Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of March 27, 2015 includes Get Hard and Home, as well as a good handful of limited releases. Box Office Battlefield is here to help you decide which movie(s) will take priority over the others and determine who will be victorious. Should you see ’em, skip ’em, or rent ’em?
Last weekend, Cinderella fell to the glorified young adult adaptation Insurgent. However, the tweens had their fun and now there are two titans at opposite ends of the spectrum looking to win the box office. Could a foul-mouthed Farrell/Hart comedy beat the snot out of a cutesy DreamWorks animated feature, or vice versa? This is the Box Office Battlefield:
Get Hard (Etan Cohen) Rated R [100 min] – When millionaire James King is nailed for fraud and bound for San Quentin, he turns to Darnell Lewis to prep him to go behind bars. Starring Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie, and T.I.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 32% • Audience – 67%
Aside from the multitude of f-bombs, racial slurs, and homophobia, Get Hard is a lot better than I could have imagined. However, the movie struggles from being anything more than its surface level appeal. Etan Cohen teases some strong ideas and themes, but the script doesn’t capitalize on them to compliment the satire or make the story resonate with the viewer. Farrell and Hart have strong buddy comedy chemistry, as one would expect, though their characters, along with everyone else, are flat stereotypes. Surprisingly, there are not many moments where the jokes run too long, but the comedy isn’t progressive or fresh. Perhaps if this had came out about five years ago it would have felt a little funnier. RENT IT!
Home (Tim Johnson) Rated PG [94 min] – Oh, an alien on the run from his own people, lands on Earth and makes friends with the adventurous Tip, who is on a quest of her own. Starring Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, and Jennifer Lopez
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 47% • Audience – 67%
“DreamWorks movies are often about outsiders learning that they don’t have to fit in, a lesson the filmmakers may not have absorbed themselves.” – Jesse Hassenger (AV Club)
“Tension is one of “Home’s” biggest issues. There just isn’t nearly enough of it. Story is another. Even a kids’ movie needs more complexity and more invention.” – Betsy Sharkey (LA Times)
This is the third weekend in a row where I inherently felt the need to skip a screening because the film just looked terrible. When I saw the short film last year, Almost Home, I wasn’t impressed at all. The animation looks cruder than we have been privy to in a post-How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6 world. DreamWorks Animation‘s outsider storytelling approach didn’t strike me as interesting this time around. I think the alien thing has just been done to death. And again, the animation studio inserts pop culture references in the most inorganic ways that continue to irritate me because I know they can build compelling characters and stories but prefer cheap laughs instead. SKIP IT!
While We’re Young (Noah Baumbach) [Limited] Rated R [97 min] – A middle-aged couple’s career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives. Starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 81% • Audience – 67%
“Noah Baumbach’s latest is a comedy of cross-generational exchange that’s smart, lively, and beautifully observed-until it sours in a final act that undoes much of what precedes it.” – Keith Phipps (The Dissolve)
“It shows a director not so much mooning over the past, with regret for faded powers, as probing his own obsessions and the limits of his style.” – Anthony Lane (The New Yorker)
I’m not the biggest fan of Noah Baumbach’s, though he isn’t the kind of indie filmmaker that is going to bore you with artsy expressionism. His filmography is filled with layered characters, but his stories are not that fascinating to me. While We’re Young doesn’t look like anything new, but I can see how it could be fun with Ben Stiller and Adam Driver at the forefront. MATINEE IT!
Serena (Susanne Bier) [Limited] Rated R [109 min] – In Depression-era North Carolina, the future of George Pemberton’s timber empire becomes complicated when he marries Serena. Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Rhys Ifans, and Toby Jones
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 20% • Audience – 29%
“The actors don’t just look uncomfortable in their period duds, they also look uneasy in their own skins, which is a feat for two such natural, physically confident screen performers.” – Manohla Dargis (New York Times)
“Beating a dead horse barely begins to describe the task of writing about “Serena”; it’s more like playing coroner.” – Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal)
From all the headlines that I’ve read, and the slog of a trailer, I don’t want to touch this with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole. Although I am a little curious to see exactly how terrible it is. Sadly, Serena doesn’t seem like the type of so-bad-it’s-good kind of movie and more in the way of bad-bad. NETFLIX IT!
