Monday Morning Quarterback Part One

By BOP Staff

January 29, 2006

My Madden rating must be soaring!

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Felicity Huffman could have done the role better.

Kim Hollis: Big Momma's House 2, the Martin Lawrence-is-a-fat-transvestite comedy, earned an estimated $28 million this weekend. This is a surprise for two reasons. The first is that the January opener outperformed its June-released predecessor. The second is that Martin Lawrence's four most recent starring roles sans Will Smith averaged an opening of $11.6 million. Why is this one a hit?

Tim Briody: For some reason, five-and-a-half years was the perfect time for the sequel.

Reagen Sulewski: Inertia? Fat suit fetishists? Martin Lawrence's (apparently) huge extended family?

David Mumpower: The obvious answer would be that Lawrence called the devil up and asked to re-instate their prior arrangement.

Joel Corcoran: Brokeback Mountain pierced the cultural zeitgeist and now mainstream America wants to see more drag queens and transvestites?

David Mumpower: Lawrence's desire to cross-dress does explain why Eddie Murphy likes to work with him, though.

Reagen Sulewski: I think this is a "be careful what you wish for situation" - the next five screenplays he'll see will have fat suits and/or drag concepts in them.

Joel Corcoran: Okay, more directly, I think part of the success is due to people who missed seeing the first one in theaters and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I fall into that category. When the first movie came out, I expected it to fail miserably, but I was surprised at the decent showing at the box office. And I realized that it was a very solid comedy when I saw it on DVD.

Kim Hollis: I think the Royal Rumble should feature a cage match between Big Momma and Madea.

David Mumpower: That's hysterical, Kim. We are supposed to offer insightful analysis of why a film does well, but we're rather limited here. It's like Randy, the dim-witted brother on My Name Is Earl, has said: "It's funny because I'm dressed like a woman."

Reagen Sulewski: Somewhere, Milton Berle is nodding in approval.

Tim Briody: I expect the number to dip a little when the actuals come in, but right now this is the highest January opener ever (if you don't count the special edition of Star Wars), and we can't find the words to explain it. And we're the experts.

Why isn't the National Organization for Women up in arms over this hypocrisy?

David Mumpower: I don't understand why it's funny when Martin Lawrence does it but when the Farrelly Brothers have Gwyneth Paltrow wear one, they're being offensive.

Joel Corcoran: Shallow Hal seemed rather cruel in a lot of ways, David, where Big Mamma's House seemed more ... I dunno, "playful"? It's hard to say. But when I saw Shallow Hal (also on DVD, not in theaters), I cringed in a lot of places, where Big Mamma's House gave me huge belly laughs.

Kim Hollis: Wow. I find Shallow Hal to be sweet and good-natured.


Tim Briody: I'm morbidly fascinated by its 7% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. That's really hard to do.

Reagen Sulewski: What I don't get is how this makes sense in the film's world. Are there that many calls for going undercover as a boisterous fat woman? You gotta think his character is thinking, "couldn't I just be a homeless guy or a pimp?"

Nanny McPhee doesn't seem to have a high Snoggability quotient.

Kim Hollis: The second place finisher this week is Emma Thompson's Nanny McPhee, a family film in the Mary Poppins line. It earned an estimated $14.1 million in 1,995 exhibitions. Why were nannies so popular at the box office this weekend?

David Mumpower: I blame Jude Law. He's turned nannies into a much different topic than home daycare professionals.

Tim Briody: Let's not forget that Nanny McPhee co-starred Colin Firth.

Reagen Sulewski: I hear he's ridiculously popular with the eight-year-old set.

Joel Corcoran: I think he's found his niche, then.

Tim Briody: Franchise all the way, baby! Provided it's got the legs, at least.

Joel Corcoran: There would be worse things in the world than a Nanny McPhee franchise. Personally, I'd like to see it happen.

Tim Briody: It certainly had a very good weekend multiplier.

Reagen Sulewski: It's tough to go wrong with magical realism these days - Harry Potter really opened things up.

David Mumpower: Agreed. It wouldn't surprise me if Nanny McPhee shows the type of legs Hoodwinked has had in recent weeks. Adding in the fact that it's got a $30 million budget and had already made that much in Britain last October, this is a huge financial gainer.

Kim Hollis: Nanny McPhee has a cute and whimsical-looking trailer. I'm actually dying to see it, and probably would have been even if Colin Firth wasn't in it. That Love Actually kid is just too cute.

Joel Corcoran: I agree, Kim - that's one of the major reasons why I want to see the movie. The tone it has from the trailers is very much like Love Actually, and just what the box office needs in January. Whimsy.

David Mumpower: Nanny McPhee feels to me like a tangent to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You know the mean woman at the start of that movie who says "No touching the artifacts!" It's like she gets her own movie here.

Joel Corcoran: I'm setting this movie aside to watch again with my nieces in a few years, when they're out of diapers.

BOP looks forward to Underworld: Not Again.

Kim Hollis: Underworld: Evolution declined 59% from its opening, acquiring another $11.1 million. It has a running total of $44.3 million after ten days. The original made $52.0 million in its theatrical release. Does the strength of the sequel guarantee that the Underworld franchise becomes a trilogy?

David Mumpower: Right now, I think it's safe to assume that lycans and vampires will be waging war from now through 2012. The Underworld sequel has been eviscerated by critics, yet here it stands as a solid hit. January has really bucked the trend of being December hangers-on and Oscar-contending platformers. People are giving reviled projects their first look.

Tim Briody: It's kind of sad to admit that this type of performance means they won't hesitate in greenlighting a third entry. Woo! We fell only 59% in week two! Let's make it happen again!

Reagen Sulewski: The series lasts as long as Kate wants to put up with it, I'm thinking...which is probably one more film.

Kim Hollis: I do think that regardless of the reviews, the concept can lend itself to potentially great storylines going forward.

Joel Corcoran: I hope it gets at least a trilogy. A fourth movie would be fantastic, but I think Reagen is right - it will last only as long as Kate puts on the leather pants.

We also look forward to Underworld: Kate's Become Too Expensive.

David Mumpower: Oh, I think the series goes on even if she doesn't. Whether it proves successful without her is up for debate, but if they really do think it's the concept plus the clothing, she's replaceable.

Kim Hollis: Yup. Honestly, at some point she'll have to be replaced, since the vampires don't age (her famous plastic surgery and so forth notwithstanding).

Reagen Sulewski: I'm reasonably sure she's animatronic.

Joel Corcoran: I'm not so sure, David. I think Underworld is a lot like Blade in the aspect of people identifying with a central character. The surrounding story provides a great context, but I can't see another Underworld movie without Beckinsale. A spin-off franchise is certainly possible, though.

David Mumpower: While Blade: Trinity was a disappointment from both a quality as well as a box office perspective, there was certainly an attempt made to extend the story beyond Blade himself. Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds were being positioned for a future project without him.

Tim Briody: Which was laughable in and of itself, but anyway.

Joel Corcoran: I think it was a lame, desperate attempt to save a drowning franchise.

David Mumpower: Blade II was night and day more successful than Blade. Blade: Trinity is what killed the franchise.



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