The June 2008 Movie Preview

by Dave Thomas
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Angelina Jolie in Wanted
It’s a race to see who can lower expectations the fastest this month, with M. Night, Mike Meyers, a post-Evan Almighty Steve Carell and a post-Hulk Hulk all offering their wares, often at the same time.
JUNE 6
YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
You got your Apatow in my Sandler! You got your Sandler in my Apatow!
WILL IT SUCK?
Basically this is a contest between the general suckiness of most Adam Sandler movies (represented here by I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry helmer Dennis Dugan) and the general goodness of Judd Apatow’s writing efforts (Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin).
With Robert “TV Funhouse” Smigel and Sandler (who rarely writes his suckfests) co-writing, I’d like to think that the odds are in Apatow’s favor, but given Sandler’s horrendous track record, I just can’t muster the faith.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
With Dewey Cox and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the box office honeymoon with all things Apatow may be waning, but Sandler’s had nary a revenue misstep when he’s stuck to comedy. $111mil.
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KUNG FU PANDA
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Panda learns kung fu. The title’s pretty accurate.
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. The kung fu itself is supposed to be pretty kick-ass. Seemed to get a better reception at Cannes than Indiana Jones.


HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Nicely distanced from Wall-E. $127mil.
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MONGOL
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Genghis Begins
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. Nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar (the first time for Kazakhstan). Also won a crapload of Russia’s national film awards (the Nikas).
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Promotion is a little bit of an issue, but being around for a while seems to have only generated more buzz, not less. $2mil.
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THE PROMOTION
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
John C. Reilly and Sean William Scott compete for a manager spot at a grocery store.
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. The writing/directing debut of the guy who wrote The Weather Man and The Pursuit of Happyness. The always-fun Jenna Fischer co-stars and keep an eye out for Masi Oka.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Has a higher-profile cast than the previous week’s Foot Fist Way, but I’m not sure it has all that much more awareness. $6mil.
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WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER?
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Father/son drama with Colin Firth as the son and Jim Broadbent as the father.
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. Nominated for a slew of British Independent Film awards. It is said that you will cry.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Colin Firth’s drawing power won’t really come into play until Mama Mia! bows in July. $3mil.
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JUNE 13
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THE INCREDIBLE HULK
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
You wouldn’t like Ed Norton when he’s CG.
WILL IT SUCK?
Probably. Louis Leterrier (The Transporter flicks, Unleashed) can direct some decent action sequences, which is good considering there’s supposed to be a nearly 30 minute one at the end. Zak Penn has put his lot in with some good comic book screenplays (X2) and some bad ones (X-Men: Last Stand, Elektra).
But nothing here screams quality. At least not the quality we know comic book adaptations can achieve when a Sam Raimi, Bryan Singer or Chris Nolan, who had already proven their directing chops and then some when they answered the call, are at the helm.
That having been said, a proven Ang Lee disappointed, and an unproven Jon Favreau kind of surprised, although if you stacked his record up against Leterrier’s, I’d bet on Favreau every time.
And for all the hype about whether or not Ed Norton’s name will appear in the screenwriting credits, we really know nothing about his screenwriting chops (Although they’d better be good; he penned the Motherless Brooklyn adaptation he’s directing and starring in now).
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Although it has no direct competition, I think it’s fragile enough that Love Guru and Get Smart can wipe it out the following week. This week it’ll be a battle to see whether or not Marvel or Shyamalan can produce lower expectations, but the urge to see Tony Stark’s cameo alone will probably give Hulk the bigger gross. $113mil.
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THE HAPPENING
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Weird shit starts, um, titling, and it’s up to Marky Mark to get his family out alive.
WILL IT SUCK?
If you, like I, completely lost faith in M. Night after the one-two suck punch of The Village and Lady in the Water, check out the sick redband trailer for The Happening. This, in the immortal words of James Marsters on Torchwood, is gonna get nasty.
That there can even be a redband trailer for M. Night’s latest is a sign that he’s taking a different tack than his last two films. This is his first straight-up R. I know part of his early magic was the power of restraint, but damn if I ain’t curious as to what he gets up to with the gloves off.