The Riot Club (Lone Scherfig) [Limited] Rated R [107 min] – Two first-year students at Oxford University join the infamous Riot Club, where reputations can be made or destroyed over the course of a single evening. Starring Sam Claflin, Max Irons, Douglas Booth, and Jessica Brown Findlay
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 66% • Audience – 55%
“Scherfig’s stagings of these suspenseful set pieces are masterful, but the rest of the thriller is a fairly predictable manifesto against Britain’s de facto oligarchy.” – Inkoo Kang (Village Voice)
“Adapting her own savagely funny play Posh, Laura Wade betters it by adding an additional female presence (Holliday Grainger) who sees these Bullingdon bullies at their worst.” – Neil Smith (Total Film)
I think you have to really be interested in societal commentary and the exclusivity of private clubs to really get behind this film. There’s a pretty decent cast in The Riot Club, but I would just hope that it isn’t just a one track pony. RENT IT!
Man from Reno (Dave Boyle) [Limited] Unrated [111 min] – A mystery outside of San Francisco brings together small-town sheriff Paul Del Moral, Japanese author Aki Akahori, and a traveler from Reno who soon disappears, leaving behind his suitcase and a trail of questions. Starring Ayako Fujitani, Pepe Serna, Kazuki Kitamura, and Yasuyo Shiba
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 95% • Audience – 94%
“Like his two leads, Boyle maintains a matter-of-factness that allows us to survey the evidence and reach our own conclusions.” – Michael Nordine (IndieWIRE)
“Dave Boyle’s ‘Man From Reno’ is the type of film where alleyways are home offices, every bar matchbox has an unknown number inside, and if a character enters a bookshop, you better believe old issues of “True Detective” are hanging visibly in frame.” – Charlie Schmidlin (The Playlist)
Man from Reno looks like a unique little thriller that is complemented by its international cast. It presents an unfamiliar mystery that audiences could really benefit from, which has my interest piqued. SEE IT!
A Girl Like Her (Amy S. Weber) [Limited] Rated PG-13 [92 min] – Jessica Burns enlists the help of her best friend, Brian, in order to document the relentless harassment she’s received from her former friend, Avery Keller, one of South Brookdale High School’s most popular students. Starring Lexi Ainsworth, Hunter King, Jimmy Bennett, Amy S. Weber
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 65% • Audience – 91%
“The two young female leads, exceptionally well cast, deliver strong performances, and the drama benefits from Weber’s interest in understanding rather than demonizing the bully.” – Sheri Linden (The Hollywood Reporter)
“Using a blend of doc- and selfie-style footage, director Amy S. Weber (Annabelle & Bear) aims to depict both sides of the bullying dynamic among teenage girls.” – Kate Ward (Entertainment Weekly)
Based on the trailer, A Girl Like Her has a very niche target audience. Regardless, I believe the content within has a strong message that should be seen by all. I don’t think it will come off as powerful as it is hoping to be, but it has a certain edge and conviction that makes it count. NETFLIX IT!
White God (Kornél Mundruczó) [Limited] Rated R [121 min] – Thirteen-year-old Lili fights to protect her dog Hagen. She is devastated when her father eventually sets Hagen free on the streets. Still innocently believing love can conquer any difficulty, Lili sets out to find her dog and save him. Starring Zsófia Psotta, Sándor Zsótér, Lili Horváth, and Szabolcs Thuróczy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 89% • Audience – 70%
“This is an entertaining, technically accomplished work, but unlike the 1982 Samuel Fuller race-relations thriller which the title references, its set-up ultimately proves distracting.” – Adam Woodward (Little White Lies)
“It is a fantasia of canine madness that looks sometimes like a horror-thriller based on something by James Herbert or Stephen King – and sometimes like a tribute to Hitchcock’s The Birds. Except that this time it’s The Dogs.” – Peter Bradshaw (Guardian)
I just heard about White Dog moments ago and believe this is one of those kinds of films that don’t come along as often as they should. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It won’t be any kind of game changer, but I do believe that the perspective and tone in which the film is presented will resonate with audiences. The visuals alone are very captivating. SEE IT!
As I said, the young adult sci-fi drama Insurgent audience had their fill last weekend. It’s very one quadrant and the we’ll see a plummeting retention. Cinderella will still have a strong group of Disney fans seeing it for the second or maybe third time this weekend. Otherwise the other recent releases such as The Gunman and Run All Night have seen very poor results. Get Hard is a pretty hard R in terms of crude vocabulary, but the combined powers of Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart could bring in a lot of moviegoers. On the other side of the coin, Cinderella wasn’t exactly a kid-friendly movie and Home could appeal to them more, especially with parents as a cutesy little romp. The biggest story of the weekend, however, is the fact that It Follows is expanding to 1,200 theaters beyond its original limited release plan and VOD debut. This could also draw crowds away from the bigger contenders because of all the buzz it’s received. Personally, I would suggest seeing that. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be: