Tag Archives: bruce willis


13 Feb

1. The LEGO Batman Movie/WB      Wknd/$ 55.6    Total/$ 55.6
2. Fifty Shades Darker/Universal     Wknd/$ 46.8    Total/$ 46.8
3. John Wick: Chapter Two/LG        Wknd/$ 30.0    Total/$ 30.0
4. Split/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 9.3     Total/$ 112.3
5. Hidden Figures/Fox                        Wknd/$ 8.0      Total/$ 131.5
6. A Dog’s Purpose/Universal            Wknd/$ 7.4      Total/$ 42.6
7. Rings/Paramount                             Wknd/$ 5.8      Total/$ 21.5
8. La La Land/LG                                 Wknd/$ 5.0      Total/$ 126.0
9. Lion/Weinstein                                 Wknd/$ 4.1      Total/$ 30.4
10.The Space Between Us/STX          Wknd/$ 1.8      Total/$ 6.6

The LEGO Batman Movie opens at number one and if you remember, Will Arnett as Batman in The Lego Movie basically stole the thing so it’s no surprise that they gave him his own movie. But what’s odd about it is it’s this silly animated toy movie that has one of the best examinations of his personality and the only movie to just flat out say that Alfred is his father and Dick Grayson was his son. Not “butler” and “ward” but “father” and “son.” Not that it stops it from being funny in a very chaotic Airplane and Naked Gun sort of way. Let me put it this way: included in the villains here are Agents from The Matrix, Raptors from Jurassic Park and Sauron from Lord of the Rings. Oh, and Voldemort from Harry Potter. I’m not kidding. And the bulk of the humor is based on another prominent aspect of Batman’s personality that the movies have ignored but is a major thing in the comics: Batman is an asshole. Not the vainglorious asshole Will Arnett is playing here, but sharing the same character trait that he always thinks he’s right so it’s okay for him to do what he wants to anyone at any time. In this case when The Joker makes him obsolete by surrendering and making all the other bad guys in Gotham City surrender too, Batman realizes that it has to be some part of a greater scheme so he steals Superman’s Phantom Zone projector (easy because the Justice League is busy with their anniversary party which they’ve having for 57 years and never once inviting him…because he’s an asshole) and puts him there to safe. Unfortunately, that was The Joker’s plan exactly, so when he breaks out and brings all the villains imprisoned within to destroy Gotham it’s essentially Batman’s fault. Oh, and Batman’s been put in jail himself by Barbara Gordon for breaking in and putting The Joker in The Phantom Zone. It’s fun for normal people, but if you’re a geek, five times a much due to all the little “in” jokes that are thrown in.

50 Shades Darker opens at number two and briefly some thought it would open at number one and it’s clear those people don’t have kids. Every kid’s movie is kids admission + adult’s admission, whereas this only had adult’s admission, mostly female. Okay, maybe two adults on a date, but that’s not going to make up the difference. I saw the first as basically a joke with a friend who had a free screening passes. It was not good, though Dakota Johnson was and gave the movie a performance it didn’t deserve. Jaime Dornan gave the role the contempt he clearly has for it (and himself for taking the easy money & fame role which only gave him the former). That said, I’ve no interest in these characters whatsoever and not even bringing in Kim Basinger—who made the movie this could only hope to be in its wildest dreams, 9 ½ Weeks—is going to persuade me to give it a look. But it does make me want to watch 9 ½ Weeks again, so thanks for that.

John Wick: Chapter Two is the flipside to 50 Shades darker. It got the male money, but made less because honestly it’s not exactly a date movie. Granted, some people may get hot watching two-hours of breaking bones and headshots, but I’m willing to wager it’s not quite as many as those watching people boning (fewer to the tune of $16M). And this film is committed to headshots. A friend joked it should be called “HeadShot: The Movie.” Well, this is no different. I mean there’s actually a character that commits suicide…and he still shoots this person in the head. Like the first, Chapter Two is a borderline comedy in this concept there’s this secret underground criminal society that’s actually built on honor and respect and cops mysteriously never show up no matter how much mayhem is unleashed. This time they kick it up a notch when John Wick’s actions in the first result in someone he owed a debt to calling to collect. When Wick refuses, the guy blows up Wick’s house and the underground criminal society tells him he’s got to honor the debt, period. It’s a snake eating its tail because he incurred the debt leaving the life in the first place. Also, had he not gone on a killing spree in the first (to avenge the death of the puppy his late wife left to him) the marker would not have been called in, but fulfilling his obligation on this marker serves to create a mess that guarantees a John Wick Chapter 3 aka Even More Head Shots. And I’ll be there, ‘cause this silly ass shit is fun.

Split is down to number four and this is considered part of M. Night Shymaylan’s comeback and it’s a comeback in the only way that matters: money. From a $9M budget it’s made over a $100M domestic alone making it the highest grossing horror movie in four years. His previous hit was The Visit, which made $65M domestic from a $5M budget. This gets him a little bit of his mojo back, but it’s still doubtful any studio’s going to drop $100M blockbuster in his lap again anytime soon and that’s probably for the best. Some people only shine with limitations. I’ll never know because honestly I was never a big fan. He just makes Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episodes as full-blown movies and makes up that time difference by dragging things out needlessly. There’s deliberately pacing and there’s just dragging shit out. He just drags shit out. Of course by now you may be aware this isn’t a mere stand-alone movie. It’s actually connected to Unbreakable. The character James McAvoy plays eventually metamorphoses into a super-strong bulletproof super-villain that Bruce Willis as his Unbreakable character reads about in the paper at the end setting up a new movie where they fight. According to Shyamalan, this character was actually supposed to be in Unbreakable, but he felt it was overstuffed. God forbid we use all that time where he dragged shit out to tell another story. I wasn’t the greatest fan of Unbreakable so connecting this to it doesn’t make me suddenly want to see it. I left horror behind long ago and this is still technically a horror movie about a loon kidnapping three terrified girls. He kills and eats two of them and I am not paying to see that shit. How does the third one survive? Well, she was sexually abused by her uncle and James McAvoy’s character who was also horrifically abused feels a kinship with her for it. No, she doesn’t even get to be the girl at the end of a horror movie that beats or outwits the villain.

