March 2005 Forecast
By John Seal
I was thoroughly under-whelmed by the overexposed trailer for Fox’s 2002 kid flick Ice Age, but that didn’t stop it from being a major hit. In contrast, the trailer and commercials for Robots are infinitely better (though still hardly inspiring), and I think this will prove to be March’s slam-dunk number one film. Add in the quality voice talent — including Ewan MacGregor and the criminally underappreciated Paul Giamatti — and the film might not be completely terrible.
2. Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
I never got the Sandra Bullock thing, perhaps because I still haven’t recovered from watching her drive that bus in Speed. Nonetheless, she remains a potent box office force, and she’s back as glamorous FBI agent Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality 2, yet another sequel to yet another box office hit of yesteryear. This time our heroine attempts to rescue pageant officials William Shatner and Heather Burns, kidnapped in Las Vegas by, uh, some not very nice people, apparently. This one should get off to a nice start at the box office, especially as its only competition March 25th is Guess Who?
3. The Ring Two
One of my favorite comic book covers of all time was an issue of X-Men that featured the banner headline: This Issue — Everybody Dies! We could only hope for a similar fate for the characters in this unnecessary sequel to 2002’s smash hit The Ring. In the real world, of course, someone would have converted the deadly video to DVD and downloaded it to the net, but in Movie World, this traveling tape of terror is still popping up at random and people are still foolishly popping it into their still in use VCRs. Japanese director Hideo Nakata, whose film Ringu started this ball of beeswax rolling back in 1998, gets the chance to breathe new life into this by now wearisome trope. Hopefully co-star Sissy Spacek gets to dump a bucket of pig’s blood over the head of annoying former it-Girl Naomi Watts.
Bruce Willis returns to the he-man genre as a former LAPD ‘hostage negotiator’ (is that a full time job?) who has to come out of retirement to save his ex-wife and daughter from the gunmen who seize them—one of whom is a serial killer on the side. Yippie yi yo ky ay, mother kidnapper. Miramax moved this from January to March, so apparently they have some faith in it, and it’s certainly sensible counter-programming against Robots on the March 11th weekend.
5. Beauty Shop
Didn’t this movie already come out? I must be getting it confused with last year’s Hair Show — a film so painfully bad I think of it as Hair Shirt — which was briefly entitled Beauty Shop early in the production process. This Beauty Shop is a spin-off from the popular Barbershop series, and features Queen Latifah as a beautician hired by Kevin Bacon to style and cut his customers’ hair. When Latifah decides to open her own competing salon, Bacon is out for revenge and (*spoiler alert*) invites her on a treacherous white water rafting trip with his good friend John C. Reilly. In a bid to get art-house bookings, Alfre Woodard and Djimon Hounsou also feature in the cast.
6. The Pacifier
They considered releasing this as The Binky or, in Britain, as The Dummy, but neither title suited the image of beefcake Vin Diesel, so The Pacifier it is. In a stretch, Vin plays a hunky former Navy SEAL, charged with finding a super secret government program that’s been hidden by the (now deceased) professor who developed it. Gonna be a lot of kick-ass action, right? Well, not so fast — this is actually a comedy, with Diesel forced to care for the late professor’s abundant offspring whilst searching for the MacGuffin. This Kindergarten Cop rip-off was penned by the same folks who gave us last autumn’s action-comedy stinker Taxi, and my guess is The Pacifier is made to suck.
7. Be Cool
Okay, are we now on the third or fourth John Travolta comeback? Whichever it is, it’s five comebacks too many. Here’s ol’ pickle puss again, this time starring opposite Uma Thurman as Chili Palmer, a racketeer whose blood-soaked dalliance with the movie industry was cheerfully detailed in 1996’s Elmore Leonard adaptation Get Shorty. This time Palmer’s out to make it big in the music biz with the help of a newly signed artiste portrayed by Christina Milian. My guess is Be Cool will help Travolta avoid direct-to-cable hell for a few more years and perhaps even provide him with enough dosh to finance Battlefield Earth 2.
