April 24, 2014

Tag Archives: Betsy Sharkey

Hollywood Movie Roundup: ‘Megamind’ rules over ‘Due Date,’ ‘Colored Girls’

HollywoodNews.com: Paramount’s DreamWorks Animation title “Megamind” about a super-villain gone good topped the Friday box office with $12.5 million at 3,944 locations. The PG-rated film looks to hold the top spot throughout the weekend, ultimately making a three-day take in the low 40s. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 67% fresh score, so the majority of critics do like it. Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy praises, “The second big animated feature of the year, after ‘Despicable Me,’ to center on an arch-villain who sees the error of his ways, ‘Megamind’ is snappy good fun.”

The second wide release in the market is the Todd Phillips R-rated buddy road comedy “Due Date” starring Zach Galifianakis, Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx. “Due Date” logged a Friday take of $12.3 million at 3,355 theaters and should pull in a weekend haul that’s in the mid 30s. The reason why “Megamind” looks to outstrip “Due Date” is because it will benefit from matinees. Adults typically flock to R-rated fare in the evening. The critics don’t get “Due Date,” lobbing it with a 39% rotten score. But they never do get comedies and “Due Date” isn’t for that crowd that reads reviews. USA Today’s Claudia Puig gets the funny: “It’s Downey’s signature sarcasm and distinctive slow burn that make the movie. Galifianakis, in a perm that makes for comic gold, plays an expanded version of his ‘Hangover’ character.”

Tyler Perry enters the award season fray with his all-star “For Colored Girls” starring Whoopi Goldberg, Thandie Newton and Janet Jackson. Based on Ntozake Shange’s Obie-winning stage play, “Each of the women portray one of the characters represented in the collection of twenty poems, revealing different issues that impact women in general and women of color in particular” per IMDB.com. Critics have also turned their nose up on Perry’s pic with 32% rotten, but Perry’s fans could care less what reviewers think. Moviegoers made the film third, shelling out $7.4 million at 2,217 venues. Betsy Sharkey of the L.A. Times says, “It is a film destined to polarize. Many will hate it. Hopefully more will love it, or at least allow room for it, for its raw brutality, its extremes, its difficult truths.”
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Photo credit: Paramount, Warner Bros and Lionsgate
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Hollywood Movie Roundup: ‘Life,’ ‘Secretariat’ neck in neck

HollywoodNews.com: Despite the entry of three wide releases this weekend, Sony’s Facebook biopic “The Social Network” could beat them all.
Warner Bros. drama-edy “Life As We Know It” and Disney’s femme sports drama “Secretariat” are both expected to cash in $15 million, however, “Life” could have the edge. Film stars Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel as two singles who tend to an orphan girl after their friends perish in a car accident. Heigl’s last romantic comedy “Killers” died at the summer box office, so she’s back in an effort to redeem her leading star status. So far critics are slamming it with a 28% Rotten Tomato score, however, they rarely get chick pics. Betsy Sharkey at the L.A. Times enjoyed the film saying, “What you may not expect is quite how satisfying much of the film is, with Duhamel turning out to be a very good sparring partner for Heigl, whose lush, soft exterior conceals a very spiky interior that tends to wilt her co-stars.”

“Secretariat” returns Diane Lane to the big screen in a film that’s being buzzed about for Oscars. Critics are favoring the film giving it a 64% fresh score on the Tomatometer. Pic follows the true story of the 1973 female Triple Crown winner, who was a homemaker turned horse racer. John Malkovich and Dylan Walsh also star. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times says, “It’s a pleasurable, seductive fantasy partly because, as we have known from the start of cinema, the sight of a running horse is a beautiful thing.”

Rogue Pictures’ “My Soul to Take” released through Universal marks the return of horror auteur Wes Craven after five years. Film is in 3D and will surely bulk up its admissions based on the visual format. “Soul” should rake in under $10 million.
Film follows a small town serial killer who may have returned to murder those children he promised to off years ago. The studio chose not to have the film reviewed, opting to show it to certain genre-philes. Edward Douglas at ShockTillYouDrop.com says, “Easily the worst movie of Craven’s career and not even remotely scary or creepy or any of the things you expect from a good horror movie.”

Focus Features goes out with its dramatic comedy “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” in 742 venues. The film directed by Anna [...]

Hollywood Movie Roundup: ‘Killers,’ ‘Splice,’ ‘Marmaduke’

