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March Forecast

By Stephanie Star Smith

1. Basic

John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson together again in a tale of a DEA agent asked to look into the disappearance of a legendary Army Ranger drill sergeant under sinister circumstances.

Interestingly, ads to this point haven't played up the fact that this is the first pairing of the two since their memorable stint in Pulp Fiction. What the ads do make a point of is the action slant of the mystery, and the intimation that the drill sergeant's disappearance may have been engineered by the higher echelon. The following the two actors have separately, added to the anticipation of seeing them sharing the screen again and the action elements, makes this my top pick for March.

Now I think I'll go have a Royale with cheese.

2. The Hunted

I find it a bit odd that the commercials for this ballyhoo the awards won by its stars but give you little idea of what the damned thing is about. But hey, maybe the idea of marketing this as veritable remake to The Fugitive doesn't appeal, either.

Tommy Lee Jones plays the survivalist FBI agent on the trail of Benicio Del Toro's serial killer. Seems Del Toro has taken to hunting the human animal, which is illegal in most states. Trouble is, Del Toro is as skilled a survivalist as Jones, and the two are locked in mortal combat to see who can catch - and possibly kill - whom.

The premise is interesting, and the chance to see Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro sharing the screen is enough to bring most moviegoers into the theater, giving it second place for the month.

3. Dreamcatcher

The latest film to be based on one of Stephen King's stories, Dreamcatcher looks like it might break the King box-office curse. The story of an alien brought to Earth via the dreams of four friends, it looks like a cross between Dreamscape and The Thing, which isn't a bad pedigree. And Morgan Freeman is one of the stars, so another check in the plus column. Plus who doesn't like a good horror story in the dead of winter? OK, maybe a lot of people, but this looks pretty good all the same.

4. (tie) Agent Cody Banks and Piglet's Big Movie

Agent Cody Banks is best described as a Spy Kids knock-off starring Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz. MGM is likely hoping to start another franchise as successful as Spy Kids, and given Muniz' popularity, they just might succeed. Which should keep a few of the suits at the studio from getting another ulcer.

My first thought on hearing about Piglet's Big Movie was how is it this didn't go straight-to-video? Then I remembered the success of Return to Neverland. Never let it be said that Disney passes up a chance to make a few bucks.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Kids' films generally do decent business, and with the Mouse House marketing machine, I would expect Piglet's Big Movie to match Return to Neverland in box office receipts, which might make up for the disappointing return on Treasure Planet.

5. The Core

Lots of special effects and enough techno-babble to warm the heart of any science geek, The Core could almost be considered a follow-up to Journey to the Center of the Earth. Our heroes discover that somehow the Earth's core has stopped rotating while the outer layers continue on apace.

This is a bad thing.

But never fear; our heroes also have figured out a way to fix things; they just have to travel to the core and detonate a bomb and everything will be right as rain.

This is a ridiculous thing.

But if the producers were smart and spent lots of money on blowing things up real good, The Core could be one entertaining little film. On the other hand, if they got too bogged down in techno-babble, this will be one boring-ass film. That uncertainty earns The Core a middle spot on my list.

6. Boat Trip

Cuba Gooding, Jr and some guy from SNL you've never heard of star as two guys having problems with the ladies who accidentally book themselves on a gay cruise.

I'm thinking Cuba really needs to hire a new agent, given some of the projects he's ended up in recently, present company included. Then again, Snow Dogs made a tidy little pile, although it was greatly helped by the Disney marketing juggernaut. And although the premise sounds staler than week-old pumpernickel, it could be just enough dumb fun to attract the teen crowd, turning it into a modest hit.

7. Tears of the Sun

Wasn't this supposed to be the title of the fourth Die Hard movie?

Not any more, apparently, as this war film has nothing to do with the further adventures of John McClane. Instead, Willis portrays a Special Ops commander whose team is sent into the jungles of Nigeria to rescue a stranded doctor, a rescue effort that will undoubtedly involve lots of things blowing up real good. Willis can usually pack 'em in when he does his action-star bit, but he's not foolproof (Hart's War, anyone?), and right now war isn't a very popular subject. Still, I expect it will make some impact at the box office, which earns it a place on my list. Just not a very high one.

8. Willard

A remake of the poignant boy-meets-rat love story from the '70s starring well-known loony Crispin Glover.

Oh. My. God.

This veritably screams "Disaster!", but one can never count out a horror film, good or otherwise, which is why this should-have-gone-straight-to-video wriggles its way onto the list.

So my question is who gets to remake Ben?

9. Head of State

Head of State marks Chris Rock's directorial debut with the tale of a DC alderman about to lose his office due to redistricting. He becomes the candidate for president when the first choice dies mid-campaign. The premise is intriguing, but it unfortunately doesn't sound like blockbuster material. Rock will likely have to wait for his next film before regaining the box-office luster tarnished by Bad Company.

10. (tie) Bringing Down the House and View from the Top

Bringing Down the House is either going to be really hysterical, or it's going to suck 17 ways from Sunday. And at the moment, I'm just not sure which.

It stars Steve Martin as a lonely guy who begins corresponding with a woman (Queen Latifah) on the Internet. She seems exactly his type...until she busts out of prison and comes to hide out in his suburban home. And hilarity, the filmmakers hope, ensues.

Queen Latifah has demonstrated she's quite the actress, and some of Steve Martin's best work has come in films where he's been a bit the underdog. If Latifah and Martin click, and the mismatched buddy-comedy elements aren't too generic, this could be the comedy hit of March. If not...well, it's that uncertainty that puts it so low on my list.

View from the Top is a romantic comedy starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Which would ordinarily cinch a place much higher on my list, except that this has been bounced around the schedule so much one has to wonder what's wrong. Maybe nothing, but this tale of a small-town girl who enters the supposedly dog-eat-dog world of flight attendant school so she can fulfill her life-long dream of seeing the world sounds pretty lame. And like 40-11 other romantic comedies about small-town girls and their dreams.

Still, Gwyneth can put butts in movie seats, even if they don't recommend the film to their friends, so that earns it a place on the list.

  • Read Tim Briody's March forecast

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    Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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