Weekend Forecast for August 24-26, 2012

By Reagen Sulewski

August 23, 2012

I'm heartbroken about Lance Armstrong but still I ride.

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There's often a sharp dividing line in August where one week you'll have blockbusters with big names, and the next you have the cast offs that studios never really found a place for and actors you haven't thought about in ages. Guess which week this is?

Hit and Run presents us with the apparently long-awaited theatrical screen writing and directing debut of Dax Shepard, so anticipated that it has to start on Wednesday. Shepard casts himself as a stunt driver named Charlie Bronson (oh, I get jokes) in the Witness Protection Program who's forced out of hiding to help his girlfriend (Kristen Bell, also in real life), while members of his former gang chase him down to, you know, just talking to him about some things, like why he's in Witness Protection, and where's their money?!

It's definitely possible to be too hard on this film, which seems to be Shepard's excuse to screw around with cars and cameras for a couple of months and hang out with his friends (also in the cast: Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Kristen Chenoweth, David Koechner and his co-star from Parenthood, Joy Bryant) and likely had a tiny budget. However, it's still worth pointing out that Dax Shepard is not a name that moves the needle for most people, or even sounds like a name. He's got very little on his resume where he can easily be separated out to see what his appeal is, and what there is isn't good – i.e. Let's Go to Prison. Bradley Cooper in theory helps, and he's leading people to draw comparisons to The Hangover, but that frankly seems insane to me. I think we're looking at a quite small August action-comedy opening weekend, which should be just under $5 million, or $6 million for five days.


Similarly underwhelming in concept is Premium Rush, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. With a plot that feels like something recycled from Kevin Bacon's 1980s reject file, Gordon-Levitt plays a bicycle courier who gets more than he bargained for with a particular file he's given to carry across New York City, which gets apparently half the city chasing after him trying to get it back, leaving him with only his amazing bicycle courier skills to survive. Okay, then.

One reason for some optimism is the writer/director, David Koepp, who's been behind some huge films on the script side, and some smaller quality films on the directing side, like Stir of Echoes and Secret Window, but the key word there is smaller. And while Gordon-Levitt has successfully moved from the awkward child-actor stage to being in some of the largest blockbusters out there, as well as making quality choices on his indie film projects, when he's solo, I'm yet to be convinced that he's much of a draw. With a high-concept premise that leaves a lot to be desired star wise, I think this will have another small opening weekend, with around $8 million.

It's about time for horror films to start appearing as well, and this week's is The Apparition, from first time director Todd Lincoln. Veering away from the found footage trend, this appears to be something like Flatliners filtered through J-horror influences. A group of researchers that includes Alice Cullen, Bucky Barnes and Draco Malfoy attempts to prove that paranormal activities are all in people's heads, and do so by trying conjure up a ghost from scratch just by thinking about it. This goes predictably right, and wrong, and they bring forth an unspeakable horror from beyond that wants to devour the soul of everyone on Earth. Thanks a lot, scientists!

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