Box Office Predictions: August 31-September 1

Closed Circuit“Closed Circuit” probably won’t do so well over this Labor Day weekend. The fact that “Paranoia,” a similar generic August thriller, only did $3.53 million in its three-day release, it leads me to believe this will do similarly, but a bit better. Just by a bit. (Though, “Paranoia” did go to 2459 theatres, while “CC” is only going to 800 theatres.) Similar movies open at $8.615 million, and the highest opening ever for a similar movie was the $29.15 million “Eagle Eye” mustered back in 2008. It seems that Focus Features is hoping for a good opening over Labor Day, as “The Debt” earned $9.9 million over this weekend in 2011. Focus wishes. I haven’t seen one TV spot, so I don’t think the odds of this making a lot of money – especially against “Getaway” – are high. “Paranoia” also has a retched 3% on Rotten Tomatoes, and this has a middling 40% at this time. Because of that, this might have a better word-of-mouth. My prediction for the three day frame is $3.8 million, and the five-day frame will be $6.9 million.

Getaway“Getaway” looks pretty good, yet generic; it stars Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez, and Jon Voight plays the villain. I like hostage situation movies, and I think they’re cool when they aren’t restricted to a house. Movies similar to this open at $15.33 million. I’ve seen a few TV spots for this. “Closed Circuit” is its most threatening competition, and that’s not much of a threat at all. There isn’t a lot to discuss here – so I think this will make about twice as much as “CC” in its opening. My prediction is $8.75 million.

This is UsAs much as it pains me to say it, I think “One Direction: This is Us” is going to win the weekend, because I think there are enough young girls in the world to make that happen. I just learned that the “Super Size Me” guy, Morgan Spurlock, will be directing this. That doesn’t really enhance my interest to see it though. It looks like a crappy concert movie, but it somehow has a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Can it get any worse? It’s coming to over 2500 theatres this weekend, and movies similar to it open at $16.31 million. The only concert movies to do great business are the “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” that earned $31.11 million in Miley’s non-twerking days, and “Michael Jackson’s This is It” that earned $23.2 million in 2009. Concert/documentary movies have had a difficult time as of late, with “Glee The 3D Concert Movie” earning $5.96 million in its opening, and “Katy Perry: Part of Me” earning $7.13 million. I think this one could buck that trend, but I really wouldn’t mind if it didn’t. My prediction for the three-day is $15.25 million.

Here’s how I see the Top 10:
1. One Direction: This is Us: $15.25m
2. The Butler: $10.5m
3. We’re the Millers: $9.12m
4. Getaway: $8.75m
5. Planes: $5.7m
6. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: $5.3m
7. The World’s End: $5.1m
8. Elysium: $3.61m
9. Closed Circuit: $3.8m
10. You’re Next: $3.51m
The Grandmaster: $2.39m

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Anger Management (2003)

Anger ManagementReleased: April 11, 2003. Directed by: Peter Segal. Starring: Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei. Runtime: 106 min.

“Anger Management,” not to be confused with the TV series starring Charlie Sheen, is one of Sandler’s very best movies, at least not within his early career. Its opening has chuckles, and it keeps a good momentum throughout.

Sandler plays a businessman who is wrongly sentenced to an anger-management program, where he meets an aggressive instructor.

Sandler’s still playing Sandler. For a movie that has him being enrolled in an anger management program, he is only sporadically angry. In fact, David should learn to express himself more. Buddy explains his disorder like this: There’s an explosive angry person, the person who yells at the cashier. There’s an implosive angry person, the cashier who one day snaps and kills everyone in the store. David is supposedly the implosive person, but he believes he is the guy hiding in the store dialling 9-1-1.

The film has a great “Why does everything happen to me?” way about it that makes it memorable and funny. There are more than a few heartwarming moments, as well. Though, the execution needs improvement.

It’s predictable but can you ask for anything less than one of the kings of stupidity, Adam Sandler? David Dorfman also provides a fine screenplay. There are consistent laughs throughout. It’s funny that Sandler gets out-shined so often in his own movies.

