Weekend Movies: ‘Effects’ May Vary

This weekend’s two big releases appear to have some box office potential, but could just as potentially go nowhere. One is an R-rated comedy with a very familiar plot, the other a Steven Soderbergh thriller that has barely been advertised.

Opening on more than 3,100 screens is ‘Identity Thief‘, the new foul-mouthed comedy from ‘Horrible Bosses‘ director Seth Gordon. Jason Bateman plays the central character, yes man Sandy Bigelow Patterson. Sandy may work in the unpredictable finance industry, but with a wife (Amanda Peet), two kids and a third on the way, he wants nothing more than security. That’s why he’s really thrown off when he learns that his identity has been stolen, his credit has been crushed, and he’s about to lose his job. With nothing left to lose and everything to gain, Sandy heads across the country to trap the thief – a dangerous and unpredictable woman (Melissa McCarthy). What ensues is a buddy comedy road trip that plays out almost exactly like Robert Downey Jr’.s ‘Due Date‘, which played out almost exactly like ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’. Even though I believe that ‘Identity Thief’ is only worth watching once, the box office success of ‘Horrible Bosses’ and trailers that show all of the movie’s funny footage (and little of its unfunny footage) , I suspect that the film will do well for one week.

Even coming off the successful ‘Magic Mike‘, director Steven Soderbergh claims that his new thriller ‘Side Effects‘ will be his last theatrical feature film. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen.

Rooney Mara stars as a housewife who decides to take a new, unproven prescription drug to fight her anxiety. As you might guess from the title, the drug comes with some crazy side effects – in this case, a blackout that may or may not have resulted in Mara committing murder. Co-stars include Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones. With little marketing, an R rating and a not-so-mainstream plot, I have a feeling that Soderbergh’s last film may bomb.

Twenty seven years after its original release and a week and a half before its latest Blu-ray re-issue, ‘Top Gun‘ is getting a 300-screen 3D and IMAX re-release. Do Maverick, Goose and Iceman do enough for you to push you to see ‘Top Gun’ in a theater?

Opening on two screens is Roman Coppola’s ‘A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III‘. Having already floated on the coattails of Wes Anderson (Coppola co-wrote a couple of Anderson’s films, including last year’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’), ‘Charles Swan’ looks like little more than a Wes Anderson rip-off. That said, I totally want to see it. The film stars Charlie Sheen as the title character, alongside Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Patricia Arquette, Aubrey Plaza, Dermot Mulroney, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Stephen Dorff. This comedy follows Charles Swan into depression and despair after he’s dumped by his girlfriend.

Also opening in limited release are two genre flicks that look so bad I actually want to see them. The first is ‘Spiders 3D‘, a monster movie about a Russian space station that falls out of orbit and brings monster spiders along with it. The other is ‘Midget Zombie Takeover‘. I can’t find a single plot detail about the latter online, but the title alone is enough to spark my curiosity.

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