Tag Archives: George Clooney

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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LAUGHING AT YOU, NOT WITH YOU

8 Jun

aasian

1. Spy/Fox                                             Wknd/$ 30.0    Total/$ 30.0
2. San Andreas/WB                             Wknd/$ 26.4    Total/$ 92.2
3. Insidious 3/Focus                            Wknd/$ 23.0    Total/$ 23.0
4. Entourage/WB                                 Wknd/$ 10.4     Total/$ 17.8
7. Tomorrowland/Disney                   Wknd/$ 7.0       Total/$ 76.2
6. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal               Wknd/$ 7.7       Total/$ 161.0
5. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB              Wknd/$ 8.0      Total/$ 130.8
8. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney   Wknd/$ 6.2      Total/$ 438.0
9. Aloha/Sony                                        Wknd/$ 3.3      Total/$ 16.3
10. Poltergeist/Fox                                Wknd/$ 2.9     Total/$ 44.5

CHICKS RULE, BOYS RULE PT.1
Spy opens at number one bringing us one step closer to 2015 being The Summer of Women…which means ’16 will be “back to business as usual.” Just kidding. If it makes money they will run it into the ground, so yeah, there might actually be two whole comedies with female leads next summer. I gave this a pass because the commercials and trailers strayed a bit too close to Kevin James territory, as in “Hey, let’s all go laugh at the fatty.” If it were more the underdog non-secret agent actually does well because everyone underestimated her, that’d be different. And even while I understand the latter does occur, it still doesn’t make up for a little too much of the former.

TOO MANY LANDMARKS TO DESTROY, TOO LITTLE TIME
San Andreas is down to number two and in it Dwayne Johnson is a top Rescue operative (agent? officer? Mule?) in Los Angeles so needless to say when the first quake wipes out the Hoover Dam he and his team are supposed to head out there and help. Unfortunately the next quake hits LA and so he obviously has to stay and help there…except he doesn’t. First thing he does is save his wife then they take the copter to go to San Francisco to go save his daughter. Gee, you think the people of LA might have been able to use a rescue helicopter piloted by the top rescue operative? Yes, the helicopter goes down due to mechanical difficulties (caused in the opening rescue scene) and they try to make up for it by having him help some people in San Francisco, but again, the only reason he’s there is because he thinks only he personally can save his daughter, who honestly would have been fine if she’d left the city when she had the chance rather than seeking out higher ground WITHIN THE CITY TO WAIT FOR HER PARENTS. As I said last week, the less of this “writing” the better. More disaster please. I personally wouldn’t have minded seeing the some of the smelly populace of Haight Ashbury get swallowed up. And how can you not show Alcatraz getting wrecked. All of that would have equaled less time to think about the fact that Dwayne Johnson essentially abandoned his post.

NOT SEEING IT CHAPTER 3
Insidious Chapter 3 opens at number three and like one and two, I gave this a pass. I don’t. do. the. scary. And unless they are totally inept creepy figures in dark in your bedroom the night is scary.

THANK GOD THE REAL TURTLE DIDN’T LIVE TO SUE, ER, I MEAN SEE THIS
Speaking of scary, how scary is it that they made an Entourage movie? It’s actually scarier than the fact the show lasted eight fucking seasons. That was two seasons longer than Sex & The City if we’re comparing and that show was exhausted by season five. I must admit I did watch entourage for awhile. It was combination wish fulfillment, glimpse behind the curtain (it was based partially on the lives of both Mark Wahlberg and Doug Ellin, but mostly the former as the latter had about two seconds of indie heat the failed to follow through) and satire. Initially they satirized the world they lived in as much as they glamourized it, but it gave way simply worshipping the fantasy. And it always annoyed me that they didn’t have the balls to make the fact that Adrian Grenier was in Drive Me Crazy some his character was actually in. It was a slow pitch over the plate, but they were too busy lining up desperate actresses and porn stars to make topless appearances and stars you thought were better than this to do cameos to take a swing. Apparently they thought they confused themselves with Sex & The City–which was genuinely successful and popular—to think they could take four years to turn out a substandard overlong episode. Thankfully, this won’t be allowed to follow up with a putrid sequel (I only want a third Sex & The City movie to apologize for the second) as its primary audience of dudebros clearly weren’t about to get their flabby dadbods off the couch and stop playing Call of Duty or Mortal Kombat to actually go see it.

GIRLS RULE, BOYS DROOL PT. 2
Mad Max: Fury Road is down to number five followed by Pitch Perfect 2 at number six and brace yourself for this: though released the same week, PP2 has made $160M compared to MMFR’s $130M. Granted MMFR has made more worldwide, but Hollywood still gets the bulk of its profits from the domestic side so this is what matters. Not to mention, MMFR cost $150M so it hasn’t even made its budget yet, while PP2 only cost 1/5 that. It turned a profit the first week, while MMFR still has a ways to go. Only in terms of the creation of art will MMFR win out in the end as you’ll no doubt see it again at awards time. But art and awards and $2.5o will get you on the train. Pitch Perfect 3 was already greenlit, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on news of another Mad Max.

MIGHT AS WELL HAVE GIVEN FAITH HILL A JOB AND LET HER DO IT
Tomorrowland is down to number seven and also in this is Tim McGraw as the main character’s father. I have nothing really to add to that. It’s just so out-of-left-field in its casting. Judy Greer is her mother. Or should I say her voice, because we never see her and she’s never mentioned again. Seriously, Disney. You really need to get over this Dead Mother bullshit.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number eight and already the vultures are circling, pointing out this isn’t doing as well as the first. Well, duh. The first was something that had never been seen before. The sequel to Jurassic Park didn’t do as well as the first for similar reasons. It’s a rule of thumb that sequels usually cost more and make less than the first film. Hell, The Empire Strikes Back made less than Star Wars and that was a global phenomenon that this doesn’t even come close to approaching. Does that mean it was coming to an end (Return of the Jedi did better than Empire). No, if you want to look for chinks in the Marvel armor just read director Joss Whedon’s admission that making this broke him because of having to constantly deal with Marvel/Disney. Or the fact that Edgar Wright walked off/was fired from Ant Man, a movie he’d been developing for eight years, which means he was working it even before Iron Man hit big. So clearly he was told to bend his vision to accommodate their machine and was unwilling to do so. Both events happened concurrently and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

AND DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE BLACK PEOPLE WHO ARE ASIAN!
Aloha is down to number nine and Cameron Crowe has apologized for casting Emma Stone as Hawaiian/Asian in this film, while myopically pointing out it was based on a real person who was thought to be White but clearly was not. The difference, dumbass, is that she wasn’t! There are tons of partially Asian actors in Hollywood that people think of as White, but when you point it out it seems fairly obvious they are multi-ethnic. Keanu Reeves, Dean Cain, Olivia Munn, Chad Michael Murray, Darren Criss, Jennifer & Meg Tilly, Kristen Kreuk (she played Lana Lang on Smallville), that annoying girl on Agents of SHIELD, etc. Not to mention you could have found one closer to Bradley Cooper’s freaking age like, Lindsay Price (who could easily be mistake for Lara Flynn Boyle). No, you deserve every ounce of this failure.

