Hollywood Movie Roundup: No Trip to “Bounty”-ful
BY KEVIN CRUST
For the third straight weekend, “Alice in Wonderland” figures to rule the box-office roost facing little competition from this week’s three new wide releases.
THE BOUNTY HUNTER
As with so many movies that are preceded by tabloid coverage of stars’ off-screen chemistry, this action comedy arrives with the leaden impact of a belated sequel. Gerard Butler merges his two established screen persona — brutish violence and brutish romance — teaming with Jennifer Aniston in this battle-of-the-exes tale, written by Sarah Thorp and directed by veteran Andy Tennant (“Fool’s Gold”). Butler and Aniston play a formerly married couple who are reunited when his title character is assigned to grab her bail-jumping newspaper reporter. His gambling woes and her investigation of a murder cover-up bring them into contact with some of New Jersey’s less desirable ambassadors, giving them a common foe but that doesn’t stop them from wailing on one another.
Little of the real-life spark seems to have made its way into the movie with critics loudly panning the film. A.O. Scott of the New York Times and Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer both yearn for the more genteel, verbal sparring of classic romantic comedies, with Scott lamenting that “Bounty’s”, “bloodshed produces an undercurrent of ugliness that the strenuously jokey high spirits cannot dissolve.” Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times acknowledges the stars’ talents (Butler is “a hunk who can also act,” while Aniston is a “gifted comedienne”) but asks, “If you could pay their salaries, wouldn’t you try to put them in a better movie?” Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Glieberman charitably gives it a passing C, but finds that “it’s certainly not a formula for romantic-comedy magic.”
Even with the bad reviews, the movie looks to be the top-grosser of the week’s newbies, earning somewhere in the low $20 millions — but less than half of what “Alice” should rake in.
Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star in this sci-fi thriller formerly known as “Repossession Mambo,” in which the objects being repo’d are not cars but artificial organs. It marks the feature directing debut of former storyboard artist Miguel Sapochnik. Eric Garcia (“Matchstick Men”) and Garrett Lerner adapted Garcia’s novel.
No one is thanking Universal for dusting this one off their shelf, certainly not critics. In the New York Times, Stephen Holden call it a “nasty, comic thriller. But when it “subsumes its satire to strenuous action sequences, it loses its edge and turns into a chase movie of no special distinction.” Robert Abele, writing in the Los Angeles Times, says the movie owes a debt of its own, to the better movies to which it references so heavily. Ebert isn’t sure “if the makers of this film intended it as a comedy” — which is seldom a good sign.
Box-office estimates have “Repo Men” chugging in at about $15 million.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID
Fox continues to be a prime purveyor of kid-friendly fare with this live-adaptation adaptation Jeff Kinney’s popular web-comic turned best-selling series of books. Zachary Gordon stars as the lad chronicling the misadventures of his first year of middle school.
The film is getting mixed reviews, seemingly divided between those who like it on its own merits and those lamenting the losses in translation. Ebert found the movie to be “bright, nimble and funny.” A.O. Scott, on the other hand, writes that “the director, Thor Freudenthal (“Hotel for Dogs”), and the four credited screenwriters have stripped away nearly all the humor, insight and energy. The movie looks drab and drained of color.” His “At the Movies” cohort, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, concurs, missing the “the doodly, episodic energy of Kinney’s journal entries.”
There doesn’t appear to be nearly the enthusiasm that greeted previous YA lit-to-screen phenoms such as “Harry Potter” or “Twilight.” Prognosticators look for “Kid” to gross about $10 million this weekend.
Also worth noting, Roman Polanski’s well-reviewed THE GHOST WRITER expands to 819 screens, and THE RUNAWAYS, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning and garnering mixed-to-good reviews, opens in ten cities before going wide next week.
KRISTEN STEWART ON “THE RUNAWAYS”
“THE BOUNTY HUNTER” TRAILER
“REPO MEN” TRAILER
“DIARY OF A WIMPY KID” TRAILER
“THE GHOST WRITER” TRAILER