Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Blue Jasmine

Release date: July 26, 2013 (August 2 in the DC area)
Running time: 98 minutes
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K.
Who to see it with: Someone drawn toward unlikable, but well-acted, protagonists


Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine skillfully balances comedy and drama better than the average dramedy. Left poor following the Bernie Madoff-like fall of her husband Hal (Baldwin), Jasmine (Blanchett) moves in with her lower class sister (Hawkins). Predictably, Jasmine does not readily accept her lowered status, barely concealing (and often readily displaying) her contempt for her new, poorer acquaintances and their meager surroundings. She's one of the most unlikable protagonists I've seen in some time, feeling no shame for being a mean, conceited, critical snob.

Somehow, Blanchett's performance and the script manage to make Jasmine somewhat sympathetic. As the film alternates between times before and after her husband's arrest, it becomes clear that she is also a victim of his actions in several ways, though her possible complicity in his crimes makes her less than innocent. She's clearly a bit unhinged, and her worsening mental state evokes both schadenfreude and tragedy. It's understandable that a dramatic change in lifestyle is traumatic, but that doesn't absolve her awful treatment of others. Most comedies about someone so troubled adopt an apparent lighthearted tone, but BJ's seriousness, understated humor and abrupt ending make the funny moments more unsettling, in retrospect. Blue Jasmine will make you both laugh at and pity its very well-acted, incredibly flawed protagonist.

See it.

Review: 2 Guns

Release date: August 23, 2013
Running time: 109 minutes
Starring: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton
Who to see it with: A Denzel or Wahlberg super fan


I'm a huge Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg fan. Seeing them together on the screen is a treat. They have a great chemistry as a pair: Denzel is an ice-cold, ultra-confident operator and Wahlberg is a smooth-talking, hard-headed fighter. They make a great pair and their interactions throughout the movie are fun to watch. The rest of the acting is also very good, with another highlight being Bill Paxton as an ultra-creepy antagonist--it was refreshing to see him back on the big screen.

Unfortunately, the 2 Guns is not simply a fun, buddy cop movie. Although Wahlberg and Washington steal the spotlight whenever they're on screen together, the film's story is confusing at best and distracting at worst. The movie has too many "relevant" personalities and while you are trying to keep track of all the different threads that are going on, it makes it a chore to try to stay on top of what's happening. This effort isn't always a negative, but it is when the threads themselves aren't very engaging and don't always make sense. Finally, there are weird geopolitical overtones that seem thrown in to try to make the story relevant and meaningful but just come off as bad. If the story wasn't so bloated and confusing, this might have been a must see. It's still worth seeing eventually just for Denzel and Wahlberg, but make sure to   

Rent it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: The World's End

Release date: August 23, 2013
Running time: 109 minutes
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman
Who to see it with: A fan of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz


Although it is not a sequel to the previous Edgar Wright movies starring both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, The World's End has a similar humor and a similar feel. The film follows five high school friends who return to their hometown to finally accomplish something that they failed at in their youth--to have a drink at twelve pubs throughout their town in a single night. However, when they get there, they realize that everything has changed, both figuratively and literally, mostly for the worst. 

Even though you would be forgiven for thinking that the World's End is a superfluous movie with silly drinking humor, if you thought that you'd be wrong. The movie has a pretty involved plot with many twists and turns that keep the audience entertained and guessing throughout the adventure. There are several subtle story lines and hints that are laced throughout the movie which will provide new details for viewers to notice during subsequent watches. And the themes that the movie deals with are much darker and more complex than the previous films; themes like dealing with growing up and disappointment. Of course there are call backs to the previous Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost movies, and any fan of their previous work will be delighted to see these. 

But, there are also plenty of new surprises and wonderful things in this movie. For one, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reverse their normal roles, with Pegg being the screw up and Frost being more straight-laced. It's fun to see this change and it introduces some new aspects to their already stellar on screen chemistry. And that chemistry is enhanced by the supporting cast, many of whom you'll recognize from previous Wright movies or from other British films. And, as with any drinking movie, there are going to be bar brawls, and the fights in the World's End are truly great. The actors did their own fights and choreography, so while the fights are meticulously created and choreographed perfectly, the fighting is less martial artsy and more bar brawl fight. Also, because the actors are fighting, they bring their enjoyable on-camera personalities into it. 

