Monday Morning Quarterback Part One
By BOP Staff
August 22, 2005

Eli's arm is hurting from lifting too many beers.

Good news, Harry Knowles! Virgins are in!

Kim Hollis: Steve Carell's virgin cruise as a box office opener floated into port with $20.6 million. Is this a good opening or not?

Reagen Sulewski: Absolutely. Although Anchorman was pretty popular, I doubt too many people knew him by name. On his own, Carell has done as well as Will Ferrell on his last few movies.

David Mumpower: Considering the fact that 999 out of every 1,000 people could not pick him out of a police lineup, I think this is an exceptional performance.

Joel Corcoran: I think it was a great opening for Carell. Even with the legions of "Daily Show" fans out there (and I'm one of them), I don't think the conventional wisdom at the start of summer had his first movie doing this well.

David Mumpower: I should be honest that I am a bit disappointed in the result as I had it pegged for mid-20s, but it's still stellar. Carell was a scene stealer in Bruce Almighty who came into his own in Anchorman. Now, he has shown that he can completely carry a comedy on his own.

Joel Corcoran: Especially when Virgin earned $4 mil more than "Red Eye," which had a very well-known director and two rising stars out front.

Kim Hollis: I'm happy for both Carell and Judd Apatow. I always felt like the concept was a good one, and it has definitely struck a chord. Based on the excellent reviews the film has been receiving, I would think it will certainly hang around for awhile, too.

David Mumpower: I will be curious to see if that's the case, Kim. My audience for the film saw a certain segment of folks laughing themselves sick. A lot of others were notably quiet.

Joel Corcoran: I agree, Kim. I wasn't too enthused about seeing it, but I'm planning to this week because of the buzz. I think Virgin might be to Carell what "Elf" was to Ferrell.

David Mumpower: That's a great point, Joel. All unknown comedians need that perfect combination of part and breakout performance. I don't think Ferrell is good as a lead actor in a comedy unless he has great supporting characters. Elf somehow suited him to a T, though.

Kim Hollis: My face still hurts from smiling and laughing after having seen it earlier today.

Reagen Sulewski: I will be shocked if the film doesn't end up north of $100 million based on the reception it received at my theater.

Speaking of Harry Knowles, let's talk Freaks and Geeks.

David Mumpower: It struck me as the Dennis Miller Quotient. You could basically pick out the Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared fans from the crowd, people who get Apatow.

Kim Hollis: It's a terrific film, particularly if you enjoy the Judd Apatow brand of humor. Given the fact that Virgin is the best-reviewed film on RottenTomatoes for the year, I don't really see it as quite as exclusive to Apatow/Carell fans as you do, David.

Joel Corcoran: I love Judd Apatow, and I hereby personally beg for his forgiveness in my lack of faith in his directorial abilities on the big screen.

David Mumpower: Going back to the Elf comparison for a moment, 40 Year-Old Virgin is like that for Carell, although I don't know what that says about him as a man. "You know, he looks like a grown man who would struggle picking up women."

Joel Corcoran: That's it exactly, David. Not only the supporting cast, but the basic context of Elf really suited Ferrell's style of comedy - dorky, quirky, but a good-hearted and spirited misfit trying to do his best. I haven't seen Virgin, but I think it fits Carell's style of comedy that he established on The Daily Show - slightly confused guy oblivious to the fact that he really doesn't know what's going on most of the time.

Reagen Sulewski: I bet his wife starts making a lot more appearances with him in the future just to prove he has one.

David Mumpower: Yes, but she could have been a mail order bride or an arranged marriage.

Joel Corcoran: Do people still do mail order brides? I thought it was all Internet-based nowadays.

Everybody's a comedian...except Mike Myers.

Reagen Sulewski: It's actually a very sweet movie, very much in the manner of There's Something About Mary...although that may be too obvious a comparison.

David Mumpower: It reminded me of an adult American Pie, Reagen. The sexual innocence was the same, just a bit more pathetic.

Kim Hollis: I do see Carell as a bit more versatile than Ferrell. For Ferrell, it's all about the screaming of his lines. With Carell, there's more of a subtlety there. He wasn't even a confused or oblivious guy in Virgin. He was just different than other men.

Reagen Sulewski: That's a decent comparison too. He was naive, not stupid.

