This Week’s Theatrical Releases

1. Superhero Movie (2,960 Theaters, 85 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Uh, is this movie really necessary? I mean, maybe before Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans came around, there was a chance that they superhero film genre was in need of parody. But, even though they both were awful, they did parody a lot of what might be parodied here.

There was a brief time when the Zuckers, the creative minds behind the Airplane movies, were attached to this film. If anybody can bring something new to the drama, they could. But, unfortunate, the film is helmed by the most dreaded phrase in modern day cinema—one of the writers of Scary Movie.

Which one? Apparently, it’s the writer who wrote the scene in the third one aping the Matrix with Eddie Griffin playing a Morpheus-like being yelled at by his wife. Only this time around, it’s Tracy Morgan as Professor X being yelled at by Mrs. X. I guess that guy really thinks it’s funny when black women yell at black bald men.

2. 21 (2,649 Theaters, 123 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Whenever I see the trailer for this film (and, frankly, how could you miss it?), I am humored by the attempts of Jim Sturgess on putting on an American accent. Most of the time when Brits like Sturgess try to sound American, they end up sounding stiff or laconic. The only notable exception is Hugh Laurie from House, his accent is seemless/ But Sturgess sounds a bit like Keanu on Quaaludes. I mean, if I need $300,000 to stay in school, my voice would show a little more emotion.

Another reason why this flick is not high on the list of films I want to see this weekend is the liberties it takes with the original story. It is “inspired by the true story” found in the pages of Bringing Down the House. I haven’t read it, but my wife has, and I trust her when she says that it is a story about a group of MIT students recruited by a retired professor who develop a method to win at blackjack by counting cards. They have a successful run before the casino got wise. Tensions rose and the team broke up.

The movie, being Hollywood-ized, is about a group of MIT students recruited by THEIR CURRENT MATH PROFESSOR who develop a method to win at blackjack by counting cards. They have a successful run WHERE THEY LIVED LIKE ROCK STARS AND HAD SEX WITH EACH OTHER IN DELUXE HOTEL ROOMS OVER LOOKING THE VEGAS STRIP before the casino got wise AND TOOK THEM INTO THE BASEMENT AND BEAT THEM ALL UP. Tensions rose AS CERTAIN TEAM MEMBER GOT COCKY AND WONDERED WHY THEY NEEDED THE PROFESSOR AFTER ALL.

The original story, as it was, was good enough to make that book a best seller. But I guess it just wasn’t exciting enough for Hollywood.

3. Stop-Loss (1,291 Theaters, 113 Minutes, Rated R): I think the lead time on movie production has just about caught up with box office grosses, so this might just be one of the last movies about the Iraq War. This was probably already in the works when the disappointing grosses for films like Rendition and Lions for Lambs started rolling in.

Why do American audiences not want to see films about the Iraq War or the War on Terrorism? Is the US that conservative that it has an aversion to anything critical of those conflicts? Or is it general apathy? Do we know that the war in the gulf is bad, and don’t really want to pay $10 to be reminded of it for two hours?

And this movie doesn’t seem to be the one to change the tide. It deals with the military practice of keeping soldiers active in the military past their discharge date if military need arises. This means that soldiers who have already done a tour of duty in Iraq, and all the horrors that entails, are being forced right back over there.

Is this practice awful? Yes. So, people probably will not want to see a movie about it.

4. Run Fatboy Run (1,133 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): I really like Simon Pegg. I had the chance to re-watch Shaun of the Dead recently, and man, he is really a skilled comedian. He’s the kind of guy who can get a laugh with only just a well placed facial expression. And that’s a talent.

So, when I saw the trailer for this movie last year, I made note of it as a “must see”. Pegg co-wrote the film with Michael Ian Black, best known for being a member of The State. How these two got together is beyond me, but only good can come of it.

Pegg plays a man who left his pregnant girlfriend at the altar. Now, years later, she is about to marry another man with a penchant for running marathons (The underrated Hank Azaria). Pegg begins training for the marathon himself in an effort to win her back.

The only question is the director. This is Friends’ alum David Schwimmer’s first feature film. He does have some TV credits under his belt, but movies are a different thing entirely. But, seriously, the movie is written by Simon Pegg and Michael Ian Black. Even I could probably direct it and it turn out okay.

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About William Gatevackes 1938 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.
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Jason Sherry
Jason Sherry
April 1, 2008 10:47 am

Is it just me, or has Hollywood lost sight of what actually makes a good parody work? Unfortunately, I blame the greatest of the modern film parodists, Mel Brooks, for helming this downwards trend. Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie, and the Airplane series had it right, but the Austin Powers films and Shaun of the Dead are the only modern films I can think of that do: parody a GENRE, not a film. Superhero Movie (or at least the trailer) plays like nothing more than a Youtube video in which some high school kids spoof Spiderman. And there’s the distinction –… Read more »

Rich D
Rich D
April 1, 2008 11:44 am

Some good points there, Jason. Though you neglected to mention Simon Pegg’s other great genre parody- HOT FUZZ. If you haven’t seen it, think of an Agatha Christie nystery filtered through the sensibilities of a 1980s Joel Silver buddy-cop film.

(And yes, MAD still publishes. The NY Times just had an interview this past Sunday with Fold-In creator Al Jaffe, whose still producing the feature every month for the past 44 years at age 87!)

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