Weekend Forecast for July 1-3, 2011
By Reagen Sulewski
July 1, 2011
With Transformers: The Second Best Pink Floyd Album busy stomping all over July 4th weekend, it could be easy to forget that there are more films than that opening up. You're still not going to go see them, but now you know they exist, and they've got recognizable stars and everything!
Ten years ago, the pairing in Larry Crowne would have sent people into a frenzy. Tom Hanks (directing himself) and Julia Roberts star in the film, about a middle-aged manager who's let go from his job because he doesn't have a degree, and heads to community college to retrain, for something, anything. College is a pretty good place to hide out and lick your wounds, and while there, he groups up with a gang of scooter-riding misfits, led by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, which I swear to you is a real name. Roberts teaches one of Hanks' courses, and becomes an object of affection for him, as she attempts to resolve her apathy towards her teaching and her husband.
We're in straight-up eager-to-please mode with this film, but it's eager to please only a small portion of the movie-going public – the over-40s out there who still find email and Facebook intimidating. Co-written by My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos, it practically wears its middle-brow nature on its sleeve, but without any sense of urgency or surprise. If there's anyone out there who can't predict the entire run of the film from the trailer, I have to ask that person if they've seen more than five movies.
Thus, the appeal of this film is based almost entirely on your opinion of Hanks and Roberts. While this isn't the first time they've appeared together on film, the last time they did, Charlie Wilson's War, doesn't exactly inspire confidence for blockbusterdom. Admittedly a film about Cold War policy isn't exactly the greatest draw ever, but you'd think star power would count for something. The gentle love story aspect of Larry Crowne should be an easier sell, but Hanks' successes lately have come from animated films and Dan Brown adaptations, while Roberts has fallen below Sandra Bullock and Anne Hathaway in the hierarchy of female leads. Eat, Pray, Love was a modest hit for her, but Duplicity was a puzzling flop, when all the pieces were there to make it a success. The reality these days seems to be that star power really only works when a star is perfectly matched to material. Larry Crowne doesn't seem to suit either star perfectly, being a bit too sad sack, and a bit too bitchy to be optimal. Opening at 2,972 venues, this should have an opening weekend of around $17 million.
After a string of films that accidentally only appealed to preteens, we have a film that comes by that demographic honestly. Monte Carlo stars Disney tartlet Selena Gomez in a Prince and the Pauper style dual role as both an American high school girl traveling in Europe and a spoiled British heiress notorious for her paparazzi-worthy behavior. From there it's your standard “OMG, Dreamboat!” romantic coming-of-age film, perhaps with some traveling pants.