February's parade of adequacy marches on this weekend with two new films you'll vaguely recall at the end of this year. Although to be totally fair, one of these films does have a bit of historical significance, and it's not the one with the B-level comedy pairing.
Weekend Forecast for February 8-10, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
February 8, 2013
Identity Thief brings together (at last!) Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy for an anti-buddy comedy. McCarthy plays a small time hustler who has taken Bateman's credit cards and ID and is on a cross-country spending spree, which leads Bateman to track her down and confront her, in the supposed hope that she'd see the error of her ways and stop destroying his business. She... does not quite agree, and this leads to a cross-country attempt to bring her to justice, like a demented cross between Midnight Run and Planes, Trains & Automobiles, just not nearly as good as either of those films. While Bateman slamming McCarthy's head into a window for singing annoyingly is a good gag, I'm not sure it makes for a feature film.
The film has a moderately decent pedigree, with director Seth Gordon having brought us the better-than-it-had-a-right-to-be Horrible Bosses, which this vaguely resembles, possibly just because of Bateman. Less encouragingly, the writing team is behind a few of the Scary Movie films, plus the second Hangover, so there goes that idea. Reviews are also unkind to the film but the better (and frequent) commercials probably counteract this.
Bateman is sort of a wild-card in terms of drawing power at the moment. While Horrible Bosses and Couples Retreat are solidly in the win column for him, The Change-Up and The Switch (and I dare you to remember which of those films is which with no Googling) land in the “meh” column. Melissa McCarthy has yet to really be tested in a lead role, though her solid TV career in Mike & Molly can't hurt her exposure levels. Ultimately, I think the likeable cast and decent commercials win out slightly over the terrible reviews and thin plot, and we get an opening weekend of around $17 million.
If you believe him, and I don't really see a reason not to, Side Effects will be Steven Soderbergh's last theatrical film (he still has a film about Liberace coming to HBO later this year, which will supposedly be his last ever of any kind). For a good segment of the public, this merits a “huh?”, while for film buffs this is a pretty big deal, even if his farewell film doesn't appear to be any kind of grand statement. Indeed, after Soderbergh announced he was quitting a few years ago, he decided to make Stephen King look like a slacker by making a remarkable number of films in a wide variety of genres, like he was crossing off some cinematic bucket list.
In Side Effects, Rooney Mara (and would someone just hug her already?) plays the clinically depressed wife of disgraced stock broker Channing Tatum, who is prescribed a groundbreaking new drug by her psychiatrist (Jude Law). Aside from getting her out of bed and interested in life and sex and being happy, it also apparently makes her prone to mood swings and (dun dun dunnnn) murder. A good old fashioned medical thriller follows, with what is hopefully an above average collection of acting and plot (writer Scott Burns is responsible for The Bourne Ultimatum, Contagion and The Informant).
Standard thrillers are kind of a tough sell these days, though it's largely because no one makes too many of them. Without any explosions, it's tough for this film to stand out in the market. But it does have a cast that can draw (Tatum having proved the point with force in Magic Mike), and that might count for something. In comparing it to Contagion, it doesn't have quite the hook or the collection of stars (though it's a much more conventional looking movie). Great reviews should buoy it to some degree, and I'd say we're looking at $12 million here this weekend.
Last week's number one film was Warm Bodies, the zomromcom that threatened to put a soft cuddly face on the zombie epidemic. After opening to $20 million, it's kind of all downhill from here, as its teen-heavy audience is like to disappear, looking for the next new shiny thing (hey, is that Beautiful Creatures over there?). There should not be nearly the same kind of drop as we've seen for the Twilight films, which this seems unfairly compared to, but that's mostly because it's only about one-fifth the size to begin with. Around $10 million this weekend seems fair.
And with that, we're mostly running out of significant films. Silver Linings Playbook has made a very impressive run ever since expanding post-Oscar nominations, and climbed back into third place last weekend. Its slow decline should let it earn another $7 million this weekend,