Weekend Forecast for December 19-21, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

December 19, 2008

Beef jerky does give us a reason to smile!

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Two of the biggest names in Hollywood go head to head on this, one of the final weekends of 2008, with two very intriguing films. Add what looks like a pretty inventive family film, and this looks like one of the more competitive weekends we've seen in awhile.

Yes Man sees Jim Carrey in his first live-action comedy role since 2005's Fun With Dick and Jane, and it's a return to the kind of high-concept films that made him a star in the first place. Carrey plays a negative nelly, who after a lifetime of saying "no" to everything, is challenged to say "yes" to every opportunity that comes his way. In typical Hollywood fashion, this leads to wacky hijinks, and allows Carrey to pull out his ol' Rubber Face routine.

While not exactly the same thing as Liar Liar, it's a pretty close cousin. Putting Carrey in a restrictive situation and letting him rip has worked quite well in the past (Bruce Almighty also comes to mind) so this feels like a natural extension. But with so many years between his comedies, and one all-world awful film from him in the meantime (The Number 23), there's a good question as to whether audiences still care about him, or if they're possibly sick of him. My guess is that while a good portion of his former fans have moved on, there's still a sizable number that are waiting for the old Jim to come back.

It helps that it's an attractively advertised film, with some genuinely funny moments ("Every pretty girl deserves to go to a ball" is a winner here). Zooey Deschanel plays Carrey's potential love interest (just ignore the 18 year age difference), with direction by Peyton Reed, who was responsible for Bring it On (that's good) and The Break-Up (that's bad). Opening at 3,434 venues, it seems like an easy winner for the weekend with around $35 million.


Seven Pounds is an enigmatic-looking drama starring a rather emaciated Will Smith (or maybe just clean-shaven). In it, he plays an IRS agent who decides to dramatically change the lives of seven strangers as a redemptive act. Redemption for what, we don't quite know. Despite what seems like a positive act, the film takes on a dark and foreboding tone because of the mystery of what Smith is trying to pay back for.

Directed by Gabriele Muccino, who had a hit with Smith with The Pursuit of Happyness, it also stars a pretty strong cast, including Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Barry Pepper and others.

While I don't think we're talking about a Sixth Sense level of mystery here, Seven Pounds is definitely selling itself with as a film with a secret to reveal. And it had better deliver on that, as the ads are cryptic to the point of aggravation. Ultimately, I think this hurts the film, as audiences probably have no idea what they're getting. Smith can sell this kind of drama, which is why I see this having a solid weekend of about $23 million, but it's probably leaving some dollars on the table.

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