If this summer has taught us one thing, it’s that we shouldn’t underestimate R-rated comedies, even when they go head-to-head with family flicks. ‘Bridesmaids’ has made a record-setting haul, ‘Bad Teacher’ more than tripled its budget in two short weeks, and ‘The Hangover Part II’ is the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. All the while, ‘Cars 2’ dropped 60% in attendance in its second weekend, ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ simply sucked, ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ finally met its budget during its sixth week in theaters, and ‘Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer’ couldn’t even earn back its low $20 million budget. During this unpredictable summer, expect the unexpected.
Receiving the widest release this weekend is Kevin James’ new family film ‘Zookeeper‘, the story of a likable guy whose self-esteem is shattered when his girlfriend shoots down his marriage proposal and crushes his heart. After five years of distancing himself from everyone, the only beings he opens up to are the zoo animals – those incapable of hurting him emotionally.
‘Zookeeper’ is a poor man’s knock-off of ‘Toy Story‘ and ‘Night at the Museum‘. When nobody is looking, the animals talk and the zoo really comes to life. Once the animals notice that the friendly zookeeper has a chance of winning his ex over again, they decide to break the code of silence to train him on becoming an alpha male. But taking dating advice from animals is not always a wise idea.
Opening weekend should be healthy for ‘Zookeeper’, but once word leaks that the family content – the talking animals – plays third fiddle to lame human roles, expect it to taper off. Because ‘Zookeeper’ is a mismarketed movie, I wouldn’t be surprised to see R-rated ‘Horrible Bosses‘ fill the #1 box office spot instead.
Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day lead this ensemble dark comedy cast about three disgruntled employees so fed up that they’re willing to get their hands dirty and help their terrible bosses meet untimely but well deserved demises. Playing the bosses are Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston. Literally, every one of these actors is at their comedic best. Like I said in my review, there’s no reason why ‘Horrible Bosses’ shouldn’t be just as successful – if not more – than the previous R-rated comedies of the summer.
Three Sundance 2011 titles fill the limited release slots for this weekend: ‘Project Nim‘, a documentary about a baby chimpanzee raised with a human family; ‘The Ledge‘, a boring and unsatisfying so-called thriller about a man who must jump off the ledge of a Louisiana skyscraper or something terrible will happen; and ‘Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest‘, a rockumentary about the hip-hop band.
I missed ‘Project Nim’ and ‘Beats, Rhymes & Life’ at Sundance, but know several credible critics who shared their opinions about both. Word has it that ‘Project Nim’ is a fantastic documentary, while ‘Beats, Rhymes & Life’ is the opposite, and plays like an episode of VH1’s ‘Behind the Music’.
Unfortunately, I did see ‘The Ledge’, which starts off with a simple-yet-intriguing story that slowly turns absurd. For anyone who saw fellow crappy 2011 Sundance selection ‘Red State’, it careens down that exact same course. Preachy and heartless, ‘The Ledge’ is unlikely to satisfy.