February 2005 Movie Preview


Assisted Living
What does it say that the most curious thing to note about this month’s releases is the presence not once, but twice, of Cicely Tyson? If you guessed “it’s a slow month,” give yourself two points.
FEBRUARY 4
BOOGEYMAN
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Kid grows up to face the boogeyman in his closet from years before. Somehow this is not based on a Stephen King novel.


WILL IT SUCK?
This is the second release from Sam Raimi’s “Ghost House” shingle. But don’t be fooled. Sam doesn’t have nearly the track record as a producer that he does as a director. On the other hand, this has Xena.
The director did that miserable “Get Carter” remake with Sly and the main writer (who did story and screenplay) used to write for “Tarzan.” But, um, how about that Lucy Lawless, huh? And you know acclaimed actress Zooey Deschanel? No, she’s not in this. But her little sister is! That’s something, right?
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It’s got no competition this week or the next, but from the previous week “Hide and Seek” and “Alone in the Dark” will be breathing down its neck. Ghost House’s previous film, “The Grudge,” did very well but that was near Halloween with Sarah Michelle Gellar. This, not so much. $33mil.
THE WEDDING DATE
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
There are three rules for a male escort. Never take a check. Never start a land war in Asia. And never, ever, fall in love. Dermot Mulroney is the escort. Deborah Messing is the chick passing him off as her beau at her sister’s wedding. Guess which rule gets broken.
WILL IT SUCK?
From the director of “How to Deal.” For some reason that’s not mentioned in the toxically generic trailer. Here’s hoping that the talented Messing eventually gets a jump-start into movie stardom – I just don’t think this is gonna do it.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It shouldn’t do too badly upon opening, but the following week “Hitch” will suck up all the romcom oxygen in the room. $33mil.
RORY O’SHEA WAS HERE
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
No, really he was. He says you owe him money.
Disabled kid moves into home for the disabled and raises hopes of other disabled kids with his irreverent, wacky ways.
WILL IT SUCK?
Pretty unanimous positive buzz here. Nominated for a crapload of Irish Oscars, and won one for screenplay. That’s impressive since this is from the screenwriter of “Goldeneye” (and the upcoming Fernando Meirelles movie, for which I’m much more psyched since he’s the guy that did “City of God” – but we’ll talk about that another time). The director did “East is East,” which is also supposed to be good. Trailer’s pretty funny.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Should do well upon opening. The following week the field starts to get a little crowded with “Bride and Prejudice” and “Inside Deep Throat.” Expect modest success. $5mil.
NOBODY KNOWS
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Kind of like “Party of Five,” but in Japanese.
WILL IT SUCK?
Very good buzz on this one, which got an acting award at Cannes and a Palme D’Or nod to boot. It’s Japan’s submission for Best Foreign Flick Oscar (it didn’t make it), so they believe in it. Unlikely to suck.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Without that Foreign Film nod, the indie onslaught of the following week will be even tougher to weather. $900,000.
ASSISTED LIVING
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Stoned-out janitor gets mistaken for nursing home resident’s son.
WILL IT SUCK?
Grand Jury winner at Slamdance. Notable for it’s mix of real life and fiction elements, it was shot at an actual nursing home with real staff and residents. Buzz is generally positive.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Cowboy Pictures is not a very big name. And this will be up against some heavy hitters the following week. $500,000.
THE NOMI SONG
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Missing musical number from “Showgirls.”
Or pseudo-doc about underground New Wave figure Klaus Nomi.
WILL IT SUCK?
Won the Best Doc award at the Berlin Film Festival. Other than that, little is known. Do you like the underground New Wave scene of Greenwich Village in the ’80’s? I’ll bet you do.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Palm Pictures is in the same league as Cowboy Pictures. Repeat “heavy hitters” spiel. Add in the fact that “Assisted Living” will probably have a few more articles written about it. $100,000.
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FEBRUARY 11
HITCH
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
“How to Be a Playa…But a Nice, Family-Friendly One” Will Smith pimps Kevin James’ mojo.
WILL IT SUCK?
Director Andy Tennant has brought us both “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Ever After,” so this could go either way.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
“The Wedding Date’s” second frame is going to be a mild drain on the audience for this one, but Will Smith is a little better known than what’s-her-face from “Will and Grace.” Tennant does well with a star (see Reese Witherspoon’s “Alabama” gross). $106mil.
POOH’S HEFFALUMP MOVIE
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
If you can’t figure it out from the title, I’m not going to explain it to you.
WILL IT SUCK?
