Disney’s expensive ‘Beauty and the Beast’ remake brought audiences out in droves last month. With the summer season now seemingly starting in April, next weekend delivers ‘The Fate of Furious’. The middle ground between those two releases has been filled with front-heavy titles and disappointments. This weekend’s slew of new movies doesn’t offer anything particularly hopeful.
‘The Boss Baby’ outgrossed expectations last weekend and it’s likely to top the charts again despite a new animated family offering. The tiny blue noun-, verb-, adverb- and adjective-challenged creatures are back on the big screen for the third time in ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village‘. In this one, a group of the little dudes adventure through a forbidden forest in hopes of finding a group of lost Smurfs. The revolving door of voice cast members now features Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Mandy Patinkin, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Julia Roberts and Meghan Trainor. (Apparently, these things now need two pop-star voice actors.) In addition, the live-action/animation hybrid approach, which previously starred Neal Patrick Harris, has been scrapped in favor of a fully CG movie.
The second-biggest release of the weekend is a new Zach Braff-directed comedy caper starring Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin. The geriatric heist movie ‘Going in Style‘ tells the story of three grumpy old men whose pensions are canceled and the money is absorbed by a big bad bank. To get back at the bank and secure what is rightfully theirs, the trio decides to rob the institution that’s profiting from their loss. For the most part, ‘Style’ lacks a style of its own. Braff’s fingerprint is almost entirely missing, but at least the leading men have a fun dynamic and chemistry. If you want to check it out anyway, be sure to hit up an evening showing, as the matinees are expected to be filled with the movie’s target demographic.
With Easter on the horizon, a faith-based offering from the ‘God’s Not Dead’ folks is playing this weekend. ‘The Case for Christ‘ is a PG drama that tells the true story of Lee Strobel (played by Mike Vogel of ‘Cloverfield‘), an investigative journalist who strongly opposed organized religion and openly denied the existence of a supreme being. When his wife becomes an active Christian, he puts his investigative skills to use by setting off to disprove God, Jesus Christ and all religion. Spoiler Alert: What he actually finds changes him forever. Faye Dunaway and Robert Forster co-star.
In addition to those three movies, some limited releases also open to the public this weekend.
Playing on 56 screens ahead of next week’s expansion is the new Chris Evans vehicle, ‘Gifted‘. After two mildly-received ‘Amazing Spider-Man‘ movies, Marc Webb has returned to his ‘(500) Days of Summer‘ roots. Evans plays a somber man who has been raising his late sister’s bright daughter for the last seven years. As she starts to display the same mathematical genius that her mother possessed, their father/daughter-like relationship is put at risk. While trailers may make the story that follows seem generic, Webb’s direction differentiates the movie from the standard feel-good formula and makes it one of the first truly great films of 2017.
The other two limited releases are titles that I screened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, both of which are now playing on four screens.
‘Colossal‘ stars Anne Hathaway as a vice-burdened thirty-something who returns to her small hometown upon hitting rock bottom. Each night, her small group of friends (including Jason Sudeikis) stays out drinking through the early hours of the morning, and each night, Seoul, South Korea is attacked by a giant monster. Hathaway can’t help but wonder if the two are connected. What I can’t help but wonder is how this messy-as-hell movie managed to get a budget and stars. You can read my Sundance review here.
Finally is ‘Their Finest‘, a hybrid World War II/Hollywood insider drama. Gemma Arterton plays a British writer who works on the filmmaking team attempting to bring the Dunkirk story to the big screen for two reasons: to boost the nation’s morale and to encourage the United States to join the war. From the director of ‘An Education’, ‘Their Finest’ has a lot to offer. Check out my Sundance review.