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Box Office Preview: Nothing to See Here

Snow White and the Huntsman

Who throws a cupcake, honestly? On a similar note, who would think combining Snow White with high fantasy and action/adventure is a good idea, honestly? Why, Universal Pictures, that’s who. We’ve got them to thank for the atrocious “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Coming soon to a theater near you!

I just can’t wrap my head around it, it seems like they’re actually trying to make a terrible movie. What separates good fantasy, stuff like “Game of Thrones” or “Lord of the Rings,” from the alarmingly awful majority of the genre is the subversion of cliches like the ultimate battle of good versus evil. When it comes to “Game of Thrones,” believe me, I should know. Especially given how much of my life I spend writing about it. Yet the tagline for “Snow White” is “Evil meets Destiny,” it’s right there in the trailer. I feel I should add this isn’t just me being grumpy either, the film’s at a 46 percent on the Tomatometer.

The movie’s about… Come on, what do you think it’s about? It’s Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Charlize Theron as the queen. Old queenie gets her panties in a bunch when her talking mirror tells her Snow White may one day be the fairest of them all.

The only difference between this and the Disney version is the queen sends a Huntsman (played by Chris Hemsworth) to capture Snow White. Seriously Hemsworth, if I wasn’t still feeling my “Avengers” contact high I might not be able to forgive you for this. Oh, and there’s battles and actiony stuff too, which always makes for a better film. Just ask “Battleship.”

Piranha 3DD

I didn’t think it was possible for me to be less excited about a movie than “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Then I watched the trailer for “Piranha 3DD.” I think I may have strained whatever muscles are responsible for dry heaving. Did you know the extra “D” in the title is meant to indicate this a sequel? Because I didn’t. I suppose it’s also a boob joke. Don’t blame the messenger, this is high-brow stuff folks. Summing this one up on my own might induce actual vomitus. To spare myself the trouble I’ll let the three of you interested peruse the official synopsis:

After the terror unleashed on Lake Victoria in Piranha 3D, the pre-historic school of blood thirsty piranhas are back. This time, no one is safe from the flesh eating fish as they sink their razor sharp teeth into the visitors of summer’s best attraction, The Big Wet Water Park.

Just copy and pasting that hurt. Anyway, “Piranha 3DD” stars a bunch of young no names, along with people like Ving Rhames, David Hasselhoff, and Gary Busey. To this I say fine, get your money while there’s money to be got. But then I read that Christopher Lloyd is in the picture and my face looked something like this. That’s right, the man who played Doc Brown in “Back to the Future” and Taber in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is dragging his name through the mud with this garbage. Alright, in his defense the original’s been certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. But “Pirahna 3DD’s” rating on the Tomatometer stands at a measly 12 percent.

Avoid this film like the plague, or, you know, a pre-historic school of blood thirsty piranhas.

Battlefield America

Did I say I was unexcited about “Pirahna 3DD” because “Battlefield America” has brought me to depths of disinterest I never thought possible. The synopsis calls it “A steady look at the underbelly of the youth battle dance culture in Long Beach, California.” The underbelly of youth dance culture? Seriously? Even if that didn’t sound ridiculous how many dance off movies can there possibly be? And now we’ve got to involve children?

Apparently “Battlefield America” is director Chris Stokes’ follow-up to 2004′s “You Got Served.” Since when do movies as universally disliked as “You Got Served” (16 on the Tomatometer) get follow-ups? Well, for a while now. I suppose a better question is why these movies get follow-ups, sequels, or anything of the sort. Well, money. Always money.

Please don’t make me talk about this movie anymore, it’s killing me. If you’re going to the theater this weekend see “The Avengers” or “Men in Black III.” Better yet, see Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom” if you have the opportunity. Please don’t waste your time or money on these new releases.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Box Office Recap: ‘Men in Black’ Takes the Top Spot


Men in Black 3” raked in $55 million this weekend, which was enough to finally knock that other movie out of the top spot. What was it called? I think it had superheroes. Wait a minute. I think I’ve been neuralyzed!

Members of the staff who avoided having their memories wiped are informing me that the superhero movie I was referring to is called “The Avengers.” Apparently it broke a whole bunch of records, which I have no memory of, but the domestic box office now has a new reigning champ.

