E: Ah, January, the time when I see all the movies I missed while I was too busy Christmas shopping in December and late November. (The Hobbit down, about 10 movies up next.)
M: Which is to say, it’s not usually a month to open a great movie.
C: While that’s not always true – sometimes you get some nice little films in January – this batch doesn’t look exceptionally tempting. Well, except for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Who could resist that?
Texas Chainsaw 3D
E: Forget every surly thing I’ve ever said about January. Who could be let down by blood and guts splattering from a chainsaw in 3D? If that’s not pure cinematic poetry, what is?
C: Um… Les Mis? Oh wait, your question was rhetorical, wasn’t it.
M: Seriously, for a second, every time I see a commercial for this I wonder what the appeal is. Why do people want to go pay good money to see people hacked apart in what is now a relatively unimaginative way?
E: Seriously, if you can answer this question, please let us know.
C: I hear this movie is eight times better than the popular beverage 7 Up.
E: Actually C’s lame joke is on target, at least as far as the math goes.
M: Readers of the Hitchiker’s Guide series, on the other hand, know that 7 times 8 is only 42. But I digress.
E: This is part of a revolutionary documentary series from the BBC: starting in the 60s with 7 Up, a group of filmmakers have tracked the lives of a classroom full of children, producing one film every seven years.
C: Huh. That is pretty cool. I wonder if they turned out to be interesting people? Also, how old must the filmmakers be??
M: Seems like a good idea on paper, but not something that would actually play out well on screen. I mean, actual school reunions are far less entertaining than movies like Romy and Michelle’s. Wouldn’t this be like a long, dull reunion?
E: Wow, have some faith in humanity, would you? It’s not a reunion – they follow and interview the individuals, providing a portrait of their generation and the state of life in Britain.
M: You’re making my point.
A Dark Truth
E: Oh, Andy Garcia.
M: What are you “Oh-ing?” What I’ve seen for this looks intriguing. A former CIA agent turned talk show host gets involved in uncovering a atrocity? I like that kind of stuff. And Forrest Whitaker is in it, too.
E: I don’t know, it just seems like Garcia (talented as he is) has been in a lot of dubious stuff of late, and this seems, well, dubious. Dubious idea, dubious execution.
M: Have some faith in humanity, would you? Actually, I can’t argue with you about his talent or track record, so, well, we’ll have to see.
C: There have been giant posters for this at the movie theater next to my gym for, I dunno, six months? I really thought this came out ages ago. That said, the posters are extremely stylish.
M: Wait, you have a gym? Not like you own one, but you got to one? I never knew that.
E: Ha ha. This could be the rare January release with buzz – Ryan Gosling is an undercover copper who takes on the mob and a very glamorous-looking moll (his Crazy Stupid Love costar Emma Stone). Her clothes make me swoon, if nothing else.
M: Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen, plus Josh Brolin and Nick Nolte (admittedly no guarantee of quality, either of them), and Giovanni Ribisi, who I’ve liked since My Two Dads. This is definitely a good bet to bust the usual January blues.
E: It was supposed to come out in the summer, come to think about it. (but there’s a scene with a massacre in a movie theater; after Aurora, the studio put the film on hold.) I guess that explains why it’s too cool for January.
M: Makes sense.
A Haunted House
E: A “hilarious” send up of the Paranormal Activity movies starring Marlon Wayans and Cedric the Entertainer.
C: Gee golly. I can’t think of anything more timely or worth paying $11.50 for.
M: What about Texas Chainsaw 3D?
E: Snort. I wonder if you have to have seen any of the Paranormal Activities to appreciate the hilariousness or not?
M: I wonder if you have you find the other crappy Marlon Wayans send ups funny to appreciate the hilarity?
Struck By Lightning
E: Movie reprises the promising life of perpetual high school student Chris Colfer after he is, you guessed it, struck by lightning. Rebel Wilson plays his snarky best friend and Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks and Dermot Mulrooney the adults in his life.
