1. Killing Them Softly (Weinstein Company, 2,424 Theaters, 97 Minutes, Rated R): A gangster film that’s a parable for the world economic crisis? That’s something you don’t see everyday.
This film is an adaptation of the 1974 novel Cogan’s Trade. Three men come up with a brilliant idea. They’re going to steal money from a illegal card game. One problem: that card game is fronted by the Mob and the Mob needs the money the guys stole in order to run their operation. So they send Jackie Cogan out to get the money back so they can get back to good financial standing.
Brad Pitt is usually good in these kind of crime capers, and considering the other option this week, this film might be the best bet.
2. The Collection (LD Entertainment, 1,403 Theaters, 82 Minutes, Rated R): 2009′s The Collector had an fairly unique premise: a man intending to rob the house of a rich family stumbles upon a psychotic who is holding the family captive and has booby trapped the house. The thief is forced to try and save the family he was trying to rob.
It was so unique that it doesn’t really lend itself to a sequel. It’s not like the same thief can rob the same house that has been invaded by the same psycho.
The producers think they have figured a way around this. The Collector has capture another victim, the daughter of a wealthy man. The wealthy man hire mercenaries to go get her back. The first thing the mercenaries do is kidnap someone with experience with the Collector–the thief from the first movie.
1. Paranormal Activity 4 (Paramount, 3,412 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated R): The problem with horror franchises is that the powers that be take the franchises just a bit too far. Usually, by the time a fourth installment is offered, the franchise has jumped the shark.
There are, of course, exceptions, but that is pretty much the rule. And this week, the Paranormal Activity franchise enters the fourth film of the franchise. Be afraid, be very afraid.
And, quite frankly, it’s amazing this concept was able to be stretched to four installments. The first was a rather unique “found footage” of a house possessed by demons and the homicidal effect it had on the women who lived there. The second follows the homicidal woman to her sisters house for more homicide, and the third features the sisters as children showing that the demons might have gotten an earlier start than anyone could have imagined. Now, in this one, the homicidal, possibly demonically possessed woman and the nephew she stole from her sister move in next door to a new family. Enough already.
2. Alex Cross (Summit Entertainment, 2,539 Theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Is guess being a renowned playwright, screenwriter and director wasn’t enough for Tyler Perry. And dressing up in drag and having “take-you-out-of-the-film” cameos in sci-fi reboots didn’t stretch his acting muscles quite enough. Because Perry is back in movie theaters this week, in a film he didn’t write or direct, purely as an actor.
He plays the title role in this film, and if the name sounds familiar to you, then either you are a fan of James Patterson’s writing or perhaps saw Kiss The Girls or Along Came A Spider. Because the character appeared in those films as well.
Only difference is that in those films, the character was portrayed by Morgan Freeman. Granted, I am not a big Tyler Perry fan, but I don’t know how anybody can’t think of that as a major step down.
1. The Other Guys (Sony/Columbia, 3,651 Theaters, 107 Minutes, Rated PG-13): First off, I might be alone in saying this, but I’d probably be first in line for a cop buddy movie starring Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson. I just thought I’d say that.
That pair plays a hot-shot police unit that Mark Wahlberg’s character aspires to be. Unfortunately, he accidentally shoots Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, which places him on the police Z-list, partnered with nebbishy Will Ferrell.
It seems like a concept that could work. It is another entry in the Ferrell/Adam McKay union, and I have liked pretty much every other film they made (although they are an acquired taste). And this film has Michael Keaton in it! He is one of my favorite actors and not seen as often as he should be. This film is on my list of must see flicks.
2. Step Up 3D (Summit Entertainment/Touchstone Pictures, 2,435 Theaters, 107 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Hey! It’s my two least favorite movie trends joined together: inspirational dance films and 3-D!
I’ll have to admit, as much as I dislike 3-D, this type of film is a unique venue for it. The acrobatic style of dancing seems like it would be a good fit for 3-D.
Here is the synopsis, cut and pasted from IMDB:
A tight-knit group of New York City street dancers team up with an NYU freshman and find themselves pitted against the world’s best hip hop dancers in a high-stakes showdown that will change their lives forever.
I imagine this film will be different from every other film where an outsider joins a tight-knit group of dances to enter a contest that will change their lives forever.
1. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Fox, @3,700 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated PG): When I was a kid, I used to rush out to the living room whenever I heard the theme song to The Alvin Show. Some of the first pieces of recorded music I ever bought with my allowance was The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles. Needless to say, I was a fan.
I say this to give you some perspective when I tell you that I consider this latest Chipmunk revival an abomination.
Yes, yes, I know. This could be cranky old Bill upset because a bastion of his childhood is changed and updated for a new generation. But still, I would have liked to have seen a little more effort put into those changes and updates.