CONTINUING ITS GHOST METAPHOR BY ONLY BEING SEEN BY A FEW
Finally, the Poltergeist remake closes out the top ten at number ten and given it cost $62M to make and has only made $44M, you’d think they’d learn to give remakes a break. Nope. They’re remaking The Craft, The Crow and She’s All That even as we speak. All they’ve learned from this is to have a bigger budget for advertising, because can anyone really be blamed that an unadvertised film doesn’t do well?

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IRWIN ALLEN WOULD BE PROUD

31 May

3593523-sgtfury5+-+cover 1. San Andreas/WB Wknd/$ 53.2 Total/$ 53.2
3. Tomorrowland/Disney Wknd/$ 13.8 Total/$ 63.2
2. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal Wknd/$ 14.4 Total/$ 147.5
4. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB Wknd/$ 13.6 Total/$ 115.9
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney Wknd/$ 10.9 Total/$ 427.1
6. Aloha/Sony Wknd/$ 10.0 Total/$ 10.0
7. Poltergeist/Fox Wknd/$ 7.8 Total/$ 38.3
8. Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox Wknd/$ 1.4 Total/$ 5.4
9. Hot Pursuit/WB Wknd/$ 1.4 Total/$ 32.4
10. Home/Fox Wknd/$ 1.8 Total/$ 168.1

IT DWAYNE JOHNSON’S THE BOX OFFICE!
San Andreas opens at number one and this is very important to Dwayne Johnson for two reasons. Number 1: that’s the only name associated with this. “The Rock” is nowhere to be seen. Probably there’s a good chance Jim McMahon owns it, in yet another way the straight entertainment industry and porn intersect. So to be able to keep all the money he makes, Johnson needs to put The Rock in his rearview as much as humanly possible. Number 2: he’s the only star and it’s not sequel. While clearly successful, that Johnson’s career hasn’t exactly gone the way any one had thought isn’t a secret. While a boost to sequels, he has failed to carry films all by himself. Probably because he and his agents/managers have horrible, horrible middle-0f-the-road, being-too-safe tastes. I mean look at this. It’s straight up, by-the-numbers disaster porn. It couldn’t be any safer if it actually was a sequel. Like any genre film, no one is really coming to see him as much they are to see Los Angeles and San Francisco die horribly. I mean, it’d be great if there were a charismatic star there to help it along, but it’s not really required. He’s here for the same reason Dennis Quaid was in The Day After Tomorrow and John Cusack was in 2015: they were of a certain age and needed an easy pitch to boost the resume. San Andreas is actually better disaster porn than The Day After Tomorrow and 2015, not simply because Johnson is more fun to watch, but because they eschew the disaster film trope of multiple storylines around the event. It’s basically two: Johnson and Carla Gugino trying to get to their daughter in San Francisco and their daughter trying to stay alive until they come. Okay there’s Paul Giamatti and “The Scientist Who Knew It Was Coming” but that’s it. All he does is warn people there’s no dramatic struggle on his end. That not only pares the film down, but clearly allowed them to put that money into more bloodless carnage. People fall and are crushed, but there’s no sign of corpses. Seriously. Every one dies perfectly hidden by the rubble so Johnson’s pretty daughter is spared having to make her way through a city of the dead and dying. In your typical disaster film, she’d be picking up survivors on the way, but this spares us that cliché for a leaner, clearly meaner disaster film. And honestly the less of this “writing” the better because it’s as clichéd as you can imagine. Just like every other disaster movie the hero and his wife are divorcing due to a tragedy in the past (they lost a daughter). And just like every other disaster movie the guy she’s now with is handsome, rich and successful. And just like every other disaster movie, the new guy is ultimately shown to a coward, leaving Johnson’s daughter trapped in parking garage (2015 actually avoids this cliché making this film less daring than a Rolan Emmerich film if you can believe that). To be fair, the man is clearly broken by the magnitude of the events around him. He’s actually trying to find help when the person he’s talking to dies in front of him, missing him by literal inches. That’s when he runs. After that, however, he’s a pure save-myself-coward. Even his sister is shown to be a total bitch before biting the dust. That’s how black and white simplistic the script is. Oh, the daughter they lost? She drowned so guess what Johnson has to save their other daughter from in the final act? I’m giving nothing away. It’s in the trailer. So yeah, less of this “writing” and more watching The Golden Gate bridge get hit by both an earthquake and a tsunami the better.

TOO BAD, KID
Pitch Perfect holds at number two, followed Tomorrowland down to number three and as the ostensible star of this is Britt Robertson. She’d be the clear-cut star if the film didn’t flat out open with George Clooney’s face. Yeah, she’s talking to him off-camera and it does eventually switch to her, but all the while you’re waiting for Clooney to come back so they can get to the trope of “Cynical Older Person Who’s Given Up Brought Back By Kid Who Still Believes.” As I mentioned before she goes from being smart, optimistic and innovative on her own to just being this annoying person who constantly asks questions when she hooks up with Girl Robot and George Clooney. The movie becomes almost meta when Clooney asks her “Why can’t you shut up and simply be amazed?” because that’s how the character should be. The character was originally a boy and I have to wonder if he’d have been allowed to be nearly as annoying or would have be been the typical fantasy stand-in for the writer/director kid boy genius they way they always are in these movies. He would have been amazed and still would have asked smart questions. Poor Britt. Between this and The Longest Ride it looked on paper like she had two sure fire successes, but both have underperformed. It seemed like she was about to break out, but she’s still stuck under the dome. Get it? She’s on that show. It only runs in the summer. See what I did there?

YOU BALLS WON’T GET SMALLER, BUT MAYBE A LITTLE SMARTER
Mad Max Fury Road is down to number four and while not doing dazzling box office numbers there is no better critically nor audience reviewed film out there. Hopefully this will give it legs, because it’s always a tragedy when a film this good doesn’t perform as well as it should. I mean despite all the talk of it being so smart it’s still a movie where cars go really fast and things go boom. Don’t be afraid, Fast & Furious fans. You’ll still like it even if you don’t understand why afterward your girlfriend starts making more decisions in your relationship and why you’re comfortable letting her.

