Monday, December 31, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and The Meh '07

It's that time of year again, when I look back upon the achievements of my year, which usually turns into diappointment when realizing I haven't achieved much. Although, I did make Simon Pegg laugh. And I got Alba's fries, even though she's forgotten all about me and gotten herself all knocked up.

I was going somewhere with this, but it doesn't really matter. What matters is the list of movies I've seen this year, that came out this year. The total comes up to 90 movies released this year that I saw, with a ever expanding count of flicks I still want to see (They're on the Netflix Queue, or I'm just waiting for them to show up on cable. Two of them, Dan - he of DanSpeak - actually has on DVD, and I'm just being lazy. In fact, I even own one of the movies myself on DVD and haven't watched it, but my laziness knows no bounds).

Being that I try to eschew as many cliches as I can, I don't have a top ten list, as there are far too many movies I liked this year. (57, to be exact, much like the titular passenger portrayed by Wesley Snipes). So what presents are the Good, the Bad, and The Meh.


Hands down, my favorite movie of the year. It was perfect. I heart it so damn much, it's almost pathetic. If you don't love this movie, then you have no heart at all. For shame.

Again, another movie that you just fall in love with. I guess I'm just a big softie, after all. Well, last year's top picks were bleak and depressing.

Just a solid movie, full of great things with nary a wrong step.

What I said about No Country applies here too

For over-the-top violence, these were the most entertaining. Hot Fuzz is brilliant in it's writing (every joke pays off!), and Shoot Em Up is genius in it's execution.

I love meta sci-fi flicks. This ranks up there with them.

I also love Wes Anderson movies. Sue me.

Goddamn this movie was funny. Even if Jonah Hill gets annoying on repeat viewings, you can't deny the comedic brilliance of Michael Cera, Bill Hader, and McLovin. (And sometime doppelganger Seth Rogen. Although, lately, I keep getting people asking me if I was on Ugly Betty, and I don't know what to make of that, because I preferred the Rogen comparisons.)

I saw this movie yesterday, and it's haunting me. It's just a solid piece of cinematic storytelling, anchored by a terrific Daniel Day Lewis performance, confident direction from Paul Thomas Anderson, and a freakish score courtesy of Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood. This is the best movie Kubrick never made.

It's tough to replicate the theatrical experience in your own home, and attempting to do so only showcases the flaws of each film. But together, they provided a wonderful moviegoing experience, one of the best of the year.

This movie kicked your ass, admit it. Even if it did make you ashamed of your abs.

Whatever was left of your ass after 300 was done, this movie will finish the job. Damn solid entertainment.


Smokin Aces, Bridge To Teribithia, Music and Lyrics, Reno 911 Miami, Zodiac, The Host, Shooter, Blades of Glory, The Lookout, The TV Set, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, Away From Her, Waitress, 28 Weeks Later, Pirates 3, Knocked Up, Day Watch, Ocean's 13, DOA: Dead or Alive, Eagle Vs, Shark, I'm Reed Fish (warm, fuzzy indie on DVD now, check it out), Fido, Ratatouille, Black Sheep, Sicko, Rescue Dawn, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sunshine (first 2/3 anyway), The Simpsons Movie, , Hot Rod, Stardust, Death at a Funeral, 3:10 to Yuma, Jane Austen Book Club, Into The Wild, Eastern Promises, Gone Baby Gone, American Gangster, Smileyface, The Mist, Atonement, I Am Legend, Walk Hard, The Orphanage,

THE BAD (16)

This movie had the gall to present an argument about how sick the spectators of violence are, then go and glorify it. You can't have your cake and eat it, too. Not in this case. The Condemned offended my general sensibilities. And what's worse is that it could have been kind of kick ass.

This one was pretty awful. So awful, I walked out 20 minutes into it, opting to walk into a theater showing 300 instead. 300 was out of focus, but it was better than Ghost Rider. Later on, I had to review the DVD of Ghost Rider. I now own it, which makes me cry at night. So I turned off the DVD and popped in 300 instead. And did crunches.

