Friday, October 31, 2008

Zack and Miri make beautiful music together.

You know what's truly wonderful? When they tell you what the movie's about right there in the title. Like Aliens Vs. Predator, you know what the movie's going to be about. (Even if they bog it down with 40 minutes of sub-Gossip girl teen nonsense). Or like this latest offering from Kevin Smith: Zack and Miri Make a Porno. You can pretty much figure out that there will be two characters, one named Zack (Seth Rogen), one named Miri (Elizabeth Banks, my latest Hollywood crush), and together they shall make a pornographic motion picture.

In the hands of a lesser director, the movie could provide a few big laughs, but mostly feel shallow. But in the hands of Smith, the film becomes both a touching love story, an eerie topical statement, and a sentimental ode to the director's beginnings, gathering friends together to put on a show utilizing extremely limited means. It just happens that the show in this case involves lots of nudity.

Zack and Miri begins with the titular duo in their current existence. Zack works at a coffee chain, passing out lattes to people who actually care about how their coffee is prepared. He lives with Miri, an achingly hot girl that everyone around wants to be with except Zack. The two of them have a BFF relationship that never once crosses the line into "Can we be more than friends, even without alcohol involved?" territory. Naturally, everybody around them feels they deserve to be together, even if they can't see it.

With troubling times shutting off power, water, and heat, coupled with the sense of depression that always arises from a ten year high school reunion, Zack and Miri come to the inevitable conclusion that they need to live up to the title of their movie. Assembling a wide array of talent from their friends (Craig Robinson, from The Office and Pineapple Express, almost steals the movie away from the leads) the dynamic duo set forth on their venture and discover things about themselves that they never knew. To say what would spoil the movie.

Smith has long been a fan of his own dialogue, and loves to make raunchy but ultimately sweet-natured (and above all honest) films. this is a formula that has been used to much greater success by the Apatow gang lately, and it's nice to see the blending of comedic styles represented by Smith and frequent Apatow collaborator (and me-doppelganger)* Seth Rogen. Rogen fits in nicely to the Smith universe. (important to note, NOT the Askew-niverse, as this film stands alone from Smith's previous works).

What I like about the movie is that, despite the implications of the title, the movie is a rare peak into Smith's nostalgia for making the original Clerks. A group of inexperienced but passionate friends turn their workplace and home environment into a movie studio, all focusing on the project at hand and making new friends and alliances along the way. The scenes when Zack closes down the coffee shop to begin filming captures this perfectly, and I loved every minute of it. And not just because there were naked ladies on the screen. But that certainly helps. **

Ultimately, Zack and Miri provides a wonderful moviegoing experience, full of laughs and heart. There are some flaws (I really hate when people use the instantaneous aspects of internet viewers as a plot device) that are more than easy to overlook, thanks to the chemistry between the two leads, as well as the supporting ensemble. And while there are opportunities where the movie could have been even funnier and raunchier, its' heart never leaves the proper place.

*True story, after the screening, while the credits were rolling in the half darkened theater, someone came up to me and said "Nice job up there" and walked away. I figure it was Rogen they were confusing me for, and not Smith. But either way, Rogen dropped a bunch of weight and looks far better than me now.

**I'd like to point out I wrote this review about a month ago, and since then, everybody, especially Smith, has pointed out that only a few people got the veiled reference to the Clerks days. What I appreciate about it the most is that the gang doesn't have Hollywood ambitions, and the movie doesn't become about filmmaking.

Happy Halloween!

Brand Spankin' New Costume!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

As usual, it's all my fault.

Box Office Report: High Saw Musical 8! (3+V, git it?)

Dude here again. It's that time of year again. The time of year when I forget it's Halloween, and bust out the old Pac-Man costume in a last ditch effort to attend parties and see girls wearing "sexy" versions of Hallowen favorites. My personal favorite? Sexy Boba Fett!

I need help.

This weekend, a massive battle was fought, and singing tweens beat out torture devices. Unless you consider them one and the same. I 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).