2. Up in the Air (Paramount, @1,800 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated R): One of the best reviewed movies, and one that has been getting a lot of Oscar buzz, finally hits wide release in time for the Christmas holiday.
A man who is hired out to be a corporate axe man (he fires your employees for you) has his life turned upside down when his vagabond lifestyle comes to a halt after a shake up at his employer. Since he is forced to put down roots, he begins to make emotional connections for the first time in his life.
It seems like a quirky dramedy, but everything I have heard tells me that this film is a winner. We’ll see how well it does around awards season.
1. 9 (Focus Features, 1, 638 Theaters, 79 Minutes, Rated PG-13): It’s going to be a confusing year at the movies. There are a lot of movies with “9″ in the titles. You have this one, District 9, and, later on this year, the adaptation of the Broadway musical Nine. You’d think they would space them out a little bit, wouldn’t you?
This film is a weird one. It deals with a race of little burlap people in a post-apocalyptic world who are on the run from machines that are out to kill them. Not your typical computer animated fare, eh?
Of course, you have to love the fact that it is released on 9-9-09. Savvy marketing . Of course, who knows if anyone will come and see it.
1. Gamer (Lionsgate, 2,502 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated R): With the intense popularity of video games and the repeated attempts to adapt video games for the screen, it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie like this one. Of course, the fact this one isn’t the most original one to begin with makes me wonder why it didn’t come sooner.
This tells the tale of a futuristic society where prisoners are able to fight for their freedom by competing in sort of a live action video game. Prisoners are controlled by outside “gamers” and if they win 30 of their fights, they can go free.
Replace “video game” with “game show,” forget the puppet like control aspect, and replace Gerard Butler with Arnold Schwarzenegger and you come pretty close to 1987′s The Running Man. Well, if you haven’t seen it before, then it’s new to you.
2. All About Steve (FOX, 2,251 Theaters, 98 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Wow. You’ve got to hand it to Sandra Bullock. She has built a long and successful career playing strong and intelligent female protagonists. Now, when many other female stars of her age are either fading into obscurity or moving onto Oscar fare, Bullock is trying to go the goofy comedy route playing a woman who would embarrass every other character Bullock ever played.
Maybe it’s the fact that the film sat on a shelf for nearly two years or the poorly photoshopped poster to the left, but I’m not sure this film is going to be all that funny. I could be wrong, but judging by the ads I’ve seen, I’m probably not.
Whether this film does well at the box office or not (and it might, Bradley Cooper is hot of the smash, The Hangover, and could carry some of that success over), you have to feel sorry for Thomas Hayden Church. He’s only four years removed from an Oscar nomination and two years removed from starring in the biggest block buster of that summer and now he’s doing stuff like this. Lo, how the might have fallen.
3. Extract (Miramax, 1,611 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated R): Mike Judge might have the realm of television under his domination, with Beavis and Butthead still considered cultural icons to this very day and King of the Hill set to end its 13 season run, but his road in feature films has been a rough one.
It started out well. Not a box office success by any means, Office Space became a quotable cult hit on DVD and cable. But his follow up to that, Idiocracy was left for dead by its studio and made no impact at all.
It appears that Judge is going back to basics, movie away from the obtuse satire of Idiocracyand going back to the problems of an everyday man wrestling with problem outside of his realm of control that made Office Space so popular. Will this give the writer/director a career if film like the one he enjoys in TV? Time will tell.
1. Bandslam (Summit Entertainment, 2,121 Theaters, 111 Minutes, Rated PG): Good lord, there’s a lot of movies coming out this week. Hey, Hollywood, there is still a lot of weeks left in summer! Spread things out a little!
I’m going to go through these quicker than usual. So try and stay with me.
I only know two things about this film. One, it stars teenybopper star Vanessa Hudgens, a woman who can’t seem to stop taking cell phone pictures of herself naked. Attention: young Hollywood! Cell phones can be hacked! So if you take pictures of yourself nekkid to send to whoever, don’t go crying when they appear all over the Internet.
Second, there is a god-awful cover of Bread’s “Everything I own” in the film. This song is so solid that artists as diverse as Boy George and N’Sync can do pretty good cover versions of it. It is hard to screw this one up, but they did in this movie. Which bodes ill for it because this film is about a group of kids from different classes who form a band that wins a local battle of the bands contest.
If that isn’t enough to make you avoid this film, Hudgens’ character’s name is Sa5m. Yes, because she is a quirky free spirit or something. Couldn’t be more pretentious if they tried.
