Opening March 15th: Not As Good As You Hope…

Bot Not As Bad As You Fear

Eleven movie open today and frankly I do not have the time to go through all of them. It’s a pity too since at least two of them, the Japanese animated feature From Up on Poppy Hill and from Italy Matteo Garrone’s follow up to the very good Gomorrah titled Reality, are both supposed to be quite excellent. The rest of the smaller movies are pretty standard art house fare, things like a comedy set entirely in a kitchen titled The Kitchen, Snoop Dog going to Jamaica to immerse himself in Rastafarian culture (how has that not happened before) in the documentary Reincarnated, another doc that follows a boy band I have never heard of around the world called, quite creatively, Mindless Behavior: Around the World and Kristen’s Stewart’s mom directed a movie about a transvestite run prison called K-11. Like I said, pretty standard indie/art house stuff. As for the bigger name movies, well, as the title of this post says, they are not as good as you might hope but generally aren’t as bad as you fear they will be either. Here, I’ll show you what I mean…

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Interest Level: 6

Do you remember Date Night? You know, the Steve Carell movie with Tina Fey that look SO good on paper, had some laughs and was ultimately painlessly forgettable if mildly entertaining and you didn’t quite regret having wasted the time and money to have seen it in the theater but you definitely thought to yourself “I would have enjoyed that every bit as much six months from now on DVD.” That’s Burt Wonderstone. Looks terrific on paper, great to see Jim Carrey and Steve Carell together again, has a funny hook and no doubt has some laughs but if this was everything you hoped it was it wouldn’t be opening in March (and Olivia Wilde’s involvement has to date absolutely precluded greatness). So, if you need to see a movie this weekend because its date night and you have to get out of the house this wont ruin your evening, but if you don’t have to go do yourself a favor and wait. With the speed of turn around now this will be out on DVD by Memorial Day anyway.

The Call
Interest Level: 4

Look, nobody loves a good serial killer chase movie more than me and I have long been a card carrying member of the “Halle Berry is the most perfectly gorgeous woman since Grace Kelly” club for the better part of 20 years, so maybe my tepid view of this movie should send up warning signals for those of you who don’t feel as I do. By all accounts a by-the-numbers story of a 911 operator who finds herself sucked into the hunt for a serial killer who has kidnapped a more mature Abigail Breslin (think Cellular with a little The Taking of Pehlam 1-2-3 and a healthy dose of Criminal Minds). Halle Berry’s wig is simply distracting and it doesn’t sound like the movie ever really achieves a sense of doubt about the ending that is necessary to make the tension feel real. I’m sure it isn’d painfully bad, but it may be bad.

Upside Down
Interest Level: 4

Adam and Eden fell in love as teens despite the fact that they live on twinned worlds with opposite gravitational pulls… is there anything else you need to know about this scifi movie? I mean, once they call the two character Adam and Eden doesn’t that tell you all you need to know?

Spring Breakers
Interest Level: 6

The likelihood of any given person enjoying this movie is probably quite low. If you are looking to see “Disney” girls gone wild you are probably going to get less of that than you think (there is a massive amount of nudity in this movie but none of the nudity involves Selena or Vanessa). If you are expecting some kind of spring break comedy, you’re not going to get that here either. This is a movie from the guy who wrote Kids, whose films include Gummo (not as disturbing as Kids, because almost nothing is as disturbing as Kids, but not as far off as you’d think) and Mister Lonely (a Michael Jackson impersonator meets Marilyn Monroe and goes with her to Scotland to hang out with her partner Charlie Chaplin and her daughter Shirley Temple, and yes it is as weird as it sounds) and Trash Humpers (a film that follows the lives of sociopathic senior citizens in Nashville). In other words, this is not a “hollywood” movie. This is a movie about the dangers of youthful escapism and the “gangster” lifestyle and the romanticizing of having places where we can go and we no longer have to be ourselves or be inhibited by the morality that comes with the context of a life. This is a movie about stuff, hidden in a movie that looks like it isn’t about much, and the stuff it is about isn’t pretty, even if the actors are.


Oh, I forgot to mention Ginger & Rosa a coming of age story about to teenage girls growing up in London during the Cuban missile crisis (another standard art flick). Spring Breakers may be considered great by some, but most wont like it if for no other reason than it will not be what they expect. The rest will be the kind of movies that come out week after week all year long. not great, not dreadful, just kind of there.

But hey, what do I know? I’m fat.