Jack Nicholson is definitely the best part about this movie, but it isn’t exactly difficult to outshine Sandler. John Turturro is another great part. They all have short fuses and it’s amusing to watch them be calmed down. Jack Nicholson’s strategies like making people sing “I Feel Pretty” is a highlight. The really great parts of the movie are John C. Reilly as one of David’s former bullies, and Woody Harrelson as a shemale prostitute, Galaxia. “I feel like dancing! Dancing!”

Score70/100

Click (2006)

ClickReleased: June 29, 2006. Director: Frank Coraci. Starring: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken. Runtime: 107 min.

Finding a post-2000 Adam Sandler feature that isn’t middling is a rarity. That’s why “Click” is an emotionally engaging breath of fresh air.

The story follows Michael Newman (Adam Sandler), a workaholic architect who is so busy with work he can’t even find the time to finish the treehouse in the backyard. You see, he’s in line for a promotion from his boss, a character that doesn’t pass the Name Test, but is played by David Hasselhoff. Michael wants things in his life to be easier, and out-do his neighbours the O’Doyle’s in the process. What he gets to fix his problems will certainly put the O’Doyles to shame; after a late night drive in search of a universal remote, he lands at Bed, Bath and Beyond where Morty (Christopher Walken) gives him an extremely advanced universal remote. The remote enables Michael to fast-forward, skip scenes, fast-forward, pause, etc., his life; everything an ordinary remote can do. He can skip through the most boring parts of his life (I’d use it for the dentist), and initially the remote makes his life easier, but then it begins to overpower his decisions and affect his relationships with others.

The premise is a decent one, and its execution does it justice, for the most part. The film is only plagued by gimmicks and clichés that have been existent since the beginning of time. But it’s a funny film and a good time helped out by likable characters. There’s a lot of laughs and heart at play. The life lessons Michael learns (family, dedication) are important. This is one of the only Sandler comedies that can make me cry every time. The story is helped out by the attractive cast, especially a scene-stealing Christopher Walken. This is the type of movie that makes you want to go home, hug your family, make better choices and be thankful for your life. That’s profound for an Adam Sandler film, I’d say.

Score: 75/100

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Kick-Ass 2Released: August 16, 2013. Directed by: Jeff Wadlow. Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Runtime: 103 min.

“Kick-Ass 2” takes place three years after the first. Mindy McCready (Chloë Grace Moretz) is now 15 years old, and she’s hung up her Hit-Girl costume. Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has also hung up his Kick-Ass costume, but he is bored without midnighting as Kick-Ass. Mindy begins to help train him and get him in back in shape for crime fighting. Eventually, Mindy can’t take part in the training anymore because she has to honour her promise (of not fighting crime) to Marcus (Morris Chestnut). Kick-Ass finds a team called Justice Forever because he knows he can’t fight crime by himself. Meanwhile, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) wants Kick-Ass to pay for what he did to his father. He is reborn as The Mother F!*#@r and plans to become the world’s first super villain. His act of revenge will begin to affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.

This isn’t in the same league as the original. “Kick-Ass 2” is a super good sequel, while its predecessor achieves cult classic status. The movie is immensely enjoyable and I’ll probably re-watch it many times, but I thought I’d get that off my chest. I have a few minor complaints about it.

Replacing core cast/crew members never isn’t beneficial. It’s not as if Kick-Ass or Hit-Girl are recast, but two supporting actors get replaced. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to notice. Todd, Dave’s buddy, is recast, because Evan Peters had scheduling conflicts; and the ideal chemistry between the friend group (with Johnson, Clark Duke and Peters) is absent. The replacement that is the most noticeable is Mindy’s guardian, Marcus. Omari Hardwick portrayed him in the first, and now it’s Morris Chestnut. Chestnut is the better-known actor, but I already like the guy – so it would have been nice to see Hardwick reprise the role. If Hardwick was replaced by Idris Elba or Djimon Hounsou, I wouldn’t complain.

Matthew Vaughn’s (credited as producer) absence as director and co-writer hurts the film. Jeff Wadlow directs and adapts this from Mark Millar’s comic book. He isn’t bad, but to paraphrase Hit-Girl about she and Kick-Ass, “Vaughn is in the NFL and Wadlow is in Pee-Wee.” Without Vaughn’s directorial vision, much of the visual style (and charm) of the first is absent. (A true testament to the fact that the right director and cinematographer, Ben Davis gets replaced, will go a long way.) That warehouse scene in “Kick-Ass” where Hit-Girl goes on a solo rescue mission might be enough to give an epileptic a major seizure, but boy is it beautifully done.