SIGH. GUESS THIS MEANS NO SATAN CLAW EITHER
Avengers: Age of Ultron is holding at number five which actually says something given it’s now sharing theaters with San Andreas and Mad Max: Fury Road. In the film far too briefly is Thomas Kretschmann as Baron Strucker. In the comics Strucker was an enemy to Nick Fury in World War II, afterwards as head of Hydra and of course sometimes bumped heads with Captain America. He’s in the film for about ten minutes before being killed off-screen by Ultron. This is a waste of a good actor and a good character. Almost as much of a waste as the whole damn Hulk/Black Widow storyline. Sorry, but the more I think about it the worse it gets. Hopefully, we’ll see his evil twin children whom he genetically altered as embryos to have superpowers. Later when the sister is killed, brother keeps her tanned skin on his sword to retain his superpowers. Ewww. Maybe we’ll leave that part out.

I’M SURE THE IRONY OF THE NAME IS NOT LOST ON HIM
Aloha opens at number six and once upon a time a new Cameron Crowe film would have me at the theaters opening weekend, but Elizabethtown is apparently something neither he nor the audience can overcome. Since then it’s only been We Bought A Zoo in terms of narrative film work and I kinda gave that a pass for the same reason I did this: I’m pretty much done with movies where an older male protagonist is renewed by a much younger blonde (no, it didn’t help that Hawaii, the only state where white people are a minority is depicted as lily-white, but my main gripe is the May/December plotline). It was Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in We Bought A Zoo and now it’s Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone. I actually like Emma Stone, but she’s got to stop playing the younger girl the older man can’t help himself but fall for (she also did it in a Woody Allen film with Colin Firth). Worse still, Rachel McAdams whom I absolutely adore is also in this but am prevented from seeing by this damn romantic subplot. Given Crowe’s recently divorced from Nancy Wilson (yes, of Heart) I fear this has origins in his personal life and fear only more in the future.

SHHH! IT’S HIS SECRET SHAME!
Poltergeist is down to number seven and I still have not seen an ad for this. I live in fucking New York! It’s a media hub! How is this possible!?! Sigh. Back to milk the dead cow is none other than Sam Raimi who’s listed as producer. He’s also doing an Evil Dead TV series. So I guess original work is for young people, huh, Sam?

THE REST, THE END
Far From The Maddening Crowd is down to number eight, followed by Hot Pursuit at number nine and inexplicably holding on to number ten is Home.

LESS OLD IS MORE LIKE IT
So, the summer TV season hasn’t kicked off yet, but I’ve been drawn into some springtime TV on freaking TV Land, which is a spin-off of Nickelodeon. And let me tell you, it ain’t really for kids. Younger is about a divorced 40-something who, when she can’t find a job because of her age (striking closer to home than I’d like) gets a makeover and starts pretending she’s 26. Now, while there are real life examples of similar things happening and there’s actually an actress who’s been playing teenagers for 20-years, there’s no way like Sutton Foster is passing for 20-anything. She she probably didn’t look 26 when she was 26 (theater people age hard). Even the book this is based on drew the line at 29. It’s also from Darren Starr so between that and trying to buy anyone accepting Sutton Foster as 26, I gave it a pass. Then, while channel surfing I came across a rather explicit sex scene. And by explicit I mean that even though she still had her bra on is Sarah Jessica Parker fashion they clearly he was going down her. They then moved to multiple position montage including doggystyle and reverse-cowgirl. Reverse cowgirl on a channel associated with Nickelodeon. Wow (I won’t even get into the pixelated nudity that actually does happen with another character who celebrates what she calls “Topless Tuesday” for her Twitter followers). So I watched for a little context and…it’s not too bad. Plus they appeal to my weakness: the show is clearly shot here in New York. I still fast forward any time there’s some horribly contrived scene where she’s hiding her age (she has a college aged daughter, but strangely knew nothing about Twitter), but it’s some reasonably entertaining springtime viewing.

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BETTER LUCK ON MR. TOAD’S WILD RIDE THE MOVIE

26 May

500_3_charlize_theron_w 1. Tomorrowland/Disney                          Wknd/$ 33.0   Total/$ 33.0
2. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                     Wknd/$ 30.8   Total/$ 109.6
3. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                    Wknd/$ 24.8   Total/$ 88.3
– Poltergeist/Fox                                         Wknd/$ 22.6   Total/$ 22.6
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney         Wknd/$ 21.7    Total/$ 404.9
5. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate           Wknd/$ 15.0   Total/$ 39.9
6. Hot Pursuit/WB                                     Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 29.1
7. Furious 7/Universal                               Wknd/$ 2.2     Total/$ 347.1
8. Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox    Wknd/$ 2.2      Total/$ 5.4
9. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                           Wknd/$ 1.9      Total/$ 65.7
10. Home/Fox                                              Wknd/$ 1.8     Total/$ 168.1

