May Top Ten Forecast

By David Mumpower

10. The New Guy
Okay, this is just one man's opinion, but I think the advertising for The New Guy has been marvelous. The film has been moved and moved and moved, so there is obviously no studio confidence in this particular product, but whenever I see the Braveheart gag at the football game, I giggle hysterically. Every time. I was standing in a lobby that had a screen above the concessions stand, running a loop of trailers. When DJ Qualls gleefully delivered his Mel Gibson quote, I thought I was going to get kicked out of the building due to my uncontrollable laughter. While I have little hope of this film finding success in theaters, I fervently believe the combination of the brilliant Eddie Griffin and the hilarious DJ Qualls is going to deliver a film that a small sect of people - including myself - is going to adore and turn into a cult hit on video. PS: The presence of Eliza Dushku is a lovely bonus if you're on the fence about seeing this one in theaters.

9. Unfaithful
This film is basically in the same place as Enough, except it doesn't have anyone as popular as Lopez in it. Adrian Lyne is a director who is always looking to push the envelope of human sexuality. From Flashdance to 9½ Weeks to Fatal Attraction to Indecent Proposal to Lolita, he has taken the themes of infidelity and romance and explored their impact on the human heart. With Unfaithful, he is again taking on an unusual theme, as a wife's affair is discovered and a jealous husband kills the man who has made him a cuckold. This act has the odd effect of making the adulterous woman realize how much she loves her husband. I like this film concept, but unlike Fatal Attraction or Indecent Proposal, Unfaithful has little buzz going in, so I just don't see it breaking out.

8. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Warning: I can't pick breakout family films to save my life. A mere look back at the March forecast, where I honestly thought Resident Evil would open over Ice Age, emphatically demonstrates this. I don't have children and I don't have any contacts at the day-care centers in this area, so I'm generally flying blind on these things. Still, there is a definite mystique lacking with this animated project compared to other recent ones. It feels like much more of a Road to El Dorado mid-range performer than a Johnny Neutron-type sleeper candidate. The animation looks mediocre at best, and the storyline just isn't grabbing in the ads. That doesn't mean it can't be another Iron Giant (if you haven't seen it, go rent Iron Giant right now and thank me later), but it does mean that I expect the film to be a disappointing performer at the box office. Again, though, I'm an idiot when it comes to family films.

7. Undercover Brother
Before you laugh at me for this prediction, answer one question: Have you seen the trailer played in a theater? The crowd reactions to this that I've seen have been nothing short of spectacular. The marketing of the film does a wonderful job of simultaneously mocking and embracing blaxploitation films, as well as the spy genre. It's an easy comparison to make, but the movie really does come across as an African-American Austin Powers, with all of the gags in the trailer killing. It's entirely possible that we're looking at another Scary Movie situation, where the only funny parts of the film are shown in a 90-second clip, but that didn't exactly kill Scary Movie's box office, did it? Simply put, Undercover Brother looks hysterical, and I expect it to do surprising box office.

6. Enough
Jennifer Lopez's box-office track record is very solid to date, with several sleeper hits such as Selena, Anaconda, The Cell and Wedding Singer, along with a genuinely spectacular performance in Out of Sight. There have been blips along the way - such as last year's Angel Eyes - which demonstrate that she is no more infallible than any other A-list actor in Hollywood, but she is on the whole a very safe bet. I don't think Enough looks very good, which is why I don't have it ranked higher, but in a very top-heavy month, Lopez's name alone should carry this film to sixth place. If the film finds the same audience as Double Jeopardy, it obviously offers the potential to surprise a great deal, but I can't shake the notion that it's a cheap rip-off of Sleeping with the Enemy.

5. Insomnia
Robin Williams wanted to do something different this year, so he has set out to kill people in every film he does in 2002. In Death to Smoochy, the main thing to die was the movie's box office, as audiences shunned the black-comedy elements of it. Insomnia is a much more dramatic turn on the theme, as Williams portrays a killer who enjoys the thrill of the chase as much as the kill itself. His counterpart is played by Al Pacino, a veteran detective who is somewhat hamstrung by having to train Hilary Swank's idealistic young officer as he chases this dangerous man. Already you can see that Insomnia sounds much, much better than Smoochy, but there is even better news yet to come. Christopher Nolan, the genius behind Memento, is directing this film. It has star-power and the potential to be a great, great film.

