YOU’RE AS COLD AS ICE

1 Dec

020_rene_russo_theredlist

 1. The Hunger Games 2/LGF                       Wknd/$  74.5            Total/$ 296.5

 2. Frozen/Disney                                            Wknd/$  66.7            Total/$   93.4

 3. Thor: The Dark World/BV                        Wknd/$  11.1             Total/$ 186.7

 4. The Best Man Holiday/Universal            Wknd/$    8.5            Total/$  63.4

 5. Homefront/ORF                                          Wknd/$    7.0            Total/$     7.0

 6. Delivery Man/BV                                         Wknd/$    6.9            Total/$   19.5

 7. The Book Thief/Fox                                    Wknd/$    4.9            Total/$     7.9

 8. Black Nativity/FoxS                                    Wknd/$    3.9            Total/$     5.0

 9. Philomena/Weinstein                                 Wknd/$    3.8            Total/$    4.8

10. Last Vegas/CBS                                           Wknd/$    2.8            Total/$  58.7

 

GIVEN NEW MEANING TO THE EXPRESSION “BASED UPON…”

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire holds at number one and opening at number two is Frozen, which continues Disney’s newer tradition of adapting classic fairy tales but making them into buddy-romantic-comedies with spunky girl leads and hunky dudes who accompany them on their journey only to fall for them.  First was Rapunzel, redone as Tangled and now we have The Snow Queen redone as Frozen. Looking for the story of a boy and a girl and slivers of a magical mirror?  Look elsewhere. This movie is about two sisters, the older one with magical snow powers, and as a child she accidentally injures her younger sister with them and is taught by her parents to hide them stay isolated. Her younger sister is made to forget about this as part of the healing by the rock trolls and doesn’t understand why her sister suddenly became so distant. Don’t remember any rock trolls from the original story? Get used to it.  When their parents die in a shipwreck (it’s Disney; you cannot have two loving, living parents) the older sister becomes queen and at her coronation ball, her powers are revealed and go out of control throwing the land into eternal winter and causing her to run away and create a palace for herself.  Her younger sister sets off with a handsome ice dealer (just roll with with it) and his reindeer to find her sister and save the land.  Not a bad story, but not “The Snow Queen” even in the slightest except for the fact there is a “snow queen” of some sort.  Certainly not a comic relief living snowman, who doesn’t show up until midway through the film, despite what the ads show you. You can see why they use him as selling point because the irreverent humor he brings is the high point of the movie.  Overall, it’s not a bad animated film, but the lack of shading of the characters (everyone is either good or bad, period) shows the difference between a regular Disney film and a Pixar film.

 

THIS WEEK’S LESSON IN FEMINISM

Thor: The Dark World is down to number three and speaking of queens, who wasn’t shocked when Renee Russo popped in the first as the Queen of Asgard?  She’s back here as the butt-kicking queen of Asgard who almost ends the movie before it starts when the main bad guy makes the mistake of taking her on in single combat and gets his ass handed to him.  This isn’t archetypal for Thor which oddly enough does well by women passing the Bechdel Test in both films. For those unfamiliar with it, the Bechdel Test is so named for a cartoonist Alison Bechdel who asked three questions to determine whether or not women have a meaningful presence in films: 1) are there two or more women in it that have names? 2) Do they talk to each other? 3) Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?  When you think about it you’ll be shocked at how few films pass this test (not that you can’t break it and still work, because Renee Russo is in The Thomas Crown Affair, never really speaks to another woman and is totally awesome). Thor however does, thanks to Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings who have names and talk about their actual work. Not boys, not shoes, not make-up. Their work. For a comic book fantasy film, it’s positively revolutionary.  Ironic enough, warrior goddess Sif never has a conversation that isn’t about Thor. Small steps, it seems.

 

THIS WEEK’S LESSON IN FEMINISM PT. 2

The Best Man Holiday, however would not past The Bechdel Test and doubles down against it by making Sanaa Lathan, who plays the wife of Taye Diggs dislike Nia Long, who was the girl he always liked in college but never got together with. Because god forbid two successful, intelligent women—who clearly share some mutual traits for him to love them both—get along.  It’s probably the weakest part of this otherwise enjoyable film.

