Weekend Forecast for April 1-3, 2011
By Reagen Sulewski
April 1, 2011
For at least one of the three new movies opening wide this April Fools' weekend, we can legitimately ask Hollywood – are you kidding us?
Unfortunately, it looks to be the film that will, barring some kind of divine intervention or meteor strike, win the weekend's box office battle. Universal dives back into the kids market with Hop, an Enchanted-like or, if you will, an Alvin and the Chipmunks-like live-action/animation blend about the Easter Bunny. Russell Brand (why?) voices a young rabbit that's been tagged to take over the family business of spreading chocolate eggs to the world but shies away from the responsibility. Escaping to the human world, he stumbles onto a similar slacker (the far-too-old-for-this James Marsden), impressing him with his “pooping candy” ability (no really – and just try and look at a chocolate egg the same way now).
Meanwhile, back on Easter Island (oy), a chick, voiced by Hank Azaria plots to take over the job, which will apparently be bad for some reason, and this conflict sets up the major plot of the film, as both the two main slackers have to learn to grow up. No points if you figure out how the directionless Marsden ends up.
In the realm of bad ideas, this trends almost towards Yogi Bear for intolerability. Crisply animated, but with no jokes rising above the bathroom humor level, there's nothing for adults to enjoy once they're dragged to this. Too bad then, as Alvin and the Chipmunks showed, that preteens lap this up. And with the Easter Bunny being a legitimately beloved character, there's little of the “huh?” factor that plagued Yogi Bear. Its overall badness will hopefully limit it from a breakout, but a weekend figure of around $22 million still seems plausible.
It's been a strangely rich year for idea-based sci-fi, with The Adjustment Bureau and Limitless both faring quite well in their releases. Following them is Source Code, the major studio debut from Moon director Duncan Jones. Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the film as a soldier dropped into the body of a stranger on a train, and is told he has eight minutes to solve a bombing that occurred that morning on that very train, or else another may go off and kill more innocent people.
So right now you're thinking, “Okay, butwha?” Listen, it's government scientists! They can do anything. In what seems to be a liberal blending of elements from 12 Monkeys, Groundhog Day, Deja Vu and numerous other thrillers, Source Code seems to be a film that's aware of the ridiculousness of its premise but runs with it in the service of larger thematic goals. Jones took the same approach to Moon, which investigated the nature of identity in a far out setting. One can only hope that the same thoughtfulness can survive in a Hollywood film, but reviews so far are extremely positive, suggesting that the patient has survived the surgery.
Gyllenhaal is an actor who has long flirted with both the indie world and the blockbuster factory, mixing films like Brokeback Mountain in with The Day After Tomorrow, Prince of Persia in with Brothers. Source Code seems like a nice compromise between the two, plus he's not saddled with yelling “DAGGAH!” 412 times in a bad British accent. The past month has shown that there's a solid if unspectacular market for sci-fi thrillers with nominally bankable actors. Reviews should definitely boost its bottom line somewhat, but Gyllenhaal falls beneath both Damon and Bradley Cooper in that measurement – although not by a lot. Look for around $17 million this weekend for Source Code.