Go Home, Baby
The FREEindex
The Definitive Williamsburg Brooklyn Business Listing

DAN'S ALMOST
DAILY MUSING


LINK OF THE
MONTH


ADD ME TO YOUR
MAILING LIST


EMAIL THIS
SITE TO
A FRIEND



Search Us...
 





JANUARY 2004 MOVIE PREVIEW
by Dave Thomas

January is, generally speaking, the dumping ground for Hollywood product. If it can't make it anywhere else, it goes here. Once you read this, I think you'll understand why.



JANUARY 9

CHASING LIBERTY

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
I wish I could say this was the only movie coming out this year about a wayward First Daughter, but unfortunately there's, well, "First Daughter". This one has Mandy Moore. The other will have Katie Holmes. Wheee!

WILL IT SUCK?
Everything about this says "B-List First Daughter". The other will be directed by Forest Whittaker and co-star Michael Keaton and Marc Blucas (okay, that's not A-list but come on, it's Riley!). "Chasing Liberty" used to be called "Untitled First Daughter Project" fer cryin' out loud! Still, this is coming out first and gets to set the standard for, y'know, movies about wayward First Daughters. Sigh. Does anybody else miss competing volcano pictures?

It seems painfully appropriate that the only directing credit (minus thousands of hours of bad tv) attributed to this director is the "Leave it to Beaver" movie. The presence of perennial supporting actor Jeremy Piven is probably the one saving grace here. That and the fact that I could actually buy Mark Harmon as the Prez. I'm glad to see him making a (sort of) comeback (with this and "Freaky Friday"). Can "Summer School 2: 2 Summer 2 School" be far behind?

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Skewing a shade older than "Cheaper by the Dozen" (starring Hillary Duff, and no, I don't know the difference) might save this one from being overshadowed. There is another comedy coming out this weekend, but it's going to appeal to a slightly different audience. That leaves this with an appeal not quite on the level of last year's January breakout "Just Married," but still enough to make some bank. $22mil.

MY BABY'S DADDY

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Three funny guys (Eddie Griffin, Anthony Anderson & Michael Imperioli - ok, two funny guys and that guy from the Sopranos) face impending fatherhood.

WILL IT SUCK?
I hope not. There's a lot of potential. Griffin and Anderson are hilarious. Griffin wrote the script with another newcomer so their mutual screenwriting abilities are untested. Curiously, a woman is directing this one. (Curious only because there's a dearth of female directors, esp. on star vehicles, but I've ranted on that before.) But I haven't heard of any of her stuff.

There's also a fun supporting cast that includes Method Man, Tom "Tiny" Lister, Jr., Amy Sedaris and Scott Thompson. There was also quite the bidding war over this one, but that could've been over potential profit as much as actual quality.

Important note: This was originally supposed to be released LAST APRIL as "My Baby's Mama". The fact that they held it back this long is an almost surefire guarantee of maximum suckage. Especially in January.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
There's another comedy opening the following weekend and another "urban" film as well. Those may split this film's audience in the second weekend if it, y'know, lasts that long. Then again, "Kangaroo Jack" made millions and millions, so what do I know? $30mil.

AILEEN: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
12 years later, Nick Broomfield makes a sequel to "Aileen Wournos: The Selling of a Serial Killer". This time he details the trial (and the use of the previous film in said trial), conviction, and eventual execution of the subject of "Monster".

WILL IT SUCK?
This is surprisingly relevant stuff, and not just because of Charlize Theron's Oscar run. It was Jeb Bush who honored her request for execution regardless of questions regarding her sanity. The media/justice crossover is tangible (the defense was undermined by a scene in the previous film shown in court where the defense attorney toked before giving Aileen legal advice - and perhaps by the fact that the defense WAS toking before giving her legal advice). And then there's the whole corrupt law enforcement angle that's so popular with the kids these days. Oh, yeah, and I think some lady killed a bunch of guys in there somewhere.

Relevant, however, don't necessarily mean good. So we look at the directors. It's hard to find a description of Nick Broomfield without the word "sensationalist" attached. He's responsible for the controversial (another oft related adjective) "Biggie and Tupac" and "Kurt and Courtney" so there's likely a grain of salt worth taking into the theater. Here he's directing with his usual cinematographer (and "Selling" co-director) Joan Churchill, against whom the critics seem to have less of a beef. Regardless of the questions surrounding the veracity of his work, it's usually considered compelling at least.

Early buzz here, it should be noted, is quite mixed.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It's a doc, and worse yet for the b.o., it's a doc in January. Although it may get a slight boost from "Monster" (which will probably need a slight boost itself) it'll get creamed by "Osama" (as much as "Osama" will cream anything) the following week. $250,000.



JANUARY 16

ALONG CAME POLLY

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller. I could tell you the particulars, but does it really matter?