The cinematography is also splendid, with long shots, great camera angles, and wonderful sets. You truly get a sense that the actors and director love their work and it definitely shows through in the final product. And the writing is sharp and funny. The jokes work on multiple levels and references get repeated throughout the movie, helping the audience to follow along and feel like there is a sense of continuity in the story.

The World's End is a really good movie. It has a story that is funny but also deals with darker, more complex themes than you would expect, great acting, funny writing, and some excellent cinematography. It has plenty for fans of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to enjoy while still being a great movie that new viewers can appreciate. Like any good ale, The World's End is much more complex than it appears and should be enjoyed over and over.

See it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: The Smurfs 2

Release date: July 31, 2013
Running time: 105 minutes
Starring: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Brendan Gleeson
Who to see it with: Your kids


The Smurfs 2 is the sequel to the live action adaptation of the classic cartoon. It tries to keep some of the original aspects of the cartoon (such as characters) while adapting it for a 3D movie with some modern touches (technology and some cultural references). Animation-wise, the smurfs are fine when in their own village, but they look a little off when they move to the real world. It's kind of the risk of any sort of adaption of this type, but it's not just the smurfs either: the cat Azriel is also completely computer animated. He looks believable at times, but frequently looks the part of an animated animal. That being said, the movie opens with some truly beautiful animated sequences to recount the movie's back story and definitely starts the film off right. The acting is surprisingly good with an especially well-done (and corny) performance from Hank Azaria as Gargamel. It's a little awkward, but he's trying to capture the source material and it's as good as you could expect transferring over from the cartoon. The voice acting, however, is hit or miss. Many of the smurfs are enjoyable, but Smurfette and Papa Smurf are pretty distracting throughout.

The story is enjoyable enough, providing some justification for the smurfs to enter the real world and reunite with NPH and Jayma Mays. But the movie does drag down in the middle and feels like it goes a little long for a kids film. And speaking of being a kids movie, you can tell that that is the focus. The jokes are pretty slapstick; there are some references that adults will enjoy but overall, much of the humor is kind of childish. It's not unexpected for this genre, but other recent movies like Monsters U and Turbo have enjoyable jokes for both young and old. In the end, The Smurfs 2 is not smurf-tacular, but it is a movie that your children will enjoy. For a kids movie, that's about all you could ask for. I wouldn't see it in theaters, but if you have kids or are fans of the source material, 

Rent it.

PS - There are two stingers in the movie, one a little after the credits start and one at the end of the credits. In all honesty, the credits are a lot of fun to watch from a nostalgic point of view. They have hand-drawn-style animated smurfs that scroll throughout the credits; if you watched the show, you'll enjoy it. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Weekend box office for July 26 - 28; Wolverine barely makes the cut

The Wolverine was #1 with an average $55 million opening weekend, nearly equal to those of X-Men: First Class and the original X-Men. That number would have been solid back in 2000 when the series started, but pales in comparison to the big numbers posted by Iron Man and Man of Steel. Perhaps the series will return to its former heights with next year's Days of Future Past. The To Do List made an alright $1.5 million with a limited release. It had a lower theater average than recent limited releases Fruitvale Station and The Way, Way Back, and much lower than the 6-screen release of Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. The Conjuring was a strong second, not suffering from the significant second weekend drop that hit The Purge, the previous highest-opening original R-rated horror film.

Despicable Me 2 is still strong, and will soon become the second biggest film of 2013 as its $660 million worldwide gross rapidly closes in on Fast 6's $741 million. R.I.P.D. looks like it won't even reach After Earth's low $59 million, and will find little relief internationally unlike domestic duds AE ($235 million worldwide) and Pacific Rim (currently $224 million). Red 2 not only opened lower than the first, it's dropping at a faster rate too. And Red only finished with $90 million. See more details about the weekend here.