SOMEWHERE JOHNNY DEPP LAUGHS, “NOT SO EASY, IS IT?”
Tomorrowland opens at number one and between this and Mission Impossible 4, I’m glad Brad Bird is returning to animation with a sequel to The Incredibles, ‘cause live action is clearly not his thing. There are clearly too many compromises you have to make with people that you don’t have to with drawings. Though it’s where the writing is concerned that things go astray. Granted, the simple fact that Damon Lindelof is on as a co-writer here automatically means suckage, but you’d think as director Bird could overcome it. He cannot. This seems to be the logical (and by “logical” I mean only in the mind of someone shamelessly chasing money) extension of Pirates of the Caribbean. That is, Disney making even movies based on their theme park rides. The mistake is while Pirates of the Caribbean was/is a theme park, pirate movies are an old, established genre. You could have called it anything else and still had the same movie. This, however, had to be totally original and how exactly do you tell the story of a future that never came to pass? Well, judging by this, you don’t. Ironically we see more of “the future is now” in our first encounter with the protagonist, Casey (Britt Robertson), than for any other part of the movie when she sneaks onto the Cape Canaveral base using her iPhone to control a toy helicopter. You can use your iPhone to remote control a vast number of things and this has happened in the last decade. It’s amazing but it doesn’t seem to register. Anyway, her father is a NASA engineer and in some naïve way she’s hoping to stop the dismantling of the space program by stomping the dismantling of the launch platform. She’s not only clever, but an incurable optimist and these are the reasons she’s sought out by recruitment robot that looks like a 12-year-old girl. We see this robot earlier when the younger version of George Clooney’s character goes to the World’s Fair in Queens in the 60’s to submit his jet pack idea. The robot helps him sneak into Tomorrowland when House—I mean Nix as played by Hugh Laurie rejects him because his jet pack doesn’t quite work. In Tomorrowland one of the robots fixes it so it does and he’s allowed to stay. Later, however, when the robot drops Casey off at Clooney’s place—after avoiding other killer robots—we learned he was kicked out under pain of death if he ever talked about Tomorrowland. We also learn that Casey was selected because she might be able to fix what’s wrong with it, something Clooney helped to create. As they make the journey back, we learn that the origins of Tomorrowland started with Thomas Edison, Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla…and they apparently built a rocket in the Eiffel Tower which is just cool as fuck. Of course you might wonder how no one knew there was a rocket there, not even The Nazis when they took the place, but honestly it’s so nice I give it a pass. What I cannot give a pass to is basically the whole concept. A world established over hundred years ago in another dimension for the betterment of mankind…that apparently has never done anything for the betterment of mankind and then gave up in 1984. Yeah, that’s how subtle the film is at yelling at you for letting the planet go to hell. Bear in mind they built a freaking rocket in The Eiffiel Tower which was constructed in 1889, had jet packs and robots in the 60’s (not to mention some kind of fountain of youth shake) and never shared any of it, but it’s our fault. The movie never comes close to explaining why all they seemed to was plan for a better tomorrow but never actually did anything (actually that would have been a better reason for Clooney’s exile in that he realized they never would). Also, the girl robot has been recruiting dreamers, but while Casey makes the cut, Stephen Hawking and Steve Jobs never did (no, I don’t see them asking Bill Gates)? Another problem is that Casey is flat out annoying, something both Clooney and the robot mention and they’re not wrong. When Clooney tells her to just shut up and be amazed for once, he’s speaking for all of us. Speaking of Clooney the most mystifying flaw of the film beyond him vanishing off-screen for half-an-hour, is that they give him a 12-year-old girl robot as a love interest. Yes, she’s technically as old as he is, but when it comes down to it, what you see onscreen is George Clooney and a 12-year-old looking lovingly at one another (which sounds like some kind of bizarre comedy Woody Allen would write where the protagonist keeps insisting that it’s okay because she’s a 50-year-old robot while the world wants him dead). Yeah, I’m sure it was cute on the page that he’s harboring a love from childhood but fully realized it’s just creepy. That no one saw this as a problem in the initial planning stages shows you this was doomed from the beginning.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES
Pitch Perfect 2 is down to number two and returning with a promotion for this one is Elizabeth Banks who was actually one of the producers for the original as well as co-starring. Again, this remains a double-edged sword of success in Hollywood. A female driven film is one of the biggest films of the year so far, but it’s about something “silly.” As opposed to the gritty realism of The Avengers, no doubt. But this is the excuse that will be given for no increased presence of women behind the camera despite this being one of two biggest openings of the year being alongside 50 Shades of Grey. But all props to Elizabeth Banks who was the comedic woman of the moment after The 40-Year-Old Virgin back in…’08. Holy shit! Has it really been that long!?! Unfortunately most of her subsequent roles as the female lead tanked. She had the misfortune to be in both Meet Bill and Meet Dave neither of which anyone wanted to meet. She then fell prey to the attempts to make Ryan Reynolds, Sam Worthington and Chris Pine into stars, but luckily The Hunger Games appeared to give her a new lease on life. After that came Pitch Perfect and this year alone she’ll be in the Magic Mike sequel as well as the final Hunger Games movie. So basically the more female driven her work, the more she succeeds. Now there’s a lesson.

SHE USED TO BE MY GIRL
Speaking of female and driven, no matter what the title of the film Charlize Theron is the clear star of Mad Max: Fury Road, which is down to number three this week. But honestly when you think about it, Max is never really the driving force behind any of his movies beyond the first. He’s just trying to die with his pain in the wasteland when he’s caught up in someone else’s schemes to try and rebuild the world, which usually climaxes him driving a big rig that’s beset by the scavengers of the apocalypse. Seriously, that’s the plot of every movie and I don’t have a problem with that. Like Banks, the more Theron stays away from simply being “pretty girl lead” the better off she does. Her last big hits were the far from critically beloved Hancock, Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus but in none of them was she the leading man’s love interest. And she damn sure isn’t one here. Also it was her call to shave her head. Yeah, pretty people live for messing up that beauty thing whenever and wherever they can.

AND WHO WOULD HAVE A CLOWN DOLL ANYWAY!?!
Okay, apparently the remake of Poltergeist opened this weekend, but it actually doesn’t show up on some box office charts. Which would make sense as I’ve seen not one commercial, billboard or even print ad for it. It’s almost like it’s a literal ghost film. I saw the original back when I would do the scary, but honestly if I’d known this was coming out I might have given it a shot as it always felt more like science fiction (girl trapped in alternate dimension) than horror. Well, aside from that fucking clown. Whoever thought to include that (and the tree) tapped into the childhood fears of the collective planet.

TIME TO WORK FOR A LIVING
Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number four—or five—and finally making an onscreen appearance is someone who’s been part of the Marvel movies all along: Paul Bettany, who’s been the voice of Jarvis. Something he admits to forgetting in interviews. Must be nice to make money that easily. Well, not anymore as he has to be painted and suited up to be the android known as The Vision. You say you want a brief comics history of the character? Well, don’t mind if I do. Shut up. You were too thinking it. The Vision is created by Ultron to help him destroy humanity, but turns on him, becoming an Avenger and ultimately marrying The Scarlet Witch. And they have two kids! Well, kinda. They’re made of magic and…okay even that’s too much for me. But Bettany does a good job with a limited role that only pops in the last half hour of the film. But he’s lost that easy Iron May paycheck.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT PT II
The Age of Adaline actually rises to number five (or six), followed by Hot Pursuit at number six (or seven), Furious Seven at number seven (or eight) and Far From The Maddening Crowd rising to number eight (or nine). Okay let’s tally it up. Britt Robertson is the protagonist of Tomorrowland, followed by the women of Pitch Perfect 2, Charlize Theron and all the women of Mad Max: Fury Road, Blake Lively in Age of Adaline, Reese Witherspoon & Sofia Vergar in Hot Pursuit and Carey Mulligan here in Far From The Maddening Crowd. That makes six out of the top ten (or eleven) films female driven. Sadly, that’s kind of impressive and won’t be lasting very long now that the summer movie season has formally begun. So enjoy your moment, ladies!

THE END
Paul Blart is either number nine or ten depending how you count it and Home is either number ten or finally removed from our sights.

