This Weekend at the Movies: Mutants, Mutants, Mutants

I’d be inclined to declare this whole weekend a massive multiplex fail if it weren’t for the fact that the only major release is actually getting really great reviews. And if you’re looking for something a little more low-key, this weekend is absolutely booming with opportunities provided you live in New York or Los Angeles. So onward we press into summer!

X-Men: First Class


Aside from its surprising ability to draw in very talented actors (its cast includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, and January Jones), my hopes for this film were unfathomably low until a couple of weeks ago, when word got out that Matthew Vaughn’s fourth feature (he previously directed Layer Cake, Stardust, and Kick-Ass) was actually really, really good. I don’t know why it surprised me so; after all, I liked all of his films to varying degrees, but it seems like, at least this once, a film slipped through the famously rigorous Fox development process. Currently boasting an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is better than any superhero movie has faired since the 2008 one-two-three punch of Iron Man, Hellboy II, and The Dark Knight, X-Men: First Class is poised to make a big dent this weekend both culturally and financially. I’ll be wading through the masses tomorrow to find out for myself how it holds up. Join me!

Hit the jump to see what else is coming out this weekend in limited release, including one of my favorite films of the year thus far.

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This Weekend at the Movies: A Second Hangover, Animals Do Battle, and the Palme d’Or Winner

Memorial Day weekend used to mean the start of the summer movie season, but by now we’re already in full swing! Nevertheless, the studios have seen fit to give you two sequels to two massively popular films. And maybe some artsy stuff for the coasts.

The Hangover Part II


And yes, they’re going roman numeral style. This is some classy stuff right here. I saw this on Monday, and while there are a lot of funny moments with the same gang (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis), you will be shocked at how incredibly similar it is to the first. Way beyond the even standard “same premise, different locale” set-up you would expect. It robs it of some of the insanity the first, which I loved, had in spades. Rotten Tomatoes has it at a 32% fresh rating. Nevertheless, it opened to a whopping $10 million on midnight showings alone last night. With a five-day weekend in which to run rampant (Monday’s a holiday!), this is going to do some serious damage at the box office.

Kung-Fu Panda 2


Once known with the much sillier subtitle “The Kaboom of Doom,” this one seems to do what a good sequel should – offer the same delights as the original in a new package. It boasts a 75% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and while some critics fault it for hewing too closely to the original, many were too swept up by its charms to care. Kung Fu Panda became unexpectedly beloved upon its release, and many cite it as one of Dreamworks’ few great films. It’s hard to imagine those fans, and their kids, won’t come to see this in droves.

The Tree of Life


While the latest film from Terrence Malick certainly won’t make the same imprint at the box office as the previously-mentioned films, this is the film event for cinephiles this weekend. That is, if you live in New York or Los Angeles. I have my ticket to the midnight show tonight, and could not possibly be more excited. If you live elsewhere, don’t fret – you’ll be able to see the Palme d’Or winner within the next few weeks, as Fox Searchlight rolls it out across the country. Click here to see when your city is getting it. And although this doesn’t have the mass appeal of your kung-fu pandas or your 30-something frat boys, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of that Cannes buzz fuel it to a respectable hit for Fox Searchlight.

Beyond that, New York gets two art house release – Tuesday, After Christmas, a sparse study of infidelity that received solid reviews when it premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and United Red Army, an epic about a revolutionary group in Japan in the 1970s.

Next week, it’s all about the X-Men back on the screen again, while at least a couple of cities will get one of my favorite movies of the year so far. Stay tuned!

clomid, synthroid, zithromax, accutane, celebrex
  

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Box office preview: Will “Just Go With It” flow well? Will “Never Say Never” make Bieliebers of us all?

This is the first weekend in some time when we have more than a couple of new movies opening wide and it’s a weird one. We’ve got a powerhouse team of A-listers vying for first place against a 16 year-old musical phenom whose talent is, as least in the opinion of most adults and nearly all males, vastly less than phenomenal. Gotta love show biz.