2. District 9 (Tri-Star, 3,049 Theaters, 112 Minutes, Rated R): If there is a record for number of films a movie is compared to, then this one would hold it. Lets see. It’s been compared to Alien Nation, Independence Day, Iron Man, and Transformers. And that’s just from the trailer alone. Whether or not it actually resembles any of those films is something we are going to find out.
The promotional blitz for this has been going on for well over a year. Posters for it were all over last year’s San Diego Comic Con. So this one has been in the works for a while.
The film deals with aliens who have come to Earth as refugees and the problems they cause by being here. The cast is filled with unknowns, so there is really nothing to draw people in except that plot. Will it be strong enough to make a dent at the box office? I guess we’ll see this week.
3. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (Paramount Vantage, 1,838 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R): Ah, used car dealerships. When will they ever be anything less than a wellspring of comedy?
This film has the appearance of being a cross between Used Cars and Dodgeball. A down on their luck car lot must make a lot of money over the July 4th weekend or else be bought out by a bigger, slicker dealership.
The film has a pretty intriguing cast. Any film that has Alan Thicke, Ving Rhames, Charles Napier and James Brolin in it is worth seeing for curiosity value alone. And finally Jeremy Piven has found a vehicle to channel his Ari Gold-ness into a lead film role. Good going Jeremy. Take it easy on the sushi, okay?
4. Ponyo (Disney, 927 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated G): There is something so right about the partnership between Hayao Miyazaki and Disney. Both are legends in the field of celanimation and bothfill their movies with awe and wonder. Of course, Miyazakiis a bit more esoteric with his plots, but still. It’s a marriage made in Heaven.
This film revolves around a five year old boy who enters into a friendship with goldfish princess who longs to be human.
If that plot seems a bit out there, well, you’re probably right. However, when it comes to Miyazaki, it is pretty normal.
If you can only see one movie this week, take a chance on this one. I haven’t seen every Miyazaki film, but the ones I’ve seen were truly special and magical.
5. The Time Traveler’s Wife (New Line, 2,988 Theaters, 107 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Funny story. I bought the novel this film was based on the week it came out. I figured, I like time travel, why not take a chance. Right after I bought it, right after I left the store, I loaned it to a friend of mine. I still have yet to get it back.
The ads for this film compelled me to call this friend to playfully hassle her as to where the book was at all this time and give her a hard time for keeping it so long. Her response was, “You should thank me. I saved you from having to read it!” Take that as an indication as to what to expect from this film.
One thing that bothers me about this film. Eric Bana is 41, Rachel McAdamsis 30. Now, in romantic movies, that kind of age difference is fairly common when it comes to men in relationship to women (and reversed in Sandra Bullock’s case). However, withthe whole time travel angle, the disparity in ages takes one an extra level of creepiness. Add to that the scene where Bana’s character visits McAdams’ character as a child and I just want to crawl out of my skin. Yuck!
1. G I Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (Paramount, 4,007 Theaters, 118 Minutes, Rated PG-13): I’ve said it before, I am a big G.I. Joe fan. I collected the toys as a kids, rushed home to catch the cartoon, even bought the comic books.
So, I view this movie with mixed feelings. Yes, it is a G.I. Joe film. Yes, the Snake Eyes/ Storm Shadow scenes look awesome. And yes, casting Christopher Eccleston as Destro was a stroke of genius.
But the power suits smack of ripping off Iron Man. And the script, which we reviewed here, has some serious issues, issues that the turmoil surrounding reshoots and problems in editing did not help to dissuade.
So, yes, my beloved G.I. Joe is appearing on screen. But that could very well be a bad thing.
2.Julie & Julia (Sony/Columbia, 2,975 Theaters, 123 Minutes, Rated PG-13): The idea that a woman can go on a journey of self-discovery by working her way through a cookbook might seem like a flight of chick flick fantasy but that was what author Julie Powell did for her book Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. That tome is one of the books used in this film, the other is Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France.
Frankly, Child’s life is more than enough to fill a movie all by herself. But I guess Powell’s isn’t so Child has to share hers to make the film.
Judging on the players involved–Nora Ephron, Meryl Streep, and Amy Adams–I cannot believe this film can be any less than entertaining. It should provide a valid alternative to all those people who don’t find black clad American ninjas their style.
3. A Perfect Getaway (Universal, 2,159 Theaters, 97 Minutes, Rated R): And then there’s this one.
The plot seems to involve a newlywed couple who are hiking in the wilds of Hawaii and find out there is someone killing couples in very same wilds they are exploring.
Now, if this was happening to me, the movie would be over 20 minutes in. Once I found out that there was a murderer in the general vicinity of where I was, I would hightail it back to civilization, book myself into a hotel, and enjoy Mai Tais by the safety of a securely guarded pool.
However, in these kinds of movies people are never that smart or have that much common sense, so the couple decides stick it out as more people die and they are faced with having their honeymoon turn into a fight for survival. Yawn.
