Is Julia Roberts Still A Movie Star?

Opening March 30th:
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall,
 Is Julia Roberts Still The Surest Box Office Bet Of Them All?

Of course we already know the answer to that question don’t we? Did you see Larry Crown? No one did. There was a time of when Julia Roberts above a title guaranteed a hit, but those days are gone are she tries to do the hardest thing any actor can do, transition from Girl (yes, girl with a capital “G”) next door and America’s Sweetheart to, to, to … to what? The wife, the aunt, the mom? Is she going to compete with Meryl Streep for the juicy adult woman parts? Is she going to try and play perpetually young like Goldie Hawn did? It’s not fair, certainly, that male actors have plenty of good roles available up and down the age scale and women don’t, but it is a bit a a fact. This week she tries to play into that problem by being the ultimate woman who is struggling with the transitions of age, the evil queen in Mirror Mirror (I suppose they are going for all the girls who saw Hunger Games last week).
Mirror Mirror won’t be taking on The Hunger Games alone, the follow up to Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, will start our counter programming for the week (Hunger Games is a chick flick, I want to go see greeks fight Gods!). Or, if ancient Greeks isn’t your thing you could go with a sports comedy that has been out for nearly a year in Canada (just being released here this week) or a horror flick or a couple of documentaries or Halle Berry in a bikini. A little something for everyone?
Mirror Mirror

Interest Level: 5

Number of expected times Julia Roberts accent changes from british to southern: 102

It was the first thing that jumped out at me when I saw the first trailer, Julia Roberts accent. Literally, 50% of the time she is doing british royalty and the other 50% she is doing her normal slight southern twang. It made me think of the worst movie accent debacles of all time, because believe me, this will be one of them. In no particular order, the worst accents of all time are:
  • Carrie Fisher in Star Wars – Inexplicably british sometimes and american others.
  • Kevin Costner in Robin Hood – Same as Fisher, just his british is even worse
  • Keanu Reeves in Dracula – Honestly, I am not even sure what he was going for
  • John Wayne anytime he tried to do an accent
  • Kevin Costner in Thirteen Days – As bad as his british was his Boston was worse
  • Dick Van Dyke in Marry Poppins – I love him too, but it is still true
And now the queen of cinema will join that inauspicious group.
Mirror Mirror is the first of two Snow White movies that will be coming our way (Snow White and the Huntsman with Kristen Stewart and Thor is coming out in the summer), and this one was reportedly rushed through production to be number 1. Number 1 may not feel so good when the studio puts you up the week after The Hunger Games, because, unlike Twilight, The Hunger Games looks like it will have long legs. The release date, the rushed production, the accent, and the general buzz around Mirror Mirror don’t bode well, but who knows, maybe the old Roberts charm and a little Nathan Lane will carry the day (I REALLY doubt it, but who knows).
Wrath of the Titans

Interest Level: 5

Odds of this being EXACTLY like its predecessor Clash of the Titans: 100%

Yes, technically speaking the plot will be different. There will be new and different monsters. There will be different warriors joining him on his new quest (yeah, because the other warriors were the problem last time). There might be slightly more action because the budget is slightly bigger, but in the end it will be the same movie, as it should be. Look, no one has ever made a great greek hero movie, I’m not entirely certain it can be done. I don’t care if we are talking about the old Jason and the Argonauts or Xena Warrior Princess, these are goofy movies. And this will be goofy too. So, if the first one was your particular brand of cocoa then you will like this one just as much. If Clash of the Titans made your head hurt, Wrath of the Titans will make it hurt more. For me, they are rainy Saturday afternoon fare that I stumble across while flipping through the channels.

Interest Level: 5

Odds that it could be significantly better than I am expecting it to be: 43.5%

Jay Baruchel (The Sorcerers Apprentice, She’s Out Of My League, the voice of Hiccup in How To Train Your Dragon) is apparently a big hockey fan (well, he is Canadian after all). So he teamed up with Seth Rogen’s writing buddy Evan Goldberg (he co-wrote Superbad, Pineapple Express, 50-50 and all the other Seth Rogen stuff) another Canadian who then by definition loves Hockey and they wrote a movie about the most infamous and colorful of hockey personalities the goon. Sean William Scott stars and I am not 100% sure he can pull it off and the movie road is paved with Slap Shot rip offs that stunk, so that doesn’t give me confidence either. But the thing about Jay Baruchel and Evan Golderg is that when they are on they are funny (also,, the director, Michael Dowse, is a bit of a Canadian legend for having made Fubar and its sequel and if you were Canadian you would know what I was talking about and be a fan of hockey).

