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Hope everyone turned their clocks back in anticipation for a dark, cold, lonely winter. I’ll never understand why we do that, but its neither here nor there for the Rotten Watch. We’ve got some movies to cover. This week its Sandler and Sandler, Greek Gods duking it out and Leo biopic-ing J Edgar.
Just remember, I'm not reviewing these movies, but rather predicting where they'll end up on the Tomatometer. Let's take a look at what This Rotten Week has to offer.
Jack and Jill
Adam Sandler has a problem. That problem is wrapped up in an inversely proportional algorithm that pretty much outlines his entire career. For the sake of time and column space (I think I could write a couple of thousand words on the “Sandler Conundrum” as I’ll call it) we’ll stick to the last decade. In that time he’s starred in thirteen movies and when looking at the numbers a clear pattern emerges. The more the critics like the flick, the less money it makes. The more they crap on it? The more mansions Sandler can buy. His top three rated flicks Reign Over Me, Punch Drunk Love and Spanglish averaged 65% on the Tomatometer and $26.5 million at the box office. The rest of them? 28% on the Tomatometer and $127 million at the box office. See, early in his career this kind of thing didn’t matter because his “Sandler being Sandler” strategy in flicks like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison worked in a “cultish and slightly profitable” kind of way that allowed the guy to garner the same kind of laughs he got on SNL. And then the Wedding Singer (67%) came along that provided the perfect mix of Sandler as both sophomoric and sappy and people came out in droves to see it. But then the Waterboy happened. Sandler just kind of winged it, ran around on camera doing his funny voices, critics panned it, it did close to $200 million at the box office, and a career’s worth of bad movies that crushed the box office began.
I think at his core he understands the fundamental difference between business and art, but just says screw it, gets his “yes” man Dennis Dugan to direct a film with Sandler not only starring, but also co-starring in drag, as a twin sister who crushes horses, talks like a yenta after sucking in helium, rides jet-ski’s in a pool and gets picked up by Al Pacino at a Lakers game. A thinking man might classify it as Sandler attempting to play both of his cinematic personas in one flick in an effort to offer commentary on the film industry’s need to dumb-down the product. But then a more rational person would just say he’s out to get another paycheck. And the bigger the dollars, the worse the movie. The Rotten Watch for Jack and Jill is 9%.
Holy trailer. Granted I have no freaking idea what’s going on in this film, hold some reservations about this thing holding up as critically positive, don’t particularly get into Greek mythology and find it hard to imagine Mickey Rourke as any kind of God, but holy trailer. There is so much going on in two and a half minutes, that it’s hard to fathom what the entire two hours holds. Tidal waves, people flying, armies of hundreds of thousands, one-on-one kung fu fights, spears, hammers, swords, CGI, masks, 3D, overgrown pectorals, explosions, sex, and enough testosterone to fuel a couple of city blocks. That’s my kind of trailer.
But maybe not a critic’s type of movie. See there’s a tendency to see a trailer like the one for Immortals and become hypnotized by the awesome while overlooking a critical element. When the story and acting and dialogue take an obvious backseat, there are some warning signs for the film as a whole. Namely: once we’re past the bells and whistles, does the rest of the production hold up?
Director Tarsem Singh (The Fall-59%, The Cell-45%) has dabbled in the odd and out-there before, relying on the visual to drive the story. But his films have split critics down the middle, and his latest will almost assuredly do the same. Critics will watch a movie that dazzles the eye and falls flat in story. They won’t hate it, but won’t love it either. The Rotten Watch for Immortals is 46%.
It’s probably not fair that the father of modern day espionage, law enforcement and getting a little “iffy” with the nation’s constitutional rights of privacy and freedom of speech is best remembered as a cross-dressing weirdo with horn-rimmed glasses. Or maybe it is fair, I don’t know. Whatever the case may be, J. Edgar Hoover is right up there with John F. Kennedy on the list of “Enormously powerful dudes we’ll never A: figure completely out or B: stop speculating on.”
And though I’m not completely sure the Leo as J. Edgar casting completely passes the sniff test (something just seems a little off, especially when he has to tackle “Old J. Edgar”), we’ve still got an Clint Eastwood directed biopic (Invictus-75%, Changeling-62%) that had a little Oscar buzz early on. That buzz has since worn off with decidedly mixed reviews after the initial screening. The positive reviews see J. Edgar as a strong character study while the negatives tend to see the film as a missed opportunity.
J. Edgar along with Hereafter (46%) could represent a career shift for Eastwood, and not a positive one. This is a guy who, for about a decade, made movies critics absolutely salivated over. But hey, dude’s in his eighties now and all good things must come to an end. The Rotten Watch for J. Edgar is 49%.
Recapping last week: I spent a couple of paragraphs praising Harold and Kumar’s exploits and their overall message only to go way to low with my prediction. A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (Predicted: 49% Actual: 72%) outpaced the sequel and just missed out on the original. Not too bad for a couple of stoners.
Tower Heist (Predicted: 60% Actual: 70%) was another solid prediction and proves Ben Stiller’s and Eddie Murphy’s careers aren’t completely on life support.
Next time dawn breaks and the penguins are back. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!
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