Tag Archives: Jason Bateman

IT’S STUMBLING TIME!

10 Aug

Rebecca-Ferguson1
1. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation     Wknd/$ 29.4    Total/$ 108.7
2. Fantastic Four/Fox                                 Wknd/$ 26.2   Total/$ 26.2
3. The Gift/STX                                            Wknd/$ 12.0    Total/$ 12.0
4. Vacation/WB                                            Wknd/$ 9.1      Total/$ 37.3
5. Ant-Man/Disney                                     Wknd/$ 7.8       Total/$ 147.4
6. Minions/Universal                                  Wknd/$ 7.4      Total/$ 302.4
7. Ricki & The Flash/TriStar                      Wknd/$ 7.0      Total/$ 7.0
9. Pixels/Sony                                               Wknd/$ 5.4      Total/$ 57.6
8. Trainwreck/Universal                            Wknd/$ 6.3      Total/$ 91.1
10. Southpaw/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 4.8      Total/$ 40.7

THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL ACTION CAREER
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation holds the number one spot and as the woman who finally gets to be as badass as Tom Cruise is Rebecca Ferguson. It’s okay if you’ve never heard of her. Her two biggest claims to fame before this were The White Queen mini-series and last summer’s flop, Hercules. What’s funny, sad and little bit weird is that she looks a lot like Michelle Monaghan, who played Cruise’s fiancée in Mission Impossible III. I suppose it would have been a bit much to ask that she’d become a super-agent riding bikes and kicking ass alongside him, but it was 9 years ago. A decade’s enough time to develop some secret agent skills, right? But I guess Cruise was adamant that his leading lady always be under 35 and Monaghan has aged out. Ferguson’s character is named Ilsa in this and yes, they do go to Casablanca (Ferguson was even born in Stockholm like Ingrid Bergman). When Cruise arrives she even asks him, “What brings you to Casablanca?” And he doesn’t reply “The waters.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GO THERE WHY DID YOU CALL HER ILSA AND GO TO CASABLANCA!?! Some may respect the movie for not going for the easy reference. I am not one of those people. You go all the way or you don’t go at all!

THE FANTASTIC FOURTH FAILURE
The Fantastic Four reboot opens poorly at number two and let me say right out that this is not a bad movie, certainly nowhere near the level warranting the drubbing it’s getting on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s not a Transformers or Adam Sandler movie, which open insults your intelligence with the laziness of the filmmakers. It’s just not a good movie and is so clearly misguided and a waste of time, money and energy it just makes you angry. But this was a disaster from the word “go.” Even before Josh Trank had been brought on Fox made it clear they wanted to go “dark” with this because The Dark Knight made a billion dollars and for some reason they thought that was the key. Never mind that the bright and shiny Marvel movies were making money hand-over-fist, they wanted billions with a “B”, not millions with an “M.” Trank was the second mistake because he too couldn’t see how utterly ridiculous it was to try and go dark with characters named Mr. Fantastic and The Human Torch. He’d done well with Chronicle which was a similar story about people encountering something other-worldly and developing superpowers and it was on the darker side so he must have seemed like a perfect fit to them. The final mistake was basing this adaptation the 21st Century revision of the Fantastic Four known as Ultimate Fantastic Four. Marvel Comics did it with all their characters with mixed levels of success. Elements of the Ultimate universe have been used in other Marvel-based films (Nick Fury looking like Samuel L. Jackson, Captain America having super strength) but for the most part they remained loyal to the 60’s originals. Clearly that’s another lesson Fox chose to ignore, but honestly this was more an effort merely to hold onto the licensing than make a good movie. It’s the reason Sony made the two disappointing Amazing Spider-Man movies and Man of Steel was made (both also stupidly chose to go darker with lighter characters). They had a deadline to get something, anything out there and all paid a price creatively for it. This is why Fox had no problem slicing the budget later resulting in the loss of all the action films this film desperately needed, as now it’s just a boring pilot about four already sad people (Mr. Fantastic can’t related to his parents, The Thing’s household is abusive from parent to siblings, The Invisible Woman’s behavior borders on autism and The Human Torch has daddy issues) who get transformed and become even sadder superheroes. It’s dull, boring, sad and absolutely nothing anyone anywhere wants from a superhero movie (even the odious Man of Steel had action). But hey, Fox gets to keep the property for a third try, which ironically is exactly why Canon films made the first FF movie back in 1994. Let me put it this way: this is the only Marvel film of the last decade to have no Stan Lee cameo.

I MAINTAIN I WAS A LOVABLE GEEK
The Gift opens at number three and it’s good to see the Fatal Attraction formula of “relationship crosses over to crazy” is still around. In this case it’s that weird kid from high school who thinks now as adults you can finally be friends. Personally, I can’t relate as I didn’t keep up with the actual friends I did have and blew off basically everyone who tried to reconnect. Apparently Jason does the latter a little too late and pays the price. And apparently he did something to the guy in high school that somewhat warrants this. Makes sense as the persona Bateman has in movies, while generally sympathetic, could easily be that smug prick we all knew…or were. You can prove nothing.