Supposedly, this movie will have a twist ending that will have the 50 people that see it talking afterwards. I bet the killers will be the Hawaiian “Keep Your Stinking Tourists Out Of Our Beautiful Forests” Group and our heroes will be rescued by members of the Hawaiian Tourist Bureau.
1.Aliens In The Attic (FOX, 3,106 Theaters, 86 Minutes, Rated PG-13): You know, I have a firm belief that just because something is a kids movie doesn’t mean that it has to be stupid. Pixar proves this on a yearly basis. You can entertain a kid with an intelligent plot and good story instead of relying on silliness and stupid antics. to get laughs.
I can’t really say I’ve seen many ads for this one (which is strange because it has the highest theater count for the week) but what I’ve seen it looks like it falls into the latter brand of kid movie, the stupid silly side.
The plot involves a family that must fight a group of pint-sized aliens who have invaded the attic of their summer home. Pretty simple plot there. The script must have taken a whole 30 minutes to write.
When the biggest star draw you have in the cast is Ashley Tisdale, you are in trouble. Thank gawd my daughter isn’t old enough to want to see this stuff.
2.Funny People (Universal, 3,008Theaters, 146 Minutes, Rated R): Regular readers of these posts know that I am a fan of Judd Apatow. He has yet to put out a film that didn’t entertain me. Granted, he has only put out two films which he directed himself, 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but both won me over with their mix of ribald humor and boatloads of heart.
This one is a more serious effort from Apatow. It involves a successful comedian who faces his own mortality when he finds out he has cancer. If the trailers are to be believe, the cancer goes into remission, and he decides to make the most of the second chance he gets.
As is typical, many of the Apatow Repertory Players are in the cast. While there won’t be as much laughs as in his previous films, there should be as much heart.
3. The Collector (Freestyle Releasing, 1,325 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated R): Horror movies are the one genre where a good hook can mean more than a big budget. All you need is something to set you apart from the rest of the genre and you have a shot at success.
Whether it be a possessed preteen, a killer that enters your dreams, or a faux-documentary about witches, once you have a hook, you possibly can bring in audiences in.
This one has a pretty interesting hook. A man intends to burglarize the house of an affluent family. When he gets there, he finds that someone else has already broken in and is torturing the family. Now, the man who wanted to steal their belongings is the only one who could save their lives.
Of course, this premise doesn’t really lend itself to sequels. So if this hook does bring the audiences in, it should be interesting to see what they do for a follow up.
1. G-Force (Disney, 3,697 Theaters, 89 Minutes, Rated PG): On paper, this could be one of the stupidest films ever made. After all, it is about a team of highly trained gerbils that the Government has used as secret, paramilitary unit. If that premise doesn’t scream idiocy I don’t know what does.
But, in looking at the adds, I an feeling fairly positive about this film. Yes, the premise is supergoofy, but it seems like the filmmakers know this and are running with it.
And any film with Will Arnett and Zach Galifianakis can’t be all bad. And you know you have been waiting for someone to say “Poop in his hand! Poop in his hand!” in a movie for a long time!
2. Orphan (Warner Brothers, 2, 750 Theaters, 123 Minutes, Rated R): Adoption rates for children older than infants is very low, and the chances of adoption gets lower the older the kid gets. This film could possibly kill those chances altogether.
The film focuses on a preteen named Esther who is adopted by a yuppie couple. The couple soon finds out that they made a dangerous bargain as Esther actively tries to kill the couple’s other children. I’m sure that behavior is not caused by Esther being a ghost of a child who had her throat cut in the 1920s or anything like that (That’s just a guess. But come on. Always wearing a choker? Outdated wardrobe? No record of her at the orphanage?)
If you like evil kid movies, well, here’s another one. But with the twist of “how can my judgement be so bad as to let this monster into my house”. The cast is great, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
3. The Awful Truth (Sony/Columbia, 2,882, Theaters, 97 Minutes, Rated R): If killer children of crime fighting gerbils are not your style, here’s a romantic comedy for you as a change of pace. And it’s rated R, too. Not really expected from a rom com.
The plot is a modern take on Cyrano as a pig dog man played by Gerard Butler has to train stressed out television producer Katherine Heigl how to get the man of her dreams. In the process, Butler finds himself falling for her, which sucks because she considers him, well, a pig dog man.
Heigl better be careful. She in danger of being typecast. This is,what, the 20th television producer she’s played?
Also, I have one major problem with Heigl in the brand of romantic comedy she decides to put herself in. She always plays a woman who never can seem to get a date. This is a major hurdle for me, and a lot of people, because there is no conceivable way that Katherine Heigl could ever go dateless.