1. Hich School Musical 3: Senior Year (BV) - $42.0, 3623 screens, week 1, $42.0 total

2. Saw V (LGF) - $30.0, 3060 screens, week 1, $30.0 total

3. Max Payne (Fox) - $7.6, 3381 screens, week 2, $29.6 total

4. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (BV)- $6.9, 3190 screens, week 4, $78.1 total

5. Pride & Glory (WB/NL)- $6.3, 2585 screens, week 1, $6.3 total

6. The Secret Life of Bees (FoxS) - $5.9, 1630 screens, week 2, $19.2 total

7. W. (LGF) - $5.3, 2050 screens, week 2, $18.7 total

8. Eagle Eye (Par/DW)- $5.1, 2558 screens, week 5, $87.9 total

9. Body Of Lies (WB) - $4.0, 2150 screens, week 3, $30.8 total

10. Quarantine (ScrGms) $2.5, 2228 screens, week 3, $28.7 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it means that Disney clearly knows what they're doing. They struck while the iron was still hot, they know what works, and they brought that damn musical movie in for a huge landing. (3rd highest October opening!) And for the first time since the second film's release, a Saw movie comes in second. Still, they keep making Saw movies, and a $30 million opening is nothing to shy away from.

Pride & Glory, the long-shelved mediocre-reviewed Edward Norton-Colin Farrell police-drama opened nowhere near the other two releases this weekend. One more nail in the coffin that was New Line cinema.

Below the radar, Clint Eastwood's Changeling opened up on 15 screens, and took in $502,000 with the highest per screen average of all releases. Pretty impressive, but I think it's mostly due to star wattage combo of Angelina Jolie and Clint Eastwood. (Although, I'm seeing it because Burn Notice is in it! Yeah, Burn Notice!). Also, Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut Synecdoche, New York opened up on 9 screens and took in $173,000. And some Anne Hathaway movie called Passengers was dumped on just over a hundred screens and took in $185,000.

And since it's Halloween, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D was released on just under 300 screens, and took in $372,000. Impressive for a 15 year old movie. Thanks Hot Topic and goth kids around the world for not letting this one die.

There you have my amazing break down. Next week, Zack and Miri make a Porno, some teen horror movie opens, and I count the days until the new James Bond. (After that, it's all about Watchmen. Did you see that trailer from Scream awards?!?)

Until next weekend.......

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Box Office Report: Payne in the arse!

Dude here again. I couldn't quell the chihuahua uprising south of the border. Their numbers are just too plentiful. And I fear dogs. Especially when in large numbers. But I still have yet to return.

This weekend, the chihuahuas are knocked down a peg. But still prove more popular than the president of the U.S. 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).

1. Max Payne (Fox) - $18.0, 3376 screens, week 1, $18.0 total

2. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (BV)- $11.2, 3239 screens, week 3, $69.0 total

3. The Secret Life of Bees (FoxS) - $11.0, 1591 screens, week 1, $11.0 total

4. W. (LGF) - $10.5, 2030 screens, week 1, $10.5 total

5. Eagle Eye (Par/DW)- $7.3, 3326 screens, week 4, $81.3 total

6. Body Of Lies (WB) - $6.8, 2714 screens, week 2, $24.4 total

7. Quarantine (ScrGms) $6.3, 2463 screens, week 2, $24.6 total

8. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Sony) - $3.9, 2241 screens, week 3, $26.7 total

9. Sex Drive (Sum) - $3.5, 2421 screens, week 1, $3.5 total

10. Nights in Rodanthe (WB)- $2.6, 2115 screens, week 4, $36.8 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it means that lazy copy editors with their fingers squarely on the pulse of the zeitgeist will note that Mark Wahlberg will have "talked to the animals" in first place, and told them to say hello their mothers for him. Which is a fancy way of saying that Max Payne took first place. You know something? I have a good friend named Matt Payne. Where's his movie, huh Mark Wahlberg?

