The movie business has traditionally considered January a time to deep-six bad films into the marketplace — while the movies vying for Oscars still played in the theaters. Ironically enough, the success last January of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” made the studio honchos wonder if they may have been making a mistake.
This January, we’ve already seen the successful opening last week of “The Book of Eli” and the previous week’s “Leap Year” — both well worth seeing if you’re into either action films or romantic comedies. And both of those films last year might well have been held to after the Ides of March. So step out this week with a spring in your step to see for yourself — whether the three new films opening this weekend in the Tri-State area speak to the past, or a more hopeful, more entertaining future of year round quality entertainment.
And, as an added bonus on Wednesday and Thursday next week in Macomb, we’ll have the opening of the “International Film Series” at the Rialto with a true winter’s tale, Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.”
And please click on the title of the film if you want to be linked to the official, and see the trailer.
Opening this Friday in the Tri-States:
“Extraordinary Measures” (PG) opening wide this weekend. Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford, and Keri Russel headline the first release of the new CBS Films. This is a true story based on a non-fiction book: “The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million – And Bucked the Medical Establishment – in a Quest to Save His Children.” The CBS Television Network once had a proud tradition of producing TV-movies about parents sacrificing their lives to save their kids. Let’s hope this feature film both inspires and entertains– in the way a similar TV-movie concept, “The Blind Side,” so successfully did. See this in: Quincy, Hannibal, Macomb, Kirksville.
“Legion” (R) opening wide this weekend. Paul Bettany who played bad guy Silas in “The DaVinci Code” returns as the Archangel Michael. He has a chance, apparently, to save humanity from a legion of angels sent to fulfill God’s wrath against mankind. The fact that this all plays out in a diner would seem to indicate a quirky sense of humor — along with the blood curdling entertainment of a Hollywood apocalyptic film. The trailer playing in the theaters and on the Internet tilts to the horror movie side of the equation – not to the thoughtful side ennobled by “The Book of Eli.” Dennis Quaid and Charles Dutton will no doubt bring a human context to this attempt to save us from ourselves – with the help of a hard fighting, hard charging Archangel, of course, who’d probably rather be in heaven. Zombies, beware. See this in: Quincy, Hannibal, Macomb, West Burlington, Jacksonville, Kirksville, Fulton.
“The Tooth Fairy” (PG) opening wide this weekend. As not an immortal Archangel but rather as a short timer trainee, Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) stars in this fantasy comedy about a hockey player hoisted on his own petard: he’s broken so many teeth that he has to serve time as a tooth fairy. The director Michael Lembeck has directed a slew of situation comedy episodes. The geniuses behind “Parenthood” and the “City Slicker” franchise, the original writers Lowell Ganz and Bobaloo Mandel have written many memorable sit-com episodes as well — going all the way back to “Happy Days,” “Laverne and Shirley,” and “Joanie Loves Chachi.” Dwayne Johnson was last seen in “Race to Witch Mountain” and looks rather ridiculous in wings. But that’s probably the point given the fact that he got his start in the WWF. Sometimes a good man with a name change just can’t live his past down. See this in: Quincy, Hannibal, Keokuk, Macomb, Mexico, Macon, Macomb, West Burlington, Jacksonville, Moberly, Kirksville, Troy, Mt. Pleasant, Warrenton, Jerseyville, Fairfield, Fulton.
Continuing in the Tri-States:
“Avatar” (PG-13) continuing into its second month at the box office with probably an inevitable third on the way. “Avatar” is still going strong at the box office with a domestic gross of over $500 million. Last Sunday at the Golden Globes, “Avatar” won for Best Picture and Best Director. Jim Cameron deserved both awards for entertaining so many of us – no matter what Roger Ebert says. The fans still count, and if this were an election, this box office race would be a landslide – as a young ex-Marine saves an indigenous population from earthlings. See this in: Quincy, Hannibal, Macomb, West Burlington, Jacksonville, Moberly, Kirksville, Troy.
“The Book of Eli” (R) continues down the road in its second week of release. “Eli” pulled in almost $38 million last weekend and actually beat out “Avatar” for one day at the box office. Here, Denzel Washington plays a post-apocalyptic warrior for God and man with the sacred mission of delivering the Bible to future generations. Gary Oldman plays the bad guy Carnegie, and Mila Kunis holds on as the Eli’s female road warrior. The action’s solid, the deserted landscape’s bleak enough, but Denzel brings a quiet righteousness and dignity to the role of a killing machine that shouldn’t be missed. See this in: Quincy, Hannibal, Macomb, West Burlington, Jacksonville, Moberly, Kirksville, Troy.