I wanted to punch everyone involved in the making of this movie. Except Bruce Willis, because he's still pretty badass. But to anyone who claims this movie as awesome, I present to you this foolproof argument as to this movie's stupidity: McClane beats up a jet.

I wanted to like it. It had everything going for it. But then James Franco gets amnesia, and does the twist. And the movie takes a sharp turn down retarded lane. And never recovers. How could this come after Spiderman 2 is a mystery for the ages.

I had a lot of fun at this movie. But it's pretty damn terrible. Hard to believe I can't decide which Alien Vs. Predator I dislike more.

Karl Urban as a viking child raised by Native Americans, whom he then defends from the returning viking parties. Pure dumb fun that's not too fun. I remember there being a toboggan ride of death. That was pretty cool. I'm also pretty sure I got Reese's Pieces when I watched the movie, and those rocked.

I wanted to avoid this movie altogether, but my DVD reviewing duties deemed otherwise. This movie was painful. But if you turn the sound down, and just look at Thandie Newton, it's somewhat tolerable. And Cuba Gooding Jr. is kind of funny in it.

Just a giant mess of a movie. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Good idea on paper, terrible execution.

Mainly on here out of disappointment more than anything, as it did have two truly kick ass scenes, and a great performance from Danny Huston. It was just all the nonsense in between that made me angry.

How do you screw up a movie about a giant man eating crocodile? Watch Primeval and find out.

The "prestige" titles of video game adaptations (Uwe Boll is off the hook this year) proved to be disappointing and lame. Resident Evil suffered from not living up to it's killer premise/teaser trailer. But it looked pretty. And Hitman had a few moments, but any time Timothy Olyphant spoke, it became dumb. Fast. Further proof that video games can't translate to the big screen without some semblance of plot.

The Hitcher, Epic Movie, Captivity, Boogeyman 2,

THE MEH (16)

If you have to see this movie, see it in Digital 3-D. Or IMAX. It's the best way to see it, although it still gave me a headache. There were good things in the movie (mostly Crispin Glover), and one AMAZING sequence (the dragon fight at the end), but overall this movie was boring and awkward. Beowulf fights Grendel naked, and his wang is hidden in a series of Austin Powers-type gags. that should tell you enough.

This movie felt like one of those old Cannon movies from the 1980s, the kind that would air on WPIX-11 on Saturday afternoons. It had Jet Li and Jason Statham, and should have been awesome. Instead it was convoluted and, once again, boring. not even a climactic awesome battle, either.

The first one was mildly entertaining to me. I thought it to be a smarter version of The DaVinci Code. The new one is just okay, sadly missing the first's sense of fun, but it does contain one of the dumbest lines in recent memory: "Hey, didn't your great grandfather kill Lincoln?", as spoken by a ten year old boy.

Another Nic Cage movie. Odd how they stopped being on the good list since Adaptation. This movie was going along alright, if a little weird, but then it has a godawful ending that swiftly washed away all good will I had towards it.

The funniest gag is the title. Followed by the silly things in the preview. And Walken doing a Walken imitation. But that's about it. You'd expect more from a movie with this title, but alas, this is what we get.

By no means good, but not that bad either. Still, the best Uwe Boll movie ever.

Despite my dating history with Ms. Alba, I can't really say much about her in this except that her eyes freak me out. Seriously. Check it out, if you want to, but there's something going on with her eyes that's just plain wrong. Still, it's the best Marvel movie of the year, and that's rather sad.

I laughed a lot. But it's not that great a movie. And given the amount of comedic talent involved (including Bill Hader once again) it should have been a lot better.

Both movies were just okay, while their premises promised so much more. Some amusement, though.

Freedom Writers, Slow Burn, Evan Almighty, Becoming Jane, Heartbreak Kid


It's pretty damn bad. With about fifty plot points too many. And it's pretty stupid. Almost insultingly so. And yet, when I saw it for the first time, I had a blast. Subsequent viewings elicit feelings of self loathing for actually enjoying it. But hey, the robots look cool fighting. When you can see them. And that LeBouf kid is going places. Until next year when everyone's burned out on him. Man, this movie sucks. But I kinda liked it when I watched it on the plane. Mainly because it's long.