4. About a Boy
Maybe this is my heart outranking my head a bit, but if Notting Hill was able to successfully counter-program against Episode One, why shouldn't lightning strike again with Hugh Grant, the star of Notting Hill, in the role he was born to play? Maybe it's a reach to put the film this high, but if you just asked the crowd I run with what May movie they were most excited about, they would answer this one. Well, right after they said Spider-Man and Episode Two and I told them they had no taste and we argued for a while about who was right and who was an idiot. Good times, good times. The oddest thing about About a Boy is that the directors who gave us films where a man loved a pie - I mean REALLY loved it - and Chris Rock was an angel are now doing a story that tenderly probes into the world of the immature adult male. Given the films above, the timing on this could not be better, and the early word-of-mouth on it is nothing short of spectacular. Since High Fidelity was one of my three favorite films of 2000, and Nick Hornby is a personal hero of mine for his tireless efforts in the field of autism research, I readily admit that I do have some bias here, but I do feel that About a Boy will end up being a very successful film. For an early review of it by our own Ash Wakeman, click here.

3. The Sum of All Fears
Now that I have alienated 95% of our readers, let's discuss some films that aren't no-brainers, starting with the latest Jack Ryan movie. In a bold move to re-invent the franchise, Harrison Ford (who co-starred in...wait for it...American Graffiti!) has been cast aside for the younger and less-likely-to-break-a-hip Ben Affleck. Ben and his buddy Matt Damon are both attempting to turn themselves into action heroes this summer, with Damon's The Bourne Identity due out a couple of weeks after The Sum of All Fears hits theaters. The concept here is not unlike the Batman Year One concept being developed by Darren Aronofsky for Warner Bros. When audiences already have a strong familiarity with a character, the easiest way to surprise and intrigue them is to take the role back to its roots. This type of exploration of the genesis in a popular franchise is effective in adding some freshness to an idea that might have gone stale. In the case of Jack Ryan, this probably wasn't a huge issue, since Clear and Present Danger, the last title in the series, was released eight years ago. Still, it's an excellent method of replacing a long-in-the-tooth actor with a pretty boy on the rise. Affleck has demonstrated himself to be one of the most charismatic individuals to come down the pike in ages, so the decision to turn the role over to him is a sound one that should start paying off Memorial Day weekend.

2. Spider-Man
Homoeroticism reaches new heights in American cinema this weekend, as millions of grown men salivate at the thought of paying good money to see a guy who looks like he should be at a Boy Scout meeting wear nothing but Spandex for 100 minutes. I think it's sweet of Sam Raimi to throw Kirsten Dunst in there so that all of these closet cases have an excuse as they leave theaters. It's just a damn shame that fine actors such as Bruce Campbell and Macho Man Randy Savage will have their reputations sullied by this garbage. I will also now say what all of you are thinking. There is something particularly creepy about a 30-year-old man buying a comic book. Your childhood is over, fellas. Move on.

1. Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones
Sorry, Spidey fans. The only question here is how far beyond $350 million Star Wars will get. Well, the only box-office question. The real question is how much the film will suck, considering the combination of how terrible the last one was plus the fact that this one is a teenage love story. It's kind of a Crazy/Beautiful with tons of money spent on CGI. The most brutal evaluation of Episode Two would be that it could be accurately described as a futuristic update of Eva Braun's romantic entanglements. I understand Hare Krishnas and NASCAR fans better than I understand Star Wars fan-boys. If you want to see a good Lucas film, watch American Graffiti. Or George Lucas in Love.

  • Read Tim Briody's May forecast
  • Read Walid Habboub's May forecast
  • Read Kim Hollis' May forecast
  • Read Noah Schuchman's May forecast
  • Read Reagen Sulewski's May forecast


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    Wednesday, October 20, 2021
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