1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony/Columbia, 4,001 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated PG): It’s not often that a 30-year-old children’s book gets adapted as a film. It’s even less often when that film ends up getting a sequel. But that’s what happens this week.
The original Cloudy didn’t actually adapt the original book word for word. The book was a grandfather telling his grandkids a tall tale about a town that rained food. The film was about a scientist who came up with a machine that could turn water into food. Similar yet different.
Don’t expect any similarities between the film’s sequel and the book’s sequel (yes, the book did have a follow up). The book deals with the grandkids dreaming they were helping clean up the city their grandfather spoke about. This film deals with the machine coming back to life and creating a world with sentient food stuffs.
2. Don Jon (Relativity, 2, 422 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R): You have to admire Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s easy to forget that he was once a child actor, Hollywood career paths that start there often end in rehab, the criminal courts or the morgue. He rose all above that and worked hard building a respectable career for himself.
Now, finally, he has made his feature debut as a writer and director (he had done a number of short subjects before) with an offering, in my opinion, is the best bet of the weekend. And the scary part is that he’s only 32. There is no limit to where he could go.
The film centers on an Internet porn addict (Gordon-Levitt) whose viewing habits interfere with him starting a real relationship with a flesh-and-blood woman (Scarlett Johansson).
3. Rush (Universal, Opening in wide release–2,297 Theaters,123 Minutes, Rated R): To be honest, when I first saw the trailer for this film, I thought to myself, “Hey, that guy from Spin City is getting more work!” But it wasn’t Alexander Chaplin playing Niki Lauda, but Spanish actor Daniel Brühl. Don’t know why I told you that. Anyway.
This film, which is entering wide release on Friday, is about the vicious rivalry between Lauda and his main nemesis James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, who must have it in his contract that all of his films have to be released in clumps only weeks away from one another) on the 1970s Formula 1 circuit.
Of course, Formula 1 racing isn’t exactly the most popular sports in the U.S., so it’s doubtful that anyone remembers this rivalry, let alone cares. I don’t know how that will translate at the box office.
4. Baggage Claim (Fox Searchlight, 2,026 Theaters, 96 Minutes, Rated PG-13): I’m not a big fan of modern movie romances. And because I’m a guy and EW! GIRLY STUFF! ICK! ICK! EW!. But for reasons this film typifies.
First off, the protagonists typically are unbelievably beautiful women and men who, if this were real life, would have no lack of suitors lined up. Here we have Paula Patton. She is gorgeous. There should be a line out the door waiting just to have coffee with her. But in this film, she is a woman in danger of becoming the oldest woman of her family never to be married.
Second, these films are high concept to the point of absurdity. To find a suitor, Patton’s character doesn’t go on Match.com or to the local speed dating club. No, fight attendant Patton has her friends at the airline arrange for her to be on the same flight with her ex-boyfriends over the span of a month so she can rekindle a flame. Possibly. The logistics itself makes it laughably ridiculous, but the coincidence that her exes will all be flying on the airline she works for several times in the same month is absurd. And pity the other passengers. They won’t get their bag of peanuts because she is making goo-goo eyes at one of her cast offs.