Tag Archives: Chris Pratt

SIX PACK ABS: THE NEW AMERICAN DREAM

6 Jul

joe-manganiello-435 1. Jurassic World/Universal                     Wknd/$ 30.9    Total/$ 558.1
2. Inside Out/Disney                                  Wknd/$ 30.1    Total/$ 246.2
3. Terminator: Genisys/Par                      Wknd/$ 28.7    Total/$ 44.2
4. Magic Mike XXL/WB                            Wknd/$ 11.6      Total/$ 26.7
5. Ted 2/Universal                                      Wknd/$ 11.0      Total/$ 58.3
6. Max/WB                                                   Wknd/$ 6.6       Total/$ 25.3
7. Spy/Fox                                                    Wknd/$ 5.5        Total/$ 97.9
8. San Andreas/WB                                    Wknd/$ 3.0       Total/$ 147.4
9. Me an Earl and the Dying Girl/FS      Wknd/$ 1.3        Total/$ 4.0
10. Dope/ORF                                              Wknd/$ 1.1        Total/$ 14.1

SPOILER ALERT FOR GEEK FAN THEORY
Jurassic World holds at number one and there’s a fun fan theory floating around out there is that the movie is actually a satire upon itself. It’s a needless sequel and the movie is about the needless creation of a new dinosaur. According to the theory, the movie studio being represented by the new owner of the park who wants something bigger and better than real dinosaurs, so like the makers of the film BD Wong (back for the first time since the first movie) has to make up a new one and like this movie it turns out to be a mistake. Dallas Bryce Howard tries to get corporate tie-ins to help pay for the new dinosaurs, much in the way corporate tie-ins help pay for this new movie. The cherry on top of this theory is in the end—-SPOILER ALERT—the dinosaurs that made the first film so great, the Tyrannosaurus Rex (yes, the same one from Jurassic Park) and the Veceliraptor team up and kick its ass, which is basically them showing how the first movies were better than this sequel. Bear in mind the director flat out told Spielberg that the original script he was given sucked and his name is on this one. Hmmmm…

MAYBE I WAS TOO BORING TO HAVE AN IMAGINARY FRIEND
Inside Out holds at number two and like the better Pixar films there’s an entire subtext about the death of youth that exists in this film. From Toy Story’s aging of Andy to Nemo going off on his own, the poignancy at the center is the departure from childhood and if Toy Story had you crying, you are not prepared for the fate of Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong (voiced by a perfectly cast Richard Kind). It made me realize I have no memory of an imaginary friend, which is shocking given how much immaturity I’ve successfully held onto.

HE SHOULDN’T HAVE COME BACK
Terminator Genisys opens at number three and don’t worry Terminator: Salvation you’re still the worst Terminator film. Apparently the key is whether or not you have a charisma-free Australian actor as your co-male lead. Just as Terminator: Salvation had the bland lump of meat Sam Worthington whose brief career success remains a mystery, this has the even blander Jai Courtney, whose continued career in A-list action films remains a mystery. If there’s been any one constant in better Terminator films it’s been the intensity of the human characters. They truly act like high-strung individuals traumatized by the burden of having to try and save the world from the nightmare threat of annihilation by the machines. Michael Beihn’s Kyle Reese from the first film, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor in the second and yes, even Nick Stahl as John Connor in the third. Christian Bale can’t help but be intense no matter what he does, but Sam Worthington sucked it all away in his charisma-free black hole. Here, Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor are reunited for the first time since the first film (the deleted scene of a dream Sarah has where Kyle comes to her in T2 sadly does not count) and they don’t look so much like two people haunted by the belief that they are all that stands between humanity and annihilation so much as a couple slightly irritated by the fact the movie they wanted to see at the mall has been sold out. Here, Sarah was attacked at the age of 9 by the liquid metal T-1000 Terminator and basically raised for the last decade by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800. Who sent them both back so early? You’ll never know which is one of massive fail of this film. You’re not supposed to leave more questions than answers. But the larger issue remains the lack of bleak intensity. There’s even a tension free countdown. You can see it going wrong from the beginning where John and Kyle are exchanging wisecracks. None of this was possible in the nightmare future of James Cameron’s two films. Reese was an already traumatized war vet merely in his 20’s. None of that is to be found here. Similarly in the 12 years between Terminator 1 and 2 Sarah Connor becomes a slightly unhinged war machine. But her parents being murdered and a lifetime of being raised by a killing machine to save the future affects no such change on Sarah here. Yeah, she barks orders and fires all manner of weapons, but it’s as much movie artifice as it is every time they give a model a gun in a movie and tell you she’s a seasoned secret agent (it doesn’t help that the actress they cast looks 16 and seems to have foregone the physical transformation Linda Hamilton made). Poor casting aside, the plot is as dumb as Terminator: Salvation with lip service being paid to the mechanics and consequences of time travel. Not that I expected Neil Degasse Tyson so show up and break it down, but don’t insult me either. Its sole saving grace is Arnold as an aging machine, which in the hands of a talented filmmaker would have been a metaphor for his own career, but here is picked up and dropped off as the plot demands.

