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We’ve officially entered the dog days of summer. Those long ninety-degree-plus mid-afternoons where the sweating starts after lunch and ends sometime around tomorrow’s breakfast. No wonder all the big movies come out during this season. What better place to spend some time during summer than a dark, AC-aided 60 degree climate surrounded by eight dollar popcorn buckets? This week head to your oppressive heat oasis for some bank robbing, death defying, racist fighting movie fare.
And 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.
30 Minutes or Less
Man, Jesse Eisenberg just knows how to play the antisocial, sarcastic, lovesick, nerdy loner to a T. In fact, his characters are probably deities to all those post-twenty year olds sitting in their parents’ basements ripping bong hits figuring life will just hand them everything they ever wanted as long as they can make a few jokes and appear just a little introspective. Loser amusement park worker turned writer? Check. Loser zombie apocalypse survivor turned hot girl dater? Check. Loser Mark Zuckerberg pre-Facebook turned less of a loser Mark Zuckerberg post-Facebook? Check. And now he adds to that list with loser pizza delivery boy turned badass bank robber. What’s next? Loser movie theater ticket booth operator turned President of the United States? I wouldn’t put it past him.
In 30 Minutes of Less Eisenberg is reunited with Zombieland (90%) director Ruben Fleischer to rob a bank lest the bomb strapped to his chest explodes. He’s joined by the three dudes in Hollywood I wouldn’t mind inviting over to watch football at my place--Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson and Danny McBride. (Hey guys, don’t invite Jesse though, he’s more a facilitator of funny than an actual doer).
Like Fleischer’s other work, the film is short (just 83 minutes), typically a plus for comedies as it doesn’t give time for the jokes to run out. Get in, tell a quick story, get the laughs and get out. And reviews have trended toward the positive, though by no means over the moon. Cinema Blend’s Katey Rich thinks as much in her review. It looks like a comedy reliant on its cast of funny dudes put on screen to do what they do best, i.e. Be hilarious. The Rotten Watch for 30 Minutes or Less is 57%.
I always wonder when authors are penning novels how much the inevitable “movie version” plays out in the back of their minds. It has to right? Why else would people want to put words down on paper other than to see those words transformed onto the big screen with big time actors/actresses, spiffy visuals and a catchy, period-appropriate soundtrack? Because that’s what I thought about most of the time I was reading The Help-- "Man this would be a whole lot easier if I could just watch Emma Stone fight racism in the deep South with Bob Dylan and Ray Charles playing in the background." The death of the novel just means more ideas for movies. I’m all for it.
And though The Help, the movie, may suffer from a change in tone as compared to the novel (Kathryn Stockett’s book tackled serious issues in a way that doesn’t necessarily come across in the trailer), the movie still looks like it could be strong. Though I don’t put too much stock in the onscreen talent in regards to predictions, Stone’s recent resume is tough to ignore. As proved in both her lead, (Easy A - 85%), or supporting roles (Crazy, Stupid, Love - 75%, Zombieland - 90%) she’s an actress capable of taking any role, including that of fish-out-of-water Southern girl Skeeter Phelan, and making it believable. Along with Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, who appear perfectly cast as maids Aibileen and Minny, Stone is part of a strong trio in a flick reliant on strong characters.
Writer and director Tate Taylor has a tall order here, as the book was immensely popular with the chatty book circle-types who’ll now head to the theater as a group so they can compare and contrast the book to the movie. (These people also probably believe they read the definitive work on Southern race relations in the 1960’s). The rest of the smart people will just realize it’s just a book meant to be a movie. And a good one it’ll be. The Rotten Watch for The Help is 82%.
Final Destination 5
Does any person/thing in the universe do their job better, more efficiently or with an occasional level of melodramatic panache than my main man Death? Dude just gets the job done day in and day out, finding new and creative ways to take folks out of this world. You name it, and it’s killed someone. And if Death is the Michael Jordan of well, dying, then the Final Destination movies are one hell of a highlight reel. His “best of” if you will, and a stark reminder that cheating Death is like cheating the IRS (the other sheriff presiding over life’s certainties). Slip by them once and you’re bound to have your head sliced off by a random piece of flying metal or pumped full of nails from a nail gun or your plane just explodes. You know, the usual government bull@#$%.
One needn’t read a description or watch a trailer to know exactly what Final Destination 5 is setting out to accomplish. Some kids avoid a fantastical death and spend the rest of the movie running around while the other folks who also got away get picked off one by one in increasingly horrific/laughable scenarios. It’s a nice formula that’s earned somewhere north of six hundred million at the box office over the course of five films. In the latest installment director and James Cameron protege Steven Quale (Aliens of the Deep - 84%) apparently gives us death by Lasik eye surgery, death by industrial ceiling fan, death by balance beam and death by acupuncture. Not a bad round up.
No Final Destination movie has ever finished above 47% on the Tomatometer and there isn’t any real reason to expect it here. It won’t end up in the bottom of the barrel if for nothing else than the production value appears at least at a competent level. Critics know what they’re walking into. And though they won’t love it, it won’t end up totally in the gutter. The Rotten Watch for Final Destination 5 is 26%.
Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Recapping last week
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Predicted: 70% Actual: 81%). For the second week in a row, I miss out on my ten percent goal by one, lousy, stinking point. Still feeling good about this prediction, but man I like guessing within that range.
The Change Up (Predicted: 37% Actual: 21%) was worse than predicted even if Cinema Blend’s own Josh Tyler loved it. Could have used a few more reviews like his to make my prediction a bit closer to the mark.
**Quick retraction from last week: I said David Dobkin directed I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. That was an error and I owe him a sincere apology because that flick was total garbage. He had nothing to do with it.
Next week we’ve got a couple of remakes, a love story and a Spy Kid or two. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!
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