Weekend box office estimates for July 26 - 28:

1) The Wolverine; $55 million; opening weekend

2) The Conjuring; $22,130,000; $83,867,000 total; 2nd weekend

3) Despicable Me 2; $16,024,000; $306,413,000 total; 4th weekend

4) Turbo; $13,325,000; $55,768,000 total; 2nd weekend

5) Grown Ups 2; $11,500,000; $101,664,000 total; 3rd weekend

6) Red 2; $9,400,000; $35,074,000 total; 2nd weekend

7) Pacific Rim; $7,540,000; $84,026,000 total; 3rd weekend

8) The Heat; $6,850,000; $141,245,000 total; 5th weekend

9) R.I.P.D.; $5,857,000; $24,352,000 total; 2nd weekend

10) Fruitvale Station; $4,657,000; $6,339,000 total; 3rd weekend

Friday, July 26, 2013

What to Watch This Weekend: July 26, 2013

We've got a couple of foreign film recommendations this week that definitely should not be missed.  And David finds out that one of his favorite movies is available for free streaming.

In Theaters: The Hunt
The Hunt is a gripping drama about a man battling the dark side of society's natural, but sometimes misguided, tendency to condemn the accused.  It's only playing in a few theaters but it's definitely worth the effort to see it.

On DVD: Starbuck
Although they're remaking the movie in English, the French version is phenomenal and definitely worth watching.  It tells the a touching and funny story about a man who finds out that he is the father of 500 kids and tries to secretly meet them.  

Streaming (Netflix and Amazon): Equilibrium
Sure, the reviews don't like this one, but it's one of my favorite movies.  It's an older movie, but Christian Bale puts on a great performance.  It came out around the same time as the Matrix with a similar feel, but I definitely think it is the better of the two movies. 

Streaming (HBO Go): Ruby Sparks
Ruby Sparks is worth the watch for Paul Dano's performance alone.  He is just stellar in this slightly dark romantic comedy.  I saw it in theaters and loved it so make sure to take advantage and see it free on HBO Go while you can.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

News: A Rocky spinoff, Creed, may star Fruitvale Station's Michael B. Jordan

Fruitvale Station writer-director Ryan Coogler is reportedly set to direct and co-write a spinoff of Rocky titled Creed. The spinoff would focus on Apollo Creed's grandson who, despite not wanting to box, is believed to have the potential to follow in the boxing footsteps of his late champion grandfather. MGM is considering Fruitvale's Michael B. Jordan for the starring role, and Sylvester Stallone's Rocky would reluctantly return to the ring to mentor the descendant of his former opponent and friend. Coogler came up with the idea and the studio liked it so much they decided to pursue it. Creed would be the seventh film in the Rocky franchise, and it sounds better than simply having Rocky come out of retirement again for some strange reason. See more details here.

Review: The Wolverine

Release date: July 26, 2013
Running time: 126 minutes
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee
Who to see it with: Someone who absolutely loves Wolverine


Wolverine has always been a difficult mutant for the big screen. Whereas the other X-Men have powers that can be obfuscated to avoid the carnage they cause (i.e. Cyclops' laser just hits someone, Storm blows someone away with wind), it is tough to cover up the damage dealt by Wolverine's claws. This wouldn't be as big of an issue--Wolverine is sort of an anti-hero--if the previous movies hadn't tried so hard to establish Wolverine's humanity. What you get is a weird dichotomy between this anti-hero trying not to let his inner animal out and this mass murderer who goes on one man killing sprees. 

The movie is set in Japan after Logan is convinced to visit an old friend. I enjoyed seeing Japan on the big screen, and The Wolverine's shots of both crowded Tokyo cities and beautiful Japanese landscapes are enjoyable. However, the setup to get Logan to Japan, as well as everything that comes after that, makes little sense. The story becomes unnecessarily complicated, with too many moving parts and plot lines that don't come together in a coherent way. On top of that, there is a weird series of sequences involving Wolverine talking to Jean Grey that just don't work. The mutants they introduce in the movie are not very interesting and their powers aren't really exciting to watch. Maybe they thought the main show should be Wolverine, but some of the fun of these side stories is the ability to introduce some additional mutants to provide entertaining companions and adversaries. 

Sure, it's a summer movie, so the focus is on flashy action. And yes, the action sequences are good, although a little over the top. There is a train sequence that is fun to watch but also tough to digest because the train should have been demolished in the process. And the final fight sequence, while grandiose, is just not that interesting of a fight. It feels like there's not much purpose to it and some of the character changes are abrupt and too convenient. In the end, the Wolverine suffers from a story that just doesn't make much sense for an anti-hero that is painted partly as seeking redemption, but also just slaughtering bad guys left and right. It should still be seen by fans of Marvel movies in general, and Wolverine in particular, but just not at the theaters.

