Saturday, June 25, 2011

New In Theaters - July 1st, 2011

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson,
Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich,
Ken Jeong, Patrick Dempsey, Alan Tudyk, John Turturro & Leonard Nimoy
Directed by Michael Bay for distribution by DreamWorks (Paramount)

The Plot: When a long-held secret comes to light it threatens to unleash a new danger on the world that even Megatron and the Autobots can’t help the Earth avoid.

The Final Word: One of the most popular conspiracy theories around is centered on whether man actually landed on the moon. “Dark of the Moon” takes that conspiracy and ups to a new degree that executives hope will wash away memories of “Revenge of the Fallen.” The last time the Transformers invaded theaters it was 2009 and while the movie made money it also was widely panned by both the crew and viewing public. Although so far this new one (of course shot in 3D) has been winning over audiences and fanboys can’t wait to see more of Victoria’s Secret angel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who takes over Megan Fox as the female lead. 
(June 29)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer,
Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Pam Grier,
Rami Malek, George Takei, Grace Gummer, Rita Wilson & Jon Seda
Directed by Tom Hanks for distribution by Universal

The Plot: Fired from his job at a big-box warehouse store, Larry Crowne (Hanks) decides to go back to school to get his college degree and in the process falls for his professor (Roberts)

The Final Word: Tom Hanks is the most likeable actors in Hollywood and comes with a built-in audience. So imagine Universal’s shock when his initial teaming with America’s Sweetheart Julia Roberts didn’t break the box office bank. Although while “Charlie Wilson’s War” didn’t dominate the Cineplex, it served its point; it became a player in the Oscar race, even netting a nod for the incomparable Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Now Universal is again attempting the re-teaming with a straight comedy hoping that taking the drama element out will make a difference. Granted the top of job loss isn’t exactly a laughing matter, but Hanks who co-wrote the film with “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” scribe Nia Vardalos, knows what it takes to sell a comedy. After all his resume comes complete with rom-com legends “Sleepless In Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” This could surprise people come opening weekend.

Starring: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy,
Andie MacDowell & Cory Monteith
Directed by Tom Bezucha for distribution by 20th Century Fox

The Plot: While on vacation in Paris, one of three friends is mistaken a member of royalty which leads to an all-out dream vacation for the trip in Monte Carlo.

The Final Word: Yes, Selena Gomez is popular, but she’s also a thorn in the side of every delusional tween who thinks they have a shot with Justin Bieber. That situation poses an interesting question; can a movie aimed young girls succeed with a lead that many young girls don’t like? Gomez is smart and talented, as are her on-screen sisters who are also among the brightest female rising stars, but it’s very possible this romantic comedy could get lost in the 4th of July shuffle.

Previewed next week: Horrible Bosses & Zookeeper

The Flicks Flashback - Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz burst onto the scene in 1994, opposite Jim Carrey in “The Mask.” Although Carrey was a newly minted Hollywood star, Diaz still shined and held her own opposite the actor’s trademark over-the-top antics. Four years later she was given her first real chance to open a movie where she was more than a supporting player and she hasn’t looked back since. This weekend Diaz returns to her raunchy comedic roots with “Bad Teacher,” and despite a few high profile recent misfires, there’s just something special about this talented actress that has made her a household name.

My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

Total USA Earnings: $126 million

Anyone can tell you it’s not easy going toe-to-toe with Jim Carrey. In fact unless you’re a kid or an animal you don’t really stand much of a chance. So when Diaz was able to make an impression in what was her big screen debut, people took notice. Although her feet were soon quickly put to the fire once again in her second major role as her co-star was none other than “America’s Sweetheart” Julia Roberts. “My Best Friend’s Wedding” was a box office hit and even topped her previous opening, but while Diaz continued to hold her own, her most important test was still ahead.

There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Total USA Earnings: $176 million

Just one summer later, Diaz was again put front and center starring opposite Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon. The film was “There’s Something About Mary” and it was directed by the Farrelly Brothers, who themselves were relative newcomers. Just like Diaz, the pair had also hit it big with Jim Carrey and their movie “Dumb & Dumber” was one of the year’s highest performing. The success continued with “Mary” as it went on to earn $176 million, which to this day remains Diaz’s most profitable movie to date outside of the “Shrek” franchise.

