2008 Winter Movie Preview: February
It's February, gentlemen, and you know what that means -- yes, it's
time for the annual onslaught of goopy romantic comedies to be avoided
at all costs. Yes, Eva Longoria Parker is nice to look at, but that
doesn't mean you should enter a theater playing "Over Her Dead
Body" unless you're being dragged by a team of wild horses. Ironically,
the year's biggest V-Day flick, "Definitely, Maybe," actually
looks like it's definitely maybe worth seeing. Scroll on down for more!
Over Her Dead Body (New Line, February 1)
Starring: Eva Longoria Parker, Paul Rudd, Lake Bell, Lindsay Sloane, Jason Biggs
Director: Jeff Lowell
The Pitch: Rudd stars as a man whose grief over losing
his fiancée drives him to seek out the services of a psychic (played
by Bell). The two start falling in love, wouldn't ya know, but things
get complicated when Bell becomes possessed with Longoria's spirit.
The Buzz: Honestly, our first thought is "What the hell is Paul Rudd doing in this?" -- it sounds like the kind of thing you'd normally find Matthew McConaughey and/or Kate Hudson doing -- but on the other hand, Jason Biggs is on fire in the trailer, so maybe it'll all even out in the end.
Trailer Highlight: Rudd, frantically trying to spin a silk purse out of the sow's ear he was handed with this script.
Bottom Line: Eh. It won't be the worst thing to hit screens in 2008, but it isn't going to make anyone forget "40 Year-Old Virgin" or "Knocked Up." Or even Rudd's appearances on "Friends."
Official Site: http://www.overherdeadbodymovie.com/
Wilderness (Paramount, February 1)
Starring: Steve Zahn, Jonah Hill, Harry Hamlin, Robert Patrick, Joe Don Baker, Justin Long, Jeff Garlin, Ernest Borgnine
Director: Fred Wolf
The Pitch: Zahn plays Peter Gaulke, host of a wildlife
show on its way to cancellation. In order to save the show, Gaulke hatches
a crazy scheme -- save Bigfoot from extinction -- and madcap laffs ensue.
The Buzz: Four words: "Happy Madison Productions presents." If you count "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" among your personal favorites, and have lamented Adam Sandler's slow descent into Robin Williams-style family-movie treacle, that ought to perk you right up.
Trailer Highlight: Justin Long's eyelid tattoos.
Bottom Line: Saddle up with a nice bottle of Wild Turkey (the 101-proof kind) and spend the evening giggling yourself to sleep.
Official Site: http://www.strangewildernessmovie.com/
Eye (Lionsgate, February 1)
Starring: Jessica Alba
Director: David Moreau, Xavier Palud
The Pitch: A woman (Alba) receives a cornea transplant that leaves her with haunting images of her new body parts' previous owner.
The Buzz: The whole "Let's remake a horror movie from Japan or Hong Kong" trend has cooled considerably, but then, Alba has never shown herself to be particularly adept at choosing scripts. That said, there's definitely a built-in audience for this stuff (and by "this stuff," we mean "Jessica Alba").
Trailer Highlight: ...Unless "Jessica Alba" spends the whole movie looking like a wet cat, in which case we say she's looking at yet another box office dud.
Bottom Line: Can't be any scarier than "Fantastic Four 2."
Official Site: http://www.lionsgate.com/theeye/
Gold (Warner Bros., February 8)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Donald Sutherland, Ewen Bremner, Alexis Dziena, Kevin Hart, Ray Winstone
Director: Andy Tennant
The Pitch: A divorced couple (McConaughey, Hudson) gets involved in some sort of damn ridiculous treasure caper. Honestly, we aren't sure how.
The Buzz: Eventually, studios are going to stop paying for the privilege of underwriting rom-com turkeys starring either of these two; they're pleasant enough actors, but their movies almost always suck, and "Fool's Gold" looks like a sad continuation of the trend. This movie has nothing to offer that"Romancing the Stone" hasn't already done better.