THE “A” IN USA IS FOR “ABS”
Magic Mike XXL opens at number four and where the original was basically an indie film that took the life of a Tampa stripper trying to get out seriously, with its depiction of a life on the sleazier side with a host of slightly damaged people in the world of sex work, this is basically a road comedy like anything Hope & Crosby ever did. Basically Mike is lured out of retirement by dissatisfaction with his new legit life (and broken relationship) for one last ride with the old crew to a male stripper convention in Myrtle Beach with an assortment of hijinks along the way. Seriously, that’s it. And along the way we get a series of dance numbers. Hell, the only thing separating this from being a musical is that they don’t sing during them. Oh, wait. That happens twice. Basically, while the first one was a drama, this is basically a musical comedy. But a fun one. It’s also a lot gentler on its characters than the first. While they were all seemingly losers in the first, the promise of equity in a new club their salvation, here they know it’s the end and are making plans for it, all chasing their version of the American dream, be it a yogurt food truck that also has a DJ, acting or singing or selling condoms packaged along with mints. Even when they poke fun at them (the condom with mints idea is taken) it’s in a gentle fashion. When Matt Bomer speaks sincerely about how he worked at Disneyworld, apprenticing as a Donald Duck, the audience laughs, but no one laughs at him in the film because that is legitimate success. Even Joe Manganiello’s dick, which was just a one shot dirty joke in the first film (his character’s name is Big Dick Richie) is now the source of his unhappiness because no woman wants to have sex with him. Needless to say, that also gets taken care of along the way. Speaking of women, if the overall theme of the movie was appealing to women in the first, this is flat out fan service. Every act by every man in this movie is designed to make women happy, be she a frustrated housewife, a divorcee or just the cashier at a gas station (you’ll never hear the Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” the same again). The Men of Tampa are here to make you happy, ladies.

MY PET PEEVE ONCE AGAIN
Ted 2 is down to number five and gone from this is Mila Kunis to be replaced by Amanda Seyfried, which seems odd because wasn’t the first one about Mark Wahlberg growing up so he can marry his girlfriend? But let’s not kid ourselves. Even not having seen this movie, I know the real love story is between Marky Mark and the teddy bear. The women are clearly replaceable. Or not. This isn’t doing as well as the first. But it still annoys me that 40-something Wahlberg is getting women a decade younger as his love interests. Bear in mind she’d playing a lawyer so it would make sense she’d be a little older, no?

BOTH CAUGHT THE WEB OF A BIG SUMMER PAYCHECK
Max is down to number six, followed by Spy at number seven and San Andreas at number eight and what’s the connection between Max and San Andreas? Spider-Man! See, also in Max is Thomas Hayden Church and a decade ago both he and Paul Giamatti were hot off Sideways, Hayden Church with an actual Oscar nomination. Ironically both he Giamatti wound up as a villain in a poorly-reviewed, but technically successful Spider-Man movie. But while Giamatti is still appearing in A-list summer fare like San Andreas, Hayden Church is doing movies like this. Hey, remember when he was the dumb mechanic on Wings?

CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY!?!
Me, Earl & The Dying Girl breaks the top ten and this is one of those indie films that critics and audiences love that I’ll always mean to see, but simply don’t find the time. Why? ‘Cause I’m doing shit like this for you people. That’s why!

AND NOW OUR “GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DAMN KIDS!” MOMENT
Finally, Dope closes out the top ten at number ten and one thing I can really appreciate about this film is its love of 90’s R&B. Yeah, it’s more how it was the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, but it was also the last breath of R&B, which has surrendered to auto-tune and sampling. It was already giving into sampling in the 90’s but at least people were still singing. There was even resurgence in purely vocal groups…for as long as it lasted. But yeah the hip-hop was great too. It was the last time there was rap about anything more than thug life or popping bottles with models. You’d never hear a song today like The Pharcyde’s “Passing Me By” which is all about not getting a girl. And she’s never called a bitch or a ho because of it. This simply doesn’t exist anymore, yet but those goddamn, ugly-ass 90’s fashions get to come back. Sigh.

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THE LACKLUSTER WEEKEND BEFORE THE 4TH

29 Jun

time 1. Jurassic World/Universal                  Wknd/$ 54.2  Total/$ 500.1
2. Inside Out/Disney                               Wknd/$ 52.1  Total/$ 184.9
3. Ted 2/Universal                                   Wknd/$ 33.0  Total/$ 33.0
4. Max/WB                                                Wknd/$ 12.2   Total/$ 12.2
5. Spy/Fox                                                  Wknd/$ 7.8    Total/$ 88.4
6. San Andreas/WB                                 Wknd/$ 5.3     Total/$ 141.9
7. Dope/ORF                                             Wknd/$ 2.9     Total/$ 11.8
8. Insidious 3/Focus                                Wknd/$ 2.0    Total/$ 49.8
9. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                  Wknd/$ 1.7     Total/$ 147.1
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney     Wknd/$ 1.6     Total/$ 452.4

AND SHE’S CHERYL ON ARCHER, WHICH IS EVERYTHING
Jurassic World holds the number one spot and for the second time this summer Judy Greer appears in a major release, but unlike Tomorrowland a) we actually see and hear her and b) this is a massive hit. Come to think of it, it actually works in her favor. She’s clearly part of a hit, while nowhere to be seen (literally) in a flop. And her show, Married, is coming back this summer and the guy who plays her husband has an Oscar for screenwriting. No, Judy’s not doing so bad after all.

THERE’S THEATER DUST FOR ALMOST EVERY PIXAR FILM
Inside Out holds at number two and because the movie is such a critical and financial success, the otherwise wonderful short before it is being overlooked. It’s called Lava and like the best Pixar work it comes from the emotions and experiences of the writer/director. In this case he was in Hawaii where he learned that a volcano in the ocean would eventually join with the other islands and upon learning they had names, he wondered if they knew they would one day be together. The result is a musical short about a volcano alone in the ocean singing a song of love, not knowing that under the wave another volcano hears him and hopes to join him. This is when theater dust got into my eyes. You shut up! There is such a thing as theater dust!

