Weekend Movie Preview (9.30.11)


Finally, September ends with another litany of films. The month has been feast or famine; for every “Moneyball,” “Drive,” and “Contagion,” we’ve had a “Shark Night,” “I Don’t Know How She Does It” and “Abduction.” This week looks to be no exception. “50/50” has been drawing rave reviews while “What’s Your Number?” gets lumped in with other unremarkable rom-coms. “Courageous” and “Dream House” were not screened for critics.

New This Week

 What’s Your Number?

Directed by Mark Mylod
Written by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden, Karyn Bosnak (novel “20 Times a Lady”)
Starring: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Chis Pratt

Summary: A single woman looking for the one strikes a deal with her neighbor to help her track down her past boyfriends in hopes that one of them will have evolved into “the one.”

The Word: Who could have enough Anna Faris? With Chris Evans hot off “Captain America,” this you-can-see-how-it-ends rom-com might not go all that quietly at the box office. Well, at least for the younger female demographic and their “Captain America”-enjoying boyfriends.

Rotten Tomatoes: 25% (bad)

My Thoughts: In my opinion, Farris can carry almost any material, even this predictable shtuff. Well, except “Yogi Bear.” I actually found myself laughing at the trailer, which doesn’t mean I’ll have anything to do with it, but a sign that it won’t be torture.

Recommendation: A respectable date night, but probably mostly for the under-40 crowd.


 Dream House

Directed by Jim Sheridan
Written by David Loucka
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts

Summary: A husband and wife and their two daughters move into a new home and learn of the brutal murders that happened there, but the husband soon discovers that he might have been the murderer and his family the victims.

The Word: The trailer might appear to give away the whole film (I’m sure there’s a twist), but Craig and Weisz in a horror thriller has to generate some interest in this long-delayed project. Another point of interest would be director Jim Sheridan, the acclaimed Irish director of films such as “In America,” and “My Left Foot,” who will dabble in horror for the first time. Not so much a point of interest would be David Loucka, whose last memorable screenplay was for Whoopi Goldberg vehicle “Eddie.”

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A

My Thoughts: The script has to be good if this film attracted Sheridan, Craig, Weisz and Naomi Watts, right? Craig and Weisz eventually were married resulting from this partnership … but this typical haunted house thriller seems just that, typical, so I have my doubts. Hopefully the aforementioned talents can give it a boost.

Recommendation: After the letdown from the late August horror films, this should be a welcome high-caliber change for horror fans regardless.



Directed by Jonathan Levine
Written by Will Reiser
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard

Summary: A 27-year-old man is diagnosed with cancer and a 50 percent chance of surviving. He and his best friend as well as his family all try and cope.

The Word: Formerly titled “I’m With Cancer” and “Live With It,” this comedy/drama has settled on the ambiguous “50/50,” but by the looks of it and the early buzz, the odds are much better than a coin flip that you’ll enjoy the latest film from director Jonathan Levine, whose film “The Wackness” is a must-see for the 18-30 demographic. The film looks to take a reasonably humorous approach to one of Hollywood’s least favorite topics.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (excellent)

My Thoughts: ”50/50″ has made quite an impression in the early going, with some critics considering it a serious Oscar contender if it didn’t have Rogen and his R-rated comments tossed in. I have to say it’s one of my most anticipated of the fall as a result. If it’s anything like the last film JGL did that had a “5″ and two “0′s in it, then we’re in really good shape.

Recommendation: A must-see by the looks of it.


Directed by Alex Kendrick
Written by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick
Starring: Alex Kendrick, Ken Bevel, Ben Davies, Kevin Downes

Summary: A story of four police officers who in addition to their tough jobs are fathers. When tragedy strikes their homes, they must make tough decisions.

The Word: Alex Kendrick and Sherwood Pictures present their fourth drama steeped in faith-based American-Christian values. “Fireproof” in 2008 dealt with a firefighter thinking of divorcing his wife who takes a friend’s dare to delay the process for 40 days to see if they can’t rekindle the flame; “Facing the Giants” in 2006 was an overcoming-the-odds football story; “Flywheel” was about a dishonest car salesman who becomes a born-again Christian.

Rotten Tomatoes: N/A

My Thoughts: It blows my mind that a value-espousing film can get a wide release, but here we are. “Courageous” will look to blend drama and (appropriate) humor into a meaningful family experience that inspires faith and courage. I would venture most common moviegoers will have to be quite courageous to go see this one.

Recommendation: Only a yes if it aligns with your values and you don’t see movies much.


Box Office Predictions

A crapshoot week. I don’t know if Disney plans to yank The Lion King in 3D out from that many theaters. It did announce an extension, but we won’t know until later. If it stays in full force it should win a third week in a row due to the wishy-washy nature of the other releases.

Although some of the newcomers have potential to surpass $15 million, it’s tough to say which, so I’m going to stick with some well-reviewed returners in Dolphin Tale and Moneyball. The former should jump the latter because it’s a family film and the two finished within a hair of each other last week. The Brad Pitt sports drama should still be the top choice of adults as the newcomers this week skew younger.

As for the newcomers, I’ve got to go where the reviews tell me. 50/50 has the best reviews and reliable draw in Seth Rogen. Many prognosticators fear the cancer theme will keep people away until the word of mouth builds and they could be right. Still, the young adult audience has not had much catering to it lately.

In fifth I’m going with What’s Your Number? Anna Faris’ previous fall comedy gig that she headlined was “The House Bunny” which earned $14 million. More in rom-com territory, I think anymore than $10-12 would be unlikely. Still, considering the state of most female-focused comedies lately, that would be a victory. “Dream House” could surprise completely with big stars and a glut in horror, but the film wasn’t screened for critics and its marketing was all over the place with a major plot twist involved. Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman teamed for horror a few years ago (after Craig first appeared as Bond) and “The Invasion” tanked. I think $9-10 million is in the cards.

1. The Lion King in 3D
2. Dolphin Tale
3. Moneyball
4. 50/50
5. What’s Your Number?


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