After a strong week of predictions in which two out of three scores were just about on the nose, the Rotten Watch is back with a full slate of flicks that include remakes, comedies, heartstring pulls and a teenage assassin. What more could one ask for?
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.
Comedies aren't easy to make (see: Arthur below). It is extraordinarily difficult to write humor (not for me, for other people). So when a flick comes along that appears to be funny, creative, well-acted and just plain entertaining, there's reason to stand up and take notice.
Your Highness starts with a great cast (not always a sure thing in comedies. See: Arthur below) including acting chameleon James Franco, Danny McBride, and my future wife Natalie Portman Norrie. This is a sneaky funny cast, who from the trailer, look to mesh well in a slight send up of the "Knight on a Quest" genre of movies. And there are more than a few laugh out loud moments from the trailer alone, always a good sign. It looks silly, but not for silly's sake.
Then we add an adept director in David Gordon Green who proved in Pineapple Express (68%) that the laughs in a movie don't need to be canned into cheap one-liners. He reunites with Franco and McBride here for, hopefully, positive results. The Rotten Watch for Your Highness is a wholly appropriate 69%.
Why does Hollywood do this? Why do they take an award winning, hilarious, by some accounts one of the funniest of all-time, movie and try to remake it? Why? Why? Why? Is it that there are no good ideas left? Are studio executives just mind-numbingly lazy? Is everyone just looking for a payday? I vote for all of the above.
Sure, the new version appears to switch some of the roles around to add new flavor to the production. Russell Brand is the spoiled, billionaire (millionaires are so 80's) playboy who stands to lose his inheritance if he doesn't marry the wholly unattractive and disgusting Jennifer Garner. Helen Mirren plays Arthur's nanny and motherly figure who, for some reason, believes in the rich dope. Overall though, the flick is just a modern reenactment of the original, with very little originality.
Jason Winer, whose resume starts and stops with You, Me and DuPree (21%), is on to direct. So there isn't real reason to get excited there. And I get the sneaking suspicion that Russell Brand falls into the category of "I'm great when I play quirky side characters, but ask me to carry a movie and there could be trouble." He's just too over the top. The Rotten Watch for Arthur is 32%.
Oh boy. Look, I'm not a bad guy. Really, I'm not. I enjoy puppies. Bright sunny days get me excited. Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens and all that crap. So I don't want to be the guy who comes out slamming the inspirational true story of a surfer girl overcoming all odds to fulfill her lifelong dreams. Really I don't. But this movie looks about as corny as they come.
Soul Surfer tells the story of Bethany Hamilton and her struggle to become a professional surfer after losing her arm in a vicious shark attack. The movie is also a nice little reminder that Helen Hunt is still hanging around Hollywood. Who knew? The story appears nice enough, it just seems all a bit forced with a scene in which the girl dramatically snaps off the arm of a Barbie. Even Carrie Underwood is asked to deliver sage-like dialogue.
Director Sean McNamara has the kind of resume that doesn't get you hired at Chucky Cheese with flicks like Bratz: The Movie (7%), Raise Your Voice (15%), Casper Meets Wendy (20%) and random outlier Race to Space (67%) thrown in there. So we know the directing is probably in shambles.
And so the Tomatometer boils down to how critics feel heading in to see this flick. If they're looking for an uplifting, inspirational story of courage and self- determination, well then the reviews will probably end up positive. If they're looking for an actual good movie with realistic dialogue and good acting, well it might not turn out so great. I think they generally split it down the middle with just a few more negatives than positives. The Rotten Watch for Soul Surfer is 42%.
As someone raising a daughter of his own, I can appreciate the family story within Hanna. Every father wants to see his little ones grow up to be motivated, intelligent, and promising young people. Of course most of us aren't raising deadly assassins hell-bent on completing various missions before turning the age of thirteen. But that's why we've got Hollywood. To show us how the other half lives.
Hanna tells the story of the worst actor still somehow getting gigs (Eric Bana) as an ex-super agent raising his daughter to be the perfect killer. He brings her up in the wild and then sets her loose on Cate Blanchett's character, who appears only slightly less ruthless than the tween killing machine. Man this looks like fun. Just everyone out to get everyone else. Awesome.
Critics have already weighed in, and it seems the trailer doesn't lie. This is a good movie. Director Joe Wright adds elements of fairy tales to a story about a little girl giving her best Jason Bourne impression. Who wouldn't love that? The Rotten Watch for Hanna is 89%.
Recapping last week:
It was a fairly good run for the Rotten Watch last time around. Hop (Predicted: 29% Actual: 23%) was real close. It doesn't take a genius to realize that an Easter movie about a bunny-turned-rock drummer who moves to Hollywood would be a critical stinker. But it's nice to get one in the win column.
Meanwhile, Insiduous (Predicted: 63% Actual: 60%) was just about right on the money. And from reviews, it scared the crap out of people. Just another reason for me to never see it.
Finally, Source Code (Predicted: 74% Actual: 88%) was off the mark. I don't often lay blame other places (at least not in this column), but I listened to some inside information when making this prediction. I originally had it much higher (84%), but dropped it down when I heard from a source that reviewers were quietly complaining about the flick. That was clearly not the case, as at one point the Tomatometer even jumped above 90%. Lesson learned.
Next time around animated birds going through a little courtship and Sidney Prescott is back trying to not get killed. It's going to be a Rotten Week!