David Mumpower: I have to say that I thought several times during the movie that Carell is a *lot* more palatable as a lead comedy actor than Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Mike Myers or either Wilson brother. He's night and day beyond Rob Schneider, too.

Joel Corcoran: I completely agree. Carell has a certain subtlety about him that other comedians lack. He reminds me of Bob Newhart quite a bit.

Kim Hollis: Carell has a really nice "everyman" quality to him that I think will translate well in the future. Though of course for his role as Maxwell Smart in the upcoming Get Smart movie, oblivious should work nicely.

In praise of late bloomers...

David Mumpower: And while I thought Bewitched was an atrocious film, he channeled Paul Lynde to an uncanny degree in a bit part at the end. I also think he has the potential to be the next Sandler in that if you think about it, Sandler's fan-base was young. Carell's Daily Show core is the same way. This could be his Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore with a Waterboy a couple of movies down the road.

Kim Hollis: It's amazing. He's breaking out at age 42. How many times does that happen to people?

Reagen Sulewski: The movie's a metaphor for his career!

David Mumpower: Samuel L. Jackson is the last one I can recall who developed into a lead actor in his 40s.

Joel Corcoran: I think the appeal is different, though. Adam Sandler was always the guy people thought of as a drinking buddy, prankster, or class clown. Carell seems more like that strange uncle in the family who's funny in completely unintentional ways sometimes.

David Mumpower: That's the reason I'm not ready to say it will have great legs. This comedy is awkward and stubbornly unconventional. A lot of the bits are -really- out there. I don't know how much it appealed to the average movie goers who saw it this weekend, even allowing for the lavish critical praise.

Reagen Sulewski: I get what you're saying, but as we've seen recently, comedies have a much easier time at getting word-of-mouth than other films that don't star penguins.

Kim Hollis: I'm also secretly hoping this gets Seth Rogen a lot more attention. He's so wry and funny in an unusual way (and has always been my favorite of the Apatow bunch, even over James Franco and Linda Cardellini).

David Mumpower: Seth Rogen is the best part of the movie and I have been recently re-appreciating just how great he was on Undeclared. Apatow also wrote the next Jim Carrey film, Fun with Dick and Jane. So, that's two other name comedians we will have to compare with how he did with Carell here.

Chicks dig the long ball. And dudes who have never had sex.

Kim Hollis: Variety notes that 54% of the audience for 40 Year-Old Virgin was female. Is that a surprising statistic or does it seem like a chick flick?

Joel Corcoran: It doesn't really seem like a chick flick, but it does seem much less misogynistic than a lot of other recent comedies.

David Mumpower: I would be much more surprised if say Red Eye had been largely comprised of a female audience.

Reagen Sulewski: It's less surprising than Four Brothers getting that demographic.

Joel Corcoran: That's very true.

My plasma TV could beat up your plasma TV.

David Mumpower: What I think is being revealed is the fact that women are more likely to go see a film in theaters at this point than men are. They don't have the home theater issues men do in that a lot of guys have this ridiculous competition for best home video setup.

Kim Hollis: So women are okay with cell phones and people talking and so forth, while men are sick of it? Or is it more that men want to play with their toys at home?

David Mumpower: I'm trying to say the latter, not the former. It's the shift in box office away from the action flicks carrying the day because men support them. Everyone is sick of cell phones and people showing poor manners at movies, of course.

Joel Corcoran: That's an interesting idea, David. Maybe it's not so much that more women are going to the movies, but that fewer men are.

David Mumpower: That is the corollary to it. We are seeing normalcy with one group opposed to a changing dynamic with the other.

Reagen Sulewski: That said, I don't see it as shocking that a film that is essentially a romance attracted a lot of women.

Kim Hollis: Agreed. It pretty much played like Wedding Crashers in that regard.

Reagen Sulewski: I think there are comparisons to be made to Wedding Crashers with the performance of Virgin, and they're right to a certain extent.

Joel Corcoran: Also, a lot of the increasingly hot pop culture entertainment trends seem to appeal to men more than women -- poker tournaments, computer games, extreme sports events.

David Mumpower: Exactly, Joel. And there is still silly stuff like fantasy football and NFL exhibitions at play. But I also agree that there is a romantic streak at the core of it which the marketing did not completely hide.

