The Boss (2016)

Released: April 8, 2016. Directed by: Ben Falcone. Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage. Runtime: 1hr, 39 min.

R-rated comedienne Melissa McCarthy and hubby-and-director Ben Falcone take a second shot at co-writing a screenplay together with The Boss after their first botched attempt in 2014’s Tammy. The good thing is this is a much funnier collaboration.

The basic story follows Michelle Darnell (McCarthy), the (fictional) 47th wealthiest woman of America. The film glosses over how Darnell makes money, simply billing her as a CEO of three Fortune 500 companies. It’s a poor-to-rich story, as Darnell grew up in the foster home system.

Her life gets ruined after she’s imprisoned for insider training. All of her belongings are seized and her house foreclosed, she learns when she’s released. She then stays with her former assistant and single mother Claire (Kristen Bell), basically the only person on who will give her a place to stay because no one is answering Michelle’s calls.

The story feels like Darnell is on a path to make money again, rather than redeeming herself as a person – which just comes out naturally. Her new business venture is a brownie company called Darnell’s Darlings.

She gets the idea after knowing the demand of Dandelions girl guide cookies, after taking Claire’s daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) to one of the meetings. Claire is the baker for the company because she has a good recipe – and her motivation for helping is to get Michelle off her couch.

Michelle gets more likable throughout. But that’s easy considering her obnoxious introduction at a sold-out arena show about telling people how to make money – where she comes down on a golden phoenix to sing “All I Do Is Win” with DJ Khaled.

TheBoss2

Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Bell in The Boss. (Source)

The Boss is great example of how the essential falling-out of characters can ruin a film’s momentum. The clichéd moment arises because of Michelle’s lack of a family and fear of getting close to people.

The poor narrative is the film’s worst aspect. It feels like the jokes were written first, and then a story was shaped around them. To the credit of Falcone, McCarthy and Steve Mallory, there are many clever jokes and laugh-out-loud moments. That’s the redeeming part that makes this an entertaining film.

A flaw of the film is the fact that Melissa McCarthy gets almost all of the funny jokes. The film suffers when she isn’t on-screen. The character who misses the most is Peter Dinklage’s Renault, an aspiring samurai, or something. He’s obsessed with ex-girlfriend Michelle, where revenge is mostly on his mind, but he still has the hots for her even after she screwed him over.

His banter with his assistant Stephan (Timothy Simons) is simply awkward, but sometimes so stupid it’s almost funny. The character’s so poorly written that Dinklage just has to do his best with the crappiness he is given.

Kristen Bell’s Claire is simply boring – she only has a few good laughs to offer. She’s the set-up for McCarthy’s Darnell, characterized as a single mom who works hard for her daughter. We’re supposed to see Darnell as a really mean boss, but she’s not as bad as any boss in the Horrible Bosses franchise. Maybe we caught her on a nice week?

But Claire just keeps getting stuck with bad bosses, getting stuck with Dana Dandridge (Cecily Strong) when Michelle goes to prison. She’s supposed to be mean, but she’s cringe-worthy and awkward, ribbing Claire for being three minutes late at one point. Tyler Labine as Claire’s love interest is supposed to add a layer in Claire, but all it does is set up a funny scene when Claire prepares for a date.

The characters don’t work, and McCarthy is the best part about this. That’s high praise from me – since I’m not a McCarthy fan. Since everyone else is lackluster, it should be blamed on bad writing and directing from Ben Falcone. It feels like the next time the couple write something together – they should just hire a competent director.

Despite my problems with The Boss, I enjoyed myself and laughed a lot. That’s what counts here. While it may be weaker than any of the three McCarthy and Paul Feig collaborations – Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy – it’s a lot better than Tammy or Identity Thief.

Score: 65/100

 

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We’re the Millers (2013)

We're the MillersReleased: August 7, 2013. Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber. Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Will Poulter. Runtime: 110 min.

The opening scene of “We’re the Millers” made me anxious for the movie I was about to see. It opens with some of the most popular YouTube videos of the last few years. It’s somewhat lazy and quite random, so I wasn’t sure if I was about to see a haphazardly-edited, lazy movie. The idea of showing some of the funniest/most popular YouTube videos (“Double Rainbow,” “Surprised Kitty”) is clever, and a great way to get the audience laughing early. It’s clever since it’s not done a lot, and one would think an idea so simple would show up more. The movie is more clever than lazy.

