Weekend Movie Preview (7.8.11)

Action fans: time to breathe. Comedy fans: this one’s for you. Fans of both? You’re screwed. Keep on getting your butt to the nearest theater. This “alternative programming” weekend features family-focused comedy “Zookeeper” starring Kevin James with his first top-billing test since “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” For the adults, there’s the concept comedy “Horrible Bosses” starring a slew of terrific comedy names including Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Charlie Day to mention just half.

New This Week


Directed by Frank Coraci
Written by Nick Bakay, Rock Reuben, Kevin James, Jay Scherick and David Ronn
Starring: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb

Summary: A zookeeper (James) finds out that the animals in his zoo have been holding something back: they can talk, and they have broken their silence to help him with a special lady in his life that otherwise keeps spurning his advances.

The Word: With Adam Sandler releasing a Valentine’s Day and Holiday season comedies this year, Kevin James gets the summer to try and work his “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” magic using that wonderful old idea: what if animals could really talk?

Rotten Tomatoes: 14% (very bad)

My Thoughts: I haven’t despised a movie on premise and trailers this much in a long time. I’ll give James credit as he seems to be funny doing imitations of animals like bears and stuff, but that’s pretty low brow.

Recommendation: With an edgier option for adults in place that has gotten good compared to awful reviews, hard to patronize this one unless you’ve got kids who won’t be satisfied by “Winnie the Pooh.”

Horrible Bosses

Directed by Seth Gordon
Written by Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell

Summary: Three guys (Bateman, Sudeikis and Day) have miserable work lives thanks to their cruel and unusual bosses (Spacey, Farrell and Aniston). Seeing as quitting is not an option, they conspire to kill them with the help of an ex-con named Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx).

The Word: This knockout cast ranks among the summer’s best if not the year’s for a comedy. Although Aniston has to hold up the female demographic end of things, the other guys cover an impressive range of talents and niches. Bateman looks to be the lone veteran while Sudeikis (“SNL,” “Hall Pass”) and Day (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) are on the rise. Spacey adds a nice classy touch while Aniston and Farrell seem to play the most against their type, the former as a sexually inappropriate dentist and the latter as a neurotic dude with a combover.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75% (very good)

My Thoughts: My guess is this super-team of comedians nails this high concept rather well as many thought. 75% is terrific for a comedy and worthwhile comedies have been extremely hard to come by. I mentioned in my summer preview that this strikes an incredible balance between blue-collar humor and relateability and black comedy.

Recommendation: A worthy summer comedy if you’ve passed on the other options/didn’t care much for “Bad Teacher.”

Box Office Predictions

There’s been a lot of turnover at the top this summer, but with only comedy offerings this weekend, there will be a repeat. Transformers: Dark of the Moon made nearly $100 million Friday through Sunday of last weekend, so $45-50 million is likely in store, easily enough to beat the newcomers.

Of the newcomers, I’m going to go with recent trends and select Horrible Bosses to edge out Zookeeper. What I mean is that the summer’s three big R-rated comedies have all opened with more than $20 million. “Bad Teacher” took $30 million and its reviews don’t compare to “Bosses.” Cameron Diaz at the focal point helped that film to do better than most of its ilk, however, so I’m thinking closer to $25 million.

“Zookeeper” boasts Kevin James, who did score $30 million with “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” If he can pull off another anomaly, I will be gladly proven wrong. With Jim Carrey making $18 million in a family-centered comedy about animals just a few weeks ago in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” I think James could help this one do a little over $20 million. Reviews are awful and there are plenty of family alternatives out there right now.

Cars 2 should see a smaller decline in business it its third week. I think it should make $10-15 million.

In last place we have a little bit of a battle. With “Horrible Bosses” as direct competition, I’m not sure “Bad Teacher” can stay in the top five. Despite bad reviews, I think Larry Crowne can hang around and decline less steeply as the only true romantic comedy option. It will be neck-and-neck, however.

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2. Horrible Bosses
3. Zookeeper
4. Cars 2
5. Larry Crowne


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