Weekend Forecast for September 18-20, 2009
By Reagen Sulewski
September 18, 2009
Hollywood's "throw a bunch of stuff out there and see what sticks" method of releasing movies in the early fall continues unabated this weekend as we have some big named stars with less than blockbuster material, a proto-star hoping to live up to her hype, and a wildcard kids movie.
It's that last film that's likely to win the weekend charts, thanks to the 3-D gimmick. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is an adaptation of a children's book, brought to the screen by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, most famous for producing How I Met Your Mother (or, at least the first season), but who should really be most famous for creating the brilliant cartoon series Clone High (which is shamefully out of print).
Bill Hader voices the main character of the film, a frustrated inventor who comes up with a way to turn water into food. Like all mad inventions, it goes horribly (wonderfully?) awry, leading to giant items of food raining from the sky, seemingly at will. Mountains of spaghetti bury an Italian restaurant, giant gelatin palaces appear in fields and a school is crushed by an acres-sized pancake. And probably valuable lessons are learned in there, somewhere.
Lord and Miller look to have produced a mildly subversive kids film, combining it with a kind of hyperactive visual style that should firmly grab hold of ADD-afflicted youth. The 3-D addition may kick this into overdrive, though the now once-a-month barrage of these films is beginning to grow a bit stale. Even so, there's still enough of a novelty left in that idea that it should get not just the kids, but also their parents into seats, though I don't see much breakout in the non-child-having demos. In this way, it's pretty similar to this summer's G-Force – a second-tier kids film with 3-D but not much crossover appeal. That opened to $31 million, but I'll knock a little off of Cloudy for the relative lack of action. Give it $26 million for its opening weekend.
Jennifer's Body is something of a test for two rising stars. Megan Fox makes her first real post-Transformers appearance as a literal man-eater high school student. Based on a script from Juno's Diablo Cody (going out on a limb here – this one isn't getting nominated for an Oscar), it casts Fox as a literally evil cheerleader, something I doubt she had to try that hard to relate to. Amanda Seyfried goes mousy as Fox's best friend (named Needy – as subtle as a firecracker, that) who starts to suspect something's up when her male classmates start disappearing.
A horror-comedy, Jennifer's Body has the germ of a clever idea. High school sexual politics are a target-rich environment for metaphors and allegories. One gets the feeling, though, that Cody and director Karyn Kusama are taking the easy way out and going for the action/gore route.
And of course, Megan Fox is no Ellen Page in just about every way you can read that comparison. What she is, however, is about the most recognizable young actress/sex bomb on the planet right now after her two starring roles in the Transformers movies (and probably has the highest exposure-to-lines-of-dialogue ratio since Kelly LeBrock in The Woman in Red). At the same time, she's made enemies of just about anyone she's worked with and generally done a good job of playing the Look At Me! game. In reality, that's probably not that bad of a move to become famous, or at least notorious. Does it make people want to see her movies? Well, maybe. Pretty much every teenage boy in North America has been eyeing this film since the rumors about the lesbian kiss started floating around (this is called pandering, kids). The R-rating is going to limit this somewhat, but it should still see about $18 million this weekend.