The story follows a small-time veteran drug dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) who finds himself in a tough spot. He gets mugged by three punks who steal his stash (worth $43,000). It’s almost a fool-proof crime. One can’t go to a police officer with a thing like “Some guys stole my weed that’s enough to put me in jail for a long time.” His supplier, Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms), tells him to go to Mexico to get a smidgeon and a half of weed and smuggle it back across the U.S. border. If he does so, he’ll get some money and they’d be even. This job is out of David’s league, and he can’t do it easily because he looks like a drug dealer.

He hires a stripper (Rose, played by Jennifer Aniston), a virgin (Kenny, played by Will Poulter), and a runaway (Casey, played by Emma Roberts) to be his fake family, because no one expects any funny business from families. Sounds easy, right? They’ll have to deal with a few antagonists along the way, because otherwise, the funny ride would be too short.

All of the members of the Miller “family” get their chance to shine, with Sudeikis being the funniest; Aniston being the sexiest. I’m liking Sudeikis more and more in bigger roles. Aniston’s roles have been getting edgy and vulgar, so I can’t wait to see what she does next, even if she isn’t as funny as she is in “Horrible Bosses.” Sexier, yes, but not as awesome. I’d like to see more of Will Poulter. He steals more than a few scenes – as he’s the one needing a family foundation the most. I love how Emma Roberts seems to be trying to shed her goody-two-shoes reputation, and she has successfully done so with her vulgarity – but it’s mostly thanks to a different, crazy role prior to this film. You’ll know it when you see it. All I know, she’s a great young actress.

There’s a host of funny characters throughout. Ed Helms’ Brad Gurdlinger is that one psychopath is an office building who could snap at any moment. (With a white ass name like Brad Gurlinger, I’d probably snap, too.) But he’s the big-time supplier who runs his business out of a big building that could be a more orthodox corporate business. And oh, he’s a big ole nerdy schmuck who has, indeed, killed people.

We're the Millers1The Millers also meet the Fitzgerald family, who’s actually a legitimate vacationing family, led by the always chuckle-worthy Nick Offerman (TV’s “Parks and Recreation,”) and Kathryn Hahn (“Step Brothers”). They come in for some of the funniest scenes, where director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Dodgeball”) gets to show some of his great skills and ability to get big laughs out of the audience. The actors also help out a lot by having the great timing that they do. And he directs a glorious stripping scene for Aniston, and what a scene it is. (For a movie that has many scenes set in a strip club, there’s a surprisingly low amount of nudity. Though, not many of us are expecting Aniston to get fully nude.)

With comedies, one must ask, “Is it funny?” Hell yeah, “We’re the Millers” is hilarious, with its amusing references and great homages. (The TLC homage to “Waterfalls” gets big laughs.) Another question that will probably weigh on peoples’ minds is, “How original is it?” This movie doesn’t strive on originality. It’s familiar and a lot like every other road trip movie. It’s also the most predictable movie of the summer, outside of “The Heat.” But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good time. The comedy has a fine comedic momentum. There’s one part in the third act where there wasn’t a big laugh for ten minutes (which comes around the 90-minute mark), but it finds its funny way about it again sooner than later. And the fact that it does have consistent laughs for the first 90 minutes is pretty damn good.

There’s a scene at the beginning where one of David’s old college buddies shows up (Thomas Lennon, who seems to be everywhere), and admits his envy for David’s bachelor, drug dealing life, since he has a wife and kids. In a predictable movie like this, I don’t think I have to tell you the purpose of this nice scene.

There are sentimental and nice scenes (sort-of like that) throughout the movie, between lots of dick jokes, but unlike “Identity Thief,” most ring true. And also unlike “Identity Thief,” you care about these characters. (This almost makes me sad that I gave “Identity Thief” such a high score – 72, to be exact; I watched it once more and it felt more like a 63.) “We’re the Millers” utilizes its simple road trip premise much better than most would think, and produces a hilarious ride.

Score75/100

Brief-ish Recap of 2013’s Movies So Far

2013 has been a decent year for movies, and it’s improving in both quality, and in regards of box office earnings. And I think it can only get better from here, at least in terms of quality. So far, I’ve seen 36 movies that have been released in 2013, and I’ve missed quite a few as well. Here is my post for the best and worst of 2013 so far. There is a top 10 list, and a bottom five list, and I will post my “Most anticipated movies of Second Half of the Year List” sooner than later. Here’s what I thought of what 2013 has had to offer so far…

The Best of the Year So Far

This is the End“, 2013’s Best Movie So Far & 2013’s Best Surprise

First, the top 10. I have listed the title and the original score in brackets. I’ve decided not to include little blurbs from each review, because that just might become tedious to read with so many titles. If you want to read my thoughts, click on the link to my review. (Note: You might notice that some scores are lower than others, but higher on the list – but that’s because they’ve grown on me since I’ve seen them, and are better than other movies in terms of quality.)

