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It's a huge week of new releases this time around, with a little something for everyone as the holiday season continues. There's a jungle-set long-awaited sequel, a circus musical, comedians searching for their real dad, shrinking humans, and the return of the Bellas. Get ready for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Greatest Showman, Father Figures, Downsizing and Pitch Perfect 3. It's gonna be a Rotten Week!
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 This Rotten Week has to offer.
The world of gaming looks a lot different now than it did when the original Jumanji came out in theaters back in 1995. In that one, the kids opened a board game whose characters invaded their world with a vengeance. In the sequel, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the script gets flipped and we get a bunch of high schoolers entering a video game as big star avatars. There are a lot of ways this kind of flick could go wrong, and yet it looks like a ton of fun.
The cast is top notch, with Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black taking over as the video game characters and coming to grips with the "reality" of their new world and in-game powers. Early reviews for Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle are overwhelmingly positive, with critics enjoying pretty much all aspects of the film. Most agree it's hilarious, the message is generally positive, and that the action scenes are well done. Again, this kind of sequel could easily be a schlocky mess, but it looks like they pulled it off. Alan Parrish and the Shepherd kids would be proud.
Have you ever wanted to see the (likely interesting) big screen story of P.T. Barnum, but then thought to yourself, "I know it takes place in the mid 1800s, but if it can have the feel of a pyro-technic rave then that would make it so much better?" Well then The Greatest Showman is for you. Barnum's story is given the full musical treatment with music from the songwriters behind La La Land, and looks like it goes overboard at every turn. I found the trailer nearly unwatchable after the first 90 seconds.
I suspect this movie will play well for some folks - specifically if you really like musicals. And while some of those flicks can cross over well mainstream, I'm not sure The Greatest Showman has the juice. It just looks so unbelievably over the (big) top that I imagine it turns off a fair number of critics.
When two brothers find out their mom spent the better part of the sixties sleeping around with every man available, they go on a mission to find out who their real dad is, and have a few laughs along the way. Is it Terry Bradshaw? Is it a crazy criminal? Is it Christopher Walken playing himself as a doctor? That's the story that Father Figures aims to tell.
At least that's likely how this movie was pitched. It looks like your standard comedy, and I suspect there are some laughs to be had along the way: Owen Wilson and Ed Helms are too funny to get completely skunked in that department, and the general crass nature of the film likely helps a bunch in the joke department. But overall, this looks like a by-the-numbers comedy that won't rate well with critics. That isn't to say movie-goers should totally avoid it; sometimes these off-brand comedies are funny enough to work. But in critical terms, I doubt this finished above the midway point.
Ah, to be so very small in such a big world. The things you could do. The abundant resources that would be at your disposable. The freaking space you'd have! It would be a utopia, no? That's the concept behind Downsizing, a movie set in the future where turning yourself into a five-incher and living in "small" communities is the new solution to the problems of resource scarcity and overpopulation. Matt Damon gets shrunk down to size and starts his life over as a little person. It looks moderately heart-warming, at times funny and likely pushing toward a certain message about our world. I'm not sure it gets all the way there.
Director Alexander Payne has quite the resume, with some Oscars and a bunch of nominations under his belt with flicks like Sideways (96%), Nebraska (81%) and The Descendants (89%). Downsizing doesn't look like it will live up to his previous work, with the Tomatometer sitting at 62% through more than sixty reviews. Some critics enjoyed the thought experiment and the visuals, while others were completely turned off by what they considered to be a rambling, discombobulated story. My guess is it continues to trend down throughout the week and ends closer to the middle when it's all said and done.
The original Pitch Perfect (80%), a story of a group of rag-tag and hilarious college ladies fighting the a cappella machine with their own brand of song, was an entertaining and surprising hit when it was released back in 2012. Because no movie with such unexpected success can ever go without a sequel, we then got Pitch Perfect 2 (66%), which hit on pretty much all the same notes to diminishing returns. And now we're here to fully beat the concept into the ground with the third movie, Pitch Perfect 3.
In this one, the Bellas are out in the "real world" struggling in their lives without song and each other. So they meet back up to go to some competition to compete against someone so we can hear them make a lot of the same jokes and belt out some familiar tunes. If you can't tell, I don't think critics will like it all that much. It's just tough to continue trotting out the same-ish movie and expect great results. I think this one finishes the lowest of the three and we've seen the last of this franchise.
It was a fantastic week for the Rotten Watch last time around, with the two movies each only missing by one percentage point off the predictions. Sure, I had a head start on Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Predicted: 92% Actual: 93%), but judging on the success of The Force Awakens even without early reviews I would have likely ended up in this same range. It's another monster win for the franchise that is now curing the ill-will brought on from Episodes 1-3. It's a total winner, and there's some chance this prediction lands right on the money with a few more reviews counted after this feature is posted.
Meanwhile, Ferdinand (Predicted: 74% Actual: 73%) was another close call, and this one had me shooting straight from the hip. Blue Sky Studio had an up and down track record, but the messaging and story in this one looked like it would have trouble completing missing the mark. Critics enjoyed the story, and felt it had enough heartfelt and silly appeal to make it worth the watch.
Next time around we've got All The Money In The World. It's gonna be a Rotten Week!