Box Office Market Analysis: Movie Smack Talk: A Long and Brainless Summer?
by Paul Schultz
Published: May 26, 2006
The Memorial Day weekend remains the traditional start to the summer movie season, with Hollywood studios rolling out their blockbusters-to-be in the fervent hope they won't be bankbusters. They sneak in a few big-budget
films before the holiday, and this year is no exception. Here's hoping those films aren't a preview of things to come, or we're in for a long and brainless summer.
The first big flick was "Mission: Impossible III" starring Tom Cruise, with always-intriguing Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the bad guy. I know what you're thinking, "Cruise isn't talking endlessly about the glories of diaper-changing, so that's gotta be good, right?" Well, right... and wrong. Underutilizing Hoffman was a waste, but director J.J. Abrams knows how to bring the panache -- just leave your brain at the door. Then there's the water-logged remake of "The Poseidon Adventure"
(which I personally enjoyed) -- now shortened to "Poseidon" for an attention-deficit generation -- which flips a cruise ship over in spectacular fashion, but leaves its brains, and character development, at the door. I sure wish Lindsay Lohan's luck would change, but the light-headed "Just My Luck" will be just a blip on her professional radar. Sony Pictures rolled out the much-anticipated screen adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code", boring as hell and critically panned, though it's already raked in about a bobzillion dollars (like that's never happened before). Oh, and by the way, we here at The Trades are your "Destination for Da Vinci Code Discussion" with not one, not two, but three reviews of the film, as well as editorials "Why 'The Da Vinci Code' Deserves to be Broken at the Box Office" and "A Jew Reads and Sees 'The Da Vinci Code'", and a presentation recap "'The Da Vinci Code': Fact or Fiction?" "Over the Hedge" is a preview of CGI-animated things-to-come this summer, but its satire of suburban life could have been so much more. And we aren't even going to talk about the abysmal "See No Evil". If you don't go to this picture, you will fulfill its title. But you know about all these films, of course, because you've been reading our May 2006 Movie Planner, which not only looks ahead to theatrical releases, but reveals new DVDs coming out.
The big movie opening for the upcoming extended weekend is the superhero actioner "X-Men 3: The Last Stand". Early buzz has the film flashy, but brain-dead. Perhaps a summary of the summer movie season as a whole, but only time will tell. There's no big conclusion to the Star Wars saga that launched last summer's anticipation for movie-goers, but that doesn't mean there's not some appealing entries coming soon to a theater near you. So, I don't want to hear a single "I'll wait for it on DVD" out of any of you... get out there and see this summer's offerings in all their big-screen, thunderous-surround-sound, mountainous-popcorn-tub-devouring, don't-kick-me-in-the-back-of-the-head, turn-your-frickin'-cell-phone-off, sticky-floored glory!
Romantic comedy without the romance or even likeable characters and ex-lovers refuse to move out and engage in mental warfare to drive the other out. Test audiences caused a re-shoot of the ending, which can't be a good sign. Still, it'll be interesting to see the on-screen chemistry of this real-life
Stars: Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn.
Stars: Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles.
Arguably, we've already had seen Satan's spawn this summer (The Da Vinci Code) but for you literalists out there, we get this new version of the horror classic as young parents face a child-rearing challenge of hellish proportions. How will this story be updated for contemporary audiences?
A Prairie Home Companion
Stars: Garrison Keillor, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen
What goes on backstage as a great cast goes on the air for one last show? Based on the long-running radio show. Could be a diamond in the rough.
Stars: Cars! Oh, and the voices of many big-time movie stars, with
Owen Wilson leading the pack.
A famous stock-car learns there there might be more important things in life than fame and fortune. Has Pixar ever done wrong?
Stars: Jack Black
A Mexican priest who moonlights as a wrestler to raise money for an
orphanage. Alrighty, then! Writer-director Jared Hess follows up his cult
hit "Napoleon Dynamite."
The Lake House
Stars: Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves.
After a lake house's former resident begins exchanging love letters with its current tenant, they discover they're living two years apart. Why don't they hop in a bus, instead?
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Stars: Lucas Black and Bow Wow
To avoid a jail sentence, a young American street racer heads to Japan to live with his uncle. Getting involved in the world of drift racing, he finds himself quickly in debt, and the only way to repay is to enter the Tokyo underworld. This can't possibly be any good.
Garfield's A Tail of Two Kitties
Stars: Bill Murray (voice)
The fat cat get his claws into Great Britain. Hopefully he won't run
back home with his tail between his legs.
A workaholic gets a remote that allows him to move backward and forward in time. Can this film be as clever as its premise?
Stars: Tyrese Gibson, Meagan Good, Larenz Tate, The Game
"It's like a ransom movie," as star Gibson describes it. Okie
Stars: Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth
Superman returns to Earth after years of absence, searching the remains of his home planet Krypton. He discovers that Metropolis has learned to live without him, Lois Lane is married with a kid... but Lex Luthor is still around. This one wins the "please-don't-suck" award for the summer.
The Devil Wears Prada
Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep.
A young woman scores a job working for one of New York City's biggest magazine editors. After seeing it's baffling trailer, I don't know what to expect out of this one.
Stars: Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans.
An adoptive father mistakes a short criminal for his infant son. Much like the endlessly tumbling locomotive in "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron", the Wayans brothers train-wreak continues on.
Could make White Chicks seem brilliant.
Strangers With Candy
Stars: Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick
A prequel to the critically acclaimed Comedy Central series featuring Jerri Blank, a 46 year-old ex-junkie, ex-con who returns to high school in a bid to start her life over. If you like your hilarity offensive, this'll be right up your alley.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Stars: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley
Everyone's favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, is back. Sparrow discovers that he owns a blood debt to Davey Jones. It's got "unnecessary sequel" written all over it, but could be great fun just the same.