1. This is the End (91), 2. Monsters University (90), 3. 42 (90), 4. The Place Beyond the Pines (88), 5. Fast & Furious 6 (90), 6. Mud (86), 7. Evil Dead (88), 8. Pain & Gain (83), 9. Spring Breakers (75), 10. The Croods (83).

Here’s 11-15: 11. Star Trek Into Darkness (83), 12. The Great Gatsby (82), 13. Warm Bodies (80), 14. Now You See Me (80), 15. Iron Man 3 (80).

Here’s the rest of the movies I’ve seen, ranked from best to worst (in blocks of five, so it’s easier on the eyes): The Last Stand (80); World War Z (75)The Heat (75) Mama (78)20. Oz the Great and Powerful (75).

Epic (74)The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (73); Identity Thief (72); Olympus Has Fallen (70); 25. Snitch (71).

Oblivion (67); Gangster Squad (63)The Purge (57); Man of Steel (50)30. Admission (56), Safe Haven (54).

2013's Worst Movie So Far

Scary Movie 5“, 2013’s Worst Movie So Far (But I don’t think there will be a bigger shitfest this year). 

Here’s the List of Shame, the Bottom Five of the year: After Earth (40)Peeples (38); The Hangover Part III (25)Movie 43 (30); 36. Scary Movie 5 (0).

Here was my Top 12 Most Anticipated Movies of the First Half of the Year: 1. Monsters University; 2. The Place Beyond the Pines; 3. Identity Thief 4. Oz the Great and Powerful; 5. Gangster Squad; 6. 42; 7. Now You See Me; 8. Fast & Furious 6; 9. Man of Steel; 10. Oblivion11. The Purge: 12. Mud.

5 of my 12 most anticipated movies made the Top 10, and 6 made my top 15. “Oz the Great and Powerful” was only slightly satisfying. “Identity Thief”, and “Oblivion” were mildly disappointing. “Gangster Squad” was quite disappointing because it could have potentially been an Oscar contender, but it ended up not knowing if it wanted to be serious or just silly. It was a lightly entertaining gangster movie, apparently much like “The Untouchables”. I’d put “The Hangover Part III” in my Top 15 Anticipated of the First Half, so that is the biggest disappointment of the year because it just wasn’t funny. The third biggest disappointment would be “The Purge”, and the second would be “Man of Steel”.

"The Hangover Part III", 2013's Biggest Disappointment So Far

The Hangover Part III“, 2013’s Biggest Disappointment So Far

The best surprise of the year definitely has to be “This is the End”, even if I was quite excited for it. I knew it was going to be good, but not that good, and especially not movie of the year worthy. Out of the films I wasn’t anticipating at all, “World War Z” was probably the nicest surprise.

These are the movies I missed, but will be checking out. I’ve only included the ones I could envision myself either popping into the DVD player, watching online, or going out to the theater and watching: A Good Day to Die Hard, Aftershock, Antiviral, Before Midnight, Berberian Sound Studio, The Bling Ring, Byzantium, The Call, Dark Skies, Dead Man Down, The East, Frances Ha, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Ginger & Rosa, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Host, The Iceman, The Internship, The Kings of Summer, The Lords of Salem, Maniac, Much Ado About Nothing, Quartet, Room 237, The Sapphires, Side Effects, Song for Marion, Stand Up Guys, Stoker, To the Wonder, Trance, Upside Down, Upstream Color, Violet & Daisy, Welcome to the Punch, White House Down.

And finally, here are some statistics: 

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Average Score: 72.55

My Average Score: 69.22

IMDb Average Score: 66.05

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Average Score: 56.55

So there you have it… What’s your favourite movie of the year so far, and your least favourite? I won’t put a poll because there are just too many titles, so let me know in the comments!

The Heat (2013)

The HeatRelease Date: June 28, 2013

Director: Paul Feig

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans

Runtime: 117 min

The comedy genre is one of the most popular genres out there, but it’s very hit-and-miss. The comedy gem of the year so far is This is the End, but The Heat will produce more than a few laughs. And in a year of mostly mediocre laughfests, we have to take all the near-greatness we can get.