Hidden Figures is down to number five and I still have embarrassingly not seen it. I’ve no excuse. None.

A Dog’s Purpose is down to number five and I’m actually glad Dennis Quaid has this little hit. He was always a guy who was supposed to be a big A-list star, but his big A-list films didn’t quite work out. It’s hit and miss with mostly miss. After The Right Stuff and The Big Easy it’s disappointment after disappointment even when the movies were good like Innerspace. Probably the biggest disappointment was Great Balls of Fire, the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic that co-starred Alec Baldwin who had a similar career. They were briefly “hot” then longtime “not” around the same time, but while Baldwin was reborn on TV, Quaid has stuck with feature films, apparently not realizing he’s one white-hot TV show away from reclaiming some of his promised glory. I mean, did we ever think Cuba Gooding Jr. would be in something worth discussing again until The People vs OJ? Take it, Hot Dog!

Rings is down to number seven and this may be the end of this franchise unless they dial down the cost. Horror franchises now cost under $10M and this cost $25 and hasn’t even made that yet.

La La Land is down to number eight and also on my Oscar Must See list with Moonlight, Hidden Figures and the number nine film Lion. Remember: I’ve seen XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and Underworld: Blood Wars but not a single one of these.

Closing out the top ten is The Space Between us and I feel sorry for Britt Robertson. She’s making all the right moves, doing all the “right” films but it’s not working out for her. I guess it’s because I was a fan of The Secret Circle, which was a CW show about gorgeous teen witches in a small town. Hey to a geek, superpowered teens are superpowered teens. Since then she’s been in A-list films (Tomorrowland, Mother’s Day, Mr. Church, Delivery Man with A-list stars (George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Anniston, Eddie Murphy, Vince Vaughn) and even did a damn Nicholas Spark novel adaptation with rising star Scott Eastwood, but it’s not working. This little science fiction teen romance is sadly another one for the failure pile. Maybe her TV adaptation of Girl Boss will work out for her. Just ask Alec Baldwin. Everyone wasn’t meant to be a movie star.




25 Aug

1. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney                  Wknd/$ 17.6    Total/$ 251.9
2. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles/Par            Wknd/$ 16.8    Total/$ 145.6
3. If I Stay/WB                                                     Wknd/$ 16.3    Total/$ 16.4
4. Let’s Be Cops/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 11. 0    Total/$ 45.2
5. When The Game Stands Tall/TS                 Wknd/$ 9.0      Total/$ 9.0
6. The Giver/Weinstein                                      Wknd/$ 6.7      Total/$ 24.1
7. The Expendables 3/LGF                                Wknd/$ 6.6      Total/$ 27.5
8. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For                        Wknd/$ 6.5      Total/$ 6.5
9. The Hundred-Foot Journey/Disney           Wknd/$ 5.6      Total/$ 32.8
10. Into The Storm/WB                                      Wknd/$ 3.8     Total/$ 38.3

Guardians of the Galaxy returns to the number one spot and also in this is Glenn Close and if this comes as a surprise to you I have to ask you where the hell you’ve been for 35 years, as A-list dramatic stars have been part of superhero movies since Superman The Movie opened with Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman billed above the title. Still, even after Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Jeff Bridges, Cliff Robertson, Anthony Hopkins, Tommy Lee Jones, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliot, Peter O’Toole, Faye Dunaway, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, John Travolta and Morgan Freeman have all appeared in them, people are still surprised to see them there. It’s called show “business” people and if there is no business there will be no show. It’s the new “animated movie” where stars want an easy mainstream gig to pad both their resumes and bank accounts with hits. Glenn plays Nova Prime who is the head of the Nova Corps, a type of intergalactic police force which was a very clearly rip off of the Green Lantern Corps in the Green Lantern comics, (which in turn were a rip off of the Lensmen series of science fiction novels). This, however worked out much better for Glen Close than basically everyone in the Green Lantern movie as the success of this film opens the door for a Nova solo film. Oh, and guess who’s going to be in the Ant Man movie currently filming? Michael Douglas.

Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles is down to number two and while this is also based on a comic book, to be in this basically means you’re desperate and one step away from soft-core porn on Cinemax or a eponymously named sitcom. Only one of those I’d actually watch.

If I Stay Opens at number three and this is based on a Young Adult novel, a section of the bookstore still being pillaged by movie studios all trying to get the “next big hit.” Clearly this ain’t it. I don’t read, so I know nothing about it, but as a movie the plot of someone in a coma reminds me of that horrible Reese Witherspoon thing, Just Like Heaven, which helped drag both hers and Mark Ruffalo’s careers down. The difference being Ruffalo had no problem doing a superhero movie, whereas Reese Witherspoon has made it clear she’ll never do anything like that. Really? Enjoy starring in “Reese” next fall on NBC.

Let’s Be Cops is down to number four and I’m actually happy for the success of this film because I like the two guys in it and cannot stand the TV show “Zoe Deschanel is Just So Precious.” Though you might know it as “New Girl.” They’re both on it and this is one step closer to them being set free. Especially Marlon Wayans Jr., who was in the much, much, MUCH superior Happy Endings. Though ironically he was in the pilot for New Girl, but left it for Happy Endings, only to return when it was cancelled, so he’s owed this.

When The Game Stands Tall opens at number five and I’m actually glad this didn’t do better because while I love football I cannot stand this “Football Is A Holy Religion That Will Cure All” mentality and this film utterly comes from that type of thinking. It’s “based on a true event” which means it’s all but fictional and the fiction will overtake the truth like that Remember The Titans movie with Denzel Washington (the coach was a jerk and hated). This is about a high school team that went undefeated for years then lost. OH. MY GOD! THE HUMANITY! They lost a football game!?! In high school!?! How could they go on!?! Seriously, who gives a crap? High school football players should only be in movies as the villains to the quirky, artistic protagonist, period.