“The Lovely Bones” (PG-13). This supernatural thriller surprised a lot of people last week when it went wide. Finishing third at the box office with almost $20 million in tickets sold, the audiences have been skewing young and female. This makes sense given the fact that the story’s told from the perspective of a young girl in heaven – who’s tracking the serial killer who sent her there. There’s a heartening father/daughter angle as well — as the girl’s family tries to heal. Adapted from the best-selling novel by Alice Sebold, this film from Peter Jackson and company (“The Lord of the Rings”) may prove the critics wrong. Saoirse Ronan as the young girl was Oscar nominated for her devilish role in “Atonement,” and she might be part of the answer regarding the film’s success so far. She projects an empathy and potential for evil that every young girl can relate to with ease. See this in: Quincy, Hannibal, West Burlington, Jacksonville, Moberly, Kirksville.
“Sherlock Holmes” (PG-13) continued to endanger civilization with a fourth place finish this week — totaling to date at the box office a handsome $185 million. Played by Robert Downey Jr., Holmes and his best buddy Dr. Watson (Jude Law) undo the power hungry Lord Blackwell — while inadvertently helping the infamous Dr. Moriarty. Rachel McAdams plays his henchman and the only woman Holmes has ever loved. Isn’t that a conflict of interest? Look forward to all three of them in the now much anticipated sequel. The fact that Downey won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture last Sunday insures the series will go on and on. And some of us have to admit they’ve already seen the opener for the second time. See this in: Quincy, Hannibal, Vandalia, Macomb, Jacksonville, Fairfield, Fulton.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel” (PG). The little critters keep singing along as this kids’ comedy over reaches the $200 million mark in domestic release. Here, the boys enter a battle of the bands that ends in a battle of the sexes with the “Chippettes.” Families are still turning the theater turnstiles because this is good, clean, mischievous fun. And, hey, why not: it’s good to feel like a trouble making kid again – whether you’re young or old – especially when you don’t have to clean up the mess. See this in: Quincy, Hannibal, Macomb, West Burlington, Kirksville, Troy, Warrenton.
“Leap Year” (PG). A bit of blarney starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, this romantic comedy is the feel good, chick flick of our early spring. The premise: a woman can ask a man to marry her on February 29th and he has to say “yes.” Whether you believe that or not, Amy and Matthew test the premise that opposites attract — as they unwillingly travel through the Irish countryside. And they make you believe they truly were made for each other – which is no small feat of atmospheric “chemistry.” For romantics far and wide, that need a spring in their wintery steps. See this in: Quincy, Macomb, Jacksonville, Warrenton, Columbia.
“The Spy Next Door” (PG). Jackie Chan isn’t the combat acrobat he used to be, but this sweetheart of a action comedy still lets his martial arts’ skills shine in a somewhat diminished light. Here, he’s a Chinese spy working with the CIA, but now he’s in love with a woman next door who lives alone with her three kids. They hate Jackie, but grow to love him as he babysits when their mom is called out of town. Russians spies lend action, and everything comes tumbling down on Halloween. “The Spy Next Door” had a disappointing opening last weekend, but, nevertheless, if you’ve already seen “Alvin,” this would make for a pleasant enough afternoon with the kids. See this in: Hannibal, Mexico, Macon, West Burlington, Jacksonville, Moberly, Kirksville.
“Up in the Air” (R). The odds on favorite for a slew of Oscars took a number of serious hits at the Golden Globes last week. While winning a much deserved award for Best Screenplay, “Up in the Air” saw its nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress shut out. Here, George Clooney plays a human resources’ hit man who fires people for bosses too chicken to fire them themselves. Now seventh in the weekly box office race, “Up in the Air’ has crossed the $65 million mark. This is a film that will be remembered as a cultural icon of our economically distressed time – much like the films of Preston Sturges and Frank Capra represent previous eras. Writer/director Jason Reitman is one of the true artists working in the business at the moment. But let’s face it: no one’s gonna look back at this historical period as a time of economic bliss. And this movie shoves your face in that fact, and is still well worth seeing for a sense of revenge. That’s no mean feat. See this in: Macomb, West Burlington, Jacksonville.