October 1, 2014

June 2009 Movie Preview

If May is for sequels and reboots, then June is for comedy.

6/5

Wide

LAND OF THE LOST

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Will Ferrell is transported to a previously obscure part of my childhood.

WILL IT SUCK?
After the underrated Lemony Snicket’s, I’m willing to give director Brad Siberling the benefit of the doubt. Having a writer from Entourage on board doesn’t hurt, but I’m not as confident in his SNL alum co-writer.

Nice to see Pushing Daisies’ Anna Friel get some work, tho.

Oh, and in a useless piece of trivia, in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Will Ferrell played a character named Marshall Willenholly, a play on the Land of the Lost‘s theme song lyrics, “Marshall, Will and Holly…”

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
2nd frame of Up is a little bit of an issue, and Ferrell doesn’t pack ‘em in like he used to. $101mil.

THE HANGOVER

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Guys wake up from a seriously effed-up bachelor party and try to figure out how they got a tiger and a baby in their room, among other things.

WILL IT SUCK?
Much as I love Todd Philips work (School for Scoundrels notwithstanding) his direction is no match for the suckage that is the writing team that gave us Rebound, Four Christmases and the recently lamented Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Which is too bad, since I kind of like the casting: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Heather Graham, Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha and Rob Riggle.

That having been said, early buzz is actually pretty good.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
I think the lesser-known cast is a bigger issue than any outside competition. $36mil.

MY LIFE IN RUINS

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
How That Chick From “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” Got Her Groove Back

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. Helmed by How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days director Donald Petrie which is not encouraging but written by longtime Simpsons scribe Mike Reiss which is.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
No direct competition, but Wedding is not an easily repeatable success. $60mil.

Limited

AWAY WE GO

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Road movie with Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski as a couple about to have a baby looking for a place to raise it.

WILL IT SUCK?
Very curious to see what “I usually make gorgeous pictures” Sam Mendes does with a decidedly lo-fi, scrappy indie look. Also curious to see if Krasinski can play something other than Jim. Also curious to see what Dave Eggers’ (co-writing with wife Vendela Vida) screenwriting chops are like (especially given that he penned the upcoming Spike Jonze Where the Wild Things Are adaptation). So you could say I was curious.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
High profile indies Food, Inc. and Moon come out next week, but this should still do okay. $8mil.

6/12

Wide

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3

WHAT’S THE POINT, ER, PITCH?
Hollywood tries to piss me off by taking a perfectly good film and fucking it up for no good reason.

WILL IT SUCK?
If you’ve never seen the original, maybe not. Otherwise, even Brian Helgeland’s screenwriting chops (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River) can’t improve on awesomeness. Tony Scott will give everything a nice sheen, but no depth. Denzel Washington and John Travolta can make this a servicable thriller, but nothing as unforgettable as the idiosyncratic Walter Matthau and calculating Robert Shaw.

Ironically, I’m guessing they’ll drop the whole “Mr. Blue,” “Mr. Green” bit since today’s audience will credit that to Reservoir Dogs which, in fact, took it from the original Pelham.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Not enough people have seen the original to be outraged. $89mil.

IMAGINE THAT

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Eddie Murphy’s daughter helps him solve business problems.

WILL IT SUCK?
From the director of Over the Hedge, which didn’t suck, and the writers behind Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure…and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
June is comedy-rich, but family-oriented Murphy is pretty hard to beat. $66mil.

TETRO

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Family drama about estranged brothers in Buenos Aires.

WILL IT SUCK?
Don’t call it an autobiography. Although certain aspects were inspired by true life, writer/director Francis Ford Coppola insists this is not his life story. Oh, did I not mention this was written and directed by Godfather-Man? Early buzz is good.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
You can only play the comeback card so many times. $1mil.

Limited

MOON

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Sam Rockwell loses his shit on the lunar surface.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. Rockwell is joined by Kevin Spacey getting his HAL on as the voice of the ship’s computer.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Buzz is really good coming off of Tribeca, Sundance and SXSW. Should help raise awareness. $6mil.

FOOD, INC.

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
In case you were thinking of ever eating anything you didn’t grow yourself ever again…

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. No surprise authors Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) are up in here, too.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Muckraking docs that don’t have the name “Michael Moore” in them usually have trouble. $1mil.

SEX POSITIVE

(Moved from March)

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Documentary profiling Richard Berkowitz, one of the first men to advocate safe sex in the gay community during the early years of the AIDS crisis.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is mixed. The IMDb rating ain’t so hot but it won the Grand Jury Award at L.A. Outfest.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Going up against a higher-profile doc. $500,000.

6/19

Wide

YEAR ONE

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
History of the World: Part Two

WILL IT SUCK?
As a writer/director, Harold Ramis has turned in some classic work (Groundhog Day, Caddyshack), but not all the time (Club Paradise), but he’s co-writing with some Office alums here, so here’s hoping. Nice cast: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin’), Vinnie Jones, Hank Azaria, Olivia Wilde and Xander Berkeley. Oh, and since it’s one in four comedies, Judd Apatow is producing.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Nicely distanced from Land of the Lost and probably only a little competition from The Proposal. $56mil.

