Monday, March 16, 2009

Winter/Spring Movie Preview '09, Part 4

Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Movie: Duplicity (Tony Gilroy)
High-Concept Synopsis: Julia Roberts and Clive Owen play corporate spies looking to put one over on their respective companies ... or each other?
Who Will Be Seeing It: Julia Roberts fans happy to see her in a real role again rather than as a poorly accented wig stand. Audiences thrilled to see Roberts and Owen together again for the first time since a called her a fucked-up slag in Closer. Fans of director Gilroy, who proved with Michael Clayton that he can make something great out of well-traveled genres.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who won't pick up such a ridiculously generic title on a marquee. Stubborn audiences who won't accept anyone but Clooney in this kind of movie. People who wonder if you replaced Owen with Nick Nolte you wouldn't have I Love Trouble.
Why I'd See It: I never really considered myself a huge Julia Roberts fan, but I'm suddenly thrilled to see her apparently back to doing what she does best. I loved her and Clive Owen in Closer, and the trailer for this one suggests a sexy, fun movie. What more can you ask for this time of year? March 20

Movie: I Love You, Man (John Hamburg)
High-Concept Synopsis: Paul Rudd has no guy friends; needs to find one so he can have a best man for his wedding to Rashida Jones. He finds one in Jason Segel. J.K. Simmons and Andy Samberg co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Straight guys whose ongoing fascination with the "bromance" concept won't end until they all decide to bite the bullet, get drunk, and make out with a dude already. People who realize that director Hamburg is the guy who wrote Zoolander. People who kind of want to be friends with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel in real life.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences whose enthusiasm for the Extended Apatow Family has begun to wane. Crazy people who don't like Paul Rudd. People who realize that director Hamburg wrote Meet the Fockers and Along Came Polly.
Why I'd See It: I'd be rolling my eyes at the whole concept if not for Rudd and Segel who, even among the awesome Apatow stable are probably the most likeable and hilarious. Plus, who doesn't love J.K. Simmons? March 20

Movie: Knowing (Alex Proyas)
High-Concept Synopsis: A found artifact appears to predict past and future catastrophes with numerology. Nicolas Cage has to warn people before it's too late.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Everyone who got sucked into thinking the numerology in The Number 23 was intriguing. Proyas fans who went into a coma soon after Dark City came out. Disaster-porn enthusiasts.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Everyone who got sucked into the numerology of The Number 23 but now knows better. Proyas fans who were all too conscious for I, Robot. People who stopped reading this writeup after the words "Nicolas Cage."
Why I'd See It: The whole thing reminds me of that book "The Bible Code" that was so popular when I used to work at the public library. That, plus Nicolas Cage, plus Proyas (the bloom is pretty much entirely off that particular rose) doesn't add up to much worth watching. March 20

Movie: Adventureland (Greg Mottola)
High-Concept Synopsis: Jesse Eisenberg takes a post-graduate step backwards by taking a job at an amusement park in 1987 middle America. Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Stewart, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Martin Starr co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Mottola's Superbad who think this has the same kind of sentimental, sophomoric humor. Fans of the cast, who are all kind of to the left of who you'd expect to see in this kind of movie. 1987 nostaglists crossing their fingers for a soundtrack full of Guns N Roses and Debbie Gibson.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who find Eisenberg too twitchy to take for a whole movie. People who actually did work at amusement parks in their youth and don't need the flashbacks. Twilight fans unwilling to accept Kristen Stewart as anyone besides that vampire-fucker she plays.
Why I'd See It: I like that this didn't turn into Superbad 2 with Jonah Hill in the lead and such. It seems like a throwback, with a different tone and cadence than the Apatowian comedies today. Plus, Martin Starr looks fantastic, like Bill Haverchuck graduated high school and traded a tiny bit of his nerdiness for a sardonic wit. April 3

Movie: Fast & Furious (Justin Lin)
High-Concept Synopsis: Eight years after the original movie made their careers, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker return to hopefully get new ones. As do Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of fast-car/hot-guy movies, of which this has become a genre unto itself. People who enjoyed Justin Lin's re-boot of the series, Tokyo Drift. The international cabal of businessmen, lesbians, and Illuminati who keep trying to make Jordana Brewster happen.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Fans of the series who are crushed to find out that the movie wasn't titled 4 Fast & the Fourious. Tyrese fans pissed that Vin Diesel took the lead role back. People who somehow don't like to watch movies simply to make fun of them.
Why I'd See It: Sometimes I like to watch movies simply to make fun of them. April 10

