Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Winter Movie Preview, Part 1

Sooner than we're even prepared for it, Hollywood seems more than ready to enter into the first quarter of 2007. For the bulk of the country, that means patiently waiting for the backloaded glut of Oscar contenders to trickle down into their podunk little burgs. Otherwise, it's the time of year when studios surreptitiously try and sneak their ugliest children out the back door and hope you're too busy listening to any of Clint Eastwood's many acceptance speeches to notice. Of course, by now, the media-savvy public has indeed caught wise, and while they'll go see something as awful-looking as The Butterfly Effect, they'll at least have the grace to feel bad about it.

Movie: Freedom Writers (Richard LaGravanese)
High-Concept Synopsis: Hilary Swank is a teacher trying to reach her inner-city students in a post-riots atmosphere in Los Angeles. Patrick Dempsey, Imelda Staunton, and Scott Glenn co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Dangerous Minds fans, who have been waiting for years for a remake and will gladly accept this instead. Oscar voters who are awfully fond of one of the cast members. Fans of LaGravanese, who wrote The Fisher King and The Ref and directed Living Out Loud.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Dangerous Minds fans who are aghast that their movie has been ripped off like this. Patrick Dempsey freaks who can only picture their man paired with Ellen Pompeo, not that they're everloving crazy or anything. And Nathaniel. Poor, poor Nathaniel.
Why I'd See It: It's a clichéd and well-worn premise, but it really doesn't look that awful. And, as always with a subject like this, there's the chance something new or important could be said.


Movie: Alpha Dog (Nick Cassavetes)
High-Concept Synopsis: Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, and a dozen other nubile youths play small-time drug dealers and inept kidnappers as we once again learn the consequences of suburban teens with inadequate parental supervision. Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, Ben Foster, and Amanda Seyfried co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The three people in America who haven't yet gotten the message that American suburbia isn't as pristine and idyllic as it looks. Teenage drug dealers looking for tips on how it isn't done. Oh, and Justin Timberlake fans -- going out on a limb for that one.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Audiences who didn't really enjoy The Chumscrubber the first time around, really. White parents who have had just enough of their children talking "all ghetto." Moviegoers not really all that interested in seeing Justin Timberlake without a shirt on for two hou--- oh wait, that's no one.
Why I'd See It: I'm not entirely proud that JT is my main draw to this movie but HEY, LOOK BEHIND YOU!


Movie: Stomp The Yard (Sylvain White)
High-Concept Synopsis: What Drumline did for...well, drumlines and You Got Served did for douchebags in dance competitions, this movie wants to do for stepping. Good thing stepping is kind of awesome.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Steppers. Fans of urban, inspirational, dance-based movies. Studio 60 fans (all both of them) excited to see Columbus Short (a.k.a. meek writer Darius) take a very different role -- and the lead besides.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Irish step dancers, still waiting for their inspirational tale of overcoming adversity (Lord of the Dance SO does not count). Former members of B2K who are pissed none of them got asked to co-star. People who saw Brick and STILL hold a grudge against Meagan Good for playing such a righteously heinous bitch.
Why I'd See It: I've been known to be susceptible to hip urban trends like battle rapping and dance-offs in the past. This seems to follow in that proud tradition.


Movie: The Hitcher (Dave Meyers)
High-Concept Synopsis: A remake of the 1986 thriller in which a hitchhiker (Sean Bean) terrorizes a photogenic young couple (Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton).
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the Amityville Horror and Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes, of which this film is a descendant. Sean Bean fans who rightly assume he'll be insanely frightening in the role. Finger-wagging ninnies who always told you that picking up hitchhikers was a reckless and foolhardy thing to do.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: The reckless and foolhardy, though not necessarily because they themselves have fallen victim to an unscrupulous hitcher of their own. Bush's One Tree Hill co-stars, too busy sucking at acting to go catch their lone talented cast member in a feature. Anyone who finds out that debut director Myers spent a good portion of his career directing music videos for Creed.
Why I'd See It: Sean Bean is gonna be scary as hell, dude. And despite the forty-seconds-too-long trailer, it looks pretty good.


Movies: Catch And Release (Susannah Grant)
High-Concept Synopsis: Jennifer Garner gets pre-widowed and then inherits her dead fiancé's money, friends (Kevin Smith among them), child, and baby mama (Juliette Lewis). Along the way, Timothy Olyphant help her learn how to fall in love with totally hot guys again.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Jennifer Garner fans, as she looks to be in fine your-favorite-girl-next-door form. Kevin Smith fans oddly fascinated with the idea of him playing an actual, speaking character. Fishing enthusiasts who, just a guess, have been underestimating the metaphorical value of the film's title.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Jennifer Lopez, Michael Vartan, Scott Foley, and any others on the Boulevard of Jennifer Garner's Co-Star-Hopping Broken Dreams. Hollywood-savvy audiences who are more than a little concerned that this movie sat on the shelf for an entire year, for no real reason. Deadwood fans petrified of seeing Olyphant without his moustache and having all their illusions shattered.
Why I'd See It: The trailer made it look like a cute and inoffensive romantic comedy; plus, I love Garner, Olyphant, Smith, and Lewis. Also known as: the entire cast.