Uptight FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is teamed up with foul-mouthed Boston street cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) in order to take down a ruthless drug lord, Larkin. Things might go a little awry, because neither of these women have ever had a partner or a friend.

Sandra Bullock has always been a funny screen presence, and a talented one. Whatever she is called to do, she can do it well. Melissa McCarthy is also a funny screen presence, even if I prefer her on TV’s Mike and Molly. She has basically been playing the same roles in the movies ever since 2011’s Bridesmaids. (First Megan in Bridesmaids, then Diana in Identity Thief, and now Shannon Mullins here.) While that works for some actors, I’d really like to see her mix it up a little. That dirty, vulgar role might get old in a hurry. As her character of Shannon, she is funny, but even a sailor might be offended at some of the things she is asked to say. Most do produce laughs, and that’s just the point of a comedy; it makes you laugh.

The humour is raunchy as hell, but usually funny as hell. When I wasn’t laughing at the jokes, I was at least smirking a little. When it isn’t being hilarious, the likeable chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy really carries it along. The presence of Bullock really balances out the humour as well, and she isn’t just milking a straight man role. Both of these girls have lots of fun together joking around. There’s some quotable lines with a few memorable supporting turns. It’s great to see so many TV personalities on the big screen (most notably MADtv alum, Michael McDonald). Paul Feig knows how to bring it as the director as well, and I like the general story more than Bridesmaids, even if it isn’t anything special.

It’s really just your traditional buddy cop comedy. They’re trying to take down a drug lord, and blah blah blah, you know the rest. It’s one’s traditional, somewhat predictable ride. It’s a formula that works, and the Bullock/McCarthy team produce a lot of laughs. There’s lots of fun action and memorable jokes, even if they’re all vulgar and not all that clever, but they’re not repetitive or lazy, either. I appreciate the sweet core and sentiment underneath its mean spirit. It’s interesting how each character’s loneliness is shown; Ashburn only hangs out with a fat cat who has to go back to the neighbour’s when she comes-a-lookin’; and Mullins has basically been disowned by most of her family, for a reason I won’t spoil. It gives these characters depth, and you’ll probably like these characters a lot. The plot flows well and there’s a good comedic momentum – with a chuckle-worthy scene here, and a hilarious scene there. There’s one particularly gross and superfluous scene, though, that does nothing to advance the story. It feels as if they could get the message across a lot better in a much better way.

The movie balances out to a fun, somewhat predictable, but hysterical time at the movies. You’ll laugh out loud quite a few times, and that’s all that matters with a comedy. This isn’t the most memorable thing out there, but you could spend your money on a lot of worse movies. Check it out if you don’t mind your comedy often raunchy and incredibly vulgar.

75/100

March 22-24 Box Office Predictions: ‘The Croods’, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, ‘Admission’, ‘Spring Breakers’

The new releases

Admission

   Admission

The Croods

The Croods

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen

 

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

The box office is getting some of its edge back with some solid earnings as of late (if you don’t count that Burt Wonderstone bomb). This weekend we’re seeing four new releases: the new Tina Fey/Paul Rudd comedy, Admission; the animated prehistoric flick, DreamWorks’ The Croods; a terrorist attack action/thriller, Olympus Has Fallen; and a sexy crime drama, Spring Breakers.

The Croods will be one of the movies to stop Oz from three-peating this weekend. It looks really great and adventurous and that cute-monkey primate thing from the trailers is what makes me want to spend $14 on this, and it does not look half-bad. The plot follows the very first prehistoric family as they go on a road trip to an uncharted and a fantastical world. So, it’s a road trip comedy set in prehistoric times? That’s a fine premise. The DreamWorks studio has previously given us audiences solid animated features such as the Shrek franchise, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. Generally, the animation studio’s films are usually of quality. The voice cast for this film is also rather good: Nicolas Cage sounds like himself, Emma Stone is lending her sultry voice to the feature, and Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman and Clark Duke also lend their voices. I think this will be the second highest opening of the weekend of the year so far (above Identity Thief‘s $34.5 million, but behind Oz‘s $79.1 million). The animation does look beautiful, and this will do well at the box office because it is just the third feature of the year that is being targeted at family audiences,  and only the second animated feature after Escape from Planet Earth. I also think it will perform well because it’s set in prehistoric times, and we’ll probably see types of dinosaurs and other cool creatures, so this might satisfy dinosaur lovers before Jurassic Park 3D comes out April 5. Films similar to this open to an average $49.4 million, but I think this will come a few million shy of that number, but what do I know… I’m just a guy trying to predict the box office. Realistically, I think this will open between Rio‘s $39.2 or Shrek‘s $42.3 million to Kung Fu Panda 2‘s $47.6 million. DreamWorks’ last project was Rise of the Guardians which bombed by opening to $23.7 million, but I can’t see this bombing, at least I hope it won’t… My prediction for this is a solid $45 million.

