The first episode is basically what if Hannibal Lecter escaped and then killed the senator’s daughter who lived at the end of Silence of the Lambs.  Yeah, not a lot of fun.  I came back to find it funny in the way that Smash is because it is completely ridiculous, not based in anything you’d call reality.  First of all there’s the serial killer’s ridiculously omnipotent brilliance (James Purefoy doing Hannibal Lecter lite) so he’s always one step ahead in ways that he could never possibly have anticipate.  Also, EVERY other person is a follower.  It’s supposed to inspire paranoia but what it really inspires is laughter as they’re all pretty obvious with their stonefaced glares and glazed over eyes. Basically anyone who looks like they’re auditioning for The Terminator is a follower. Oh, and did I mention that EVERY ONE of them has visited him in prison and been videotaped? If they’d just check the logbooks and the tapes they’d have everybody, but then your show would be over.  Then we have the sad cliché of supposedly smart and capable federal agents are doing incredibly stupid things (slowly too, despite all the huffing and puffing and running) to propel the plot forward, because if they’re remotely competent, your show is over.  Last but not least is Kevin Bacon’s continued survival given almost every episode has him with a gun to his head by one of “the followers.”  We’re told they can’t kill him because it’s part of Purefoy’s plan, to punish Bacon by keeping him alive to watch the mayhem.  Okay, fair enough. But since we all know that, why is he stopping? He should just plow through all of them because he knows they can’t kill him. But then he’d catch Purefoy and the show would be over.  Also, he’s got a heart condition that also seems to kick in just as he’s about to save the day.  I’d mention the improbably attractive, multi-ethnic FBI team, who gets to wear casual clothing instead of suits but the Asian girl from the pilot is gone and the Black guy was killed in the second episode.  Yeah, they brought in a new black guy to play “Stupid Guy In Charge” (he’d be the guy telling Bruce Willis to stay out it) and combine him with the black “Older Agent Who Never Believes Anything” and the black lawyer Purefoy kills with only two fingers (three are broken and she never thinks to grab them to get away) and people of color are getting a rough rap on this show. Also, it’s a bit trying watching innocent people get murdered all the time, though I realize that too is the premise of the show; an army of serial killers. I hope by then the producers realize that Bacon and the Feds have to win one or two and save some people or this is going to get old fast.  Oh, and that minorities have to be smart and live occasionally. Did I mention it’s already gotten a second season?  We’ll see how it survives when the real Hannibal Lecter comes to TV next season.

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