The Giver is down to number five and this is another science fiction/fantasy Young Adult adaptation and remember how I said that comic book movies were the new way for actors to pad their resumes and bank accounts? Coming up a close second on that are YA adaptations. I mean look at the adult cast list for The Hunger Games. And here you’ve got Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, though it must be noted Bridges has been trying to get this made for so long he envisioned his father, Lloyd, in the role he himself is playing. Fine. So it’s the exception to the rule. I stand by my cynical observation. Now, you’d think I’d have seen this if for no other reason than the science fiction angle. Well, maybe, but I was on vacation and if I don’t see a film opening week, my chances of ever seeing it at all are slight. Also, I just have a old man prejudice against Young Adult. They’re just not “real” books to me.

The Expendables 3 has dropped to number six and I probably would have seen this as well had I not been on vacation even though I know it’s complete and utter crap. Even worse, it’s selling out its weak-ass premise. The whole conceit of the film was that it was a bunch of old action stars together. That’s it. It’s a one trick pony. Realizing that was why people saw it, the second film decided to wink so hard at the audience that it sprained an eye muscle and the Expendables 2 did less business than the first film. See, the joke only goes so far then you actually have to make an movie worth watching and honestly they didn’t even do that in the first film and the second one was even worse, despite Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis and Arnold doing actual action scenes instead of just cameos and Jean Claude Van Damme showing up as the villain. This sent them into panic mode and rather than just trying to make a better movie, they lowered the water and opted for a PG-13 rating with more of the same crap. As if anyone didn’t let their kid see the first two because of that. Not even the inclusion of Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Wesley Snipes as well as a bunch young people (the less said about Kelsey Grammar the better) could make up for this series’ diminishing returns. Look for a fourth one to show up directly on cable if at all.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For opens at number eight and I don’t know why I went to see this given I’ve never been a fan of the Sin City series or Frank Miller or even the first film. Oh, I know why: Eva Green. She was the best thing about 300: Rise of an Empire and she’s the best thing about this piece of crap. Like The Expendables there was a “gimmick” to get people in to see it. In this case it was visually mimicking Frank Miller’s artistic style, but like The Expendables, once that was done you still had to make a movie worth seeing and given Miller’s bleak, cynical, misogynist, derivative books aren’t even worth reading, that they didn’t make a good film is not surprising. It’s also not surprising that like the Expendables sequel this sequel underperformed as well. People are aware there’s nothing beneath the surface…and the surface gets old fast. Eva Green, however, is a film noir movie waiting to happen. Her raspy voice and intense look make her a natural for a femme fatale that a knight in tarnished armor would risk all to save, even though he knows she’s lying to him the whole time. Also look for any further sequels to show up directly on cable and honestly it would work better as series of half hour episodes. Too short to grow weary of the bleakness and style and realize there’s not much else there.

A Hundred Foot Journey is down to number nine followed by Into The Storm closing out the top ten at number ten.





4 Aug


1. 2 Guns/Universal                                    Wknd/$  27.4       Total/$  27.4

 2. The Wolverine/Fox                                Wknd/$  21.7        Total/$  95.0

 3. The SmuRfs 2/Sony                               Wknd?$  18.2        Total/$  27.8

 4. The Conjuring/WB                                 Wknd/$  13.7         Total/$ 108.6

 5. Despicable Me 2/Universal                   Wknd/$  10.4        Total/$ 326.7

 6. Grown Ups 2/Sony                                  Wknd/$    8.1        Total/$ 116.4

 7. Turbo/Fox                                                 Wknd/$    6.4         Total/$  69.5

 8. Red 2/LG                                                   Wknd/$    5.7         Total/$  45.2

 9. The Heat/Fox                                            Wknd/$    4.7         Total/$ 149.6

10. Pacific Rim/Warners                              Wknd/$    4.6         Total/$  93.0



2 Guns opens at number one and apparently some people seriously miss the Lethal Weapon series, because that’s all this is. You’ve got the older, less flamboyant black guy and the borderline nuts younger white guy. You’ve also got your “R” rating and gratuitous nudity by the female lead who basically just around to do just that. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are DEA and Naval Intelligence, respectively, only neither knows the other is undercover and each thinks the other is just a criminal.  They’re both using one another to take down a Mexican drug lord and decide the best way to do so is to rob the bank where he keeps his money. Unfortunately for them it winds up being where the CIA stores its ill-gotten goods and while the CIA frames Denzel for murder to get it back, Marky Mark finds out his operation was merely a front to rip off a drug dealer and now his commanding officer and buddies are out to kill him. This means he and Denzel have to team up for some post-racial justice using guns!  Honestly, I enjoyed this more than any Lethal Weapon movies because I hated the Lethal Weapon movies. Even for action movies they were exceptionally stupid.  This is dumb too, but not that dumb and both leads are endlessly more appealing and that’s honestly what carries this film. I know this is based on a comic book, but I could have used a little more modern treatment of women. Paula Patton is playing Denzel Washington’s boss in the DEA so she should have been allowed to kick a little ass instead of her character basically showing once again how writers are made up of guys who didn’t date much in high school. Or college. Or ever.



The Wolverine is down to number two and this is a movie that makes you angrier the more you think about it because the more flaws and mistakes you begin to see. Though honestly, for an action film it’s greatest flaw is the lack of any memorable action scenes. A fight on the roof of a Japanese bullet train is as stupid as it is IMPOSSIBLE!  They might as well have all started flying it’s so detached from reality.  Credit mediocre director James Mangold for that. Clearly no one learned anything from the underperforming Knight & Day last year or the 3:10 To Yuma remake or the TV movie level of drama from Walk The Line.  And clearly Hugh Jackman forgot how much Kate & Leopold sucked to have worked with him again. Jackman clearly has to start taking blame for these bad Wolverine movies as he isn’t just an actor but a producer as well so the bad choices are partially his fault.