8. Ice Princess
Michelle Trachtenberg (who?) stars as an aspiring ice skater in this Disney romancer aimed squarely at the tweenie market. Helping her fulfill her dreams are quirky mom Joan Cusack, down-at-heel coach Kim Cattrall, and chipmunk cheeked love interest Trevor Blumas. I really enjoyed director Tim Fywell’s quirky 2003 feature I Capture the Castle, but Ice Princess has generic written all over it - in pink marker and on Hello Kitty post-its, no less.
9. Guess Who?
At first I was hoping this was going to be a biopic or documentary about beloved Canadian rockers The Guess Who, whose recording of Shakin’ All Over remains the definitive version of that Johnny Kidd classic. The Who, founded by future BTO mainman Randy Bachman, also recorded one of the great moody garage punkers of all time, Clock On the Wall. The group later hit big in the United States with 1970’s American Woman, but by that point, they pretty much sucked. Check out their mid-'60s output, and you won’t be disappointed — and if you’re in the mood for more cool '60 sounds from north of the border, give a listen to The Ugly Ducklings, whose 1967 single Gaslight will rip your skull open. Anyway, Guess Who?, The Movie, is — gag! — a remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, an insipid and frothy romantic comedy featuring Sidney Poitier as a black doctor invited to meet his fiancée’s parents (Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy), who happen to be a pair of lovable racist curmudgeons. It’s probably the worst of director Stanley Kramer’s ‘social problem’ pictures, and ended Spencer Tracy’s career on a sour note. This time Ashton Kutcher replaces Poitier and Bernie Mac steps in for Tracy. Nuff said.
10. The Jacket
Adrien Brody stars as a mentally disturbed soldier who thinks his straitjacket can transport him through time and space. Bizarre premise aside, Brody’s always worth watching, and the interesting supporting cast includes Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Daniel Craig. Oh, and Keira Knightley and Marillion lead singer Fish, too.
The Upside of Anger
Kevin Costner plays a retired baseball player in - what? RETIRED? He couldn’t be bothered to hold out to play the title role in The John Franco Story? Heck, he’d probably even don black face to star in The Julio Franco Story at this point. Apparently, though, Costner really has decided to hang up his cinematic cleats, and The Upside of Anger features him as a former ballplayer who’s drinking himself to death in the company of betrayed mom Joan Allen. From the director of Blankman. I kid you not.
Best of Youth
Bring a blankie and your favorite stuffed animal if you’re planning on taking in this Italian import about the lives and times of two brothers in end of the 20th-century Rome. This Marco Giordana-helmed drama opened on the Continent in 2003 and ended sometime the following year. At six hours, it puts the collected works of Bernardo Bertolucci and Ermanno Olmi to shame.
This long anticipated festival favorite finally gets a general release. Featuring interviews with soldiers of the 2/3rd Field Artillery, a unit stationed in Uday Hussein’s old Baghdad digs during mid 2003, the film garnered a controversial ‘R’ rating thanks to some salty language, then reverted to a PG-13 on appeal. Take the over tens regardless.
In My Country
Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche engage in a love affair. Riiiight.
Melinda and Melinda
Remember when Woody Allen used to play his clarinet in the East Village on Oscar night? Remember how this was supposedly his protest against the awards mentality? Boy, that was a LONG time ago.
Danny Boyle’s sequel to 28 Days Later imagines a world filled with millions of undead. Um, actually, no, this is a family-friendly drama about Liverpudlian schoolboys who discover a suitcase full of money and decide to use it to make life a little easier for their friends and families. The film has a terrific trailer, and I can’t wait to see it.
Hurry, hurry, hurry! Step right up, folks, and take a gander at Oldboy before Hollywood gets its mucky paws on the story and remakes it with someone horrible (I’m thinking Keanu or Brad) in the leading role! This Kafkaesque South Korean film stars Min-Sik Choi as a man held captive for 15 years and then mysteriously freed, only to face a fate worse than imprisonment. Yes, he’s forced to pay full price to see Guess Who? at a Seoul cineplex.
Marty Doskins's March Forecast
John Hamann's March Forecast
Dan Krovich's March Forecast
David Mumpower's March Forecast