In spite of its victory this weekend, “Men in Black” has a long row to hoe if it expects to make a profit. Fifty-five million might have been enough to knock off “The Avengers,” but Sony Pictures was no doubt hoping for a better showing given the film’s $230 million budget.

Battleship” and “Dark Shadows,” which came in third and sixth place, respectively, face similar problems. The based-on-a-board-game “Battleship” (yes, you read that correctly) took in just $10.8 million in it second week. That brings its cumulative gross to $44.3 million, a paltry sum compared to its $209 million budget. Likewise, “Dark Shadows” made just $7.5 million it its third week, bringing its cumulative total to nearly $63 million, which isn’t much when juxtaposed with its $150 million budget.

Fourth and seventh place finishers “The Dictator” and “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” continued to disappoint, making $9.6 and $7.1 million, respectively. “Chernobyl Diaries,” on the other hand, got to disappoint for the very first time. The low-budget horror flick written by Oren Peli, who wrote and directed “Paranormal Activity” brought in $8 million. That’s only slightly below the $9.4 million projected by the studio. But more importantly the film disappointed because of its abysmal D+ CinemaScore.

Perhaps to counteract all these big-budget flops, a couple of films with lower budgets and more limited releases offered a few feel good stories this weekend. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is being played in more and more theaters every week, increasing its count by 879 to 1,233 theaters and making $6.3 million in the process.

Meanwhile, Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” is making waves at the specialty box office after opening the Cannes Film Festival earlier in the month. Despite being shown at just four theaters nationwide, the film made over half a million dollars, giving it a record-breaking per-theater average of $127,250, which is both the highest in 2012 and the highest ever for a film released in four theaters.

Here are the results for this weekend’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume
1. Men in Black 3, 1/4,248, Sony, $55 million.
2. The Avengers, 4/3,918, Disney/Marvel Studios, $37 million, $513.7 million.
3. Battleship, 2/3,702, Universal/Hasbro, $10.8 million, $44.3 million.
4. The Dictator, 2/3,014, Paramount, $9.6 million, $41.4 million.
5. Chernobyl Diaries, 1/2,433, Warner Bros., $8 million.
6. Dark Shadows, 3/3,404, Warner Bros., $7.5 million, $63 million.
7.What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 2/3,021, $7.1 million, $22.2 million
8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 4/1,233, Fox Searchlight, $6.3 million, $16.5 million.
9. The Hunger Games, 10/1,421, Lionsgate, $2.7 million, $395.2 million.
10. Think Like a Man, 6/786, Sony, $1.4 million, $88.3 million.

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Hidden Netflix Gems – Ladybug Ladybug

Hidden Netflix Gems is a new feature designed to help readers answer that burning question, “What should I watch tonight?” It will be updated every Saturday before the sun goes down.

Frank Perry’s Ladybug Ladybug feels dated in many ways, and not just because it is in black & white; it is a quintessential Cold War paranoia movie, from the era of Sidney Lumet’s Fail-Safe and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the only film of its era to make the threat of nuclear annihilation the subject of comedy. While those films are revered to this day, Ladybug Ladybug has fallen unfairly by the wayside, though its unique approach and hypnotic style are definitely worthy of viewing by a modern audience.

Written by Perry’s wife and frequent collaborator, Eleanor Perry, from a story by Lois Dickert, Ladybug Ladybug‘s title comes from the children’s rhyme, “Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home / Your house is on fire and your children are gone.” Based on a real incident, the film examines the course of events following a nuclear attack alarm at a small town elementary school. The alarm is a “code yellow,” which translates to “nuclear attack imminent within an hour.” After some panicked deliberation, the school’s principal, Mr. Calkins (William Daniels), decides to heed the alarm and send the children home. After this, the film follows one particular group of children as they are escorted home along a country road by a teacher, Mrs. Andrews (Nancy Marchand, best known as Tony’s vindictive mother, Livia, on The Sopranos).

We also see several of the schoolchildren camped out in the bomb shelter owned by one of their families, playing the waiting game and gradually evolving into their own small version of society. The way in which they instinctively form hierarchies and begin to govern themselves when left to their own devices recalls William Golding’s brilliant 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, though the savagery portrayed in that book is given far less time to flourish here. Instead of hunting and killing one another, these children discuss their situation with a rationality nowhere to be found in the adult world of Strangelove, for example. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, the children take a vote on whether or not war should be allowed; they all vote against it before concluding that nobody will listen to children.