Trailer Highlight: Donald Sutherland? What are you doing here?
Bottom Line: Really, even if you think you like this sort of movie, you aren't going to want any part of this. And even if you think you do, at least wait the six weeks it'll take for it to hit DVD.
Official Site: http://www.foolsgoldmovie.com/
Poughkeepsie Tapes (MGM, February 8)
Starring: Stacy Chbosky, Ben Messmer, Samantha Robson, Ivar Brogger, Lou George
Director: John Erick Dowdle
The Pitch: Presented as a documentary about a still-at-large serial killer, "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" mixes "The Blair Witch Project" with...oh, we don't know, "Halloween"? The setup rests on 800 videotapes "found by police" in a Poughkeepsie home -- tapes that depict, in gruesome detail, the killer's grisly spree. Expect lots of screaming and shaky first-person hand-cam footage.
The Buzz: It's all been sort of under the radar at this point, which is probably just how MGM wants it -- the later word of mouth starts, the more time the studio will have to take advantage of the "is this real or not?" angle.
Trailer Highlight: The running-toward-the-door sequence is pretty chilling, even if we have seen it hundreds of times before.
Bottom Line: Could scare the hell out of you. Could give you motion sickness (especially coming so soon after "Cloverfield"). Could do both.
Official Site: http://www.poughkeepsietapes.com/
Home Roscoe Jenkins (Universal, February 8)
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Michael Clarke Duncan, Louis C.K., Mike Epps, Mo'Nique, Cedric the Entertainer, James Earl Jones
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
The Pitch: Lawrence plays the titular Jenkins, who changed his name to RJ Stevens and built a career for himself as "the male Oprah." Going home for his parents' 50th wedding anniversary, however, confronts Jenkins with the friends, family, and self he left behind.
The Buzz: Lawrence's movies have generally tended to waver between unfunny and godawful, but for what this is -- a broad family comedy -- it doesn't look half bad. And besides, it's always a pleasure to see James Earl Jones.
Trailer Highlight: "I thought Nell Carter was dead! Gimme a break!"
Bottom Line: It's gotta be better than "Wild Hogs," right?
Official Site: http://www.welcomehomeroscoejenkins.com/
Maybe (Universal, February 14)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Derek Luke, Abigail Breslin, Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz
Director: Adam Brooks
The Pitch: Reynolds stars as a dad in the midst of a divorce -- and when his daughter (Breslin) asks him to recount how he and her mom met, he reluctantly takes a trip through the past, but changes the names, so she won't know which of his ex-girlfriends was her mom. So it's a Valentine's Day movie, but with a twist; the audience finds out who falls in love along with the daughter who is the product of their union.
The Buzz: It's tailor-made for its release date, true -- but don't let that scare you away; the screenplay boasts a nifty twist, and the cast is immensely likable. If you're roped into hitting the theater on February 14, you could probably do a lot worse than "Definitely, Maybe."
Trailer Highlight: "Trust me, Dad. You're not happy."
Bottom Line: Call us crazy, but we're looking forward to seeing this.
Official Site: http://www.definitelymaybemovie.com/
(20th Century Fox, February 14)
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Jamie Bell, Max Thieriot, Shawn Roberts, AnnaSophia Robb
Director: Doug Liman
The Pitch: Christensen plays a feckless young man who uses his genetically bestowed teleportation ability to live a life without boundaries -- until that ability draws him into a centuries-old war between "jumpers" and the army sworn to kill them (an army led by Sam Jackson).
The Buzz: Liman's got some action cachet, and you can never go too terribly wrong with Jackson. Sounds like it would make for a better comic book than movie, though.
Trailer Highlight: Call it a tie between the special effects and Bilson -- you sure aren't gonna see this for the plot or dialogue.
Bottom Line: Smack in the middle of the 2008 winter wasteland, "Jumper" might make for a decent President's Day Weekend action fix.
