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Weekend Forecast for February 25-27, 2011

By Reagen Sulewski

February 25, 2011

Fatherhood has been somewhat unkind to Mr. Wilson...

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Looks like studios only had a couple weeks' worth of solid films to release in early 2011, with this weekend's slate reverting back to the doldrums we saw in January. We may even get a couple of Razzie nominations out of this group.

The Farrelly Brothers – the former kings of film comedy - are back for the first time in four years with Hall Pass, starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis. The pair star as a couple of friends who are given the heretofore unknown-to-me but apparently common knowledge concept of a “hall pass” by their wives – free reign for a week to sleep with any women they can. The main thrust of the film is that it's a wager without risk for the wives – as Wilson and Sudeikis are so entrenched in middle-aged lameness that they've lost the ability to be attractive to single women. As a sketch this seems like a solid concept, but over 90 minutes or more of a movie, it's material that could run pretty thin in the wrong hands.

That the Farrellys, responsible for Dumb & Dumber, There's Something About Mary and Kingpin, are the wrong hands now is a pretty depressing development, but here we are. There's little to like about the way this film has been presented to the public, perhaps representing the difficulty in portraying lame characters without becoming lame yourself. If you're resorting to the “pot brownie” gambit, and then resolving it with giggle fits about skin lotion, my friend, you have lost the moral comedy high ground then.




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The Farrellys are now nearly ten years removed from their last film that could reasonably be called a “hit”, Shallow Hal, which opened to $22 million and grossed $70 million. Since then, they've failed with comedies that included Matt Damon and Ben Stiller (and Jimmy Fallon, but come on), and I don't see any evidence that Owen Wilson is the magic man to break this downward spiral. He himself is four years removed from an above-the-line hit, and he shared that with an adorable Labrador puppy. On the supporting side, Sudeikis's impact is probably minimal, but an Ed Helmsian kind of career definitely seems in reach for him. I look for around a $13 million opening for this.

What's shaping up to be a banner year for terrible Nicolas Cage movies has its second entry in two months with Drive Angry 3D. Cage appears to be jumping on the grindhouse revival “bandwagon”, such as it exists, with this film that has him escaping from hell to pursue the man who killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter. And really, when someone escapes from hell to come after you, you should probably just give up now.

The film promises numerous gratuitous car crashes, gun battles and 'splosions, along with Cage's trademarked “sleepwalking Elvis” character, which for some goddamned reason, people seem to like to watch. This premise might be one step too far for even those fans, who have been reluctant to embrace over-the-top action like Shoot 'Em Up, Smokin' Aces or even the Grindhouse films themselves. Either serious action fans don't seem to embrace the wink and nod these films come packaged with, or casual action fans find the excess distasteful. Maybe it's both. Anyway, the most fun things about this movie appear to be Amber Heard's “hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold plus a .45” character, and William Fichtner as the Devil's right-hand man. Unfortunately neither of those two sell tickets (yet – the jury is still out on Heard).


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