We’re more than halfway through it now and this summer blockbuster season continues to disappoint. This weekend’s new offerings include a run-of-the-mill raunchy comedy and an animated family flick from the folks behind those blasted Minions.
Opening on more than 4,300 screens is Universal’s all-ages family affair ‘The Secret Life of Pets‘. Basically stealing the format and story of the Pixar great ‘Toy Story’, the movie takes place in a world where pets lead human-like lives while their owners are away. And just like ‘Toy Story’, a beloved dog’s perfect world is turned upside down when its owner gets another dog. Featuring a voice cast of mostly B- and C-class actors, the comedy of ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ is said to be the only thing that it has going for it. Projected to open to at least $80 million, it will easily finish at the top of the box office charts, but does it have what it takes to nullify the competition of ‘Finding Dory’ and ding that Pixar film’s holdover?
The week’s only other wide release is ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates‘, an R-rated comedy from the co-writers of the ‘Neighbors’ movies and a TV/short film director. Adam Devine and Zac Efron respectively play the title characters, two ding-dongs determined to find hot dates for their sister’s wedding in Hawaii. When their online ad for dates goes viral, two cuckoo partiers (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) put on a too-good-to-be-true façade just to get an all-expenses-paid vacation. Efron and Kendrick have shown their capabilities with successful comedic timing, but a little Devine and Plaza goes a long way. Taking into account that the first ‘Neighbors’ was great and the second was horrible, ‘Mike and Dave’ could go either way.
In the limited arena, Bleecker Street is placing the Cannes-praised picture ‘Captain Fantastic‘ onto four screens this week. Viggo Mortensen stars as a father of six who has raised all his children entirely off the grid, home-schooled and intentionally not taught the ways of the world. When his wife unexpectedly dies, the father is forced to take his family into the shocking and real world. The drama co-stars Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Missi Pyle and Frank Langella.
Opening at an unannounced number of art house theaters is ‘Cell‘, a small Stephen King adaptation that reunites John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson (who previously appeared together in ‘1408’). When cell phones are used to turn everyday people into vicious murderers, a small group of survivors travel together with the hope of reuniting one with his son. Despite featuring a new ending that’s said to make up for the book’s poor climax, the finished film has been caught in distribution limbo for nearly three years. Let’s hope the alleged claims of distributor fault are true and that it hasn’t been sitting on the shelves due to it being a bad product.