April Forecast

By David Mumpower

April is the calm before the storm of May where at least three films (X2, Matrix Reloaded and Finding Nemo) and arguably a fourth (Bruce Almighty) look bigger on paper than anything we will see in the next four weeks. Since we are all just passing time until Matrix gets here anyway, this month feels like a series of filler films much like January has historically been on the calendar. It is hard to get excited about anything listed below that doesn't have Adam Sandler in it, though BOP is always deferential to the greatness of John Cusack.
1. Anger Management

Note to everyone else on the list: THIS is how you market a movie. From the introductory Sandler airplane sequence clip to the current Monks Eschew Non-Violence bit, each gag has been methodically demonstrated so that audiences know exactly what they are in for. This is clearly Sandler's finest moment since The Waterboy and the union with Jack Nicholson equals box office bliss. When it is time for Matrix Reloaded to surpass other films to become the biggest moneymaker of 2003, Anger Management is the film it will knock off the top spot.

2. Identity

Keeping with the theme of poor marketing, Identity is a flick which has very solid buzz but a commercial so awful it gives me an ice cream headache. A personal request for the future: if you are going to sell a film as tense and dramatic, having the primary correlation be your birthday is a mistake. Not only does it not scare anybody, it is so stupid as to take viewers such as myself out of the moment. Identity is going to have strong legs after opening weekend as it gets people talking about the twists of the script and in a month this weak, that alone should be good enough to sneak second place. It could do much better, though, if a more deft touch is used in the final marketing push. Right now, that is what is holding it back from being a blockbuster.

3. Phone Booth

This film has had a run of bad luck the likes of which hasn't been seen since Big Trouble. As you might recall, Phone Booth was delayed at the last minute several months ago due to the DC Sniper activities. Since then, Fox has struggled with how to market a movie that now appears to have been taken straight out of the headlines. A sensitivity was required along with a need to emphasize that they are not trying to capitalize off of tragedy. As was the case with Collateral Damage, a decision was made to dial up the action in the trailer to hide a lot of these issues in a mess of explosions. All we have left is Colin Farrell sweating, which seems to be a pretty good marketing strategy if you want to get a ton of lingerie models in theaters opening weekend.

4. Holes

Everyone else discussing this film is going to mention The Goonies, so I will go along with the herd mentality here. Holes is the story of a juvenile deliquent who is sent away for punishment. What does his disciplining involve? Why, digging a hole, of course. What might be in one of those holes is where the mystery lies. Is there a treasure buried somewhere down there? Disney thinks they have a winner here and I'm inclined to agree.

5. What a Girl Wants

As I stand here in my early 30s and try to pinpoint the moment I became old, I realize it was around the time I realized I had no idea who Amanda Bynes is. While researching Big Fat Liar last year, I was shocked to discover that she is the most popular Nickelodeon actress since Moose from You Can't Do That on Television (flashback time: "I don't know."). Now, she is in a Princess Diaries rip-off with the ever-stodgy Colin Firth so I am certain hilarious hijinks will ensue. I am as diametrically opposed to this target audience as is possible, but I just don't see it having anywhere near the appeal of the Disney princess tale. I do know one thing for certain, though. It will have legs like you wouldn't believe.

6. Bulletproof Monk

April is to good movie trailers as it is to happy tax payers. Despite the horrific ads for the films listed below at numbers eight and nine, Bulletproof Monk easily takes the cake as the worst of the bunch. If I didn't know any better, I would swear this was a David Zucker spoof rather than a real action genre piece. In this movie, Chow Yun-Fat has apparently found enlightenment, which I can only take to mean that the studio's check cleared. It is simply incomprehensible to me that this is the best role he could get coming off of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The pitch must have been "Imagine Rush Hour only with you as Jackie Chan and Stifler as Chris Tucker!". Ugh.

7. It Runs in the Family

I am not completely sold on the box office potential of this one but I am seriously rooting for it. As someone who is very close to his father, I am a huge softie when it comes to projects like this one. This is the first project legendary actor Kirk Douglas has ever worked on with his equally famous son Michael. To make the production even more of a family affair, third generation Douglas actor Cameron also has a key role in the film. It Runs in the (Douglas) Family is a heart-wrenching look at the struggles of one family and as such, it probably has limited appeal. In a month this bare, though, it has a chance to break out some.

8. A Man Apart

Note to Vin Diesel: I am still rooting for you but after sitting all the way through xXx and then being subjected to the heinousocity (it's a perfectly cromulent word) of this commercial campaign, I am starting to lose faith. When does Riddick get here?

9. Malibu's Most Wanted

This is the third film in the recent trend of Fish Out of Water racial comedy after Head of State and Bringing Down the House. The only good thing to come out of any of this sort of heavy-handed slapstick comedy is that Steve Martin is suddenly hot again and Bernie Mac is getting some big parts. Other than that, the films themselves have been cringe-worthy and Jamie Kennedy seems to be that much more grating in the Malibu spots. And I say this as a huge fan of his work in the Scream trilogy. There is nothing else to get excited about here except for the fact that Cuba Gooding Jr. somehow avoided all three scripts.

10. Chasing Papi

Three Latina women discover they are all engaged to the same philandering man, so they decide to teach their lothario a lesson about respect while each of them sorts out their feelings about the cheater. Yes, you have seen films like this before. One of them, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, was even based on a true story. This film is representative of how nice it is to live in a global marketplace. In the past, it would have struggled to get screens and press coverage because it would have been described as too ethnic. After recent successes along the lines of Y Tu Mama Tambien, Empire, Talk to Her, and Woman on Top plus the occasional extraordinary performer such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it is much more possible (though still not easy) to get a film like this into cineplexes. Chasing Papi will not smash any box office records, but it will charm its share of audiences before finding an even bigger life on home video.

  • Read Walid Habboub's April forecast
  • Read Stephanie Star Smith's sApril forecast