CHEVY CHASE: BRINGING DOWN THOSE AROUND HIM SINCE THE 80’S
Vacation is down to number four and I’m happy to see Christina Applegate working but she needs to choose better than this (I still rue the day I sat through The Sweetest Thing). Her short-living series Samantha Who would have made a great movie. The story of an evil bitch who develops amnesia and a personality reversal after being deliberately run over by one of the many people she wronged on a daily basis is still a very funny idea. And it’s not just her who’s wasted. You’ve seen Charlie Day, Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus and Keegan-Michael Key (of Key and Peele), Nick Kroll and Michael Pena in better things. In fact, Pena is in Ant-Man (following at number five) and is nothing but funny (despite the racism) so he at least has something to counteract this on his resume. See, unlike The Fantastic Four reboot, Ant-Man accepted that a guy who shrinks and then controls ants is a little silly, but nonetheless doesn’t hold the idea in such contempt all sense of fun has to be abandoned.

THIS IS WHY SHE CHOSE JESSIE OVER YOU
Minions is down to number six, followed by Ricki and the Flash opening at number seven and while I love Meryl Streep, love Rick Springfield, love director Jonathan Demme and have a passing affection for screenwriter Diablo Cody, this left me cold. The trailer looks like one of the old Touchstone trailers from the 80’s which you know would have just enough risqué behavior and language to get a PG13, but never crossing the line on any level to make you uncomfortable. So while this is ostensibly about a woman who abandoned her family to chase a dream and never looked back, you just know she’s never going to be depicted too harshly, nor will there be anything short of a happy ending. In short, it’s yet another Lifetime Movie that escaped into the theaters. Rick Springfield continues his inability to launch a proper acting career, even with Meryl Streep by his side (he turned down The Right Stuff while accepting Hard to Hold even though he knew it sucked). Even hopping onboard the True Detective didn’t work as the second season has been widely panned. Oh, Ricky…

SORRY, JUST CAN’T BE HAPPY FOR ANY BRUTHA DOIN’ ANYTHING
Trainwreck is down to number eight, followed by Pixels at number nine with Southpaw closing out the top ten at number ten and this was directed by Antoine Fuqua, who despite his repeated attempts is just not a gritty director. You get the feeling he wants to evoke some 70’s Sidney Lumet era filmmaking but he’s simply too slick and his films reflect it. He got lucky with Training Day, but is better at delivering glossy, slightly inept action films like The Equalizer, Shooter, Olympus Has Fallen and my personal favorite The Replacement Killers. You know, shit that’s fun to watch at 1:00 am on cable. His attempts to be “real” result flops like Tears of the Sun, Brooklyn’s Finest and now this. I don’t think I need to tell you he comes from music videos.

 

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FAILING LIKE A BOSS

1 Dec

hemsworths 1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.1   Wknd/$ 56.9   Total/$ 225.7
2. Penguins of Madagascar/Fox                Wknd/$ 25.8   Total/$ 36.0
3. Big Hero 6/Disney                                   Wknd/$ 18.8   Total/$ 167.2
4. Interstellar/Paramount                          Wknd/$ 15.8    Total/$ 147.1
5. Horrible Bosses 2/WB                             Wknd/$ 15.7    Total/$ 23.0
6. Dumb and Dumber To/Universal         Wknd/$ 8.3     Total/$ 72.2
7.The Theory of Everything/Focus            Wknd/$ 5.1      Total/$ 9.6
8. Gone Girl/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 2.5      Total/$ 160.8
9. Birdman/FoxS                                           Wknd/$ 1.9      Total/$ 17.2
10. St. Vincent/Weinstein                            Wknd/$ 1.8      Total/$ 36.6

OWEN AND LUKE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Pt 1 holds the stop spot and also in this is the other Hemsworth, Liam. So that’s two brothers with major franchises (there’s a third brother, but he ain’t pretty so I hope he has modest goals). The difference being this one is coming to an end and there’s no separate franchise for him for this character. He’s gonna have to go out and get a job. He was in the first Expendables movie, but was killed off almost immediately, but given how that crashed an burned by actually trying to go younger he may have dodged a bullet there, not to mention enjoying the sweet taste of schadenfreude. It’s never too early in you career to take a swig.

