Weekend Forecast for March 28-30, 2008
By Reagen Sulewski
March 28, 2008
We're now officially into spring, typically one of the busiest seasons at the box office in terms of the number of films in release, though not in terms of dollars generated. This weekend is a case in point, with four new films in wide release, but no real potential blockbusters in the bunch.
Sadly, the highest grossing of the bunch is likely to be Superhero Movie, another of the lowest common denominator pop-culture regurgitations that passes for parody these days. Oh, ZAZ, where are you now when we most need you?
As the oh so descriptive title tells us, this film is going after the recent spate of comic book based films, like Spider-Man, the X-Men movies, etc. etc. Of course, these have already been covered to some extent in the Scary Movie films (why?) and Epic Movie and the umpteen other of these cheaply and hastily produced films, the first movies in history with planned obsolescence. I see the end game of these films and it's not pretty. It's called Movie Movie, and it will just be clips from every film released in the prior six months with farts edited in on the soundtrack.
For its cast, Superhero Movie features some of the requisite recognizable actors to make it a little respectable, in this case Leslie Nielsen, Chris MacDonald, Tracy Morgan and Brent Spiner, among others, but it's more about how many cheap jokes they can make. Although it's not related to this year's inexplicably popular Meet the Spartans, it's connected in spirit. It's yet to be seen how bad one of these films will have to be before it bombs, and this one actually has the tiniest bit better germ of an idea than some of the other spoofs lately, so I see no reason to predict an end to this trend yet. Give it about $19 million to win the weekend.
Several years back, some students at MIT came up with one of the most audacious gambling schemes ever. As a bunch of math whizzes, they figured out that they could soak the casinos for all they were worth by counting cards at blackjack. While counting cards is nothing new and known to casinos, the scale of the MIT operation was unprecedented, with teams of counters and decoys and false identities.
After the MIT team broke up, their efforts were recounted in a book called Bringing Down the House (its title tragically taken by that Queen Latifah/Steve Martin abomination), which is the basis of this weekend's 21. A highly fictionalized take on the scheme, it follows one of team members from his recruitment to a Boogie Nights-esque seduction by the world of gambling and money. Relative newcomer Jim Sturgess plays the central figure, with Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, and Laurence Fishburne in other roles.
The story is one of the most fascinating nuts-and-bolts Vegas stories ever, but those kinds of things rarely transition well to the big screen - hence the sexed-up job we have here with 21. It ultimately rings a little false to me since it didn't really go down like the film seems to show, but for the movie's sake it's probably better.