Weekend Movie Preview (8.12.11)

August would be the “Forrest Gump” proverbial box of chocolates in that you never know what you’re going to get. This weekend’s offerings say it all. On one hand, yet another R-rated comedy in “30 Minutes or Less,” but on the other, a historial drama in “The Help,” a horror franchise sequel in “Final Destination 5” and a 3-D concert movie in “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.”

New This Week

The Help (Wed.)

Directed by Tate Taylor
Written by Tate Taylor, Kathryn Stockett (novel)
Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard

Summary: A college graduate in segregation-era Mississippi (Stone) comes home and starts life as a journalist. When one of the town wives (Howard) begins to motion for a requirement that Southern homes have a separate bathroom for “the help” (black nannies/housekeepers), she decides to write a story from their perspective and ends up with a book of material.

The Word: “The Help” is based on a best-selling novel featured in a number of book clubs. As the summer’s only wide-release dramatic option and a young starlet (Stone) paired up with a venerable actress (Davis), this could be one of those films that doesn’t make a splash but hangs around while to make a good amount of money and even generate some Oscar buzz.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73% (very good)

My Thoughts: Terrific casting here could help elevate a traditional Civil Rights tale into something with a substantial amount of heart and character. There also appears to be a nice balance of humor to slice down some of the racial tension.

Recommendation: It’s a long film for the summer (137 minutes), but if you’re longing for some emotional drama, you got it.

Final Destination 5

Directed by Steven Quale
Written by Eric Heisserer, Jeffrey Reddick
Starring: Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, David Koechner, Tony Todd

Summary: Several young people survive a suspension bridge collapse, but death feels cheated and finds mysterious ways of claiming back all the survivors.

The Word: I know, I know, they said the last one was “The Final Destination” which came out in 2009. Well, that made money like the rest of them, so here comes the fifth installment. Not much else can be said about this film other than it will follow in the shoes of its predecessors.

Rotten Tomatoes: 53% (mixed)

My Thoughts: Just like the “Saw” franchise, these movies rely on death creativity. I’m not sure how much more creative you can get after a point, but after the financial resurgence made by the last film, there’s no reason to see this one doing much worse. If it does, that should say something about 3D, because “The Final Destination” was released prior to the explosion of the medium in 2009.

Recommendation: For fans of the original films only.

30 Minutes or Less

Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Written by Michael Diliberti, Matthew Sullivan
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson

Summary: Two criminals kidnap a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank. He enlists the help of his buddy (Ansari) to be his accomplice.

The Word: Many have awaited Ruben Fleischer’s follow-up to the hit comedy “Zombieland.” He does so with star Eisenberg and a few other reputable comic talents including McBride from the Apatow school of comedy, Ansari of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and Swardson of the Sandler school of comedy. The film looks to blend comedy and action much like “Zombieland” did.

Rotten Tomatoes: 46% (mixed)

My Thoughts: I’ve seen footage of  this that’s had me laughing my head off and footage that’s barely made me move a muscle. At a run time of less than an hour, the movie better come fast and pack heat in the form of laughs and crazy action. Fleischer handleed both deftly before, let’s hope he can do it again.

Recommendation: So short it might only be worth a rental with the mixed reviews.

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie

Directed by Kevin Tancharoen
Starring: Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Dianna Agron, Matthew Morrison

Summary: A 3-D movie version of the “Glee” cast’s live concert tour that took place earlier this summer.

The Word: If it worked for Justin Bieber, why shouldn’t it work for the cast of Fox’s hit show “Glee”? After a short concert tour this summer, Fox decided to film shows on the tour with 3-D cameras to strike while the show’s iron is hottest.

Rotten Tomatoes: 67% (good)

My Thoughts: The Biebs had great success (even critically) with his 3-D concert movie back in February. It has over 60 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and made nearly $100 million worldwide. Considering it only cost them a handful of cameras and a few crew salaries, “Glee” should be able to do just as well, but a smaller release means it won’t be nearly as big of a box-office hit.

Recommendation: If you know someone who was bummed they couldn’t make it to the actual concerts (or simply couldn’t afford it), this will be a treat.

Box Office Predictions

These apes won’t budge easily. I see Rise of the Planet of the Apes taking full advantage of no blockbuster-esque competition to win the box office as second straight week. A smaller drop than usually should be expected, with something close to 50 percent and a resulting $25-28 million. Although its predecessor made about that much in 2009, Final Destination 5 shouldn’t do as well. That was before people lashed back at 3D (and were also under the impression they were seeing the final destination, which they weren’t). I expect this to finish closer to “Final Destination 3,” although horror fans have been deprived all summer. Look for $20-25 million.

It gets tricky at these next couple spots. I’m going to give a very slight edge to 30 Minutes or Less. August comedies, for some reason, tend to do better than expected. After “The Change-Up” flopped last week, something that seems more progressive and for younger people should do better. Along with The Help, it should land between $15-20 million. The comedy/drama starring Emma Stone is on track for a nice weekend for a drama (they tend to stick around longer — openings are kind of a bonus), but it opened Wednesday. As the main film for the ladies, however and with the book’s reputation, it could defy that early release. A touch call for sure.

In fifth, I have to take note that no family films are here to tango with The Smurfs. “Glee” isn’t exactly a family affair, but it comes close. The problem is at a 3-D premium, parents will be a bit reluctant to take their kids (and pay extra) to see something that’s on TV. The film gets a much smaller release than “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” so I expect maybe $12 million whereas those Smurfs should manage another $12-14 million.

1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
2. Final Destination 5
3. 30 Minutes or Less
4. The Help
5. The Smurfs


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