Winter Movie Preview, April Movies

2008 Winter Movie Preview: April

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Okay, so it isn't really winter -- but parts of April sure do feel like it, and since we here at Bullz-Eye don't do the whole "spring preview" thing, here's an early look at what's scheduled to be on offer at a theater near you in the four weeks before the summer blockbusters start arriving. Details are understandably sketchy this far out, but we can tell you that you should see Clooney, Jet Li and Jackie Chan, and Harold and Kumar at the cineplex before the month is out (and do your damndest not to see Rob Schneider). Read on for more!


Leatherheads (Universal, April 4)
Starring
: George Clooney, Renée Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Root
Director: George Clooney
Rating: PG-13

The Pitch: Clooney stars as Dodge Connolly, a fading football player who recruits a college star and war hero (Krasinski) to boost his team's flagging fortunes. His plan works -- a little too well -- and the two become rivals for the affections of a reporter (Zellweger) who's determined to dig up dirt on Krasinski. The story takes place in 1925.
The Buzz: It's been a pretty good year for Clooney, who did all right with a little indie flick called "Ocean's Thirteen" and will presumably earn positive reviews for "Michael Clayton." Krasinski, on the other hand, needs to atone for the horrible "License to Wed" if he hopes to build a film career. This should help.
Trailer Highlight: Clooney and Krasinski sure do look like they're having fun, don't they?
Bottom Line: Zellweger hasn't looked good to us since the closing moments of "Jerry Maguire," but we're intrigued by the story and the rest of the cast. We'll be looking forward to the trailer.
Official Site: http://www.leatherheadsmovie.com/

Nim's Island (Walden Media, April 4)
Starring
: Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin, Gerard Butler, Alphonso McAuley
Director: Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett
Rating: NR

The Pitch: Foster plays a -- groan -- agoraphobic travel/adventure writer named -- groan -- Alex Rover. She rarely even leaves her house, but writes about adventures all over the world, so she's the hero of choice for a girl (Breslin) whose island paradise is invaded after her father is lost at sea. Rover initially begs off, but constant pestering by her imaginary (and male) alter ego (played by Butler) sends her to the island to try and help.
The Buzz: It sounds ridiculous, right? And coming from Walden, you're probably expecting some happy-slappy "fun for the whole family" crap, right? Well, all of the above are true...but this is still sort of fun. No, really.
Trailer Highlight: "I don't need a goat, thank you. And you should probably wash your hands before you touch anything else."
Bottom Line: Foster, lest you forget, has comedic chops, and Butler and Breslin are among the hottest actors in their respective genders/age groups. Take the kids. Have fun.
Official Site: http://www.nimsisland.com/

College (Lionsgate, April 11)
Starring
: Gary Owens, Ryan Pinkston, Drake Bell, Kevin Covais, Andrew Caldwell, Haley Bennett, Nick Zano, Camille Mana
Director: Deb Hagan
Rating: R


The Pitch: The official summary says "A wild weekend is in store for three high school seniors who visit a local college campus as prospective freshmen," and that just about says it all, doesn't it?
The Buzz: Ryan Pinkston and Drake Bell do R-rated comedy featuring "pervasive crude and sexual content and nudity"? Looks like Judd Apatow's influence is even being felt by the tween idol set.
Trailer Highlight: N/A
Bottom Line: We'll wait until more details (and a trailer) come in, but at the moment, this looks like a 21st-century update on the classic teen-boobie flicks of our misspent youth, and that makes us happy.
Official Site: N/A

Prom Night (Screen Gems, April 11)
Starring
: Brittany Snow, Dana Davis, Jessica Troup, Scott Porter, Collins Pennie, Kelly Blatz, Idris Elba, Jonathan Schaech, Jessalyn Gilsig, Kellan Lutz, Craig Susser
Director: Nelson McCormick
Rating: PG-13


The Pitch: Another in the seemingly endless series of Screen Gems remakes of '80s horror flicks, "Prom Night" attempts to recreate the 1981 original for a 21st-century audience. They can't lose, right? Right?
The Buzz: Critics shit all over these movies, but they're cheap to make and kids don't mind dropping cash on tickets, so don't expect them to stop anytime soon. And really, which would you rather see: A "Prom Night" remake, or the next damn "Saw" sequel? Wait, don't answer that.
Trailer Highlight: N/A
Bottom Line: A PG-13 prom night? Yeah, sounds like a whole bunch of fun. Um, count us out, Screen Gems. Thanks anyway.
Official Site: http://www.anighttodiefor.com/

The Ruins (Paramount, April 11)
Starring
: Jonathan Tucker, Laura Ramsey, Jena Malone, Shawn Ashmore
Director: Carter Smith
Rating: NR


The Pitch: Based on the Scott Smith novel about a group of dumb American tourists who wander into the Mexican jungle to visit a Mayan temple. Bad, bad things start to happen. Kids, didn't anyone ever tell you never to wander off the beaten path in Mexico? Why not just tape dollar bills to your shirt, slap a sombrero on your head, and hop into a taxicab shouting "NO HABLA ESPANOL"?
The Buzz: Smith's novel got good reviews, but based on the trailer, "The Ruins" is just another lame teensploitation flick.
Trailer Highlight: The brief shots of whatever awful Mayan creepie-crawlie infests one of the girls in the group.
Bottom Line: Like "Turistas," only dumber. Feel free to use that as your tagline, DreamWorks! We won't charge you!
Official Site: http://www.ruinsmovie.com/

