April 23, 2014

Hollywood Movie Roundup: “Shrek” Always, but not 4ever

BY Kevin Crust

HollywoodNews.com: The summer fare keeps coming with nary an original idea in sight. This week’s offerings boast a distinct “Saturday Night Live” vibe, featuring a showdown between prominent alums and current cast members.

SHREK FOREVER AFTER

“Shrek the Third” disappointed animation fans so expectations are on hold for what is promised as the “final” installment, released in the now de rigueur three dimensions. The stars, including Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas, are back as the big green guy gets into trouble after entering into an ill-advised contract with the nefarious Rumplestiltskin.  Director Mike Mitchell (“Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo,” “Sky High”) takes the helm. Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke wrote the script.

The reviews are split fairly evenly between critics who believe there is still a bit of magic in Far, Far Away Land and those who are ready to stick a fork in it. Those that do find some remaining charm — including Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times, Stephen Holden of the New York Times and Claudia Puig of USA Today — attribute it to the continuing antics of the series’ enduring characters and performers. John Anderson of Variety, on the other hand, notes the unfortunate borrowing of plot from “It’s a Wonderful Life” and labels the “dead-eyed” “Shrek” a franchise that time has passed by — visually, musically, comedically, and, especially, technologically. The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern is dazzled by one enchanting set piece, but otherwise grouses that “Shrek” tries both audience’s patience and love.

Even with inflation and the higher ducat price for 3D, the fourth installment of the ogre opera will likely fall short of the second and third “Shrek” films that earned $108M and $123M, respectively, in 2004 and 2007. Nevertheless, “Forever’s” expected $90-105M haul will easily earn the week’s top spot over such holdovers as “Iron Man 2″ and “Robin Hood.” With the release slate cleared of family films for four weeks until “Toy Story 3″ arrives, DreamWorks is aiming to eclipse “Shrek the Third’s” tally of $323M.

“SHREK FOREVER AFTER” TRAILER

MACGRUBER

Will Forte‘s “MacGyver” parody makes the leap from SNL skit to big screen movie as the resourceful former Special Forces operative is called upon to save Washington, D.C. from nuclear annihilation. Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer and Ryan Phillippe co-star. Forte teamed with SNL writers John Solomon and Jorma Taccone on the script. Taccone also direted.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes that the comedy defies the odds (and its predecessors) by “creating its own brand of explosive lunacy.” He stands largely in the minority, however, with most critics agreeing with Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum,  who dubs it a “naughty throwaway.”

Most SNL skit spinoffs have fared poorly at the box office and “MacGruber” doesn’t figure to buck the trend. The pundits peg the comedy to reap between $10M and $15M for the three days.

“MACGRUBER” TRAILER

About Kevin Crust

KEVIN CRUST is a Southern California-based writer and editor of the Eclectic Odeon Review, an online guide to seeing movies in Los Angeles, launching in March 2010. In 18 years at the Los Angeles Times, he worked as a copy editor, senior researcher and staff writer. For most of the past decade, he was a key part of the Times' award-winning film department, coordinating the Calendar section's popular Sneaks issues, writing columns on alternative cinema and DVDs, and reviewing hundreds of movies. His work has also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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