The weekend warriors of May 9, 2014 includes Neighbors, Chef, Mom’s Night Out, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, and a handful of limited releases. 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 and determine who will be victorious.
Last weekend, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had an amazing weekend. And after some lukewarm reviews, does Spidey have what it takes to defend itself against a slew of new warriors and Mother’s Day weekend? Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there? This is the Box Office Battlefield:
Neighbors (2014) (Nicholas Stoller) Rated R [96 min] – A couple with a newborn baby face unexpected difficulties after they are forced to live next to a fraternity house. Starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 75% • Audience – 79%
Between the numerous accounts of raunchy humor and outrageously hilarious physical comedy, Neighbors is a bonafide good time. The film proves that you can have ridiculous potty humor and still have a solid, meaningful plot – take notes Adam Sandler. Neighbors doesn’t quite hit the emotional beats it strives for, but you get the point. From the dildo fight to the uproarious breast-feeding debacle, Neighbors sets no boundaries as to how far it won’t go. SEE IT! (Read my review)
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (Will Finn and Dan St. Pierre) Rated PG [88 min] – Dorothy wakes up in post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tin Man and Glinda from a devious new villain, the Jester. Wiser the owl, Marshal Mallow, China Princess and Tugg the tugboat join Dorothy on her latest magical journey through the colorful landscape of Oz to restore order and happiness to Emerald City. Starring Lea Michele, Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd, and James Belushi
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 15% • Audience – 95%
That is a pretty polarizing tomatometer. The animation seriously looks like it takes the industry 50 steps backwards. Nothing about this movie looks good or enjoyable for adults to at least maintain their sanity. Here’s what the critics are saying:
“All in all, the beloved kingdom of Oz is not well served, though there’s just enough detectable affection to keep it from feeling like a pure cashing-in.” – Nicolas Rapold (New York Times)
“‘Oh, Toto, this doesn’t look like the Oz I remember,’ Dorothy murmurs at one point. Truer words were never spoken.” – Justin Change (Variety)
Sounds like a sure fire win… SKIP IT!
Moms’ Night Out (Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin) Rated PG [98 min] – All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and fun – a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation, and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours … what could go wrong? Starring Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton, and Trace Adkins
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 15% • Audience – 78%
Another polarizing clash between critics and audience. In my opinion, I think this movie looks like the worst thing to happen since Fun Size. Pure shlock with no redeeming qualities. Let’s see what someone else thinks:
“The real secret of Moms’ Night Out is not that it has a lesson for you – that actually sounds like a good thing in comparison to what unfolds over the film’s excruciating ninety-eight runtime – but that the film is plainly unfunny, the product of creators who shamelessly rip off other, better films without understanding why exactly those productions worked to begin with.” – Kate Erbland (Film.com)
Sounds about right. SKIP IT!
Chef (Jon Favreau) [Limited] Rated R [115 min] – A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family. Starring Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, and Sofia Vergara
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 88% • Audience – 79%
I like Jon Favreau in doses. He comes off very arrogant in his roles, but that’s not his fault. He does have a great eye for story from what we’ve seen in Elf and Iron Man, and I think Chef will be a great direction for Favreau’s career. What do you say other critics:
“Buoyed by a Latin-flavored score and Favreau’s knack for improv inspiration, Chef is the perfect antidote to Hollywood junk food. Like the best meals and movies, this irresistible concoction feels good for the soul.” – Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
“A total joy to watch. But one tip: make dinner plans for after, because you will walk away ravenous.” – Kristy Puchko (CinemaBlend.com)
I can’t wait. SEE IT!