If you’re betting on this weekend, you should probably demand some odds if your choice for the #1 spot is not “Just Go With It.” At least on paper, this is a smartly designed movie in terms of attracting a mass audience. To be stereotypical about it, there’s a little romance for the women, and little raunchy comedy for the men and a slightly unusual pairing of rom-com reliable Jennifer Aniston and raunch-com superstar Adam Sandler.

Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in

The cinematic seers and soothsayers referenced over at the L.A. Times and THR differ only very slightly in suggesting that the comedy from Sony/Columbia, will do something in the neighborhood of $30 million, or perhaps a bit more. Neither Aniston nor Sandler have ever been critical darlings and their latest outing isn’t changing that.

The strange aspect of this is that the film is an unheralded remake of 1969’s “Cactus Flower,” which had a screenplay adapted by the later-career collaborator of Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, and starred Walter Matthau and my hugest crush ever, Ingrid Bergman, in the roles now inhabited by Sandler and Anniston. I’ve liked both Sandler and Anniston in movies from time to time but, my God, talk about devolution. I’ve never seen model-turned-actress Brooklyn Decker in anything, so I’ll spare her the comparison to Goldie Hawn, who won an Oscar for her role.

Meanwhile, there’s more than a little mystery about just how much Paramount’s “Justin Beiber: Never Say Never” will make. Apparently, Beiber’s very young, very female fan base is defying marketers’ ability to measure and predict the results for this 3D docu-concert flick. The really weird part of all this is that, of all four movies being released this week, the biographical documentary has the best reviews with a respectable enough 64% Fresh rating over a Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing. A sad commentary, perhaps, or just another sign of the show biz apocalypse. Could this film actually top the week’s box office? Probably not, but never say “never.”

Gnomeo and JulietNext is the 3D animated comedy, “Gnomeo and Juliet.” Disney apparently wanted to keep this one at arm’s length and is releasing it through Touchstone, usually reserved for racier properties, despite the film’s G-rating. My hunch is that animation chief John Lasseter felt the rom-com suitable for the very young wasn’t quite up to snuff all around. The reviews, however, are not completely awful and the voice cast — which includes James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Sir Michael Caine, Dame Maggie Smith and, in a voice-acting debut, Jason Statham — is beyond first rate. It also boasts music by Elton John and parents can also feel like they’re prepping their kids for Shakespeare even if this is comedy and not tragedy. So, the guess of $15-20 million seems reasonable enough to me.

Finally, we’ve got swords, sandals, Channing Tatum, and Jamie Bell in “The Eagle.” No one seems very excited about this costume actioner and that non-excitement seems to be communicating itself through some underwhelming box office guesses to match its deeply “meh” notices.

In limited release in some 16 theaters according to Box Office Mojo, the world always needs a good, or half-way decent, comedy and the large majority of critics seem to agree that “Cedar Rapids” is just that. With a cast of tip-top comedy veterans including Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, and Anne Heche, among others, it’s hard not to have an upbeat attitude about this one.

Ed Helms and Anne Heche are in

  

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OMG! Brad Bird giving up animation under extreme duress!!! I repeat, “OMG!!!!”

The first 4.5 minutes of this awards video of Brad Bird’s extremely well deserved Windsor McKay Award from the Annies is pretty much your standard career retrospective about the former “Simpsons” creative turned writer/director of the instant classics, “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” and “Ratatouille.” In the second half, Bird himself appears. He’s presumably somewhere near the set of his live-action debut, the next “Mission: Impossible” installment, which will star Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg, among others.

The weird part is that he says he’s giving up animation forever, but then it gets weirder and more worrisome.

H/t Mike Fleming.

  

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Superbowl movie ads

If you happen to be one of those weirdos like me who missed the Superbowl but want to see some of the new glimpses of upcoming big time movies being offered during the big broadcast, you’ve come to the right place. (Admittedly one of many right places all over the ‘net.)

We’ll start with the one that maybe has aroused the most curiosity, if only because the least has been known up to now. J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8.” True to its press, what little there’s been, it appears to be kind of “Close Encounters of the Extra-Terrestrial Kind.”

Now here’s more of “Captain America” than we’ve seen before. We even get a split second of the Red Skull (for some reason my favorite super villain as a kid).

A moment with everyone’s favorite Asgard resident.

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