And that's what my mind is like since Transformers.

Seraphim Falls, Breach, Wild Hogs, Black Snake Moan, The Namesake, Reign Over Me, Black Book, Disturbia, 1408, You Kill Me, Talk To Me, No End In Sight, Who's Your Caddy?, I Know Who Killed Me (For the awful factor alone), King of Kong, The Ten, Hatchet, Hunting Party, In The Valley of Elah, I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With, Dragon Wars, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Across The Universe, We Own The Night, Lars and The Real Girl, Wristcutters A Love Story, Dan In Real Life, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Enchanted, I'm Not There, Control, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Golden Compass, Charlie WIlson's War, Sweeney Todd, The Savages, Persepolis,

Did I miss anything?

Regardless, next year seems kind of promising. Although, it also feels like the 1980s, because we're getting a new Rambo movie, a new James Bond movie, a Batman movie, AND a new Indiana Jones movie.

Happy New Year, everyone. I'm The Dude. Go Fuck yourself, San Diego!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Box Office Report: The Last of '07

Dude here again. Reminding you to help control the pet population, and have your pet spayed or neutered. (Hey, with Bob Barker gone, somebody's got to keep reminding us to do that. Who's gonna do it, you?!?!)

This weekend, we had a few movies open up on Christmas Day, but mostly everything stayed the same, thus giving me a small respite on my template. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (BV)- $35.6, 3832 screens, week 2, $124.0 total

2. Alvin and the Chipmunks (Fox) - $30.0, 3484 screens, week 3, $142.3 total

3. I Am Legend (WB) - $27.5, 3636 screens, week 3, $194.5 total

4. Charlie WIlson's War (Uni) - $11.7, 2575 screens, week 2, $34.5 total

5. Juno (FoxS) - $10.3, 998 screens, week 4, $25.6 total

6. Alien Vs. Predator - Requiem (Fox)- $10.0, 2611 screens, week 1, $26.8 total (xmas open)

7. The Waterhorse (Sony) - $9.2, 2772 screens, week 1, $16.8 total (xmas open)

8. P.S. I Love You (WB) - $9.1, 2464 screens, week 2, $23.3 total

9. Sweeney Todd (Par/DW) - $8.0, 1249 screens, week 2, $26.7 total

10. Enchanted (BV) - $6.5, 2262 screens, week 6, $110.6 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, you can pretty much see for yourself that the top leaders made some coin, and the rest faltered. But let's take a moment and see how ridiculously successful Alvin and The Chipmunks turned out to be. Seriously, people, what's going on with that?

The movie where the Alien versed the Predator didn't fare too well, and nowhere near as well as the previous effort, which had the good sense to not be released on Christmas. Let this and Grindhouse be a lesson to counter programming everywhere: Don't release these movies on holidays. You won't do well. Oh, and The Waterhorse didn't fare so well, either, although it has been garnering some spectacular reviews.

The other new release was The Great Debaters, directed by Denzel Washington, hot off his American Gangster success. Unfortunately it only took in $6.3 million in the opening weekend. Guess if the alien were debating the predator, it would have made some more coin. Kudos to Juno for climbing up the charts and winning the hearts of many across the globe. Here's hoping Juno gets all the acclaim it deserves.

Below the radar, there were a lot of new releases, in limited runs, however. The Bucket List, a "comedy" from Rob Reiner that stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman opened on 16 screens and took in $323,000. The Orphanage, a creepy Spanish ghost story produced by Guillermo Del Toro, opened up on 19 screens and took in $230,000. But the big winner was There Will Be Blood, the latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson, opened up on only 2 screens to take $186,000, with a per screen average of $93,000. Very impressive for such a bleak film.

And in the "Because It's There" series: Before The Devil Knows You're Dead took in $128,000 on 101 screens, bringing it's grand total to $6,418,000 in 10 weeks.

There you have my break down. Next week will probably bring lower numbers to the list you see before you. Except for Alvin and The Chipmunks probably, because my reality isn't disturbing enough as it is.

Until next year....