The Smurfs 2 opens at number three and before you get all happy and think this is the end of the line, know that the only reason this sequel even exists is because overseas it nearly QUADRUPLED its box office.  Once again the argument is made for isolationism because they might just save this franchise again. And do I have to point out that the French created The Smurfs to begin with?  Somehow that just makes sense.



The Conjuring is down to number four and another reputable actor lending this film credibility is Vera Farmiga, whom I’ve personally loved since she was on the short-lived American remake of the Touching Evil series.  I know she kills it on the Bates Motel series on TV, but I can’t watch that show knowing that every pretty girl basically has an expiration date on her forehead.  But she’s developing a slow and steady stream of box office and critical successes, including Higher Ground where she starred and directed. You go, Glen Coco!



Despicable Me 2 is down to number five, followed by Grown Ups 2 at number six and as much as I enjoy the summer, sequels do get tiresome. Especially when they blow like these two.



Turbo is down to number seven meaning there’s still time to laugh at Ryan Reynolds but he’s not alone in this turd. No, there’s Paul Giamatti, Samuel L. Jackson, Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez, Snoop Dogg, Bill Hader and Ken Jeong. The only difference being most of them have other successful films (Maya Rudolph is in Grown Ups 2 on this very list) if not careers to fall back on. Reynolds can’t say the same. Heh.



Red 2 is down to number eight and with god as my witness, Byung-hun Lee isn’t in this movie thirty seconds before he’s stripped down naked. He truly is “the girl” in all the movies that he makes.  If you look him up on Google, they’ll ask you “Do you mean Byung-hun Lee Abs?”  Why, yes. Yes, I do.  Clearly he’s taking the younger sex appeal mantle up from Karl Urban in the first film to make sure someone under 40 is in the theater. And to make Bruce Willis look young by fighting him, as if either man wouldn’t have kicked his ass in two seconds.



Finally, Pacific Rim closes out the top ten at number ten and don’t fret Charley Hunnam.  You still have Sons of Anarchy. Though you’ll always be the English man-whore Lloyd from Undeclared to me.  I think the reason he hasn’t be in any other Judd Apatow movies is obvious.  Still the action world needs new leading men and it’s a shame this didn’t help to launch him in that direction.


21 Jul


1. The Conjuring/WB                             Wknd/$  41.5            Total/$  41.5

 2. Despicable Me 2/Universal             Wknd/$  25.1            Total/$ 276.2

 3. Turbo/Fox                                           Wknd/$  21.5            Total/$  31.2

 4. Grown Ups 2/Sony                            Wknd/$  20.0            Total/$  79.5

 5. Red 2/LG                                             Wknd/$  18.5            Total/$  18.5

 6. Pacific Rim/Warners                         Wknd/$  16.0            Total/$  68.2

 7. R.I.P.D./Universal                              Wknd/$  12.8            Total/$  12.8

 8. The Heat/Fox                                      Wknd/$    9.3            Total/$ 129.3

 9. World War Z/Paramount                  Wknd/$    5.2            Total/$ 186.9

10. Monsters University/Disney           Wknd/$    5.0            Total/$ 249.0



The Conjuring opens gangbusters at number one and as everyone knows: I don’t do the scary.  Especially if it looks even remotely effective and this looked somewhat effective.  No matter how many times I saw it, when those hands popped up out of nowhere to clap behind Lili Taylor? Messed. Me. Up.  But clearly I’m the only one who didn’t turn out to see it and right now they’re trying to figure out how to make a sequel to something that was a true story.  But they made a million Amityville Horror movies so I’m sure they’ll find a way.



Despicable Me 2 holds at number two just to spite me I’m sure.  It’s followed by Turbo, opening at number three and nothing says your animated film sucks more than one that’s been out for three weeks still beating you at the box office. This movie has two problems that doomed it from the start: 1) Ryan Reynolds is your star voice.  2) its premise makes no sense and they actually acknowledge it in the commercials. A snail can’t race in the Indy 500.  I know it seems contrary to argue about what makes sense in a kid’s movie about talking snails that move at 200 mph, but even in the realm of talking animal children’s films, there are still rules.  The best comparison is Ratatouille.  It was also about a creature that longed for something in the human world that was its polar opposite.  The difference being people don’t just suddenly accept a rat as a chef.  Here people suddenly decided that a snail could be part of a car races when we’re shown earlier that they exist in different worlds as opposed to a world like Shrek or Warner Brother cartoons where animals walk, talk and behave like humans. If a child can comprehend a car race then he or she understands that only cars are in it. Not trains, not plains and not snails. This sounds like the concept of two stoned filmmakers that got out of control.  Incompetent and lazy stoned filmmakers at that if they didn’t put the effort in to find a way to make it work.  The snail could simply have been the pet of a driver who drew inspiration from its ability to suddenly move fast and he kept it in the cab with him.  But no, they wanted a snail to race in the Indy 500 and didn’t care whether or not it made sense. Despicable Me 2 thanks them. And it thanks Ryan Reynolds.



Grown Ups 2 is down to number four followed by RED 2 opening poorly at number five and the first one was a classic example of a movie that was “meh” in the theater but totally enjoyable on cable at 1:00 am.  This one…not so much. Clearly they understood that the real appeal of RED was the chemistry of the ensemble cast and how they relished in playing a bunch of killers. Helen Mirren and John Malkovich especially.  Add in some Ernest Borgnine gravitas, Richard Dreyfus ham, wicked wit from Morgan Freeman and Brian Cox and a dose of fresh blood from Karl Urban and you had some late night cable fun. Willis is back but now he wants to enjoy retirement as opposed to the guy forced into it.  This is putting him slightly at odds with Mary Louise Parker, back as his bright-eyed girlfriend who prefers the excitement of bullets to brunch and John Malkovich who is more than happy to try and bring her into their world.  Unfortunately both he and Mirren have lost a little of the energy of the first film because they clearly put no effort into writing their characters and just have them do the same thing over again (actually Malkovich does less). So basically it’s a typical sequel.  They even xerox the plot. Once again, they’re marked for death because of a mission they barely remember, but without the basic logic of a politician trying to clean up his dirty past.  In fact if you think about it, it makes no sense whatsoever that they’d be trying to kill them this time. If anything they’re needed alive to clean it up.  We’re also missing the fun of them going memory lane and “getting the band back together.”  A different mission means different actors and they waste this opportunity.  Catherine Zeta-Jones pops up as a former KGB agent and lover of Bruce Willis, but is wasted on jokes about Mary Louise Parker being jealous.  Even the action scenes are dull and overlong. The fun in the first film was that it was unexpected these retirees could still kick ass. Now they mow through legions of people like Bond in his prime.  It’s just boring.  By the time they go to Moscow then back to London with some plot involving Anthony Hopkins I began checking my watch to see when it would end. At least this means there won’t be a third.