AND THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT
Ted 2 opens at number three and not being a fan of The Family Guy or Seth McFarlane at all, I didn’t see the first and obviously didn’t see this one. And yes, I do look down on you if you do like The Family Guy and did see both this and the first one. Can you blame me? Hard to believe it’s the biggest grossing R-rated film of all time. Why not just slap Mel Brooks across the face?

GOD BLESS SGT. WOOF WOOF AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Max opens at number four and apparently if you’re down about the ruling on gay marriage you can go see a heartwarming movie about a boy and the military dog that belonged to his brother who was killed in combat. I had to check to make sure this didn’t come from one of those Christian studios. Hell, it’s not even Disney. Clearly someone looked at the summer release schedule and saw a spot for an old-fashioned right wing family film where the heroes are male and military. Oo-rah!

THE MORE YOU KNOW (COMIC BOOK GEEK EDITION)
Spy is down to number five, followed by San Andreas at number six and here in a small role as a member of Dwayne Johnson’s rescue team is Colton Haynes and if you watch Arrow, you know that’s Roy Harper aka Arsenal. And he needed this given he was just written off the show. Now is the time when I drop some geek knowledge. In the comics Green Arrow was such a clone of Batman he not only had a mansion with a cave underneath it, but a ward who was his sidekick and also in yellow and red. He was called Speedy, which on the show is the nickname of Green Arrow’s sister (a character that doesn’t exist in the comics). In the 70’s to try and seem up to date, they made Speedy a junkie (which is why the girl Speedy on the show also briefly has a drug problem) and as comics tried to become more and more relevant strongly suggested he prostituted himself for drugs, which sadly makes perfect sense, especially when Green Arrow’s reaction to finding out his surrogate son was hooked on drugs was to throw him out into the streets (Batman of course threw this in his face when Arrow brought up the second Robin being killed). The final stage to make him seem tougher was to have him abandon being called Speedy and take up the name Arsenal, a man who used all kinds of weapons. There was a brief moment where he was Red Arrow, but it didn’t stick. Now, aren’t you glad you asked?

HEY, DON’T TELL ME I DON’T KNOW SELF-HATRED WHEN I SEE IT. I’M HATING MYSELF EVEN FOR WRITING THIS!
Dope is down to number seven and also in this is Zoe Kravitz, aka Little Lisa Bonet clone (who actually has two films in the top ten given she’s in Mad Max: Fury Road). Seriously. That’s all I saw while watching this movie. Kinda like when you watch Kate Hudson. You don’t see her, only her mother. Unfortunately she is emblematic of a problem not just with this film but in far too many films that come from a black creative team: all the principal women all being light skinned. The girl he has a crush on (Zoe Kravitz), the girl he lusts for (model Chanel Iman) and even the lesbian best friend are all of a lighter hue. This is all the more glaring in light of the dark skin of the male lead. To make matters worse the closest thing to a genuine villain the film has is not just a light skinned black man, but Harvard educated no less! You’d think you were watching a Tyler Perry film. Except this is actually good (you know it’s not Spike Lee, because all the women aren’t evil bitches out to bring our hero down). It’s still a good movie and all the actors are good in their roles, but you can no more ignore the greater social implications of this than you can ignore how Ben Stiller would apparently rather die than kiss a woman onscreen who looks as Jewish as he does. Like Woody Allen before him, it’s shicksa heaven up there. Unless of course the woman in question is the butt of jokes. Then she’s as Jewish as can be. Sadly, projecting self-hatred onto women is yet another thing Black and Jews have in common.

R YOU READY FOR CONSEQUENCES FROM VIOLENCE (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
Insidious Chapter 3 is down to number eight, followed by Mad Max: Fury Road at number nine and it still hasn’t made budget in the US which is not good. Granted, it’ll probably cross it over the long holiday weekend, but at this rate it’s not going to be into the black until well into home video (DVD, pay-per-view), ‘cause god knows there are no corporate tie-ins to help offset the costs. Even the $200M+ it’s made worldwide is a bit disappointing. Let me put it this way: Jurassic World has already made $1B worldwide with literally half of it coming being domestic. This will hurt future action films in two ways: 1) being about badass women and 2) having an unapologetic R rating. Dinosaurs eat people left and right in Jurassic World, but like previous editions it’s relatively bloodless making it good old-fashioned family fun. There’s almost no blood when a pregnant woman gets run over here and her stomach cut open to get the deformed child from her barely breathing body, but clearly that’s clearly too much for anyone under the age of 17 unaccompanied by a parent.

NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE END
Speaking of underperforming, The Avengers: Age of Ultron—down to number ten this wee—has been getting similarly flack for not doing as well as the first. Well, duh. That’s the first rule of sequels: they usually cost more and make less. You’d think knowing this they’d try to cut back a little, but no, like all sequels this is bigger and more elaborate than the first. But now there’s the added element of building an entire universe, so this is packed to the gills because god forbid you just tell this story now and not set up the next four or five movies. That’s my only real complaint, but it’s been my complaint for almost every movie after Iron Man. Only Captain America II, Iron Man III and Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to be interested in telling their stories first and foremost. Well, not my only complaint. That goddamn love story between The Hulk and The Black Widow remains a stinker and I think that should shoulder the blame.

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DOOOO, OOOH YOU? FEEL LIKE I DO?

