Weekend Forecast for August 22-24, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

August 22, 2008

Somehow hot *and* hilarious.

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It's about that time of year when you look at the slate of new movies end and think, "Holy hell, where did the summer go?" We've left any pretense of blockbusterhood behind with four new films that will struggle for notability. Occasionally, one the summer's leggiest films can come out of this weekend, but I wouldn't count on it this year.

Leading the way, likely, is Death Race, starring Jason Statham. A remake of the infamous nihilistic 1975 film starring Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine, this film takes a slightly different tone. Instead of revolving around a race where moving down pedestrians scores extra points, we now have a bloody four-wheeled cage match between convicts for TV viewing pleasure in a dystopic future.

Statham stars as a champion racecar driver framed for his wife's murder, and sent to prison specifically to compete in the race, which features one rule: kill or be killed. With the reward of his freedom held out in front of him if he wins, Statham proceeds to murder and maim his way to freedom.

With the change in focus, Death Race have become a little less biting social satire and much more bloody action film - The Longest Yard crossed with The Running Man. The director is Paul W. Anderson, who is known for his testosterone-filled flicks like Soldier and Alien vs. Predator, a group that this seems to fit right into. Also featuring Ian McShane and a clearly slumming Joan Allen as the manipulative TV executive, Death Race could satisfy an action jones for people as we exit the summer. I look for it to win the weekend with about $13 million.


The House Bunny is this week's "oh dear God, why?" film, the film that looks like complete garbage but becomes inexplicably successful. Anna Faris stars as a Playboy Bunny tossed from the Playboy Mansion for getting too old (she really should have thought of that beforehand), who then stumbles into a college sorority for help. As it turns out, it's the sorority of the losers and rejects of other, more popular sororities, which in Faris's mind, simply won't do.

Of course, what these nerds really need is some slut lessons, which Faris is happy to provide, in a combination of Revenge of the Nerds and Legally Blonde. Meanwhile, Faris's bunny also attempts to develop a real relationship with a slightly nerdish Colin Hanks, with the hopes of becoming a real person.

The big hope that this movie might actually be something worthwhile is Faris, who plays stupid "smartly" (see: Lost in Translation and Just Friends, two movies she out and out stole). Supporting roles from Hanks and Emma Stone might be worth a little towards the quality of the film, but at the same time, they're not going to add much to the box office, at least not yet. Dumb girl comedies play poorer than dumb guy comedies in general, and I look for a modest $8 million for The Hosue Bunny this weekend.

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