Pacific Rim is down to number six and I feel badly for this silly ass movie, which is all kinds of fun and not insultingly stupid like a Transformers film which make zillions more.  But like I said, American audiences aren’t buying you building giant robots to fight giant monsters.  We like to fight our giant monsters with guts and tanks and brains and planes. Transformers gets a pass from us because those robots came from space and also turn into things we do like in America: cars.  It’s doing better overseas, but it may not be enough. Then again, it hasn’t opened yet in the home of the giant robot: Japan.  But I doubt if they’re going to come up with the $300M extra this needs to make to be profitable theatrically. I say “theatrically” because home video is another animal that has saved many a film, especially those of Guillermo Del Toro.



It’s a perfect storm of failure in R.I.P.D., opening at number seven because not only does it star Ryan Reynolds, who flopped earlier with Turbo, but Mary Louise Parker who flopped earlier with Red 2.  Funnier still this director is the guy who directed the first Red movie.  Thinking he’s regretting not taking the sequel now?  Clearly not having learned anything from Joe Piscopo’s Dead Heat, they decided to make Men In Black but with dead people and with no young minority star presence to make you feel old and unhip. It’s even based on a comic book that you’ve never heard of like Men In Black.  But again, we know it’s Ryan Reynolds keeping people out of the theaters. Let’s not pretend it isn’t. He’d boring, he’s bland and his very presence is a clear sign of a mediocre if not downright awful film.  Jeff Bridges doesn’t care. He’ll do dumb big budget films for money, then go make something like Crazy Heart or True Grit, to which this almost seems like an unofficial sequel given his character.  Now that’s something I’d have paid to see.  The main reason Men In Black worked (better writing and directing aside) is because of the central joke that the reason NYC seems full of weirdoes is that they were all from space.  What’s the central joke here?  Exactly.



The Heat is down to number eight and at $129M from a $43M budget this is an unqualified hit and again, so much for The Proposal being a hit because of anything having to do with Ryan Reynolds. But if you think this means more films with female leads keep dreaming. All this is domestic. It’s made nothing overseas and that’s what studios look to these days.  Basically this might as well star black people as far as Hollywood is concerned because a lack of foreign box office also their excuse for no minority casting.  Not that that they’re racist or sexist. Oh, no. Clearly there are something’s that only foreign money can buy that are beyond the reach of US dollars. Certain cheeses I understand…



World War Z is down to number nine and the author of the book finally saw the movie and admitted he liked it, but mainly because it has so little to do with his book it didn’t ruin it. It’s a win-win for him. He got a check and his work remains untouched.



Finally Monsters University closes out the top ten at number ten and believe it or not by virtue of this Charlie Day has two films in the top ten thanks to Pacific Rim. Ironically they both star monsters.


24 Feb


1. Identity Thief/Universal                           Wknd/$  13.7            Total/$  93.7

 2. Snitch/Summit                                           Wknd/$  13.0            Total/$  13.0

 3. Escape From Planet Earth/Wein            Wknd/$  11.0             Total/$  35.1

 4. Safe Haven/Relativity                                Wknd/$  10.6            Total/$  48.1

 5. A Good Day to Die Hard/Fox                   Wknd/$  10.0            Total/$  51.8

 6. Dark Skies/Weinstein                                Wknd/$   8.9             Total/$    8.9

 7. Silver Linings Playbook/Wein                  Wknd/$   6.1              Total/$107.5

 8. Warm Bodies/Summit                               Wknd/$   4.8              Total/$  58.3

 9. Side Effects/ORF                                         Wknd/$   3.5              Total/$  25.3

10. Beautiful Creatures/Warners                   Wknd/$   3.4              Total/$  16.4



Identity Thief returns to the top spot and also in this is T.I. of all people and given his level of fame it’s either a supreme vote of confidence to Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman not have him shown or mentioned or they’re a bunch of morons not to exploit him. They also failed to show John Cho aka Harold of Harold & Kumar who also has own fanbase, especially in regards to comedy.  At least they knew enough to throw in Eric Stonestreet, aka, Cam from Modern Family, so they aren’t complete imbeciles.  He was also in Bad Teacher last year with Cameron Diaz, giving him a growing resume of $100M comedy films.



Snitch opens at number two and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has the worst taste in films.  Almost none of the personal vehicles he’s chosen since he crossed over from wrestling to movies have been worth seeing.  I know it’s hard to say “No” to bags of money being thrown at you, but he’s got to have enough money by now to be more discriminating.  Just because real actors agree to be in them doesn’t mean anything. They’re just making car payments, dude.  Also, unlike you this isn’t really their “day job.”  The only person not slumming is you.  Susan Sarandon is simply picking up a paycheck here. This movie is about a father trying to get his son off the hook for drug dealing.  Seriously? How can you root for him now!?!  This makes him one of those parents who are always getting their kids out of trouble and then are surprised when the kid keeps screwing up. This doesn’t make him a hero. Hell it doesn’t even make him a good parent. 



Escape from the Planet Earth actually rises to number three and let’s see who’s doing a voice here and guess who needed the paycheck and who just did it for fun.  Brendan Fraser. Needed it. Rob Corddry. Needed it. Ricky Gervais. Fun, but he is a whore.  Jessica Alba. A little of both. Sofia Vergra.  A little of both. Sarah Jessica Parker. Fun. Though she made it need it soon.



