Drew’s taking the day off to sleep through his tryptophan coma, so it looks like I’ll be filling in on the Weekend Movies summary. Long story short: I doubt that Hogwarts’ favorite young wizard has much to worry about from this week’s competitors.
Maybe I’ll eat my words on this come Monday, but I don’t think so. It seems clear to me that ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1’ is set to dominate the weekend box office again, just as it did last week. If ‘Potter’ has any serious competition, it might come from Disney’s ‘Tangled‘, the studio’s latest animated princess fairy tale. These things usually go over big with young girls. This one’s a reworking of the Rapunzel story, which makes the girl a princess who uses her magical hair to become empowered. Or something. Honestly, the trailers leave me confused as to how Disney managed to get a story out of this, and I’m kind of bothered by the fact that all of the characters have been designed to look like Barbie and Ken dolls. The movie’s been getting surprisingly good buzz, though. Still, the problem it faces is that these princess movies only appeal to young girls, whereas ‘Potter’ draws in basically everyone.
Hoping to counter-program against all these family flicks, this week also sees the release of ‘Burlesque‘, Cher and Christina Aguilera’s attempt to mount a PG-13 remake of ‘Showgirls‘. Why anyone thought that was a good idea remains a mystery to me. The ads have been targeted directly and exclusively to an audience of gay males. I’m passing no judgments on that, just making an observation. Suffice it to say, this one just isn’t for me. I anticipate it being a mega-ton bomb, but it might surprise everyone if it can capture the same crowd that made the unwatchable ‘Moulin Rouge!‘ an inexplicable hit.
Anne Hathaway hosted ‘SNL’ a couple weeks ago and repeatedly emphasized the fact that she and Jake Gyllenhaal (reunited from ‘Brokeback Mountain‘) spend a lot of screen time naked in ‘Love and Other Drugs‘. That would appear to be the movie’s only selling point. Otherwise, it looks like a pretty generic rom-com. Once upon a time, Edward Zwick was a producer on ‘thirtysomething’, and I suppose he’s trying to return to his roots. Since then, he’s become Hollywood’s go-to guy for churning out Oscar bait war dramas like ‘Courage Under Fire‘, ‘The Last Samurai‘, and ‘Blood Diamond‘. This makes me wonder where’s he’s going to squeeze in an epic battle scene or two.
Dwayne Johnson, the artist formerly known as The Rock, tries to re-establish his action hero cred with ‘Faster‘. This looks like a super-cheap and super-formulaic revenge flick that will probably make its premiere on cable in about a month. For some reason, Billy Bob Thornton is slumming it here as a character with the very descriptive name of “Cop.” What a sad decline from Oscar winner to this.
Finally, the art house circuit sees the limited release of period piece drama ‘The King’s Speech‘, starring Geoffrey Rush as a speech therapist who helps British King George VI (Colin Firth) get over his stammer. The plot summary doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but the movie pulled a surprise victory at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival over much more hotly-buzzed entries such as ‘127 Hours‘ and ‘Black Swan‘. I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Director Tom Hooper’s last movie, ‘The Damned United‘, was really terrific, even though I didn’t think I’d have any interest in that subject matter either. He also directed the ‘John Adams‘ miniseries for HBO, which was pretty good too.