Weekend Movies: Rough Seas Ahead

This weekend offers three new wide releases that each have Rotten Tomatoes scores of less than 15%. That’s a perfect sign that this is a good time to catch up on Oscar contenders.

Disney may have shot down all of George Lucas’ ideas for ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’, but the studio didn’t reject distributing his new Lucasfilm-produced animated family flick ‘Strange Magic‘. I wonder if the ‘Star Wars’ sale was a package deal that required Disney to release this musical ‘Epic‘ rip-off on 3,000 screens? This awful-looking kids’ movie appears to have no redeeming qualities. Considering that Disney didn’t bother to screen it here in Utah – one of its very biggest markets – I’m staying as far away from this phantom menace as I can.

Damned be the executive or producer who allowed Johnny Depp to be cast as another wacky character. In ‘Mortdecai‘, he plays an absent-minded art dealer who races to find a stolen painting before criminals, terrorists and police can retrieve it. Directed – but not written – by David Koepp, the (supposedly) comedic caper co-stars Gwyenth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn and Jeff Goldblum.

The third wide release of the weekend is Jennifer Lopez’s attempt at a comeback. Director Rob Cohen used his limited $4 million budget to send Jenny from the Block around the block in ‘The Boy Next Door‘. Lopez plays a divorcee who bangs the new guy in the neighborhood, only to learn after-the-fact that he’s a high school kid. This scandalous drama takes a turn towards thriller when the boy turns out to be an obsessive psycho. You couldn’t pay me to sit through this thing. Literally. Even though this movie was screened for press, I found a reason to pass.

On the indie front, we have ‘Black Sea‘. From the director of ‘The Last King of Scotland’, Jude Law stars as the captain of a submarine who takes his crew (including Scoot McNairy) in search of wreckage believed to be full of gold. Of all the movies to be released this weekend, ‘Black Sea’ is the only one with a “Fresh” Rotten Tomatoes score (currently 80%).

Jennifer Aniston found her way onto many of this year’s lists of Oscar snubs for a role in a movie that few had seen. ‘Cake‘ is a somber drama that follows a woman who becomes fascinated with suicide. While Aniston’s makeup-free performance has been praised, the movie itself is said to be pretty bland.

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