2011 Winter Movie Preview: February
The Roommate (February 4)
Prime-time soap refugees Minka Kelly (“Friday Night Lights”) and Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) give “Single White Female” a college twist with this descriptively titled thriller about a lunatic freshman (Meester) who develops a dangerous obsession with her roommate (Kelly). We can certainly sympathize with Meester’s character’s plight, and the premise has a definite late-night-cable charm, but when was the last time you saw a great teen horror flick slash its way into theaters in February? If “The Roommate” shows up with an R rating, we’ll be a lot more interested.
Sanctum (February 4)
When are you interested in seeing a winter-release thriller about cave divers, starring that one dude from the “Fantastic Four” movies? When it’s executive produced by James Cameron -- and filmed using the innovative 3D process he helped pioneer for “Avatar.” “Sanctum” definitely has the look and feel of a second-generation Xerox of “The Abyss,” but Cameron tends to know what he’s doing -- this could provide your quotient of pulpy action thrills for the month.
The Eagle (February 11)
How much enjoyment you’ll get from “The Eagle” probably has a lot to do with how you feel about the sight of Channing Tatum in Roman soldier garb, but director Kevin Macdonald earned our trust with superior films like “The King of Scotland” and “State of Play,” so we’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt -- even if it means sitting through a PG-13 period epic involving swords, spears, Scottish mud, and a lost emblem.
Gnomeo & Juliet (February 11)
Touchstone throws its pointy red hat into the CG animation fray with “Gnomeo & Juliet,” a love story between -- you guessed it -- gnomes. It seems heartbreakingly likely that its awful title is an indication of the level of humor we can expect here, but it’s the first wholeheartedly family-friendly title of the year, and who knows? With a voice cast that includes Patrick Stewart, Michael Caine, and Ozzy Osbourne, this might actually be a ‘toon worth dying for.
Just Go With It (February 11)
Alas, poor Jennifer Aniston -- she spent last year being chased around by Gerard Butler in the pitiful “The Bounty Hunter,” and now she’s kicking off 2011 as the female lead in an Adam Sandler romantic comedy about an apparently dignity-free woman who agrees to pretend she’s the ex-wife of her boss (Sandler) so he can woo someone younger. Toss in a directorial credit from Dennis Dugan (“I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” “Grown Ups”), and you’ve got all the ingredients for $150 million worth of groin shots and boob jokes -- but on the bright side, at least this time Aniston probably won’t end up locked in a trunk.
I Am Number Four (February 18)
The latest entry in the tween film franchise sweepstakes comes courtesy of James Frey, who co-wrote the novel this D.J. Caruso action thriller is based on -- and who hopes to follow it up with five more books in the series. Of course, we’ve already seen plenty of would-be kid-friendly franchises fall by the wayside over the last decade or so, but “I Am Number Four” promises more action than most -- and if there’s one thing Caruso knows how to do, it’s keep you on the edge of your seat with a well-timed set piece or two.
Unknown (February 18)
Just reading the title makes us want to fall asleep, but just hang on a second: Liam Neeson is here, continuing the action hero kick he started with “Taken,” and he’s surrounded by an intriguing supporting cast that includes Aidan Quinn and January Jones. Director Jaume Collet-Serra hasn’t done much of note before (“House of Wax,” anyone?), but the premise -- Neeson plays a man whose family and friends suddenly don’t remember him, forced to go on the run from shadowy assassins -- is all but foolproof.
Drive Angry (February 25)
Another month, another adrenaline-soaked Nicolas Cage flick. This time out, he gets to go gleefully overboard as the hero (of sorts) in Patrick Lussier’s proudly goofy action thriller about a guy who breaks out of prison to prevent the psychos who murdered his daughter from sacrificing his granddaughter beneath the light of a full moon. And did we mention that Cage’s co-star is the frequently naked Amber Heard, or that the always terrific William Fichtner is also part of the cast? Start your engines.
Hall Pass (February 25)
The Farrelly brothers haven’t really made us laugh in a long time. If anyone can break that sad streak, though, it’s the cast of “Hall Pass,” about a pair of guys (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) whose wives (Christina Applegate and Jenna Fischer) decide to give them a week off from marriage, no questions asked. Their visions of one-night stands and rowdy good times aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, of course -- and if the Farrellys find a way to mess up this time, they might just want to hang it up for good.