Subscribe To This Rotten Week: Predicting The Hobbit, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle and Madea Christmas Reviews Updates
Huge week happening here this time around. No time to waste with droll/genius/thought-provoking banter here in the opening. Way too much heading into theaters. We’ve got Hobbits-ies, Mary Poppins, Americans hustling and Madea celebrating Christmas.

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 Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
At what point do you think Peter Jackson took a look around at the real world, with its overpopulated, unheroic and deteriorating nonsense and decided that he wouldn’t mind just not ever returning? So he starts working on the Lord of the Rings, realizes Middle Earth is kind of the place to be, what with its plush rolling hills and smoking hot elves. Sure you need to put up with the occasional, world-dominating all-encompassing evil or dragon, but there’s always a reluctant, vertically challenged hero to take care of those things. Why ever return to the real world (or Los Angeles, or wherever he keeps his digs)? So he sets up shop making a life’s work of Middle Earth, effectively inhabiting J.R.R. Tolkien’s world, and bringing those stories to life. Or as close to life as cinematically possible. When this trilogy is over, what will Jackson do with himself?

Why else make The Hobbit, a three hundred page book, into three separate movies unless you never wanted to stop making movies about Middle Earth. Never fear, after this I’m sure Jackson has plans to make an eighteen-installment version of The Silmarillion that should take him up to the day he dies.

In his latest, Bilbo, Gandalf and a band of merry dwarves pick up where they left of in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (65%) as they encounter a dragon, battle some orcs and face up against the Necromancer (or what would be considered just your average weekday in those parts). Early reviews are positive but not overwhelming. The general consensus is the flick improves on the first installment, but isn’t perfect. As the week goes on, I imagine the reviews trending downward. I think there’s an outside chance it even falls under 50%. While this isn’t likely, it isn’t impossible considering the earlier reviewers are often the most positive. Does Peter Jackson care? Probably not as he relaxes and lives out his days in the Shire. The Rotten Watch for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is 55%

Saving Mr. Banks
A movie about a musical made in the 1960s based on a book written in the 1930s about a flying nanny who sings nonsense songs and flies with an umbrella. Sign me up. It’s like Hollywood had me specifically in mind when they headed to pre-production. Having never seen Mary Poppins, yet being subjected to the neverending use of "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" as what some dopey kid exclaims as the hardest word in the "english" language to spell (this might be the movie’s enduring legacy), I’m having a hard time coming up with the demographic for this film. Old people who remember the original movie? Young people? Middle people? Who? Granted the cast and Disney name brand will carry the day, but the film does strike me as a bit odd.

Saving Mr. Banks details (dramatizes) the negotiation between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers over the rights to Mary Poppins. And regardless of the demographic this thing looks headed directly to awards season without much delay. Hanks playing Walt Disney on its own seems like a recipe for an Oscar nomination (in a super strong year for Best Actor) and the rest of John Lee Hancock’s film, from the cast, to the source material (umm, it’s for Hollywood, about Hollywood) to the Disney brand name all seem like check boxes on the way to Academy Award night. That and most of the Academy voters probably had drinks with Walt Disney himself, so everything is falling into place.

Hancock’s heart-warming resume (The Blind Side-66%, The Rookie-84%) points to a director who can take the truth and get us all warm and fuzzy with it. Perfect for what’s happening here, giving us the prickly relationship between Disney and Travers and turning it all feel good. Maybe it’s just made for the ever-positive Christmas season crowd. Critics sure have enjoyed it as the Tomatometer sits at 91% through more than thirty reviews. It’s got all the hallmarks of a critical winner, but don’t be surprised if it underperforms at the box office. The Rotten Watch for Saving Mr. Banks is 85%

American Hustle
There are a few reasons I wouldn’t be exactly perfect for an FBI sting operation. First off, my receding hairline renders my once "intimidating" good looks fairly moot, meaning criminals wouldn’t, at first glance, be obliged to welcome me into their organizations. I’m a bit too "everyman" for nefarious activities. Additionally, my chest hair doesn’t allow for good "stickage" on any wires needed for covert listening. Also, I tend to perspire a bit more than the average person which could be mistaken for nerves, but is actually just overactive sweat glands. And finally, I’d have a bit of trouble distancing myself from my family in order to work "undercover" because Mrs. Rotten Week and Little RW like to spend time with me.

In all of these ways, I don’t think I’d fit into David O. Russell’s American Hustle, a cinematic take on the ABSCAM operation run in the late Seventies that targeted corrupt elected officials (I know that sounds a bit redundant). What we get is a look into the seedy underbelly of combovers, leisure suits, perms and bellbottoms and the folks who got wrapped up in the greed of high-powered political machinations and mob-influenced wheelings and dealings. But the players here look the part. Christian Bale, as a conman-turned-informant, proves he can nail just about any role (especially if substantial weight gain/loss are involved). Bradley Cooper is a permed-up FBI agent. Jennifer Lawrence rocks the disco age like she was born into it. And really the list goes on and on. This thing is stacked.

Russell’s body of work marks him as one of the best directors in Hollywood, with his last two flicks, Silver Linings Playbook (92%) and The Fighter (91%) earning Academy Award nominations for Best Director. This film might make it three. Early reviews are near perfect (93% through 24 reviews) and there isn’t a lot to suggest the score will dip too much over the course of the week. And while I can’t see the Feds approaching me any time soon to help bring down any crooks, this film looks like a playbook for criminal mischief and maneuvering with a seventies vibe to boot. The Rotten Watch for American Hustle is 91%

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas
Though sorely tempted to just write "Skip" and move on with our lives, duty calls and I can’t simply ignore the franchise that is Madea. And along with her, the unstoppable force of crappy movies that is Tyler Perry. Take a look at these numbers, all movies with Madea involved:

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (16%)

Madea’s Family Reunion (25%)

Meet the Browns(32%)

Madea Goes to Jail (30%)

I Can Do Bad All by Myself (63%)

Madea’s Big Happy Family (38%)

Madea’s Witness Protection (21%)

For those keeping score at home, that’s an average of 32%. Now, if you’re interested in numbers, it’s also worth noting that these movies have grossed somewhere in the vicinity of $415 million at the box office. So it would appear that Madea earns about $13 million for every percentage point of Tomatometer success. I doubt many franchises have a better ratio. There are some for sure (without looking, I’d venture Grown Ups and Resident Evil have it beat), but man that’s a lot of Benjamins for a subpar product.

Yet the Perry train continues chugging along, laying down crappy track after crappy track. It’s amazing really. In this latest, Madea heads out to the sticks for a redneck Christmas, because, well I’m not sure exactly why really, but it looks awful. A number of different stereotypes are going gangbusters in the trailer, each of them less funny than the one before. Business as usual I suppose. But around these parts, when it comes to predicting scores, we like track record. It makes the predictions easy. So for that, I’d like to thank Madea. The Rotten Watch for Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas is 22%

Recapping Last week:

Only one film last time around and it was a miss for the Rotten Watch. Out of the Furnace (Predicted: 77% Actual: 51%) trended south all week long with a little of that coming from Kristy Puchko’s own one-and-a-half star review. She outlines a few reasons it was a subpar addition to director Scott Cooper’s resume, but the most compelling line is when she says she "couldn’t wait for Out of the Furnace to end." Yikes. While other critics didn’t necessarily disdain the movie to her level, it does illustrate a theme of many reviews. This flick just didn’t live up to some lofty expectations. And my prediction suffered as a result.

Next time around we take a walk with dinosaurs and welcome back Mr. Ron Burgundy. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!

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