WILL IT SUCK?
The trailer is so uninspired it hurts. However, this is from writer/director John Hamburg, who penned "Zoolander" and "Meet the Parents," neither of which especially sucked (although I'm a far bigger fan of "Zoolander," which also had the input of Stiller and a bloke by the name of Drake Sather). He also did "Safe Men," which I've heard is good.

The one remarkable note about the cast (aside from the usually reliable Stiller) is Philip Seymour-Hoffman as the best friend. Hoffman is like Movie Helper - he just makes everything better (even, dear God, "Twister"). That's not enough to convince me to go, mind you, but it gives me a shred of hope.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Pretty well. It's got no real competition. The closest thing is "Chasing Liberty" which skews much younger and "My Baby's Daddy" which skews more, well, black. And even though I was underwhelmed by the trailer, the audiences I've seen it with so far seem to eat it up. They'll be hankering for something like this in a very, very dry January. Ben Stiller's track record with romantic comedy is also pretty spot on ("Keeping the Faith" notwithstanding). $53mil.

TEACHER'S PET: THE MOVIE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Based on the popular animated TV series (hence "The Movie" qualification - as opposed to "The Hair Conditioner" or "The Flame Thrower"). Pinocchio story with a dog instead of a wooden doll.

WILL IT SUCK?
Well, the trailer cleverly plays off the Pinocchio similarity, but that's about the last clever thing in the trailer. The PG rating should be a clue, however, that we're in for something a little more hardcore than "Piglet's Big Movie". Also, there's the novelty of seeing cel animation from that now defunct wing of Disney. Avant-garde artist Gary Baseman created this cartoon, giving it an underground cache rarely seen on ABC's Saturday morning lineup. All of this is a long-winded way of saying that this will probably be closer to "Recess: School's Out" than "Jungle Book 2".

They've hired screenwriters and directors from the TV show, which is another good sign, given the 3 Emmys it garnered. One of those Emmys went to Nathan Lane, who reprises his role here.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It's got no real competition. It's the only animated game in town. As such it should do pretty well. Not G-rated in December well, but PG in January well. $38mil.

TORQUE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
"Biker Boyz" with a plot. Our lead gets framed for killing the brother of the head of a murderous motorcycle gang. Wacky misunderstandings ensue and the gang-leader comes after our hero. On a bike. Okay, it's just "Biker Boyz".

WILL IT SUCK?
Well, it's got Ice Cube playing a heavy (sort of) again for the first time in a while. And the stunts look awesome (much better than "Biker Boyz," which isn't saying much, I suppose). And the look of the film should be decent with Eminem video maestro Joseph Kahn at the helm. So all I've really managed to establish is that it will look good.

Bad sign no. 1: They're releasing it in January. Bad sign no. 2: It was supposed to come out last January, then last March. I understand wanting to give it some breathing room after "Biker Boyz" but a whole year? Actually, that's probably not a bad idea, come to think of it.

It looks like it could be a lot of stupid Fast, Furious Fun. Let's just hope it doesn't suck as bad as "The Transporter."

Let's also hope that more movies get named after physics terms. I myself am looking forward to "Moment of Inertia".

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Not much star power but it makes up for that in placing. Nothing like it around. It should do quite well, assuming it doesn't out and out suck - and even then. Where "Biker Boyz" failed with a hackneyed coming of age story, this may succeed with a hackneyed chase story - guys like chase stories better. $37mil.

OSAMA

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Don't let the title fool you. Well, let it fool you a little. This does take place in Taliban-era Afghanistan, which for women was especially horrific. The premise has one of these women disguising her daughter as a boy so she can go out and work and provide things like, y'know, food. Hilarity does not ensue.

WILL IT SUCK?
Here's an interesting bit of trivia. This film was financed by the Iranian government, who apparently weeps not the loss of the Taliban. Anyhoo, the buzz is very strong on this one. Moving and to top it all off looks amazing. See? Movies can look good AND be good. Who knew?

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Regardless of the fact that the title only refers to the name the daughter adopts, it's going to cause a stir and put curious butts in seats. In addition, it looks like the indie film world has chosen to stop releasing films in January. Hollywood releases its crap in January. Indiewood just says fuck it and releases almost nothing. So, almost no competition for this flick. Regardless of all that, foreign films are almost always a hard sell. $500,000.



JANUARY 23

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Remember that Halloween Simpsons story where Homer has the toaster that can go through time? Kind of like that, but with Ashton Kutcher. Or maybe "Back to the Future II"…with Ashton Kutcher or "Bedazzled" with time travel…and Ashton Kutcher.