22 Jun

alexandra-daddario-photoshoot-by-elisabeth-caren-2014-_3 1. Jurassic World/Universal                Wknd/$102.0    Total/$ 398.2
2. Inside Out/Disney                             Wknd/$ 91.1      Total/$ 91.1
3. Spy/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 10.5     Total/$ 74.4
4. San Andreas/WB                               Wknd/$ 8.2        Total/$ 132.2
5. Dope/ORF                                           Wknd/$ 6.0       Total/$ 6.0
6. Insidious 3/Focus                              Wknd/$ 4.1        Total/$ 45.4
7. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                 Wknd/$ 3.3        Total/$ 177.5
8. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                Wknd/$ 2.8       Total/$ 143.6
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney     Wknd/$ 2.7        Total/$ 451.0
10. Tomorrowland/Disney                   Wknd/$ 2.0       Total/$ 87.7

RIGHT BEHIND THE AMERICA VERSION OF GODZILLA AT 11:00
Jurassic World holds the number one spot and is like The Lost World in that you enjoy it the first time you see it, but the more you think about it the worse it gets. Bear in mind we were laughing and eye-rolling at it while we were watching, but the more you think about it the more this becomes one of the great-bad summer flicks that you will always be happy to see turning up on cable at 1:00 am. Also in this is Vince D’Onofrio who was just killing it as The Kingpin in the Daredevil series on Netflix. Here he’s the less complex but probably more fun bad guy who dies because he couldn’t resist gloating about his supposed victory in his questionable southern accent. I like to think the latter is most responsible. To give you a better sense of his character know that if they’d made this movie 30 years ago, Brian Dennehey would have played him. Yeah, now you get it.

NO, IT’S NOT HERMAN’S HEAD THE MOVIE
Inside Out opens at number two, but don’t let that fool you. This is the biggest original film (as opposed to sequels) opening in history, beating Avatar. It’s also for my money Pixar’s first adult film. Oh, it seems like it’s for kids with the animation and funny characters, but the themes about the workings of the mind and how sadness is as important an emotion as happiness is nothing any 6-year-old is going to understand. I mean the joke about how a hairy guy in San Francisco is a “bear” in the trailer should have told you that. Needless to say, only the adults were laughing when a character remarks how all the bad thoughts are were regulated to the subconscious (that there was a giant clown there was perfect). The plot is the thoughts and emotions of an 11-year-old girl upon her move from Minnesota to San Francisco and when it’s all said and done it’s about how her being angry, scared upset and depressed about it is actually okay. Various emotions are represented in her mind be separate figures. Joy was first and was followed by Sadness. Later followed Anger, Fear and Disgust. There is no greater genius in the world than casting Lewis Black as Anger. None. Okay, maybe Alec Baldwin, but that’s it. The other great moment of genius is that we don’t just stay in her mind, but go occasionally into the minds of her parents to see the same figures there as well. How you know it’s still kind of a kid’s film is that mom & dad don’t have a few more emotions as well. It’s a return to greatness for Pixar after some unnecessary sequels (Cars 2, Monster University) and one disappointing original (Brave). What makes them so successful is that their best work is rooted in an emotional component, be it the fascination of a director’s child with an aquarium (Finding Nemo) or the changes going on in a daughter (this one). That’s why as entertaining as films like Kung Fu Panda may be, they will never hold a candle to films like these.

THE ANTI-TRANSPORTER: GOING NOWHERE IS WHAT HE DOES BEST
Spy is down to number three and also in this is Jason “Don’t Bother Trying To Ruin My Career I’ll Do It Myself” Statham who needed this like he needed air. As you may know, Statham refuses to do movies that involve greens-creen, basically insuring he never will achieve the Action Hero A-list because you don’t get there without a big-budget science fiction movie. This is why I knew any rumors of him joining the Marvel Cinematic universe were just that. He’s too stupid to have said yes if asked. Much like Dwayne Johnson—whom he joined in the Fast & The Furious franchise—his fate is to support others because he cannot get out of his own way.

HERE’S WHERE I TALK ABOUT BOOBS
Speaking of Dwayne Johnson, San Andreas is down to number four and as his daughter in his is Alexandra Daddario who achieved a level of instant fame for showing her large, real breasts in the first installment of True Detective. The key word there is “real” because like a Rolex, no matter how nice a fake one may be, it will never carry the same weight as a real one. It’s actually perfect she’s his daughter because their physicality is very much a part of their success. I wonder if they bonded over how their wardrobes inevitably consisted of tight tank tops. And it makes sense she’d have a nice rack given Carla Gugino plays her mom and she’s got a nice rack too. Apparently, she played Matt Bomer’s girlfriend on White Collar as well and is probably appreciative of finally being “the pretty one” on-set for once, even if she has to take her shirt off to do it.

SADLY NO GREAT “WHAT THE FUCK” SPEECH
Dope opens at number five and this is basically Risky Business remade for the 21st Century, but that’s not a bad thing as it’s been remade well. Very well in fact, if not as stylistic. We have our senior trying to get into an Ivy league college (then Princeton, now Harvard), he’s distracted by lust (both are virgins), said lust leads to dealings with a criminal and a debt to be paid (there a pimp, here a drug dealer), at least two sidekicks (there boring, here more interesting), a college interview in the middle of the criminal activity (there a visit in the middle of a hooker party, here he’s actually part of it) and in the end there’s a monologue about their success (there internal, here his entrance essay) and a possible relationship with the girl they were chasing to being with (there a hooker, here a girl with college aspirations). One advantage is that Tom Cruise’s character actually lost his virginity, whereas, alas, here our hero gets vomited upon by a half-naked model (Chanel Iman), but his potential future love interest is a bit more stable (again, she’s a hooker). Like Risky Business it shows that film school training can work if you have a good script to work with. Techniques and style with no substance are what you get with Ridley Scott and his bastard stepchildren of everyone from Michael Bay to the hit-or-miss David Fincher. Not ot mention, writer/director Rick Famuyiwa manages to seamlessly integrate the vicious everyday violence of life in a gang-riddled neighborhood alongside a coming of age teen comedy. Imagine if Guido The Killer Pimp of Risky Business had actually behaved in the manner of a pimp onscreen, perpetrating the violence he only threatened.

