Weekend Movies: Party On, Wayne!

After last weekend’s blockbuster superhero kick-off to summer, this week brings some counter-programming. We have a crude R-rated comedy, an awful-looking animated flick, a light-hearted family movie and a few indies to kick around. Can one of these new releases dethrone the amazing ‘Spider-Man’?

Opening on more than 3,000 screens is ‘Neighbors‘, the latest raunchy comedy starring Seth Rogen. In the side-splitting movie, Rogen plays a recent father who, along with his wife (Rose Byrne), realizes that he’s not young and cool anymore when a fraternity moves into the house next door. The couple quickly makes friends with the frat’s president and vice president (Zac Efron and Dave Franco), but when the circle of trust is broken, a no-holds-barred feud breaks out. While the story itself may not be great, the comedy is often tear-inducing hilarious. ‘Spider-Man’ will have to put up a bigger fight against ‘Neighbors’ than Electro if he wants to stay on top this weekend.

Next is an animated flick that you may not even be aware exists. Now that L. Frank Baum’s ‘Oz’ material is public domain, anyone with investors can make a movie about it. That’s exactly what a bunch of animators and a pair of unknown writers have done. ‘Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return‘ features ‘Glee’ cast member Lea Michele as Dorothy. Right after returning home, she’s immediately taken back to the magical land of Oz to fight off an evil Jester voiced by Martin Short. Other cast members include Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Kelsey Grammer, Hugh Dancy and Oliver Platt. I didn’t see ‘Dorothy’s Return’, but can only imagine how many times I would have chanted “There’s no place like home” had I actually attended the screening.

Even further off the radar is ‘Moms’ Night Out‘. Chock full of bit actors, TV stars and non-actor musicians, the PG comedy follows a group of moms who get an evening escape while their husbands watch the children. The movie’s tagline asks, “What could go wrong?” I suspect that the answer for this ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ knock-off is: everything.

Just as Joss Whedon did with his adaptation of ‘Much Ado About Nothing‘, Jon Favreau has called in his Marvel friends for a favor. Presumably apologizing for the awful waste of ‘Cowboys & Aliens‘ and the TV series ‘Revolution‘, the director returns to his indie roots. Not only did he write and direct ‘Chef‘, he also stars in it as a brilliant food chef who tires of making someone else’s standard recipes, so he takes a risk and starts a popular food truck business. How do I know it’s successful? Because the trailer shows the entire plot. The film co-stars Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey, Jr., John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannivale, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt (again), Dustin Hoffman and Amy Sedaris.

While Dave Franco tries to break out on the big screen, brother James Franco is quietly releasing another of his experimental art house flicks. Franco’s short film ‘Palo Alto‘ has been adapted, expanded and directed by yet another new Coppola trying to make it in the industry. The story follows a boundary-less teen (Emma Roberts) bouncing between many sexual partners, one of which is a school coach (Franco). The film also stars Jack Kilmer, son of Val. Between the Coppolas, Robertses and Kilmers, the nepotism train is running full steam in this picture. I’m just jealous because I can’t ride it.

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