WILL IT SUCK?
This is from the guys who wrote "Final Destination 2" so, yes, probably. It's an interesting premise involving mental blackouts and covers some dark territory, which may be an interesting stretch for Ashton, but that doesn't change the fact that this is from the guys who wrote "Final Destination 2". It also doesn't change the fact that it's Ashton Kutcher. But, hey, it's got Amy Smart and Eric Stoltz!

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
If it weren't opening against "Mindhunters," a little better. Still, it skews a little younger than that so Ashton fans will respond. $47mil.

WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON!

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Small town girl wins a contest to go on a date with a movie star. When the date goes well, "Pretty in Pink" redux ensues.

WILL IT SUCK?
Hard to say. Josh "I can't believe he's not Timothy Olyphant" Duhamel has gained a following on "All My Children" so he may be good and certainly seems up to the task in the trailer as the hunk in question. Topher Grace seems more than capable of filling the Duckie role (though no one will ever match Jon Cryer - whatever happened to "The Famous Teddy Z"? Will that ever come out on DVD? But I digress…) And Kate Bosworth, well, I have no opinion about Kate Bosworth but Ginnifer Goodwin and Gary Cole have supporting roles so that can't be bad. Oh, and Paris Hilton makes an appearance if that flips your pancake.

Director-wise we have the guy who helmed "Legally Blonde" (and a short called, wait for it, "Tistiana Booberini") but more important here is the writing which falls to "Mad About You" (and "Down the Shore," remember "Down the Shore"?) scribe Victor Levin. So it's anybody's guess.

Judging by the talent and the trailer, I'm gonna say this will probably be slightly better than you might expect, but, since it's January, it's probably no "Legally Blonde," either (and certainly no "Pretty in Pink").

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
This weekend is The Battle of the "That 70's Show" Stars. Some may choose the higher profile Ashton in "Butterfly Effect," but that's a whole different genre. It'll probably come down to word of mouth, and my guess is that for this it'll be halfway decent. Plus there are all those "All My Children" fans. Seriously. $50mil.

MINDHUNTERS

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
"The Recruit" with FBI profiler trainees instead of CIA trainees. There is a killer among them, yadda, yadda, yadda.

WILL IT SUCK?
Likely. See, it's got the Renny Harlin curse. He brings even good writers down. (It's still hard to believe the great Shane West wrote "The Long Kiss Goodnight"). Renny has brought us that and "Cutthroat Island," "Cliffhanger," and, yes, "Driven." He also brought us "Die Hard 2" and the surprisingly enjoyable (albeit schlocky) "Deep Blue Sea". But that doesn't make up for "Driven". Fucking "Lawrence of Arabia" wouldn't make up for "Driven". And this is the guy to whom they turned over the reins of "Excorcist: The Beginning" after they dumped Paul Schrader!?!?

Still, he'll have to bring a good writer down again to make this suck. Wayne Kramer, who wrote and directed "The Cooler," penned the story and screenplay here. The writer of "The Glimmer Man" was evidently brought in to do a crap polish, though. God forbid we have good dialogue the whole way through!

I can take or leave the cast, though I'm glad that Johnny Lee Miller ("Trainspotting," "Plunkett & Macleane") is still getting work.

The one early review I've seen is actually favorable.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Not very. I don't know that there's going to be that much of a demand for thrillers at this point. For some reason I think there's going to be a bigger market for action, hence "Torque" drawing away some of this flick's audience in its second frame. Also, unfavorable comparisons with "Identity," which had a mixed reception to begin with, might hurt word of mouth. $32mil.

DIRT

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
These two guys' mother dies and they have no idea how to live without her so they search for a replacement mom. When prostitutes and strippers fail, they kidnap a woman from a Piggly Wiggly (that's the second time that store has been featured in this preview - the female lead in "Tad Hamilton" works there, too) who is happy to be kidnapped because of her abusive husband, from whom she plans to kidnap her baby by enlisting these two goofballs. Got it?

Oh, and wacky, quirky indie comedy ensues.

WILL IT SUCK?
It has Patrick Warburton in a supporting role and a character named "Pregnant Crack Ho" so it can't be all bad. Early critical notices are good but early audience notices are pretty danm bad. The writer/director's first effort (he co-directs this time with first-timer Tracy Fraim) also received underwhelming word of mouth. Maybe indiewood unloads their crap in January, too (when they release at all).

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
With better notices, bigger studio support and a potentially broader appeal, "Osama" should blow this out of the water in its second frame. $160,000.



JANUARY 30

THE BIG BOUNCE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Owen Wilson gets involved in a comic noir in Hawaii.

WILL IT SUCK?
Hard to say. Elmore Leonard novels of late make great films, though in this case the original (made with Ryan O'Neal in '69) sucked ass. So Leonard's not a lock, but when he does work, you get "Get Shorty," "Jackie Brown," and "Out of Sight". Admittedly that's with Sonnenfeld, Tarantino, and Soderbergh directing and Scott Frank and Tarantino adapting.

