Attractions: Kick-Ass Ready to Do Exactly That to Chris Rock
Welcome back to Movieline Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and pseudo-heroic at the movies. This week, a new comics franchise is born, a British comedy is reborn, and a surfeit of indies stretch the art-house seams. Titans are pretty much done clashing by now; read on to see who's dueling for No. 1.
WHAT'S NEW: I feel like we've been blitzed with Kick-Ass hype for years now, but that saturation hasn't turned anyone off to the pulpy, megaviolent promise of Matthew Vaughn's comics spectacle. I tend to agree with Michelle Orange that there's not much there there -- and what is there is predominantly slathered in a self-regard too fatty and cold to complement the treats within -- but zillions of American teens and 20-somethings will no doubt want to find out for themselves. The R-rating will work against Kick-Ass to an extent -- but not much of an extent, if Lionsgate's unapologetically kid-targeted marketing lands the direct hit it's expected to. Conservative estimates have it drawing around $29 million; I'd say it's closer to $35 million on a weekend when acquiescent parents will say "Enh, what the hell?" before shuffling out two hours later knowing their youngster has crossed the C-word point of no return. They grow up so fast!
After what happened with The Wicker Man, you had to imagine director Neil LaBute was either banned from ever taking on another Hollywood remake or desperate for a second chance to prove he could do it. His redo of the 2007 British comedy Death at a Funeral now suggests the latter scenario was the case -- and according to Stephanie Zacharek, all is apparently forgiven. (Or at least sort of forgiven; holy crap, Wicker Man sucked.) In truth, Frank Oz's original -- about the dark, compounded comic crises befalling the family of a certain late gentleman on the day of his funeral -- wasn't that phenomenal to begin with, and LaBute's odds didn't exactly drop with the ensemble casting of Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Martin Lawrence, Danny Glover, Zoe Saldana, Peter Dinklage, James Marsden, Luke Wilson and, like, half of the rest of SAG. This, too, is contending with an R-rating, however, and the adult-skewing material will probably keep the average viewing age mostly legal, resulting in about $20.5 million.
The Joneses and The Perfect Game are a couple of curios in more limited release (193 and 368 screens, respectively). Writer-director Derrick Borte's product-placement satire is maybe a little too on-point for its own good, but the cast is gorgeous and if you have to have anyone bludgeoning you with the moral consequences of unchecked consumption, it might as well be a naked Amber Heard or a smoldering Ben Hollingsworth. Perfect Game, meanwhile, had its inspirational tale of ragtag, '50s-era Mexican Little League champs pulled off the shelf just in time for baseball season; I'm not exactly sure who the audience is for this, which is always when a film sneaks up and does $15,000 per screen or something. Or not. We'll see.
Also opening: This year's Foreign-Language Oscar-winner The Secret in Their Eyes; the typically classy James Ivory drama The City of Your Final Destination (featuring Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney and Charlotte Gainsbourg); the revisionist, underworld Carroll retelling Malice in Wonderland (with Maggie Grace); the bracing ensemble drama Handsome Harry (with Jamey Sheridan, Steve Buscemi, Campbell Scott and Aidan Quinn); the gay-porn world thriller Pornography; and in NYC only, the Iranian indie-rock drama No One Knows About Persian Cats; the Thalidomide documentary NoBody's Perfect; and the education-crisis doc The Cartel.
THE BIG LOSER: Titans! Will! Plunge by another 50 percent or more!
THE UNDERDOG: I can't shake Exit Through the Gift Shop. From the swoony, jaunty pop scoring its raw opening vandalism montage to its unprecedented you-are-there glimpse at street-art insiders like Shepard Fairey, Space Invader and, ultimately, super-secretive first-time director Banksy, it's that all-too-rare film you literally haven't seen before. But more than that, it's the most adroitly made documentary I've seen this year (assuming it's true), turning a reported thousand-plus hours of footage into a seamless narrative about fame, obsession and art-world absurdity. I don't know who really directed Exit, but it doesn't surprise me that Banksy -- the man (or woman, or men, or women, who knows?) responsible for some of the most memorable street-art of this generation -- has crafted such a singular film once again prompting that ever-Banksian question: "How the hell did he do that?"
FOR SHUT-INS: Check out this week's DVDerby for selections from the latest round of home-video releases.