It’s not all polite discussion, though, as the inherent selfishness of human nature comes out in the children’s refusal to allow their fellow student, Sarah (Marilyn Rogers), into the bomb shelter, claiming there is simply not enough room. The result of this, though ambiguous, implies great tragedy for Sarah, and this tragic ambiguity extends to the film’s ending. Though its political import is a bit heavy-handed, as a narrative conclusion it is striking, poignant and memorable, all adjectives that could be applied to the film as a whole.

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4 Mobile Apps that Can Help You Look like an A-List Celebrity

Anyone who has ever had a dream or even ounce of interest in looking or acting like a celebrity knows how much work is involved. Not only do you have to work on perfecting hair and makeup, but you have to look good physically and have an extensive fashion collection. While it might not be possible to make a supermodel or celebrity overnight, some mobile apps have tried to achieve the impossible and help others become “pseudo” celebrities or supermodels.


Image Courtesy of Flickr

The following are some must-have mobile apps that every person needs to consider downloading. So grab your phone, choose one of the many no contract cell phone plans, and start working on becoming a celebrity or supermodel look-a-like.

Touch Closet

Celebrities have personal assistants that personally go through their wardrobe and catalogue when they’ve worn certain outfits. While you might not be able to afford a personal assistant, the Best Wardrobe Organizer can help you catalogue your outfits so you never wear the same outfit twice in a row. Just snap a picture of the clothing you are wearing, place it in the calendar and you can see what you’ve worn in the past or plan on wearing in the future.

WhoWhatWear

If you want to pick out fashion ensembles that are similar to the celebrities, the WhoWhatWear app is a must-have for you. This mobile app shows you photos of celebrities from all over the world, and features a how-to guide on how you can recreate that look for less. Style suggestions are updated daily, so you’ll never have to worry about sifting through old, outdated fashion ensembles.

Ask a Stylist

Ever wonder what you might look like in a certain fashion ensemble or pair of shoes, but have no one to ask? Ask a Stylist is a free mobile app that allows you to upload photos of the fashion accessory or fashion ensemble you choose to wear, and ask a professional stylist to the stars their opinion. All you have to do is pick a personal stylist who matches your likes and interests, and send them a quick photo of what you want to wear. You’ll receive honest, straight-forward advice that allows you to pick fashion ensembles that have you looking and feeling your best.

Style.com

You can’t look and feel like a celebrity or supermodel if you don’t know what is hot or not. The Style.com app is a great way to stay on top of all the latest news and trends in the fashion industry. This information is instantly downloaded to your smartphone, and you can use it to make judgments on what to wear.

Perfecting the supermodel or celebrity look can take years and lots of money, but with the help of these mobile apps it can take just a few minutes. If you ever had a dream of becoming a celebrity or supermodel, then download these apps and you will be one step closer to looking and feeling like one.

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Box Office Preview: Here come the ‘Men in Black,’ also ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and another crap Hollywood horror flick


Men in Black III

The Men in Black are back, with time travel! Let me start off by saying I fucking hate sequels. And threequels? Fuggedaboutit. Speed round: name ten threequels that didn’t suck, no cheating. I’ll try, there’s “Return of the Jedi, “The Return of the King,” “Toy Story 3,” uh, uh, Jackie Chan!

So what is “Men in Black III” about? Time travel, duh, I already told you that. But seriously, the beginning of the movie has Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones still running around doing their alien-fighting thing. But suddenly, history has been rewritten and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is somehow at the center of it, or at least that’s what the trailer told me. With K’s life and the fate of planet at stake, Agent J (Will Smith) “will have to travel back in time to put things right.” Along the way, he’ll discover “there are secrets to the universe that K never told him—secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency, and the future of humankind.” Also, Andy Warhol is an Agent.