Olympus Has Fallen might also earn more many than Oz this weekend, but the battle for second place will between this and that. The action films this year have been bombs (The Last Stand, Parker), but this won’t follow suit, thankfully. It won’t mostly because it looks really good and there’s been a lack of a good terrorist attack flick for a while now, the last great one was Live Free or Die Hard. The plot follows a disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning who finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack; using his inside knowledge, Banning works with national security to rescue the President from his kidnappers. It sounds incredibly action-packed and loads of fun, and with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua at the helm, this could be an impressive movie. The fine cast, the director, and the plot and action sequences will attract audiences. It also helps that FilmDistrict launched one big marketing campaign for this, and this project has been its main focus. Because of this focus, Dead Man Down was neglected in a way, so this is a gamble I sincerely hope pays off for the distributor, and I think it will. Antoine Fuqua’s filmography has an average opening of $13.7 million; Butler, an average opening of $18.62; Aaron Eckhart, an average opening of $23 million (which this will make close to that number); Morgan Freeman, an average opening of $26.8. Finally, similar films to this open at an average of $23 million, though I think this will earn a little less than A Good Day to Die Hard‘s $24.8 million. My prediction for this is $23.5 million.

Admission looks like a charming little Tina Fey/Paul Rudd comedy, but the trailer only produces a few laughs. The IMDb plot is: A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion, takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption. It looks like a solid yet forgettable film, fairly feel-good, but it doesn’t look particularly hilarious. I’ll see the movie, but I only wish Fey had a hand in writing, because she is very funny (see: Mean Girls and TV’s 30 Rock). Similar movies earn an average of $13.3 on opening weekend, but I think this will come closer to The Switch‘s $8.4, and possibly better than Our Idiot Brother‘s $7 million. The director, Paul Weitz’s, biggest titles are About A Boy and American Pie, the former opened to $8.5, and the latter opened to $18.7 million. In Fey’s first movie role since 2010’s Megamind (2010’s Date Night for live-action) this might be lucky to get half of her $20.6 average opening weekend. Paul Rudd has an average opening of $13.9, but I’m convinced for whatever reason this won’t make it to double digits, but if it does, the highest I think it’ll go would have to be one of his early films, Clueless‘s $10.6 million opening. My psychic powers are tingling and they’re telling me this will only earn $8.5 million this weekend.

Spring Breakers earned a seriously excellent $263, 002 at just three theaters last weekend (a $87, 667 per theater average, the 23rd all-time best), so it’s no surprise that the studio took advantage and decided to expand to 1104 theaters. Writer/director Harmony Korine seems that he’ll bring his art-house style to the feature (he directed and wrote Gummo, and wrote Kids) and make it unique for mainstream audiences, and he’s also casting his wife, Rachel Korine, the least well-known of the bikini babes. The other babes include former-Disney stars Selena Gomez (TV’s Wizards of Waverly Place, Monte Carlo) and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), and also TV’s Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson. The plot follows four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation, and they find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work. The only thing better than these gals in bikinis would be them in nothing at all. James Franco looks like he’s in an awesome role, and it looks like he’ll immerse himself in it, more than he apparently did for his character in Oz The Great and Powerful (which I still have to see). My prediction is $6.5 million for its wide opening. You may think I’m going too high with my prediction, but since it earned $87, 667 at just three theaters, I think it will do fairly well at 1104 theaters.

Here’s how I see the top 10:

TitlePrediction/ Possible percentage drop

1. The Croods: $45, 000, 000
2. Olympus Has Fallen: $23, 500, 000
3. Oz The Great and Powerful: $22, 000, 000/-46.6%
4. The Call: $10, 000, 000-41.6%
5. Admission: $8, 500, 000
6. Spring Breakers: $6, 500, 000
7. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: $5, 500, 000/-46.0%
8. Jack the Giant Slayer: $4, 000, 000/-36.6%
9. Identity Thief: $3, 000, 000/32.1%
10. Snitch: $2, 300, 000/34.3 %

There you have it, what do you think of my predictions? What will you see this weekend? Was the article too long (LOL)? Leave me some comments below!

