Weekend Preview (3.26.10)


Well, for most children around the world, it’s Spring Break. Whereas “our” spring break consists of either rest, sun, friend, booze or e.) all of the above, most children are busy causing their parents headaches despite how nice it is to spend some family time together. That’s where the movies come in. There’s Disney’s Alice in Wonderland still competing in what will be it’s fourth weekend and Dreamworks new animated adventure film — get your brogue ready — How to Train Your Dragon.

Dreamworks had one of the highest early opening weekends this time last year with Monsters vs. Aliens and “Dragon” doesn’t appear to be much different. Both were released in 3D only now, Dreamworks has another year under its belt to make the animation a bit more astounding. It should soar over “Alice” and the Jabberwock.

More indies are hitting theaters too this week, but none in wide enough release to warrant a preview — yet. Ben Stiller indie comedy from Noah Baumbach, Greenberg is making a slightly wider release and sexual thriller (no better way to describe it) Chloe, starring Amanda Seyfriend, Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson comes to a few hundred theaters.

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How to Train Your Dragon

Directed by: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Written by: Cressida Cowell (story), Dean DeBlois, Adam F. Goldber, Chris Sanders, Peter Tolan
Starring: (voices) Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill


The Word: Second only to Pixar, Dreamworks brings another fun adventure movie of the CGI variety. For some reason they’ve very aimed at boys, this story being about dragons and vikings. Nevertheless, Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, former Disney writers during the ’90s Resurgence, co-direct this Dances With Avatar-style plot about a viking boy who discovers dragons aren’t the evil creatures he was told and instead of slaying one as his coming of age ritual, he befriends one and leads him and others against his own people.

Rotten Tomatoes: 95% (excellent)

See in 3D: Yes

My Thoughts: I did not think this would be 95% material on Rotten Tomatoes — not by a longshot — but apparently this is a visual spectacle some critics say give Avatar a run for its money. And it surprises on the dramatic end. The story seemed recycled and I don’t know how I feel about vikings in general, but you can’t argue with that many favorable reviews.

Recommendation: Worth admission. After a fantastic 2009, animation should get off to another terrific start in 2010 if the critics speak truth.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Directed by: Steve Pink
Written by: Josh Heald, Sean Anders, John Morris
Starring: John Cusak, Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke


The Word: An amusingly titled R-rated comedy with a strange concept that would best be described conceptually as a time-traveling version of The Hangover. A group of pals get away from their crap lives and end up at a ski resort where the suite’s hot tub is actually a time machine that takes them back to 1986. A second chance, or just an excuse for a number of Back to the Future 2 jokes? Director Steve Pink recruited his friend John Cusack to star alongside comedian Rob Corddry and the ever-present Craig Robinson from The Office.

Rotten Tomatoes: 64% (good)

My Thoughts: I dig time travel movies and I enjoy “just dudes” humor. I’m not expecting The Hangover but I expect to laugh amidst the R-rated gags and idiocy … if you feel that way about comedies, as I do on occasion, Hot Tub Time Machine is a safe bet. That’s pretty much how it always is with these kinds of movies. The majority decent reviews suggest entertainment is to be found — and it’s Spring Break, people.

Recommendation: Normally worth renting later, but considering the glut of R-rated comedies getting props lately, this one’s worth going to see.

Box Office Predictions

It was a terrific reign, but even with Spring Break, “Alice” won’t be able to stay atop in the face of a terrifically reviewed “family” film. How To Train Your Dragon ought to scorch Alice in Wonderland by a good $30-40 million. I expect it won’t match that film’s 2010 record, but it should earn around $70 million. Stiff kids/family competition is the only hindrance. I see “Alice” with about $20 M or so.

I think newcomer Hot Tub Time Machine will just miss out on beating “Alice.” I predict around $20 M for the R-rated comedy too, but I’m think that’s about the top of it’s range whereas “Alice” should earn no less.

With Spring Break and kids running amok, Diary of a Wimpy Kid should have a strong second week at around $12 M. The film has some solid buzz, but the competition from “Dragon” will also keep it from having a surprise second week.

Last should easily be The Bounty Hunter. There’s still no real date option unless the lady likes dude humor, which will coat “Hot Tub” from beginning to end and predicting a 50-60 precent drop-off, that puts the rom com in place for about $9 million.

  1. How to Train Your Dragon
  2. Alice in Wonderland
  3. Hot Tub Time Machine
  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  5. The Bounty Hunter


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