1. The Nut Job (Open Road Films, 3,427 Theaters, 86 Minutes, Rated PG): There is a real hierarchy to the computer animated film, and it keep getting bigger and bigger every day. You have Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney at the top, and a whole pecking order below it. And the further and further away you get from this highest heights, the less famous the voice actors are, the dumber the jokes are, and the worse the stories become.
Where does this film fit in? Let’s see. It’s voice cast includes Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, and Katherine Heigl. Not exactly A-list.
Its plot? A bunch of squirrels decide to break in to a nut shop and steal the merchandise when their stores are accidentally destroyed. Just the message you want to send to your kids.
The jokes? According to reviews, every “nut” joke imaginable. So, yeah, this is pretty far down on the totem pole. Take your kids to see Frozen again instead.
2. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Paramount, 3,387 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Chris Pine becomes the fourth person to play Jack Ryan (after Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, big shoes to fill) and enters what he hopes will be he second Paramount franchise (after Star Trek, of course).
Tom Clancy’s character is due for a comeback. But, a cause for concern, not only is the film not based on a Clancy novel, it was a plot for an entirely different film that was shoehorned into becoming a Ryan film.
Judging from the previews, the film seems to tackle the fish-out-of-water/in-over-his-head aspects of the Ryan character. And it’s not like they can go back and remake The Hunt for Red October in today’s political climate. We’ll see if the new direction will bring fans in.
3. Ride Along (Universal, 2,662 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Remember back 26 years ago (yes, 26 years!) when an angry young Ice Cube was a member of the rap group N.W.A.? Remember the controversial song they had about the police? Remember what they recommended people did regarding the cops? Here’s a hint: the word rhymed with “cluck.”
Now, here’s Cube, playing a cop on film. I wonder what the 19-year old Cube who sang on the track would say if someone brought him to the future and had him look at his future self. Would he marvel on how much he matured,or would he think old Cube sold out?
Anyway, this film is about a man who is marrying the sister of a hard as nails cop. To prove his worth, he must ride along with the cop on one of his shifts. I’m sure it happens all the time.
4. Devil’s Due (Fox, 2,543 Theaters, 89 Minutes, Rated R): First off, let me just say that I consider any “Satan’s Baby” movie after Rosemary’s Baby to be superfluous. There is little you can do to compare to that masterwork, and shooting a film “found footage” style will not do it.
That being said, it’s easy to see why people go back to it so often. When you think about it, having something living inside you, stretching and moving, for nine months is creepy in and of itself. But the idea that something that is so innocent can be wholly and completely evil is a jarring thing to think about.
The trailer did have some creepy/scary moments and the film follows two of my basic rules of horror films: it’s short and it’s R-rated. So, while it can’t compete with the master, it might not be so bad in and of itself.