Movie: Observe and Report (Jody Hill)
High-Concept Synopsis: Seth Rogen plays a bi-polar security guard who is determined to save his mall from the scourge of a serial flasher. Anna Faris, Ray Liotta, and Michael Peña co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of dark comedy - it kind of looks like Bad Santa without the mirth. People who were tired of Seth Rogen being a vaguely unlikeable happy guy and are clamoring to see him as a completely unlikeable jerk. Anna Faris fans, and how could you blame them?
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who feel the mall-cop movie debate has already been answered with Mr. Paul Blart. People who like Anna Faris fine but aren’t crazy that she kept those inflated House Bunny lips. People who, strangely enough, like Seth Rogen even less when he's trying to be a smug jerk.
Why I'd See It: I don't really have a problem with Seth Rogen, and while I think there's as good a possibility I will totally hate this movie as I will love it, I'm kind of excited to see where it shakes out. April 10

Movie: Case 39 (Christian Alvart)
High-Concept Synopsis: Renee Zellweger plays a beleaguered social worker in what sounds like a (supernatural?) thriller.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Whoever out there is ringing the bell for a Renee Zellweger comeback. Fans of past "A-list actress slums it in genre fare" movies like Dark Water, The Skeleton Key, and (credit where it's due) The Others. Fans of the admittedly great supporting cast, including Ian McShane and the blue-eyed hotness duo that is Bradley Cooper and Callum Keith Rennie (Leoben!).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who subjected themselves to movies like New in Town, Leatherheads, and Miss Potter and have now made t-shirts for themselves that say "NEVER AGAIN!" Deadwood fans who are dead certain McShane's talents will be wasted in some bureaucratic role or another. People who honestly don't think social work and case numbers add up to much of a thriller.
Why I'd See It: On a bet? A dare? This looks almost guaranteed to bore. April 10

Movie: State of Play (Kevin MacDonald)
High-Concept Synopsis: The 2003 BBC miniseries swaps out the Brit guys you've never heard of for Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe as a U.S. Congressman and his college buddy (ha!) reporter who end up embroiled in scandal, murder, and a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top! They've also replaced Kelly MacDonald, Bill Nighy, and Polly Walker with Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, and Robin Wright Penn, respectively. Now watch them try not to fuck it up!
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who would have watched the BBC miniseries if not for those awful English accents. Fans of the original who are happy to see the story cross the pond into the American idiom. Fans of director McDonald's previous, acclaimed output (The Last King of Scotland; One Day in September).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Fans of the original who stopped reading at "Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe." Sharp-eyed observers who see three credited A-list screenwriters (Tony Gilroy, Billy Ray, Matthew Michael Carnahan) and think not "Dream Team!" but "Rewrites!" People who can't make it to theatres as they're incapacitated by laughter at the idea of Affleck and Crowe as college roomies.
Why I'd See It: I saw the original miniseries very recently and I ADORED it. It seems like there is nowhere for this American remake to go but worse, and even the cast members that I love (Mirren, McAdams, Jason Bateman) are taking on performances that couldn't have been better. I can't see what Mirren will be able to do to top Bill Nighy. And they seem to have written out James McAvoy's character altogether, which, as a casualty of reducing six hour to two makes sense, but I'm still sad. And Sy! With his investigative powers of gay seduction! I like Kevin MacDonald, so I'll totally give this a shot, but, fair or not, it's getting a short leash. April 17

Movie: 17 Again (Burr Steers)
High-Concept Synopsis: The 500th variation on the Freaky Friday/Big theme, where Matthew Perry makes up one morning as his 17-year-old self (played by Zac Efron). Then he has to figure things out about himself and such. Leslie Mann and Michelle Trachtenberg co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Zac Efron's band of merry pranksters and box-office crashers. Fans of director Steers, whose debut film, Igby Goes Down, was deeper and rougher around the edges than this seems to be. People who remember their teenage years fondly.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Efron haters. People who won't have time to see it because they'll spend the whole weekend puzzling over how Matthew Perry is still headlining major studio movies. People who hated their high school years and now spend all their time hating Zac Efron and making fun of Matthew Perry.
Why I'd See It: Efron's cute enough these days, but this seems like an HBO movie at best. April 17