Official Site: http://www.jumperthemovie.com/
Up 2 the Streets (Touchstone, February 14)
Starring: Briana Evigan, Robert Hoffman, Telisha Shaw, Adam G. Sevani, Cassie
Director: Jon M. Chu
The Pitch: Yes, they really are making a sequel to 2006's atrocious "Step Up" -- and no, it isn't going direct to video. Oh, and the original cast? It's gone, too. At least we think it is. If you think we're combing through the IMDB to make sure, though, you're nuts.
The Buzz: Rebellious street dancer lands at prestigious academy, meets boy, blah blah blah. In other words, it's basically "Step Up" with the genders reversed. Are you blown away by how clever the filmmakers are?
Trailer Highlight: Well, it certainly isn't the dialogue or the acting. Use your imagination.
Bottom Line: Briana Evigan is the daughter of Greg Evigan, the actor best-known for his roles in "BJ and the Bear" and "My Two Dads." Looks like script-choosing ability is genetic after all.
Official Site: http://www.myspace.com/stepupmovie
Spiderwick Chronicles (Paramount, February 15)
Starring: Freddie Highmore, Mary-Louise Parker, Nick Nolte, Joan Plowright, David Strathairn, Seth Rogen, Martin Short
Director: Mark Waters
The Pitch: Mrs. Grace packs up her three kids, leaves New York, and moves the family into the creepy old house owned by their great-great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick. Mysterious occurences and strange disappearances ensue. Is young Jared to blame, or is some (possibly dark) magic afoot?
The Buzz: Sounds like a "Lemony Snicket" ripoff -- and yes, it's based on a best-selling series of books -- but it actually comes off more reminiscent of "Jumanji," only, thank God, without Robin Williams (and with the added benefit of a decade's worth of special-effects improvements).
Trailer Highlight: Hey, is that Nick Nolte there at the end? Either he spent hours in the makeup chair, or no time at all.
Bottom Line: Fewer phrases strike fear deeper into the hearts of parents than "Nickelodeon Films Presents," but this time, you might not regret taking the kids.
Official Site: http://www.spiderwickchronicles.com/
Mom's New Boyfriend (Sony, February 22)
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Meg Ryan, Colin Hanks, Selma Blair, Norm MacDonald, Thomas Joseph Adams
Director: George Gallo
The Pitch: Hanks plays a young FBI agent whose widowed mom (Ryan) is being romanced by a suspected art thief (Banderas).
The Buzz: No buzz, and once you watch the trailer, you'll instantly understand why -- aside from billing the movie as "Homeland Security" and using the tagline "It's safe to laugh again," the whole thing exudes an oily direct-to-video feel.
Trailer Highlight: Meg Ryan, what happened to you? And Colin Hanks, what are you doing in this piece of dung?
Bottom Line: We're honestly shocked that Sony is still threatening to inflict this on a wide-release theatrical audience, but hey, it's their tax writeoff, not ours.
Official Site: N/A
(Yari, February 22)
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lee Pace, Michael Landes, Chelah Horsdal, William B. Davis
Director: Joel Bergvall, Simon Sandquist
The Pitch: Gellar plays a woman whose life is turned upside down when her husband (Landes) and brother-in-law (Pace) are involved in a car accident that leaves them both in comas. When her brother-in-law comes out of his coma insisting he's her husband, Gellar is forced to consider the possibility that the brothers have pulled a spiritual switcheroo.
The Buzz: Boy, Freddie Prinze's wife sure does have a thing for low-budget screamers, doesn't she?
Trailer Highlight: Gotta be the hokey shot of Landes and Pace's blood mingling in the street after the car crash.
Bottom Line: Depending on how much you pay for the ticket, it could be a mildly entertaining way to spend an afternoon. But at full price? No way.
Official Site: N/A
Point (Columbia, February 22)
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt
Director: Pete Travis
The Pitch: The half-hour surrounding an assassination attempt on the President (Hurt) is seen through the eyes of eight people -- including two Secret Service agents (Quaid and Fox), a tourist (Whitaker), and a reporter (Weaver).