Charlie’s Angels (2000)/Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

Total USA Earnings: $125 million/$100 million

While the comedy also succeeded in giving new meaning to “hair gel”, it more importantly set Diaz up to bring one of TV’s most iconic groups to the big screen. Along with Drew Barrymore and Lucy Lui, “Charlie’s Angels” successfully transitioned to the world of film. Granted despite a strong opening for the original, the sequel tanked.

Shrek (2001) / Shrek 2 (2004) /Shrek The Third (2007) / Shrek Forever After (2010)

Total USA Earnings: $267 million/ $441 million/ $332 million/ $238 million

In fact it wasn’t long before her other major franchise began to decline as well. While Diaz had been lucky enough to snag a key role in Dreamwork’s “Shrek” franchise, the film’s box office receipts would eventually begin to decline; hitting their peak with 2004’s “Shrek 2.” Although despite the downward turn, the fractured fairytale co- starring Mike Meyers is still one of the most successful series in film history, having spawned three sequels, two TV specials and a very loyal following of fans. No matter how it performed, “Shrek” still kept the actress in the spotlight and continued to help net her new roles.

The Green Hornet (2011)

Total USA Earnings: $98 million

Although most of those roles during that period weren’t as successful as the ones she used to start her career. While she was able to succeed with movies like “Vanilla Sky” & “Gangs of New York,” she also had her share of flops including “In Her Shoes,” “The Holiday,” “The Box,” and most recently 2010’s “Knight & Day,” her second partnership with Tom Cruise.

Despite it all though, Diaz still gives every movie she’s a solid chance to succeed. Earlier in the year she starred in “The Green Hornet,” which with $98 million isn’t really considered a full fledge blockbuster, but still a promising sign that actress could be set to return to her peak. In fact that that $98 million is the highest grossing (non-franchise) film Diaz has had since “Sky.”

It also helps bring us full circle to this weekend, where Diaz will team with two of Hollywood’s brightest young actors in Jason Segal and Justin Timberlake. Could the actress be ready for a comeback or did she really never go away in the first place? Regardless, “Bad Teacher,” may play a major role in helping the box office re-gain its momentum and help Diaz re-ignite her hit streak.

“Bad Teacher” is now in theaters.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Movie Roundup - June 24th 2011

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch,
 John Michael Higgins & Jason Segel
Directed by Jake Kasdan for distribution by Columbia (Sony)

The Plot: A teacher with no morals and even less tact (Diaz) is motivated to change her ways when she’s tipped off to a contest in which she could be rewarded if her students show the most improvement across their state.

The Final Word: Columbia found itself with a surprise hit when “Bad Santa” came down the box office chimney in 2003 and now they’re hoping for the same result. In “Teacher,” Cameron Diaz channels her old-school “There’s Something About Mary” roots for this raunchy summer comedy that sports the tagline “she doesn’t give a F.” Although, Diaz is also hoping to channel “Mary’s” box office results, which have always come easy. While she’s had recent success with “The Green Hornet” and the “Shrek” franchise, those don’t completely erase such movies as “The Box,” “What Happens In Vegas” and of course last summer’s “Knight & Day.”  Meanwhile Justin Timberlake is also trying to build a film career as well and if you take “The Social Network” out of the equation, his hit to miss ratio isn’t much stronger.  By the way, let’s not forget these two used to date! 

Starring (voices): Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jason Isaacs, Joe Mantegna, Peter Jacobson, Thomas Kretschmann, Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, Paul Dooley, John Ratzenberger, John Turturro, Vanessa Redgrave, Eddie Izzard, Bruce Campbell, Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, Lewis Hamilton & David Hobbs
Directed by John Lasseter & Brad Lewis for distribution by Disney/Pixar

The Plot: Lightning McQueen  (Wilson) and his best friend Mater (Larry The Cable Guy), set out to take part in the World Grand Prix, a three race, two continent showdown, but ultimately are detoured after Mater stumbles into an international espionage incident.