Movie: The Soloist (Joe Wright)
High-Concept Synopsis: Reporter Robert Downey Jr. becomes fascinated with homeless, schizophrenic cellist Jamie Foxx. Catherine Keener and the faded hopes of an Oscar campaign co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences who saw the trailers back last fall and have been waiting patiently through a release date change. Fans of mentally ill musicians like the ones who play on the D train or Mariah Carey. Fans of the admittedly wonderful Downey and Keener.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who read the release-date change as tacit admission that the movie is crap. Joe Wright haters who still haven't stopped misreading Atonement. People for whom overt Oscar-bait like this gives them rage, even in the springtime.
Why I'd See It: It seems like this movie's moment has already passed, right? RDJ got his Oscar nomination for something else, and Joe Wright has moved on to his India movie. What's the point of a movie that looks like something I wouldn't like anyway? April 24

Movie: Fighting (Dito Montiel)
High-Concept Synopsis: Terrence Howard recruits Channing Tatum for his underground fighting ring in New York City. Fighting and the doffing of shirts ensue.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the Channing Tatum oeuvre, which includes such films as Channing Tatum Dancing (Step Up), Channing Tatum Playing Soccer (She's the Man), and Channing Tatum Sweating in a Wifebeater (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints). There are no other people who will see this.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who see this movie as Never Back Down only more self-serious, which kind of takes all the fun away. Non-fans of Terrence Howard. Non-fans of Channing Tatum, aka straight males.
Why I'd See It: I worry about the self-seriousness, but a movie whose logline is basically "Hot boy fights" had already earned my twelve bucks. April 24


Kaitlyn said...

I love Paul Rudd and Jason Segal, so I'm there, but I have some questions about the marketing of this movie (and also, why someone who has a brother but no close male friends would need to find a best man... isn't that what a brother is FOR?)

Have you noticed that at first, the ads for this movie were all about Rudd's need to find a male friend, sort of like a bromance dating comedy?

But now, it's all about painting Rashida Jones as some shrew who can't stand her husband's best friend? (I can't find a link to this one, but it's been playing during the Daily Show and I think during The Office and 30 Rock this week)

I wonder why they changed the marketing strategy, as I'm actually much more interested in the movie presented by the first set of ads, rather than the second.

Eires32 said...

Here is some exciting justification for seeing Duplicity. This critic is an old friend of mine (and VERY tough/hard to please), and I trust just about everything he says - so yay!

pvt. awesome said...

"Fans of mentally ill musicians like the ones who play on the D train or Mariah Carey."

I sprayed my Coke when I read that! Ha!

jessica said...

My 7yr-old de facto stepdaughter would be very upset to learn you didn't preview The Hannah Montana Movie. Also, why no Monsters vs. Aliens?

Deirdre said...

I loved Owen in Closer, but the two women in it were so miscast (how can you make a movie about sex with the two most sexless women in Hollywood?), so I'm not thrilled about Julia as the co-star. But I desperately want Owen to be a bigger star than he is, so I'll plonk down my cash for it.

Joe Reid said...

Kaitlyn: The Marketing of ILYM has definitely been a problem, if for no other reason than they keep giving away all the funny parts.

Jessica: For whatever reason, animated movies (also most romantic comedies) tend to fly right under my radar. If it weren't for the massive, hectoring ad blitzes that accompany all the Pixar movies, demanding your love and unqualified praise, they'd probably escape my radar too.

Deirdre: Oh, I have to disagree with that. I thought Julia and Natalie were great. I'm not sure the movie is even about sex, exactly, so much as the power, harm, obsession, cruelty, and lies that accompany (and obscure) sex. That's why you don't ever see anyone actually having sex. Natalie remains my best supporting actress of '04.

Brooke Cloudbuster said...

I really want Julia Roberts to be great in Duplicity, so my lecturer who hates her can see it and then I can be proven right, because she is great and I love her.

Sandman said...

Just between you and me, Joe, I thought Joe Wright was the one misreading Atonement. but I'm hardly objective about him, so.