MOVIE REVIEWS: THE ROCKER

Another Wednesday, another movie opening. Only The Rocker apparently has little chance of lifting the box office out of its usual end-of-August doldrums. Indeed David Wiegand observes in his review in the San Francisco Chronicle: "The opening date of the film was shifted around like the planchette on a Ouija board, a sure sign that the studio knew it had one of those 'Hollywood, we have a problem' movies that needed to arrive in theaters in a relatively quiet part of the summer season." The movie, which stars Rainn Wilson, a co-star of NBC's The Office, as an over-the-hill ex-drummer who returns from obscurity to push a young band into the limelight, is receiving some mighty discordant reviews from critics. "Leaden and unfunny" is the way Claudia Puig describes it in USA Today. Elizabeth Weitzman's review in the New York Daily News is headlined: "Rainn Wilson is off his 'Rocker' to take this role." Comments Stephen Holden in the New York Times: "Everything is secondhand and done by rote." Several critics suggest that the Rainn Wilson role was probably written for Jack Black and that Black turned it down. (There is no evidence that any such thing happened.) Writes Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe: "The Rocker is a grubby little redemption comedy that in every way feels like a consignment-shop Jack Black vehicle." The film does receive a few positive reviews. Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune writes: "It's a lot of fun. Its spirit is genuine and, even with the odd vomit gag, fundamentally sweet."

THEATERS TO BECOME CIRQUE TENTS

In the latest experiment with bringing stage entertainment to the movie theater, Cirque du Soleil's Delirium is set to begin a four-day (Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday Sunday) run beginning today in movie theaters across the country. The Hot Ticket production was filmed at the O2 Centre in London with high-definition video cameras. Tickets to the movie screenings are going for about $20 in most cities (versus about $125 for the live Cirque performances). Hot Ticket has previously announced that it intends to film the closing night of Rent on Broadway and present the production in theaters shortly afterwards.

ABBA SING-ALONG TO HIGHLIGHT LABOR DAY SCREENINGS

Universal may entice fans of the hit musical Mamma Mia! to return to the theaters over Labor Day by presenting a "Sing-Along Edition" in select theaters, complete with the lyrics to all of the songs appearing at the bottom of the screen. The film, which has grossed about $117 million is already set to become the fourth-biggest ticket seller of all time by the weekend, behind Grease, Chicago and The Sound of Music.

MURDOCH RECEIVES TAKE-HOME CUT; IT'S STILL $27.5 MILLION

News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch took a 14-percent cut in his take-home pay, but a financial statement indicated that the cut had nothing to do with his performance and everything to do with a change in accounting practices that affected the value of his retirement package. His total compensation for the year, the company said, was $27.5 million, including a salary of $8.1 million and a $17.5-million bonus. News Corp President Peter Chernin also received a salary of $8.1 million, plus a bonus of $11.3 million.

NEW U.S. COMEDIES SWELL TORONTO LINEUP

An impressive lineup of new movies has been added to the list of films slated to make their North American debuts at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 4. They include the Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading, starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich; Gavin O'Connor's Pride and Glory, starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell; Rod Lurie's Nothing but the Truth, starring Kate Beckinsale, Angela Bassett and avid Schwimmer, and Neil Burger's The Lucky Ones, starring Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams and Michael Peña.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.