BUT YOU CAN TELL BRETT RATNER TO GO FUCK HIMSELF
Insidious: Chapter 3 is down to number six, followed by Pitch Perfect 2 at number seven and Mad Max: Fury Road at number eight. The villain in this movie is Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, which is notable because he played the villain, Toecutter, who created Max in the first film by murdering Max’s wife and child. This is why it’s very important to be nice to your director, boys and girls. Just ask Jennifer Lopez who is basically the only cast member from Out of Sight never to work with Steven Soderbergh again and the one who needs him the most.

TRUTH: THE STIFFEST DRINK OF ALL
Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number nine, followed by Tomorrowland at number ten and there’s this odd cult of apologists cropping up for this movie, saying the reason it was rejected was because it’s optimistic. Newsflash: looking backwards is not optimism. We call that nostalgia. It’s just not a good movie. Get over it.

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BOX OFFICEIMOUS REX!

15 Jun

Jude-Law--jude-law-79470_589_655 1. Jurassic World/Universal                 Wknd/$204.6    Total/$ 204.6
2. Spy/Fox                                                Wknd/$ 16.0      Total/$ 56.9
3. San Andreas/WB                                Wknd/$ 11.0      Total/$ 119.3
4. Insidious 3/Focus                               Wknd/$ 7.3        Total/$ 37.4
6. Entourage/WB                                    Wknd/$ 4.3        Total/$ 25.9
9. Tomorrowland/Disney                      Wknd/$ 3.4        Total/$ 83.6
5. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                  Wknd/$ 6.0        Total/$ 170.7
7. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                 Wknd/$ 4.1         Total/$ 138.6
8. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney      Wknd/$ 3.6        Total/$ 444.7
10. Love & Mercy                                     Wknd/$ 1.8         Total/$ 4.8

STUPIDIOUS REX
Jurassic World opens at number one to the surprise of no one and this is better than Jurassic Park III, but doesn’t come near the original and so sits next to The Lost World as at the very entertaining, but clearly a sequel that doesn’t quite get why the first was so successful. Lost World was better made, but Jurassic World is shorter without a painfully stupid final act. The director says they’re ignoring the other two because they took place on the other island and that this is a direct sequel to the first, which explains why there’s no military presence on the island after what went down in San Diego. Pretty sure after that crap they wouldn’t let this happen without enough firepower to flat out blow the islan up. It also shows that John Hammond in fact learned nothing from both films as with his dying breath he apparently begged another stupid billionaire to take over and open the theme park. Apparently he’s been so successful that the island is commonplace enough for people to get a little bored with it so they have to continually bring in new dinosaurs and in a staggering display stupidity, make a new one called Indominous Rex. That it eats its sibling isn’t a clue to simply get rid of it tells you that disaster is inevitable. Needless to say, like the first, disaster coincides with the visit of two children related to someone running the park. In this case the two nephews of the park’s director, Bryce Dallas Howard (no, not Jessica Chastain). This is partially so mommy and daddy can get divorced in peace which is all kinds of fucked up. “Welcome back! Hey, how was your trip? We’re no longer a family.” The boys show that stupidity runs in the family by not only ignoring an announcement to go back, but in fact going off the path. Since the announcement to back is because the Indominous Rex got out (surprise, surprise) Howard has to go to the he-man Raptor trainer, Chris Pratt to save them. The nonstop acknowledgement of Pratt’s sheer manliness is near Monty Python levels of absurdity, from his ability to stare down dinosaurs to painful need of a good boning that Bryce Dallas Howard gives when she first looks at him, muscles clearly bulging through his shirt as he worked on his motorcycle (you know, a big thing between his legs). I half-expected to hear a “plop” and see her soaking panties hit the ground at the very sight of him. I’m genuinely surprised he wasn’t sweaty and shirtless. We’re told they basically had a romcom first date. She showed up with an itinerary and he was in board shorts. I’m sure that was taken directly from a script meant for Kate Hudson and Matthew McConughey that was shelved after Fool’s Gold tanked. Of course they bicker and fight as they rush to save the kids while the Idominous Rex rips the park to shreds. Trust me, there’s more of the latter than the former which is why it’s a fun movie because giant monsters running wild are usually fun movies. You have to truly try hard to fuck it up and apparently Joe Johnson worked pretty goddamned hard on Jurassic Park III. Almost as hard as Peter Jackson worked on the King Kong remake.

BEING PRETTY ISN’T ENOUGH PART 1
Spy is down to number two and also in this is Jude Law who is honestly just happy to be hear. Once upon a time he was a leading man on the rise, but bad decisions both privately and professionally and the cruelty of the same genetics that once blessed him cost him in the end. He made half a dozen movies that tanked (including an ill-advised remake of Alfie) and so became more famous for banging the much-less-attractive than his then wife (Sadie Frost) nanny than for his work. Given half his appeal was being pretty, the loss of his hair was the final nail in the coffin of any chance of being a lead, so when playing Watson to Robert Downey Jr.’s rolled around Holmes Law—complete with widow’s peak—grabbed it like nobody’s business and so began his much more successful career as supporting actor, looking less like Sting’s more attractive younger brother than Phil Collins’ more attractive younger brother. The English, they don’t age well.

IT DOESN’T FEEL CREEPY WHEN THEY KISS
San Andreas is down to number three and also in this is Carla Gugino and I’m glad to see her in something successful. She’s more of an indie film and theater girl so this will help her continue that. This is in fact her third film with Dwayne Johnson and they are good together onscreen and hopefully that he remembers that when they try to pair him with someone younger. He’s one of the few action stars who gets paired with appropriate aged leading women, actually playing the dad to a girl who was Woody Harrelson’s love interest on True Detective (Johnson is more than a decade younger than Harrelson). I doubt it’s by accident, so I’m respecting him more each day.