Interest Level: 8

Odds of being very confused by the end of this movie: 86.3%

This premise is kind of out there, where two children, who live in different countries are visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them. Phrases being thrown about concerning this movie are “almost great” and things like “about 90% cogent”. But this movie is from the guy who did 28 Days Later (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo), which may be the best a scariest zombie movie ever, so I figure 90% of one of his movies is a lot better than 100% of most people’s.
One other aside. Does anyone have a more interesting career than Clive Owen? The man has made 23 movies in the last 10 years. That is crazy. He makes cool movies (Sin City, Croupier), he makes triply movies (Intruders, Children of Men), he makes big hollywood movies (Closer, Duplicity, King Arthur, Inside Man) and he makes weird action movies (Shoot ‘Em Up, Killer Elite). Some of the movies are good, some are great and a lot are somewhere between passible and dreadfully dull, but he is always good.

Interest Level: 4

Odds of this movie having anything new to say: 2%

A documentary about peer to peer bullying in schools across america, Bully suffers from bad timing. Bullying is a hot topic now, which might seem like a good thing but, because every television news magazine show has done a bullying expose over the last couple of months, one has to wonder if there is anything left to say. Its horrible and deplorable and happens much more than we would care to admit, got it. I don’t mean this to sound like I am treating the material lightly, no parent would treat this material lightly, but as with many a tragedy or sin involving children, after acknowledging it and acknowledging the extent of it what’s left to say? Maybe they will surprise with some new take, I just can’t see it happening.
The Island President

Interest Level: 8

Odds of this being an unbiased documentary: 0%

The Maldives is the lowest lying country in the world and it is disappearing under the sea. Think An Inconvenient Truth illustrated by something real and seemingly inarguable (I’m not trying to pick a fight about the environment). Many a critic is predicting this to be the sleeper hit of the spring, and why not. It won the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival, left leaning people make up a significant portion of art house movie goers and because Mohamed Nasheed, the president of Maldives and star of this film, is apparently unbelievably charming and engaging. What’s not to like? If environmental discussion makes you crazy is this the movie for you? Of course not. But I am really curious to see what it is like.
Dark Tide

Interest Level: 3

Percentage of the movie that will feature Halle Berry in a bikini: 40%

I’m not sure you would go so far as to say John Stockwell has a gift, but it is impossible to deny he has a predilection. John Stockwell’s directing credits include Blue Crush (Kate Bosworth surfing and in a bikini), Into the Blue (Jessica Alba scuba diving in a bikini), Turistas (Olivia Wilde and Melissa George being chased through the Brazilian rainforest, often in bikini’s), Cat Run (Paz Vega running for her life from an assassin, this time technically in lingerie, but with the same effect as a bikini) and now Dark Tide. This is the tale of a dive instructor who is returning to the deep after a nine year absence stemming from a near fatal encounter with a great white shark, oh, and it features Halle Berry in a bikini. Stockwell’s movies generally look great (and I don’t mean the bikini thing, his movies are exquisitely filmed) and generally feel like the looking great is the only important thing to the director. Plot development, character motivation, these things matter not as long as they look really good.

Other than Dark Tide and the bad luck from a timing point of view, none of the movies this week seem dreadful and Intruders and The Island President each look really good. Do you need to run out this weekend to catch any of these? I’m not going to (however, if 3D is your thing than you do need to see Wrath of the Titans on the big screen). But I will check Netflix and Xfinity on demand for Intruders and The Island President and if my wife really wants to go see Mirror Mirror I won’t complain (though I doubt we will like it) and when Goon and Wrath of the Titans comes out on Starz or HBO or Showtime or whatever in 8 months to a year I’m sure I will watch them both, or at least start to.
So, there you go, but as always remember, what do I know? I haven’t seen these movies and I’m fat.