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All of the big summer blockbusters may already be in theaters, but we’ve still got plenty of movies hitting the screen in wide release. The next two weeks give us ten altogether, and this time around it’s Dora And The Lost City Of Gold, The Art Of Racing In The Rain, Brian Banks, The Kitchen and Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark.
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.
Considering an entire generation of youngsters grew up on Nickelodeon’s Dora The Explorer, it makes sense to hit that group up at the box office as they age up. Here we’ve got a live action Dora who’s all “grown up” and headed off to high school. But first she has to make a jungle pitstop in an action-packed adventure trying to get her parents safe from, well I’m not sure what.
Dora And The Lost City of Gold looks kooky and funny enough considering what it’s trying to pull off. And I do appreciate the direction being taken with the character, and I think the majority of critics will agree. James Bobin directed The Muppets (95%) and The Muppets Most Wanted (79%) and I think he’ll pull off a critical success with Dora, which is really saying something considering the source material.
This is the third widely-released “talking dog” movie to come out in the last year or so (A Dog’s Journey - 49%, A Dog’s Way Home - 62%), and it’s clear Hollywood sees the canine as a clear path to box office success and plenty of good feels (though reality doesn't quite agree). The Art Of Racing In The Rain seems to be a little less obvious (at least from the title) about its intentions, but make no mistake, it’s another pooch love-fest.
Denny, a race car driver, adopts Enzo (probably named after Mr. Ferrari) and the latter teaches the former more about life, love, loss, and whatever else in the course of their time together. That’s usually how these flicks go. It looks fine enough all things considered even if presumably heavy on the schmaltz and maybe a little lighter on the story; another common theme with dog movies. I can’t imagine it bombs with critics because it’s just so vanilla-looking, but will be tough for it to absolute crush the Tomatometer.
In 2002, Brian Banks was a star high school linebacker on his was to USC (and possibly the NFL) when he was falsely accused of rape by a classmate. He ended up spending years in jail and having his life irrevocably derailed. This movie tells the story of the false accusation and the effort by the California Innocence Project to reverse the conviction. It looks every bit the uplifting story of a man who refused to give up on proving his innocence.
Director Tom Shadyac has a bunch of flicks under his belt, and there are some of them that seem way too low on the Tomatometer for what they were. Examples include Bruce and Evan Almighty (48% and 23%), Patch Adams (22%), and Dragonfly (7%). Not to say any of these were worldbeaters, but all should be much higher on the scale - the last two especially. This latest will score higher for sure, though I’m a little thrown off by this guy’s resume.
Technically, The Kitchen is a comic book movie, based on the Vertigo title of the same name - but the feel is late 70’s Hells Kitchen mafia movie. In this one, three wives take the mantle of running the Irish Mafia when their husbands are put away in jail. There's something of an anti-hero feel coming here considering the all-star cast of Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Moss and Melissa McCarthy working the empowerment angle while also, you know, committing crimes.
Director Andrea Berloff has screenwriting credits like Straight Outta Compton (88%) and World Trade Center (67%), but this is first directing credit. The trailer for The Kitchen feels a little off to me; a bit low rent, but that might be purposeful because of the time period. I’m concerned the production is stilted and the writing doesn’t fully deliver despite the acting chops of the main players.
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is based on a collection of short stories by the same name, and centers on a group of kids who find a book of horror stories that come true (violently) for each of them. It appears scary, but also might be a bit tongue-in-cheek. It’s tough to tell based on the trailer, and unfortunately we don't have any early reviews to tell us what to expect.
Director Andre Ovredal has a couple of smaller, but positively-scored, movies under his belt with The Autopsy of Jane Doe (86%) and Trollhunter (82%). Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark represents his first widely-released film. I suspect the nature of the story (along with the title) rings odd for some critics, so I’m not as bullish on it’s critical chances.
David Leitch's Hobbs and Shaw (Predicted: 70% Actual: 67%) was a win prediction-wise last week, and represents just another solid installment to the overall franchise. A majority of critics agreed the flick was a fun one, thoroughly enjoyable for what it's trying to be. In this day and age that's a good thing for movies: pick a lane and stay in it, rather than working overtime at being something that ends up dysfunctional. It helps to have dependable stars like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in the lead roles.