Attractions: No, Really, This Weekend is Your Worst Nightmare
Welcome back to Movieline Attractions, your regular guide to everything new, noteworthy and/or past its sell-by date at the movies. This week, an iconic franchise receives an underwhelming reboot, Brendan Fraser battles nature, and after all these years, the horror genre finally goes ass-to-mouth. Read on for the weekend's projected winners and losers.
WHAT'S NEW: One, two, Freddy's coming for you... What a difference 26 years makes. The new A Nightmare on Elm Street bundles up all the eerie atmosphere, visceral spooks and conceptual novelty of the 1984 original and tosses them in the same blaze where uber-villain Freddy Krueger got all those nasty scars. That won't deter the majority of moviegoers from plunking down cash they'll wish they had back by the time Kellan Lutz grunts his sleep-deprived, tagline-ready epitaph, "These dreams -- they're real," right around the five-minute mark. I'd say it has a $31 million weekend in it before dropping 65 percent a week from now.
And hey, look! At last, history's most barfiest movie, The Human Centipede, makes its debut in American theaters. Or at least one New York theater, anyway -- until the mad scientists at IFC Films conjoin one more venue to its tail end next week, and then conjoins even more to those, both feeding and crapping out one big chain of revolted moviegoers. If you're missing the metaphor, don't worry: Movieline has friends who can explain. Everyone in-house is staying the hell away from this one.
Also in limited release, find Michael Caine's megaviolent vigilante drama Harry Brown, the New York watering-hole fairy tale The Good Heart, the Scott Caan novelist-romance Mercy, the parasomnia (read: killer sleepwalking) thriller In My Sleep (NYC only), the indie rom-com Timer (L.A. only), and the L.A. expansion of the disappointing Korean spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, the Weird.
THE BIG LOSER: Brendan Fraser brings the counterprogramming muscle -- or flab, really (he gained at least 15 pounds for his role, or because that's just what happens to Hollywood heartthrobs, whichever you believe) -- with Furry Vengeance, about a real-estate developer whose plans to wipe out a forest for a new project meet a formidable critter resistance. The market's month-long family-film drought would probably bespeak great things for this, but I don't think How the Train Your Dragon is quite done yet with its excellent run. Expectations aren't especially high for this to begin with -- like around $8 million and change -- but I wouldn't be surprised to see it peak near $7 million before vanishing to DVD oblivion.
THE UNDERDOG: I'll be honest: Please Give infuriated me when I saw it -- and that's not even addressing the philosophical statement of the film's closing sequence. (Should an audience really concern itself with the disposable-income outlay of an upper-middle-class New York City family?) No, what really pissed me off was how good it made me feel about feeling terrible about everything. While writer-director Nicole Holofcener seems to be chasing some kind of catharsis in her tale of a furniture-dealing couple (Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt), their elderly neighbor's granddaughters (Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet), and the variations of guilt entwining the two, she more readily finds creeping existential horror. It looks like a class-based New York phenomenon at first. But as Please Give rolls on, its humor morphs into a candor acknowledging the paradox of privilege: Whether emotionally, romantically, financially or culturally, having more than you need always means giving more than others might want. It's a miserable no-win situation, and I can't believe there's a film that not only communicates this, but gets it right. Stephanie Zacherek explains this (and the rest of Please Give) much better in her review; I'd recommend checking that out as well.