Weekend Movies: Battle of the Sexes

This weekend, Hollywood seems to be drawing a line in the sand, and contributing to antiquated notions of gendered movies. If you’re a hardscrabble dude, the kind who washes his mouth with rattlesnake venom and likes to beat up on “sissies,” then there’s a movie for you. Oh, and if you’re a sensitive woman, always on the lookout for your next handsomely photographed spiritual adventure, well there’s a movie for you too. If only there was also a movie for twenty-somethings, one that captures both the fizzy fun of falling in love and the male inferiority complex, with charmingly rendered visual effects. Wait, there’s a movie for that weird, slightly skewered demographic as well! Everybody’s happy! Well, not everybody. But some.

Of course, the hulking, towering, intimidating beast is Sly Stallone’s ‘The Expendables.’ Which, in my estimation, is borderline unwatchable. It’s a lot of screaming and grunting and loud pops, either from gunfire or explosions. But there’s little to hang onto, or even to think, “Oh, well, that was cool.” It’s just a numbing, absurd, boring, ugly movie. If you waste your time on it, wooed somehow by the deceptively star-powered ad campaign, then you have no one to blame but yourself. The studio is making this out to be the movie to beat, but I would be very surprised if it nabbed the top spot at the weekend box office.

Instead, I would say that those who are discounting ‘Eat Pray Love‘ – ‘Glee’ creator Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of the bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert – are in for a shock. I can almost guarantee that this movie, lushly photographed by ace cinematographer Robert Richardson and starring Julia Roberts, will be the Number One movie of the weekend. Women haven’t had something to look forward to like this since ‘Sex & the City 2’ came out in May. I haven’t seen ‘Eat Pray Love,’ but it has enough going for it – including supporting turns by Javier Bardem, Viola Davis and James Franco – that I will be there opening weekend. And I’m a dude. (If you’d like to join me, I’m thinking of going to the 9:40. It’ll be a High-Def Digest Bonus View party!)

If these two movies, entrenched in both gender stereotypes and scores of market research, don’t float your boat, you can always try ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘ instead. This is a movie I am over the moon for. It’s focusing on a more nebulous demographic: the twenty-something who grew up with videogames and movies and now lets those touchstones of popular culture and nostalgia define his or her life. But I think it will end up appealing to a much broader audience, thanks mostly to its glittery pop art aesthetic and its killer soundtrack. (Seriously, the ‘Twilight‘ movies have nothing on this rockin’ collection of tunes.)

All that said, I don’t think ‘Scott Pilgrim’ will do much at the box office. The budget is supposedly around $60 million, which is not insignificant but not exactly huge. If I know anything about Universal, though, it’s the studio’s inability to market a cult hit to a mass audience… (*cough ‘Serenity‘ cough*) Still, look for it in the Top 5. Probably…

Beyond that, I don’t see much to report on the art house front. Studio Ghibli has a new movie that Disney seems reluctant to release at all, called ‘Tales of EarthSea,’ directed by Goro Miyazaki (Hayao’s son). There’s also an Australian crime thriller called ‘Animal Kingdom‘ that co-stars Guy Pierce. That’s about it. But next week – ‘Piranha 3D’! Prepare thyself!


  1. JoeRo

    I’m hoping Scott Pilgrim murders everything else at the box office this weekend, if only because it rightly should. That movie doesn’t offer you antiquated macho bullshit, OR Oprah recommended enlightenment, but dollars to donuts it’s the most fun you can have at the movies this weekend. I’m seriously dragging today at work, but it was worth it to attend the midnight showing.

    • Sadly, artistic merits aside, I think Drew is probably right about these movies’ box office prospects. I expect Eat Pray Love to come in first, The Expendables a distant second, and Scott Pilgrim somewhere in the bottom half of the Top 10.

      While Scott Pilgrim appeals very strongly to a specific core audience, I just don’t think it will attract the masses. It’s too idiosyncratic for that. Also consider that neither of Edgar Wright’s previous movies were hits in the U.S., and that there’s been a pretty big backlash against Michael Cera recently.

      Of course, I’d love to be proven wrong. We shall see.

      • JoeRo

        I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the take home for opening weekend play out the way you describe, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Scott Pilgrim become this summers surprise breakout.

        I think the fact that these movies are being released right now will play a major factor in determining its success. In many parts of the states its back to school time, and some kids are already back in school. In my neck of the woods, the Chicago area, this means kids are out on the streets at all hours of the night, soaking up every last bit of sweet freedom summer has to offer. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see those kids blow up theaters nationwide this weekend. Hell the midnight showing I went to was packed almost entirely with minors.

        As you put it we shall see, but I definitely have my fingers crossed for a Pilgrim dominated weekend.

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