Identity Thief (2013)

Identity ThiefIdentity Thief

Release Date: February 8, 2013

Director: Seth Gordon

Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Bateman, John Cho

Runtime: 111 min

Tagline: She’s having the time of his life

As a follow-up to the hilarious Horrible Bosses, Seth Gordon brings us Identity Thief, a film that isn’t the gut-buster everyone was expecting, but it is quite funny.

Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) has a good life: a beautiful family, a decent job, and a silly name he swears to be unisex. He’s almost living the American dream. He is able to land a Vice President job at a new firm when he and a good majority of employees at his old one start a new company. Everything’s going well, until he finds out that he is the next victim of identity theft, Diana (the hilarious and charismatic Melissa McCarthy), who is living it up with his credit cards down in Winter Park, Florida. Since the cops can’t do it, he must travel from Colorado to Florida to retrieve her so he can get his life back, and all will be hunky-dory. Unexpected threats arise, and comedy and action ensue.

This film follows a pretty traditional road trip formula that is structured to get asses in seats, eyes on the screen, and money in the studio’s pocket. Thankfully, it’s fairly deserving of many people’s money. It’s mostly entertaining, but sometimes predictable. It suffers many flaws on the way to the end, but it finds its way, thanks to the great comedy team that is Bateman and McCarthy.

Jason Bateman plays the straight man here, lobbing up lines so the hysterical McCarthy can smash down some hysterical comebacks. A lot are aces, but some are just a little too out there, and even for a crude comedy, some of it’s a little too raunchy. The scene with her and Big Chuck is only funny because of poor Bateman hiding away in the bathroom. It’s nice that he is able to make the audience laugh a few times. The extreme crudeness is the case only on one to three occasions, but this suffers greatly from poor comedic momentum. It’s funny in the beginning, it begins to be hilarious when Bateman and McCarthy are united for the first time, and at times, five minutes go by without a joke. It forgets to make its audience to laugh, and that’s something that a comedy should promise. However, part of this is to blame on the excessive marketing campaign. If you haven’t been living under a rock since December, you would know that a good 60% of the film’s best jokes are revealed in the trailers.

Thankfully, they’re still a little funny when they come around (but I go to the movies so much that I probably saw the trailer six times beforehand), and there are points in the film where some jokes are really, really funny. The big laughs are separated by some good chuckles, so that’s decent. There are also some nice surprises in this film as a whole. Diana receives a nice emotional layer added to her, as she seems to be stealing identities because she doesn’t know her own. Because of this, many might be able to relate to the material and find a solid emotional connectivity to her character. This adds a sweetness to her, and the film in general, when car chases aren’t going on. Or Diana isn’t punching 92% of the people she meets in the throat. It is also nice to see her character transformation go from antagonist to anti-hero and so forth.

Back to the flaws, since many road trip concepts have been walked on before, this isn’t very original. It’s good enough entertainment, though. This film is also very crowded. There are antagonists left and right, and to make the film longer and put in more laughs, another is added to the mix. At first, Sandy is chasing Diana. Then Diana finds herself in trouble with a drug lord to whom she sold bad credit cards, and his drug dealers (Genesis Rodriguez and T.I.) come after her. Then, as a pleasant surprise, Robert “T-1000” Patrick is back in his element: chasing people. He portrays a bounty hunter who is also after Diana. Then there are cops who are also chasing Diana, and at times, Sandy. It’s a real jumbled nightmare when they are all chasing each other and when some of their paths cross. The conflicts also get solved almost too conveniently and unrealistically, so for some of it you have to turn off the logical part of your brain. I guess it’s better than having no conflict at all, like last year’s The Guilt Trip, which is almost completely bereft of conflict.

Due to all the antagonists, the writing often comes off as lazy. Especially part of the haphazard ending, which makes the writer, Craig Mazin (who also wrote The Hangover Part II and Scary Movie 3), come off as completely disorganized and idiotic. He does not know whether to end it off as mean-spirited, dramatic, sweet, or hilarious, so he practically decides to do all four.

