Weekend Movie Preview (8.26.11)

August: the Statue of Liberty of movie months.
“Bring your tired, your poor, your huddle movies, yearning to be released.”
Summer bows out with another three movies to make for 11 in the last three weekends. This weekend it’s the femme fatale revenge film “Colombiana,” Paul Rudd in “Our Idiot Brother,” and the Guillermo del Toro-produced “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.” Cling on to summer while it’s still here, folks! Or just stay home. Hard to argue either way.

New This Week


Directed by Olivier Megaton
Written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Callum Blue

Summary: A young girl watches some mobsters murder her parents before here eyes. She grows up to be a ruthless assassin bent on tracking down their killer and getting her revenge.

The Word: How many times have we seen Luc Besson’s name attached to a revenge thriller? This time the avenger comes in the form of a young woman in Saldana (“Star Trek,” “Avatar”). With cast of otherwise un-notable actors, she’ll have to carry the show here to make the revenge just as sweet for the audience.

Rotten Tomatoes: 57% (mixed)

My Thoughts: Saldana’s a sizzling star and she will probably carry this film as far as a completely unoriginal action thriller could ever possibly go. Hopefully it’s just the beginning of her female action star days.

Recommendation: Reliable entertainment for sure, but in a cluttered August, it hardly stands out as must-see material.

Our Idiot Brother

Directed by Jesse Peretz
Written by David Schisgall, Evgenia Peretz
Starring: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer

Summary: Ned (Rudd) is an oblivious idealist whose faith in humanity and immaturity get him in a lot of trouble. After getting out of prison early for good behavior, he barges in on the lives of his three sisters.

The Word: “Our Idiot Brother” premiered to a generally positive reception at Sundance early this year. With a trio of actresses this strong and Rudd playing a character that stands out as genuinely different in comparison to his Judd Apatow roles, there’s reason for this alternative end-of-summer programming.

Rotten Tomatoes: 70% (very good)

My Thoughts: With a trio of actresses this strong and Rudd playing a character that stands out as genuinely different in comparison to his Judd Apatow roles, there’s reason to believe in this alternative end-of-summer programming. At the least, it should help prep our habits for the generally more sophisticated fall fare.

Recommendation: If you should make it out, this is probably your best bet.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Directed by Troy Nixey
Written by Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Robbins, Nigel McKeand (1976 teleplay)
Starring: Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes, Bailee Madison

Summary: A young girl goes to live with her father and his new girlfriend in a creepy old house that possesses demon-like spirits determined to bring her to their world.

The Word: The del Toro name is a big one these days, so even if he merely adapted the original TV special and produced the film, the odds are it’s going to still be imaginative. Nixey is a rookie director, but yet again, one with a great supervisor.

Rotten Tomatoes: 56% (bad)

My Thoughts: By far the most promising of the horror offerings this summer, but it’s hard to ignore a bump from January to August (from one awful month to the next awful month). Not sure what del Toro’s thing is with horror movies starring little girls and other-worldly spirits, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt, even after the film was moved from January to August.

Recommendation: Probably the most pure horror film of the summer for genre fans.

Box Office Predictions

Outside of two films, August has been an awful month for the box office, so don’t expect the summer to end on a high note. Believe it or not, The Help should continue to draw crowds and finish with another $15 million this weekend. Sadly, that’s good enough for first place; no film looks like it has quite enough to be a sleeper hit a la “Takers” last year.

The rest of the top-five finishers all project within $8-12 million. With horror generally doing well at the box office in late August and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark looking like legit horror, I think it can manage $12 million. Next, I’m going to make a bolder choice and go with Our Idiot Brother. Paul Rudd has a good rep and the film is already getting a bigger release than expected, so I think $10 million is reasonable. That should be just a tad better than the $9-10 million for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

With only Zoe Saldana, it’s hard to get too behind Colombiana, but as a revenge flick, it should manage $8 million at the least.

1. The Help
2. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
3. Our Idiot Brother
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
5. Colombiana


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