Subscribe To This Rotten Week: Predicting Jack Reacher, This is 40, And More Reviews Updates
After weeks of skating by with one movie here, two there, the studios saw fit to dump a full on smorgasbord on us all at once. No time or words to spare. We’ve got Jack Reacher, guilt trips, manhunts, mid-life crises, and acrobats.

Note: Won’t be doing Monsters, Inc (3D) because Rotten Tomatoes combines its reviews with the original making a prediction moot. Instead, replacing it with Zero Dark Thirty in a slippery slope effort to hit on limited releases garnering a fair amount of buzz. Started this precedent with Lincoln and in time will probably regret it. All for the greater good.

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.

Jack Reacher
Having never read any Jack Reacher books, I decided to do a little research on the guy. By research I mean reading his Wikipedia page. And by guy I mean fake book character. Reacher at 6’5” 215 pounds, is a hard-around-the-edges drifter, smart as a whip, reserved in groups, level-headed, agoraphobic, and a killing machine. The choice to play this man? The 5’7’, 170 pound, clean cut, crazy-ish, serial dating/ marrying, spotlight-seeking Scientologist, who jumps on couches to profess his love for girlfriends. Yup, seems like perfect casting.

Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher might not be exactly how Jim Grant (non de plume: Lee Child) drew it up in his head. But whatever, Cruise will be Cruise and this flick looks like the kind of action-y TC vehicle we’re used to. Think a mashup of Knight & Day (53%) and the Mission Impossible‘s with a sprinkling of War of the Worlds (74%). It’s got that kind of feel. And though Tommy might do a bit more scowling in this one than his other work (and plenty of fish-tailing in his roadster, seems to happen every third frame and replaces his signature running straight ahead move), the film at least looks entertaining. If nothing else, Cruise does entertaining flicks.

Christopher McQuarrie (wrote and produced Valkyrie-61%, directed The Way of the Gun-48%) adapts the book character into something that looks like it plays on the big screen. Early reviews are positive and point to a crime thriller that has enough fun playing to Cruise’s on screen sensibilities. But I don’t see it maintaining the 70% it has now. In fact, I think we see a drop of about fifteen percent going forward. The early reviews have that good, not great, feel that can indicate an impending dip. The Rotten Watch for Jack Reacher is 55%
This is 40
Mrs. Rotten Week and are in that age sweet spot. Past our quarter life crises of identity and stability (i.e. partying all the time, figuring out jobs, holding on to carefree youth a bit too long, etc.) and haven’t quite hit the middle-aged, cresting over the top of the life mountain, “What does it all mean? We’re freaking adults?! What are we doing here?” phase. It’s a nice place to be but I can see a sports car and a toupee in my not-too-distant future.

That’s essentially of the conceit of This is 40, the Knocked Up spin-off following Pete and Debbie through their inevitable mid-life crises, inwardly and outwardly searching for meaning in their rather ho-hum suburb-ian lives. It’s a somewhat logical progression for director Judd Apatow who’s tackled high school (Freaks and Geeks), college (Undeclared), young pregnancy (Knocked Up-90%), adult loneliness (The 40 Year Old Virgin-86% and Funny People-68%) and now this. It makes sense and is totally conceivable that we’ll be seeing future Apatow movies dealing with retirement, old people’s homes, grandparenting, etc. Dude’s walking us through life frame by funny frame.

Early reviews are good, though not completely in line with his strongest work. Too some degree that’s to be suspected as continually putting out stellar work is no easy feat. There are some rumblings though that, in this film, Apatow has become a victim of his own success and left too much in the flick. It is long for a comedy (2+ hours) and some of the more negative reviews have mentioned as much. They’ve also touched on an unevenness that comes with the length and a need to pare down the final product. Look I could watch Paul Rudd scrape dry paint and think it was funny, so I might not be the best judge. But I can’t see the film totally blowing away critics over the long haul. I think it dips a little this week. Though I am looking forward to Apatow’s next film about sending his kids off to college. The Rotten Watch for This is 40 is 63%
Zero Dark Thirty
No way around it. Kathryn Bigelow has done it again. Essentially making a historical movie, by Hollywood, standards in real time. First she delved into the then-ongoing Irag War with the Oscar winning The Hurt Locker (97%) and basically nailed it. Now she shifts her focus to the decade long search for Osama bin Laden and the SEAL team raid that took down the dude down only a year and a half ago. Granted, she had been working on a film about the bin Laden manhunt when he was killed so she already had her feet dangling in the CIA counter-terrorism, espionage pool. But even with that, the timing on this film is nothing short of extraordinary.

