A LAUGHING STREAK?

Two new comedies, Disney's animated Meet the Robinsons and Paramount/DreamWorks' Blades of Glory, will be competing for the top spot at the box office this weekend, but few analysts expect either will be able to match the $68-million opening of Ice Age: The Meltdown over the comparable weekend a year ago. Nevertheless, analysts observed, they might together surpass that amount and thereby preserve the winning streak of the past month, which has seen each weekend besting box-office results for 2006. Glory is expected to have an opening in the neighborhood of $40-45 million, while Robinsons is likely to come in second with $25-30 million, analysts are predicting. (They may have neglected to take into account the premium prices being charged for Robinsons by the more than 600 theaters showing it in 3D, the largest number of theaters to display a film in 3D since the 1950s.)

MOVIE REVIEWS: MEET THE ROBINSONS

The addition of 3D to Meet the Robinsons apparently hasn't succeeded in making the film the equal of Pixar's best, according to the critics. (Actually, the film was already nearly finished by Disney when the company's acquisition of Pixar occurred. It was then reworked by Pixar's John Lasseter, who was installed as Disney's chief creative officer.) Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post poses a salient question: "Has a movie ever really benefited from being shown in 3D?" On ABC's Good Morning America, critic Joel Siegel suggested, "If you've been selected designated chaperone, my advice: trade the 3D glasses for reading glasses and bring a book and a flashlight." Most other reviewers also appear to have adopted a ho-hum attitude towards the movie. "Zippy if forgettable," is the way Dennis Lim describes it in the Los Angeles Times. Claudia Puig in USA Today writes that the movie "is sweet, entertaining and amusing. And though the story is rather slight, there is still significant excitement." The film does receive a handful of outright raves. Phil Kloer in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls it "a family movie that everyone can enjoy, one with a real story and characters that don't empty out of your brain faster than movie soda moving through a 6-year-old." But the movie also receives some heavy-handed drubbing as well. Writes A.O. Scott in the New York Times: "Meet the Robinsons is surely one of the worst theatrically released animated features issued under the Disney label in quite some time."

MOVIE REVIEWS: BLADES OF GLORY

So long as the shenanigans in Blades of Glory are taking place on the ice rink, the movie succeeds in evoking almost uninterrupted laughter, most critics agree. but, as Kevin Crust observes in his review in the Los Angeles Times, it "skates on thinner ice outside the rink." Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe writes similarly, "As long as it's near the ice, Blades of Glory ... sticks a lot of its landings." Like Meet the Robinsons, Blades of Glory also has garnered wildly opposite reviews. On the one hand, Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal calls it, "blissfully silly, triumphantly tasteless, and improbably hilarious." Eleanor Ringel Gillespie in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution comments that it's "the sort of dumb-and-dumber comedy that keeps topping itself." Many suggest that the pairing of Will Ferrell with Jon Heder was nothing short of inspired. "Will Ferrell and Jon Heder execute their act wonderfully," writes Rafer Guzman in Newsday. On the other hand, Kyle Smith in the New York Post begins his review of the movie by writing: "You know those one-joke Saturday Night Live sketches that start to age after six minutes? Blades of Glory is one joke that lasts 93 minutes." Geoff Pevere in the Toronto Star describes it as "the lamest studio comedy since Wild Hogs." And Misha Davenport in the Chicago Sun-Times calls it "unclever and mostly unfunny."

PIRATES TO KEEP SAILING

Disney is planning to keep its Pirates of the Caribbean franchise alive even after wrapping up the current trilogy with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, which opens on May 25, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Friday), citing unnamed insiders. The newspaper said that star Johnny Depp has already made it known that he would like to return for another pirate adventure, and said production director Rick Heinrichs, "If Johnny's interested, why wouldn't they?" However, contacted by the Times, co-star Orlando Bloom remarked that although he had heard rumors of a fourth Pirates film, "they haven't said anything to me ... so I guess I'm not coming back."

FORMER TIMES EDITOR WOULDN'T HAVE APPROVED GRAZER

The recently fired editor of the Los Angeles Times said Wednesday that he would not have okayed an opinion page of the newspaper supervised by a guest editor as his successor had done. Last Sunday's opinion page, guest-edited by producer Brian Grazer, was yanked after it was disclosed that editorial page director Andrés Martinez was engaged in a romantic relationship with an employee of the public relations firm that represents Grazer. "I understand what they were trying to do," former editor Dean Baquet said at a Bank of America conference in New York. "I wouldn't have done it because it invites conflict [of interest]."

MPAA SLAPS HORROR FILM PRODUCER WITH SANCTIONS

In an unprecedented action, the MPAA on Wednesday suspended the ratings process for 30 days for After Dark Films's horror flick Captivity after unapproved ads for it appeared on billboards and taxi tops in Los Angeles and New York. The film would then fall in line at the end of April with other films waiting for a rating, making it doubtful that it could receive a rating before its scheduled May 18 release. Referring to the unauthorized ads for the film, Marilyn Gordon, the MPAA's senior VP for advertising, said in a statement: "The sanctions in this case are severe because this was an unacceptable and flagrant violation of MPAA rules and procedures."

Brian B.