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Movie studios are starting to get back into the swing of things after a few slow weeks. That means the winter movies season is kicking into gear. And while these movies don’t look particularly good by any means, at least they don’t involve Hercules. This week we’ve got ride alongs, shadow recruits, the devil and nut jobs.

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.

Ride Along
Thankfully, when I proposed to Mrs. Rotten Week, I wasn’t forced to jump through any bullying hoops from any of her family members. Frankly, they were just happy to have me around: looking awesome, being hilarious, bringing to the table a ton of relationship upside. It was smooth sailing through the courting process (love you baby!). But unfortunately it isn’t always this way, with varying forms of meatheady-ness coming through on the part of brothers, fathers, etc. wanting to ensure you "deserve" their sister, daughter, etc. So goes Kevin Hart’s problem in this flick.

Hart is a stereotypical moronic guy, with a stereotypical girlfriend who has a stereotypically "tough" older brother in Ice Cube who happens to be a cop. From the trailer, this movie appears to have come printed directly out of of some Hollywood movie-writing sweatshop in which small,underpaid children are forced to cut and paste pieces from other successful (or not) scripts and put them together into a new movie. Once this process is complete, the studio just hires some big names and calls it a day. If you have any other insight into how this movie was created I’d love to hear it.

Tim Story directs and I think we can take a stroll through his career to make an educated guess as to where this latest will fall on the Tomatometer. It starts off pretty well with Barbershop (82%). And that’s pretty much the end of the good times following up a great first effort with Taxi (10%), Fantastic Four (27%), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (37%) and then bouncing back just a tad with Think Like a Man (53%). What does that tell us? Tim Story might have saved all his best work for the first effort. This latest movie will trend along with the rest of his career. Not funny, and not well received. The Rotten Watch for Ride Along is 34%

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Does anyone else find this weird? I mean I know that characters take on new personas/ histories/ faces in the movie world because that is the nature of Hollywood. There are very few new ideas coming around (see: Ride Along) therefore recycling old ones is a pretty nice value proposition. And it isn’t like Jack Ryan is say, Batman, wherein people lose their [email protected]#$ over story arc and substance. Though that then begs the question, who really cares about Jack Ryan? Why is he back? Why is his story rebooted? See, the whole thing is weird.

Tom Clancy’s most famous character followed a fairly linear story arc in the novels, dealing with international espionage and geopolitical maneuvering, often more behind a desk than in the thick of things. (He usually saved that for John Clark). In this movie though, Chris Pine’s Jack Ryan becomes an action star, getting down and dirty in his quest to foil a plot by the Russians to wreak havoc on America. So while the movie gets to Clancy’s Cold War roots, the rest of it seems pretty divergent from the concept of Jack Ryan. Though I doubt anyone will really care.

Kenneth Branagh directs this second reboot of the Jack Ryan character, and the fourth actor (Baldwin, Ford, Affleck, Pines) in a story set in the modern day. Branagh’s has some success with the big action film in Thor (77%), but something about this film strikes me as odd. It appears formulaic and just an excuse to get the Clancy character back on screen. I hope I’m wrong, because I’m a huge fan of Clancy’s work and really enjoyed the earlier movie versions of his work. But this one doesn’t seem to line up. The Rotten Watch for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is 42%

Devil’s Due
Continuing the theme of "originality" this week we’ve got Devil’s Due, a movie also churned out in the Hollywood factory, pulling from varying elements of the horror genre all in an attempt to make a subpar film. What elements am I talking about? Let’s see. Young couple? Check. Video recording device always available to make it seem like a home movie? Check. Unexplained evil presence? Check. Escalating nightmare as the movie goes on? Yup. Some kind of twist in the beginning of the third act? Probably. Nearly unwatchable? Almost certainly.

The guy who played Matt Saracen on Friday Night Lights (I don’t know his real name and I don’t care to. To me he’s Saracen) gets married and I guess implants his bride with the devil’s seed (Get the title? It’s a double entendre) and well everything kind of goes to shit from there. She becomes increasingly more possessed as the demon baby takes root inside her uterus. Dude keeps filming of course, because hey, birth is beautiful right? Things keep getting worse and worse, they probably make some promise to each other to make this kid an only child, and eventually it all comes to a head when they receive the medical bill for the hospital birth. The real devil is the health care system.

The directing pair Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett brought you a segment of V/H/S (55%) and now have the whole ninety minutes to themselves in this one. I can’t imagine critics enjoy it. I’d be stunned. There just doesn’t appear to be one new idea put forth. The Rotten Watch for Devil’s Due is 18%

The Nut Job
Truth: I couldn’t even make it all the way through the trailer for this thing. I tried, I really did. I made it to the 1:56 mark and called it quits. It was after the fiftieth bad joke, second or third explosion, fourth time wondering what animals these were supposed to be and eighth time thinking, "Wait, what is this movie even about?" What a mess.

Really, I don’t want to spend too much time on a movie that is obviously a studio cash grab meant to get kids’ butts along with their parents’ bigger butts into theater seats with little other regard for actually telling a story or anything like that. It’s about a crazy squirrel and other park animals who want to break into a snack shop and steal their inventory (Get it? Another play on words!). That appears to be the long and short of it. Nothing else to see here.

Animated movies don’t need to cater to the lowest common denominator. But that seems to be the theme of this week in general, so it falls right in line. If your kids try and drag you to this one, fight back! The Rotten Watch for The Nut Job is 26%

Which movie will win the weekend?
Recapping last week:

Only one movie from last time around with The Legend of Hercules (Predicted: 23% Actual: 4%). I was correct with my assessment that it would blow. I just didn’t think it would be almost historically bad. Wow. Four percent is pretty freaking terrible. I always kind of chuckle when scores like this come through and the overwhelming majority thought it was an epic piece of trash while (in this case) two critics liked it. I’m no conformist, and I don’t think a critic needs to "fall in line" with the popular opinion. I just wonder how with a movie like Hercules most critics are like "WTF was that? What a piece of crap." While two of the group went, "Not bad, not bad at all." CinemaBlend’s Kristy Puchko used these phrases to describe the flick:

"With a script this abysmal…"

"The two share no chemistry…"

"Laughably bad dialogue…"

"Characters this poorly drawn…"

You get the point. It was horrible. I just wish I had gone with my gut and my prediction would have been closer.

Next time around I talk a little Frankenstein. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!
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