Friday, December 28, 2007

Walking Hard

At long last, Hollywood has finally realized their mistake, and have given praise, and an entire movie, to the life of Dewey Cox. Walk Hard in an unflinching look at the life and times of one of the great musicians of our, possibly of ALL, time.

Who cares that Dewey Cox isn't real? John C. Reily breathes so much life into Cox, you'd think he was real enough. Walk Hard dutifully parodies recent music biopics (Walk the Line, Ray, etc) and does such a convincing job that you'd believe Dewey Cox is real. (And some lucky fans may have a chance to see Cox perform live, completing the cycle).

Walk Hard hits all the right beats. It has a tragedy in the young Cox's life that sparks his interest in music. (And an unfortunate ailment: he now has no sense of smell) At age 15 (where he's played by Reily) his music creates a stir that the townsfolk aren't ready for. Saddled with an eternally pregnant first wife (brilliant Kristin Wiig) who doesn't believe in him, Dewey goes on to write his first big hit: Walk Hard. From there, it's a non stop parade of musical changes, drugs, monkeys, more women (The lovely Jenna Fischer, of Slither and that show that takes place in an office), even more drugs. Then finally, the realization that he can be a good man, and reform his ways, just in time for a giant show that celebrates his life and achievements. The movie is so frighteningly true to the mold, that I almost just took my Walk The Line review, and Find/Replaced the names of the actors.

The humor in the movie (it is blessed by the magical pen of Apatow, who co-wrote with director Jake Kasdan) is more broad than other films that brandish the Apatow name. It's more akin to the humor in Anchorman, although with more heart. What makes Walk Hard so appealing is the music they wrote to represent Cox. It's actually well written, with a lot of talent and thought behind it, akin to the humorous (but genuine) folk music featured in A Mighty Wind. Another plus in this movie's favor.

Reily does an amazing job portraying Cox. He truly gets into the spirit of things. You have to wonder if he did the method actor approach and actually denied himself the sense of smell, much like Jaime Foxx's dedication to studying the life of Ray Charles. What's brilliant about his performance is that he also seems to be playing an actor whose sole purpose is to portray this life and win an Oscar. Sneaky and subversive.

The rest of the cast is outstanding, filled with many familiar faces from the Apatow cannon of actors. (The Beatles scene had me wetting myself with delight, not fear like usual). But the standout support in this film goes to Tim "The Ladies Man" Meadows, as Dewey's long suffering drummer who turns Cox onto every drug imaginable. His performance alone erases many bad memories of poor choices he's made in the past.

Walk Hard is a damn funny film that continues the Apatow tradition of truly hilarious films with their hearts in the right places.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An alien and Predator walk into a bar...

Dear Jerks who greenlit Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem,

Good day. How are you? I am not so fine. I have recently returned from viewing of your motion picture Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem. I have a few, shall we say, concerns about the motion picture that I was hoping you'd address. Primarily, how the hell can you screw up this movie, two times now?

It's seriously not a hard concept to falter on. The script is essentially right there in the title for you. (For those not keen on paying attention, as is evidenced by your products, the movie is about Aliens fighting a Predator, which is another kind of alien, but now we're just splitting hairs). I realize there is a writer's strike going, but this is seriously the sole movie that doesn't NEED a script.

We do not need pointless characters with obnoxious back stories. Like the main guy, Dallas. He's an ex-con, or something, returning to his small town after a stint in prison. I know this because he practically states it in every scene he's in. But his back story contributes in no way whatsoever to his alien/predator versing skills. Or the chick from 24, who returned from Iraq and has to repair the bond with her young daughter. Although it may seem that military training would come in handy in this epic battle, there are far too many scenes of things nobody cares about.

There are, seriously, about fifteen plots going on in this movie. There's the pizza delivery boy trying to get the hot blonde, and the sheriff discovering the bodies that lie in the path of the few moments where an alien will attack. The pregnant waitress, the mother of the missing husband. All these elements have one thing in common: THEY ARE NEITHER ALIENS NOR PREDATORS!!!! And even though I'm sure these actors are good people, and have been good in previous work, here they are awful. The main guy has the worst delivered line I've witnessed in quite some time. ("People are dying"). Oh, then he has a horrible callback line to the first film, that might be the second ranked. (Although "fans" of the series will probably be happy that it's not the "One ugly mother..." line.)

