I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a weekend with so many comedies either opening or expanding all at once. Perhaps since ‘Hunger Games’ is the only major title next week, the studios are using this weekend to counter-program an opposing genre.
The biggest release this weekend is ‘21 Jump Street‘, a comedic reboot of the ’80s television series that’s been updated and altered for the big screen. While the movie’s genre is completely different than the series (which wasn’t a comedy, at least not intentionally), it’s set in the same world as the television program that helped make Johnny Depp famous. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill not only play the leading duo, but serve as executive producers. Hill even co-wrote the story. But the most surprising thing about ’21 Jump Street’ is that it’s actually hilarious. There are even a few fun hidden surprises for fans of the original show.
On 382 screens, Will Ferrell’s limited release comedy ‘Casa De Mi Padre‘ is the second-widest opener of the weekend. With dialogue almost entirely in Spanish, Ferrell plays the Mexican son of a ranch owner who’s livelihood is in danger due to financial difficulties. His brother (Diego Luna) steps up to help, but gets the family entangled in Mexico’s most notorious drug cartel. I’m sold. But why the hell isn’t this opening wide?!
The third widest release, on 250 screens, is the Duplass brothers’ indie comedy ‘Jeff, Who Lives at Home‘. The movie stars Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer. Segel plays the titular character Jeff, an odd guy who has watched his favorite movie ‘Signs‘ so many times that he’s obsessed with the idea that everything happens for a reason. Today just might be the day that he can prove it to his family. ‘Jeff’ not only entertains with great comedy and strong characters, but with heartfelt innocence and beauty.
In very limited release this weekend are a few dramas and thrillers. The first is ‘Seeking Justice‘, an action thriller starring Nicolas Cage, January Jones and Guy Pearce. In it, Cage plays a guy whose wife (Jones) is assaulted and hospitalized in the street one night. A vigilante (Pearce) comes to them promising sweet vengeance, but the full terms of their agreement may not be what the couple expects.
‘Detachment‘ stars Adrien Brody, Marcia Gay Harden, James Caan, Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner, Tim Blake Nelson and Bryan Cranston. Brody plays an observant substitute teacher who’s constantly changing work locations, which leaves him emotionless and disconnected – but three woman in one school are about to change that.
Finally, the Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner ‘Kid with a Bike‘ opens domestically. This Dardenne brothers’ drama about an orphan is supposed to be a fantastic film, but as of now its opening is so limited that most of us will have to wait until Blu-ray to see it. [Ed.: In the meantime, check out my review from last year’s Toronto Film Festival. -JZ]
Also expanding this weekend is last week’s indie romantic comedy ‘Friends with Kids’.