Could “Men in Black III” be the rare exception that makes the rule? Or will the filmmakers wish they could go back in time and put a fat red light on this thing? The film is at a 68 percent on the Tomatometer, but no consensus has been reached yet. So as with any series, if you’re a huge fan of the first two, sure, you’ll like it. For us average folks, meh, it’ll probably be alright. However, as A.O. Scott of The New York Times points out, people will have low expectations of the movie specifically because it’s a threequel. When the bar is low, it’s easy to jump over it.

Apart from the urgent necessity of reminding us that Will Smith is a movie star (and the usual need to wring a few more dollars out of a profitable franchise), “Men in Black 3” arrives in the multiplexes of the world with no particular agenda. Which may be part of the reason that it turns out to be so much fun. You don’t need to study up on the previous installments or master a body of bogus fanboy lore to enjoy this movie for the breezy pop throwaway it is. Your expectations may be pleasantly low, and you may therefore be pleasantly surprised when they are exceeded.


Moonrise Kingdom

Well, unfortunately for my sarcastic side (which is actually both of my sides), “Moonrise Kingdom” looks really good. It’s been certified fresh on the Tomatometer with a 98 percent rating. Also, Bill Murray is in it, nothing else need be said. Shit, Wes Anderson directed and Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Bruce Willis and Jason Schwartzman are in it too? I know, fuck me right?

So “Moonrise Kingdom” is the story of two twelve year-olds who fall in love and run away together on a New England island in 1965. Much to the dismay of the local police captain (Willis), and the boy’s scout troop leaders (Norton and Schwartzman), and only slightly to the dismay of the girl’s father (Murray).

Seriously, I’m not too good at this whole “wow this should be a really good movie” thing. Most of what Hollywood churns out is mindless trash. I hate it, but it makes my life easier. What else can I say? It’s a Wes Anderson film, perhaps his best one yet, and 47 of the 48 critics listed by Rotten Tomatoes loved it. See this movie.


Chernobyl Diaries

Speaking of mindless trash, “Chernobyl Diaries,” brought to you by Oren Peli, the director of “Paranormal Activity,” will also be released this week. I don’t really have much to say about it yet, Rotten Tomatoes hasn’t posted any reviews nor could I find one in any major publication. All I’ve got to work from is the trailer and the official synopsis, which states:

The film follows a group of six young vacationers who, looking to go off the beaten path, hire an “extreme” tour guide. Ignoring warnings, he takes them into the city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, but a deserted town since the disaster more than 25 years ago. After a brief exploration of the abandoned city, however, the group soon finds themselves stranded, only to discover that they are not alone…

“Extreme tourism,” ooooo… Scary… I’ll say what I do about most movies that look like crap, if you’re into the genre or the director’s earlier work, this film could be for you. Otherwise, stay away. When you’ve got “Men in Black III,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” and “The Avengers” (for all four of you who haven’t seen it yet), there’s little to no reason to see a movie like this.

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Box Office Recap: ‘Avengers’ Still On Top, ‘Battleship’ Disappoints


The Avengers’” weekend gross took another hit of nearly 50% this weekend, but that didn’t stop it from remaining the number one movie in America (and abroad, and on Betelgeuse as well, like as not). Despite the drop, the superhero flick still raked in over $55 million in its third week, bringing its global gross to $1.18 billion. Yes, billion with a “b.” In terms of cumulative gross, the film is now the fourth biggest movie of all time worldwide and the sixth biggest domestically. Furthermore, “The Avengers” swept past “The Hunger Games” to become the highest-grossing movie of 2012, and it showed no signs of slowing down. The only film to make more in its third weekend was “Avatar.” But while “Avatar” was able to stay at the top of the charts for seven consecutive weeks, “The Avengers” might just face its first real competition in “Men in Black III” next weekend. Heavy emphasis on the “might.”

Given its tremendous success, “The Avengers” isn’t leaving a whole lot of cash for its competitors. Coming in second place with $25.3 million was Universal Studios’ “Battleship.” That figure is especially disappointing for the film’s financiers given the $209 million it cost to produce. I for one am still having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of an alien and explosion-packed action movie based on a freaking board game, and apparently I’m not alone.

In third place was Sacha Baron Cohen’sThe Dictator.” The comedy was given a Wednesday release, taking in $24.5 million over five days with $17.4 million coming during the weekend itself. The film is Baron Cohen’s first fully-scripted picture, presumably because he is now too recognizable to dupe people in the fashion of “Borat” or “Da Ali G Show.”

