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As we head into Thanksgiving and prepare our mind and body to consume a metric ton of free range turkey and organic mashed potatoes, let’s stop and reflect on the movie world for just a moment. For we can’t fill our stomachs if we don’t fill our cinematically-driven minds first. So let’s take a look at this week’s movies and then get down to business on Thursday pounding down 4-5k worth of calories. This week we’re heading to the nativity and back to the homefront.
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.
Because I think this flick looks fairly entertaining and I generally like the two major players (Jason Statham and James Franco) I’m willing to ignore a few glaring problems presented in the first few moments of the trailer. First, the idea that an English-accented Statham is somehow a retired DEA agent seems a bit like a casting-over-reality situation. I don’t suspect the Narcos are too terribly inclined to hire British nationals to work undercover against drug traffickers (I could be wrong about this, but I doubt it). Additionally, a fair bit of the plot mechanics seem to hinge on a preteen boy kicking the crap out of a girl on the playground. Again, this kind of thing isn’t impossible, though I suspect it isn’t likely. Once we move past those two (minor, but obvious) plot holes we can get into a movie that looks right up my alley.
While there doesn’t appear to be any new ground covered here (ex-cop runs into the local crime scene, must protect his daughter) there’s no ignoring that this is essentially the same thing Statham does in every single movie. He punches, kicks, shoots and wisecracks his way to justice. It’s his wheelhouse and he churns out respectable, though not universally critically-acclaimed films. That’s fine. I’d venture a guess that Statham enjoys staying in his lane as long as the checks come rolling in. The big day will be when we see Statham as like a cancer survivor or in a rom-com. Now that’d be news!
But until that day comes, he’s in another blow-em-up action vehicle though here, the supporting cast is a notch above his other work (Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Chuck Zito!) and the director Gary Fleder has a few above average flicks under his belt in The Express (61%) and Runaway Jury (72%). These signs point to a movie coming in just above average on the Tomatometer. So let’s ignore the Brit-DEA agent and boy-v-girl bullying and see a movie that Statham fans can sink their teeth into. The Rotten Watch for Homefront is
Certain movies, like Homefront for example, are right up my alley. Others, not so much. Long time reader(s) of this column will note that I’m not particularly fond of musicals. Not to say I don’t watch them per se, I just don’t gravitate towards them on Netflix.* I have almost no desire to watch a movie in which the characters sing. The whole thing strikes me as very odd, almost meta (not in a good way), and renders the proceedings nearly unwatchable. I know this is contrarian in many movie circles, as there are a number of big screen musical classics. Just don’t ask me to sit down and watch them.
Leading me to Black Nativity. Based on the Langston Hughes play of the same name, Black Nativity follows Langston (Jacob Lattimore) as he moves in with his Reverend grandfather (Forrest Whitaker) and grandmother (Angela Bassett) in order to gain a little perspective about, I don’t know, singing maybe. Presumably there are lessons to be learned, songs to be sung, faith to divined from the spirit of the holidays. And unfortunately my perception of this is clouded by the thought of the characters belting out tune after tune and that little lump of dark black coal that sits where my heart should be.
Directed by Kasi Lemmons (Talk to Me-82% , Eve’s Bayou-80%), this movie will almost assuredly be a critical winner. The cast is strong, the director has some critical wins under her belt and the plot overtones simply appear too heartwarming and feel good to completely whiff this close to the holidays. In fact, I have a feeling all you non-Grinches who see it will leave the theater feeling a little better about the world. Hmm, maybe I need to start changing my tune on musicals (see what I did there?). The Rotten Watch for Black Nativity is
*I caught myself here, as I almost said "video store" and then remembered it’s 2013 and the Blockbusters of the world have gone the way of the dinosaur, if the dinosaur went extinct because younger, hipper, more technologically savvy dinosaurs started something in their dorm room and blew the old T-Rex’s off the Earth.
Recapping last week:
Solid, solid week for the Rotten Watch. Starting with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Predicted: 90% Actual: 89%) which was almost directly on the money. Granted, I had a little head start on this one, but the score was right there. Critics were all over the flick. Though Eric says it suffers a bit from "Part Two Syndrome" but still handed it four stars. His review was in line with the rest of the industry, which loved the second installment. This flick delivered and so did the prediction.
Meanwhile, Delivery Man (Predicted: 38% Actual: 36%) came in almost perfect as well. Honestly, as a Vince Vaughn fan, or at least of his early work, I had my hopes up the prediction would be a bit off. Alas, although Eric gave it three and a half stars and found it flawed but charming. Being within a total of three percentage points over two movies is about as good as it gets in this game (number of players: one). We’ll add it to the old resume and keep the winners coming.
Next time around we’ll head out of the furnace and inside Llewyn Davis. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!