Now we’re talking. Now we’re kicking things into gear. Now we’re getting to what makes movies great. Some excellent stuff hitting the screens this week with Affleck freeing hostages, seven dudes going psycho, things getting sinister, and Kevin James doing MMA. Well...three out of four ain’t bad.
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.
Let’s be honest for a second and just call this movie what it is: an excuse for Ben Affleck to get back to wearing late 70’s garb a la his greatest role ever, O’bannion in Dazed and Confused. That’s what sparked his interest in starring in and directing the tale of the “Canadian Caper” right? The chance to throw on some wide-collared shirts, a polyester suit or two, a less-than-trimmed beard and head back to the worst fashion time period in our country’s history. (And that includes s#$% like this.
Affleck had a rough early Two Thousand Aughts, chucking out less than stellar work like Paycheck (27%), Daredevil (45%), and Surviving Christmas (7%).* But the late Aughts and early Ten’s (is that what we’re calling them?) have been a resurgence. Give me some directing in Gone Baby Gone (94%). Maybe little directing and starring in The Town (94%). And now Argo is sitting pretty at, you guessed it, 94% through almost twenty reviews.
*This is just a short list for my man Big Ben. 2002-2005 was a decent-sized critical bloodbath for the dude.
** The word “rough” here is, of course, relative. During this early part of the decade he did date Gwyneth Paltrow and J-Lo, married Jennifer Garner, quit drinking and smoking, had a couple of kids and made a ton of money. But his movies were terrible so we can call the early part of the decade right about even for the guy right?
Argo is the story of CIA operative Tony Mendez (Affleck) throwing up the smokescreen of all smokescreens in exfiltrating Americans from rebellion and “We hate the Infidels” culture in Iran by having them pose as a Canadian film crew. It’d sound nuts if it weren’t true (and it still sounds nuts). Throw in some early Oscar Buzz, a stellar cast, more wide collars than you can handle, and you’ve got another winner for O’bannion. For fun I’ll keep the score consistent with Affleck’s other work. The Rotten Watch for Argo is 94%
It’s only been a few weeks since I wrote about the phenomenon of movies continually employing the device of idiotic new family moving into a house where a grizzly murder/disturbance/paranormal something-or-other recently went down. And, what do you know, but two three weeks later we’re at it again with Sinister. That this flick is actually good is besides the point, how stupid are these movie characters?
Granted, Ethan Hawke’s character is writing a book about a family that strung themselves up from the front yard tree only nine months before (the short time span might make it worse actually) so he’s got a “personal investment” thing going, but still.
But flimsy relocation backdrop aside, Scott Derickson (The Day the Earth Stood Still-21%, The Exorcism of Emily Rose-44%) appears to have made a legit, better check your boxers or briefs thriller. To be honest, the trailer had me jump a few times and early reviews love the terror momentum building throughout. It isn’t taking a worn premise in an already saturated genre and turning it into a flick critics love. Derickson has done just that. He’s made a film that doesn’t rely on cheap thrills, but rather reinforces a solid flick with bumps in the night and masked demons coming after the kids. As a ‘fraidy cat, I won’t be seeing it, but this film adds the ranks of horror critical darlings. The Rotten Watch for Sinister is 85%
Originally I thought the title of this film referred to the dudes who lived in the suite down the hall from me junior year of college (there were actually eight of them, but seven’s close enough). These guys loved to do five things: drink Keystone Light, break things into a billion pieces, play offensive or defensive line in football, fight anyone who looked “Liberal Arts-y”, and play PaRappa the Rapper on PlayStation. Told you they were psychos. One of them is a principal of an elementary school now. God, college was amazing.
Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths are cut from a slightly different, less meathead-y, cloth. His story centers on a writer (Colin Farrell), some dog kidnappers (Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken), a vicious mob boss (Woody Harrelson), the women in their lives (Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko) and a dude the other crazy people think is nuts (Tom Waits). And critics are eating it up.
McDonagh re-teams with Farrell after the sneaky-funny dark comedy In Bruges (82%) to hopefully convince the latter to just focus on flicks like this rather than action popcorn movies like Total Recall (30%). Because this film has critics praising it as layered and violent, dark and funny (just like Farrell). The dudes from down the hall would have loved it. The Rotten Watch for Seven Psychopaths is 92%
An admission: I had every intention of watching the trailer for Here Comes the Boom and writing a scathing, dressing down of the reverse-engineering culture of movie making wherein a concept (or prop) is introduced (in this case MMA fighting) and a movie is then written around said prop or concept. It is wholly un-organic process of creating “art” and a strategy filmmakers seem to use increasingly more often. Then I watched the trailer, and while I think the flick’ll still pretty much suck, there is probably just enough legitimate emotion and gravitas*, to keep it out of critical basement.
*Quick comments section challenge. Complete the following analogy Kevin James:Gravitas::__________:__________
And believe me, Kevin James and director Frank Coraci know a thing or two about spending time in that cellar. Hell they hung out there together with Zookeeper (14%), a movie most likely written in the style of the first paragraph in which these guys got together and said something like, “You know what’d be funny? A dude at a zoo who talks to animals. Let’s write a movie about that!” And a style Coraci has employed before with Click (33%). (“You know what’d be funny? A remote control.”)
But Here Comes the Boom may provide that little sliver of humanity needed to make a stupid comedy more than a basement feeding money grab. James, an almost washed-up high school teacher, starts fighting MMA to raise money for the underfunded arts programs at school. It’s got that School of Rock feel, and while I don’t think it comes anywhere close to the ninetieth percent heights Jack Black reached, it won’t be your average Kevin James fare. (Remember, this is a guy who’s averaged 19% on the Tomatometer over the last five years). I think there’ll be just enough non-idiotic moments to keep critics at bay. The Rotten Watch for Here Comes the Boom is 43%
This poll is no longer available.
Recapping last week:
Phew! Two for two last time around which is a nice little pick-me-up around these parts. Taken 2 (Predicted: 13% Actual: 20%) had a little uptick as the week went on, but not enough to get it totally out of the basement. It outperformed my prediction a bit, especially considering the earliest of reviews were terrible and also helped Liam Neeson give the most awkward beginning to an interview ever. Check out the first two minutes.
Meanwhile, Frankenweenie (Predicted: 75% Actual: 85%) was a close call, but falls within the ten percent range by the narrowest of margins. It also gets Tim Burton a little of his weird-ass mojo back. So, win-win.
Next time around James Patterson comes back to the big screen and more crap goes bump in the night. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!
Doug began writing for CinemaBlend back when Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles actually existed. Since then he's been writing This Rotten Week, predicting RottenTomatoes scores for movies you don't even remember for the better part of a decade. He can be found re-watching The Office for the infinity time.
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