The Secret Life of Bees took in a lot of money. That's nice. But I thought this movie came out last year, with Jerry Seinfeld as the voice of the bee. Maybe I need to pay more attention to things. W. also opened up, which is not a sequel to Q. Instead it's a movie about the current U.S. President that nobody really likes. But the movie made a pretty impressive debut nonetheless.

And there was also a movie called Sex Drive that opened. It featured Amish jokes. I heard it was funny, but comedy and numbers often work inversely. I'm sure this film will find a huge audience and massive success when it's released on video. Which will probably be very soon the way turnaround goes these days.

There you have my amazing break down. Next week, it's time for another Saw movie!!! And there's something called High School Musical 3 which is something that makes a lot of young people really excited. I'm excited, because it's from the director of Newsies!

Hasta próximo fin de semana.......

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Box Office Report: I'm late. Suck it.

Dude here again. I'm going to keep this short and sweet, as I'm packing for Mexico. The two-week punch of Beverly Hills Chihuahua has me convinced that something is seriously amiss down there. And somebody has to stop this chihuahua uprising. And that person is me.

This weekend, more films were released. Some came close to defeating the chihuahuas, but ultimately failed. 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).

1. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (BV)- $17.5, 3218 screens, week 2, $52.5 total

2. Quarantine (ScrGms) $14.2, 2461 screens, week 1, $14.2 total

3. Body Of Lies (WB) - $13.1, 2710 screens, week 1, $13.1 total

4. Eagle Eye (Par/DW)- $11.0, 3614 screens, week 3, $70.5 total

5. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Sony) - $6.5, 2421 screens, week 2, $20.8 total

6. The Express (Uni) - $4.7, 2808 screens, week 1, $4.7 total

7. Nights in Rodanthe (WB)- $4.6, 2575 screens, week 3, $32.3 total

8. Appaloosa (WB/NL) - $3.34, 1290 screens, week 4, $10.8 total

9. The Duchess (ParV) - $3.32, 1207 screens, week 4, $5.6 total

10. City Of Ember (Fox) - $3.2, 2022 screens, week 1, $3.2 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it means that the combined star power of Crowe and DiCaprio weren't enough to attract people as much as talking dogs and flesh eating zombies. And also that people prefer their football live, and not in filmed form. And that a post apocalyptic kids movie isn't exactly the most marketable of ideas, no matter how innovative the set design is.

So yeah, that's the brief version. Let me stress again, this is a fact finding/butt-kicking mission to Mexico I'm on. It has nothing to do with any sort of pending investigations, and absolutely has nothing to do with a loan shark named "Johnny No-Thumbs". nothing at all.

There you have my amazing break down. Next week, a movie about the current US president. And Max Payne, with Mark Wahlberg, who should really consider running for president really. Because nobody would want mess with Mark Wahlberg. Nobody.

Hasta próximo fin de semana.......

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Saturday Night Live...on sunday

There's always talk about how Saturday Night Live isn't funny anymore. Or at least it's not as funny as it used to be. I disagree. I think each episode of the past few years always has something worthwhile. yes, there are stupid things, and they still don't know how to end a sketch to save their lives. But I'm an unabashed fan.

A lot of this has to do with the casting. I think Bill Hader is quite possibly the funniest man on the face of the Earth right now. And thanks to Hot Rod, I find Andy Samberg quite hilarious as well. Plus, he voiced a Space Chimp. The rest of the guys are pretty damn good, and the ladies are brilliant. My crush goes between them all, but Amy Poehler is slowly losing, but only because she carries Gob's seed. But Kristin Wiig and Casey Wilson? I like to imagine erotic pillow fights between them. And somehow a pizza is involved.

I may have said too much.

All the attention towards SNL lately has been about the political content. Due to some election that's happening, I guess. And because a former castmate happens to resemble (a do a deaad on impression) of that Palin chick, who I feel weird adding to the aforementioned pillow fight.

But not everything has to be about politics. Sometimes, they'll have a sketch that's just damn funny.

Bonus points for it actually being live, and not one of the digital shorts, typically the best thing in any given episode.

