Weekend Forecast for December 23-25, 2005 Part 1
By Reagen Sulewski
December 22, 2005

Nope, my dignity's not in here, either.

The first of a group of an almost week-long slate of releases for the Christmas holiday weekend includes two family comedies, or at least, two comedies about families. All right, comedies might be stretching a bit, too.

Over the past few years, Steve Martin has developed a disturbing habit of testing just how loyal his longtime fans can stay. Father of the Bride. Bringing Down the House. Cheaper by the Dozen. All these films seemed to be made on a dare, or with a gun pointed directly at Steve from behind the camera. What's worse is that these films made tremendous amounts of money, perpetuating the cycle. And so we have a sequel to a Christmas (sigh) hit of two years ago, with Cheaper by the Dozen 2. In the meantime, we've already had a copycat remake film (Yours, Mine, & Ours), which one might hope would dilute the market for his kind of thing, but we're not that lucky.

This edition of the film has the Bakers meeting up with a rival gigantic family, headed by Eugene Levy. Clearly taking place in some alternate universe, Levy's character is the suave and conniving one, representing all that is evil and... something... about being competitive. Much hilarity, crotch shots and accidents with food follow. This seems to be a film of choice for families, as the first opened to almost $28 million. With mostly recycled material, I don't see this one doing much worse or much less than the first, with about $13 million prior to the weekend and $26 million from Friday though Christmas Day, for a $39 million start. May God have mercy on us all.

Fun With Dick and Jane is a remake of a 1977 George Segal/Jane Fonda film, although in its favor is the fact that I'm not sure how many people really remember this film. It's also got topicality on its side. This story of a suburban yuppie couple screwed over by corporate fraud will ring especially true for anyone who paid attention during the Enron and WorldCom disasters.

After being set up as a patsy by his company, Carrey has to resort to ever increasingly desperate methods to make ends meet. Eventually they hit on the idea of using the same tactics as their former corporate masters, and turn to a life of crime. The satire is fairly difficult to miss here, especially with the helpful prodding of the ads. Also getting a skewer is yuppie culture itself, with robberies halted to make sure that muffins are low-fat. You know, for the felon that wants to keep his figure.

This is the first film for Carrey since last Christmas's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which opened to $30 million, or more or less an average figure for Carrey of late. He seems made for the high-concept comedies like this one, Liar, Liar and Bruce Almighty, but something seems off about Fun With Dick and Jane, like everyone's trying a bit too hard (okay, so that describes his entire career). Carrey is supported here by Tea Leoni, who is that rare breed - a funny, hot chick - but has not seen much in the way of leading roles that could show she really brings something to the box office totals. Facing a critical thrashing, it will have to rely on a quick start to help it along through the holidays. A brisk run time of just 85 minutes can't hurt either. Watch for around $10 million on the two days heading into the weekend, and around $23 million on the weekend, for $33 million through Christmas Day.

Stay tuned for the full Christmas weekend forecast later this week.