If you can’t figure it out from the title… This is from the seasoned Disney sequel writers behind “Piglet’s Big Movie,” “Lion King 1.5,” “Jungle Book 2,” and a producer from “The Return of Jafar.” So the only surprise here is that this isn’t straight-to-DVD.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Well, it faces huge competition from the limited release of “Inside Deep Throat.” Other than that, the coast is clear. Actually, “Because of Winn Dixie” looks to be equally sickeningly cute the following week, and “Son of the Mask” might actually skew too young for the target demo here. Still, the Pooh movies have a ceiling. $24mil.
INSIDE DEEP THROAT
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
The story of “Deep Throat.” The movie, not the informant.
WILL IT…NEVER MIND
There’s a weird continuity between this and directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s last big doc, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” The line-up looks interesting. John Waters, Gore Vidal, and Norman Mailer all weigh in. I’m curious to see if the issue of star Linda Lovelace’s rather contentious relationship with the film, revolving around sexual assault allegations will make the cut, but as the film focuses more on the cultural phenomenon rather than the behind-the-scenes drama, chances are not so much. Either way, should be fascinating.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It’s up against nothing similar and it’s got Brian Grazer backing it. Still, it’s got an NC-17 rating which is the financial kiss of death. That, however, didn’t stop “The Dreamers” from collecting a few papers. $3mil.
BRIDE AND PREJUDICE
(Delayed from December)
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Bollywood adaptation of the Jane Austin classic.
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is mixed. The musical numbers look great. This is the latest from “Bend it Like Beckham” writer/director Gurinder Chadha, reteamed with her “Beckham” co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges. So expect the same quality here, except that critics are saying the dialogue isn’t up to par. Also, keep an eye out for Mike White as a bellboy.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
The odds are a little more in its favor now that it’s been moved. It’s gotten mild buzz and isn’t up against Oscar-contender heavyweights. Still, a better critical buzz would help. $4mil.
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FEBRUARY 18
CONSTANTINE
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Keanu Reeves vs. demons.
WILL IT SUCK?
Well, it’s from the writers of “The Glimmer Man” and “Suburban Commando,” so what could go wrong? Seriously, why are they trying to make it look like “The Matrix Repackaged”? It’s not like “Revolutions” got much love. The “Hellblazer” comic upon which this is based got much love, but this probably won’t.
Still, ya gotta love Tilda Swinton, Djimon Hounsou and Shia LeBouf slumming it (Rachel Weisz cannot claim to “slum” after having been in the “Mummy” sequels – I liked them and all, but they’re not exactly “Orlando” or “Amistad”). I guess it’s a little early to claim Shia’s slumming, but he was so good in “Holes” that it just feels that way.
And Peter Stormare as Satan? I am so there.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
The second frame of “Hitch” shouldn’t be underestimated here, but Keanu still has a huge following and there’s nothing remotely like this on the horizon. $91mil.
SON OF THE MASK
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
{Unable to summon the strength to actually write anything in response to that question, the writer simply utters a long, mournful groan.)
WILL IT SUCK?
Two words: CGI Baby. It marked Ally McBeal’s shark jump, and that’s where this one starts. So, Alan Cumming, I will pay you not to be in this. Too late.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
This is one of those ideas that’s just stupid enough to work. However, there’s plenty of other stupidity to compete with. “Because of Winn Dixie” looks to be just about as stupid this week, and “Man of the House” brings the wacky the following week. Not good for Jamie Kennedy. $37mil.
BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
“Lassie Come Home…Oh, Wait, There You Are!”
WILL IT SUCK?
Wayne Wang. In ten years, you’ve gone from “Smoke” to “Maid in Manhattan.” And now this. Well, the novel upon which it’s based is pretty well-regarded and Dave Matthews is apparently a perfect choice to play a singing pet store owner in this girl-meets-dog tale. But the trailer looks about as cheesy as can be. This will have to work very hard to not suck.
Cicely Tyson: 1 of 2.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It’s kind of a family-friendly-heavy time. You’ve got “Son of the Mask” and the second frame of “Heffalump” to deal with. This will cut into grosses. And I don’t think the Matthews crowd can be counted on for this one. $39mil.
TURTLES CAN FLY
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Family drama set on the Turkey/Iraq border on the eve of invasion. The first film out of Iraq since said invasion.
WILL IT SUCK?
Unlikely. Iranian Writer/Director/Producer Bahman Ghobadi has a decent rep. He won two awards for this film at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Early buzz is very good. And, in spite of the hokey title, just the cache of a Middle-Eastern perspective on things is enticing.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
If IFC can get off their butt and start marketing this as “the first film out of Iraq since the war began” it might do very well. But I haven’t heard any of that yet. $800,000.
SCHULTZE GETS THE BLUES
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
A man named Schultze, um, gets the blues. Actually, he develops an interest in Zydeco, but that’s kind of the same thing.