THE MAN BEHIND THE WOMEN. NO, LITERALLY.
Insidious Chapter three is down to number four and as the dad in this is Dermot Mulroney, a man who can best be described as a Keanu Reeves’ less attractive brother. But it guarantees him work as he’s attractive enough to be a supporting male lead to a variety of women (everyone from Holly Hunter to Debra Messing), but not overshadow them. He’s part of that club with Mark Ruffalo and David Strahairn. He’s doing it again here, supporting the leads of his daughter and the medium who has been in all three Insidious films. Laugh if you want to, but he’s probably been in more successful films than Jude Law.

BEING PRETTY ISN’T ENOUGH PART 2
Pitch Perfect 2 is down to number five, followed by the odious Entourage at number six (I become more ashamed for having watched it for so long every day) and someone was cruel enough to actually ask Adrian Grenier about his career as opposed to the career of his character. Ouch. He should call Dermot Mulroney and see if you can join the “Support a Stronger Female Lead” club. I’m sure they’d love a piece of eye candy like him and it’s not like he hasn’t had practice as the love interest for Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. In retrospect, he was lucky to even be on that set with both her and Meryl Streep.

YOU CAN LOVE THEM BOTH
Mad Max: Fury Road is down to number seven and I’m disappointed in you, America. This is the best summer blockbuster in years and you aren’t turning out for it. It hasn’t even made its budget here yet! Meanwhile, Avengers: Age of Ultron holds at number eight has made almost twice its much higher budget here and almost a billion dollars overseas!

ANY BLACK GUY WILL DO REALLY
Tomorrowland is down to number nine and right now Clooney is thinking maybe Ocean’s 14 isn’t such a bad idea after all and that Samuel L. Jackson could take the Bernie Mac role. He hasn’t been the lead in a hit since The Descendants in 2011, which is now best known for launching Shailene Woodley’s movie career.

HE AND CAMERON CROWE BOTH NEED HELP SO SHOULD REUNITE
Finally, Love & Mercy enters the top ten. This is the story of Brian Wilson’s descent in to mental instability and his ultimate rise from it…and the scumbag therapist who took advantage of it to the point where he has co-writing credit on some of Wilson’s later solo albums. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, he did help him, but afterward latched onto him like a tick. A good therapist would have done it without needing to fulfill his lost rock & roll dreams. Wilson is played young by Paul Dano and older by John Cusack, who all too often seems to be just beaten and defeated by Hollywood. Not to mention his hair is still jet black and we know that’s bullshit. As with far too many things, I feel it all went bad with Julia Roberts. He starred with her in America’s Sweethearts. Do you remember that movie? No one does, but it’s clearly the movie that broke John Cusack. He hasn’t been the same since.

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DUMB ENOUGH FOR SUMMER

28 Sep

taraji
1. The Equalizer/Sony                               Wknd/$ 35.0    Total/$ 35.0
2. The Maze Runner/Fox                         Wknd/$ 17.5     Total/$ 58.0
3. The Boxtrolls/Focus                             Wknd/$ 17.3     Total/$ 17.3
4. This is Where I Leave You/WB          Wknd/$ 7.0      Total/$ 22.6
5. Dolphin Tale 2/WB                               Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 33.7
6. No Good Deed/SGems                         Wknd/$ 4.6      Total/$ 46.6
7. A Walk Among The Tombstones/U   Wknd/$ 4.2      Total/$ 20.9
8. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney        Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 319.2
9. Let’s Be Cops/Fox                                  Wknd/$ 1.5      Total/$ 79.6
10. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles/Par  Wknd/$ 1.5      Total/$ 187.2

FRANKEN-ACTION!
The Equalizer opens at number one and this isn’t just another “ex-government agent bringing vigilante justice movie” it’s also a Frankenstein’s monster of other Denzel Washington movies. Ex-government assassin/agent with some lingering guilt of what he’s done who decimates organized crime? Man on Fire. He’s also a working class joe? John Q. There’s a young Russian hooker to save? He Got Game. Because there are no black women in the cast he’s sexless? Almost all of them. Based on the TV show from the 80’s that I never watched, Denzel is yet another government killing machine trying to live a normal life and is almost doing so, but then some Russian mobsters (Russians having taken the place of the Italians as the boogey men of crime) hurt a girl he’s become friends with and they awaken the sleeping dragon who burns their house down. Literally. Now, you don’t expect too much reality in an action film, but you’re not really helping people when you blow up an oil tanker on the docks! It would have felt like a nuke dropped on the city and the damage would have been enormous, most likely destroying legitimate businesses and we’re not getting into the environmental damage! Oh, and it’s set in Boston. Pretty sure a giant explosion would cause all sorts of panic amongst the populace, not to mention the very people Denzel Washington used to work for. It gets so over-the-top towards the end (learn how your local Home Depot can be turned into a killing field with ordinary house and gardening appliances) you wonder how something this dumb escaped a summer release date. But it is fun and honestly you need this as all the humorless, solemn would-be-oscar bait falling around our ears right now.

THE SECRET IS NOT TO DO IT IN CRAYON. USE A PENCIL.
The Maze Runner is down to number two and this is yet another Young Adult novel which has produced box office gold. A sequel has already been green lit. I know very little about the plot other than a group of boys are trapped a environment by a giant maze, but presumably your hero makes it through the maze otherwise you’ve got a very unsatisfying movie, so what’s the second film going to be? Another maze? Is really adaptation of a novel or one of those Big Book of Mazes your parents give you on a long trip to keep you quiet, so they’re just moving onto the next maze? The Maze Runner 2: This Time It’s A Square One.