WHADDYA KNOW? THE THIRD TIME WAS THE CHARM.
Penguins of Madagascar opens at number two and I hated Madagascar. It was typical, uninspired DreamWorks product, which means all cute surface with celebrity voices and ultimately neither heart nor soul. The best parts of it were the Penguins, who were manic and inspired in a way no other part of the film was. While I refused to put myself through the sequel just to see them again I did wind up getting trapped on a bus where Madagascar 3 was playing…and I have to admit I found it delightfully silly and irreverent in away the previous film (and probably its sequel had lacked). Wondering why, I checked the credits and found a noticeable difference. Co-writer and co-director Tom McGrath was no longer writing and instead the duties had gone to none other than indie darling, Noah Baumbach. Also added as a director was Conrad Vernon. I think that makes it clear who was the problem because Eric Darnell, who has been co-director on every film is still here, neither he nor McGrath is credited as writer, which is the other clear problem. No, it doesn’t get nearly as weird as Madagascar 3 (I’m gonna say it once: cross-dressing tiny dogs with Cockney accents), and now they are burdened with teaching a lesson about love and family which normally fell to the other characters, but it is still as frantic and as irreverent in the way that made the Penguins the best part of every movie. Let me put it his way: Warner Herzog shows up as a voice here. You can’t get more irreverent than freaking Warner Herzog voicing a kids animated film. That they even reached out to him says it all. No, it’s not Pixar but not everything can be steak. Sometimes you just want a good burger and this is a good burger.

I’VE A YEN TO SEE HOW IT DOES? GET IT?
Big Hero 6 is down to number three and much in the way the Asian returns saved Pacific Rim, I’m dying to see how this does in China and Japan given its primary characters and overall subject matter. We may like robots here, but they love them over there. Not to mention Kung Fu Panda did well in China to the point they were complaining why the idea hadn’t come to them first. And the only place Kung Fu Panda 2 did better than the US was China. Not that it’s doing badly here. It’s actually doing better than Wreck-It Ralph did two years ago and has already made budget in the US.

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!
Speaking of international returns, Interstellar is up to almost $400M overseas. Now, this used to be impressive until I learned that studios never receive more than 40% of overseas profits and sometimes as low as 14% so what still matters most is its domestic take…where it has yet to make its $165M budget (not counting prints and advertising) and every week there’s a new article slamming it. The latest is when to take your bathroom breaks. Here’s my advice: don’t go at all and watch it at home where you can stop it anytime you like. But now that it’s been out a month I think we can talk about the third act where it gets really, really stupid, as opposed to the first two acts which were just stupid. Now, Nolan’s been open about how 2001: A Space Odyssey was the biggest influence on this and nowhere is it more obvious (aside from being overlong) than when a character freaks out and starts killing people. In 2001 it was the computer, HAL, who reacted to being given conflicting orders with homicide (or so it was explained in 2010, which I won’t apologize for enjoying). Here it’s secret guest star, Matt Damon as one of the earlier scientists, who reacts to being sent to a dead world by basically trying to kill everyone who rescues him. His plan to kill everyone then take the ship back home makes no sense but I’m going to let it go because he’s clearly been driven insane by his ordeal. Besides, the real point of it is to prove that “love” is what makes the universe work. All the B.S. about hard science being used is just that, because the planet where Anne Hathaway’s boyfriend has landed, the one Matthew McConughey chooses not go to is the inhabitable one. If they’d followed her heart rather than logic, then they could have avoided Good Will Hunting Humans. Man, I dislike this movie more every time I have to think about it.

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING
Speaking of wasting my time, Horrible Bosses 2 opens at number five and this is actually too good for it. Committing the age-old sequel sin of missing just what made the first film work (beyond it being shamelessly derivative of The Hangover characters by the same writers) which the Horrible Bosses of the title. Here the previously tormented characters are the bosses so the basic concept has been thrown out the window and all you have left is the riffing between Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis and Charlie Day, which was fine as a part of the film, but here as the meat it gets really annoying really fast. It’s telling that the best parts about the film are the only two horrible bosses back for the sequel, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Anniston (obviously Colin Farrell couldn’t make it because Kevin Spacey killed him in the first one). Maybe if they’d been allowed to actually be under the thumb of Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine (who clearly relish being horrible as much as the previous bosses did) for awhile there might have been something, but as Kevin Spacey points out, by stupidly getting screwed over by Waltz, they are actually the horrible bosses now. And honestly why are they bosses? With Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell gone, two of the three characters should now have good jobs. I guarantee you I just thought about this more than anyone involved in this film did.

THE OTHERS
Dumb and Dumber To is down to number six, followed by The Theory of Everything rising to number seven and Gone Girl Down to number eight.

MY SHAME
Holding at number nine is Birdman and I’m now embarrassed not to have seen it when I’m clearly making time to see crap like Horrible Bosses 2…and Interstellar.

HELPING A BRUTHA OUT
Finally, St. Vincent is down to number ten and also in this is Terrence Howard and one of the producers of this is Don Cheadle. This may seem like nothing, but I’m smelling a little guilt from Cheadle over taking over the role of War Machine in Iron Man 2 which has not only lead to Iron Man 3, but he’s also going to be in Avengers: Age of Ultron and since Iron Man will be in the third Captain America film he might show up there too. All this could have and should have been Terrence Howard who is still the better Rhodey to me. Howard has said he’s not angry with Cheadle because Cheadle also got him into Crash. Hell, I’d say that means Cheadle owes him twice as much. I think Don agrees.

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