This week the Rotten Watch is all over the place. We've got action, drama, horror, comedy and animation. It's not all good mind you, but the genres are being covered. Ben Affleck is writing, directing, acting, doing the makeup, providing the catering, and even interning for himself in The Town. Meanwhile, some wolves are on an animated adventure, Emma Stone embraces her inner Hawthorne and M. Night Shyamalan just refuses to go quietly into the, ahem, night.
Let's take a look at what this Rotten Week has to offer.
I've always been intrigued by the career of Ben Affleck. Here is a guy who's obviously a great actor (and director too it seems), who has the ability to steal scenes and generally is likable on screen. The problem he's had in his time in Hollywood is that when asked to carry or topline a movie, the results are less than spectacular. See Jersey Girl (40%), Paycheck (28%), Surviving Christmas (7%) and even the historically disastrous Gigli (6%).
But when he operates on the periphery, or even in the margins in flicks like Good Will Hunting, Extract, or State of Play we see a guy who manages to become one of the most memorable aspects of the film. That is Affleck's gift, working his skills into the background rather than making us watch him on screen for two straight hours. And he's morphed this subtle skill into his writing and directing as well. We saw as much with the brilliant Gone Baby Gone (94%). When he operates off to the side, or even behind the scenes we get a pretty great product.
And now along comes The Town, a movie written, directed by and starring Affleck as a bank robber in Boston. If ever a movie existed for Affleck to eschew "Can't Carry a Movie" moniker then this is the one. The deck is stacked in his favor. He is in complete control, and by the looks of the trailer, and some early reviews, Affleck gets it completely right.
Ben is a guy you (or at least I) want to root for. He just seems like someone I'd want to invite over the watch the game and have a beer with. And so I want him to succeed, and The Town looks like a clear winner. The Rotten Watch for The Town is 77%.
Alpha and Omega
Is there any more difficult movie to predict than an animated movie about two young wolves going on adventure together? Then make these wolves have some crazy animated wolf sexual tension (no doubt put in there to make the parents have something to chuckle about) and throw the thing in 3D and we get a movie whose score could range just about anywhere from 0-100. But for the sake of argument, let's just go low because this particular one looks stupid.
Alpha and Omega has the feel of an animated movie that should have come out about sixteen years and ago with a soundtrack that featured Elton John. But this one's worse than Lion King and will probably not end up becoming a Broadway play, or a cultural phenomenon, or really even worth seeing.
Animated films are a harsh mistress. For broad appeal (meaning people older than five enjoy watching them) they need slick writing and an adult sensibility that couples nicely with a story kids can follow. Alpha and Omega most definitely does not look like that kind of movie. Instead, it appears to be an excuse to get some cute wolves on the screen, throw in a couple of bathroom jokes, and get a nice little pay day for voiceover work from Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci and Danny Glover. The Rotten Watch for Alpha and Omega is 37%.
Follow me for a second if you will. Think about the guy you know who bought a really cool, super slick sports car about ten years ago. Think a Porsche Carrerra or something of the like. He drove it for a while, picked up a bunch of chicks and was pretty much the envy of the neighborhood. This guy and car were going to be cool forever and they had a great run. But then a couple of years passed and the Porsche started to look a little faded, still ran fine, but just wasn't as cool as before. Then a few more years went by and now the car is completely out of style and even a little douchey looking. He doesn't get the girls anymore and really the car is just pretty sad. Finally the car ends up in the driveway, paint chipped, rust creeping in and no one would be caught dead catching a ride from this dude. That, in essence, is M Night Shyamalan's career.
There was once a time when the movie going world couldn't wait until a Shyamalan title hit the big screens. But after an epically horrendous run starting with The Village (42%) and leaving off with The Last Airbender (7%) he's been on a steady decline into oblivion. And yes, I know he is just producing Devil, but the movie is based on a story he wrote and it's part of a pretentiously titled series of movies called "The Night Chronicles" so we can assume he has his little plot-twisting hands wrapped all around this thing.
Devil probably ends up higher than M. Night's recent output, but like I said, he isn't the one directing. That task is left to the Dowdle Brothers (laughed out old just typing that for some reason) whose only other work was another thriller that, like Devil, took place in a building where crazy s#$% goes down: Quarantine (58%). The Dynamic Dowdle Brothers will be a key to the rest of the "The Night Chronicles," because if this first installment sucks, then I can't imagine anyone getting at all pumped for the next film, Twelve Strangers.
The Rotten Watch for Devil is 47%.
There were more than a few reasons why I was ready to completely pan Easy A and give it a relatively low score. One was a perceptual thing, as I didn't totally jive with the trailer from the very beginning, where Emma Stone positions herself as an outcast and a nobody in her high school. Is it at all believable that someone who looks like Stone would ever go completely unnoticed in a high school setting? I think not. And also, the movie appeared to have all the hallmarks of an 80's coming of age comedy in which the ugly duckling (who isn't actually ugly at all) gets noticed and eventually becomes adored by the cool boys.
I also considered director Will Gluck's relatively short resume behind the lens. His only pervious work was Fired Up which settled in for a totally uninspiring 28% on the Tomatometer. So we get a far-fetched premise and a less than accomplished director. Two pretty big strikes.
But then I read a couple of early reviews, one from Cinema Blend's own Katey Rich where she gives it four out of five stars and at one point describes the movie as "zippy." Then I saw another review that also called the movie "zippy." So I watched the trailer again looking for its zippiness. And I think I saw it (whatever the hell a zippy movie really means). So let's give Easy A a chance rather than outright denouncing it based (like I was very close to doing) on outward appearances.
The Rotten Watch for Easy A is 63%.
Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Recapping last week. Resident Evil: Afterlife was a lock almost from the beginning as the Rotten Watch came pretty close to nailing it: Predicted 18%, Actual 14%. Saw this one coming a mile away. The Rotten Watch saw the crappy writing on the bad movie wall.
Next week we get an animated movie probably worth checking out, money never sleeping and a multigenerational female romp. It's going to be a Rotten Week!