This is a big week for the box office and an odd one for the Rotten Watch. Three big movies hit screens with critical consensus already in on two of them. That is both a blessing and a curse as we know how the movies are trending, but also need to pretty much nail the Tomatometer prediction. I am up for such a challenge. It's a boom-boom reunion for the guys who defined the action movie, Michael Cera basically playing himself but in a video game, and Julia Roberts doing her best to make every woman in the United States look at their own lives and wonder where it all went wrong. Let's take a look at what a jam-packed Rotten Week has to offer.
With the popularity of star-studded romantic comedies like Valentine's Day and Love Actually, it was only a matter of time before someone thought to take the same concept (chuck as many big names on the screen and hope something good comes out) with hardcore action heroes. Well they did and that movie is The Expendables.
The cast of The Expendable have been in roughly 75,000 action movies combined (I counted) and here they all get together to blow crap up, dish out one-liners while breaking some necks, flex their bulging and sweaty muscles, shoot somewhere in the range of one million bullets, unnecessarily blow up buildings, make out with hot girls and save America (and the world) from some foreign threat. That's all in a day's work for guys like Rambo Stallone, Governor Arnold, John McClane, The Transporter and the rest of the dudes who got roided up for the first day of filming.
What I really want to know is why guys like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal turned down roles in this thing. Are they for real? This was their best chance to get back to relevant. You think Dolph Lundgren didn't do backflips when his agent got a call for this film? Additionally, how are Chuck Norris, Wesley Snipes, The Rock, Michael Dudikoff and the ghost of Charles Bronson not in the credits?
The Expendables is the kind of movie you go to see because you look back on the days of the cheesy action film with fondness. You still watch Cobra every time it comes on and every once in a while queue up Predator for old time's sake. This is just in your blood (oh there's going to be plenty of that on screen too). The Rotten Watch for The Expendables is 52%.
Eat, Pray, Love
Oh Julia Roberts, what are you doing to me? It was bad enough when my wife read this book and then instantly jumped on a plane to Europe to see what she was missing out on (she came back thank god). Now we have to see the movie version of a lady's mid-life crisis? The problem here is that unlike a guy's dawning realization of middle age (replete with sports cars, gym memberships, toupees, and extra-marital affairs), this characters plays out hers in the form of travelling to exotic places, meeting tall dark and handsome men, eating great meals, finding spirituality and generally living every woman's dream if it weren't for guys like me dragging them down. Eat, Pray, Love threatens marriages everywhere.
Director and screenplay writer Ryan Murphy (Glee) leads Julia on quest to find inner peace, good food and a man. And while Murphy didn't have such great success with his first stab at a memoir adaptation (Running With Scissors - 30%), there is good reason to think Eat, Pray, Love scores well with critics. First, judging by the trailer, Roberts looks totally comfortable in the role of Liz Gilbert. She's one of those actresses who can pull off the “every-woman” schtick even though she's great looking. She did as much in Erin Brockovich and My Best Friend's Wedding. Secondly, with the story already written, Murphy basically just has to take her on the journey through exotic places in order to find happiness. It's a sound premise made for the big screen.
While this movie will cause some to look at their lives and think, “What the hell am I doing slogging away in a 9-5 with two hours of commute only to get home to screaming kids and a spouse who doesn't appreciate me when I could be off exploring the world?” I do think it ends up being good. The Rotten Watch for Eat, Pray, Love is 73%.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Even if the critical consensus weren't already in on Scott Pilgrim, I would have gone high with the prediction based on the two key players: Director Edgar Wright and Michael Cera. These two alone make the expectation level fairly high for a film that looks equal parts love story, video game, laugh out loud riot and ode to Generation X, Y, Z or whatever.
Wright has a short, but outstanding resume already written with Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead (both at 91%). Scott Pilgrim looks to combine the same elements of the ridiculous and sublime in a story about a guy battling his new found love's “Seven Evil Exes.” Sure he uses cheesy graphics, crazy fight scenes and a love story meets Street Fighter as the main elements of a dating movie, but isn't that part of the fun?
Meanwhile, Michael Cera just keeps playing himself in good movies. Tough life, huh? He's been typecast as George Michael Bluth. And outside of Year One (14%), he's got a list of flicks scoring fairly high on the Tomatometer (averaging 76%). Now he gets to do it all over again, just this time surrounded by “K-Pow's” and mixed martial arts.
Scott Pilgrim looks like a comic book brought directly to the screen with few changes except live movement and speaking roles. For that, I salute you Edgar Wright. The Rotten Watch for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is 77%.
Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Recapping Last Week:
A couple of weeks ago I said that the The Twilight Saga: Eclipse held the distinction as most improved sequel or third movie over its predecessor. Well move over Bella and Edward and whoever else is in those vampire flicks, you've got some company. Step Up 3D defied insanely low expectations to actually come in over 50% from critics. (Predicted 20% Actual 51%) Last week I predicted Step Up 3D would be heavy on flash and thin on plot. By most critical accounts, I was correct. The problem was the dance moves seem to have swayed a fair amount of critics who walked into theaters expecting almost zero nothing worth seeing. Most reviews read like Cinema Blend's own Mack Rawden when he wrote, “Like Lady Gaga, it just dances and knows it'll all be okay...” For some critics the dancing was enough. For smart guys like Mack, the movie was a whopping 1 ½ stars.
On the intentionally comedic front, The Other Guys (Predicted 64% Actual 80%) outpaced almost everyone's expectations en route to one of the higher scores for a comedy in some time. It's a good sign when a film can be both funny and critically acclaimed. It also marks Will Ferrell's second highest TomatoMeter score after Elf (84%). Keep up the laughs my friend.
Next week looks like a big, crappy, mess of movies including an Aniston-led rom-com, a cheesy gag-filled vampire spoof, piranhas in 3D for some reason, Lil Bow Wow winning the lottery, and the return of Nanny McPhee. It's going to be a Rotten Week!