The isn’t a train wreck without Vaughn’s direction by any means, but his direction would have helped. The film lacks the same satirical edge of the first. It’s very much a satire, and an amusing one, but it doesn’t have the same awesome edge. (Who else thought the Union J band that Mindy watches a video of was a parody of boy bands? I was surprised to find out that they’re real.) This movie still is enjoyable.

The action is tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top gleeful fun. That’s what we expect. I’m surprised by the movie’s restraint at one point, since the film generally practices excessiveness. A potentially disturbing rape scene is turned into a comedic scene, and I think it’s handled well. The movie has a few brief streaks of meanness and cruelty. However, it’s a minor complaint, because they aren’t arbitary; it advances the story in some way, and it’s easier to excuse.

Now, for the characters. Johnson has a charm about him that gets Kick-Ass the ladies. He loses Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca) early on, because of something that’s easy to explain. He must have been planning on breaking up with her soon because he doesn’t chase after her, the break-up doesn’t bother him, and then the movie forgets about her immediately. Kick-Ass finds a superhero group called Justice Forever. His new love interest is the sexy superhero called Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), and I think N.B. is a name better suited for a super villain, not a hero. Kick-Ass is trying desperately to find a group, and I can’t decide if he’s smart or stupid. He’s smart because he knows he’ll get his ass kicked alone; but he must be stupid to trust people so easily after all that went down with making the mistake of trusting Red Mist/Chris D’Amico.

Justice Forever is led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (a scene-stealing Jim Carrey). He rivals Dwayne Johnson’s Paul Doyle of “Pain and Gain” as 2013’s most likable born-again Christian. Carrey is hilarious in a supporting yet critical role, as he feels like a main symbol of justice. A bit of irony: Colonel is always telling people to watch their language, yet he lets a superhero named Night Bitch be on his team. Dr. Gravity (Donald Faison) is one of the best additions to Justice Forever. A main theme of the movie is that, since the film is set in the real world, the real world brings real consequences, which brings about a theme of good doesn’t always conquer evil. Keep in mind, though: Bringing about thought-provoking themes isn’t a main focus.

Mindy’s arc is traditional. Her everyday persona is a bit more prevalent than her badass midnighting hero. But it’s great when Hit-Girl shows up. She puts all other powerless superheroes (in this universe) to shame. Moretz picks great roles, tackling them with a confidence, but her hard work is evident. Back to Mindy’s arc. It’s a traditional arc where she tries to enjoy high school and the things that come with it. She has a run-in with mean girls (led by Claudia Lee), and the spectacular and hysterical way Mindy handles them makes it an ordinary arc, with an extraordinary pay-off. Even if it’s played for gross-out laughs.

The film’s villains are grand. Christopher Mintz-Plasse has what it takes to tackle this role, and he doesn’t disappoint. He’s pretty crazy in 2011’s “Fright Night.” He’s crazy and funny here, too. I like how he goes against type because in his film debut six years ago in “Superbad” he was on the receiving end of a liquour store robbery, but now he’s the one briefly robbing a convenience store. One thing I’ve never understood about the character: I know he could have put two and two together, by how is he 100% certain his father was shot by a bazooka? He was unconscious in the other room, there were no witnesses, and the body couldn’t really be found easily if it’s blown to smithereens.

Despite my complaints, the movie’s a blast. I might not have laughed as much as the audience I saw it with (they were laughing at everything at some points), but I did laugh quite a lot. It’s a memorable action comedy that has some gleefully fun action scenes, a quickly-paced plot and badass powerless superheroes. This is my favourite superhero movie of the year. If you liked the first, odds are, you’ll like this one. And this is even more true: If you hated the first, you’ll despise this one. To me, it’s a super good sequel.

Score77/100

The Longest Yard (2005)

The Longest YardReleased: May 27, 2005. Directed by: Peter Segal. Starring: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Burt Reynolds. Runtime: 110 min.

