Weekend Movie Preview (11.4.11)

Onward into November! As the Holiday Movie Season draws near, the jingle of bells and the buzz of Oscar statuettes starts to drag us into the theaters for some cozy weekend time expending. No surprise then that we have one of the fall’s big-name action comedies in “Tower Heist” starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, as well as a Christmas movie, albeit a “Harold  & Kumar” Christmas movie. For some of us, November means getting an early jump on what and who critics will be tapping for award nominations, but if that’s not your thing, there’s still stuff like — “Tower Heist.”

New This Week

Tower Heist

Directed by Brett Ratner
Written by Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda

Summary: The employees of a luxury apartment building find themselves robbed of their savings when the building’s richest resident is arrested for running a Ponzi scheme. Looking for revenge, they plan to rob him of his multi-million-dollar safety net, but it will mean taking the high-security tower he’s locked in.

The Word: Fans of “Rush Hour” and subsequently Brett Ratner (who has few fans after “X-Men: The Last Stand”) will find this in their comfort zone. Stiller and Murphy provide a reliable if not washed-up duo and the supporting cast has exceptional range from Matthew Broderick to Casey Affleck to “Precious” star Gabourey Sidibe. The plot expertly mixes “Rush Hour” with “Ocean’s Eleven” with (in my opinion) “Dodgeball” (a coincidence a “Dodgeball” writer helped pen this script? Probably not).

Rotten Tomatoes: 63% (good)

My Thoughts: I won’t hesitate to call this recycled heist junk and hate on Brett Ratner, but the dude knows how to give the people what they want, second only to Michael Bay. People don’t like spending their money on the formulaic, but on the familiar, and with enough unique cards in its hand, hopefully “Tower Heist” can do just that.

Recommendation: If it does its job, you won’t be disappointed if you see it now or wait until later.


 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson
Written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Starring: John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris

Summary: Harold and Kumar accidentally burn down Harold’s father-in-law’s prized Christmas tree and set out on another adventure.

The Word: Although the second wasn’t as good as the original, the stoner duo probably has something left in the tank, and what better way to please your legion of stoner fans than with some tawdry 3D. The other interesting note is that co-star Neil Patrick Harris has become considerably more famous than he was when he first cameoed, which could draw a few more viewers than ever anticipated.

Rotten Tomatoes: 71% (very good)

My Thoughts: I’ve rented the first two “Harold & Kumar” films, so why go to the theater and pay the 3D premium for cheesy effects? But that might be exactly why to see this film in the first place. Hopefully the humor is on par for those that spend the cash. If “Tower Heist” is the all-ages crowd-pleaser, then this is the specific age and disposition crowd-pleaser.

Recommendation: Unless you’re a big fan and excited to pay to see the film in 3D, renting seems smarter and it appears it will be a solid rental indeed.



Box Office Predictions

With strong newcomers expected at the box office from now until the dawn of 2012, predictions should be a lot easier. To start this wonderfully simpler time of year, Tower Heist should be able to fend off a great second weekend from Puss in Boots. Without Halloween to get in the way and still no competition for the kiddies, “Puss” won’t drop below $20 million, but closer to $25 million is possible. It won’t be enough to beat “Heist,” as Stiller has proven to be good for close to $30 million in his more all-ages films. Ratner has been about the same looking at the “Rush Hour” films.

In third place, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas should help usher in the holidays. Although early Christmas films have little holiday magic, the last “H&K” made $15 million. Add 3D premiums and a Neal Patrick Harris being more heavily involved in the advertising and that should offset the typical decline (and bad run comedy has had lately).

Sliding easily into fourth and fifth will be Paranormal Activity 3 and In Time. Both films should fall by about 50 percent at the least given their genres, but without any other new films to compete, it won’t keep them out of the top five.

1. Tower Heist
2. Puss in Boots
3. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
4. Paranormal Activity 3
5. In Time


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