I AM THE ENEMY OF ALL SUBSTANCE
The Box Trolls opens at number one and I not proud of myself but I disliked the animation style of this too much to even give it a try. It bothers me because actual stop-motion animation is rare these days and it should be supported, but I just can’t with this. It’s just too damn ugly! It’s about kindly trolls who raise a boy. Um, okay. Whatever.

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOBS, KIDS
Speaking of Oscar bait, we’ve had our first failure with This Is Where I Leave You which clearly wanted to me some Robert Altman-mish combination of comedy and drama about a family coming together after the death of the patriarch. Unfortunately it more resembles a TV movie that escaped into theaters, thanks in no small part to the fact that all its stars are best known from the small screen. Tina Fey (30 Rock, SNL), Jason Batman (Arrested Development), Adam Driver (girls), Rose Byrne (Damages) Connie Britton (Nashville) and Timothy Olyphant (Justified). The only real movie star is Jane Fonda. The other aspect that makes it feel like a TV movie is how utterly antiseptic it looks and feels. Aside from looking like no dirt has touched anything anywhere, the drama is saucer deep. We’re told that Jason Bateman’s problem is that he wanted a perfect life with nothing complicated or messy, but he never demonstrates those type of negative character aspects at any time. We only know because other characters tell us. He’s just playing the usual Jason Bateman straight man role, where he comments dryly on the behavior of others. We’re never given any indication that he might not be anything other than the wronged husband great until his wife reveals her affair with his boss might have had a little to do with the fact he withdrew after her miscarriage. Likewise, the affair is used only for comic relief. When your spouse sleeps with your boss, the goal is clearly to hurt you. Otherwise it would have been a stranger. The film never for once examines this and gives only lip service to the other attempts a drama. I know it comes from a much-loved book, but I can only think they took all the best jokes from it and left the depth behind. It wouldn’t be the first to do this, nor will it be the last.

AIN’T NO MONEY LIKE REGULAR MONEY
Dolphin Tale 2 holds at number five, followed by No Good Deed down to number six and also starring in this is Taraji P. Henson who’s having a pretty good year between this and Think Like A Man Too. Almost makes up from having been killed off on Person of Interest. Almost, because nothing beats a regular TV paycheck during the fall with movies in the summer, which is clearly what she was doing.

DON’T MESS WITH SUCCESS, LIAM
A Walk Among The Tombstones opens at number seven letting Liam Neeson know that if he’s going to be investigating a kidnapping, it had better be of his own family by European gangsters whom he will then all kill. What’s funny is he almost turned this down because he didn’t want to another kidnapping movie…even though he’s currently making Taken 3. Who’s left to be taken!?! Mom? A cousin? A maiden aunt? This however isn’t an action film but a mystery suspense crime drama as he’s an ex-cop now a private detective hired to investigate the apparently kidnapping and murder of the wife of a gangster. I’m a sucker for private eye movies, but this opened on a busy weekend and I had to watch Denzel do what he normally does.

GOING ON RIGHT NOW IN THIS GALAXY RIGHT HERE…
Guardians of the Galaxy is still around and the only funny thing about Chris Pratt’s hosting of Saturday Night Live were the spoofs of it. Especially “Marvel’s Star Wars” which, ironically is what this already has already become.

THE BABARINO EFFECT
Let’s Be Cops is down to number nine having made $80M off a $17M budget. Holy shit. Right now they’re both checking the fine print of their New Girl contracts to see how to get the hell out or at the very least a serious pay raise.

NOT EVERYONE LIKED HAVING THEIR CHILDHOOD TRASHED
Finally Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles closes out the top ten at number ten and don’t believe the hype about its success. Yeah, it’s made $187M domestically (the numbers that really matter) but it cost $125M to make, so profitability is still in the distance.

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THE SUPER HITS OF THE 70’S…IN SPACE!

4 Aug

cameron-diaz-posa-para-ensaio-fotografico-da-revista-esquire-de-agosto-de-2014-1404254395713_1280x898

1. Guardians of the Galaxy/Disney                           Wknd/$ 94.0    Total/$ 94.0
2. Lucy/Universal                                                         Wknd/$ 18.3     Total/$ 79.6
3. Get on Up/Universal                                               Wknd/$ 14.0     Total/$ 14.0
4. Hercules/Paramount                                               Wknd/$ 10.7    Total/$ 52.3
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes/Fox                     Wknd/$ 8.7      Total/$ 189.3
6. Planes: Fire & Rescue/Disney                               Wknd/$ 6.4      Total/$ 47.6
7. The Purge: Anarchy/Universal                              Wknd/$ 5.6      Total/$ 63.0
8. Sex Tape/Sony                                                          Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 33.9
9. And So It Goes/CE                                                   Wknd/$ 3.3      Total/$ 10.5
10. A Most Wanted Man/RA                                      Wknd/$ 2.7      Total/$ 2.7