“Dark Shadows,” the most recent collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, continued to underperform. The film took in $12.7 million in its second weekend, bringing its ten-day total to just under $51 million, another disappointing figure given its $150 million budget.

In fifth place with $10.5 million was the weekend’s last remaining new movie, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

Perhaps most surprising was the $3.25 million made by “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” despite playing in only 354 theaters nationwide. That’s a per-theater average of $18,258, which tops even “The Avengers’” $12,958.

Here are the results for this weekend’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume
1. The Avengers, 3/4,249, Disney/Marvel Studios, $55.1 million, $457.1
2. Battleship, 1/3,690, Universal/Hasbro, $25.3 million.
3. The Dictator, 1/3,008, Paramount, $17.4 million, $24.5 million.
4. Dark Shadows, 2/3,755, Warner Bros., $12.8 million, $50.9 million.
5. What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 1/3,021, $10.5 million.
6. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 3/354, Fox Searchlight, $3.3 million, $8.2 million.
7. The Hunger Games, 9/2,064, Lionsgate, $3 million, $391.6 million.
8. Think Like a Man, 5/1,722, Sony, $2.7 million, $85.9 million.
9. The Lucky One, 5/2,839, Warner Bros., $1.8 million, $56.9 million.
10. The Pirates! Band of Misfits, 4/1,840, Sony/Aardman, $1.5 million, $25.4 million.

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Hidden Netflix Gems – Walking and Talking

Hidden Netflix Gems is a new feature designed to help readers answer that burning question, “What should I watch tonight?” It will be updated every Saturday before the sun goes down. 

Writer-director Nicole Holofcener has been compared to the legendary Woody Allen because of her strong command of character and dialogue, not to mention the fact that her films tend to revolve around brainy people having trouble with their relationships, both romantic and familial. The comparison is apt and certainly not without foundation – Holofcener is the stepdaughter of Allen’s late producer Charles H. Joffe, and she found her first film industry work on Allen films such as Hannah and Her Sisters, on which she was an apprentice editor. However, despite their shared propensity for talky comedic dramas about New Yorkers who are sometimes a bit too smart for their own good, Holofcener’s films display a sensibility that is uniquely hers, as channeled through her favorite actor, Catherine Keener, who has appeared in all four of her films thus far.

Holofcener’s debut feature, Walking and Talking, takes a warm and insightful look at the mixed feelings of Amelia (Keener), a woman in her mid-30s whose longtime best friend, Laura (Anne Heche), is getting married. The news sends Amelia into a sort of “biological clock” crisis in which she confronts her conflicting desires to settle down and find happiness the way other women her age seem to be doing, while still wanting the relative freedom and ease of a single life. As she attempts to navigate this difficulty, she receives advice and moral support from Laura, her fiancée, Frank (Todd Field), and Amelia’s former lover and good friend, Andrew (Liev Schreiber), as well as a therapist (Joseph Siravo). Though she has been ambivalent at best about the prospect up until now, she finally decides to begin dating Bill (Kevin Corrigan), a video store clerk who has been flirting with her for some time now.

Walking and Talking is at its best in its portrayal of this courtship, with Amelia gradually realizing that the man who she has previously considered to be beneath her (she calls him “The Ugly Guy” when speaking of him to Laura and others) just might be a much better match for her than she thought, and in its portrayal of the friendship between Amelia and Andrew. It’s so rare in life to maintain a close, caring friendship with a former lover, but it does happen and, in my experience, it happens very much the way it is shown here. Their scenes together are especially warm and funny, but above all it is the dynamic between Amelia and Bill that makes this film rise above the average comedy. Far from being simply a geek or loser, as Amelia originally sees him, Bill is much smarter, funnier and deeper than she (or we, the audience) first assume; in fact, Amelia comes to realize that he just might be too good for her. Like Bill, Walking and Talking is much more than the sum of its parts, and well worth a look.

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Box Office Preview: Board Games, Pregnancy, and something like ‘Borat’ 2


The Dictator

At this point if you don’t know what you’re getting walking into a Sacha Baron Cohen movie, you’ve probably never seen a Sacha Baron Cohen movie. That’s not to say “The Dictator” won’t be funny, but if you’re expecting 100 percent originality, you might want to look elsewhere.

