Weekend Forecast for August 3-5, 2007

By Reagen Sulewski

August 3, 2007

Ring ring! Ring ring! Coming through!

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With the turn of the calendar to August, we're officially in the tail end of the summer movie season. However, there's still some fire left in the box office, as five new films hit theaters in mid- to wide release.

First and foremost among these is The Bourne Ultimatum, the third - and if Matt Damon gets his way - final outing of the Jason Bourne series. In previous outings, his amnesiac spy found his identity and got revenge against the man who set him up and tried to erase him for the dangerous knowledge in his head. Of course, once the CIA has its hooks into you, they never quite leave you alone. In Ultimatum, Bourne takes the fight to them, all to just be left alone. The CIA decides they need to send yet another wave of assassins after him to try and shut him down before he causes more damage. Sucks to be them.

Paul Greengrass returns to direct this entry in the franchise after navigating the second film, Supremacy, to a $52 million opening and $176 million total, a significant improvement in both categories from Identity. This could partly be attributed to him, but really that was more due to that just being a kickass action film. The cast has Joan Allen and Julia Stiles returning for their roles and new additions David Straitharn, Albert Finney and Paddy Considine. Really, though, it's Damon's show, and it's one of the best in the action game.

Ultimatum is getting the best reviews of the series, with critics highlighting slick and smart action sequences and praising it as one of the best films of summer. I see no reason why this can't be the highest opening and grossing film of the series, starting with approximately $59 million this weekend.


Filling the role of children's film this week is Underdog, a live action adaptation of the 1960s cartoon about a bumbling superhero dog. No, that doesn't make a lot of sense to me either. The updated version uses CGI effects to bring the story of a super-powered beagle to life, though one wonders if the animators ever stopped to wonder, "Why?"

Jason Lee voices Underdog (c'mon, Jason, surely your Earl money is better than this), who is born as a hero following a lab accident, gaining powers of speech, flight, and whatever else convenient to the plot. I suppose it's important to note at this point that if you're over ten years old, you really couldn't be bothered with this film. There might be a little bit of nostalgia for some fans of the cartoon, but your childhood memories will probably thank you if you skip it.

Still, it comes from Disney, who can market the crap out of anything. For a rather direct example of this, look at last year's The Shaggy Dog, which opened to $16 million based on Tim Allen and some of the most embarrassing looking footage for a motion picture from a big studio in some time. Somehow, this has managed to throw under that, so much so that they're not even bothering with press screenings. Look for about $10 million worth of unsuspecting parents and children to be roped into this one this weekend.

Sooner or later, if you do anything associated with Saturday Night Live, you're going to get a movie deal. Case in point is this weekend's Hot Rod, starring Andy Samberg, perhaps most notable for the parody song "Dick in a Box", with Justin Timberlake, which was a minor sensation on SNL. There's just no telling how far you can go with genitalia jokes.

In Hot Rod, Samberg plays an amateur stuntman in the Evel Knievel mode, complete with botched jumps. After his abusive step-father falls ill, he decides to stage his biggest jump ever, to raise money for his step-father's operation – so he can fight him when he gets better.

Essentially "Jackass with a plot", Hot Rod is a rather unpretentious comedy, but also one whose appeal might be limited to stoner college students. The model here is early Adam Sandler films, or maybe Dude, Where's My Car? One definitely gets the feeling that all the best bits have been shown in the TV commercials, and I don't see this breaking out. Give it around $8 million for its opening.

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