Safe Haven is down to number four and as everyone knows now there’s an uber stupid plot twist in that the woman’s best pal is actually the ghost of the man’s dead wife.  So yeah, for all of you who said, “I loved The Sixth Sense, but wish it was more romantic” this is your movie.



A Good Day To Die Hard drops down to number five and these have become like the Planet of the Apes series…except those didn’t drag out over twenty years and were still entertaining up until the end.  What’s really sad is that Bruce Willis actually does the aging action hero shtick fairly well in RED, which has apparently become another franchise for him. And he’ll be trotting it out again for GI Joe 2 this year.  Basically, every other film he’ll be releasing this year will be better than this.



Dark Skies aka “Felicity In A Haunted House” opens at number six and you know things are bad when you make a genre picture, which is usually money in the bank and it still fails.  Lucky for Keri Russell, The Americans has not only gotten good reviews but has already been given a second season.  Maybe try a kid’s film next time.



The Silver Linings Playbook actually rises to number seven and fine, I didn’t see it. I probably never will. Are you happy now!?!  I predict the woman playing the mother will be a Best Supporting Actress upset.  That’s usually where it occurs.



Warm Bodies is down to number eight, followed by Side Effects at number nine and closing out the top ten is Beautiful Creatures and probably the most interesting thing about this movie is the fact the lead actress is Jane Campion’s daughter and honestly that’s not very interesting.



18 Feb


1. A Good Day to Die Hard/Fox                Wknd/$  25.0            Total/$  33.1

 2. Identity Thief/Universal                        Wknd/$  23.7            Total/$  71.0

 3. Safe Haven/Relativity                             Wknd/$  21.5            Total/$  30.3

 4. Escape From Planet Earth/Wein          Wknd/$  15.9            Total/$  15.9

 5. Warm Bodies/Summit                             Wknd/$   8.8            Total/$  50.1

 6. Beautiful Creatures/Warners                 Wknd/$   7.6             Total/$    7.6

 7. Side Effects/ORF                                       Wknd/$   6.3             Total/$   19.1

 8. Silver Linings Playbook/Wein                Wknd/$   6.0            Total/$  98.4

 9. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters             Wknd/$   3.5            Total/$  49.7

10. Zero Dark Thirty/Sony                             Wknd/$   3.0            Total/$  87.9



To no one’s surprise, A Good Day To Die Hard opens at number one and the title couldn’t be any more appropriate because this franchise is dying very hard, with every chapter being more inept than the one before it.  Though to be fair, I’d put Live Free or Die Hard before either this or Die Hard With A Vengeance, despite all the CGI and the sight of Bruce Willis beating a jet unarmed.  I’d be hard pressed to think of a sequel more utterly clueless about what made the original films so successful.  It seems to think that Bruce Willis wisecracking and killing people is all you need, but in their defense all of us still going to see these prove them right somewhat.  Then again $33M opening for a 20-year-old franchise is actually kind of weak.  Let me put it this way: Skyfall opened at almost three times this gross and Wreck It Ralph made more its second week.  What made John McClane so exceptional was that he was a reluctant hero. In Die Hard he tries the best he can to avoid taking on the bad guys.  Even the weak Live Free or Die Hard got this character point right.  Not here. Here, there’s much talk of “going out and killing” scumbags because that’s what their family does. He also used to bleed. Now McClane is nearly indestructible, crawling out of devastating car crashes literally without a scratch.  This is clearly meant to hand over the franchise to literally John McClane Jr, but this poor actor has none of Bruce Willis’s charm and the script does nothing to help him.  We ran the “McClane’s kids hate him” idea into the ground the last time and like last time we really don’t bother getting into why. When your dad heroically saves your mom twice, it’d be nice to know why you and your sister resent him so, other than he “worked all the time.”  It’s not like he was out busting jaywalkers.  He’s got the best reason possible.  Last time he literally saved the whole damn country, which as a CIA agent, Jr. would know better than anyone.  But  here Jr. just seems like an asshole and Sr is giving him stiff competition in a script that does all it can to also drain Willis of his natural charm. These are your heroes and you don’t really like either one of them.  The best comparison I can make is that Die Hard is a 2+ hour movie that you don’t want to end, while A Good Day To Die Hard is a 98 minute movie that seems like it will never end.



Identity Thief drops to number two and also in this is Amanda Peet and you know she’s got to be chafing over Allison Williams being heralded as some kind of beauty when she looks just like Amanda Peet who got none of this kind of fanfare even when she was the “Hot New Thing” running around topless with Bruce Willis in The Whole Nine Yards.  Let Amanda Peet’s career be a cautionary tale for you, Allison Williams. One day you’re making movies with Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher, next you’re playing thankless “wife” roles to men who aren’t big enough stars to be able to command younger actresses.  Though her show Bent last year was a very funny series that should have been a very funny 90-minute movies. Seriously, how’d they plan to have her romance with her handyman stretch out over the years of a TV show?



Speaking of franchises that need to die, Save Haven opens at number three and this is the latest from the Nicholas Sparks franchise of complete crap.  These are romance novels for the same people who think 50 Shades of Gray is hot.  I will give him this much: Sparks flat out said he started writing these books to make money and nothing but.  So I respect him as a capitalist but despise him as both a writer and human being for continuing to pump this dreck out. He’s got to have enough money by now. He can stop but chooses not to.  These movies have been become the romantic equivalent of a horror movie or family film: a vehicle for actors who need a boost because they come with a built in audience. No one is clamoring to see Josh Duhamel, who is basically the dumb person’s Timothy Olyphant and almost no one knows who Julianne Hough is, despite Ryan Seacrest’s attempt to buy her a career.  Ask William Randolph Hearst how that worked out.  She’s thin, cute and blonde? You don’t say! Can’t be too many of them in Hollywood.