 

IT’S CALLED “GETTING IN YOUR OWN WAY”

Homefront opens at number five and Jason Staham may want to rethink his opposition to working in films with special effects as he’s not getting any younger and his films are start to do worse and worse.  Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, etc. Name the A-list action star and I’ll name the big-budget special effects film. Jason Staham however is B-list in danger of sinking to C if he doesn’t wise up. Let me put it this way: this has got to be the first major release from him that I didn’t automatically see.  That they’re all the same isn’t an issue; all action films are dangerously similar.  That much I accept.  It’s that they’ve been too disappointing too many times. And I don’t know why the producers thought that “written by Sylvester Stallone” would be a selling point. If anything that guarantees even more plot holes and illogic than your average action film and honestly was the deciding factor for me.  Clearly more than a few people felt the same.

 

THIS TOO WILL PASS, YOUNG MAN

Delivery Man is down to number six giving Vince Vaughn two flops this year and you can’t prove I’m smiling.  Also in this is Chris Pratt whose star is actually rising in comedy (Park & Recreation) and drama (Zero Dark Thirty) and will be in the next big Marvel offshoot, Guardians of the Galaxy and his casting while clearly calculated to bring down the age curve is actually a mistake given the plot hinges on Vince Vaughn being in his 40’s. The best friend who fulfills the straight man role of the married family man is not going to be in his early 30’s. It needs to be someone of a similar age. I can only think his frequent partner, Jon Favreau saw the writing on the wall and turned this down.

 

NAZIS, HOLOCAUST, CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED NOVEL = OSCAR BAIT

The Book Thief enters the top ten at number seven and I know nothing of the novel this is based upon, only that it stinks of Oscar bait but also wants to be a heartwarming family film and you can only serve one master.  Trying for both risks sucking on two fronts.

 

WHY WAIT UNTIL CHRISTMAS TO IGNORE SOMETHING?

Black Nativity opens at number eight and I’ve got “zero” interest in seeing this.  I cannot deal with the hamfisted religious thing, even at Christmas.  Not to mention is this a musical or what?  Jennifer Hudson is shown doing the only thing she should ever do onscreen and that’s sing (her Oscar win remains an embarrassment), but it’s when she’s just walking down the street.  No one else seems to do it and I think that confusion contributed to its low opening (other than having Jesus shoved in your face over Thanksgiving). The Book Thief is in fewer theaters, has been out longer and has even a smaller niche audience and still did better.  I’m a little sad because I like Kasi Lemmons and hoped that Eve’s Bayou would lead to bigger and better things for her as a director. You know her best as Jodie Foster’s roommate in Silence of the Lambs. Yeah, that’s her.

 

QUEEN OF THE GRAY DOLLAR

Opening very well even though it’s at number nine is Philomena.  To even break the top ten with less than a thousand theaters is impressive, but Dame Judi Densch has proven she’s queen of the older audience, having scored a hit with Best Exotic Marigold Hotel two years ago. This is a comedy drama about a writer following a woman as she seeks to find the child she was forced to give up for adoption decades earlier and unlike the book thief it seems to mix the sad and the sweet in the right amounts for Oscar audiences.

 

I’M GONNA HAVE TO TRADEMARK “GRAY DOLLAR” IT SEEMS

Speaking of the “older audience” Last Vegas has rolled the dice for the last time in the top ten but $72M worldwide from a $28M budget isn’t bad at all.  Given that the rest of its target audience will probably devour it on home video (pay-per-view, DVD, etc) it’ll probably deliver nice profit when all is said and done. Ironically, this probably sprung up from the success of Red, whose sequel bombed, so while Last Vegas 2 (Next To Last Vegas?) is unwise another excuse to put a bunch of older actors together will probably pay off.  I’d bring up having some women in it as well, but clearly Judi Densch doesn’t need your punk ass.

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