Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard-earned dollars. The weekend warriors of September 25, 2015 includes The Intern, Hotel Transylvania 2, and The Green Inferno, as well as a 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? Find out below!
Last weekend, The Maze Runner sequel scorched the box office with $30.3 million in domestic ticket sales. Johny Depp fared well with Black Mass owning up to $22 million. But with three new wide releases set to divide audiences, will the young adult adaptation have what it takes to fend off its competitors? Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga! This is the Box Office Battlefield:
The Intern (Nancy Meyers) Rated PG-13 [121 min] – 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin. Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 55% • Audience – 79%
The Intern has all the right intentions. It has a progressive edge in its plot and characters, there’s solid chemistry between De Niro and Hathaway, and it speaks to this generation. Nancy Meyers movies definitely skew toward women, but The Intern has a voice that can be understood and enjoyed by all. Unfortunately, the further down the rabbit hole you go the uglier it becomes, and there’s nothing the actors could have done to salvage its remains.
Mad Max: Fury Road single-handedly demonstrates how you can take an bonkers male property and infuse it with feminist ideals without compromising plot or character for the sake of its agenda. The Intern doesn’t bother with this kind of subtlety. Nancy Meyers shoves her ideas down your throat to ensure you fully grasp what it means to be a woman in a successful company. Representing a woman at the top of her game at the head of a large company is a grand idea that’s rarely seen – The Devil Wears Prada (2006) comes to mind – but Meyers doesn’t allow The Intern to tell this story organically enough to feel completely honest with itself. Her direction and awkward comedic shifts derail the more heartfelt moments that are sprinkled within. Which is a shame because there is a lot to like about The Intern. RENT IT!
The Green Inferno (Eli Roth) Rated R [100 min] – A group of student activists travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished. Starring Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns, and Kirby Bliss Blanton
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 38% • Audience – 46%
“A fun and interesting twist on the travelogue sub-genre of horror … far better than many horror movies with twice the budget.” – Edward Douglas (ShockTillYouDrop)
“Eli Roth’s faux-smart, long-shelved, and exploitative-as-hell cannibal tale “The Green Inferno” is a remarkably perfect example of horror’s unexamined white privilege.” – Inkoo Kang (The Wrap)
Unfortunately there were no opportunities for me to see The Green Inferno on Thursday night due to conflicting screen times, so I decided to see Sicario instead. I’m sure I made a far better decision, but I really do eventually want to see The Green Inferno. Eli Roth may not be the greatest actor or have a keen sense of good movies to produce, but he has a decent eye for directing horror. I’ve enjoyed both Hostel films and Cabin Fever, so The Green Inferno tickles my fancy. Other critics who have seen the movie are wildly mixed, leaning more toward the negative end, but I will chalk it up to most critics not liking horror movies in general. I don’t think The Green Inferno warrants a trip to the theater, unless you want to hear other people’s gut reactions to the disgusting visuals. RENT IT!
Hotel Transylvania 2 (Genndy Tartakovsky) Rated PG [89 min] – Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.Director: Stars: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, and Kevin James
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 45% • Audience – 86%
“Hotel Transylvania 2 offers cute but brainless escapism for young moviegoers – as well as parents looking to distract their children for a few hours.” – Ben Kendrick (ScreenRant)
“The whole thing is amiable and colorful and surprisingly low on body-function gags. It may not kill you to take your kids.” – Glenn Kenny (New York Times)
Hotel Transylvania 2 wasn’t an option for Thursday night because it wasn’t being screened. Plus I’ve never seen the original, but I can easily guess what happens based on the trailer. This sequel looks like it’s much of the same shtick. Although critics are saying it’s good for the kids, I’m not sure it would be worth the time or money to see it in theaters. Who would want to subject their children to mindless entertainment? WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
Mississippi Grind (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck) [Limited] Rated R [108 min] – Down on his luck and facing financial hardship, Gerry teams up with younger charismatic poker player, Curtis, in an attempt to change his luck. The two set off on a road trip through the South with visions of winning back what’s been lost. Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Ryan Reynolds, Yvonne Landry, and Anthony Howard
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 90% • Audience – 60%
“Mendelsohn plays Gerry as a stringy, sweaty hunk of pure desperation, while Reynolds, as the ostensibly more stable partner, demonstrates yet again that he’s much more than a ridiculously pretty face.” – Mike D’Angelo (AV Club)
“Mississippi Grind captures the ecstasy of a good role of the dice and the desperation of a bad turn of the cards — and provides a sense of why some keep going even when it becomes clear they’ve lost their shot at a happy ending.” – Keith Phipps (Uproxx)
There was a lot of buzz for Mississippi Grind coming out of Sundance earlier this year. Ben Mendelsohn (Slow West) and Ryan Reynolds are on the up and up with these little indie features they’ve been appearing in this year. The trailer sets up an intriguing premise, one that gains my attention but doesn’t giveaway all its cards. Based on its praise, I’d be hard pressed not to wonder what’s so special about it. MATINEE IT!