And the timing isn’t the only place she stuck the landing. By all accounts the rest of the movie is fantastic. Katey already gave it the vaunted five stars in her review. Bigelow has crafted a film, much like her previous award winner, that handles its topic without being heavy-handed or preachy. Instead, it is a character laden work eschewing much of what Hollywood types feel almost compelled to add in all action/war movies (love interests, diabolical antagonists, preachy dialogue, heavy special effects). No, Bigelow is content with the story carrying the work and the acting leading the way. (Ironically, It’s the anti-James Cameron approach.) No frills required.

As a discussion piece, Zero Dark Thirty moves into a number of controversial subjects, one being torture as a means to a government’s end. That’s a debate for another column. What will surely not be debated is this film being one of the year’s finest and possibly another award-winner for Bigelow. The Rotten Watch for Zero Dark Thirty is 94%
The Guilt Trip
The last time I was in a car with my mom was yesterday taking her and my dad to the train station. In that brief ten minute road trip she lost her cell phone, had me call her cell phone four times before finding it, asked me to slow down three times, reminded me the owner’s manual was in the glove compartment and loved me unconditionally (even if I write things about her like this). Love you mom!

This flick looks like my trip, but less funny, hitting all the cliche’d comedy beats with Seth Rogen as me and Barbara Streisand as Momma Rotten Week. Honestly, it seems a bit lazy. A trailer does not a movie make, but if someone were asking what I thought would go into a mom and son road trip comedy I’d predict something like: odd sexual innuendo because someone confused their relationship. Mom saying embarrassing things at inopportune times. Mom and son accidentally ending up at a strip club together (and for some reason not immediately leaving). Mom doing all of the terrible driving. Mom swearing she will never do something, and then after “growing” does said thing (in this case picking up a hitchhiker). Basically, things that would never actually happen if one were to take an actual road trip with Momma Dukes.

*Things that weren’t in the trailer that I also would have predicted (and might actually be in the movie) would include: Mom walks in on son masturbating. Porn is accidentally ordered on a hotel television. Mom accidentally ingests psychedelic drugs/ pot brownies/ too much alcohol and runs amok. Mom, to aid in a situation, reveals she has some dormant criminal-ish skill the son never knew about. (examples: shooting a gun, hot-wiring a car). Kristy is reviewing it this week so hopefully she can weigh in if any of these are correct.

Anne Fletcher (The Proposal-43%, 27 Dresses-41%) turns her attention away from making below average rom-coms and focuses on making below average mom-coms. (Did I just coin a term? Ooh, I think I did.) I’d be shocked if this one finished above the fifty percent mark. It just looks too formula. The Rotten Watch for The Guilt Trip is 49%
Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away
I can sort of do a somersault if given enough time and clearance. My parents signed me up for gymnastics in the second grade (voted least flexible student ever). I used to be able to do two whole pull-ups in a row without a break. And I can touch my shins when bending over. So I think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to a movie based on Cirque Du Soleil. I’m a performer and acrobat at heart.

The majesty involved with these shows (and the revenue, >$800 million annually, yep) is difficult to comprehend. The shear elegance, gravity defiance, encompassing sound and visual [email protected]#$ery involved is something, I think, perfectly geared to the big screen. And though there’s rarely a substitute for the real thing, this movie appears to play on the show’s strengths while also offering a narrative and “setting” the live version can’t necessarily create. What I’m saying is, this doesn’t appear simply a video of a show, but rather a supplement or new approach to the winning model building on the Cirque Du Soleil imprint while diverging off into other avenues. Basically, it looks visually awesome. That being said, there may be some disconnect when not seeing the show live, in essence eliminating some of what makes the stunts so spectacular.

Andrew Adamson (Shrek‘s one and two-89%) The Chronicles of Narnia one and two - 76%, 67% respectively) helms this “adaptation”. It’s a bold undertaking, considering the show’s reputation. It looks like he may have pulled it off. I have a feeling he *ahem* sticks the landing. The Rotten Watch for Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away is 74%

Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Recapping last week:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Predicted: 64% Actual: 65%) When I posted my column last week the score was 75% after thirty reviews. I predicted a decent drop and since that posting it averaged a 63% on the Tomatometer, putting my prediction almost right on the nose. This was a case where having a head start wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk in the prediction. There were some warning signs even in the early positive reviews pointing to a film that might not be praised across the board. Next time around Django’s set free, the French are miserable, and Crystal goes grandpa. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!

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