By Max Braden
February's release titles aren't thrilling me, so if I were to suggest a film to a moviegoing audience, I'd say see any of the Oscar nominated films. Juno, No Country For Old Men, Atonement, Michael Clayton, and There Will Be Blood are currently in wide release in anticipation of the Oscars later in the month. Of the new releases, these are the movies I might go see or recommend:
Weekend Starting February 1
This is stupid comedy from the guys who gave us Black Knight, Without a Paddle, and Grandma's Boy. That's not a good sign. The plot of a faked nature documentary didn't succeed with Krippendorf's Tribe either. But I'd give this one a chance because of the cast. Steve Zahn has never let me down, Justin Long has great timing, and Jonah Hill was one of the best parts of Knocked Up and Superbad last year. A front loaded box office would be typical for this movie, even more so since the target audience will be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Also notable: Jessica Alba's horror film The Eye is the likely box office winner but its target demo will also be looking for the Super Bowl. As alternate programming, Hannah Montana's concert film should do well in limited re-release. The Producer's Guild Awards should also help No Country For Old Men.
Weekend Starting February 8
Okay, this looks dumb too. But come on, you had me at hello treasure hunt. And this is Matthew McConaughey doing what he was born to do: dumb guy guy stuff. So basically it's Sahara 2, with fewer guns and more chick. Kate Hudson looks a little more subdued but the camera still loves her. And keep in mind that director Andy Tennant also directed the very successful Sweet Home Alabama and Hitch. So audiences may come out calling Fool's Gold a guilty pleasure, and that word of mouth may help sustain it through Valentine's Day week.
This one is probably just an LA/NY release, but I'd see it if I could. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell as hit men on the lam in Belgium (kind of like the prequel to Pulp Fiction), with Ciarán Hinds. Writer/director Martin McDonagh is new, but got his shot because he got an Oscar for his live short film Six Shooter.
I'd expect box office in the mid-teens for Martin Lawrence's Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.
Weekend Starting February 15
I like Ryan Reynolds. He's better in comedy/action than drama, but sure, I'll see him as a romantic single father. I'm really looking forward to the trio of Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks, and Rachel Weisz. Add in the precocious Abigail Breslin, and this should do very well this Valentine's Day/President's Day weekend.
Director Doug Liman directed The Bourne Identity, and the screenwriters also wrote Batman Begins, Fight Club, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Samuel L. Jackson and Rachel Bilson are also pluses. Teleportation is a big plus. Hayden Christensen, not so much. This should pull in the college age crowd pretty well.
Also notable: The novel-based fantasy Spiderwick Chronicles might do well but I expect more of a Golden Compass disappointment.
Weekend Starting February 22
I've been waiting for this delayed high school comedy for a while, mostly because of the premise - kid mirrors his own therapist to be therapist to his classmates - and Robert Downey, Jr. as the principal. Anton Yelchin played the amenable kidnappee in Alpha Dog. First time director and writer here via MGM though so I don't expect a very wide release.
This is Oscar weekend, always a lousy box office weekend and a dumping ground for weak movies. Vantage Point is the most viable box office candidate as an action/thriller, but I expect it won't be any better than the disappointment that was Shooter.
Weekend Starting February 29
The Other Boleyn Girl
Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson play the Boleyn sisters after King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). I'm interested in the history and both actresses playing randy medieval babes, but Boring Bana could kill the mood at AVN's annual awards in Vegas. Limited release, and everyone will be out seeing:
Will Ferrell as a roller-skating basketball playboy in the 70s. Anchorman meets Blades of Glory. Box office success is as guaranteed as Sex Panther.
Given the election year, some audiences might be interested in Chicago 10, a documentary about the trial of the 1968 Democratic Convention protestors. The film includes Liev Schreiber, Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo, and Abby Hoffman, among others.
Shane Jenkins's February Forecast