To be fair, whenever the Alien verses the Predator, it's actually kind of cool. That is, when you can see what the hell is going on. See, at least Paul W.S. Anderson knows how to light a scene, which is the sole advantage of the previous film over this one. I realize it's supposed to be blackout conditions, but when you can't even tell which parts belong to which creature. A fact made more difficult by the Predalien, a hybrid creature that takes the alien and puts dreadlocks on it. I have a still of that creature, and it's pretty cool, I can see what it's about. In the movie, you never get a clear view of anything. Murk does not lead to creepy, merely confusion. And if you believe that you're "hiding the monster", I'm gonna clue you in: We already know what these creatures look like. You put them on the poster.

Oh, and not for nothing, but this movie actually crossed some lines of taste issues. I am not offended easily, but when you have aforementioned Predalien killing babies and pregnant mothers, I tend to scoff a bit. I understand you want to appease fans and fanboys alike by making the film R-rated, and for that we are sort of grateful. But you don't need to go EX-TREME, just to make us happy. All you have to do is have Aliens fighting a Predator. It can be done. Audiences could handle it. Hell, they just spent millions of dollars to see Will Smith by himself for an hour. We can handle a dialog free 70 minutes of a Predator hunting and fighting Aliens. We don't need dead babies and aliens bursting forth from pregnant wombs, and uber-bleak endings that vaguely (and pathetically) try to tie the movie more into the "universe" of the chronology. Just deliver on your title.

In conclusion, good sirs, your movie sucks. I wanted to have fun with the movie, but I had more fun making fun of it instead. (Much to the delight of the family behind me, that had good sense to shut off their cell phones, but still bring their 3 year old daughter in with them). You blew it. Twice, now. And this will probably make more money that will get us a third movie. At which point, you should just let them fight. Get a guy in a Predator suit, a guy in an alien suit, do one long tracking shot (that will appeal to internet "fanboys", because it's like that Cloverfield looking thing that's coming, right?) and have them fight for an hour and a half. You don't even need a script, just a fight choreographer and a light. There, you've avoided WGA trouble, and you haven't offended anybody. Especially your audience.

That being said, thank you for not making the Predator team up with another human.

The Dude.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Box Office Report: The Day Before the Day Before Chrsitmas

Dude here again. Looks like a lot of folks have been getting snow. But not here in Los Angeles. In fact, this is my favorite part of the year out here, when Los Angeles becomes a ghost town. It's seriously like the beginning of I Am Legend, because everyone's off with their families. I'd be with my family, but I opted to stay in the land of movies, so I can bring you the numbers fresh off the assembly line. And because it's mad warm out here. Sorry Mom.

This weekend, we have five new wide releases, plus two well performing holdovers from last week. So many movies, and a few more are going to open during the week. Which wreaks havoc on my template, but what are ya gonna do? Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (BV)- $45.5, 3832 screens, week 1, $45.5 total

2. I Am Legend (WB) - $34.2, 3620 screens, week 2, $137.4 total

3. Alvin and the Chipmunks (Fox) - $29.0, 3499 screens, week 2, $84.8 total

4. Charlie WIlson's War (Uni) - $9.6, 2575 screens, week 1, $9.6 total

5. Sweeney Todd (Par/DW) - $9.3, 1249 screens, week 1, $9.3 total

6. P.S. I Love You (WB) - $6.5, 2454 screens, week 1, $6.5 total

7. Enchanted (BV) - $4.1, 2752 screens, week 5, $98.3 total

8. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Sony)- $4.1, 2650 screens, week 1, $4.1 total

9. The Golden Compass (NL) - $3.9, 2953 screens, week 3, $48.4 total

10. Juno (FoxS) - $3.4, 304 screens, week 3, $6.3 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it means that Nicolas Cage can now claim not one, but TWO $45 million opening weekends this year. (The first was unfortunately Ghost Rider. Remember that one? Me neither). Folks came out in droves for the second installment of the treasure hunting adventures of Cage and Jon Voight, bringing in a higher opening than the original. Time will tell if this movie continues the first one's rate of success.