Rent it.

PS - There IS a stinger partway through the credits that is the best part of the entire movie. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Release date: August 16, 2013
Running time: 105 minutes
Starring: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster
Who to see it with: Someone looking for a complex story or fans of The Assassination of Jesse James


Writer / Directory David Lowrey has a lot of respect for his actors and his audience. In his new movie, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, he tells the story of a fugitive romance and the consequences our choices. It's refreshingly told with very little explanation or back story given. There are no overt sequences where characters say what happened, no explicit references to how people in the movie are related, and no unnecessary explanatory dialogues. Lowrey trusts the audience to piece together the backstory of the movie from the characters' onscreen actions, and it's a nice change from movies that spoon feed their audiences. That he is able to do this is a testament to Lowrey's writing; you have to be good at your craft to be able to subtly convey information without being overt. The writing is crisp and avoids any superfluous dialog; what the characters say is only what the audience needs to move the story along and drop hints of the past. There is no throw away dialog which means that there must be great acting to carry those scenes. Casey Affleck puts on his usual great performance--he is quickly becoming one of my favorite consistently good actors. Rooney Mara is great as a strong, but conflicted woman. Each character in this movie is complicated; no single individual is easy to read. They all have multiple motivations and their decision-making is never straight forward. 

The movie is set in Texas and the cinematographer definitely made the most out of it. The cinematography is beautiful, with serene Texas landscapes in many of the shots and a great use of lighting to highlight beauty and hint to the audience of some impending dread. Helping this along is some great background music. There are very few quiet scenes; the scenes without dialog are accompanied by some great atmospheric mood music. A strumming banjo, a guitar, a piano, some violins, a cello; all are used to set the mood of the film. 

Ain't Them Bodies Saints has a slow, complex story. Similar to The Assassination of Jesse James, the movie moves at a determined but plodding pace. Some viewers might be turned off by this but, although the story slows down at times, it doesn't feel like it stalls. It might not be a movie for everyone, but it is refreshing to see a director able to tell an interesting, complicated story with few Hollywood frills. This movie stands on solid writing, great performances, and an involved story that doesn't spoon feed its audience (and even leaves some holes unplugged). It's a refreshing, interesting movie that, while not for everyone, is an enjoyable experience. 

See it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weekend box office for July 19 - 21; Conjuring scares away Turbo, Red and R.I.P.D.

The Conjuring was the week's unexpected critical and commercial leader among major releases, taking the weekend's top spot with $41.5 million and stopping Despicable Me 2 from being #1 for the third time. The other new releases--Turbo, Red 2, and R.I.P.D.--fared less well, taking the third, fifth and seventh spots. Turbo premiered on Wednesday and took in $31 million over its first five days, but that's still a low debut for a Dreamworks picture. Puss in Boots opened with $34 million, but it also dropped only 3% in its second weekend, a feat I doubt Turbo will match. Red 2's $18.5 million was less than the original's $21.7 million opening, likely due to so much competition. Its cast may help it sustain attention similarly to Now You See Me, possibly bring it to a mediocre but not disastrous total. R.I.P.D.'s $12.7 million makes it the biggest summer flop so far, beaten by Pacific Rim which is struggling to reach $100 million. See how other movies performed here.

Weekend box office for July 19 - 21, 2013:

1) The Conjuring; $41,530,000; opening weekend

2) Despicable Me 2; $25,059,000; $276,159,000 total; -42.9%; 3rd weekend

3) Turbo; $21,500,000; $31,203,000 total; opening weekend

4) Grown Ups 2; $20,000,000; $79,500,000 total; -51.8%; 2nd weekend

5) Red 2; $18,500,000; opening weekend

6) Pacific Rim; $15,955,000; $68,235,000 total; -57.2%; 2nd weekend

7) R.I.P.D.; $12,763,000; opening weekend

8) The Heat; $9,325,000; $129,292,000 total; -33.4%; 4th weekend

9) World War Z; $5,200,000; $186,941,000 total; -44.2%; 5th weekend

10) Monsters University; $5,005,000; $248,998,000 total; 5th weekend

Friday, July 19, 2013

What to Watch This Weekend: July 19, 2013


It's a theater heavy weekend with some really great releases!  Beat the heat this weekend and catch a movie in theaters.