THE PROPOSAL

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Ryan Reynolds has to marry his boss (Sandra Bullock) so she won’t get deported to Canada and their terrible, terrible health care system.

WILL IT SUCK?
From Step Up and 27 Dresses director Anne Fletcher. Now, I heard 27 Dresses wasn’t all that bad, but this is still probably not going to do it for me.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Betty White feeling up Sandra Bullock never fails to get a laugh whenever I’ve seen audiences react to the trailer. It’s the new rapping granny. $70mil.

WHATEVER WORKS

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Movie

WILL IT SUCK?
The latest from Woody Allen. Seems a natural fit to match him and Larry David. Reactions have been very mixed, from the IMDb, where it’s rated as his best. flick. ever. to RottenTomatoes where critics are yawning at yet another older-misanthrope-gets-it-on-with-shockingly-young-ingenue (Evan Rachel Wood, in this case) story. Nice cast, tho: Ed Begley Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Michael McKeon.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Not sure why this is going out wide, but I’m sure it’ll kick Tranformers 2‘s ass next week. $12mil.

Limited

DEAD SNOW

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Nazi zombies. Angry, frozen, Nazi zombies.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is pretty good. Made a big splatter at Sundance. You gotta love any trailer that (a) quotes Temple of Doom and (b) has the tag line “Ein! Zwei! Die!”

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Horror/comedy very rarely works in indieville. For every Shaun of the Dead there’s a Fido, Severance and Black Sheep. $1mil.

$9.99

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
The short stories of Etgar Keret put together into an ensemble drama…oh, and rendered by stop-motion puppets.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. Kudos at the Mexico City film fest and an Annie nod. Keret, who co-adapted the screenplay with the director, Tatia Rosenthal, also wrote the woefully underseen Wristcutters: A Love Story.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Not high profile enough for the competition. $500,000.

6/26

Wide

TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
The Deceptacons go after Shia LaBeouf. Again.

WILL IT SUCK?
The Transformers are a pretty known quantity at this point, so expect more of the same. Literally. 40 robots instead of the 10 or so they scrounged together for the first one. Same talent behind the camera, adding screenwriter Ehren Kruger who hasn’t impressed since The Ring and probably won’t change that here, especially under Michael Bay’s direction.

(It really is impressive the difference a director makes. One of the biggest critical successes of the summer, Star Trek, was penned by the same writers as this – minus Kruger – and the original Transformers, but Bay is no J.J. Abrams.)

But there is no question you’ll get plenty of giant robot smashy-smashy.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Probably going to be the biggest movie of the summer. $304mil.

MY SISTER’S KEEPER

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Little girl (Abigail Breslin) is understandably put out to discover that she was bred as a an organ farm for her ailing older sister.

WILL IT SUCK?
Director Nick Cassavetes’ reteams with the writer of his The Notebook which, in spite of the critical drubbing it took upon release, is very well regarded on the IMDb. Still not enough to get me interested, although I am curious to see what Jason Patric does with his role as the dad.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Plot-wise, this doesn’t seem equipped to catch fire the same way The Notebook did. $17mil.

Limited

CHÉRI

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
It’s Stephen Frears. I don’t really care. I’m in.

WILL IT SUCK?
Well, if you must know it’s based on some Collette novels about a layabout (Rupert Friend) whose mother (Kathy Bates) interferes with his relationship with a retired courtesan (Michelle Pfieffer). And after all that talk about Frears (who reunites with another Dangerous Liaisons alum here, screenwriter Christopher Hampton), the early buzz has this as one of his weaker efforts.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Without strong buzz, lacks breakout potential. $8mil.

THE STONING OF SORAYA M.

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Woman tells journalist a horrifying story about what happened to a woman in a small Iranian village.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is mostly good. Starring Shohreh Aghdashloo and a defy-you-to-recognize-him-in-the-trailer Jim Caviezel.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
With the right coverage, I could see this getting some attention. $5mil.

THE HURT LOCKER

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Bomb defusers in Iraq.

WILL IT SUCK?
Hell no. Read.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Summit has a pretty clever release strategy here. It’ll have about a month of limited release before going wide. If the buzz pans out, that could work. Unfortunately, I think the trend against Iraq films hitting at the box office isn’t making an exception for one that’s actually good. $11mil.

LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Different people’s lives intersect in, well, Cracktown.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. Probably not as cheesy as the trailer would suggest. Interesting cast, including a 180-from-Superman Brandon Routh as a resident crackhead.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Overcrowded weekend. $500,000.

SURVEILLANCE

WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Witnesses and investigators converge on a killing spree in Nowheresville, USA.

WILL IT SUCK?
More like meh. See my review (scroll down).

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Again, overcrowded weekend. $1mil.

Next Month: Sacha Baron Cohen graduates to tentpole.

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