1.Tower Heist (Universal, @3,200 Theaters, 104 Minutes, Rated PG-13): The buzz about this film should be about two comedy icons who help define film comedy in two different decades–Eddie Murphy from the 1980s and Ben Stiller from the 1990s–coming together on screen for the first time. Or it should about the plot, about a bunch of laid off workers planning to steal from the fat cat that cost them their jobs, a plot made even more relevant by the themes of the “Occupy (Insert City)” protests. In other words, buzz that would get people in the seats.
However, the thing about the movie that got the most press, here and at other film sites, is the plan from Universal to release the film on Video on Demand three weeks from now, Cinemark reponding to the news by dropping the film, other independent theater owners joining suit, causing Universal to scrap the idea.
The controversy made for an interesting story. I mean, it’s a crap shoot to tell if people will spend $10 on a Stiller or Murphy film, let alone the $60 Universal planned to charge for the VOD, but the smaller theater chains were forced to act because it meant the first salvo in the battle for their continued existence. However, this kind of “bad press” isn’t the kind that would entice people into the theaters.
2. A Very Harold And Kumar 3D Christmas (Warner Bros./New Line, @2,800 Theaters, 90 Minutes, Rated R): There are several things that amaze me about the Howard and Kumar franchise. One is the way it rose from its humble beginnings to become a franchise in the first place. I’m always fascinated when that happens.
Another is how far the cast has come. When the first film was released, the cast was living in obscurity–two unknowns and one former sitcom star. Now, mostly because of that first film, John Cho has taken over the iconic role of Sulu in the Star Trek film franchise, Neil Patrick Harris has once again become a TV icon as Barney from How I Met Your Mother, and Kal Penn, for me most impressive of all, has gone on work for the Obama Administration as the Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Liaison.
But was is most amazing the fact that the three princpals have returned for this sequel. Lord knows they didn’t have to, but it rocks that they did.
This film seems like more of the same, as the search for a replacement tree for the one owned by Harold’s father-in-law that Kumar accidentally burned acts as the framework for their wacky adventures. In 3-D no less. I’m not a fan of 3-D, but I do admire the way that the makers of this film have tried to come up with the schlockiest effects to take advantage of the 3-D process.