New Releases: August 20

1. Nanny McPhee Returns (Universal, 2,783 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated PG): Wow. It’s like an end of summer sale in the cineplexes this week. “All movies must be released, every film must go! We got to make room for our fall models, and we’re passing the films on to you!”

I am woefully unfamiliar with the Nurse Matilda line of book which the first Nanny McPhee was based on, although I imagine that’s because I grew up in the U.S. and not the U.K.

The film seems to obviously be a labor of love for Emma Thompson, who starred and wrote both movies. And it is probably due to her influence that A-list stars such as Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor agree to fill out the cast.

But the concept just seems cold to me. It skews a little too close to Mary Poppins for me, so I really can’t get into it. But since the first film did well enough to garner a sequel, so I guess I am in the minority on this one.

2. Piranha 3D (Weinstein/Dimension, 2,470 Theaters, 89 Minutes, Rated R): This film I feel very positive about. It features a cast that consists of Oscar winners, Oscar nominees, Emmy winners, Golden Globe winners, stand-up comedians, ex-porn stars, hot actors from popular TV shows, horror directors and the grandson of Steve McQueen.

The directors of the last two Piranha films, maybe you heard of them–Joe Dante and James Cameron–were offered cameos but couldn’t do them. Not only is it a remake of a film that shamelessly rips off Jaws, it rips of Jaws itself by casting Richard Dreyfuss in a take off of his Jaws character (only this time, he gets eaten). How can you not like this film?

The plot, as if you really need one, is that an underwater earthquake releases giant prehistoric piranha into a lake resort region. A band of strangers must team up to stop them before the entire town becomes lunch.

3. The Switch (Miramax, 2,012 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): This film has a lot going for it. I love Jennifer Aniston. I like Jason Bateman. I like a lot of other actors in the film. But it just leaves me cold.

I think it all comes down to the premise. Aniston plays a 40-year-old woman who decides to go the Turkey Baster-route to have a baby. During an “insemination party”, her jilted male best friend (Bateman), jealous for not being asked to be the donor, switches the donor sperm with his own.

I’m not saying you can’t get pregnant by using a turkey baster. I’m sure that it is possible. But for this film to work, Aniston has to have a big party for all her friends the night she’s going to stick the turkey baster in–so to speak–and have the donor make the donation at the party so that Bateman can switch his out, because I’m fairly certain that semen doesn’t have all that long of a shelf life. And this kind of donation would have to work the first time out, which is a hit or miss proposition to begin start out with. This is stretching possibility to the breaking point, farther out than I am willing to go along with.

Sometimes high concepts need a little more thought before they are presented.

And I can’t believe I actually wrote the word “semen” on this site. I really can’t.

4. The Lottery Ticket (Warner Brothers. 1,973 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated PG-13): This films has an interesting cast, a unique premise, and a pretty firm demographic to call its own this weekend. But I don’t know if that will be enough to call it a good film.

A young man wins $370 Million in the lottery on a Friday, but cannot cash the ticket in until Tuesday due to a holiday weekend. During the weekend, word gets out of his winnings and his neighbors start to canjole, guilt, seduce and threaten the money out of him.

Which is a premise that seems like it could have a lot of potential. But, really, some of the bits seem far fetched. Really, if someone threatens to beat you up if you don’t hand over the winning ticket, call the cops on him.

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About William Gatevackes 1933 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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