“The Dictator” is the story of a North African, you guessed it, dictator, who’s called to answer for his crimes in front of the UN in New York. Believe it or not, it’s loosely based on a romance novel allegedly written by Saddam Hussein. Yeah, that Saddam Hussein, and yeah, romance. Anyway, when John C. Reilly strips him of his beard, nobody believes he’s a dictator anymore, so he has to find his way working in a food co-op with Anna Faris.

Fish out of water on the mean streets of America? Sounds an awful lot like “Borat,” but if it’s funny, who cares? I guess that raises the question, is “The Dictator” funny? The film is sitting at a 63 percent on the Tomatometer, so it’s probably more “Borat” (good) than “Bruno” bad. One thing the film has to set it apart from Baron Cohen’s previous work is that it’s not in his trademark interview-heavy mockumentary format. This probably means “The Dictator” sacrifices the more outrageous comedy that comes from duping public figures and nobodies alike for a semi-coherent plot.


Battleship

Now “Transformers” I get, theoretically anyway. There are characters, good guys and bad guys. It’s shit, but it makes sense, and more importantly it had Megan Fox. But a movie based on Battleship, the board game?

Apparently “Battleship” has a plot, but I’ll leave that explanation for Jason in his Bullz-Eye review. I imagine there are ships involved. Anyway, this movie looks like a turd. It’s at a 35 percent on the Tomatometer, and the consensus over there is that the film is “too loud, poorly written, and formulaic to justify its expense.” Jason’s viewpoint was a bit more optimistic:

But while the film does feel a little bit too much like a Michael Bay explosion-rama at times, to my surprise, it works remarkably well as a mindless piece of popcorn entertainment. It won’t wow you in any way, but “Battleship” knows that it’s big, dumb summer fun, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything more.

If that’s the case, so be it. But I have a question, and I’m being completely serious here: what is the world of Hollywood writing coming to when we’re getting movies based on 70-year old board games? What’s next, the Monopoly man going on a Godzilla-like rampage through the streets of Tokyo? Terrorists knocking down buildings with a voodoo Jenga tower? Thank you Screencrush for the ideas, but sad as it may be “Battleship” is a real thing, so there’s no more time for mockery, moving on.


What to Expect When You’re Expecting

It’s a romantic comedy, so already we know what we’re getting into here, don’t we? There will be cliches, love, a second act rife with conflict, and ultimately, a happy ending. But every once in a while a movie comes along that breaks the mold, throwing all those banal stereotypes into a pot and coming out with something great. This is not that movie. Let me repeat again, because I know eyes can wander over a word or two: this is not that movie.

That fact is especially unfortunate when you look at the film’s star-studded cast, which includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock, Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911!”), Rodrigo Santoro (like 4 episodes of “Lost”), as well as the recent success of “Think Like a Man,” which was also based on a self-help book.

If I could guess, and I can, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” tells the story of a number of couples, each with their own relationship problems centering around pregnancy and child-rearing. It really doesn’t matter, this movie is at a 23 percent on the Tomatometer. As such, you should avoid it like the plague.

If you’re looking for a recommendation this weekend, I’ll say “The Avengers,” just like last week and the week before, and yes, even if you’ve already seen it. Now, last week I also recommended “Dark Shadows” to big Johnny Depp or Tim Burton fans. The same goes here, “The Dictator” is sure to be enjoyable for fans of Sacha Baron Cohen’s work.

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Matt Damon and Friends Get Away with Poker Winnings

Matt Damon, star of the Bourne series is among the big names to be spared a court battle which would have revealed details of massive illegal poker winnings.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Damon’s Good Will Hunting co-star Ben Affleck have also escaped the courts after being involved in games with jailed hedge fund manager Bradley Ruderman.

Ruderman conned multiple people out of millions of dollars before surrendering to the FBI in 2009. Two years later news broke that after reportedly losing $25million of his investors’ money, Ruderman was suing the celebrities who beat him.

It seemed inevitable that details of the high-stakes poker games; illegal in Hollywood; would come to light in the courts, but yesterday it seemed that the quartet of celebrities have gotten away with the cash.

