Weekend Movie Preview (3.16.12)

It’s been ages since we had a weekend with only one new wide release, so I coupled it with an appealing limited one. This St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness weekend we get the comedy “21 Jump Street” based on the ’80s TV show. Stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum look to flex their box-office guns. But if you get many independent movies where you live, you might want to check out “Friends with Kids.”



Now in Theaters

21 Jump Street

Directed by Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Written by Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill, Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell (TV series)
Starring: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane

Summary: A pair of cops, one with braun but no brains (Tatum) and the other the opposite (Hill) are selected to go undercover as high school students in order to crack a drug ring distributing a new synthetic drug. To do, they’ll need to be the coolest kids in school.

The Word: Television show remakes as movies seem to rarely work out well (if they even get made), but with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller trying their hands at live action, that looks to change. The most noticeable factor here is Hill’s dramatic weight loss for the role, which many people will have trouble getting over. Despite the appeal for teens, the film is (like Michael Bacall’s other March film, “Project X”) Rated “R.” Everyone knows Hill is funny, but not everyone has seen how “Pretty Boy” can handle comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85% (great)

My Thoughts: I find Tatum to be best-suited for comedy, and this movie will be his shot to prove it. I couldn’t care less about the relation to the TV series, but I do like that this didn’t get your run-of-the-mill comedy treatment, as evidenced by the choice in directors. Hopefully what we see on TV is just the tip of the iceberg that is a lot of strong R-rated humor and maybe even action.



Friends with Kids

Written and Directed by Jennifer Westfeldt
Starring: Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm

Summary: Two friends commit themselves to a platonic relationship in order to have the children they always wanted but without the negative effects child-rearing has on relationships.

The Word: We haven’t seen Jennifer Westfeldt since “Kissing Jessica Stein,” but she returns with a stellar cast at her back 10 years later for this story that serves as the exact opposite of a “Friends with Benefits” or “No Strings Attached” movie. This independent film will only play in about 640 theaters.

Rotten Tomatoes: 62% (good)

My Thoughts: It’s odd to see recently anointed comedy heavyweights Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm and Maya Rudolph on back-up duty, but Westfeldt and Adam Scott should be household names too. I have a little pause with this film getting such a small release, but one would imagine if Roadside Attractions had more marketing muscle they would’ve given it a bigger roll-out.



Box Office Predictions

With a wide appeal and an unexpectedly high percentage of positive reviews, 21 Jump Street should enjoy a one-and-done week atop the box office before “The Hunger Games” moves in. A comedy of this nature almost always snags $20 million, so I’m guessing at least $25 million this weekend.

That should edge out The Lorax, which simply doesn’t have any competition coming down the pipeline. Another $20-25 million looks likely.

Everything else will follow in line as it did last weekend. Look for John Carter to make at least $15 million, Project X about $6 million, and Act of Valor $4-5 million.

1. 21 Jump Street
2. The Lorax
3. John Carter
4. Project X
5. Act of Valor


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