The Buzz: Cool idea, great cast. Sure, they can screw it up, but will they?
Trailer Highlight: Action, and lots of it.
Bottom Line: While reserving the right to change our minds at a future date, we're geeked to see this.
Official Site: http://sonypictures.com/movies/vantagepoint/index.html
Protection (Lionsgate, February 22)
Starring: Larry the Cable Guy, Peter Stormare, Eric Roberts, Ivana Milicevic, Joe Mantegna
Director: Charles Robert Carner
The Pitch: Larry the Cable Guy plays a small-town dolt (surprise!) whose interference in an FBI operation accidentally saves the life of a witness in a corporate corruption trial. Add poop jokes, rinse, repeat.
The Buzz: People keep buying tickets to Larry's concerts and movies, and paying for his shitty records, and despite our continued pleas to congressmen and senators, the law still prevents us from killing them all. If you watched "Delta Farce" and thought to yourself "What this movie could use is more Larry the Cable Guy," then "Witless Protection" is for you. (Actually, if you bought a ticket to see "Delta Farce," you probably can't read, and will therefore never see this, but whatever.)
Trailer Highlight: No trailer yet, but we're relatively certain there won't be a highlight even when the trailer debuts.
Bottom Line: From Hell's heart, Larry the Cable Guy, we stab at thee.
Official Site: N/A
(Summit, February 29)
Starring: Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage, Richard E. Grant, Simon Woods, Ronni Ancona, Nick Frost, Richard James
Director: Mark Palansky
The Pitch: Ricci plays Penelope, a girl cursed to be born with a pig's nose, whose quest for love and acceptance leads her into some very unexpected places.
The Buzz: This one has been sitting in the studio pipeline for months -- over a year -- and if not for Witherspoon's mojo, it's not hard to believe "Penelope" might have suffered the same slow leak to DVD that "Prozac Nation" endured. Now? It might be the first indie critic's darling of the year.
Trailer Highlight: Witherspoon, playing streetwise for the first time since "Freeway."
Bottom Line: It isn't as cute as it thinks it is -- in fact, the trailer lost us with the first shot of a would-be suitor jumping out of a window -- but it might be cute enough.
Official Site: http://www.penelopethemovie.com/
(New Line, February 29)
Starring: Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin, Maura Tierney, Will Arnett, Andy Richter, Rob Corddry, DeRay Davis, Josh Braaten, Jay Phillips, Jackie Earle Haley
Director: Kent Alterman
The Pitch: Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, the owner/coach/player of the American Basketball Association's Michigan Tropics. We're sure there's some kind of plot going on in the background there, but really, all you need to know is that Ferrell has a 'fro and wears tube socks.
The Buzz: Ferrell has gained the kind of box-office clout that provokes wildly divisive reactions -- some folks love him, some hate him, and very few have no opinion at all. You already know which side you fall on.
Trailer Highlight: Does the phrase "strategically placed basketball" mean anything to you?
Bottom Line: Looks like more "Anchorman"-style lunacy from the king of the genre. Whether or not that's a good thing is up to you.
Official Site: http://www.semipromovie.com/
Other Boleyn Girl (Columbia, February 29)
Starring: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Kristin Scott Thomas
Director: Justin Chadwick
The Pitch: The Boleyn sisters (Portman and Johansson) contribute to the steamy intrigue in the court of Henry VIII (Bana). The rest of it is really too complicated to go into here, but if you were paying attention in your history classes -- or if you read any of the novels in the series this movie is taken from -- you already know.
The Buzz: Ordinarily, this type of corsets 'n' crumpets flick is a guy's worst nightmare -- but ordinarily, said flicks don't star Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. Crafty casting, Columbia. Verrrrrrrrry crafty.
Trailer Highlight: Portman and Johansson, naturally.
Bottom Line: Might as well let your girlfriend drag you to it. You can pretend like she owes you one, then sit back and marvel at Johansson's assets in a corset for two hours. Everybody wins.
Official Site: http://www.theotherboleyngirl.com/