Of the other opening films, Charlie Wilson's War (with Tom Hanks) and Sweeney Todd (with Johnny Depp)opened up to decent numbers, but far from good numbers given the level of star power involved. Allegedly, Sweeney Todd (which opened on a relatively low number of screens) had a large drop off between Friday and Saturday, as word of mouth spread that the film is in fact a musical. Something the marketing geniuses failed to point out to the movie going geniuses who thought this might be a de facto Pirates sequel.

P.S. I Love You proved that Gerard Butler needs to yell all his lines in front of a blue screen in order to draw in crowds, and that two Oscars for Hilary Swank means absolutely nothing. And Walk Hard severely underperformed, given the hot streak of producer Judd Apatow. This is truly a shame, as Walk Hard is quite hilarious, and deserves to find an audience. I guess that's what video is for.

Of the holdovers, Will Smith continues to pull in money, but far less than last weekend. Sadly, Alvin and the Chipmunks dropped only 34% from last week's take, which means that Alvin and the Chipmunks could very well be the sleeper hit of the season. At the very least, it's the movie that no one expected to ever make a dime that took in over $100 million. For shame.

Below the radar, the Jessica Simpson feature Blonde Ambition as, I'm guessing probably a ditzy blonde girl proving her worth to the world, opened up on 8 whole screens. In Texas. I wish I was making this up, but apparently the powers that be felt the movie could open in the girl's native state. (Co-star Luke Wilson also hails from there... wait a minute, Luke Wilson is in this movie? That's crazier than his appearance in 3:10 to Yuma). Anyway, it opened up on 8 screens in Texas and took in $1300. Total. Per screen average of $162. That's like what I get paid. Schadenfreude should be kicking in soon, but Simpson is so far from the train wreck of other blonde pop starlets that I don't feel quite right. Besides, she's still kinda hot. (Even if she screws up the Cowboys chances of winning games).

And in the "Because It's There" series: The Polar Express (IMAX Reissue) took in $315,000 on 32 screens, bringing it's grand total to $1,686,000 in 12 weeks.

There you have my break down. On Christmas Day, we finally get the movie we deserve: Aliens Vs. Predator-Apology! Also, There Will Be Blood. Probably something else, too, but nothing matters more than that alien versing the predator. Rated R, for Ridonkulous!

Until next weekend....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Today was kinda shitty.

But you know what cheers me up?

Watching the Dark Knight trailer ad infinitum.

Much like Smilex, this brings a smile to face... again.... and again....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Box Office Report: Holy Shit That's a lot of money!

Dude here again. Once more, bringing you the important numbers on the hour, on the half hour, and when it breaks. Except not really. Especially when they release the correct numbers, and all my hard work from Sunday morning (well, afternoon) is null and void. But, it is the NOW that matters, as in "It doesn't matter if it's right. It matters if it's right NOW".

This weekend, we finally have a nice, record breaking weekend again, courtesy of the world's greatest man Will Smith. And a surprising showing from some chipmunks. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. I Am Legend (WB) - $76.5, 3606 screens, week 1, $76.5 total

2. Alvin and the Chipmunks (Fox) - $45.0, 3475 screens, week 1, $45.0 total

3. The Golden Compass (NL) - $9.0, 3528 screens, week 2, $40.9 total

4. Enchanted (BV) - $6.0, 3066 screens, week 4, $92.2 total

5. No Country For Old Men (Mira)- $3.0, 1348 screens, week 6, $33.5 total

6. The Perfect Holiday (YFG) - $2.9 1307 screens, week 1, $3.6 total

7. Fred Claus (WB) - $2.305, 2750 screens, week 6, $68.9 total

8. This Christmas (ScrGems) - $2.30, 1921 screens, week 4, $46.0 total

9. Atonement (Focus) - $1.8, 117 screens, week 2, $2.9 total

10. August Rush (WB) - $1.7, 2007 screens, week 4, $28.0 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Basically, WIll Smith can do no wrong. You put him in a romantic comedy, he scores. Drama about a homeless man taking care of his son? Double word score. Make him the only person in your bleak, depressing sci-fi apocalyptic film released right before Christmas? Out of the freakin' park! I Am Legend took the record for the biggest December opening weekend, and that beats all those Rings movies. All of them! Congratulations to Mr. Smith, as I'm pretty positive he might win the US Presidential election next year, without even trying.

