October 27, 2016
        "The Circle" and "The Lost City of Z": Which potential 2016 contenders got bumped to 2017?                Natalie Portman, Janelle Monáe, Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Stacy Keach at Hollywood Film Awards                Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for "Fences"                Mel Gibson to be Honored with the Hollywood Director Award at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars        

This Week In Movies – Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

By Pete Hammond

HollywoodNews.com: He may not have won any Grammys Sunday night but Justin Bieber was big news at the movies this week as his concert documentary, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never performed spectacularly well, coming within a “hair” of number one and powered by its young female audience to an impressive A rating in Cinemascore audience surveys. This means great word of mouth for a movie that deservedly should outstrip similar past efforts from Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers in this documusic teen idol arena. That’s right,I said “deservedly”. The Bieber film , slapped together from start to finish in just six months time, is surprisingly entertaining and really does shed a backstage light on where this 15 year old kid came from to shoot to superstardom in such a short amount of time. It’s definitely not hard-hitting stuff but it is a real tell-all that Bieber fans , and those who wouldn’t go near him, might both find interesting. He is the first born and bred You Tube-created star phenomenon so director John Chu had lots of footage to use in creating this look at a poor Canadian kid who struck it big but , on the basis of this, has the chops to carve a career that goes beyond the pages of Tiger Beat. The fact that of all this week’s wide releases this was also the best reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes with a 65% overall fresh rating proves that I’m not crazy here. I can’t say I have Bieber fever myself, thank God, but after seeing this Paramount flick I would say the kid is the real thing. Who knew?

One performer we do know, Adam Sandler is back to his old comedic tricks and just barely edged out the Bieber movie with an estimated $31 million to finish at number one, his 11th film to do that. Of course with Jennifer Aniston as co-star and a light fluffy plotline in which Sandler tries to date hot young women by convincing them he is in a bad marriage and needs some TLC, the critics pounced. Only 18% recommended it at Rotten Tomatoes but audiences in the mood for a Valentine’s Day romp flocked to the multi-plex and gave it an A- Cinemascore rating. After the last few months of more serious “Oscar fare” I found it kinda fun to see a mindless romcom like this , mostly set in Hawaii, with a lot of stupid jokes and setups. Actually this one is cut above many Sandler vehicles and perhaps that is because it is loosely based on the 1969 film, Cactus Flower, which starred Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman and won a supporting actress Oscar for Goldie Hawn. That was based on a Broadway hit play and a French farce but now it’s barely recognizable in these new hands. But the bones of a sharp comic plot are still there and Sandler and Aniston actually exhibit decent chemistry. He’s a plastic surgeon and she is the assistant he lures into posing as his about-to -be-ex wife in order to bag a beautiful blonde thing who won’t go steady with him until he provides proof of the wife he really doesn’t have. You would never know it from the marketing but Nicole Kidman is also in this in a much-more-than-cameo supporting turn as a former classmate Aniston runs into at the hotel and tries to impress. She’s very funny and appealing in this and it reps a very distinct change of pace from recent serious roles , particularly her Oscar – nominated Rabbit Hole. Say what you will about him (I think he’s hit and miss) but Sandler knows his audience and also knows how to get a free hawaiian vacation while making $20 million in the process.

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With all the young and old female driven movies new this week, is there anything out there for the guys? Well having seen the new sword and sorcery Roman centurion flick, The Eagle, which also opened over the weekend I would say NO. It’s really a pale imitation of the kind of costume thing Hollywood turned out regularly in the 50’s but I am afraid Channing Tatum is no Kirk Douglas, or even Russell Crowe who made the best recent example of this sort of thing in the Oscar winning Gladiator. This one, directed by Kevin McDonald (Last King of Scotland) is pretty to look at but totally incoherent . It almost plays like a western but misses the real historical details of the period in such jaw-droppingly lame fashion that you almost cringe watching it. It’s C+ Cinemascore rating from the mostly male audience that it drew does not mean good things. This one just never took flight despite its title.

About Pete Hammond

Pete Hammond is a writer, producer, movie critic and film expert whose commentary on the entertainment industry has appeared in numerous publications and on air interviews including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, OK Magazine, NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, Evening News With Brian Williams on MSNBC, the CBC, BBC, Bravo, E!, AMC, Canada AM and the KTLA Morning Show.

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