By David Mumpower
February is a funny looking word. Other than that insightful remark, I don't have much else to say about the upcoming month other than the fact that I expect Internet message boards across North America to see some very passionate discussions and a lot of random hatemongering. It would be nice if we could rise about that as a society to have eclectic, cerebral discourse but I hold out no more hope of that than I do for the upcoming election season.
1. 50 First Dates
I am unapologetically fanatical about Adam Sandler and have been since his first television gig on the highly underrated MTV game show, Remote Control. I suffered through the silly dreck like Billy Madison and even got suckered into watching his lone attempt at being an action star in Bulletproof (seriously, dude, what was that about?). In exchange, I have been treated to the uproarious humor of The Waterboy (power bombs = comedy gold) and been intrigued by the more off-key attempts such as Punch-Drunk Love. My first love, though, will always be The Wedding Singer. The first DVD I ever purchased featured incredible heart and unexpected warmth due in large part to the chemistry of the two stars, Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Seeing them together again is something of a natural high for me, but the downside is that I have a natural bias toward the project. Even so, it is my opinion that the trailers for this movie absolutely kill. I expect it to be a Mr. Deeds level blockbuster.
2. The Passion of Christ
Ooh boy, am I ever uncomfortable even discussing this one in a public forum. The entire project is such a maelstrom of misplaced energy that all debates inevitably lead to outcries of either narrow-mindedness or anti-semitism. We're here to have fun discussions about movies, so I would prefer to avoid such negativity.
Unfortunately, I am my father's son, which means that matters of faith are quite important to me; therefore, I see this movie as something of a must-see on a level that exceeds the normal amounts of generic must-see hype studios produce on a monthly basis. As was once effectively demonstrated on a sublime episode of Northern Exposure, people may discuss any type of unseemly personal dysfunction on television, yet for some reason, matters of faith are deemed inappropriate.
No matter what you believe about the inception of the human race, any movie that leads to philosophical cogitation is a positive. No matter how erudite the thinker nor esoteric the subject matter, new ideas are what sharpen and refine great minds. Rare is the Hollywood release which attempts to tread such challenging ground, as films about rapping kangaroos and blind pet ferrets are much safer plays. No matter what political or religious bias you might possess toward this film, the simple fact that a sub-titled movie about the crucifixion of a key figure in historical texts is getting this sort of release is laudable. Would that all of the conversations that ensue from it remain positive, but I'm not that naive. I simply encourage those of you so inclined to see it then make up your own minds about the movie, the representation of events and what they may or may not represent.
USA! USA! Anybody who doesn't go see this movie opening weekend is a no-good commie! You hear me? A freakin' commie! USA! USA!
4. Barbershop 2
I was early on the bandwagon for the first film, but for various reasons, I am much less enthusiastic about this outing. Sure, the stunning Eve is returning, presumably to provide me a second helping of sexually charged daydreaming, but other than her presence and the fact that I would watch Ice Cube in anything, this one just doesn't feel right. It has all the energy of being a quickly thrown together sequel rather than being an appropriate follow-up to a culturally important blockbuster with surprisingly genteel sensibilities. I hope to be proven wrong in my assessment, but the footage released for this one seems to be much more interested in hyping Beauty Shop's inevitable release more than the return of the adorable set of professionals that comprised the first Barbershop. I find that quite frustrating.
5. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
Coming off of Freaky Friday and a budding feud with Hillary Duff, Lindsay Lohan's career is surprisingly hot. She will attempt to parlay this heightened awareness into a successful first outing as the lead star of the movie. Yes, I acknowledge that she had more face time than anyone else in both of her Disney re-makes, the afore-mentioned Freaky Friday and The Parent Trap, but those films were marketed on their well known concepts rather than anything she might have done to carry them. With Drama Queen, it's all on her. I expect the results to be quite positive, as the recently reformed child actress has already demonstrated both impressive acting chops and insane popularity among teen girls. Since that's the key demographic here, this one has all the makings of being a surprise hit.
6. Welcome to Mooseport
As a big fan of the movies Dave and The American President and a huge mark for The West Wing, I am naturally inclined to enjoy projects like this. As the one guy on earth who violates the tenet about everyone loving Raymond, I am naturally inclined to think the rest of the world is absolutely freakin' insane for making Ice Age a blockbuster hit. That leaves me somewhat conflicted about the casting but nothing short of joyous over the concept. Nothing says funny like competing with a former president for the heart of Newsradio goddess Maura Tierney.