Hey, since a fair majority of folks saw this film, let me ask you this: How awesome was that Dark Knight trailer?!? That was worth the price of admission alone.

In second place is Alvin and the Chipmunks, which took in $45 million. I'll repeat that, Alvin and the Chipmunks made 45 million dollars in three days. The movie about the singing rodents with fairly annoying voices took in forty-five million dollars. If I Am Legend was not released this weekend, Alvin and the Chipmunks would have shocked the world by accumulating.... you see where I'm headed with this.

Interesting to note: There were some bad winter storms in the north and east, which usually deters people and diminishes box office returns. But this is not the case. See aforementioned forty five million... Although, pretty much every other movie is taking in nothing. Some movie called Perfect Holiday also opened and not too well. Atonement did quite well for it's screen count.

Below the radar, awards films are starting to come out, and make a little coin. The first film from Francis Ford Coppola in ten years, Youth Without Youth, opened on 6 screens and took in $27,800. Not bad. The Kite Runner, a movie with a title that sounds like a parody of prestige pictures, took in $451,000 on 35 screens. But once again, the highest per screen average of the week belongs to Juno, which took in $1,440,000 on 40 screens, averaging $36,000. Which is still nothing compared to the $45 million for the Chipmunks.

And in the "Because It's There" series: Lions For Lambs took in $31,000 on 116 screens, bringing it's grand total to $14,893,000 in 6 weeks.

There you have my break down. Next week, Nicolas Cage returns to figure out the DaVinci Code again, but, you know, in America. And I think there's a singing Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton movie. And lest us not forget a man called Cox. It's a plethora of joy!

Until next weekend....

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holiday Cheer!

It's that time of year again! Time for Chrismanzakuh! When consumerism is forced upon us in the name of fun and good cheer. Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays. I just hate the frenzy that surrounds them, and all the furor that erupts over saying "Holiday" over "Christmas", and such. No, I don't believe that everyone should celebrate Christmas, but PC can only reach a certain point until the world just becomes, for lack of a better phrase, ricockulous.

That being said, enjoy this fun little ditty.

--Music Videos

Really? A review of Juno? That's not a box office report in disguise?

Within the first ten minutes, you'll know whether or not Juno is a movie for you. Once Ellen Page, as the titular character, begins spouting out bizarre bon mots such as "Honest to Blog", and "Silencio, old man", you can make a decision as to if Juno is right up your alley or far too precocious for it's own good. It's a fine line that worked just fine for me, though, and it provided yet another winner in a fine year for comedy.

The story, however, is fairly familiar. Witty teen girl has unprotected sex with best friend (Michael Cera, rockin' his sweatbands) and gets knocked up. (Wasn't there another movie this year similar in plot?). Juno must then go through the tough choices that lay before such a girl in this situation. She has access to an abortion, but opts to have the baby and give it up for adoption, to a lovely young yuppie couple she finds in the Pennysaver (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner, fresh off The Kingdom).

The script was written by Diablo Cody, a woman who loves the press about herself, mainly because it's pretty eclectic. Her odd style, and love of strange linguistics would be too much to bear if there wasn't some damn fine emotional honesty undercutting the whole thing. The scenes between Juno and her father (J.K. Simmons) provide a lot of them, as does pretty much any scene involving the heartbreaking Cera. Don't get me wrong, the dialogue is wonderfully funny, and fitting for such an outcast as Juno, but they would just sit there and slowly grate nerves if the movie didn't have the heart, and a genuine heart at that, beating proudly beneath.

