Weekend Movies: Falling Food, Fast Cars, Faustian Dating

It looks as though the Hollywood studios hope to counter the usual September box office slump with a slew of high profile releases this week. In addition to a heavyweight CG-animated sequel, there’s a major awards contender, a critically acclaimed adult dramedy, a rom-com and a heavy metal IMAX experience, all of which should lead to a substantial uptick in ticket sales.

Opening on a super-wide 3800+ screens, Sony’s ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2‘ should easily lead the box office this weekend. The sequel picks up where the 2009 original left off, with Flint Lockwood and friends traveling to the Lost World island of Chewandswallow, where genetically modified “foodimals” have taken over. If this sequel is anywhere near as big, loud, colorful and generally manic as the first, I expect it to be a big hit, though I have to admit that I found the first ‘Cloudy’ to be too clever and sensory-overloading for its own good. With that said, I’m thankful that we have an A-list food-oriented animated franchise to counter the incredibly disturbing ‘Foodfight!’, the trailer for which continues to strike fear into the hearts of Youtube viewers everywhere.

Vying for pole position is Ron Howard’s ‘Rush‘, a bio-pic about Formula One racing legend James Hunt and his rival Niki Lauda. Reviews have been very strong, and star Chris Hemsworth is arguably the most coveted up-and-coming actor in Hollywood, but I remain somewhat skeptical. While Howard is no doubt a fundamentally solid filmmaker with an impressive body of work, I’m sometimes taken aback by how quickly I forget his films after viewing them. That said, I’ll keep an open mind until I see this one in theaters.

Actor Joseph Gordon Levitt’s makes his directorial debut with ‘Don Jon‘, a racy dramatic comedy about a young New Jersey gorilla juicehead’s endeavor to find love with one of the world’s most beautiful women, amidst his pesky addiction to internet pornography. Levitt continues to surprise with his transition from “That Kid on Third Rock from the Sun” to dramatic juggernaut, and this latest foray into direction appears to be no exception. (He even has 1980s sitcom mainstay Tony Danza turning out an inspired performance. That’s got to count for something.) Due to its sexual content, I’m not sure that ‘Don Jon’ will find the same size audience as Levitt’s 2012 sleeper hit ‘Looper’, but I for one think it shows promise.

In the Paula Patton rom-com ‘Baggage Claim‘, a stunningly attractive stewardess somehow can’t find a man to marry. The movie features a formidable cast of African American male leads including Taye Diggs, Djimon Honsou and Derek Luke – who, like Patton, all deserve something better than this boilerplate premise. After Patton’s impressive action-oriented turn in ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’, I look forward to seeing her return to a more ass-kicking (literal or metaphorical) character in her future roles. I just can’t believe her as a clueless flight attendant.

Playing on 308 IMAX screens is ‘Metallica Through the Never‘. Can anyone else tell what the hell this movie is about? Seriously, I can’t. The trailer seems to feature some poor kid running errands for rock stars and finding himself in the middle of a heavy metal WTO riot. Regardless of initial perceptions, reviews have actually been very strong for the docu-drama. If you show up at the right theater this weekend, you just might meet your favorite members of the band.

On the more serious side of things, opening in very limited release is ‘Inequality for All‘, a documentary by Jacob Kornbluth. Billed as ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for the economy, it features former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich arguing that the massive consolidation of wealth in America over the last 60+ years threatens the foundation of democracy itself. Reich is an interesting character. (You may know him from his famous Conan O’Brien skit.) His use of humor and his story of overcoming personal adversities will hopefully resonate with audiences and help to strike up a lively debate on an important issue that may be unknown to many moviegoers.

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