Escape From Planet Earth opens at number four and when you can’t float a CGI animated kids science fiction film, you may need to call it a day.  This couldn’t look more unappetizing and clearly no kids were clamoring to see it.  Even parents who desperately needed a place to park their kids for 90 minutes gave it a pass.  In a world where the miserable Ice Age franchise is on its fifth installment and the odious Madagascar has reached three, that’s saying something.



Warm Bodies is down to number five, followed by Beautiful Creatures opening at number six and guess what isn’t going to be the next Twilight?  This goes on the heap with all the other Young Adult literature franchise books that have failed to make it onscreen.  This one is apparently about witches as opposed to vampires and they’ve got no one but themselves to be blame because the ads didn’t tell you anything. No hint of a story, character, nothing. Just some young girl is going to become powerful with two slumming Oscar-winning English actors trying to make you think it’s not just total teen crap. Even Twilight sold you the idea of a young girl in a small town who meets a mysterious stranger who turns out to be a vampire.  This seemed to think that “Hey, we’re a successful book series” was going to be enough to put butts in seats and it wasn’t.  And maybe it’s not time for witches. The Secret Circle failed on TV just last year. That’s a successful book series too. Maybe its failure should have been a clue.



Side Effects is down to number seven and Catherine Zeta-Jones disappeared so completely after winning her Oscar for Chicago every appearance seems like a novelty.  Maybe after seeing what happened to Michael Douglas’s other kid and his brother she decided to be a full-time mom to try and overcome the Douglas DNA.  Oh, shut up. You know it’s true.



Silver Linings Playbook is down to number eight and I know this is my last week to see it before the Oscars. I’ll get to it. I promise.



Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is down to number nine and after seeing Beautiful Creatures tank and this succeed ($150M worldwide from a $50M) I’m now seriously convinced that people don’t want to see witches unless they’re dying.  Let’s pretend we don’t notice that witches tend to be very powerful women.



Finally, Argo closes out the top ten at the top ten. Next time this week it’ll be the “Oscar-winning Argo.”



In the 80’s Frank Miller’s reimagining of Batman in The Dark Knight Returns along with The Watchmen made comics history with over a million dollars in sales and an overall change in the tone of comics.  Darker, edgier elements had begun creeping in before then (a hero as light as The Flash already had to deal with angel dust and a murdered wife), but these works showed it could also enormously profitable for an audience who regularly mistake sex and violence for maturity like most teenagers—or grown men trapped emotionally as teenagers, which is the bulk of the comic reading audience.  A wave of darkness overtook almost every character but none so much as Batman who hasn’t been the same since.  He stopped being simply a “darker” superhero and more often than not became a borderline psychotic taking out his emotional trauma on criminals while apparently secretly preparing for the day he’d have to take out Superman and any other superhero who actually believed in due process. Nonetheless, it remains a brilliant interpretation of the character and the only real question is why it took this long for Warners Animated division to finally adapt it.  On the plus side they were smart enough to realize that they couldn’t do it justice in the required 80 minute run time for all animated direct to video features and split it into two films.  On the other hand, the luxury of time exposes many of the flaws of both the work and the people adapting it.  Simply because comics are a primarily visual medium and actually look like storyboards for a film doesn’t mean that they are.  Comics are no more movies than books are movies and likewise need to be adapted and translated, not copied directly.  There’s precious little adaptation and translation going on here and things that would have served the story better like the first person narration from many of the characters have been dropped, while the brief, brutal battle with Superman from the comics is dragged out by giving Batman a super-suit so he can go toe-to-toe with Superman as they throw wrecking balls at one another.  Then there are the problems with the original work itself. As a kid I could only see the most obvious, like how everyone who disagrees with Batman’s black-and-white view of crime is weak and wrong, but as an adult am can now see the homophobia (The Joker is made disturbingly effeminate) and misogyny (Superman’s first love, Lana Lang, is now an overweight talking head on TV, while Catwoman is an overweight whore, literally).  They should no more have been included than the racism, homophobia and misogyny of Frank Miller than they should of any writer when their work is transferred to the screen. Of course I had to pull the book out and it still stands up flaws and all, but there was a better adaptation done in a five-minute segment on the 90’s Batman animated series.


19 Aug

 1. The Expendables 2/LGF                            Wknd/$   28.8           Total/$  28.8

 2. The Bourne Legacy/Universal                 Wknd/$   17.0            Total/$  69.6

 3. ParaNorman/Focus                                    Wknd/$   14.0            Total/$  14.0

 4. The Campaign/Warners                            Wknd/$   13.4            Total/$  51.7

 5. Sparkle/TriStar                                            Wknd/$   12.0            Total/$  12.0

 6. The Dark Knight Rises/Warners              Wknd/$   11.1             Total/$ 409.9

 7. The Odd Life of Timothy Green                Wknd/$   10.9            Total/$   15.2

 8. Hope Springs/Sony                                     Wknd/$     9.1             Total/$   35.1

 9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3/Fox                      Wknd/$     3.9            Total/$   38.8

 10. Total Recall/Sony                                       Wknd/$     3.5            Total/$   51.8



The Expendables 2 opens at number one and it’s pretty much impossible to get mad at a film this stupid as it clearly embraces its own stupidity and silliness.  I mean, you can’t get much campier without men being in drag.  The entrance of Chuck Norris is the stuff of instant legend.  It’s so over the top it’s practically a parody of Chuck Norris.  And it doesn’t stop there as he appears to the sounds of “The Good The Bad & The Ugly” along with jokes about how he’s been a “Lone Wolf” at times.  In fact, in a movie with Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger you hear “I’ll back” “You’ll be terminated” ‘Who’s next? Rambo?” and “Yippie Ki Yay.”  And that’s in addition to jokes about Dolph Lundgren’s character going to MIT and having a Fulbright scholarship.  See, it’s funny because Dolph Lundgren did go to MIT on Fulbright scholarship.  The problem with this film is that there are simply too other many scenes where they clearly aren’t in on the joke and still think they represent bad-ass action heroes, not the least of which is when Stallone says to villain Jean Claude Van Damme in the showdown, “I’ll man you up” AS HE UNDOES HIS BELT!  For a second I thought they’d screwed up the reels and put on some gay porn.  Also there’s nonstop use of the type of filter once reserved for “actresses of a certain age.”  Well, it’s not just for girls any more. Now you need it to prop up the egos of men like Stallone, who unlike his co-stars, stopped being an A-lister about a decade back.  It’s so intense the film looks out of focus at times.  In addition, from his “badass” chopper, to his oddly-looking and strangely still jet-black hair, to the hot younger Asian chick who wants him, Stallone has made this film so male-menopausal they may need a new word for it. Hell, we should just use his name.  “You hear about Bob?  Left his wife for a young girl, bought a sports car, wearing as toupe…he’s gone full on Stallone.”  Oddly, only Van Damme (who along with Norris turned down the first film) acquits himself well. He started off as a movie villain against Sho Kosugi (and why the hell isn’t he here) and coming full circle has become very good at it.