In a nutshell: Despite all Identity Thief‘s flaws, it’s a funny, often charming, and fun, yet sometimes unrealistic, ride and it flows to the end fairly well. It isn’t a gem and the writing stops it from being great, but it’s still a slightly above-average comedy. By the end of 2013, many might forget about this comedy; but it is inarguably the first big comedy hit of the year, thanks to a lack of competition and a great comedy duo.

72/100

February 15-18 Box Office Predictions: A Good Day to Die Hard, Beautiful Creatures, Escape from Planet Earth, Safe Haven

The new releases

A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard

Safe Haven

Safe Haven

Escape from Planet Earth

Escape from Planet Earth

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures

The four big releases this weekend are A Good Day to Die Hard, Beautiful CreaturesEscape from Planet Earth and Safe Haven.

Films similar to A Good Day to Die Hard often open to an average gross of $27.1 million, and that’s stellar for action films. The first Die Hard opened to the sound of $600, 000 at 21 theaters (but it went onto gross $83 million, domestically); the second to an opening weekend of $21.7 million; the third to an opening of $22.1 million. The fourth one opened to a franchise best $33.3 million. I believe this will beat the fourth’s earning, because everyone has been dying to hear “Yippee Ki-Yay, Motherf*cker!” since McLane last said it in 1995. Apparently in 2007, the damn MPAA didn’t want him saying it. The Die Hard franchise has typically had a summer opening, but I don’t think this film’s February opening will have any sort of affect, especially on Family day weekend. Because nothing says ‘family’ better than terrorists and John McLane.

Those who are still feeling romantic post-Valentine’s Day might just be running out to see the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation, Safe Haven. Is it just me, or does this look like it could pretty good? I think The Lucky One was seriously one of the worst films of last year, but I am a sucker for the charm of The Notebook, and this and Notebook share some similarities. This is the eighth adaptation of Sparks’ works, and there is a collected $17.8 million average opening. This one would look stellar if it opens between Message in a Bottle‘s $16.7 million and The Lucky One‘s $22.5 million opening. It’ll probably lean more toward The Lucky One, though. The popularity of Hough is at an average opening of $13.9 million, and Duhamel is at an average opening of $37.3 million (but that average is mostly thanks to the three Transformers flicks).

If the new Die Hard proves to be too much of an adrenaline rush, or Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven is too sappy, one might just choose this teen romance with a hint of dark witch secrets. While this won’t be the young adult heavyweight any of the Twilight flicks were, this might do nearly as well as Warm Bodies‘ $20.3 million opening. It isn’t getting a ton of love from the critics, and the leading woman (Alice Englert, in her film debut) and man (Alden Ehrenreich, in his wide release debut) don’t have much star power at all. However, the others included in the cast (Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Thomas Mann) may attract a fine audience. This reminds me of last year’s Dark Shadows with its whole strange family vibe (that opened to $29.6 million) and the sort-of fantasy and atmosphere of The Spiderwick Chronicles (a film that opened to $19 million). Anyway, this is in solid shape if it opens between Red Riding Hood‘s $14 million and Water for Elephants‘ $16.8 million. It’ll probably do better than those, though.

This space adventure from the Weinstein Company sounds really lame to me, but visually appealing, and generally fun for the kids. While the Weinstein Company is a serious award-winning powerhouse, they haven’t fared well in the animation genre (they’ve given us the Hoodwinked films and that apparently god-awful Doogal). Though, kids still enjoy innocent old aliens in animation… But they don’t love them. Planet 51 opened to $12.2 million, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius opened to $13.8 million way back in 2001; Aliens in the Attic, $8 million; and Monsters vs. Aliens, $59.3 million. What I’m getting from that is, kids like to see both monsters and aliens in their movies. 2011’s family day weekend had Gnomeo and Juliet opening to $25 million. While this won’t gross anywhere near that, it will make most of its money on Monday; as this will be one of the only fairly popular, family-friendly films in theaters.

Here’s how I see the top 10:

TitlePrediction

1. A Good Day to Die Hard: $44, 500, 000
2. Identity Thief: $22, 400, 000
3. Safe Haven: $20, 000, 000
4. Beautiful Creatures: $18, 900, 000
5. Escape from Planet Earth: $14, 750, 000
6. Warm Bodies: $12, 500, 000
7. Side Effects: $8, 500, 000
8. Silver Linings Playbook: $7, 200, 000
9. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: $4, 000, 000
10. Argo: $3, 500, 000