By Kevin Crust
HollywoodNews.com: A soft May could turn into June gloom at the box-office if the pre-”Toy Story” (June 18) releases all fail to break out. Four new movies debut this week, but will all likely fall behind the ogre who looking to three-peat at number one.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK
A spinoff of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” from producer Judd Apatow and director Nicholas Stoller, the raunchy comedy features Russell Brand‘s naughty rock star character Aldous Snow being shepherded to L.A.’s famous open-air ampitheare by record company flunky Jonah Hill for a concert. Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, Rose Byrne of “Damages” and “Mad Men’s” Elisabeth Moss co-star along with the usual array of Apatow stock company cameos. Stoller scripted.
Despite the high raunch factor, “Greek” is earning surprisingly good reviews. The sentiments of the Chicago duo of Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times and Michael Phillips of the rival Tribune are largely echoed in the words of A.O. Scott of the New York Times who writes that the signature “bawdy-sweet mixture”of Apatow films works here. Finding less to cheer about are Slate’s Dana Stevens, the Los Angeles Times’ Betsy Sharkey and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, who dubs it a “buzz-kill.”
Apatow and company are hoping for some R-rated, “Hangover”-like magic, but will be thrilled with half of that film’s $45 million opening. Positive word-of-mouth might help nudge it past Kutcher and Heigl into the number two spot, but if the overall numbers are down and “Prince of Persia” and/or “Sex and the City 2″ minimize their second-week drops, things could get mighty crowded behind “Shrek 4.”

KILLERS
An action comedy starring Katherine Heigl as a newlywed who suspects that hubby Ashton Kutcher is an assassin and their new neighbors have been contracted to rub them out. “Legally Blonde’s” Robert Luketic directed. Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara offer support. The screenplay was written by Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin, credited as T.M. Griffin
Lionsgate didn’t bother to preview their most expensive movie ever for critics, a fairly certain sign that they wouldn’t have liked it anyway. When the reviews do roll out this afternoon you can count all the unflattering references to “True Lies” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”
The negative buzz from not being screened could have an impact in the crowded marketplace with audiences opting for the more touted “Greek.” The Los Angeles Times quoted a Lionsgate exec as saying if “Killers” clears $20M this weekend, [...]

Hollywood Movie Roundup: Enter Sandman (but make way for the ladies)

By Kevin Crust
HollywoodNews.com: The summer’s first three-day weekend features a pair of films that figure to split demographically along gender lines with the women taking the top spot at the box-office. Memorial Day is traditionally one of the biggest holiday weekends at the movies, but without a behemoth to soak up most of the attention, attendance figures to be widely distributed with many people using the extra time to catch up with movies that have been out for a few weeks.
PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME
Jake Gyllenhaal straps on sword and sandals for his action hero debut, starring as a renegade royal seeking a powerful ancient dagger.  Rising British star Gemma Arterton portrays the enigmatic princess he teams with. Sir Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina are also along for the ride. Director Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral”) attempts to brings a little magic to the popular video game, while Boaz Yakin,  Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard did the adaptation.
A few critics — including Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum and the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips — found some fun in the film, but Phillips’ Windy City counterpart, Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times, fashions a more typical response, labeling the film’s leads as “not inspired” and the special effects, “irritating.” Manohla Dargis of the New York Times calls the movie, “perfectly painless mush,” while the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern finds that the pumped-up “Prince” proves his thesis that bigger is not better when it comes to the digital realm.
The movie hasn’t garnered the kind of must-see buzz to launch it into the stratosphere. Despite a fanboy base from its VG progenitor, “Prince” already looks like an also-ran at the box office, which has not been kind to action epics of late. Not only will it lose out the top spot to a bunch of well-heeled girls, its predicted take of $35-44 million may not even be enough to hold off “Shrek 4″ for second place.

SEX AND THE CITY 2
Carrie Bradshaw and company reunite for a romp through Abu Dhabi with stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon back for a return engagement. Writer-director Michael Patrick King attempts to mine more from Candace Bushnell’s stylish, sassy characters but he may have finally hit bottom.
There’s little love from critics for SATC2. Some bemoan the tired state of the franchise, while others [...]

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 [...]

Hollywood Movie Roundup: “Hood” — #2 with an Arrow, not a Bullet

BY KEVIN CRUST
Hollywoodnews.com: A return to Sherwood Forest doesn’t herald any type of rich-to-poor stimulus package so the Man in the Iron Suit will continue to control the box-office lucre. In more modest offerings, the new princess of romance is back and the Queen indulges in some romantic comedy hoop dreams of her own.
ROBIN HOOD
Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott re-team for this origin story of how the Prince of Thieves came to be. Cate Blanchett as Marian and Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham are also onboard. Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland wrote the screenplay with Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris also receiving story credit.
The historical epic, marketed as “Gladiator” meets Medieval Times, is getting mixed reviews from critics after debuting at Cannes. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times finds it “simultaneously simplistic and over-plotted, revisionist and predictable.” For the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert, the film is not enough like the Robins he has come to cherish (Flynn, Connery, the Disney fox) to justify dusting off the brand. A.O. Scott of the New York Times is even less enthused, declaring the movie “long, bloody, self-serious” and, perhaps, most damning of all, “lumbering.” Several critics. including Peter Travers of Rolling Stone and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune were able to mine some popcorn entertainment from the film’s action.
Scott and Crowe are on a bit of a losing streak and pundits are all over the map, pegging RH to gross anywhere from the mid-$20 millions to as much as $45M. Regardless, the big-budget epic will fall far short of “Iron Man 2,” which should earn  at least $60M in its second week of domestic release bliss. Universal faces a tough path to earn back the rumored $155-200M it has spent on the project.
LETTERS TO JULIET
Amanda Seyfried, following her successful turns in “Mamma Mia” and “Dear John,” now stands as the poster girl for young love at the movies. Here, she acts as a facilitator of the heart, playing a young woman who visits Italy and sets out to find two long ago lovers mentioned in the title missive. The cast also includes Gael García Bernal, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero. Written by Jose Rivera and Tim Sullivan. Directed by Gary Winick.
Predictably, critical response is tepid, but there is some grudging admiration for the film’s straightforwardness and special appreciation for the presence of Redgrave and Nero. Betsy Sharkey of the LA Times [...]

