2009 Fall Movie Preview: October
Capitalism: A Love Story (October 2)
Though filming started before the global economic crisis that formed the surprise backdrop for the 2008 election, Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" may just as well have been ripped from the headlines that have dominated the papers and TV news since last fall. Moore is already responsible for three of the six highest-grossing documentaries of all time -- can he make it four?
Whip It! (October 2)
Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut in this grrl-power comedy about a reluctant beauty queen (Ellen Page) who finds her calling as a badass roller derby player. The premise might be a wee bit goofy, but with its positive message and a cast that includes Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, and Kristen Wiig, "Whip It" might be that annual movie that reminds studios women will turn out for a film -- in droves, even -- if speaks to them honestly.
Zombieland (October 2)
When Woody Harrelson was busted earlier this year for punching a photographer, he claimed his work on this dark comedy had tricked him into thinking the paparazzo was a zombie -- which is, when you think about it, about the best free publicity a person could dream up for a movie as utterly, insanely over the top as "Zombieland." Featuring a stack of terrific quips, classic Van Halen, and plenty of zombies biting the dust, the trailer makes so many wonderful promises that even if it only keeps half of them, "Zombieland" will earn cult classic status before its opening weekend is over.
Couples Retreat (October 9)
Jason Bateman, Vince Vaughn, and Jon Favreau joining forces for a comedy? You'd have to beat us away with a stick even if "Couples Retreat" didn't boast a setup -- three couples head to an island resort to work out their problems in group therapy -- seemingly bursting with possibilities for easy belly laughs. The trailer aims ominously low in its quest for humor, but with this cast, we're staying optimistic until "Couples Retreat" proves us wrong.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (October 16)
This adaptation of the bestselling Tucker Max book has been greeted by a chorus of disapproval so loud that the trailer -- yes, just the trailer -- was accused of nothing less than killing comedy. And yes, it is undeniably rude, misogynistic, and will most likely trigger laughs only in frat boys of all ages -- but the same could be said for all of Max's work, and he's been doing pretty well for himself up 'til now, hasn't he? One way or another, this thing is going to make money.
The Road (October 16)
After collecting dust on Dimension's shelves for a year, John Hillcoat's adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning Cormac McCarthy novel looks like it's finally got a release date that won't budge. All those schedule bumps have left "The Road" with the unavoidable taint of suckitude, but we know the source material is unimpeachable -- and the cast, which includes Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron, suggests it's just the latest in a series of Weinstein Company victims. Watch the trailer and see if you aren't inclined to agree.
Where the Wild Things Are (October 16)
Rarely has a movie gone from collecting such negative rumors (kids crying in test screenings, studio demanding reshoots) to building such a deafening buzz as the one currently enjoyed by Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are." The prospect of turning Maurice Sendak's 10-sentence kids' classic into a feature film seems utterly ridiculous, but Jonze's vision has been endorsed by Sendak himself -- and the trailer? Oh, the trailer. October 16 can't get here soon enough.
Astro Boy (October 23)
Feature films based on decades-old, semi-obscure, ultra-kitschy cartoons have been proven a dicey proposition (hello, "Speed Racer"), but with a distinctive CGI style, a voice cast that includes Kristen Bell and Nicolas Cage, and the built-in recognition of one of Japan's most beloved cartoon characters, "Astro Boy" could very well prevail over an October 23 slate that includes the sixth installment of a moldy horror franchise and the umpteenth vampire flick to hit theaters in the last few years. If you've got kids, you know where you'll be.
Saw VI (October 23)
After five chapters in the grisliest, most successful horror franchise of the 21st century, there isn't much to say about "Saw VI"; you know the plot will contain some twists and turns, you know there will be blood -- and plenty of it -- and you know there will most likely be a "Saw VII" in theaters a year from now. Love 'em or hate 'em, if you want gore this October, this is where to get it.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (October 23)
The vampire craze has reached such a saturation point that you might be tempted to reject anything with the word "vampire" in the title without seeing any of the details. We understand your skepticism, but it's an uncommon vampire movie indeed that boasts the talents of John C. Reilly, Salma Hayek, and Ken Watanabe. With a PG-13 rating and a built-in preteen audience that loves the series of books the movie's based on, this "Assistant" could end up claiming top honors on October 23.
Gentlemen Broncos (October 30)
The latest absurdist comedy from the creative team behind "Napoleon Dynamite" and, ahem, "Nacho Libre" concerns a nerdy misfit (Michael Angarano) who is horrified to discover that a well-known sci-fi author (Jemaine Clement of "Flight of the Conchords") has ripped off his story. Sounds like pretty straightforward stuff, but it ain't -- the trailer alone is loaded with "anous" gags, funny voices, low-budget interplanetary adventure, and Jennifer Coolidge screaming with a blowdart stuck in her tit. Interested yet? Yeah, we thought you might be. Check out the trailer, and scan your theater listings when "Broncos" kicks off its limited run on October 30.
The Box (October 30)
The movies of writer/director Richard Kelly ("Donnie Darko," "Southland Tales") have a reputation for being cool and esoteric to a fault, which is why Kelly's a cult figurehead despite the fact that his films have grossed next to nothing during their brief theatrical runs. "The Box" has been in the works for awhile, and boasts both Kelly's most personal story to date -- about a couple presented with a difficult proposition by a mysterious stranger -- and a cast that includes Cameron Diaz, James Marsden, and Frank Langella. If the silly (and crucial) plot twist spoiled by Diaz at Comic-Con doesn't get too much press, Kelly might just have a minor hit on his hands.