The bankruptcy trustee who sued Damon, Howard Ehrenberg, told celebuzz.com that “all of the poker defendant cases are settled.

“The settlement of every poker related case without having had to incur the cost of taking any of them to trial means that the fund available for the victims has been maximized.”

Ruderman had been living a celebrity lifestyle himself, spending the victims’ cash in Malibu, California, before being jailed.
Poker is still illegal in California, though some States allow the game, and others are looking to get in on the act. There is a lot of revenue available in online gambling, Texas Hold Em and Fast Poker games on the net, and North Dakota is among the States already reaping rewards.

Tobey Macguire was the among the first to settle, agreeing to hand over $80,000 of the $311,200 that he took from Ruderman in the series of underground poker games. It is currently not known how much Damon settled for, but he is believed to have taken significantly more money from the ex-hedge fund manager.

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Box Office Recap: ‘The Avengers’ Made a Good Deal of Money! Part Duh


The Avengers‘” domestic gross dropped 50 percent this weekend. Oh well, what are you gonna do? You can’t win ‘em all and other cliches. Hold on a moment, I’m receiving word from staff mathematicians that a 50 percent drop from $207 million is still over $100 million. I hereby retract my first two sentences. Oh, and for those of you that didn’t get it, the title is a pun. I like puns.

Yes, “The Avengers” made a lot more money this weekend. Surprise! Last week, the film broke a whole bunch of records, it had the largest opening weekend in history, set new highs for Saturday ($69.7 million) and Sunday ($50.1 million), and had the highest ever per-theater average for a nationwide release with $46,057. It also reached $100 million, $150 million, and $200 million faster than any other movie. That trend continued this weekend, as the film had the best second weekend ever, trouncing “Avatar’s” $75.6 million, setting new highs for eight, nine, and ten-day grosses, and becoming the fastest film to reach $300 and $350 million.

Last week, the top weekend market share for a single film was just about the only record “The Avengers” didn’t break. The film’s $207 million was 83.1 percent of the total weekend gross, just behind “Spider-Man 3′s” 83.3. percent. However in its second week “The Avengers” took 64 percent of the total gross, the nineteenth highest figure of all time. “Spider-Man 3″ only took a measly 60.4 percent in its second week. That’s not even in the top 20. Take that Parker!

Anyway, with “The Avengers” raking in so much cash, there wasn’t a whole lot of room left for other movies, even new ones, and especially bad ones. I’m talking to you, my imagined personification of Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows.” You suck. I’m looking down at you just like you’re looking down at that Troll doll, and so is everyone involved in the making of “The Avengers.”

“Dark Shadows” looks especially bad when compared to the opening weekends of other recent Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaborations. The film’s $28.8 million is less than a quarter of “Alice in Wonderland’s” $116.1 million and barely half of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s” $56.2 million. Furthermore, my staff mathematicians are joking about how well those numbers work together, 29 goes into 116 four times and 28 goes into 56 twice. I told those nerds to shut up.

In other news, “Think Like a Man” continues to plow forward, bringing in $6.3 million this weekend and raising its total gross to a relatively impressive $89.1 million. Likewise “The Hunger Games” made $4.4 million, bringing its total to $386.9 million. Of course, the film will inevitably yield 2012′s top spot to “The Avengers” by next weekend.

Here are the results for this week’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume

1. The Avengers, 2/4,349, Disney/Marvel Studios, $103.2 million, $373.2
2. Dark Shadows, 1/3,755, Warner Bros., $28.8.
3. Think Like a Man, 4/2,052, Sony, $6.3 million, $81.9 million.
4. The Hunger Games, 8/2,531, Lionsgate, $4.4 million, $386.9 million.
5. The Lucky One, 4/2,839, Warner Bros., $4.1 million, $53.7 million.
6. The Pirates! Band of Misfits, 3/3,079, Sony/Aardman, $3.2 million, $23.1 million.
7. The Five-Year Engagement, Universal, 3/2,569, $3.1 million, $24.4 million.
8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, 2/178, Fox Searchlight, $2.7 million, $3.7 million.
9. Chimpanzee, 4/1,559, Disney, $1.6 million, $25.6 million.
10. Girl in Progress, 1/327, $1.4 million.

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