The Final Word: Honestly, it isn’t hard to imagine Larry The Cable Guy accidentally getting involved in a some kind of international incident on his own, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to imagine how his good-natured animated character winds up in one as well. Regardless, this will be just what you’d normally expect from a Pixar film. The difference with “Cars” is that is probably the most kid-targeted of all the studio’s franchises, which means adults may not have the same emotional attachment they had to the “Toy Story” trilogy or even to “Up,” the most recent non-sequel from the studio. Then again, this is Pixar and you can never count them out.

Previewed next week: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "Monte Carlo" & "Larry Crowne"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New In Theaters - June 17th, 2011

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, 
Angela Bassett,Tim Robbins, Temuera Morrison, Jay O. Sanders, 
Taika Waititi,Jon Tenney, Geoffrey Rush & Michael Clarke Duncan
Directed by Martin Campbell for distribution by Warner Brothers

The Plot: A cocky test pilot (Reynolds) is entrusted with a ring that supplies unimaginable power to its beholder in this adaptation of the popular DC Comics series.

The Final Word: With the exception of the highly successful Christopher Nolan “Batman” movies, DC and Warner Brothers have not been able to get a handle on how to do a superhero movie. Both parties hope their luck will change with “Green Lantern.” With a strong fan reaction being built off the early trailers and presentation clips and the charismatic Ryan Reynolds as the equally charismatic Hal Jordan, it’s entirely possible “Lantern” could buck the current trend. Here’s one more thing to consider; Martin Campbell, the film’s director has not only successfully jump started a franchise once, but he’s done it twice. Both times he’s come on to direct a James Bond, it’s been the initial debut of the new actor playing the iconic superspy. If he can do that with Bond, imagine what he can do when he’s allowed to play outside the laws of physics.

Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Ophelia Lovibond, Philip Baker Hall, Andrew Stewart-Jones, James Tupper, Clark Gregg, David Krumholtz & Angela Lansbury
Directed by Mark Waters for distribution by 20th Century Fox

The Plot: A businessman’s (Carrey) life is changed forever when he inherits a group of penguins that create chaos in his life and make his friends and family begin to question his sanity.

The Final Word: Believe it or not, you actually have to go back to 1995 to find the last time Jim Carrey released a comedy during the highly competitive summer movie season. This year though he returns to the fray with “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” and based on the buzz the movie’s getting, the actor should have no problem fitting back into the mix.

Previewed next week: Bad Teacher & Cars 2

Saturday, June 4, 2011

New In Theaters - June 10, 2011

Starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso,
Noah Emmerich, Ron Eldard, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee & Zach Mills
Directed by J.J. Abrams for distribution by Paramount

The Plot: A group of friends filming a movie with a “Super 8” camera accidentally capture a train crash that unleashes a shocking evil on their small town.

The Final Word: J.J. Abrams is no doubt one of the most respected names in pop culture. Between his multiple TV series and feature films, Abrams knows how to keep audiences interested. The key (as we’ve learned) is to always keep them guessing. Although in this age of social media and the Internet, sometimes that is beyond impossible. Yet Abrams manages to keep his secrets under wraps and the end result is normally very satisfying. So it isn’t unexpected that to this point he’s revealed just enough to keep the buzz going, but not enough to give anybody solid details; that’s why his movies work and that’s why the line will be out the door when this debuts in theaters.

Starring: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham & Parris Mosteller
Directed by John Schultz for distribution by Relativity Media

The Plot: A elementary school student hits the road with brother and aunt for the most amazing summer vacation ever.

The Final Word: Every summer has one of these types of movies that come out of nowhere and did respectable business. While Relativity isn’t expected to take down “Super 8,” they are counting on business from families who are super-heroed out by this point and want a break from the blow-em-up styling’s famous during the summer movie season. The studio also has to be happy to have Heather Graham on board as she may be its biggest draw and best chance of success.

Previewed next week: Green Lantern & Mr. Popper's Penquins