Weekend Movie Preview (4.1.11)

April showers bring May summer movies. That’s what I always say … as of five seconds ago. There’s some truth to that: April is a sneaky dumping ground for bad films, much more discreet than say, January. These are the films that have big appeal but the studios would not feel comfortable saving for the summer because they don’t really think they can compete. They also capitalize on the flood of mediocrity from the first quarter of the year. I was drooling to see “Clash of the Titans” after 2010’s slow start, for example, and that was a waste of time.

Hopefully there will be a few gems this year, starting with this week even. “Source Code” has gotten strong early reviews, while “Hop” is sure to taste some of the success of “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” “Insidious” could also be a surprise horror hit — you never know. I will also note here that “The King’s Speech” gets a PG-13 re-release this weekend in about 1,000 theaters.

New This Week


Directed by Tim Hill
Written by Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch
Starring: Russell Brand (voice), James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco

The Word: If you want to make the next great live-action/animated hybrid family film a la “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” you hire the guy who directed “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” This Easter-themed family film looks to find that same success with bunnies and chicks and capitalizing on a holiday under-utilized by Hollywood. “Hop” pairs a real James Marsden with the voice of Russell Brand. Set to be the next Easter Bunny, E.B. would rather be a rock ‘n roll drummer, so he travels to Hollywood where has a run-in with Fred (Marsden) who is forced to befriend and care for him.

Rotten Tomatoes: 26% (bad)

My Thoughts: The humor looks completely child-geared in this movie, but Russell Brand seems like a good fit in this instance. I could never get too excited about a live-action/animation hybrid, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Recommendation: If you enjoyed those chipmunks, I feel like this movie would be somewhat better, though that’s not saying much.

Source Code

Directed by Duncan Jones
Written by Ben Ripley
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

The Word: “Moon” director Duncan Jones moved from indie sci fi to mainstream reality-bending thriller pretty quickly and well-deserved. Although I won’t gloat about “Moon” like some, I felt the director had earned himself the chance to tackle a big project. “Source Code” is about Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal), a soldier who is placed in a program that allows him to enter a man’s body in the last eight minutes of his life. Although he’s supposed to determine how a commuter train exploded, he’s convinced he can save a female passenger (Monaghan) in the process.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93% (excellent)

My Thoughts: I have a hard time saying no to any film that plays with the rules of time. Plus, “Source Code” takes place just outside Chicago. Despite the fact that no one would probably ever bomb a Chicago commuter train, consider me in a seat this weekend, especially given the early positive reviews.

Recommendation: If you enjoy a good reality-bending thriller that’s bound to have some kind of twist, the glowing reviews should be a bonus. Apparently in this film, you can even get past the plot holes.


Directed by James Wan
Written by Leigh Whannell
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, and Barbara Hershey

The Word: From the creator of “Saw” and the producers of “Paranormal Activity.” Yup, that’s got your attention, doesn’t it? James Wan (“Saw,” “Dead Silence”) directs this film that I would say combines “Paranormal Activity,” “Poltergeist” and “The Omen.” Wilson and Byrne play a couple whose son has an accident that puts him in some kind of coma. When they return home from the hospital, paranormal occurrences begin and the couple begins to see things in the house. At first they blame the house, but the son could be the problem.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73% (very good)

My Thoughts: The easy thing to do is dismiss this film as trying to hard to capitalize on “Paranormal Activity” and while that’s the marketing idea, do you think James Wan would waste his time with a mock-off type of film? Or Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne? The early reviews indicate we final have a very good horror film on our hands.

Recommendation: If you’re a horror fan, this is one you won’t want to miss.

Box Office Predictions

I didn’t debate too much with the box office this weekend despite three new films. I think with spring break that the box office will get a bit of a spring in its step working in tandem with some nice reviews for two of our newcomers.

Hop should easily (albeit sadly) earn enough for the top spot. Its April release, Easter exclusivity and the whole not being based on an existing property thing will keep it from going anywhere near the $44 million opening of “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” but I’m thinking between $20-30 million. If the marketing has won over families then I’ll say higher end, but James Marsden and Kaley Cuoco won’t exactly excite adults to go see this picture. Then again, the Chipmunks only had Jason Lee.

The other new films benefit from strong reviews yet will be weakened by smaller distributors. Summit releases Source Code, which is winning nearly all critics over, but other than the “Twilight” series, Summit’s films do a more casual box-office business. I see the film being very similar to “Limitless” in its appeal, so I think the upper end of $15-20 million is likely.

FilmDistrict, even more obscure than Summit, distributes Insidious, but horror fans have been deprived. To hear the buzz for this film will drive many to theaters and in my opinion, earn the film about $15 million. FilmDistrict and an unusual release date for a horror film are the only things holding this one back for me. It could finish closer to $10 million if those factors win out.

I have Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules in fourth. Any movie that caters to a fan base usually gets its opening total split in half, so $11 million sounds right. That leaves a battle between “Sucker Punch” and “Limitless.” The former is fending off bad reviews and the latter will half to fend off “Source Code.” I give the edge to Limitless with $9-10 million.

1. Hop
2. Source Code
3. Insidious
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
5. Limitless



You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment