Well this is the big one. Christmas week is like, umm well, Christmas for moviegoers. Studios pump films on to the big screen knowing folks are on vacation and trying desperately to get away from their families. So they head to the theaters for a much-needed respite from holiday "cheer". It’s an extravaganza with wolves, Ronin, daydreamers, boxers and Beliebers.
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.
The Wolf of Wall Street
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How’d I do? Was I channeling a little Jordan Belfort/ Leonardo DiCaprio there? Did I have you believing in the American dream of "get rich quickly or don’t bother trying"? I hope so, because I could really use the dough. You know who didn’t need the money? Belfort and company as they ran a massive penny stock scheme that turned over billions in illegal profits by scamming investors of said billions. All documented in this latest by Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street details Belfort and partner Danny Porush’s (Jonah Hill as a fictionalized Donnie Azoff) scam, the wealth accumulated by the two, and how it all came crashing down. It marks the fifth team up between Scorsese and DiCaprio which include:
Shutter Island (68%)
The Departed (92%)
Gangs of New York (75%)
This one could very well end up as the best of the bunch. Early reviews are stellar, with the score sitting at 88%. And there is the requisite Oscar buzz as we head towards the end of the calendar year. In a strong year for movies, and an especially stacked year for the Best Actor category, diCaprio could make a late push into the field. Without a doubt this movie ends up a critical winner (it really already is) and don’t forget to send me those checks. We can all get rich together. The Rotten Watch for The Wolf of Wall Street is
Well this sounds familiar. Keanu Reeves is a loner, an outcast, who is the only one out there with the ability to stop a larger-than-life evil from taking over. He is enlisted by a small group to help fight against this enormous army because Reeves possesses skills far and beyond those of the typical human. He and his group are severely outnumbered and the enemy appears indestructible, but with Reeve’s power they stand a chance of saving the world. They will use martial arts, special effects and a host of weaponry to take down this evil force and save humanity. I’m trying desperately to think of where I’ve heard this story before. If anyone can help me out here I’d appreciate it, because I’m at a loss.
While 47 Ronin looks visually stunning, it’s difficult for me to clear the been-there-done-that hurdle, specifically with Reeves. It looks like he’s playing Neo with longer hair and a kung fu uniform. The story, based on events in 18th century Japan, looks like it takes some basic ideas from the original account and adds all manners of, well, nonsense. Sorcery, giants, a chick that turns into a dragon, one dude with like a million tattoos, firethrowers, foggy forests all make for a flick that looks pretty ridiculous. Like what would happen if a group of middle schoolers got together and made a list of what should be a samurai movie. And they just kept listing things. And the movie makers kept putting it in. And then Reeves got to star in it.
First time director Carl Rinsch helms this thing. And while the visuals do look decent, the rest of it could very well fall into the "sh#$% mess" category. I think the latter is very likely. Reeves channeling Neo through and through will certainly provide a little deja vu for viewers, and not in a good way. Kind of like the deja vu Neo experienced in the Matrix, just before everything went to hell. That kind of bad deja vu. This flick gets crushed by critics. The Rotten Watch for 47 Ronin is
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
When I’m daydreaming, I usually reserve my fantastical trips for a specific time and place. Namely that time the pizza joint up the street accidentally added double cheese to my order and didn’t even charge me for it. I’ll often drift off and picture how I got home and realized there was twice as much cheese as I suspected and the bill didn’t reflect the addition in any way. Man, does it get any better than that? No, no it does not.
Although Walter Mitty may disagree with my, admittedly, rather mundane assessment of "dreaming" and how my imagination determines the exact landscape of my dreaming. Because the places he goes in his head are decidedly more elaborate and inspiring. This is contrasted by his rather mundane life. And that might be the difference between the two of us. He dreams big because his life is so boring. I dream small because, frankly, my life is the s#@%.
Ben Stiller directs and stars in this movie, based on the James Thurber short story, about Walter Mitty and his quest to break out of the monotonous tortures of his boring life. It’s a special effects-laden flick with Stiller/ Mitty trekking both his daydreams and real life in search of photograph for the last cover of Life magazine. And while the trailer (especially the extended one) gave me a little case of the goosebumps, critics are nonplussed with the effort.