Reagen Sulewski: I strongly suspect that it's not so much that Wedding Crashers made the audience for Virgin, but that its success gave the producers of Virgin more confidence in promoting it

David Mumpower: I disagree to an extent. It's the positive reinforcement aspect of cinema we always harp upon. Wedding Crashers offered a strong film for consumers and as such, they were more inclined to give another raunchy comedy a look.

Reagen Sulewski: I think it's somewhere in the middle. It's the same idea as studios copying a trend, only this time, they had a similar film already to release.

Chicks dig the long ball. And virgins. And stalkers.

Kim Hollis: Going back to Red Eye, Wes Craven's latest outing made $16.5 million. Also, 58% of the audience was female. Is DreamWorks going to be happy with the result, and are the demographics a surprise?

David Mumpower: 58% of the people who went to see a film about a man stalking a woman were women? Boy, is that ever sending out the wrong message to would-be felons.

Joel Corcoran: Good Lord ... that's much more surprising than the majority female audience for Four Brothers.

David Mumpower: All kidding aside, I am stunned by that result. I was expecting $15 million or so for Red Eye; therefore, the number in and of itself isn't surprising. The composition of the audience, on the other hand, blows me away.

Reagen Sulewski: Pasty, odd-looking Irishmen are the new heartthrobs!

David Mumpower: Creepy eyes are the new gorgeous eyes!

Joel Corcoran: Even with Cillian Murphy (who's totally hot, by the way), I just don't see it being a movie that would attract a largely female audience. The only explanation I can come up with is "men stayed home or did something else."

She's the new Ashley Judd. Go Kentucky Wildcats!

Kim Hollis: For Red Eye, I think what worked for women is that it is a thriller that had the same sort of tone as the Ashley Judd flicks like Double Jeopardy or Kiss the Girls (though it was much better in execution). As such, it brought in a contingent of females that really go for that sort of thing. Also, Cillian is interesting (though not really handsome), but since he's unknown for the most part I can't really imagine that he was the draw.

David Mumpower: Having seen the film, I can understand why this might happen in later weekends. It is, after all, another Wes Craven film which celebrates female empowerment to the point that the last scene is nearly a re-enactment of Scream.

Joel Corcoran: But what about other films? Like Panic Room? What was the demographic breakdown there?

Kim Hollis: 54% of the audience for Panic Room was female, for what it's worth.

Reagen Sulewski: It makes me think of something like A Perfect Murder in addition to the Ashley Judd films.

Joel Corcoran: I'm starting to agree that the "female empowerment" aspect was the big draw.

David Mumpower: So, fictional stalking is okay for women but real stalking is not? Is that right, Kim?

Kim Hollis: As long as the woman kicks ass in the end, I guess it is.

Reagen Sulewski: So is this the film that turns Rachel McAdams into Julia Roberts, a la Sleeping with the Enemy?

Kim Hollis: I'm not quite sure it propels her to Julia Roberts territory just yet, but I do think you have to start giving her serious looks for good roles.

Irish transvestites are the new Raoul K. Duke.

David Mumpower: Reagen, I think both McAdams and Cillian Murphy get a bump from this. I do wonder if Murphy will be typecast as a villain for a lot of his career because of this and the Batman franchise, but still, both of them win.

Kim Hollis: I see Murphy as going the Ewan McGregor route. He will take roles in ostensibly big films, but probably prefers to hang on the outside and doing indies.

David Mumpower: I'm not sure that's the case. McAdams is mainly known for Mean Girls and The Notebook. Carell's work in Anchorman and Bruce Almighty is more pervasive.

Kim Hollis: He's got Breakfast on Pluto, which will be as off-putting as you can get, coming up.

David Mumpower: He's the new Johnny Depp!

Joel Corcoran: Right, in that movie he's playing an Irish transvestite cabaret singer. It certainly looks like Murphy is trying to distance himself from villian roles.

Kim Hollis: And then another film with Danny Boyle, Sunshine, which is an astronaut story.

David Mumpower: Murphy is becoming known for The Scarecrow, of course, but to North American audiences, he is still just the creepy guy who evades zombies long enough to try to kill Batman.

Joel Corcoran: I'm really looking forward to Sunshine. Boyle and Murphy worked so well together in 28 Days Later, I have high hopes for Sunshine.

Kim Hollis: Plus, Michelle Yeoh!