In Theaters: Fruitvale Station
The Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize winning Fruitvale Station opens in DC this weekend. Fruitvale Station combines a powerful recent event, amazing acting, and great directing. Together, they manage to tell a poignant and important story; one that should not be missed. 

In Theaters: Turbo
If you want something a little less emotionally powerful, or something to take the kids to this weekend, Dreamworks Animation's new animated movie Turbo is a great choice. The movie features some beautiful animation, good voice acting, a cute story, and a great lesson for kids and adults to learn. 

In Theaters: Red 2
If you want something a little less emotionally powerful, but want to leave the kids at home, Red 2 is a great choice. It has a stellar cast, an interesting mission, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's one of the few sequels that manages to surpass the original by having all your favorite characters in a better all around story. 

On DVD: 42
42 is part gritty sports movie and part Disney inspirational film. But you know what, I'm fine with that. It's a great story about a great man; a well done but not perfect movie. If you like sports movies or want to learn more about Jackie Robinson, see this movie now.

Streaming (Amazon Instant): Synecdoche, New York
This is the ambitious and abstract directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman, writer of Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It revolves around a sick theater director who, upon receiving a fellowship, crafts a strange, unusually massive theatrical production. It's one of Kaufman's most polarizing projects, with some critics hailing it as a classic while others feel that he should stick to writing. If nothing else, you will likely find it interesting and visually impressive.

Streaming (Netflix): The Intouchables
Alright, so we already had this movie on a What to Watch This Weekend, but after it was available that Friday, Netflix unexpectedly pulled it. It's back now and anyone who hasn't seen it needs to watch it. The movie is simply phenomenal. It tells the story of a wealthy paraplegic who takes a chance on a guy from the streets when he hires him as a caretaker. The two begin an interesting, funny, and wonderful friendship that grows throughout the movie.

Review: R.I.P.D.

Release date: July 19, 2013
Running time: 96 minutes
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker
Who to see it with: Someone who really wants another Men in Black


The Rest In Peace Department is a special group of police officers who track down and capture or destroy dead people (deados) that have not moved on to the afterlife. Think of it like a ghostbusters for ghouls instead of ghosts. Regular humans have no idea that the deados exist, so the R.I.P.D. must use various covers to keep us from finding out. Nick (Ryan Reynolds) unexpectedly becomes a new recruit who is paired with an old cowboy named Roy (Jeff Bridges). Nick has to learn the ropes quickly, because their first assignment develops into a nightmare of an adventure. 

The strongest part of R.I.P.D. is their characters. I'm definitely a Reynolds fan; he brings a confident humor to many his roles. Bridges is understandably over the top. He's great, but his old cowboy "I've done this a million times" shtick can get annoying at times. Still, he goes all out for the role and it's fun to see sometimes. Mary-Louise Parker is wonderful as the R.I.P.D. supervisor. The movie's main weakness is the story. It has parts that don't make sense, moves along too quickly and conveniently, and ultimately concludes with a climactic scene that is unsatisfyingly resolved. R.I.P.D. is an interesting premise but it feels like the story was not fully planned out and rushed at times. This isn't helped by special effects that are hit or miss. Some of the effects are nice, like a few moments where time freezes, but many of the others, like the deados that the R.I.P.D. fight, are pretty exaggerated and tough to swallow. If this movie sounds very familiar, it's because R.I.P.D. feels very similar to Men In Black. The story follows the same trajectory, the effects and over the top baddies that are clearly computer animated are similar, and the young, funny recruit paired with a wise cracking old hat formula has a very M.I.B. feel.

R.I.P.D. is definitely not a bad movie. It has good characters, pretty funny dialog, and some great actors. But it also has an unsatisfying story, some questionable effects, and actually feels a little too short, like the movie just lost steam at the end. 

Rent it.

