Can “It’s Alright” Make A Dent At The Box Office

Because That Is What We Have This Week, A Handful Of It’s Alright’s

Everyone is saying it’s OK
Is OK anywhere near good enough?

Thus far this summer has been kind of fascinating to watch unfold. At the start of it, it appeared to be a summer (and a May) stacked with movies sure to draw big crowds and big grosses. Then The Avengers happened and the thought was “wow, what a way to start the summer off, this is going to be the biggest summer in history.” It may yet be, but what I don’t think many were predicting was the way The Avengers would decimate the box office returns for all of the other big releases this month. Thus far every wide release that has come out this month has significantly (and more often than not massively) underperformed. As late as April people looked at Dark Shadows, with its all star cast and the retiming of Burton and Depp, as a sure fire $50 to $60 million opening weekend on its way to a $150 to $200 million domestic take (and probably in the $500 to $600 range world wide). Dark Shadows did half that estimate on its opening weekend and will be lucky to sniff half of those estimates for its total box office run. Was Dark Shadows worse than people thought? No, in fact for many they were surprised at how much they liked it and almost universally people felt like it was better than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland (the last two Depp Burton collaboration that were both huge hits particularly internationally). All that happened was everyone wanted to go see The Avengers again. And Dark Shadows is far from alone. The Dictator, Battleship, What To Expect When You’re Expecting have all been destroyed by the freight train that is The Avengers. So a summer that was supposed to build week after week, hit after hit is now just one hit carrying an entire month and the question now becomes can anyone else breakthrough? Will MIB3 do it this week or will we have to wait for Snow White and the Huntsman next week or maybe Madagascar 3 and Prometheus the week after that or could it be possible that we will have to wait until Brave hits theaters on June 22nd to have another hit this summer? I would be shocked if it took that long, but I wouldn’t be shocked if we came close.

You know what else would shock me? If this was the week and these were the movies that finally slowed The Avengers down.

Men in Black III
Interest Level: 6 (maybe a 7, I haven’t heard from my son about it yet)
Did You Hate MIB 2: a little bit

The original Men in Black is a great movie. No if, ands or buts about it, it was a great movie. The second movie was not a great movie. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say MIB 2 was a bad movie, but I don’t think I would call it good either. It felt rushed and thrown together and in the end kind of pointless (not to mention they took the cool Will Smith from MIB and made him insecure and a little lost which just didn’t suit the character — did you see what I did there?). So where will MIB3 land? Well this movie was admittedly thrown together (they started filming without a script and barely an outline) and while Josh Brolin’s Tommy Lee Jones impersonation is garnering the kind of awe that Rob Lowe’s impersonation of a young Robert Wagner in the second Austin Powers movie did is that reason enough to go to the theaters to see it? All the reviews have given it the dreaded “it’s OK” review and to me “it’s OK” warrants a rental at Redbox not a theater ticket.

Moonrise Kingdom
Interest Level: 8 or 9
Did You Love Rushmore: and Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Royal Tenenbaums and Bottle Rocket and even Life Aquatic

I love Wes Anderson. I have enjoyed every film he has made unequivocally and without reservation and I have no reason to doubt this one will be any different. Will it be weird? Sure. Will the comedic sensibilities be quirky? Without question. Will the cast be fantastic? Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Francis McDermot, yeah, I’d say the cast will be all right. Here is the other thing about this movie and Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson is the best director of children in the world. Go watch Rushmore or Royal Tenebaums or any of his movies and look at the performances he gets out of kids. Its amazing. This won’t be a box office smash and it certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you are Wes Anderson inclined this will be the movie for you.

oh, and here is a featurette Bill Murray did for the movie, you can never have enough Bill Murray…

Chernobyl Diaries
Interest Level: 6 maybe 5
If It Weren’t a “Found Footage” Movie: 8

I love this idea. That a group of “extreme” vacationers find out the Russian (or Ukrainian) government has opened up Chernobyl to the public so they go and find all sorts of scary. That is a great hook. You could do zombies, you could do monsters and all in a dilapidated city long since abandoned. The problem is we can only make two kinds of horror movies now. We can make a SAW-esqu slasher fest or we can make a found footage, shaky camera, “wait, was there something in the background” movie. I’m not a high fan of either as a rule and the found footage style feels so overplayed and redundant that I’m not sure there is a hook good enough to get me excited about seeing a found footage movie.

The Intouchables
Interest Level: 4 or 5
Was It Really Bigger Than Avatar in France: Apparently

Two movie generated a lot of press last year because of their unbelievable box office totals in their home countries. The movies were this French bro-mance about a millionaire who becomes a paraplegic after a hang gliding accident and hires a younger man to be his assistant and 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy in China (yes, a porn film shattered all sorts of box office records in China last year). As you can guess now, what was unbelievable were not necessarily the numbers, it was that these movies put up those numbers. Not big action movies, but a dramedy and a sex flick, go figure. I’m sure The Intouchables is good and funny with real dramatic moments and it will feel a little slow and a little quirky to most American audiences and I will enjoy it — on VOD or DVD in a few months.

Oslo, August 31st
Interest Level: 5 or 6
But Really You Are Going To See It Just As You Intend To See The Intouchables: Absolutely

A day in the life kind of movies are always tricky, mostly because not a lot actually in happens in a single day in anyone’s life. Still this premise has promise. This is a day in the life of a recovering drug addict who gets one day out of his treatment facility to interview for a job and to see what has become of the life he left.  Heartwarming and heartbreaking (as this story would have to be if it were done well and with any kind of accuracy) Joachim Trier follows up his brilliant debut film, Reprise, with what is widely being hailed as an equally brilliant sophomore effort. The only reason I am not more excited is because I imagine this will be a personally painful movie to watch.

OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie
Interest Level: 0
Does It Hit A Little Too Close To Home: Yup

Director Bud Clayman documents how his struggles with OCD and Asperger’s nearly derailed his dreams of becoming a filmmaker and what impact his illness has had not only on his life but on the lives of those who care about him. Not to reveal too much about myself, but as someone who has suffered and made his family suffer through my own mental illnesses I don’t think I can watch this movie without it becoming far too painful. However, I hear it is quite good and if you want to see a truer depiction of what these syndromes and symptoms can do to a life this would be a good place to start.

Conclusion

As is often the case, some of the smaller indy fare looks quite good but the mainstream stuff seems so-so at best. To put it another way, I will be traveling and away from my family this holiday weekend and there is a better than good chance that my son will convince my wife to take him to MIB3 and I am not the least bit sad at the prospect of missing it.

But hey, what do I know, I’m fat (and now you know I am crazy as well).