Ashby (Tony McNamara) [Limited] Rated R [100 min] – High-school student Ed Wallis enters into a friendship with his neighbor, Ashby, a retired CIA assassin who only has a few months left to live. Starring Mickey Rourke, Nat Wolff, Emma Roberts, Sarah Silverman
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 46% • Audience – 56%
“Folks buying a ticket to Ashby hoping to see a film about the late-great director of Being There and Harold and Maude are about to be sorely disappointed. So is everyone else.” – Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)
“The film displays little ability to utilize Ashby’s violent actions for means other than high-concept fodder and out-of-place bloodshed.” – Clayton Dillard (Slant Magazine)
Last year we had an old man bestowing wisdom to a young lad in St. Vincent with Bill Murray. This year it’s Mickey Rourke’s turn to bring Nat Wolff into adulthood. I’m not sure when there’s going to be a specific genre category named for these old mentor/socially awkward youngster films (Bad Santa; Bad Teacher; Bad Words), but there’s a clear formula they all follow. The performances all look dialed-in and the trailer shows me nothing that hasn’t already been done before. I don’t see much of a reason to waste any money on it. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani) [Limited] Rated R [112 min] – A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real estate broker who’s the source of his frustration. Starring Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, and Clancy Brown
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 90% • Audience – 84%
“Bahrani’s dismantling of the American dream — a dream deferred — has finally reached its finest conclusion with the director’s finely wrought (and seriously fraught) 99 Homes.” – Kate Erbland (Film School Rejects)
“99 Homes is by no means a perfect film, but it can achieve something more precious, and rarer than glossy perfection: it can take you by the shoulders and shake the apathy and complacency away.” – Jessica Kiang (The Playlist)
Andrew Garfield has to fill his time with something more fruitful now that he’s off Spider-Man, so why not a little indie crime drama? The plot behind 99 Homes comes across very intimate and fresh. And based on the reviews and the scope of the film it feels like one of those indie movies that many will praise but unfortunately few will see. It’s not grand enough to gain awards season attention, but it definitely has enough clout to be worth your time. MATINEE IT!
The Keeping Room (Daniel Barber) [Limited] Rated R [95 min] – Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three Southern women – two sisters and one African-American slave – must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army. Starring Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Sam Worthington, and Muna Otaru
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics – 65% • Audience – 56%
“An intriguing premise never finds a dramatic pulse in “The Keeping Room,” a self-consciously artsy depiction of female grit during the final days of the Civil War.” – Sheri Linden (Los Angeles Times)
“Riveting from start to finish and profoundly crowd-pleasing in its later stretches, The Keeping Room is a spare but unsparing film that empowers its women by allowing them to find a power of their own.” – David Ehrlich (Little White Lies)
I don’t know what it is that turns me off about it, maybe it’s the loony Sam Worthington or the ugly period piece setting, but The Keeping Room looks like a colossal waste of time. WAIT FOR IT ON NETFLIX!
As De Niro has grown older his films have lost touch with the younger male demographic. He’s still a good show, but the stories he inhibits these days shy away from his more known roles. Nancy Meyers and Anne Hathaway are a good draw for moviegoers, but The Intern isn’t strong enough to create positive buzz traffic. The Green Inferno is alienating itself by its premise alone. Folks love horror movies, but not something this far away from mainstream horror. Adam Sandler may be toxic but the last Hotel Transylvania did OK in theaters and there hasn’t been a good kids movie since Inside Out released in June. And I’m sure parents have been waiting for the prime opportunity to get their kids out of the house and into theaters to annoy people. But if I were you I would go see Sicario. So as it stands, I believe the victor for this weekend will be:
Winner: Hotel Transylvania 2
What will you be watching this weekend? What did you think of the current releases? Tell us in the comment section below.
Movie synopses courtesy of IMDb.com and Tomatometer Scores from Rotten Tomatoes