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It’s a jam-packed week for the Rotten Watch with four movies hitting the big screen. So let’s not dilly-dally around when we’ve got strippers, teddy bears, estranged families and unfortunately more Madea.
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.
Right now my daughter carries around her Bitty Baby as if this doll were a real, living and breathing thing that occasionally enjoys a good chucking off the deck. At some point, this relationship will change and the doll will become, well just another inanimate object in the growing collection of her toys and games and whatnot. But by chance, Bitty Baby goes Ted-style and actually comes to life we’ve probably got a huge problem on our hands. Bitty Baby has seen a lot. She would need to be silenced.
And though I don’t suspect Bitty Baby would become the pot smoking, beer drinking, and foul mouthed bear occupying Mark Wahlberg’s apartment (judging by her vacant, glassy stare Bitty Baby would most likely be a seriously judgmental b@#ch), there’s a certain whimsical charm in the idea of retaining concrete aspects of childhood well into our later years. Basically Seth MacFarlane is making a movie about kids, for adults with a raunchy stuffed bear as a main character.
What I like, conceptually, about this flick is Ted operating in a world that also views him as real, rather than a situation like the FX show Wilfred in which the animal’s “reality” is confined just to the main character’s psyche forcing us to wonder whether or not said main character is exceedingly imaginative or just plain crazy. MacFarlane apparently skips over this problem by making Ted real, or at least real enough to hump a grocery store scanner to impress a coworker. Critically, dick and fart jokes do not make a Tomatometer success story. There needs to be something more and I think Ted’s relationship with the world (and not necessarily his relationship with Wahlberg) is the true determinant of whether critics get on board with the film. It needs to be funny, but it also needs to be believable, as crazy as that sounds.
MacFarlane isn’t for everyone. And his humor might not necessarily translate completely to the big screen, or for close to two hours. Some early reviews are mixed, which is to be expected considering some of the sophomoric laughs won’t hit every critic’s funny bone. I think this one stays pretty close to polarizing. The Rotten Watch for Ted is
If I wanted to see muscular and testosterone-laden dudes figuratively (and sometimes literally) swing their penises to and fro while grunting philosophically about their “hopes and dreams” I’d just re-up my gym membership for another couple of months. Jersey is chocked full of guys like this. Granted if Steven Soderbergh were directing these guys’ workouts then maybe the $35 a month would be kind of worth it for the nuance.
The horrendously titled Magic Mike follows Channing Tatum as he strips and mentors young talent by night while looking for love by day. It is based on Tatum’s own experience as a stripper in his early “performing” years. Normally this kind of plot and casting would be a predictable slam dunk of awful, but having Soderbergh attached makes it more than a little confusing.
Soderbergh (Haywire-80% Contagion-85%) rarely puts out a critical stinker. In fact, we need to go back to The Good German (33%) in order to find a Soderbergh-directed film that didn’t rate well with critics. But something about this film just doesn’t add up. See, a movie about a female stripper dreaming of another, better life can resonate in the collective consciousness because, in general, female strippers are often categorized in terms of exploitation and unrealized dreams. But male strippers? I’m not sure. Judging by the trailers, Tatum’s line of work is a fair bit of glamourous without suffering the trappings of sad desperation. Maybe its’ there, but I’d be surprised. And even it was, I’m not sure critics will totally buy it, their almost complete love for Soderbergh not withstanding. Can we get some laughs out of eager women drooling over a naked Tatum? Probably. But as a complete film? I think it falls short and Soderbergh gets a rare rotten score. The Rotten Watch for Magic Mike is
People Like Us
After first watching the non-extended trailer for People Like Us I turned to Mrs. Rotten Week and said, “After a minute and a half of trailer, I have absolutely no idea what that movie is about except that Chris Pine smiles and drives in a convertible. It could literally be about anything.” Thankfully, subsequent trailers have shed a little light on the story of Pine’s financially strapped character having to deliver money to a down and out Elizabeth Banks, who just happens to be his sister.
Nowhere else but in film do incredibly attractive people have so many problems. In the real world, good looking folks don’t have a care in the world. Why should they? When you’re good looking everything else just kind of falls into place. But on the big screen? Think again. Here not only is Pine in financial ruin, but he’s also estranged from his now deceased father and has a sister he never knew about. And Banks? She’s a struggling bartender with a delinquent son. In the real world these scenarios would never happen. (Mostly because in the real world people that look like these two would just be gainfully employed entertainers). Isn’t Hollywood magical?
Alex Kurtzman makes his directorial debut with this drama after helping to pen a number of science fiction/ action flicks like Star Trek and Cowboys and Aliens among others. This film marks a shift away from the boom-booms and lasers, replacing them with deep conversations and touching moments. And some early reviews point to Kurtzman proving he can write a different kind of film as well as direct. In fact, most of the reviews have been downright glowing. I guess people just like to see attractive people with messed up lives. The Rotten Watch for People Like Us is
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection
Sigh. Look who’s back.
I started this column about two and a half years ago and have already committed about a thousand words to Tyler Perry’s career. It’s not novel length, but man it takes work coming up with new and “creative” ways to say how much critics dislike his flicks. At this point, I’m kind of rooting for a TP movie to come along with a trailer that gives me some hope, even just a faint glimmer of something critically positive. I’d even take a movie that proves me wrong just to change things up a bit. Madea’s Witness Protection won’t be that movie.
Here’s my brief history with Mr. Perry:
Why Did I Get Married Too? (Predicted: 37% Actual: 26%)
Madea’s Big Happy Family (Predicted: 17% Actual: 38%)
For Colored Girls (Predicted: 25% Actual: 32%)
Good Deeds (Predicted: 31% Actual: 32%)
The predictions, outside of Happy Family were all pretty money. That’s more a testament to Perry’s sub-par consistency than to my skills. Almost all of his movies fall right in that mid-thirty percent range. Every director should be as easy. In his latest, Madea does her usual stuff. It looks horrible. And until Perry proves me wrong, these predictions will keep building my Rotten Resume. The Rotten Watch for Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection is
Recapping last week:
Overall, a strong week for the Rotten Watch. Take a look at these predictions:
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Predicted: 43% Actual: 39%)
Brave (Predicted: 64% Actual: 74%)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Predicted: 73% Actual: 53%)
The first two flicks were complete wins both falling under the ten percent mark with Brave just barely sneaking in. Meanwhile, Seeking a Friend... fell way closer to the midway point than I thought which makes sense considering critics tended to either be like Katey, who kind of hated the flick or like Josh who kind of loved it. There wasn’t much middling in the reviews, hence it coming in right about at 50%.
Next time around our Spidey sense starts to tingle because we’ve got rescue a girl from a drug cartel. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!
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