Director Jason Reitman, who previously helmed the wickedly acerbic Thank You For Smoking, has shown he is not a one hit wonder. He juggles the balls with a deft touch that doesn't toe the line I previously mentioned regarding the script. From the candy colored opening credits to the fantastic songs (provided by Kimya Dawson, who has a lovely voice even if her lyrics are rather odd),

But the star of the show is Ellen Page herself. Having previously stunned my eyes in Hard Candy, and not offending my sensibilities by appearing in X-Men 3 (probably the only actor to have done such a thing), as Juno, she just blew me away. Any and all awards and accolades are well earned, as Page plays the character so well, and so true to life, that you almost forget she's playing a character. All I know is, if I were in high school, Juno is the girl I would go for. Pregnant or not.

Juno is well worth your time and money, as it's quite funny and winning, if not flawless. It's nice to see a comedy this year with genuine heart and laughs that's not brought to you by Apatow. As wonderful as Knocked Up is, Juno proves to be a little bit better, and a little more honest. And that's all I ever want out of a movie.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Box Office Report: 12-2-07

Dude here again. Ah, yes, the holiday season is once again upon us. If anyone feels like getting their favorite box office reporter a holiday gift, cash works best. Let's be honest, though, that's what everyone wants, holiday or not. You know who else likes cash? Movie studios! Which is a perfect segue for...

This weekend, only one movie was released, as it is typically one of the slowest weekends in the movie business. This is due to shopping activities mostly, but it is a nice respite to catch up on flicks you may have missed the weeks prior. Let's go to the numbers, shall we? (All in millions, remember, and these are the studio estimates, the actuals will be available on Monday. Just to prove me wrong).

1. Enchanted (BV) - $17.0, 3730 screens, week 2, $70.6 total

2. This Christmas (ScrGems) - $8.4, 1858 screens, week 2, $36.8 total

3. Beowulf (Par) - $7.8, 3249 screens, week 3, $68.6 total

4. Awake (MGM/Wein) - $6.0, 2002 screens, week 1, $6.0 total

5. Hitman (Fox) - $5.8, 2468 screens, week 2, $30.2 total

6. Fred Claus (WB) - $5.5, 3420 screens, week 4, $59.7 total

7. August Rush (WB) - $5.1, 2310 screens, week 2, $20.3 total

8. No Country For Old Men (Mira)- $4.5, 995 screens, week 4, $23.0 total

9. Bee Movie (Par/DW) - $4.4 3150 screens, week 5, $117.6 total

10. American Gangster (Uni) - $4.2, 2699 screens, week 5, $121.7 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it means Enchanted might not be as big a hit as Disney was hoping. Dropping over 50% from last week's take, the well received film will need to draw a lot more crowds if it thinks it has any chance of competing with Golden Compass next weekend. (ALthough that movie sneaked this weekend, and didn't do as sell out business as was hoped for)

This Christmas and Beowulf remained in their respective positions. This Christmas might turn out to be the most profitable movie of the season, and it seems to be pleasing crowds all over. Beowulf, however, has slowed down in momentum. And even though it will probably remain on the 3-D and IMAX screens for awhile, it's dreams of reaching $100 million domestically might be dashed. Perhaps if they spent more time with story and less with Austin Powers-esque gags hiding Beowulf's junk, it would have performed better. Oh well.

The only new release this week was awake, featuring Hayden "I'm only really bad in those Star Wars movies" Christensen and former Dude's girlfriend Jessica Alba. It looked pretty bad, to be honest, and I'm amazed it took in as much as it did. On a side note, I must express my dismay with the under performance of The Mist, which is gone from the top ten after merely one week. The flick was solid, and has one of the best endings this year.

Below the radar, The Savages, a dysfunctional family movie starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, took in $153,000 on 4 screens, bringing in the highest per screen average for the weekend. Also released was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, one of the most acclaimed films of the year. It took in $75,300 on 3 screens. Impressive for a film about a man who can only move his left eyelid.

And in the "Because It's There" series: Lust, Caution took in $61,800 on 49 screens, bringing it's grand total to $4,311,000 in 10 weeks.

There you have my break down. Next week, we're treated to yet another attempt to fill the fantasy void vacated by the Lord of the Rings movies ending. And also, there's one of my favorite movies of the year, Juno.

Until next weekend....