Weekend Movies: ‘Call’ Me? Maybe Not

Even though last week’s ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ brought some box office light to this dismal year, the trend of bland movies continues this weekend. There’s no way that ‘Oz’ won’t top the charts again.

Each of this week’s wide releases feels like a stretch. Do you remember when Will Ferrell used to release movie after movie where he played nothing more than unbelievably idiotic characters? I do because I had to watch them all. Apparently, now that Ferrell has worn out his welcome, Steve Carell is getting those roles. It looks like he left ‘The Office’ prematurely. In ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone‘, he plays a washed-up Las Vegas magician who’s too dumb to realize that his time has come and gone. After he and his childhood best friend / magic partner (Steve Buscemi) break up their on-stage duo, he’s left jobless. With a Cris Angel wannabe (Jim Carrey) shifting the direction of magic, he’s humbled and forced to go back to the basics. Alan Arkin and Olivia Wilde co-star in this generic and overly-long PG-13 comedy. The only illusion ‘Burt Wonderstone’ can pull off is to make audiences disappear.

There’s nothing more vindicating than seeing a hack actor or filmmaker who somehow won an Oscar pump out shitty movies over and over again after winning it. Halle Berry is one of those actresses, and ‘The Call‘ appears to be just another piece of shit in which she appears. In this one’, Berry plays a 911 operator who takes a call from not-so-Little Miss Sunshine Abigail Breslin, a teenager who has just been kidnapped. Of course, Berry becomes an instant detective and uncovers the identity of the abductor, leaves her comfy call center and tries to save the teen’s life – only to discover that she has a connection with the killer. Lame. You lost me at “Halle Berry.”

I’m saddened that Disney isn’t domestically distributing the latest Studio Ghibli hand-drawn animated film. If it were, we might have the chance to see the film this weekend in wide release. ‘From Up on Poppy Hill‘ was written by father Hayao Miyazaki and directed by son Goyo Miyazaki. The production was released long ago in Japan and actually finished there as the highest grossing release of 2011. The English-dubbed voice cast consists of Gillian Anderson, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Aubrey Plaza and Anton Yelchin.

As awful as it has the potential to be, I’m intrigued by the idea behind ‘Upside Down‘. Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst star in this sci-fi romance that’s committed to its absolutely crazy concept. Two worlds exist right next to each other, so close that they actually share the same atmosphere and it’s quite easy to hop from one planet to another. Who knows how gravity keeps the worlds from colliding into one another, but a strict law keeps the people from each planet from traveling to or having interactions with the other. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ fashion, Dunst and Sturgess are determined to defy the law for the sake of love.

Spring Breakers‘ exists for one reason only: to give horny young males the hope of seeing Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens dabble on the wild side and show a lot more skin that they were allowed to in their previous Disney projects. In this gritty black comedy, the two play half of a team of spring break partiers who get caught up in armed robbery, and ultimately wind up in debt to a sleazy drug and arms dealer played by James Franco, who’s also straying from his recent Disney stint in ‘Oz’. [Ed.: Bizarrely, this movie marks the first somewhat-mainstream effort from controversial ‘Gummo’ and ‘Julian Donkey-Boy’ director Harmony Korine. -JZ] ‘Spring Breakers’ is only showing in Los Angeles and New York this weekend, but is set to open on more than 550 screens next week.

Ginger & Rosa‘ is a curious movie that came out of nowhere, appealing to press as a “For Your Consideration” title, only to drop off into obscurity after a few people received screeners. I didn’t get to see it, but with the brilliant Elle Fanning in one of the leads, I wanted to. She and Alice Englert play the titular characters in this film about the global events of the ’60s and the effect that they had on friendships.

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