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
THE LOSERS
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” [...]

Hollywood Movie Roundup: Give me “Kick-Ass” or give me “Death”

BY Kevin Crust
You can put your 3D glasses away because for the first time in weeks a 2D movie should rule the box-office roost. Two modestly budgeted genre movies will duke it out for the top spot with “How to Train Your Dragon” a threat to slip back into second place should either stumble. The first up is the highly marketed movie:
KICK-ASS
Director Matthew Vaughn (“Layer Cake”) co-wrote (with Jane Goldman) this adaptation of the hyper-violent Michael Millar comic book series about a regular teen who tries to be a superhero and discovers that he is not alone. Nicolas Cage is the big name, but he’s in a supporting role with Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz poised to breakout if this catches on.
Critics are giving “Kick-Ass” a surprisingly warm welcome with Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times citing its exacting knowledge of its largely adolescent male, comic-collecting audience’s fantasies. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times reps those more impressed by the then-11-year-old Moretz’s performance as Hit Girl. Ebert and fellow Chicagoan Michael Phillips of the Tribune are simply not that interested with Ebert finding it “morally reprehensible.”
This one’s been buzzing since Comic-Con 2009 and the positive reviews will only bolster the online echo chamber of the fanboys. With nine months of gestating anticipation built up, the film looks like it could join titles such as “Sin City” and “Kill Bill, Vol. 2″ among the biggest gross R-rated April openers ever with a take between $25-$30 million.
DEATH AT A FUNERAL
A remake of the well-regarded 2007 British-American comedy, its been relocated to L.A. and stocked with a mostly African American cast, but it’s faithful enough that original screenwriter Dean Craig still gets the credit. Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence head the cast as the battling sons of the deceased. Peter Dinklage reprises his key role from the first movie, while Tracy Morgan, James Marsden, Loretta Devine, Regina King, Keith David and Danny Glover are also on hand. Director Neil LaBute steps away from his prolific playwriting career and indie films to give mainstream comedy a shot.
The reviews have mostly been middling, but Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that it’s funnier than the original. Most critics, however, such as Stephen Holden of the New York Times and Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times, acknowledge some laughs but deride the plug-and-play mentality that went into making it.
The original was an [...]

Hollywood Movie Roundup: What a “Dragon” it is getting old

BY KEVIN CRUST
This is the week that “Alice” finally topples from her perch atop the box-office charts and folks in big cities will be paying even more for that third dimension.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
DreamWorks Animation, which had a big hit this same weekend last year with “Monsters Vs. Aliens,” stakes out the turf once more with this 3D feature that has been getting hyped all winter. Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (“Lilo & Stitch”) adapt Cressida Cowell’s book about a Viking lad (voiced by Jay Baruchel) who is tasked with the titular act as a rite-of-passage. Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrara and Jonah Hill also lend their voices.
The reviews are solid with most finding the storytelling conventional and workmanlike, but citing the 3D and, especially, the flying sequences, worthy of seeing in a theater (but at what cost?). Owen Glieberman of Entertainment Weekly, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, his city rival, Mr. Ebert of the Sun-Times, A.O. Scott of the New York Times, Claudia Puig of USA Today, the Los Angeles Times’  Betsy Sharkey and Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers all come down favorably, while Ella Taylor, writing in the Village Voice, leads the naysayers, calling the film “adequate and unremarkable.”
It will be interesting to see how the bump in admission prices for 3D flicks — to a whopping $17.50 in some venues — will affect “Dragon’s” grosses. Prognosticators put its opening weekend in the $40-45 million range, enough to topple “Alice” but short of the $59.3 million that “Monster” raked in a year ago.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE
Everything is right there in the title and for audiences of a certain age it screams “Guilty Pleasure.”  John Cusack stars in an homage to the kind of hormone-driven comedies that kicked off his career (“The Sure Thing,” “Better Off Dead”) and re-teams him with frequent collaborator Steve Pink (“Grosse Pointe Blank,” “High Fidelity”), who is making his feature directing debut. Cusack, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson (“Pineapple Express”) play middle-aged friends who use the liquid temporal portal to try to get their ’80s groove back, such as it was. The movie was written by the trio of Sean Anders & John Morris (“She’s Out of My League”) and Josh Heald.
Critics, for the most part, fall into the age range that might fall prey to the movie’s unabashedly lowbrow time-trippin’. It’s faring surprisingly well at both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. Full [...]