“The Longest Yard” follows Paul Wrecking Crewe (Adam Sandler), who, after being charged with Grand Theft Auto, finds himself in a Texas prison. Everyone takes their football pretty freaking seriously there. Crewe was charged for throwing an NFL football game, which was pretty important since it seemed everyone had bets on the game. (The storytelling isn’t good enough to remember what the stakes were in the game, exactly.) There wasn’t enough evidence to prove his guilt, but everybody still hates him. Once he gets into the prison, the Warden (James Cromwell) coerces him to coach a football team composed of convicts to face off against the Guards of the prison in their first game of the season.

I saw the original “Longest Yard” awhile back. (I should re-watch it.) It’s a very funny movie, funnier than this. This film is a very basic remake of it, but it’s not terrible. It’s quite enjoyable, actually. And there’s nothing better than a remake that has the approval of the original’s starring man. In fact, Burt Reynolds is one of the best parts of the movie. And it’s great that he’s there. Since the target audience is teenagers, they probably won’t even know that this is a remake. 

There are chuckles throughout the movie and it’s pretty decent for a traditional football film. It’s hilarious at times, mostly thanks to Chris Rock and Terry Crews, and often enough, Sandler. William Fichtner plays the main guard who thinks he runs the prison. He’s antagonistical and sends around mixed signals. His motivations are just irritating because he’s a cookie-cutter character. 

The football scenes are fun. It’s amusing to watch this football team of misfits become better and better. It’s even better watching them face the guards in the football game. Some of the background characters are hard to differentiate. They’re either Giant, a Kind Giant, or Faster than Fast, or Cheeseburger Eddie (Terry Crews). But the viewer will probably care about the more prominent characters. I think I’ve worn this movie out (Dang it), so I’ll re-visit the original “Longest Yard”. It’s probably much better, anyway. 

Score63/100

Box Office Predictions: August 23-25

Three new movies are coming out this weekend: “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” “You’re Next,” and “The World’s End.” As I see it, the only two fighting for a top spot are “City of Bones” and “You’re Next.” So for the heck of it, I’ll discuss “The World’s End” first.

“The World’s End” is the final instalment to the Cornetto Trilogy, following “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” British comedies aren’t usually the bestsellers here domestically, but “Shaun” and “Hot Fuzz” has a great fanbase. It seems that people also really like Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Movies similar to this open to $16.07 million, but since this is only coming to about 1400 theatres this weekend, I can’t imagine this going that high. In 2004, “Shaun” opened to $3.3 million at 607 theatres; while “Hot Fuzz” opened to $5.8 million at 825 theatres. “Paul” opened in 2011 at $13.04 million and it stars Pegg, Frost and Seth Rogen as the voice of an alien; and it was from the director of “Superbad.” I think this can reach around that height, but fall short of matching it. Mostly because “Paul” was at 2802 theatres, and this movie is going to virtually half of that. I am also wondering how much audiences are wanting an apocalyptic comedy after “This is the End.” My prediction for my second most anticipated movie of August is $10.75 million.

I’ll admit, I’m slightly excited for “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.” I enjoyed the book. I’m sure many others did. The market for young adult novel adaptations hasn’t been great so far this year. “Warm Bodies” did decent business with an opening over $20 million. But “The Host” ($10.6 million) and “Beautiful Creatures” ($7.58 million) didn’t open so well. “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” disappointed with a $14.4 million opening, about $1.1 million less than half of what the first made in its opening. That’s because the original had a lukewarm reception generally. It did make $23.25 million in its first five days, though, and if a sequel that follows an okay movie can do that, I imagine this movie will do better business. It could even take first place. The book is actually well-liked, it seems. However, I know some fans of the book who aren’t so attracted to the cast. I like the cast for the most part. I think Lily Collins (the heroine, Clary), Jared Harris (Hodge) and Kevin Zegers (Alec Lightwood) will suit their respective characters. But Godfrey Gao, a little Asian man, really does not fit the description of Magnus Bane (I think I remember him being described as hulking) in the books. And when I was reading the books, I imagined Alex Pettyfer in the role of Jace; never once imagining Jamie Campbell Bower, even after I found out he was cast in the role. But I really haven’t seen him in many big roles yet. Movies similar to this open at $35.99 million. Hopefully teenagers don’t skip this, saving their money for “This is Us.” My prediction for the three-day is $16.7 million, and the five-day is $25.4 million.