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THAT MEGA BLOCKS MOVIE IS STRAIGHT TO VIDEO

9 Feb

watersbros

 1. The LEGO Movie/WB                         Wknd/$  69.1            Total/$   69.1

 2. The Monuments Men/Sony               Wknd/$  22.7            Total/$   22.7

 3. Ride Along/Universal                          Wknd/$   9.4             Total/$  105.2

 4. Frozen/Disney                                       Wknd/$   6.9             Total/$ 368.7

 5. That Awkward Moment                       Wknd/$   5.5             Total/$   16.8

 6. Lone Survivor/Universal                     Wknd/$   5.3             Total/$  112.6

 7. Vampire Academy/Weinstein             Wknd/$   4.1             Total/$     4.1

 8. The Nut Job/ORF                                  Wknd/$   3.8            Total/$   55.1

 9. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/Par         Wknd/$   3.6            Total/$   44.5

10. Labor Day/Paramount                         Wknd/$   3.2            Total/$   10.2

 

STILL WAITING ON THAT PLAY DOH MOVIE

Opening at number one is The LEGO Movie and I’m pretty sure this is the greatest movie ever made. Okay, maybe not “ever” but certainly in my lifetime. Okay, maybe not my lifetime, but definitely this year…so far.  What could a have been a two hour commercial for Lego toys (and I’m not saying it still isn’t) is a near brilliant satire of everything from action movies to other children’s films which are essentially toy commercials to the adults who still buy toys with a fanatical devotion. Wait. What are you looking at me for!?!  The LEGO Movie joins Toy Story in that rarified air of being more than just the wet dream of the marketing department but an actual film in its own right. The main target of its satire is the heroic concept of the average man being “the chosen one” on when everyone around him devotedly helping him is clearly more qualified for the job ,starting with the acolyte who finds “the chosen one.”  In The Matrix it was Morpheus. In Star Wars it was Obi Wan Kenobi. Here it’s the woman known as “Wild Style” who must continually face the question as to whether or not she’s a DJ.  The hero is Emmett who is such a blank slate he spends most of the movie having everyone from Wild Style to Batman (who practically steals the movie) telling him he’s the dumbest man alive.  Try and watch Trinity and Neo now. The jokes come fast and furious, not slowing down for adults, much less the kids who were presumably its main audience but it’s obvious from the beginning with jokes about $32 coffee and conformity that a great deal of this is aimed at their parents who are undoubtedly grateful having sat through a million family films a year without a brain in any of their CGI heads.

 

OCEAN’S 14…MINUS 7

Opening at number two is The Monuments Men, which is based on a the true story of a group of soldiers in WWII assigned to protect the art treasures that Hitler not only looted from Europe but wanted destroyed if he lost.  Talk about the ultimate sore loser. It’s one thing to take your toys and go home, but to take someone else’s? This one of those well-intentioned films that gets an “A” for effort, but not for what it actually manages to accomplish.  A story like this, which is so easily “good vs. evil” would seem to be an easy home run, but maybe it’s too easy, so easy Clooney thought he could do it all (he writes and directs along with being the star).  Ben Affleck accomplished something similar but his virtue is that even as an Oscar winning screenwriter, never thought he could write it himself (if I didn’t know better, I’d say Clooney was competing just a little bit).  A little modesty might have done Clooney some good and ceded the writing to one person and the direction to another as the story just seems to wander from Point A to Point B with little suspense or momentum, which is odd given it’s about the fall of the Nazi empire and the race to save irreplaceable treasures.  Only when a competing faction of Soviet soldiers who plan on keeping the works for themselves do we even get a hint of tension, but it’s not enough. The movie is placed fully on the backs of its amenable stars and luckily for Clooney you’d be hard pressed to find a more likable group of actors than Matt Damon, Billy Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Clooney himself. Watching them be charming and save western culture actually was enough for me but I understand if some need a bit more dramatic heft. I’ve no doubt the History Channel is preparing a special that will be twice as interesting in half the time. If you’ve seen the special about the 300 Spartans you know what I’m talking about.

 

YOUR MOST ROMANTIC MOMENTS ARE USUALLY SPENT NAKED ANYWAY

Ride Along is down to number three, followed by Frozen at number four (a victim of a children’s film actually worth seeing) and That Awkward Moment down to number five and I didn’t realize this was Rated R which is odd for romantic comedies, but something I actually support. I’m still not going to see this, but I support the idea that not every romcom needs to be rated PG. Four Weddings & A Funeral remains one of my favorites and opens with a nonstop you use of f**k and one of the funniest scenes has Hugh Grant trapped by newlyweds who can’t stop boning.

 

AS OF THIS MOMENTS JOKES ABOUT BAD VAMPIRE MOVIES SUCKING ARE FORBIDDEN

Lone Survivor is down to number six followed by Vampire Academy opening at number seven and this was an unfortunately full weekend so I didn’t get to see the film that was actually at the top of my list, having been written and directed by the brothers who brought the world Heathers and its nicer sister, Mean Girls. You’d think with that pedigree and vampires on top of it all this would have been given a larger push, but it was clear from the beginning that they didn’t know what to do with this latest attempt to turn a supernatural young adult book series into a movie franchise. The original trailer was straight up comedy while all the new ones have been seriously action oriented, which was clearly a mistake given the talent behind it and now the box office return.  Personally, I was much more interested in a teen vampire comedy than I was a another serious teen vampire film, but Twilight was more successful than Buffy no matter what your geek friend tells you.

 

NOT FAR FROM THE TREE

The Nut Job is down to number eight the deserved victim of the success of The LEGO Movie, followed by Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit at number nine and last and least Labor Day closing out the top ten at number ten. This was directed and co-written by Jason Reitman the son of Ivan Reitman, who brought the world Stripes, Ghostbusters and Meatballs (aka the Bill Murray Trilogy). Jason is no slouch himself having directed Up in the Air and Juno so he’s allowed the occasional miss (and boy did he ever).  But then again, so did dad who has actually made more sow’s ears than silk purses. My Super Ex-Girlfriend anyone? Father’s Day? Evolution? Legal Eagles?

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THE JERK DANCER FROM THE DANCE

3 Nov

George_Clooney-0508

 1. Ender’s Game/LGF                                    Wknd/$  28.0        Total/$  28.0

 2. Bad Grandpa/Paramount                        Wknd/$  20.5         Total/$  62.1

 3. Last Vegas/CBS                                          Wknd/$  16.5         Total/$  16.5

 4. Free Birds/Relativity                                 Wknd/$  16.2         Total/$  16.2

 5. Gravity/Warners                                        Wknd/$  13.1          Total/$ 219.2

 6. Captain Phillips/Sony                               Wknd/$    8.5         Total/$  82.6

 7. 12 Years A Slave                                          Wknd/$    4.6       Total/$    8.8

 8. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2     Wknd/$    4.2  Total/$106.2

 9. Carrie/SG                                                     Wknd/$    3.4        Total/$  32.0

10. The Counselor/Fox                                   Wknd/$    3.3        Total/$  13.4

 