C: Really? From the trailer I assumed the lightning thing was just a metaphor. Colfer’s character wants to better his chances of getting into Northwestern to pursue journalism, and does so by catching every single bully in his high school engaged in public sex, snapping photos, and blackmailing them into writing for his literary magazine. I see nothing even a little tasteless or improbable in this premise.
M: This is currently being pushed on Comcast On Demand, and I have to say, it really looks like dreck. It looks like every typical high school “the cool kids are evil and the dorks win the day” movie ever made. Yawn.
E: Would it be mean to mention that Colfer actually wrote it?
C: Uh, maybe.
M: No, I think it makes it more understandable.
C: I have another cast concern, though. While Rebel Wilson’s PR camp seems to have redacted all statements of her age, it’s extremely odd to see her playing a high school student directly after appearing as an adult, alongside actresses mostly in their thirties, in Bridesmaids and Bachelorette. Chris Colfer may be 22, but at least he’s been posing as a teen in the public eye for years now.
The Baytown Outlaws
E: From the summary, it sounds like Billy Bob Thornton doesn’t appreciate being married to Eva Longoria; the movie starts with him shooting her, and goes from there. I’m not going to exactly say how the mighty have fallen, but wow.
M: Has Billy Bob ever appreciated anything in any role he’s played? He just seems like a sad, sad man.
E: Agreed. A sad, angry man.
Horrid Henry: The Movie
E: Richard E. Grant! In a children’s movie! Kind of perfect, no?
M: Fresh off his appearance in the Dr Who Christmas episode!
C: And Angelica Huston as an evil teacher, too. Apparently this is based on a popular English kids’ book series turned TV cartoon. The movie is live-action, however, and billed as the first British children’s movie in 3D. It looks like Dennis the Menace meets You Can’t Do That On Television (at least as far as quantities of flying slime goes).
E: Rebecca Front plays Henry’s headmistress Ms. Oddbod while er/Bend It Like Beckham‘s Parminder Nagra is another teacher, Miss Lovely. The children get together to try to save their school from closing, which would force them to go to school under rival – and clearly villainous – headmaster Vic Van Wrinkle (Richard E. Grant). The names are fabulous, anyway.
M: Vic Van Wrinkle is no Vinny Van Lowe.
E: Snort. Not that I would want him to be.
C: It all sounds rather Roald Dahl. That is, until you get lines like: “Why would I do my homework? I’m too busy being a rock star!”
E: Thud. That’s a let down.
M: Roald Dahl…. so many inside jokes from this Christmas, so few readers would understand!
E: Your wife, my husband, our cousin S … that’s probably it.
C: I wonder if this will get up any steam in America, since the series it’s based on doesn’t seem to have crossed the pond?
In Another Country
E: French film star Isabelle Huppert goes to South Korea.
C: Good for her?
E: One can hope?
M: Or one can ignore. I know which I choose.
E: Another, much creepier looking horror flick starring Jessica Chastain and Game of Thrones‘ Nicolaj Coster-Waldau hunting for their mysteriously missing nieces. They find the girls, but – and I know this will be a great surprise to you – they’re not quite the adorable, loving tykes of memory.
C: This is a genuine question for horror fans out there: do you get sick of creepy children movies? I mean, it seems like there’s at least one a year, usually more. Or is it just a stock thing like zombies or ghosts, that you are always happy to see in a new variation?
The Last Stand
E: Aaaahnold. And Forest Whitaker.
M: Big month for Forrest! Which, considering it’s January, is not likely a good thing. Not something I’m going to run out to see, and certainly not something the Mrs would join me in going to if I did, but I hope for Ahnold that this is good. It looks like it could be, for what it is.
E: Now, here’s a cast I wouldn’t have expected in a throw away January movie. Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlburg, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright – wow. Makes me think it must be pretty bad.