Hey! Ashley Judd is doing a movie involving some sort of murder mystery! I applaud her for making such a daring career decision by brazenly defying convention and accepting an acting role so far against type. What's next? A movie co-starring Morgan Freeman? Even Angela Lansbury and Agatha Christie weren't this pigeonholed in their careers. Ms. Judd, I would strongly suggest you consider taking a chance at some point in the near future while you're still young (by Hollywood standards). You've already made out with Wesley Crusher on camera, so it's not like you have any fear of ever throwing under that.
8. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
Loosely based on the Patrick Swayze/Jennifer Grey film that defined them as rising A-list talents (if you don't remember them, he was in Ghost and Road House and she vaguely played herself on It's Like, You Know), this film looks to follow the standard Harlequin Romance formula. The spoiled rich white girl will find her blossoming sexuality aroused by the potent fire of a latin lothario. If the story sounds vaguely familiar to non-Harlequin readers, it was the basic plotline of the Simpsons episode which introduced the world to Little Vicky. Tappa tappa tappa. A lot of the financial success of this project will have little to do with the film's theatrical performance. If, like the original, the soundtrack catches on, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is a homerun. Otherwise, it should perform basically as you'd expect for a pedigreed teen romance. Under any circumstance, the one thing I expect audiences to take with them from this movie is that Diego Luna is going to be a star. Women I know talk about him the way that I talked about Eve above.
9. Catch That Kid
After receiving assurances that this title has nothing to do with Michael Jackson, I came to discover that many parents are excited about what seems on the surface to be a blatant Spy Kids rip-off. For my part, the only contact I have with children is to tell the brats to get off my damn lawn, so I am largely going off of it what the Day Care crowd tells me. They seem to think it's cute, but these are the very same people keeping Raffi rolling in hundred dollar bills, so I'm a bit dubious to take their advice. I must admit, however, that the concept itself is fascinating. A young girl and her father are climbing enthusiasts right until he goes and breaks his back. In order to attain the money to pay for his surgery, the tweener uses the skills she honed climbing mountains to attempt to break into the bank. The problem is that the security is headed up by none other than her mother (The L Word's flashdancer, Jennifer Beals). I must admit that does sound better than the average family films of the ilk, so a better performance than I'm predicting here wouldn't be completely shocking. This is, after all, the hardest demographic to anticipate.
Fun Buffy trivia: you can actually pinpoint the moment the show started sucking with the introduction of Michelle Trachtenberg to the cast. Her presence in this film firmly entrenches me in the "I never ever never want to see this movie" camp. Alas, I am frustrated to discover that innumerable movies do well without my business. I have recently come to describe it as the Bringing Down the House Effect. The good news from my perspective is that I am probably tapped in to the rest of society on this one as Eurotrip is angling to be recognized as a Road Trip type movie so much that it's even getting close to being legally actionable with the name. Teen audiences are generally quite savvy about low-budget ripoffs, though, so I just don't see this one being anything more than a One and Done weekend warrior. And I don't think the One will be anything to write home about.
11. Broken Lizard's Club Dread
This movie has a chance to be an out and out disaster, so including it on the list is dicey. But I couldn't in good conscience exclude the follow-up film to Super Troopers. That comedy was one of the funniest and most novel cheapies I have seen since Clerks. I laughed from start to finish, and the DVD was a first day purchase. While I am still dubious about how well the concept of Humorhorror (I just made up a new word!) is going to work, Broken Lizard more than deserves the benefit of the doubt. And the trailer absolutely kills! (no pun intended)
12. Against the Ropes
A film that has seen more dates than Paris Hilton and Madonna combined, Against the Ropes seems to think it is going to finally be released this month. Color me skeptical. If it does see a release, there will be next to no studio support. In point of fact, all the film will do is remind people of just how badly that plastic surgeon butchered Meg Ryan's lips, since Against the Ropes was shot prior to her tragedy. Omar Epps deserves a better fate than this garbage; hey, how about Love & Basketball 2?
Read Marty Doskins' February Forecast
Read Walid Habboub's February Forecast
Read Les Winan's February Forecast