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz says no. This German import has swept up at various festivals and is now coming here, much like the titular character. I said “titular.”
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Not much competition, but still, you gotta start hawking the story of a Zydeco enthusiast pretty early in the morning to get people to come, and I haven’t seen anything yet. $400,000.
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FEBRUARY 25
CURSED
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Feature film version of short-lived series with that guy from “Wings.”
Actually, werewolf movie from the “Scream” team.
WILL IT SUCK?
There was a time when it seemed Kevin Williamson could do no wrong. “Scream” was a hit and the first season of “Dawson’s Creek” seemed relatively intelligent, if a little whiny. And then came “Teaching Miss Tingle.” It was all downhill from there. Now he’s back, reteamed with Wes Craven for a werewolf film. Except there were production delays and then a release delay of over a year. Not good signs. And the trailer is sort of “meh.” With a really fake-y looking CGI devil dog to boot. Sigh.
However, the cast is stellar and might just make for an interesting boondoggle of a movie. You’ve got Scott Baio, Craig Kilbourne, and Lance Bass playing themselves (in more ways than one, perhaps, simply by appearing in this). Two, count ’em, two stars from “Arrested Development” (Portia De Rossi and Judy Greer). Christina “I survived ‘Prozac Nation'” Ricci, Joshua Jackson, Michael “Lex” Rosenbaum, Robert Forster, Scott Foley…the list goes on an on and…actually, that’s about it.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
There’s a creepy vibe going already at this point with the second frame of “Constantine.” Then the following week “The Jacket” will be giving people goose bumps. The trailer isn’t really playing up the humor, but even if it were, there’s “Son of the Mask” the week before and “Man of the House” this week. (If they make a sequel to “Man of the House,” I really hope they call it “Son of the Man of the House”).
It would be pretty cheesy for me to say this film were cursed, so instead I’ll call it “blessing challenged.” $52mil.
DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Um, pretty self-explanatory. But what sets the woman in question off is her husband running off with her best friend. Anger and, presumably, journal entries ensue.
WILL IT SUCK?
Hard to say. This is based on a popular stage play of the same name and it has the same writer so, whatever made it so popular is likely to still be there. The cross-dressed grandma is kind of freaking me out, though. Very mannish. (See the trailer).
Cicely Tyson: 2 of 2.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
An interesting (and potentially profitable) subgenre is beginning to emerge. The low-budget, low-profile black adaptation. Last year’s “Woman, Thou Art Loosed” very quietly made a tidy profit on a pre-existing popular title – in that case, a self-help book well-known in black circles from a black preacher. This (with the same lead actress, no less) looks to capitalize on that success. It’ll be interesting to see if it does. The fact that this is opening wide suggests that Lion’s Gate believes that it will. $7mil.
MAN OF THE HOUSE
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
“Mr. Congeniality.” FBI agent Tommy Lee Jones babysits cheerleaders/witnesses.
WILL IT SUCK?
First of all, it’s Revolution Studios, so abandon all hope ye who enter here. Second of all, it’s from the director of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and…wait for it…”Life or Something Like It,” “The Mighty Ducks” and, God help us, “Holy Man.” He also did “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” which, depending on how late it is and how much alcohol/pot/crystal meth you’ve had, could be a good thing.
The writers have brought us everything from “Intolerable Cruelty” to “Destiny Turns on the Radio” and given the latter I’m gonna guess the better parts of the former came from the Cohen brothers.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Like most Revolution Studios films this will do far better than it deserves until “The Pacifier” comes out the following week to up the stoopid ante. $35mil.
UP AND DOWN
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Interweaving plots include a childless couple, an abandoned immigrant baby, and soccer hooliganism. And a pawnshop. With a den of thieves. Who sell the baby. To the childless couple. It’s a rich tapestry.
WILL IT SUCK?
This was the Czech submission to the Academy for Oscar consideration for Best Foreign Film so, at least they liked it (even though the Academy didn’t).
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
With the nom, better. $600,000.
Actually some cool stuff to look forward to in March. The sequel to “Shaolin Soccer,” a team of crime-fighting lesbians, a sequel to one of the few good horror films of this decade, what happens when Woody Allen directs Will Ferrell, 20th Century Fox’s animation wing’s follow-up to “Ice Age,” and another Elmore Leonard novel with a kick-ass cast.
All of this will be balanced by the release of “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.” That is not a misprint.

Dave Thomas
http://travelindave.blogspot.com

Comments

  1. Dianne Robbins says:

    Question. I would love to see Assisted Living. Any suggestion for how I could find out if that’s possible? thanks, Dianne

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