God’s Pocket (John Slattery) [Limited] Rated R [88 min] – When Mickey’s crazy stepson Leon is killed in a construction ‘accident’, nobody in the working class neighborhood of God’s Pocket is sorry he’s gone. Mickey tries to bury the bad news with the body, but when the boy’s mother demands the truth, Mickey finds himself stuck in a life and death struggle between a body he can’t bury, a wife he can’t please and a debt he can’t pay. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Richard Jenkins, and John Turturro
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 33% • Audience – 40%
As John Slattery’s (Mad Men) first time directing a feature and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final credited role he filmed, the reviews are not treating it kindly. Let’s see why:
“Philip Seymour Hoffman,] John Turturro, Richard Jenkins, and Christina Hendricks round out a formidable cast that isn’t given much to work with.” – Keith Staskiewicz (Entertainment Weekly)
“Slattery adapted the book with Alex Metcalf and gets the tone just right. The film is damnably amusing.” – David Edelstein (Vulture)
Definitely sounds like there are conflicting emotions here, mostly leaning negatively however. WATCH IT ON NETFLIX!
The Double (Richard Ayoade) [Limited] Rated R [93 min] – A clerk in a government agency finds his unenviable life takes a turn for the horrific with the arrival of a new co-worker who is both his exact physical double and his opposite – confident, charismatic and seductive with women. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, and Noah Taylor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 84% • Audience – 71%
I’m a big proponent for Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska’s careers, so The Double definitely intrigues me. It definitely feels slow and meticulous with its plot, but I think it will be a good time. What say you critics:
“A darkly ironic and skillfully surreal examination of an unrealized life.” – Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times)
“This workplace-as-hellscape is not new territory, exactly – the story’s based on Dostoevsky, plays like Kafka, and looks like an Orwellian nightmare. But who’d complain, since it lets Jesse Eisenberg offer what amounts to an acting master-class.” – Bob Mondello (NPR)
Sounds good to me. MATINEE IT!
Palo Alto (Gia Coppola) [Limited] Rated R [100 min] – Shy, sensitive April is the class virgin, torn between an illicit flirtation with her soccer coach Mr. B and an unrequited crush on sweet stoner Teddy. Emily, meanwhile, offers sexual favors to every boy to cross her path – including both Teddy and his best friend Fred, a live wire without filters or boundaries. As one high school party bleeds into the next – and April and Teddy struggle to admit their mutual affection – Fred’s escalating recklessness starts to spiral into chaos. Starring Emma Roberts, James Franco, Jack Kilmer, and Zoe Levin
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 84% • Audience – 71%
This looks like a very melodramatic version of Adventureland without the amusement park. Let’s see what those who have seen it have to say:
“Gia Coppola’s film is an interesting, downbeat mood piece that may not climax conventionally, but is still a hypnotic and ambitious meditation on teen life.” – Witney Seilbold (Nerdist)
“[The] film’s profound identification with its teenage characters is ultimately its saving grace.” – Scott Tobias (The Dissolve)
Sounds like a mixed bag, but mostly positive. I like Emma Roberts, but James Franco can be a wild card. MATINEE IT!
Fed Up (Stephanie Soechtig) [Limited] Rated PG [92 min] – Upending the conventional wisdom of why we gain weight and how to lose it, Fed Up unearths a dirty secret of the American food industry-far more of us get sick from what we eat than anyone has previously realized. Filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig and TV journalist Katie Couric lead us through this potent exposé that uncovers why-despite media attention, the public’s fascination with appearance, and government policies to combat childhood obesity-generations of American children will now live shorter lives than their parents did.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 86% • Audience – 81%
I almost wasn’t going to mention this movie because documentaries get very little play in theaters and are hard for me to find the energy to watch, but Fed Up sounds like it has a lot of things to say that will have a major impact. Here’s why:
“Fed Up will change the way you look at junk food. Or at least the companies that peddle it.” – Scott Bowles (USA Today)
“Fed Up is imperative viewing for just about anyone in America who is currently eating food.” – Kofi Outlaw (ScreenRant)
Sounds tasty. MATINEE IT!
Neighbors is a hard R. Parents would be stupid to take their kids to this movie because Zac Efron is in it and Seth Rogen has a funny laugh. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 still has its merits, but it still is a pretty lousy film. I’m sure there will be a lot of kids sneaking into Neighbors because they pay for Spider-Man, so you have to factor in that little nugget. Parents might take their kids to see Mom’s Night Out or Legends of Oz because of the titles or the characters, but I hope the reviews persuade them not to. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend shall be:
Winner: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
But just barely.
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