Baby Mama (Universal, April 18)
Starring
:
Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Greg Kinnear, Maura Tierney, Dax Shepard, Sigourney Weaver
Director:
Michael McCullers
Rating:
NR

The Pitch: Fey plays a single woman who wants a baby, but isn't willing to disrupt her career to have one -- so she hires Poehler's character to be a surrogate mother for the child.
The Buzz: A setup like that usually leads to the opposite of comedy, but with a cast like this, it'll be hard to go wrong. Since we know you're asking, though, Fey didn't write the script; those honors were handled by McCullers, whose previous credits include...well, according to ComingSoon.net, they include "Baby Mama." But we're sure Fey knows what she's doing here, right?
Trailer Highlight: N/A
Bottom Line: "Mean Girls" didn't gross $86 million for nothin'.
Official Site: N/A

The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate, April 18)
Starring
: Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michael Angarano, Collin Chou, Crystal Liu Yi Fei, Li Bing Bing
Director: Rob Minkoff
Rating: R


The Pitch: It's Jet Li and Jackie Chan, together at last!
The Buzz: How can they possibly screw this up? Oh, wait, we know -- by making the story revolve around the exploits of a doofus American teenager (Angarano) who stumbles upon the staff of the Monkey King (Li) in a pawn shop. Goddamn you, Mark Linkoff -- all you had to do was film Li and Chan flying around on wires for 90 minutes, and you couldn't even get that right.
Trailer Highlight: Hey, ancient Chinese kung fu masters spoke English! Who would have guessed?
Bottom Line: Based on the 97 seconds of footage we've seen, we predict there are going to be a lot of pissed-off martial arts fans on April 18. Call it "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dipshit."
Official Site: http://www.forbiddenkingdommovie.com/

The Rocker (Fox Atomic, April 18)
Starring
: Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Teddy Geiger, Howard Hesseman, Jeff Garlin, Bradley Cooper, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Rating: NR


The Pitch: Wilson stars as Robert "Fish" Fishman, drummer and co-founder of '80s hair-metal band Vesuvius. Kicked out of the group just before it rockets to superstardom, Fishman has to watch in frustration as his former bandmates have their dreams come true -- until two decades later, when a twist of fate puts him back in sight of his rock & roll fantasies.
The Buzz: Wilson's film career has been pretty underwhelming so far ("My Super Ex-Girlfriend," anyone?), but anyone who's ever watched an episode of "The Office" could tell you he's got a true comedic gift. Judging from the suitably insane setup, and the stills we've seen, we're optimistic that this might be his coming-out party.
Trailer Highlight: N/A
Bottom Line: Rainn Wilson? Jeff Garlin? Will Arnett? Howard Hesseman? We're there.

Big Stan (Yari, April 25)
Starring
: Rob Schneider, David Carradine, Jennifer Morrison, M. Emmet Walsh, Kevin Gage, Henry Gibson, Scott Wilson, Randy Couture
Director: Rob Schneider
Rating: NR


The Pitch: Schneider stars as a white-collar convict who uses his last few days of freedom to find a martial arts guru (Carradine, groan) who can toughen him up and help keep him from getting raped in the big house. He subsequently transforms himself into a badass who unifies the prison's warring factions (the official synopsis actually says he establishes a "hysterical peace").
The Buzz: The official synopsis begins with the phrase "'Big Stan' marks the directorial debut of Rob Schneider." You do the math.
Trailer Highlight: N/A
Bottom Line: If forced to choose between entering a theater showing "Big Stan" or one with an angry cobra coiled up on every third seat, we'd have to think for awhile before making our decision.
Official Site: N/A

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo (New Line, April 25) Starring: John Cho, Kal Penn, Rob Corddry, Roger Bart, Neil Patrick Harris
Director:
Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Rating:
NR

The Pitch: Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn), stars of stoner-comedy classic "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," resurface for the obligatory sequel, in which their attempt to sneak a bong onto a flight home from Amsterdam leads to a trip to the hoosegow. And not just any hoosegow.
The Buzz: If you've seen the first movie, pretty much all you need to know is that Neil Patrick Harris is back for the sequel. Game, set, match.
Trailer Highlight: If we could get the damn thing to work, we'd tell you. Maybe you'll have better luck.
Bottom Line: We're suddenly hungry for White Castle.
Official Site: http://www.haroldandkumar.com/

The List (20th Century Fox, April 25)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Maggie Q
Director: Marcel Langenegger
Rating: NR


The Pitch: McGregor plays Jonathan, a lonely accountant who is drawn into a private sex club (known as the List, duh) by his new friend Wyatt (played by Jackman). Not long after being introduced to the club, Jonathan becomes the top suspect in the disappearance of a woman and a $20 million theft.
The Buzz: You'd think a movie starring McGregor and Jackman would be at least somewhat talked-about, but no -- all we've got is a skimpy synopsis and the Russian trailer. (Yes, the Russian trailer.) What gives, 20th Century Fox?
Trailer Highlight: Hello there, Michelle Williams.
Bottom Line: This has all the markings of a springtime dud, but you can't argue with the talent. (Really, you can't. Go ahead and try.)
Official Site: N/A

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