1. Strange Magic (Disney, 3,020 Theaters,99 Minutes, Rated PG for some action and scary images, Rotten Tomatoes rating as of press time: 14% Fresh (21 reviews)): When was the last time the phrase “From the mind of George Lucas” caused you to get excited? Before Return of the Jedi? Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?
Well, this one is coming from that mind, and I’m not very excited. The ads make it out to to be a war between elves, fairies and goblins, but it really is a modified musical version of Midsummer Night’s Dream with pop songs jury rigged to provide the soundtrack.
While this is a Disney movie with less than Disney caliber animation, keep in mind that this film was put into production before the House of the Mouse bought Lucasfilms.
2. Mortdecai (Lionsgate, 2,648 Theaters, 106 Minutes, Rated R for some language and sexual material. Rotten Tomatoes rating as of press time: 5% Fresh (20 reviews)): I seem to recall a younger Johnny Depp, around the time he was in 21 Jump Street, complaining in interviews that he wanted to transcend that show and become a real actor. I wonder how that version of Depp would view this present day counterpart, and actor with three modes: wide-eyed, mostly heavily made up weirdo; dour, mostly makeupless sourpuss: and Captain Jack Sparrow.
The first Johnny Depp seems to be on display here, as he plays a roguish British art dealer who finds himself involved in an international plot to recover a priceless painting. But think less Daniel Craig Casino Royale and more the Woody Allen Casino Royale.
This film adapts the first book of Kyril Bonfiglioli’s cult Mortdecai book series. There are four books in all, but with a 5% fresh rating, probably only one film is all you’re going to get.
3. The Boy Next Door (Universal, 2,602 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated R for violence, sexual content/nudity and language, Rotten Tomatoes rating as of press time: 16% Fresh (50 Reviews): Ah, here comes J-Lo, reminding us why she needs to return to American Idol each season.
Lopez plays a recently divorced woman who engages on a one-night stand with new neighbor–a much younger man. The frisky business sours as the boy becomes obsessed with her. In other words, it’s gender reversed Fatal Attraction with a MILF-porn twist.
It doesn’t really seem to offer anything that we haven’t seen before. However, it was made for a crazy-low $4 million, so it would have to really, really bad at the box office not to be a hit.