Unfortunately, I kind of know more about the plot than I probably should, and there’s potential here for him to go cheesy/preachy in one or two different directions, but if the M. Night I know and love shows up, this could be one of his best.
I’d say the odds of that happening are about 50/50.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It’s going to take the movie after this one before people start having faith in him again. $53mil.
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JUNE 20
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GET SMART
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Steve Carell steps into Don Adams’ shoe phones (shoes phone?) as the eponymous goofball secret agent.
WILL IT SUCK?
You’ve got the director of 50 First Dates (not bad) and the writers behind Failure to Launch (pretty bad), so, yes, Carell might strike out critically here the way he did with Evan Almighty. Still, keep a look out for Bill Murray and Masi Oka, who seems to be making a career of cameos (see The Promotion) in the Heroes off season.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Between Carell and Mike Meyers, whose Love Guru opens opposite, I think audiences are equally disenchanted. Which isn’t to say totally. $101mil.
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THE LOVE GURU
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Mike Meyers does his Austin Powers jokes as an American raised in India.
WILL IT SUCK?
The most interesting thing about this film (and it’s not all that interesting) is the much-ado-about-nobody-even-knows-yet controversy surrounding the depiction of Hinduism in the film, which has spurred not only protests, but protests of those protests by Hindu reform groups – and all, of course, before anyone’s actually watched the film.
Still, Meyers is a decent comedy writer, so this should be good for a few chuckles…but, like, on a Saturday afternoon on cable.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Okay, maybe they’re a little more tired of Meyers than Carell. $49mil.
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KITT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Kid grows up in the depression. Tries to solve a mystery or something. Based on a line of dolls/books I’ve never heard of because I’m not a 10-year-old girl.
WILL IT SUCK?
They’ve certainly thrown a lot more quality at this than, say, the Bratz movie. Mansfield Park director Patricia Rozema is at the helm with Narnia co-writer Ann Peacock doing the adaptation. Not to mention that this is an independent film, already gaining cred over the studio release you’d expect for a popular toy line. Good cast, too, with Abigail Breslin in the lead supported by Joan Cusack, Stanley Tucci, Julia Ormond, Jane Krakowski and Wallace Shawn.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Being an indie, I’m not sure how well the advertising will hit the target demo, but we’ll see. $15mil.
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BRICK LANE
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
The life of an Indian woman forced into an arranged marriage in London.
WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is good. Has received some love on the festival/award circuit. Co-adapted from Monica Ali’s novel by Angela’s Ashes adapter Laura Jones.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Similarly-themed Namesake did well last year, but that was with a name cast. $3mil.
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JUNE 27
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WALL-E
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Who cares? It’s Pixar.
WILL IT SUCK?
I repeat. It’s Pixar. They’re 8 and 0. By the way, find this film to learn more about why. One of the reasons brought up in that film is the fact that they try to challenge themselves with each new project. In this case, that means virtually no dialogue for the entire film. Andrew Stanton, who wrote and directed A Bug’s Life and Finding Nemo, is at the helm once again.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
No competition. Like that would matter. $245mil.
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WANTED
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Guy finds out his dad was an assassin and is recruited to join the family business.
WILL IT SUCK?
The fact that they hired Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch) to direct and some guys from a variety of Fast and Furious films to write tells me they want it to look good and not much else.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Angelina Jolie does well with action. $86mil.
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FINDING AMANDA
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Inveterate gambler (Matthew Broderick) tries to get back in the good graces of his wife by saving his niece (Brittany Snow) from her life as a prostitute in Vegas. You can guess how the Vegas part of that turns out for him.
WILL IT SUCK?
Make no mistake, writer/director Peter Tolan has penned his share of crap, including Stealing Harvard and What Planet Are You From? But he also co-created Rescue Me with Denis Leary, so that more than makes up for it. Early buzz is mixed.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
The Wackness will probably eat its lunch the following week. $2mil.
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GUNNIN’ FOR THAT #1 SPOT
WHAT’S THE PITCH?
Adam Yauch’s Hoop Dreams
WILL IT SUCK?
Believe it or not, this is not Yauch’s first doc. He directed the Beasties concert film Awesome, I F*ckin’ Shot That. Early buzz is good.
HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Even Awesome didn’t do that well, and that was with all three Beasties. $250,000.
Next Month: Batman Continues.

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