With reviews trending toward the negative (41% through thirty-seven reviews) this flick looks like it will fall well short in the critical reception department. This is most likely a heavy blow to Stiller, who appears to have put a massive amount of work and marketing into the flick. I’ve always been a huge Stiller fan, even when he was saturating the movie scene by being in every single movie that came out in three year stretch. And while he’s had some directorial success, (Tropic Thunder-83%, Zoolander-64%) this film is already viewed as a disappointment. What a shame, because if trailers could tell the whole story, this thing would be a winner. I guess, I’ll just have to stick to my own awesome daydream. The Rotten Watch for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is
In some ways this flick appears extremely meta. Follow me: two actors playing older versions of fictitious characters they played to some acclaim early in their careers, though these older versions are fictitious versions of those fictitious characters. They are playing these characters to revive (sustain) their careers in the hopes of cashing out before it all comes to an end. So they head to the ring to settle a grudge between their characters from early in their careers, but in the actual original movie versions, these characters didn’t know each each other because the movies were completely separate. And Kevin Hart is also in the movie. Get it?
And if you take out the meta-appeal of the logical paradox I twisted you up on in the first paragraph, this thing looks like a championship belt contender "Money Grab of the Year". Though I don’t suspect Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro need to pad their wallets at all at this stage in their careers, something just rings very wrong about this whole production. Harkening back to two timeless characters (Balboa and LaMotta) and building off those award-winning movies, Grudge Match could well serve to undo all of the acclaim heaped upon Rocky and Raging Bull. Again, this is a meta analysis because essentially that’s what is happening to the two boxers in Grudge Match. Kid and Razor getting back into the ring to basically sully any memories folks had of their earlier skills. This movie has me so logically twisted I almost can’t get out.
Director Peter Segal inspires absolutely no confidence with a resume that includes such films as Get Smart (51%), The Longest Yard (31%), 50 First Dates (44%) and Anger Management (43%). His latest will surely join the rest of his filmography as critics will most definitely pan it outright. Save yourself the confusion of determining what exact commentary this movie makes about character, success, and late game career revival. It will mostly just stink and leave you sad. The Rotten Watch for Grudge Match is
Because teenage girls are off for holiday break and will undoubtedly be asking their parents to drive them to the theater in droves to alleviate the boredom of extended school breaks, this movie heads into theaters to give said teenage girls the perfect landing spot. I’m no Belieber (though I have heard the term) so I can’t throw out a running commentary on his career arc or the spell he’s put over his target demographic. I will say I was wrong about the first time he hit the big screen with Never Say Never (Predicted: 26%, Actual: 64%). So I’m a bit confused about which way to go with this "documentary". On the one hand, it seems contrived, a way to "humanize" Bieber to his fans and "document" some of his struggles in reaching and maintaining superstardom. Telling us how "hard it is" to be this famous and how Bieber’s working on grounding himself in the wake of becoming a worldwide icon. On the other hand, Bieber does appear rather human here. And from the trailer, while it appears some things are staged, the dude does seem honest and reflective. So I don’t know.
I was wrong about director Jon M. Chu’s (G.I. Joe: Retaliation-28%, Step Up 3-D-46%) first crack at Bieber mania. I don’t want to make the same mistake twice. I’m going to "Belieb" (like what I did there?) in this film and say it scores about the 50% mark. The Rotten Watch for Believe is
Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Recapping last week:
Before we get to last week, I want to throw out one more prediction because this is such a monster week in movies. That would be Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor - a film starring Mark Wahlberg and my boy Tim Riggins about a doomed Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan. I love Berg and want badly for this film to be great, though early reviews are somewhat near the middle. The Rotten Watch for Lone Survivor is
On to last week’s predictions. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Predicted: 60% Actual: 76%) was better than I expected and scored even better than the original’s 66%. A great sign for the Burgundy franchise. Will Ferrell’s complete inhabiting of the character in the media surely didn’t hurt, and critics including CB’s Sean O’Connell thought it delivered big time. Though the prediction was inaccurate, I don’t care. I wanted this thing to score well and it did.
Meanwhile, Walking with Dinosaurs (Predicted: 60% Actual: 26%) sucked. I’m always hesitant to predict stinkers for kid-centric films because the trailers always make the film appear heartwarming and wonderful. But like Mack says in his review, this film "isn’t really about anything." For some reason, I found this assessment absolutely hilarious which lessened the blow of my prediction being wildly off.
And finally, Her (Predicted: 91% Actual: 90%) was a near bullseye, though I must admit I had some early reviews informing this prediction. Regardless, I’ll take it, and am excited for the prospect of us actually falling in love with our computers rather than said machines just starting a bloody, zerosum war against the human race. So thanks for the Spike Jonze.
Next time around it’s some more paranormal activity happening. Enjoy the holiday. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!