Here you've got George Armitage directing and co-adapting with Sebastian Gutierrez of "Gothika," er, fame. Armitage did a good job with dark humor in "Grosse Pointe Blank" and by most accounts "Miami Blues" was better than expected. Still, I can't help wishing Frank was in on this one, too, especially after seeing the underwhelming trailer (which may just be marketing's fault - Leonard films tend to be much more fun once you're embroiled in the plot as opposed to relying on sound bites).

Anyway, the big plus here is the cast - In addition to Wilson you've got Morgan Freeman, Gary Sinise, Vinnie Jones, Kris Kirstofferson, Scott Caan, Willie Nelson & Charlie Sheen in full-on doofus mode. Should be fun as long as it can avoid being "Palmetto".

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
There's nothing else out quite like it so it'll have to stand or fall on its own legs. I think initially Wilson fans will come out and help the opening, but if the word of mouth isn't there it'll drop precipitously especially when "Barbershop 2" and "Miracle" threaten to sieve different portions of its core audience the following week. $36mil.

THE PERFECT SCORE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
"Ocean's 11" meets "Grind". Some students try to steal the answers to the SAT's to get…"The Perfect Score"…but there's only one problem…they're vampires! Okay, I just threw in that last part. But wouldn't that be cool?

WILL IT SUCK?
This is from the director of "Varsity Blues" and "Good Burger". What's not to like? (By the way, he's also Eric from "Head of the Class". I shit you not!) Somehow this movie has Scarlett Johansson and Erika Christensen. But for some reason they didn't release it in December for Oscar qualification. Unbelievable.

Here's my theory. They shot this in 2002 before Scarlett was a star. It tested poorly and they decided to can it. Scarlett shot into the pre-Oscar spotlight and they decided to dump it in January to capitalize. I can't prove any of that (except IMDB says it did shoot in 2002), but I think it's likely.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
There is a surprising glut of teen fare this time of year. It's got "Butterfly Effect" and "Tad Hamilton" the previous week and "Catch that Kid" the following week and the not as uniformly black as you might think appeal of "You Got Served" when it opens. And there is very little crossover audience between "Lost in Translation" and this. Sadly, it'll still do better than "Ghost World". $10mil.

YOU GOT SERVED

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
"Bring it On" with dance crews instead of cheerleading squads.

WILL IT SUCK?
B2K in the hizzy. So if you like them you should probably see this cos' they're the stars. I've never really heard of them, cos' I'm totally unhip. You know what else I've never heard of? "House Party 4". But it exists (only on video). Same director here. So don't expect, um, "House Party". On the other hand, if you're just looking to see some dope dance moves, rent the DVD and skip to the dance scenes. Rent "Breakin'" 1 & 2 and "Beat Street" while you're at it. Come on over! We'll make it a whole thing!

By the way, the big dance contest at the end of this movie is called "The Big Bounce". If it's emcee'd by Owen Wilson, I will go see this movie.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
B2K are multi-platinum artists so their chances are not slim. On the other hand, Mariah Carey's even more multi-platinum and look what happened to "Honey", er, I mean "Glitter". Also it's a very crowded teen frame for some reason. Not to mention "Barbershop 2" the following week. It's going to be an uphill battle. $10mil.

LATTER DAYS

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Gay hunk falls for closeted Mormon. Crises of faith ensue.

WILL IT SUCK?
Well, they're touting that this is directed by the guy that wrote "Sweet Home Alabama". I don't know that I'd advertise that fact, but it's probably to help their b.o. (more on that in a minute). This is also written by the guy who wrote "Sweet Home Alabama," which is even more of an indictment, but the early reviews and awards from various gay and lesbian film fests indicate that perhaps this is a more refined effort.

"Buffy" fans take note. Amber Benson (Tara, Willow's lesbian lover, natch) has a supporting role in this one.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
I don't know how well the whole "Sweet Home Alabama" thing will play with the indie crowd, who will be the first to see this since it's opening first in LA, NY (and Salt Lake City, hee!) on the art house circuit. Frankly I think they'll get more mileage out of Amber Benson. Really the key here will be to play up the awards angle and hope to hit the gay demographic in these cities (Salt Lake City, not so much) and continue the momentum of buzz coming from its festival wins. All of this, though, will still result in a relatively small b.o. $600,000.

That's all for now. February looks a little more promising, what with your Bill Killing and such. Also, a very controversial film that retells a very famous story. I'm talking, of course, about "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights".

- Dave Thomas
http://travelindave.blogspot.com

 




Back   Back


Free Williamsburg© | 311 Graham Avenue | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | January 2004 | Issue 46
Please send us submissions | Advertise with us!
Reproduction of material found on FREEwilliamsburg without written permission is strictly prohibited.