And I’m very excited for “You’re Next.” It looks like a great home invasion flick, and I love the utilization of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” on the soundtrack. This movie looks successfully creepy and I hope it does well this weekend, and also washes out the bland taste of “The Purge.” This movie is coming to 2400 theatres this weekend, but I don’t think this will be a surprise hit like “The Purge” was, because of that movie’s poor reception, and because audiences have already received a great R-rated horror (unseen by me) “The Conjuring.” But that’s not going to prevent me from saying this movie overperforms. I think it will. Movies similar to this open at $12.7 million. “The Strangers” is one of the most successful R-rated home invasion horrors, opening at $20.99 million, and “The Purge” had an amazing opening at $34.05 million (but it had one of the biggest second weekend drops at 75.6%). Hopefully young’ns don’t hold off on this one, since many might be waiting “Insidious Chapter 2.” Screw it. My prediction for this is $18 million.

Here’s how I see the Top 10:
1. You’re Next: $18m
2. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: $16.7m
3. The Butler: $15.96m
4. We’re the Millers: $12m
5. The World’s End: $10.75m
6. Elysium: $8m
7. Planes: $7.9m
8. Kick-Ass 2: $7.8m
9. Blue Jasmine: $6.8m
10. Percy Jackson 2: $6.3m

Note: I’m going away this weekend so I’ll need to do some hardcore catching up, because I haven’t been to the theatre since last Thursday. For me, on my normal schedule, it’s a rarity that I’ve seen less than 5 of the Top 10 movies, but I’ve been behind since mid-July with three or four movies being released each weekend.

P.s.: My review of ‘Kick-Ass 2’ will be up tomorrow. Have a good weekend!

Triple review: ‘Bedtime Stories,’ ‘Mr. Deeds’ and ‘You Don’t Mess with the Zohan’

These are a few Sandler movies that are being reviewed from memory…

Bedtime StoriesReleased: December 25, 2008. Director: Adam Shankman. Stars: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce. Runtime: 99 min.

“Bedtime Stories” is imaginative and it’s one of Sandler’s more family-friendly efforts, but it’s lame, boring and forgettable.

Score38/100

 

Mr. Deeds

 

Released: June 28, 2002. Director: Steven Brill. Stars: Adam Sandler, Winona Ryder, John Turturro. Runtime: 96 min.

“Mr. Deeds” is a watchable Adam Sandler movie. You root for Longfellow Deeds because he’s a small-town guy trying to adapt to the big city life, and he’s likeable enough to wish for his happiness. Ryder’s character at first is extremely unlikeable. Like most comedies (with hints of romance), it’s predictable – and you’ll see Ryder’s change of heart from 96 minutes away. There’s a few laugh-out-loud moments (“I think I just shat myself!”) and a lot of chuckles, so it’s an entertaining comedy that I find myself always watching when it’s on TV. John Turturro is amusing in his supporting role. But I assume it’s inferior to the original, but I can’t comment on that because I haven’t seen it.

Score70/100

You Don't Mess with the ZohanReleased: June 6, 2008. Director: Dennis Dugan. Stars: Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui. Runtime: 113 min.

I watched this on TV the other week. I was half-paying attention and half on the computer, but even as part-background noise, it was still as awful as I remember it being at the theatre. The plot isn’t entirely stupid (An Israeli Special Forces Soldier fakes his death so he can re-emerge in New York City as a hair stylist), at least compared to some of Sandler’s other works, but the humour is stupid. I like politically incorrect humour – but all I ask is that it’s funny, like some of Sacha Baron Cohen’s work (mostly just “Borat”). Sacha Baron Cohen, Sandler is not. This is a middling effort, but at least there’s an effort to make his character memorable, since he isn’t distinctive in all of his average guy roles. It’s really too bad that it’s also one of his worst characters. John Turturro tries his best, but even he can’t make this enjoyable.

Score38/100