The Christmas weekend warriors for December 25, 2013 includes The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Wolf of Wall Street, Grudge Match, 47 Ronin, and two limited releases. Box Office Battlefield is a recurring rundown of all the movie releases for the weekend. Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. Box Office Battlefield is here to help you decide which movie(s) will take priority over the others.
Last weekend, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was able to withstand the power of Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 news team. Not only did it hold off Anchorman 2, but a whole slew of new pictures, only dropping 57 percent in retention. Middle Earth has many new contenders to deal with this Christmas.
Will Ben Stiller take audiences to a whole new world or will Stallone and De Niro knockout the other contenders? Can Scorsese edge out the competition or will Keanu be the one to win the weekend? And then there’s Justin Bieber. Let’s get ready to rumble. This is the Box Office Battlefield:
(NOTE: Out of all of these films I have only seen Walter Mitty, Osage County, and Grudge Match)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Rated PG) 114 min – (Directed by Ben Stiller) Starring Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Sean Penn, and Patton Oswalt
Synopsis: A day-dreamer escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, he takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. (Watch the trailer)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 49% • Audience – 71%
Walter Mitty is the safe, family choice for the holidays. Ben Stiller does a decent job at pulling together a linear narrative, but fails at creating a character we can care about or get behind. It’s creative only when it wants to be and infused with product placement left and right that interrupts the story on multiple occasions. Mitty has glimmers of hope and fun ideas, but too often it beats the viewer over the head with its message that you should live your life to the fullest and all that jazz. RENT IT!
Grudge Match (Rated PG-13) 113 min – (Directed by Peter Segal) Starring Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Kim Basinger, Alan Arkin, Jon Bernthal, and Kevin Hart
Synopsis: A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout — 30 years after their last match.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 23% • Audience – 69%
How many films this year have we seen great, old actors trying to relive their glory days (Red 2, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Stand Up Guys, The Last Stand, Last Vegas, etc.)? And although Grudge Match is no different, it at least has some fun, adult humor that actually brings a chuckle here and there. The film does seem to drag on at moments, especially with this love triangle subplot. Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin, mostly Arkin, saves this film from being a total waste of time. Seeing the Bull and Rocky in the ring together is exciting to think about, but only if it were 30 years ago. RENT IT!
The Wolf of Wall Street (Rated R) 180 min – Director: Martin Scorsese Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, P.J. Byrne, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze, and Matthew McConaughey
Synopsis: Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 79% • Audience –86%
It’s a Scorsese film. It has one of the most interesting casting choices of the year (Hill, McConaughey, DiCaprio). And there’s enough cocaine to choke Scarface. What more could you ask for? The story doesn’t feel new, but the cast, the energy of the trailer, and the man behind the camera have a lot to be excited about. It’s been nominated for a few awards already as well. SEE IT!
47 Ronin (Rated PG-13) 119 min – (Directed by Carl Rinsch) Starring Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kô Shibasaki, and Tadanobu Asano
Synopsis: A band of samurai set out to avenge the death and dishonor of their master at the hands of a ruthless shogun.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 11% • Audience –69%
I have been looking forward to this film for quite some time; Rinsch’s eye for cinema has excited me since his short film debut, The Gift, a three years ago. But when the trailer debuted I became a bit skeptical. I’m sure it will be visually enjoyable, but doesn’t look like it has much substance. RENT IT!
Justin Bieber’s Believe (Rated PG) 92 min – (Directed by Jon M. Chu) Starring Justin Bieber, Scooter Braun, Ryan Good, and Usher Raymond
Synopsis: A backstage and on-stage look at Justin Bieber during his rise to super stardom.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – N/A% • Audience –N/A%
I haven’t seen Never Say Never, but I can only assume this is the same thing. Believe came out of nowhere. I hadn’t even heard of it until a few weeks ago when someone told me about it. Jon Chu directed Never Say Never so hopefully he has something more to add this time around, but I have a feeling no one will care other than the Beliebers. Don’t we get enough of Beiber in the tabloids year round? SKIP IT!
August: Osage County [Limited New York City/Los Angeles] (Rated R) 121 min – (Directed by John Wells) Starring Meryl Streep, Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, Sam Shepard, Julianne Nicholson, Margo Martindale, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Chris Cooper
Synopsis: A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 74% • Audience – 77%
If you’d like to believe there is a more dysfunctional family than yours, August: Osage County is the movie for you this Christmas. Osage County is one of the most realistic family gathering movies I have ever seen; the most worst case scenario you can find, but very realistic. This film brings a reality that not all families are perfect or created equally. It is a bit of downer, but the performances are spectacular on all accounts. The writing is strong and the story very hard-hitting and intense. I haven’t seen the play, but it definitely feels like one. MATINEE IT!
Lone Survivor [Limited New York City/Los Angeles] (Rated R) – (Directed Peter Berg) Starring Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, and Josh Berry
Synopsis: Based on the failed June 28, 2005 mission “Operation Red Wings”. Four members of SEAL Team 10 were tasked with the mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 61% • Audience – 87%
For those who know the story, Lone Survivor looks like a very gripping, true retelling of the story. Because it’s a film, I’m sure there might be some exaggerations and liberties to create a more entertaining narrative, but I would hope that it stuck to the truths. If you’ve seen the marketing or news stories on TV and do not know how it ends, aside from the title of the movie, you’ve been more than likely spoiled. Berg’s filmography (Battleship; The Rundown; Hancock) doesn’t give me too much hope, but how could he fail being that it’s a true story? MATINEE IT!
I’m sure Frozen or The Hobbit or Anchorman 2 will find a more prospering holiday weekend, but if there is one movie that can find it’s feet is Mitty. Because of its visually rich and positive messaging, and because it’s a new PG release, Mitty sands the best chance to make thee most dough. I believe Ben Stiller has a strong draw with audiences too. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend shall be:
Winner: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
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