HE’S A JERK AND HIS MOVIE LOOKS DULL

Ender’s Game opens at number one with a small amount of controversy. The author of the book it’s based upon, Orson Scott Card, is an anti-gay rights activist. He doesn’t just dislike homosexuals, he actively works to deny them rights. This separates him from your average jerk, because honestly if you wouldn’t go to see a film because a jerk was in it or wrote it or wrote the book it was based on you wouldn’t be able to see any movies, starting with George Clooney. Yeah, I know what you’re saying, “But he’s so perfect!”  Yeah, and he knows it. Self-satisfaction oozes from every pore of his body. Then there’s the little matter that, despite him having his choice of almost any woman in the world, he literally picks up 20-something cocktail waitresses.  That’s pretty jerky to me. And are we even going to pretend Madonna isn’t a total tool? Her marriage to Sean Penn probably didn’t last because they had daily jerk competitions.  But she’s a great pop star (I didn’t say musician) and he’s a great actor. The simple fact is you don’t have to be a nice person or even a decent human being to be good at your job. The question is can you separate the dancer from the dance as a consumer? In this case it’s actually the dancer once removed from the dance. The studio clearly doubts it as I’m sure they were doing damage control with all these little articles popping up last week pointing out that Card sees no profit from the film. He was paid once for the rights to this book and that was it. Clearly this was meant to make it okay for people who didn’t like his homophobia to see the film. There are only two problems with this: 1) if you see the film and like it you might buy the book so he makes money, and 2) if the film is successful the studio will buy the rights to those as well and he makes more money.  As for me, I learned long ago to separate the dancer from the dance (thanks for nothing, Woody Allen). I just didn’t like the way the film looked. “Kids in Space” is boring to begin with and the commercials and trailer basically show you him being special then winning. Where’s the hook?  That he’s going to win isn’t the question. That his journey to doing so looks fairly boring is. I mean, never thought Jaden Smith was going to die in After Earth, but I was fairly interested in him fighting for his life on a futuristic earth because he was shown to be a bit of screw up at first. And this was his test. Ender is special and gifted and then just proves it. Yawn.

 

NO MOVIE BUSINESS FOR OLD MEN

Bad Grandpa is down one notch to number two followed by Last Vegas opening at number three and let’s see what the jerk content is for this film.  Michael Douglas’ sex addiction is fairly well known not to mention the he openly casts younger women at his leading ladies and he blamed oral sex for his cancer.  Jerk.  Morgan Freeman was in a car accident, which revealed he was dating his step-granddaughter (top that, Woody Allen).  Creepy jerk.  However, none of these things had anything to do with me not seeing Last Vegas, which trotted out the trope of let’s laugh at those wacky old people.  “Old Hangover” was not on my list of plans this weekend and neither the trailer nor the commercial did anything to change that.  It doesn’t help that while we think of these actors as “older” we don’t think of them as “old men.”  It’s an irony that they look too good at their respective ages for this to really work.  What this needed was either more decrepit actors (like Cocoon) or younger straight men (and women) to not only offset their ages, but also play the straight man (and woman). Well that and actually be funny.

 

YES, I’D FRY UP BABE AND WILBUR IN A HEARTBEAT

Opening at number four, Free Birds kicks off the holiday movie season with the story of two turkeys that travel back in time to stop the turkey being the main dish of Thanksgiving. Yes, the plot of a children’s holiday film is to stop turkey genocide.  I’ll admit parts of the trailer did make me laugh, but the core of this film is very dark, because we know they have to fail and all the turkeys they meet in the past are going to die and be eaten.  It also gives personalities to the food we eat at the very time of year that we eat it!  Someone clearly didn’t think this through.  Needless to say I did and gave it a pass.   I’d say give me two turkeys on the run from being dinner and you might have had a film worth seeing, but honestly it’s problematic to ever connect funny cartoon animals with the actual place they occupy in our society as I’ll never choose them over a good meal.

 

MY SISTERS WOULD BE JUSTIFIABLY SUING ME

Gravity is down to number five and notice how I saw this despite thinking Clooney is a jerk. That’s how that works.  Also, Captain Phillips is down to number six and I, like most, think Tom Hanks is the nicest man in the world. Yet, I have not seen it. One has nothing to do with the other. But in a nice case of irony the real life crew thinks the real life Captain Phillips was a total jerk. So much so they’re suing him (if that’s a spoiler for you then you need to read more newspapers and see fewer movies). Yeah, it’s movie, guys. Not a documentary. And if we all sued jerks, we’d all in court on one side or the other.

 

BEST NAMED DIRECTOR IN THE WORLD

12 Years A Slave actually rises to number seven as its theater count increases and the Oscar race heats up.  I like every actor in it, yet I have not seen it. See? Dancer and Dance are separate. And yes, the director’s name is actually Steve McQueen.

 

BUT I’M GLAD THEY’RE ALL WORKING

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is down to number eight and the voices for the film are Bill Hader, Ana Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Terry Crews and Kristen Schaal.  All likable to me, yet I will never see this film. Dancer here, dance there.

 

BITE SIZED CANDY VS. CARRIE. ADVANTAGE BITE SIZED CANDY.

Carrie is down to number nine and you know people don’t want to see your horror film when you don’t make any money on Halloween.  This is the danger of remaking a film that’s too much at part of the culture. It’s impossible for Carrie to be scary because we know all that happens.  Even the shock ending of the first film is expected now.

 

BAD TASTE, WORST AFTERTASTE

Finally, The Counselor is down to number ten and as bad as I thought this film was a week ago, it’s even worse now. What makes it worse than say something like Transformers is that at least Transformers is trying to entertain you.  This is isn’t. This pretentious crap think it’s brilliant and is above such base concerns. This could have been some half decent film noir. People doing bad things that causes a bad result.  It even has the nerve to reference Body Heat! But rather than follow that excellent example, it wants you to take Cameron Diaz humping cars seriously.

SAINT HANKS

14 Oct

AmellWed_EW_Pic01

1. Gravity/Warners                                        Wknd/$  55.6            Total/$  21.5

 2. Captain Phillips/Sony                              Wknd/$  25.7            Total/$  25.7

 3. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2    Wknd/$  13.8            Total/$  77.6

 4. Machete Kills/ORF                                   Wknd/$    3.8            Total/$   3.8

 5. Runner Runner/Fox                                 Wknd/$    3.8            Total/$  14.2

 6. Prisoners/Warners                                    Wknd/$    3.6            Total/$  53.6

 7. Insidious 2/FD                                           Wknd/$    2.7            Total/$  78.5

 8. Rush/Universal                                          Wknd/$    2.4            Total/$  22.2

 9. Don Jon/Relativity                                    Wknd/$    2.4            Total/$  20.2

10. Baggage Claim/Fox                                   Wknd/$    2.0            Total/$   18.2

 

IN SPACE YOUR FLESH DOESN’T SAG AS MUCH

Gravity holds at number one and I made the joke about Clooney being onscreen with a woman his own age first, SNL! Well, my was a little different because theirs was you knew it was science fiction because there’s no way Clooney would talk that long to a woman his own age. Mine was that Clooney only agreed to do a film with a woman his own age because they promised him he’d never have to touch her.  I’m not giving anything way because it’s all in space. They’re not going to stop for a make out scene (though to hear the director talk about studio suggestions they would have if they could have). In fact they give more away in the first five minutes of dialogue, with some painfully hamfisted foreshadowing. And if you didn’t get it the first time, they do it again.  Seriously, it’s the only flaw in this otherwise great movie.

 

SPOILER: HE ESCAPES THE PIRATES ON WINGS OF GOLD!

Captain Phillips opens at number two and I know I’ll probably see this in the end, but I’ve just about had it with the nobility of Tom Hanks in movies. Yes, he may be the nicest guy on earth in real life (just ask Peter Scolari who’s probably in this somewhere) but it’s starting to wear out its welcome onscreen. At least Bruce Willis does comedies that slightly mock his action hero image. Where’s the movie that plays on Hanks’ saintly onscreen image?  I don’t need him to play a puppy kicking villain, but I swear I briefly saw a halo on the head this character in the trailer for this. Kinda limits the level of suspense.

 

FROM THE MAN WHO BROUGHT YOU THREE SPY KIDS MOVIES TOO MANY

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is down to number three, followed by Machete Kills opening at number four and this is a joke that’s gone too far. It was great as a fake trailer in the Grind House movie from Tarantino and Rodriguez a few years and that they made it into an actually movie was funny too, but now sequels?  Enough. They should just stick to make trailers for movies that don’t exist, because “Introducing Carlos Estevez” (that’s Charlie Sheen’s real name) maybe the funniest thing you’ll see all year. I doubt anything in the movie can top that so why try?

 

WATER SEEKS ITS OWN LEVEL OF EGOTISM

Runner Runner is down to number four and it makes sense that Justin Timberlake is in a movie with Ben Affleck as they share a similar inability to be satisfied with enormous success in one arena and insist on it in others.  Affleck, like Woody Allen before him, casts himself as the lead in his highly praised films, but unlike Allen wants to be a movie star in his own right. Um, you tried that once. How’d it work out for you?  Pretty sure that bad decisions like this one and the upcoming Superman vs. Batman are what made you seek out creative fulfillment in directing to begin with. Hey, maybe that’s the upside to all this. The more crappy films he makes as an actor the more good films he’ll make later as a director. So this is one…

 

HER MOM INTRODUCES HER THIS WAY

Prisoners is down to number six and I just realized that Oscar Winner Melissa Leo is in this partially because Oscar Winner Melissa Leo is just. that. damn. good.  You don’t know even know it’s her until you see the credits. Hugh Jackman, however, I recognized immediately.

 

COUNTDOWN TO A SITCOM IN 3, 2, 1

Insidious Chapter 2 is down to number seven followed by Rush at number eight and also in this is Olivia Wilde whose 15 minutes of being “The Hot Girl” are just about up as none of the films she’s been in have been a success including this one. Since House make her semi-famous it’s been In Time (another Justin Timberlake failure), Tron Legacy (not a flop, but not a great success either), Cowboys & Aliens (James Bond and Indiana Jones together couldn’t save this), The Change Up (with fellow box office curse, Ryan Reynolds), People Like Us (the new Captain Kirk was in this turd), Butter (along with Jennifer Garner who knows all about failing in movies), and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (no one wants to see Steve Carrell with a younger woman). I’m thinking she can join either Halle Berry or Meg Ryan in their new sitcoms, because if they have to do TV you know she does.  She’s basically a brunette Malin Akerman at this point, who’s currently failing in Trophy Wife.

 

IF CLEVER IS A BLADE, THIS IS A BUTTER KNIFE

Don Jon is down to number nine followed by Baggage Claim closing out the top ten at number ten and if you wonder how painfully lacking in genuine wit this romantic comedy is, know that there’s a character named Mr. Wright played by Derek Luke. Gee, think he gets the girl in the end? Over Taye Diggs no less!

 

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR CONTINUES

Teens with superpowers? Government trying to control and eliminate them? No, you’re not watching an X-Men show. It’s just a remake of a 70’s British show (which was remade previously in the 90’s so basically they do this every 20 years) also named The Tomorrow People, but why keep the stupid name if you’re just going to have characters within the show mock it (and deservedly so)? I have no idea if the original Brit show was so much like the X-Men comics (which came first) but this new American version isn’t pretending to the point I can’t believe they haven’t been sued. And the familiarity doesn’t stop there. If those cheekbones look familiar it’s because you just saw them on Arrow. This is Stephen Amell’s brother, Robbie, in the lead also noticeably lacking a shirt throughout the show. That the female lead looks like the made her from the DNA of Kristin Kreuk from Smallville is probably coincidental though (or not). It’s also about as smart as Arrow or Smallville though both shows proved it’s possible to be entertaining without a brain. Maybe this will be as well, but I won’t know. I stopped caring about the X-men after I left my teens because I no longer needed their metaphor for teen angst to comfort me so there’s no real attraction to a less interesting version of it. But points to them for actually filming in NYC and not trying to pass Toronto off as Manhattan. They must have been given some serious tax breaks to pull this off.

DEFYING GRAVITY

6 Oct

tayediggs

 

1. Gravity/Warners                                         Wknd/$  55.6            Total/$  21.5

 2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2    Wknd/$  21.5            Total/$  60.6

 3. Runner Runner/Fox                                 Wknd/$    7.6            Total/$   7.6

 4. Prisoners/Warners                                    Wknd/$    5.7            Total/$  47.9

 5. Rush/Universal                                          Wknd/$    4.4            Total/$  18.1

 6. Don Jon/Relativity                                    Wknd/$    4.2            Total/$   16.1

 7. Baggage Claim/Fox                                    Wknd/$    4.1            Total/$   15.2

 8. Insidious 2/FD                                           Wknd/$    3.9            Total/$  74.8

 9. Pulling Strings/LGF                                  Wknd/$    2.5            Total/$    2.5

10. Enough Said/Fox                                       Wknd/$    2.2           Total/$    5.4

 

WASTING NO TIME TO GET TO OSCAR

Gravity opens deservedly at number one and its 90-minute runtime should be a lesson to the studios in this time of year of bloated, overlong Oscar bait: less is more. It’s basically Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts struggling to survive in orbit in the wake of a space shuttle disaster (caused inadvertently by the Russians and given it destroys the space shuttle, the International Space Station and a Chinese space station, if they make it may just be to die in World War III).  Though it’s technically five hours, it’s essentially told in “real time” so we’re a party their decreasing air supply increasing the tension factor, not to mention the shrapnel that destroyed their mission continues to circle the earth, returning like an angry metal swarm intent on their destruction. I liked this movie so much I forgot I was even watching Sandra Bullock, whom I normally avoid like the plague.  She’s like a more talented, less-annoying Julia Roberts (seriously, if this had been Roberts I might not have seen it). This makes 2013 a great year for her between the success of The Heat and now this surefire Awards bait.  I almost feel bad for her given she can’t eat between now and the Oscars for all the gowns she’s going to have to fit into for the various award ceremonies she’ll have to attend.

