CAN MILEY CRASH THE CARS?
The debut of Hannah Montana: The Movie is expected to be no match for the second week of Fast and Furious at the box office over the Easter holiday weekend. But box-office prognosticators are saying that there could be strong competition for the No. 2 spot between the G-rated Hannah and the R-rated Observe and Report, starring Seth Rogen. A dark horse also figures in the mix, Fox's action-fantasy flick Dragonball: Evolution, based on a Japanese comic book, which was not shown to critics. Some analysts, noting that Hannah accounts for 75 percent of advance ticket sales on Fandango while Furious accounts for just 5 percent, suggest that Hannah may have an excellent shot of pulling off an upset.
MOVIE REVIEWS: HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE
Critics are giving generally good marks to Hannah Montana: The Movie, starring Miley Cyrus, but their generally bland reviews appear to reflect the fact that they expect few of their readers to go see it. For example, Claudia Puig in USA Today, who has probably been writing reviews for as long as Miley Cyrus, the movie's star, has been alive, remarks in her review, "If you like her on TV, you'll feel the same about the movie." Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer calls it an "enjoyable new film for tweens and their parents." Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle writes that the movie: "isn't an abomination. The characters are wholesome, the plot is easy to follow and the songs all sound the same, so you can really only get one stuck in your head at a time. But even as adults give their blessing for prepubescent moviegoers to see the film, they should be plotting to stay as far away from the theater as possible." Jeannette Catsoulis of the New York Times, however, dashes off a review in full LOL IM mode: "omg ashley, i've just seen "hannah montana the movie"!! and it's just as awesome as the tv show only bigger and prettier and she doesn't fall down so much. ... i love hannah sooo much. she's so CLEAN, you know?"
MOVIE REVIEWS: OBSERVE AND REPORT
Several reviewers observe that Observe and Report is a "departure" for Seth Rogen. He's no longer the cuddly-bear character of previous films. And the movie is "darker" than his previous films. But the reviewers are divided on whether that's good or bad. Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle comments that the movie is "as harsh and nasty as comedy can be, and if anything, it gets ruder and more outlandish as it goes along. Yet the acting -- this is key -- stays grounded in truth." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post praises it as "disturbingly humorous" and remarks that it's "admirable for venturing into very dark places rarely glimpsed in big-studio comedies ... like (gulp) date rape." On the other hand, Manohla Dargis writes in the New York Times: "It's hard to see what is so bold about a film that, much like the world outside the theater, turns the pain and humiliation of other people into a consumable spectacle." Then there's the middle position, taken by Rafer Guzmán in Newsday: "Observe and Report is a fearlessly weird comedy -- possibly too fearless. ... Be prepared for the laughs to stick in your throat." And Liam Lacey concludes in the Toronto Globe and Mail: "Observe and Report is one of those comedies that is more peculiar than actually funny,"
FRANCE'S "THREE STRIKES" LAW VOTED DOWN
France's proposed "three strikes" law aimed at Internet pirates, struck out at the plate Thursday, even after the French Senate and the National Assembly, the two houses of Parliament, passed their own versions of the law and committees of the two houses worked out differences between their two bills. According to published reports, the bill, which would have disconnected repeat file swappers from the Internet was regarded as such a cinch to pass that few legislators were seated in the chamber when the final vote took place. The bill was rejected by a vote of 15 for and 21 against. Socialist MP Christian Paul, who voted no, called the vote a "parliamentary miracle," But Culture Minister Christine Albonel said that the supporters of the bill had been trapped.
APATOW WINS YEAR ONE BATTLE WITH MPAA RATINGS BOARD
Year One has won its PG-13 rating, after all. According to trade reporters, producer Judd Apatow and director Harold Ramis went back to the editing room after an MPAA Appeals Board upheld the original R rating, made cuts, then took the film back to the board, which then re-rated the film PG-13 "for crude and sexual content throughout, brief strong language and comic violence."
ILLEGAL DOWNLOADS: ALL IN THE (NEWS CORP) FAMILY?
The firing of FoxNews.com entertainment columnist Roger Friedman came just four months after the London Sunday Times, another News Corp entity, published an article also showing the ease with which movies can be downloaded from the Internet, Mark Lynch, a columnist with TheWrap.com, observed Thursday. Commenting that the decision to fire Friedman, who wrote about how he was able to download a copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and went on to write a favorable review of what he saw, "does reek of double standards," Lynch noted that the article began temptingly: "Fancy watching the latest Hollywood film in the comfort of your own home tonight, free of charge?" It then went on to note that the pirated movies "are not the grainy versions filmed in cinemas with shaky camcorders and marred by the occasional member of the audience walking in front of the camera, but can be DVD-quality versions, sometimes even in high definition." The article then went on to recommend special equipment for downloading movies, including one inexpensive hard drive that "will download films to its [1 Terabyte] drive on its own." And while the article warns that downloading is illegal, it goes on: "There is no record of a film downloader being prosecuted in the U.K." And presumably there is no record of any employee at the Sunday Times being reprimanded -- let alone fired -- for running the article.