Weekend Forecast for November 11-13, 2011
By Reagen Sulewski
November 10, 2011
Maybe we should hold the phone on all the “light at the end of the tunnel” stuff after all. Last week's blockbusters both disappointed, and of three new wide releases this week, all have serious questions surrounding them. It's not time for Hollywood to push the panic button just yet, but some quality might not be a bad idea, and soon.
There was a time, and that time was as recent as this spring, that an Adam Sandler comedy was a slam-dunk prospect. Just let him loose in some sort of man-child situation, let him yell at the camera a few times, and you've got yourself a $35 million-plus opening. Jack & Jill, his latest film out this weekend, may finally be that bridge too far for his fans. In it, he plays a set of fraternal, male and female twins, who then get into all sorts of wacky, passive-aggressive antics based upon Jill being a holy terror of a woman, and Jack being a misogynist man-child. And, there's all this green-screen technology Happy Madison has been dying to test out, even if they don't quite have the hang of it yet!
Of course, any premise can be funny in the right hands, so an actor playing twins isn't ipso facto a terrible idea. However, the execution is everything, and everything we've seen so far from the ad campaign for Jack & Jill is aggressively unfunny, and consists of jokes the Three Stooges would reject as being too broad. And it's never a good sign when there's a meme that develops around your film's trailer that mocks it for being unbelievably bad. And then we haven't even gotten into Al Pacino, playing himself, and embarrassing himself for all time in a lecherous role where he hits on the female twin. Is he that hard up for cash?
There's still Sandler's die-hard fans to deal with, and there's only a small sample of evidence that there's a line they'll draw regarding his films. Few actors have made more terrible films into hits over the years. What hasn't worked for him is being serious, and the notable comedy exception, Little Nicky, where a bizarre plot and an irritating voice led to Sandler's first flop. With any justice, this will be his second, although we'll have to talk in relative terms here. At this point in his career, he seems kind of insulated against flops – if even Zohan could be a hit – so the $40 million final total of Little Nicky doesn't seem likely. The big opening weekend that he's used to, on the other hand, is equally unlikely considering the massive negative critical response, and more importantly, the amount of anti-humor in the ads for this film. It's more like the kind of movie that George Simmons, his character from Funny People, would make than one that Sandler would. Sadly, disappointment in Sandler probably just means a $20 million opening instead of the cratering it deserves.
There's been a particular lack of action films out there in the last couple of months, particularly if you're looking for hits (The Three Musketeers, obviously, fails on this last point). Into this gap steps Immortals, the latest film from Tarsem “Visuals 10, Story 3” Singh, and the producers of 300, as if you couldn't tell by all the stop-start action and fetishized ancient warriors. Henry Cavill, who is set to fail as Superman in 2013, plays a son of Zeus tasked to defeat an army led by another of the Titans (a wildly out-of-place Mickey Rourke), leading to a bunch of “what the hell is going on?” battles.