You, Me and Dupree
Stars: Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon, Owen Wilson
Newlyweds find their marital bliss destroyed by an unwelcome houseguest. The likeability factor could gauge the success of this endeavor.
A Scanner Darkly
Stars: Keanu Reeves
Richard Linklater's computer-animated flick based on Philip K. Dick's mind-bending novella about an undercover cop whose drug use leaves him with a split personality. If it's anything like "Waking Life" it could be deeply cool, if unwatchable.
Imagine our wireless technologies made a connection to a world beyond our own. Imagine that world used that technology as a doorway into ours. Now, imagine the connection we made can't be shut down. When you turn on your cell phone or log on to your e-mail, they'll get in, you'll be infected and they'll be able to take life. I think I've seen this with Cry Wolf, but if it delivers on its scary trailer, it might have a cinematic pulse after all.
Lady in the Water
Stars: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard
Apartment building superintendent rescues what he thinks is a young woman from the pool he maintains. When he discovers that she is actually a character from a bedtime story who is trying to make the journey back to her home, he works with his tenants to protect his new friend from the creatures that are determined to keep her in our world. Ron Howard's hot daughter (who will be playing Gwen Stacy in the upcoming "Spider-man 3") makes this a must-see, even if M. Night Shyamalan's last effort was less than stellar.
Little Miss Sunshine
The world of child beauty pageants gets a much-needed skewering as a family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.
Stars: Colin Farrell, Jamie Fox
This big-screen adaptation of the hit '80s television show has a lot going for it, but only one thing counts: sweet white leisure jackets. Michael Mann can win over viewers with sheer style.
Stars: Woody Allen, Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman
An American journalism student in London scoops a big story, and begins an affair with an aristocrat as the incident unfurls. I'm not even sure if
this will be going into wide release this summer, but any opportunity I can get to contemplate Scarlett Johansson is time well-spent!
Stars: Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi
Three teens discover that their neighbor's house is really a living,
breathing, scary monster. If you were creeped out (as I was) by the motion-capture technology used in "The Polar Express", this abode might end up scarier than expected.
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Stars: Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson
A man who calls it quits with his controlling, A-type, superhero steady (), only to see her bitterly sabotage his life. This is the film that may tip the scales on "superhero overkill" this summer.
From Bruce Almighty director Steve Oedekerk comes this CGI comedy that proves when the farmer's away, all the animals play. This is the film that may tip the scales on "animation overkill" this summer.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Stars: Will Ferrell
Rebel NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby faces stiff competition in the form of his new teammate. As a huge NASCAR fan, I'm hoping not to detest this movie. However, "from the creators of 'Anchorman' probably says it all.
Stars: Justin Long
A high school slacker confounds his parents by creating a fake university he can attend, and to impress the girl next door. A possible "escape from reality" classic.
World Trade Center
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Michael Peņa
An Oliver Stone Film. Port Authority police officers become trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Center after the September 11 attack. As with United 93, I'm not sure I'm ready to see this, and I'll be surprised if Stone can back off his conspiracy theory histronics.
The Ant Bully
The story of a picked-upon boy who takes his frustrations out on an innocent anthill, only to get a taste of his own medicine when the ants shrink him down to size. One of the more illustrious cast lists this summer as Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Paul Giamatti provide voices.
Stars: Tim Allen
Based on the graphic novel, an out-of-shape superhero who's called back into action to mold a new generation of crime fighters. Kinda sounds like "Sky High", and remember how well that did, boys and girls?
Picking up 10 years later, Kevin Smith brings back Dante and Randall, two men in their 30s working at a new dead end job in a fast food restaurant. Either Smith returns to his finest, crudest and funniest, or this is the ultimate cop-out.
A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and unsettle a warren of deadly critters. Magnificent gore fest ensues?
Snakes on a Plane
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson
An assassin releases deadly snakes on a plane in order to eliminate a murder witness. Will the plot really matter with this one?
DOA: Dead or Alive
Stars: Jaime Pressly and Devon Aoki
Four martial-arts vixens fight against each other for primacy of an exotic island. This could be the truest movie title of the summer.
Flags of Our Fathers
Stars: Ryan Phillippe, Paul Walker
Director Clint Eastwood adapts James Bradley's outstanding book and tells the life stories of the six men who raised the flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima, a turning point in WWII.
Stars: Mark Wahlberg
Walt Disney churns out another underdog tale, and sports fans should get a kick out of a bartender who competes in an open tryout for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1970s.
The Science of Sleep
Stars: Garcia Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg
The surreal love story of a shut-in who tries to communicate with his
neighbor through his dreams. Guaranteed to look good, at the very least.
Stars: Hilary and Haylie Duff
Spoiled sibling heiresses lose all their money. Just when you were tiring of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen capers, the Duff sisters come along to revitalize the genre. I just hope Hilary's had a few meals since Cheaper By The Dozen 2.
American drunkards who journey to Oktoberfest and stumble upon a centuries-old beer games competition. Anything better than Jay Chandrasekhar's The Dukes of Hazzard will be a plus.
How to Eat Fried Worms
A fifth-grade boy accepts a fateful dare from the class bully.Thomas Rockwell's (yep, son of Norman) coming-of-age novel gets the big-screen treatment, but the trailer made me queasy. Don't go to this one hungry!
Stars: Andre Benjamin, Big Boi
A gifted pianist working at a speakeasy in the Prohibition-era South contends with gangsters who have their eyes on the club. OutKast music should be an audio delight, and the ensemble supporting cast includes Terrence Howard, Ving Rhames, Faizon Love, Patti LaBelle, Macy Gray, Ben Vereen and Cicely Tyson.