Movie: The Invisible (David S. Goyer)
High-Concept Synopsis: Justin Chatwin plays a teen who gets murdered by local ruffians but continues to stick around as an unseen ghost. He then must solve his own murder in order to win his life back. Marcia Gay Harden co-stars.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who liked The Sixth Sense and Ghost but wish it had more upside potential for the protagonist. Anyone who's seen Chatwin in anything -- Weeds primarily, though in retrospect he was the only cast member in War of the Worlds I enjoyed -- because the kid's in the dictionary next to "watchable." David Goyer fans who have liked what they've seen out of Dark City, Blade, and Batman Begins, all of which he's written.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People who watched War of the Worlds and would rather not see Tom Cruise's bitchy kid again, whether he gets killed in the first 15 minutes or not. Seasoned horror viewers who think that ghosts, much like zombies, ought to stay dead. Audiences who may like Goyer as a writer but realize that, as a director, he's made Blade: Trinity.
Why I'd See It: Justin Chatwin's the bomb, y'all, and David Goyer's not so bad himself.


Movie: Smokin' Aces (Joe Carnahan)
High-Concept Synopsis: The idea here is that Jeremy Piven is so much of a scummy lowlife that the Feds (Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds) have to scramble to keep a rogues gallery of underworld thugs from killing him before he can turn state's evidence, in a film that looks so violent and stylized, you can't believe Tony Scott's not directing. Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Jason Bateman, and Martin Henderson co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences thrilled that it's Carnahan, not Tony Scott, behind the lens. Folks eager to see Ray Liotta on the right side of the law for once. People eager for the laugh-a-minute hilarity of Alicia Keyes's big screen debut.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People who have had quite enough of Jeremy Piven acting like a scummy lowlife in his actual life, much less having to pay $9.50 for the privilege. People who saw the trailer and were frightened away by Ben Affleck's bizarre facial hair. People who saw the trailer and were frightened away by the boil on Jason Bateman's lip.
Why I'd See It: Eh. It looks like it'd be fun enough for a compromise movie when five people can't decide on something good. I can't see this rising much above "enjoyable mess," but that can be fun.


Movie: Because I Said So (Michael Lehmann)
High-Concept Synopsis: Diane Keaton plays mother to Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo, and Mandy Moore and tries to find a man for the latter. The girls, meanwhile, are also in search of a man to shut their mom up for a second. Gabriel Macht and Stephen Collins co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of very, very chatty women, considering Keaton and Graham alone. Anyone who notices that director Lehman was also the man behind Heathers. Fans of still-cute-as-a-button-even-though-I-heard-she's-back-dating-that-douche-Wilmer-
Valderrama-even-after-he-blabbed-about-deflowering-her-on-Stern Mandy Moore.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Andy Roddick, Zach Braff, and any of the other famous broken hearts Mandy's left in her wake, up to and including that moron on Entourage. Also: chick-flick-phobics and even more chick-flick-phobics.
Why I'd See It: Eh. I mean, I love Lauren Graham, and Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore are pretty great and all, but DAMN this looks awful. Like, really bad. If I can think up some circumstances under which I'd see it, I'll be sure to let you know.


Movie: Hannibal Rising (Peter Webber)
High-Concept Synopsis: Spend some time with Hannibal Lecter during his formative teen years. See what he sees. Defile who he defiles. Eat who he eats. Gaspard Ulliel Frenches it up as Lecter, with Gong Li, Dominic West, and Rhys Ifans co-starring.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Thomas Harris's Lecter series whose enthusiasm for the films weren't severely dampened by Red Dragon and Hannibal. Teenage cannibals who have so few positive role models in mainstream entertainment. Filmgoers who enjoyed director Webber's previous effort, Girl With a Pearl Earring.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Viewers who feel the Lecter image has been damaged enough by unnecessary sequels as it is. Xenophobes who don't want the French anywhere near such a proud American tradition. People whose skin tone could be described as "delicious."
Why I'd See It: If anything, a sense of completion for the Hannibal the Cannibal series. I didn't suffer through Hannibal and Red Dragon for nothing.


Movie: Norbit (Brian Robbins)
High-Concept Synopsis: Eddie Murphy straps on the fat suit once again, just in time for his Dreamgirls Oscar campaign to start heating up. Thandie Newton and Cuba Gooding Jr. cash paychecks co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences who couldn't get enough of Murphy's Nutty Professor fatty antics in not one, but two films. People who owe Eddie Murphy favors. Cuba Gooding haters giddy at the thought of seeing him finally hit bottom.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Anyone with anything else at all to do that weekend. Anyone with an un-cast Oscar ballot, or so Eddie Murphy had better hope. Audiences who hope to maintain any semblance of respect for Thandie Newton.
Why I'd See It: In hopes of a glimpse of that delightful Eddie Griffin.

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