Source: Boxofficemojo.com

K-TEL PRESENTS…
Guardians of the Galaxy opens strong at number one continuing the Marvel track record of movies that are both successful and actually good. As someone who knows far too damn much about comics, I thought this was a big risk and probably failure for them to take such obscure characters and make a movie based on them especially when there’s absolutely no springboard from the rest of their movie stable characters. In the comics, Rocket Raccoon first appeared in an issue of The Incredible Hulk, but that’s the most unsuccessful solo movie character so far (though Thor clearly wants that title with its not-bad, but not great either movies) so it was hardly coming from him. Nope. They just went for it and whoever said “go for humor first and foremost” deserves a freaking raise. Sorry, but that person gets it like no one else. This is basically a comedy that just happens to also be a science fiction adventure and if you wonder why Disney just went along with it, know that opens with the orphaning of a child. They probably just greenlit the damn film on reflex because of that. That child is then abducted by group of space pirates, growing up to become the outlaw who’d like to be called Starlord, only the rest of the universe kinda sees him as a joke and little more than a thief. Because he tries to cut the space pirates out of the deal of what he’s stolen, they place a bounty on his head. This is why Rocket Raccoon and Groot, the sentient tree come after him. Gamora the assassin comes after him because she’s supposed to be getting the object for her father Thanos (who was the guy you saw at the end of The Avengers who backed Loki). They all get arrested and thrown into prison where they meet the fifth member of their group, Drax the Destroyer, who’s after the main bad guy, Ronan the Accuser, for murdering his family. Ronan wants the object because if he gives it to Thanos, Thanos will destroy a planet for him. Needless to say, he eventually realizes that if he has the object he doesn’t really need Thanos. Our wacky group of thieves at best and murderers at worst band together to stop him. Laughs ensue. Seriously. After the downer opening required of every hero (check your heroic fiction, not to mention your comic books), it’s non-stop humor from Starlord dancing to “Come And Get Your Love” by Redbone under the film’s title the doing an almost satirical take on Indiana Jones taking the idol in Raiders of The Lost Ark, to the last scene which also includes dancing and the music of Jackson Five. Unlike most films that shoehorn music in to sell albums, music is how Starlord (aka Peter Quill) hangs onto his memories of his mother. She made him mix tapes of her favorite music growing up and he was taken by the space pirates with his Walkman, which is why it remains a prize possession he risks his life to regain when they break out of prison. And now that I think about it, Captain America: The Winter Solider also effectively used music as prelude and a coda. Quite a step up from the first Spider-Man movie using freaking Nickelback.

BY THE WAY, THIS MOVIE BLOWS
Lucy is down to number two and also in this is Morgan Freeman…and that’s it for American actors, much less any you might know, but that’s par the course for Besson’s movies, which are made in Europe and Asia. I mean, who’d you know in The Transporter or Taken? Freeman plays the leading authority in the expansion of human brain function so Lucy makes a bee line for him after securing the rest of the drugs…and the sheer stupidity of going after those packages instead of going directly to the scientist who created it will never leave this film. Not to mention if he’s that good, he’s probably known if not infamous. Most of all it leaves an opening for a sequel no one needs, because if I hadn’t mentioned it, this movie sucks.

IT’S A LEFT HANDED COMPLIMENT FROM A DOUBLE EDGED SWORD
Get on Up, the movie biography of James Brown, opens at number three and Chadwick Boseman is in danger of falling into a gilded cage if this does okay in the end (opened well enough with $14M from a $30M budget) and becoming “THE black guy” you go to when casting a bio-pic whether or not he’s right for the role. Let me put it this way: I don’t know who should be playing Nina Simone, but I know damn well that Zoe Saldana whose skin has been darkened and is wearing a prostetheic nose is not her. You’ll know it’s a problem when he does the Michael Jackson story. I had a busy weekend, but I’m not sure this would have been on my list anyway. 1) I’m not big on bio pics and this looks as by-the-numbers as it gets and 2) I’m wary of any bio-pic that’s rated PG, especially someone like James Brown. Hell, my bio pic couldn’t be rated PG because I have a nearly pathological need to drop the “F-bomb” whenever possible. It’s part of who I am.

ONE DAY YOU’RE ALL GONNA GET WHAT YOU DESERVE…OR NOT
Hercules is down to number four and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving hack director. Truly. Though Zack Synder and Michael Bay seem unstoppable, on the bright side Brett Ratner and McG seem to be falling away. Ratner’s last hit was the third Rush Hour movie back in ’07 and while X-Men 3 wasn’t a total disaster he is seen as wrecking the franchise and his movie was literally undone by X-Men: Days of Future Past. There may be justice in the universe after all.

MEH, MEH & MEH
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is down to number five, followed by Planes: Fire & Rescue at six and The Purge: Anarchy at number seven.

THE WORD FOR TODAY IS “BEGRUDGINGLY”
Sex Tape is down to number eight and while I’m not the biggest fan of either Cameron Diaz or Jason Segel, I will give credit where credit is due. I branded him an ugly schlub who didn’t deserve leading roles and both he and other ugly schlub Jonah Hill needed to stay with in the sidekick department. But now he’s slimmed down and gotten better looking with age. If he can stop trying to fucking write, he might actually make a decent comedic leading man…so long as the female lead isn’t too beautiful. Speaking of not being too beautiful, I have to give it up to Cameron Diaz for playing the game like the men. She’s playing a decade younger than her actual age while doing with a male lead who actually is that age. Just like all the men do…though they stretch it out to literally two decades.

IT’S JUST DECEMBER DECEMBER ROMANCES FOR YOU NOW, PAL
Speaking of men making movies with female leads decades younger, Michael Douglas is the male lead here and having to kiss Diane Keaton must have been quite a shock for him as he’s been the poster boy for inappropriate aged leading ladies for the last 20 years. It irony being, like many in Hollywood, he’s a hardcore liberal, but notice how that doesn’t apply to sexual politics, especially when it meant sharing the screen with someone with just as many wrinkles. And he can’t even blame the producer as he’s been one since One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s all him, baby.

ONE FOR THE ROAD
Finally, A Most Wanted Man holds onto the number ten spot and that’s nice for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s legacy.

 

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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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