Weekend Forecast for Aug. 7-9, 2009

By Reagen Sulewski

August 7, 2009

Why so serious? (No, really. Why?)

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August reaffirms its status as a dumping ground for action films with this weekend's big tentpole, as Hollywood ruins yet another piece of our childhood. Welcome to the suck.

Following the massive success and three-quarters of a billion in worldwide box office of Transformers, it was only natural for other films based on toy series to give it a try. As part of the Paramount/Hasbro deal, next on the block to be brought to life was GI Joe. Complete with the requisite subtitle The Rise of Cobra, this new attempt at a series revolves around the start of the Americ... wait, international elite strike force as it battles with the comically evil force of Cobra. Anyone living near a large recognizable monument should feel more than a little nervous.

With a relatively star-studded cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chris Eccelston and many more, it's got many of the theoretical pieces in place to be a similar kind of hit to Transformers. And yet...


Aside from the obvious absurdity of the decision to internationalize a force named after the quintessential American military grunt, GI Joe appears to offer up multiple avenues for mockery, like its clearly hammy acting and outlandishly cartoony military equipment, first and foremost the power suits. Sure, as a movie based on a toy line and a cartoon series, the sky is theoretically the limit for silliness and wackiness, but this is a film that's clearly hoping to cut it both ways, by appealing to both pre-teen boys and the overgrown version of those.

Director Stephen Sommers could, in fact, be a source of a lot of these problems. Rumored to have been locked out of the editing room of his own movie while Paramount tried to salvage the film, Sommers hasn't met much he couldn't turn into shlock, with The Mummy perhaps being his lone success amongst a pile of mediocrity (see: Deep Rising, Van Helsing). Some damage control has attempted to paint this as a turn-your-brain-off action flick, which to some extent is a fair cop, but even at that the ads look incoherent. The name brand of this is going to provide a good bit of initial business, as Transformers has provided proof-of-concept, but we're going to see as rapid a dropoff as is reasonably imaginable from its opening weekend of $38 million. Personally, I can't wait for the movie with the gritty take on the Care Bears/My Little Pony wars.

For a movie with slightly fewer explosions, one might look towards Julie & Julia. A combination biopic of celebrity chef Julia Childs and blogger/author Julie Powell, it stars Meryl Streep as Childs and Amy Adams as Powell. Covering a year in the life of Powell as she attempts to cook each recipe in Childs' famous manual of French cooking, it also flashes back to Childs' attempt to find her purpose and break through the chauvinistic ranks of Parisian cooking schools. In essence, it's your basic female empowerment story with a love affair for food thrown in for good measure.

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