Hollywood Movie Roundup: J-Lo, comic book action and lots of water
BY KEVIN CRUST
How lackluster a week is this for new movies? A movie in its fourth week of release is likely to trump the trio of new films opening. Consider it the calm before the coming Summer storm of blockbusters, sequels and remakes.
THE BACK-UP PLAN
Jennifer Lopez returns to the romantic comedy genre that served her well a decade ago starring as a woman tired of waiting for the right guy. Just as she’s about to embark on single motherhood, she meets a potential Mr. Right (Alex O’Laughlin). TV vet Alan Poul (“Six Feet Under,” “Swingtown”) directed from a script by another tube alum Kate Angelo.
Most critics are finding the film blandly inoffensive and suggest you have your own back-up plan — for another movie. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times calls it “a not very good and yet painless waste of time,” while the Los Angeles Times’ Betsy Sharkey labels it “tedious.” Not exactly ad-quote material, but Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times goes a step further, writing that the movie is not even worthy of being compared to a third-rate sitcom. Ouch.
Lopez’s last and biggest hit was “Maid in Manhattan,” which opened nearly eight years ago with $18.7 million ($25M adjusted), according to Box Office Mojo. The performer’s absence from the mainstream figures to cut that figure in half with prognosticators pegging “The Back-Up Plan’s” debut at $12-13 million. That should be low enough to allow holdover “How to Train Your Dragon” to sneak back to the number one spot with approximately $14M.
“THE BACK UP PLAN” TRAILER
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a fresh-off “Avatar” Zoe Saldana, the newly-minted Captain America Chris Evans and Idris Elba head the cast of this adaptation of Andy Diggle’s sci-fi comic. “Stomp the Yard’s” Sylvain White directed the tale of a Special Forces team sent to Bolivia to wreak havoc. The screenplay is credited to Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt.
Critics are divided, but not with the fervor that greeted “Kick-Ass.” Ebert certainly prefers “The Losers,” calling it a “classical action movie,” and praising it as “a clean, efficient and entertaining thriller.” Dargis stakes out a middle-ground with a been-there, done-that review, recalling better films such as “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Wild Bunch.” John Anderson, registers a stronger dislike in the Wall Street Journal, assailing the film’s cliched overkill and all that it portends for the future of movies.
Hardcore action fans should push “Losers” to between $10-14M and despite the lack of a big-name genre hero, it could challenge for the top of the chart. Its more direct competition for fans will come from the second week of “Kick-Ass.”
“THE LOSERS” TRAILER
From directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud — who brought us “Winged Migration” — comes this French underwater documentary. In the spirit of “March of the Penguins,” DisneyNature has added a famous actor (Pierce Brosnan) to deliver the English-language narration that accompanies the fascinating images of the aquatic world.
By far the best reviewed film of the week. Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman cites technology as the factor that moves it beyond previous docs that explored the murky depths. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times writes that it transcends its weak narration and “manages to show us things we’ve never seen and make what we have already seen look different and new.”
Disney duplicates its 2009 strategy of opening “Earth” on Earth Day by also launching “Oceans” on April 22. It figures to land in the $5M range.