The Bourne Legacy is down to number two and also in this is Rachel Weisz who is no stranger to the female scientist lead in an action movie, going back to Chain Reaction with Keanu Reeves and the two Mummy films.  Here she’s one of the scientists who helped make the super-soldiers and it does them credit that they remembered what made Bourne appealing was that despite all his skills he still needed someone to help him. That he was somewhat scared and confused.  Here we learn that Aaron Cross in fact lacked the IQ to join the army and the recruiter fudged his application to make a quota. He needs what she does because he’ll lose the intelligence he’s gained.  This humanizes him because it adds a level of understandable fear and desperation to what he does. Also like Bourne, when the time comes he tells her to leave and she chooses to stay with him, though there’s no hint of romance until the very end of the film which might as well have “To Be Continued…” pop up on the screen.



Para Norman opens at number three and why in the world is this being released two months before Halloween? It’s the second-most profitable holiday behind Christmas, so why you releasing this in the dog days of summer where it’s opening a weak third as opposed to October 26th, where it could have cleaned up?  It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out.  I’m mildly interested in this if for no other reason fucking Tim Burton isn’t involved.  Again, something to watch on cable in a year.



The Campaign is down to number four and another reason to never see this movie is its director, Jay Roach, the man behind Meet The Parents and the horrible sequels as well as every Austin Powers movie.  Yeah, exactly. He makes comedy for morons.



Sparkle opens at number five and if you’re black and especially if you’re black and of a certain age, you know all about Sparkle, a fictional account of a Supremes-type girl group from the 70’s starring Irene Cara.  If you didn’t see it, then your mom and dad had it on VHS (it only came out on DVD when Dreamgirls was released).  Either way it was part of your life, especially the music from none other than Curtis Mayfield and sung by Aretha Franklin (En Vogue’s hit “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” was a remake of one of those songs).  It’s a very, very black experience.  When R. Kelly showed up with a singer who went by the name “Sparkle” every black person in America got the reference.  That said Mike Epps is in this remake so I will never fucking see it. Ever.  Cannot stand Mike Epps.   It doesn’t matter how good or bad the film is, he makes it worse. He’s either the biggest turd in a pile of shit or he’s a piece of shit someone dropped onto your otherwise nice cake.  There’s a lot of sadness already attached to this film with it being Whitney Houston’s last, but his presence is insult to injury. Yes, I really hate him.



The Dark Knight Rises is down to number six, followed by The Odd Life of Timothy Green opening at number seven and in this is Jennifer Garner and her presence here means that she’s pretty much given up.  Like Vin Diesel and The Rock before her, after a number of flops she’s turned to family films (this is from Disney no less).  Honestly, she should have stayed with TV.  She was never a big screen star and at best she’s just a prettier Hilary Swank who isn’t exactly lighting up the box office either.  For Joel Edgerton this is covering his bases, as Warrior and the prequel to The Thing both disappointed.  He’s actually Tom Buchanan in the upcoming Great Gatsby from Baz Lurhman (always giving his Australian countrymen work) and given that’s been pushed back from Oscar-baiting December to next year, things do not look good for him either.



Hope Springs is down to number eight and also in this is Mimi Rogers who is Tommy Lee Jones’s sexual fantasy neighbor.  I guess because she’s got ginormous boobs.  Seriously.  And isn’t afraid to show them as half-a-dozen movies will prove.  But what she will inevitably be most famous for is being briefly married to crazy-ass Tom Cruise in the 80’s…when he also dated Cher, indicating a clear “mommy period.”



Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days is down to number nine, followed by Total Recall wrapping up the top ten at number ten and given this movie tried to leave behind so much of the first film, why the hell is there a three-breasted hooker?  She was a mutant in the first, but since there’s no Mars, where’d she come from?  It’s a fun flourish in a movie that clearly doesn’t want to have any fun.  So many, many mistakes… but the upside is maybe people will stop giving Len Wiseman money.  It’s only made $51M domestic and another $58M overseas.  Too bad the budget was $125M, meaning it’d need $375M to be a clear hit and $250M just to break even.



I’ve come late to the table on Bunheads, but I enjoy it.  Big city person in small, strange town has worked since The Egg & I and isn’t stopping now, least of all in this show about a once promising dancer now a Vegas showgirl who accepts a marriage proposal drunk and winds up in small town, where her mother-in-law just happens to run a dance studio for the town’s young people.  I never watched Gilmore Girls but I’m aware that loquacious women in a quirky small town are part of the Amy Sherman Palladino formula and she continues to follow (it even includes a young ballet dancer who looks just like Alexis Bledel).  Granted, it can seriously be grating at times and the forced eccentricies of the townspeople really annoys others, but for the most part I find it fun and I’m big on fun TV these days.  Also, I like the fact that while, Laura Graham was far from ugly, the female lead here also isn’t some beauty queen.  It makes her more human and relatable.  I mean as relatable as tall, thin Tony-nominated Broadway performer Sutton Foster can be.  What’s great is that I get to watch the entire summer season in on fell swoop because I’m so behind.