3D Note - 3D was good but not necessary to fully enjoy the film. It looked great in some of the slow motion sequences but there was also some ghosting on some of the lighting effects. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Turbo

Release date: July 17, 2013
Running time: 96 minutes
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, Michael Peña, Snoop Dogg
Who to see it with: The kid in your life!


Turbo is the latest animated movie from Dreamworks Animation, the studio that brought you Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. It tells the preposterous, but enjoyable, story of a snail who gains superspeed because of a freak accident. The whole transformation part of the movie is pretty ridiculous, but it's forgivable because everything else about the movie is awesome! The animation is beautiful, especially the lighting effects. The movie is mostly set in Southern California and Dreamworks ensured that the SoCal night sky was filled with the lights of a vibrant city  (side note, they also hit many little Southern California touches, like when a character refers to a freeway as "the 101"). The animators did a wonderful job with the snails; each one is subtly different with imaginative and beautifully colored bodies and shells. And, given Turbo's main focus, the races are understandably a joy to watch, with little touches like debris on the racetrack and a scene where the screen is filled with confetti being especially eye-pleasing.

Helping the beautiful animation is some great sound. The racing scenes are especially pleasing to hear, with the screams of engines passing you left and right. The voice acting is also wonderful. Ryan Reynolds and Paul Giamatti make a great pair as snail brothers. The rest of the cast is likable,  especially Samuel L. Jackson and Snoop Dogg as a couple of snails Turbo meets after becoming super fast. With a movie focused on entertaining kids, there is always a fear that the adult viewers will be an afterthought. Luckily, Turbo has plenty of enjoyable little touches that provide random laughs and will keep you entertained. The story has a nice, constant movement that doesn't slow down or make pit stops. And, most importantly, the lessons from the movie are good ones for both young and old. Turbo teaches its viewers to never give up on your dreams, no matter how unreachable they may seem. It's a good lesson for kids and adults to take home!

See it.

3D Note - The 3D is well done. Didn't really jump out at you but added some nice depth to the driving and racing scenes.

Weekend box office for July 12 - 14; Pacific Rim suffers growing pains

Despicable Me 2 topped the box office again with a $44.7 million gross, bringing it to a total of $229.2 million. It will pass the original's $251 million total and its competition Monsters U by the end of the week, and is expected to come second only to Iron Man 3 in the American box office this summer. The weekend's two new movies, Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim, were ahead on Friday but were apparently frontloaded as they came in second and third. GU2 performed well, its $42.5 million slightly higher than the original's opening, but PR is the third big-budget movie in a row to open with worrying domestic numbers. $38.3 million is director Guillermo del Toro's biggest opening ever, but it's a weak start for a $190 million-budgeted film. The film will likely do little better than recent sci-fi pic Oblivion, which debuted with $37 million and ended with only $89 million. International theaters could lead it to a $300 million+ worldwide total. R.I.P.D. is expected to continue the string of disappointing openings next weekend.

The Heat continues to hold up well, coming in fourth, while The Lone Ranger had a fairly large drop to sixth. World War Z is creeping toward $200 million. Indian sports film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and true story-based Fruitvale Station opened well in limited release. See the entire box office chart here and other analysis here.

Weekend box office for July 14 - 16:

1) Despicable Me 2; $44,754,000; $229,237,000 total; 2nd weekend

2) Grown Ups 2; $42,500,000; opening weekend

3) Pacific Rim; $38,300,000; opening weekend

4) The Heat; $14,000,000; $112,363,000 total; 3rd weekend

5) The Lone Ranger; $11,140,000; $71,101,000 total; 2nd weekend

6) Monsters University; $10,621,000; $237,760,000; 4th weekend

7) World War Z; $9,430,000; $177,087,000 total; 4th weekend

8) White House Down; $6,150,000; $62,963,000 total; 3rd weekend

9) Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain; $5,000,000; $26,378,000 total; 2nd weekend

10) Man of Steel; $4,825,000; $280,995,000 total; 5th weekend

Friday, July 12, 2013

What to Watch this Weekend: July 12, 2013

In Theaters: Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim is like watching a video game. The effects are amazing, the plot is overly dramatic, and the dialog is pretty bad. But it's a fun movie to watch and a great summer flick. David said rent it, but that the best things about it are experienced in theaters. Lee said see it. Watch or Pass reader consensus also said that Pacific Rim is the best movie they've seen this week!

