With summer drawing to a close, the studios offer up a huge spread of variety this weekend. We get a family flick about a kid who grows from a garden, a stop-motion movie about a kid who sees dead people, a musical drama that will make you see dead people (too soon?), and an R-rated action sequel that combines old washed-up action stars with new soon-to-be washed-up stars.
The widest release of the week is ‘ParaNorman‘. From the combined minds of the people who gave us ‘Coraline‘ and ‘Flushed Away’, this is a stop-motion flick about a loner kid who sees dead people. Unlike ‘The Sixth Sense‘, he’s not ashamed or afraid of his talent and hardly keeps it a secret. So, naturally, he gets picked on. On one particularly rough day, Norman learns the reason for his sixth sense and has to use his power to save the town from an evil witch and a horde of zombies. If you’re wondering if this is something that your little kids can see, know that it’s not PG as in modern-day PG, but rather more like early ’80s PG (think of ‘The Goonies‘, only with no curse words). With the voice cast including Kodi Smit-McPhee (‘The Road‘), Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin and John Goodman, you know you’re in for something good – not to mention the amazing score from Jon Brion.
The second biggest release is the (supposedly) all-out action fest sequel ‘The Expendables 2‘. Why do I say “supposedly”? Because Lionsgate is extremely picky about where it screens certain titles. I haven’t seen the movie and I don’t know a soul who has. Despite the positive word of mouth from the first ‘Expendables‘, the sequel’s still not getting screened very much. Added to the mix this time are Chuck Norris (I wonder how pissed he is after the movie received an R-rating?), Jean-Claude Van Damme and Liam Hemsworth. Returning are Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Crews, Couture and Charisma Carpenter – because if these male wash-ups can get a big acting gig, so can that one girl from ‘Buffy’. Willis and Schwarzenegger play more than cameos this time, but Rourke is nowhere to be found.
The other family flick this week is a little more “family-friendly” than ‘ParaNorman’. Disney’s ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green‘ follows a couple (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) who have just learned that they’re infertile. To cope with the bad news, they write down all of the characteristics that their kid would have (given they could have a kid), stuff these notes in a box and bury it. Through some unexplained magic in the middle of the night, their child (the one the described in their notes) springs from the ground and grows as a member of their family. Expect some decent sentiment beneath the sap.
The final wide opener of the week is a movie that would have remained on a shelf had Whitney Houston not died, ‘Sparkle‘. I haven’t seen this film advertised even once, but what I get from the synopsis is that it’s basically a fictionalized Motown story. Three sisters in the ’60s become singing sensations, but the success dissolves their once-tight family. Houston stars alongside Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Mike Epps and Cee-Lo Green.
In limited release, the British paranormal indie thriller ‘The Awakening‘ finally hits American soil. Rebecca Hall plays a woman in the 1920s who investigates paranormal activities and exposes them for fraud – but not this time. She may have found a legitimate haunting. Dominic West co-stars.
As much as I like David Cronenberg, based on the boring title and the fact that it stars ‘Twilight‘ boy Robert Pattinson, I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the trailer for ‘Cosmopolis‘. From what I understand, a billionaire playboy watches his world unfold over the course of a day.
Lastly, the Sundance sci-fi comedy ‘Robot & Frank‘ gets a limited opening. Set in the near future, the film stars Frank Langella as an old man with symptoms of Alzheimer’s, so his son (James Marsden) buys his dad a robotic caretaker. What his son doesn’t realize is that his dad will use his robot to assist him in cat-burglar exploits. Sounds fun.