Weekend Forecast for October 30 - November 1, 2015

By Reagen Sulewski

October 30, 2015

Didn't I do this story on TV already?

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Hollywood's terrible, horrible, very bad, no good October continues with a set of three wide releases, all of which have their own particular reason for impending failure. While this weekend's poor slate is in part because of a Saturday Halloween and the problems that brings, it's still a spectacularly dismal run.

Let's lead off with the star power of the week, for all the good it does – Sandra Bullock in Our Brand is Crisis. A fictionalized version of a documentary of the same name, it follows an campaign fixer team as it attempts to rescue a floundering candidate for the Bolivian presidency in 2002. Competing against a rival team of fixers, led by Billy Bob Thornton, Bullock maneuvers her candidate from position to position and op to op, leaving the country safe for... something, and then Bolivia turned into a paradise, right? (Hint: the candidate the movie revolves around no longer lives in Bolivia)

Lost in this is a particular reason for us to care, and I expect that campaign manager, aka the people who do the same job as Karl Rove and Mark Penn, is about as liked a profession as “paparazzo” or “telemarketer.” To then make a movie about this and expect us to be all “rah rah” about bringing American-style politics to an unsuspecting developing country is a dodgy prospect at best, even if the candidate we're watching is the ostensible “good guy.” It's basically an excuse to get Sandra Bullock in “likable” mode (which, did I mention the popularity thing? Right, I did) through the use of political satire, and isn't that a dodgy notion?


Basically, this is a film about unlikable people doing things you don't want to know about in a place you don't care about. I'm struggling to see the target audience here other than die hard Bullock fans, and even she's proven that they're not going to follow her everywhere. Don't forget that she sandwiched All About Steve in between The Proposal and The Blind Side. With not much in the way of positive reviews to help pull it along despite these conceptual flaws, I'm looking for a very poor opening weekend of around $7 million.

The culinary world has had films made about it before, but rarely has its seedier side been covered. Burnt aims to do that through a story about a former wunderkind chef (played by Bradley Cooper) who gets back into the London scene following a stint in rehab. Assembling his dream team of helpers, he attempts to have the world once again recognize his culinary genius. Annnnd that's about it. The redemption story is a popular one, and the notion of celebrity chefs has only taken greater hold since 2004 when Cooper played essentially this same role on TV in Kitchen Confidential, but it's far from mass-appeal stuff and offers little other than Cooper haranguing people who don't meet his character's standards of perfection. Good times, right?

As strong a run as Cooper has had in the last few years, there's nothing to say that it isn't just due to picking the right films at the right time. For all his American Snipers and Guardians of the Galaxys on his resume of late, there's also Aloha, Serena and The Place Beyond the Pines, showing that people are willing to flock to him – in good films. The Aloha example is particularly troubling since it shares some story elements – a “lovable” screwup and an attractive supporting cast (here Sienna Miller instead of Emma Stone). Burnt looks like a tired, cliche-ridden film about a fundamentally unlikeable guy, and marks this weekend's second titanic miscalculation, resulting in around $6 million for opening weekend.

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