M: I actually just saw a commercial for it last night, and it looks AWESOME. I was shocked, first, that I hadn’t heard of it before, and second that it was opening in January. Then I thought more about it, and it’s not Oscar bait, so why fight against the movies going for that in December? Just push out to January, and hope people still want to escape to the theater if something entertaining comes out?
E: Could be, although I don’t think we’ve been watching the same commercials if that’s how they’re making you feel. Plot summary, in case anyone’s thinking of checking it out: former NYC cop Mark Wahlburg is asked to tail the Mayor’s unfaithful wife but finds evidence which inspires him to take down the Mayor instead.
E: Coming-of-age story about an 11-year-old boy, starring Common, Dennis Haysbert and Danny Glover.
C: None of them, presumably, playing the 11-year-old boy.
E: Yeah. It’s billed as a coming of age story, but I’m a little afraid it’s a “kid grows up too soon from watching adults do inappropriate things” story, which is not the same thing at all.
M: So, more A Bronx Tale than Dead Poets Society?
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
E: Oh yeah, baby.
M: I know next to nothing about this, but just the concept sounds fun!
C: Seriously, whoever came up with that title was a genius. For sheer camp value, it scores off the charts. What else does this movie have going for it? Well, there’s Gemma Artreton, that would-be It Girl of such memorable roles as “the chick in Prince of Persia“…
M: …I loved that movie, liked her in it and in the lousy Bond movie with the horrible title…
C: Jeremy Renner, whose newfound popularity must relate to his big eyes since I can’t imagine his stoic acting inspires it…
M: …I’ve been wondering that since he “burst” onto the scene a few years ago, and the latest Bourne movie he led was disappointing…
C: …witches re-imagined as magic-powered zombies… and a whole lot of butt-kicking action in pseudo-period leather garb. In short: it could suck utterly, or it could be quite fun.
E: Sounds like it could make a really fun rental.
M: Exactly, if it’s received better than Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, which looked equally like it could be fun or crummy.
C: The time setting is the vague mashup of medieval through 19th-century accoutrements usual to this type of picture (think The Brothers Grimm or Van Helsing). What do you guys think – is this destined for the same obscurity as its genre predecessors?
M: I hope not.
E: I don’t even know what to say about a movie that bills itself as shocking, dangerous, and only for the strong of stomach. One Farrelly brother directs, and it “stars” Johnny Knoxville, Gerard Butler, Anna Faris, Seann William Scott, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Halle Berry, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Kate Bosworth, Kate Winslet, Terrence Howard, Liev Schreiber, Elizabeth Banks, Justin Long, Kristen Bell, Patrick Warburton, Josh Duhamel, Jason Sudeikis, Chloe Grace Moretz, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jack McBrayer, Kieran Culkin, and Chris Pratt. Doing what? Well might you ask.
M: Given the length of that list, all I can think is that they briefly pass across the camera, and maybe introduce themselves? Do they even have time for anything else?
E: I’m pretty sure there are a lot of silly costumes involved, but I can’t imagine there’s an overarching plot.
C: I know what to say. “I’ll pass.”
E: Jason Statham romances Jennifer Lopez? Well, I guess it had to happen eventually.
M: Really disappointed with where his career has gone since The Italian Job.
E: Parker seems to be an iconic pulp fiction character, albeit one I haven’t heard of. Either of you?
M: Nope. Of course, I’d never heard of Jack Reacher, either, and that seems the same.
John Dies At the End
E: A sci fi-esque horror story about a street drug call Soy Sauce which renders some takers less than human. Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown star. And apparently someone dies at the end.
M: I’ve know about this movie for so long that I could have sworn it came out years ago. Still, I like Giamatti and The Kurgan (Clancy Brown) a lot, and it looks like it could be campy fun,. Like the Evil Dead movies. Or really anything starring Bruce Campbell, which includes director Don Coscarelli’s Bubba Ho Tep. Considering Warm Bodies opens the next week (we’ll get to that in the February preview!), it could be the start of a string of campy-fun movies…