 

SHUT UP AND SING.  AND DANCE. AND MAYBE SOME TV COMEDY.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is down to number two, followed by Runner, Runner opening at number four and someone needs to tell Justin Timberlake to just let this acting thing go. It is to him what music was to Eddie Murphy, one success (The Social Network for JT and “Party All The Time” with Eddie) leading to a lifetime of delusion and apparently outweighing all the many, many failures.  And when I say “lifetime of delusion” I mean Eddie made an album with Snoop Dogg just last year just as we have Runner Runner here now.  You’d think having a successful album and tour would help this movie out, but you’d be wrong, because no one is buying Justin Timberlake as being young enough to be in college, even grad school.  You’d think winning Oscars would help this movie out but you’d be wrong, because no one—and I mean no one—is buying Ben Affleck as some kind of ruthless mob boss.  You think they’re regretting some Batman casting over a Warner Brothers right now? Oh, I think so.

 

JUST NOTHING WITH A GREENSCREEN, KID

Prisoners is down to number four and its box office is begin to peter out as word of mouth gets around about how it only looks like a prestige film (big stars, very serious, overlong), but is really just a cable suspense thriller all dressed up.  I hope Jake Gyllenhaal made some quick deals for the hot second it looked like a hit before everyone realized the truth.

 

TO SEDUCE THE AVENGERS!

Rush is down to number five and also in this is Natalie Dormer whose own heat has been rising over the past few years and is about to hit a boil. She was Anne Boleyn on The Tudors a few years back, over the last year joined the cast of Game of Thrones and provided a nice twice on the Sherlock Holmes mythos as she was both Irene Adler and Moriarty on Elementary.  Not to mention she’s going to be in The Hunger Games. Hold on tight to your manager and or agent, girl. They are doing you right.  Trivia: here she appears as a nurse who hooks up with Chris Hemsworth who played Thor.  In Captain America she was a Lt. who grabs a kiss with Captain America.  All she needs now is an appearance in a Hulk and Iron Man movie to make out with Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. No, I’m not counting Hawkeye or The Black Widow.  Because I don’t want to, that’s why.

 

LET’S FORGET HE’S MOCKING THE WORKING CLASS TOO

Speaking of The Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson is the female love interest in Don Jon (down to number six) and not unexpectedly some Italian American groups have been complaining about yet another “guido” depiction in this film. I’m sympathetic because one thing that dampened my interest was a shot of Tony Danza and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt at dinner in white tank-top t-shirts, commonly known as “beaters” distastefully so because of the stereotypical image of an Italian guy beating his wife. It’d be one thing if Joseph Gordon-Leavitt was Italian American from Jersey and playfully mocking a life he knew, but he was raised Jewish in California so he’s just a cultural tourist.  Though this throws a new light on the other complaint of Johansson as stereotypical Jewish girl (not by any Jewish groups because apparently they had better things to do with their time). Unfortunately the problem with their complaint is that The Jersey Shore was real and he need only point to it as his defense—and clearly the source of his information.

 

THE RULES OF MANCRUSHERY

Baggage Claim is down to number seven and if Taye Diggs had been the love interest you know I’d probably have seen it twice by now, such is my mancrush. But alas, he’s a silly suitor with a toy dog, so it can wait until cable.  Him not getting the girl is right behind him dying on my list of things I don’t want to see. You shut up! I don’t have a problem! You’ve got a problem!

 

ALSO ONE OF HANNAH’S SISTERS

Insidious Chapter 2 is down to number eight and also in this is none other than Barbara Hershey, who was a “hot girl” from the early 70’s (when in fully hippie mode she went by Barbara Seagull) to the early 80’s.  Scorsese himself loved her.  Directing her first as the title character of Boxcar Bertha and later choosing her to play Mary Magdalene in The Last Temptation of Christ. But out of a near 50-year career she’s probably best known as the unnamed woman who shoots Robert Redford in The Natural. Even over Beaches. Yes, she was character not played by Bette Midler who was the “wind” Midler sings of in “Wind Beneath My Wings” a song that mercifully didn’t seem to make it into the 21st century.

 

MAS EXITO PARA SEGUIR

Remember that Mexican film that was an unexpected success because it was aimed squarely at an audience otherwise ignored? Well, it was just the beginning because here’s the next one. Opening at number nine is Pulling Strings, a romantic comedy about an American blonde in Mexico who needs the help of the mariachi singer she denied a visa too when she loses her boss’ suitcase after a drunken night out.  Again, it looks like a Lifetime movie that escaped to the big screen, but being as much in English as it is in Spanish, it reflects its underappreciated audience and they have rewarded it with success.

 

MY FAILINGS ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

Enough Said, one of the last films of James Gandolfini, expands its distribution and enters the top ten at number ten and I’ve got no reason not to have seen this as Nicole Holofcener is one of my favorite writer/directors. I’ve been with her since Walking & Talking in 1996, her first collaboration with Catherine Keener who appears in all her films and this is no exception. So that’s two strikes against me as I’m a Catherine Keener fan too. Sigh.  I blame society for my failure.

 

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR PT 3

The fall season continues to rollout and this week it was Ironside, a revamp of the old Raymond Burr series and as bad as it looked in commericals, it’s actually even worse as the producers are soooo determined to show he’s a tough, sexy cop what they’ve made is a completely ridiculous asshole who should be in jail. I don’t think we go more than five minutes before his scolding captain tells him “Suspects have rights.”  You know, because he’s a tough cop who plays by his own rules, but he gets results! It’s a bad TV cop cliché factory complete with his team of pretty detectives, none of whom dress like detectives.  Of course one comes from an upper class family, another comes from a mob family etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.  It’s so bad they don’t even use the best part of the original: the theme music by Quincy Jones, best known now as the revenge music in Kill Bill…We Are Men is another awful, awful show but you know that when you saw Jerry O’Connell’s name. It’s about four divorced men in a singles complex. Yeah. It clearly thinks it’s 1977.  And I love you, Tony Shaloub, but any show that has you successfully picking up hot, 26-year-old Asian girls had better have robots and dragons because it’s clearly science fiction/fantasy…I couldn’t bear more than two seconds of Super Fun Night because a) what kind of stupid show has Rebel Wilson without her accent and b) it’s basically about her being fat and getting her clothes ripped off.  No thanks…I unexpected enjoyed MasterChef (which I recapped) and was looking forward to MasterChef Jr, but it’s heartbreaking to watch children get eliminated.  When the first thing one boy did was to go and hug his mother I stopped the show and took it off my DVR scheduling. Just can’t do it.  I’ll be crying every week.