On DVD: Spring Breakers
Haven't seen this movie because I thought the trailer was terrible, but it's gotten surprisingly good reviews, especially for James Franco's performance. If you want to see James Franco play an underground gangster rap artist with grills, then check this out.

Streaming (Netflix): Hot Coffee
A documentary about the "Hot Coffee" lawsuit, where a lady severely burned her legs after spilling extremely hot McDonald's coffee, is available for free streaming. This case caused quite a controversy when it came out and the media whipped had some pretty polarizing views. The documentary is supposed to specifically focus on the reasons McDonald's invested a lot of money to try and sway public opinion. Should be an interesting watch!

Streaming (HBO Go): Trouble With the Curve
Clint Eastwood's baseball scout movie is a good sports drama. It explores the conflict between old and new, focusing on in person talent evaluation and more modern, statistics based approaches. It's a slow movie, but if you like baseball or sports movies in general, you will enjoy it. It also features great performances by Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Screening: Red 2

Screening Date: July 15, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM
City: Washington, DC

Retired CIA Agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) and the gang are back as they reunite on a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. We have some passes for the sequel to well received action-comedy hit RED for THIS THURSDAY in Washington, DC. The film has an all star cast including Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins, and Helen Mirren! The screening takes place on July 15, 2013 at 7:00 PM.  We saw this movie last month and loved it!

We will be selecting winners on Sunday. To qualify, you MUST be a fan of Watch or Pass on Facebook, so if you haven't "liked" us yet, please go there and do so now. After that, please comment on this blog post (using Disqus, so we have an email address to contact you at) with your answer to the question: What do you hope to do after you retire?  

My answer: I probably won't be able to retire, but if I ever did I would hope to travel some more and catch up on my video game backlog.

Review: Grown Ups 2

Release date: July 12, 2013
Running time: 101 minutes
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Salma Hayek
Who to see it with: Someone who likes Adam Sandler movies or someone who is coming to terms with their age!


Grown Ups 2 follows a group of friends on a very eventful day as they come to terms with becoming / being old with kids. You could almost call it a coming of age movie, if the age was in the forties. The four friends deal with balancing their kids, their age, and the realization that they are at a different time in their lives. That doesn't stop them from trying to relive some of their old glories with varying degrees of success. Adam Sandler has made a career of keeping his friends employed in his various movies. His production company, Happy Madison Productions, seemingly only creates movies that star or feature cameos by amigos he's made throughout his career. At the same time, you get the feeling that he genuinely likes the movies he's making and you have to respect his loyalty. And with each movie, he not only has cameos from many of the faces that have peppered his previous films, but also includes a few new characters who will hopefully appear in future Sandler flicks.

Grown Ups 2 is not a good movie, but it does have a fun collection of characters in some pretty ridiculous situations. The story is unhurried, as the four friends cruise around their town and find themselves in bizarre and occasionally hilarious situations. The acting is typical of a Sandler film--over the top with some pretty bad delivery. Many of the dialog feels broken and unnatural. And, as I seem to mention in a lot of movies, the CG is terrible in the few times it's used. But, there are plenty of genuinely funny moments throughout the movie and a ton of hilarious appearances by some great actors. Grown Ups 2 feels less like a story and more like a series of random encounters by Sandler and friends. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and--similar to the recent That's My Boy--leads to some very funny moments. The interactions between the four main stars feel natural and are the most enjoyable part of the film. The sporadic parts played by Sandler regulars and surprising new additions add laughs and craziness. Overall, it's an enjoyable experience but not a must see.

Rent it.

It's somewhat fun to watch but not a good movie. The four central characters loosely connect everything, but it seems like Sandler decided to not let things like logic and plot dictate the film's sense of humor. The random feel of GU2 is interesting because the first was fairly plot-driven, but the first film's plot wasn't anything special anyway. This approach allows them to fully focus on the comedy. The jokes come at a rapid-fire pace, and the cameos, poor CG and randomness of everything can make it a humorously absurd series of events. A lot of the humor is silly and ineffective, but there is so much of it that you'll probably find yourself chuckling at some point. I wouldn't recommend Grown Ups 2, but its nonstop madness sometimes works. 

Don't see it.