As an extra added bonus, here's the last time I laughed my nads off at one of their sketches.

Box Office Report: For my Dawgs!

Dude here again. Some of you may wonder how I can come up with fresh and exciting new Box Office Reports week after week, full of all the insight and wit you've come to expect from this column. And the answer is simple: bottled up rage and a delusional hope that this is the week that gets me paid. Rarely does it happen (the paying) but that anger fuels the passive aggressive energy that allows me to tell you how much more money Kirk Cameron's Christian firefighting movie made than I did this week. I need money.

This weekend, we've gone and supersized. While the previous weeks only released 4 movies in pretty wide release, October said "Eff that noise! I'm gonna release EIGHT!" 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).

1. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (BV)- $29.0, 3215 screens, week 1, $29.0 total

2. Eagle Eye (Par/DW)- $17.7, 3516 screens, week 2, $54.6 total

3. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Sony) - $12.0, 2421 screens, week 1, $12.0 total

4. Nights in Rodanthe (WB)- $7.3, 2702 screens, week 2, $25.0 total

5. Appaloosa (WB/NL) - $5.0, 1045 screens, week 3, $5.5 total

6. Lakeview Terrace (ScrG) - $4.5, 2574 screens, week 3, $32.1 total

7. Burn After Reading (Focus) - $4.08, 2397 screens, week 4, $51.6 total

8. Fireproof (Gold) - $4.06, 852 screens, week 2, $12.4 total

9. An American Carol (Viv) $3.8, 1639 screens, week 1, $3.8 total

10. Religulous (LGF) - $3.5, 502 screens, week 1, $3.5 total

So those are the numbers, but what do they mean? Well, it means that a chihuahua from Beverly Hills made more in three days than those Chimps in space (In SPACE, people!!!) made in their entire run. Le sigh. Leading the pack is the movie about talking dogs. I'm both pleasantly surprised and a little concerned that Beverly Hills Chihuahua only did $29 million. That's LeBouf numbers. Not talking animal numbers. From Disney. Double-you tea eff?

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which is not a the modernized long awaited next entry in The Thin Man series, was the other main performer of the week. It looks like they shot part of the movie where I grew up, so I kind of want to see it. But there's the whole "teenager" thing, and seeing those movies makes me feel creepy. That's why I stay home and watch Degrassi, where nobody can judge me for spying on teen melodrama.

Appaloosa widened it's screen count like a belt on Thanksgiving day, and took in a respectable amount. From there on, the other new releases didn't fare too well. An American Carol and Religulous (the 6th consecutive weekly Lionsgate release!) round out the top ten, with a nice little battle of right versus left politics, disguised as laughter. Allegedly, I've heard American Carol isn't all that funny, which is disturbing coming from a man who brought us Airplane.

Underneath the top ten are three more wider releases. Flash of Genius, the inspiring true-life tale of the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper (exciting film subject there) took in $2.3 million. Right on that one's heels comes Blindness, pulling in just above $2 million. And How To Lose Friends and Alienate People, starring one Simon Pegg (Who I made laugh one time) lands in 19th place on the list, taking in $1.4 million

Below the radar, Rachel Getting Married, starring Anne Hathaway and directed by Jonathan "Silence of the Lambs" Demme, opened up on 9 screens and took in $303,000, with a per screen average of around $33,000. That's the best average out of all films this weekend, including LeBouf.

And after 13 weeks, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D finally crossed the elusive $100 million mark. This makes Brendan Fraser and Robert Downey Jr. the kings of opening movies this summer. Meditate on THAT.

There you have my amazing break down. Next week, I'm sure something spooky comes out. Because Halloween is right around the corner. Oh, and there's another Ridley Scott movie starring Russell Crowe coming out. I often feel that if given the chance, Ridley Scott would pull a Lucas and replace everyone in Blade Runner with Russell Crowe.

Until next weekend....

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Sting!

Now don't stand so close to me!

Get it? Because he sang that song... "It's Not Unusal".