SUMMER SLINKS OUT AT BOX OFFICE
It will seem like a typical August weekend at the box office when four films with little chance of drawing big crowds arrive to compete with the likes of Snakes on a Plane and Talladega Nights. Of the four, Disney's Mark Wahlberg football flick Invincible is being given the best chance for success, while New Line will be countering Snakes with How to Eat Fried Worms. Universal throws the OutKast musical Idlewild into the mix, while Warner Bros. has Beerfest on tap. Analysts are predicting that Invincible may earn just over $10 million, while the other three will probably end up with less than $10 million. The weekend will also see the expansion of Fox Searchlight's Little Miss Sunshine expanding to 1,430 screens. Last weekend, playing on fewer than half that number, the film drew the highest per-screen average of any film in general release and came in at No. 10.
MOVIE REVIEWS: INVINCIBLE
Several critics observe that Invincible is the kind of movie for which Disney owns the original formula and manages to churn out better than its competitors: the inspirational underdog-who-overcomes-all-odds feature. (A typical comment is Richard Roeper's in the Chicago Sun-Times, who writes: "The Disney sports-movie playbook remains predictable but pretty much unstoppable.") This one concerns the real-life Vince Papale, played by Mark Wahlberg, who on a dare tried out for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976 and made the team as a receiver. The film's release comes three weeks into the NFL preseason. "Invincible might not be in the Super Bowl of this year's movies," writes Stephen Williams in Newsday, "but it's psyched me for the season." In Papale's home town, Carrie Rickey predicts in the Inquirer that the movie will likely make Papale's name "in a matter of weeks ... synonymous with that of Rocky Balboa." Christy Lemire of the Associated Press sums up: "It's a great story. And it has the added benefit of being (mostly) true." A few critics throw the equivalent of penalty flags at it. Eleanor Ringel Gillespie in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives it a D+ and concludes: "If you want to see a movie about bad '70s hair and tiresome sports-movie clichés, Invincible is all yours."
MOVIE REVIEWS: BEERFEST
Critics are having a belch fest with Beerfest. Consider Bill Zwecker's comments in the Chicago Sun-Times: "Nothing works here. The script is less than juvenile -- and totally nonsensical. The acting is atrocious. There's no decent comedic timing -- which is somewhat of a problem for a comedy, don't you think? The entire time I watched this film, I felt I was merely observing a bunch of self-absorbed frat boys who got drunk, wrote a 'script,' got some clueless Hollywood suits to cough up the cash to make it, turned on a camera and then forgot to hire an editor to properly finish the whole thing." Geoff Pevere in the Toronto Star calls it a "movie that feels as if it was conceived, executed, edited and ultimately released by people in an advanced state of gassy inebriation." And Ty Burr of the Boston Globe begins his review by remarking, "Making a comedy that celebrates binge drinking and cretinous behavior isn't a crime against nature. Making one that's as brutally unfunny as Beerfest is."
MOVIE REVIEWS: IDLEWILD
The musical Idlewild, starring André 3000 and Big Boi of the hip-hop group OutKast, is receiving a lot of discordant reviews. Typical is Elizabeth Weitzman's in the New York Daily News. "Here's the good news," she writes, the film "has all the wit and creativity of [OutKast's] music videos. And here's the bad news: That makes it at least an hour too long." Similarly, Lou Lumenick writes in the New York Post that the film is "basically a series of music videos -- a few quite good -- strung together over two long hours and loosely connected by a weak story line loaded with anachronisms." Claudia Puig also takes a similar tack in her review in USA Today, writing, "The concept of blending hip-hop and elaborately choreographed dance numbers into a 1930s crime drama/love story is one of the most inventive of any movie this year. But by jumbling genres, fashions, music and locales, and riddling bullets through much of it, Idlewild ends up feeling disjointed and disquieting." Bob Strauss in the Los Angeles Daily News calls the film "too predictable and too weird." And Manohla Dargis in the New York Times remarks that the movie "just twitches and stumbles."
MOVIE REVIEWS: HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS
Of How to Eat Fried Worms, Michael Wilmington writes in the Chicago Tribune: "If your stomach doesn't churn a bit after hearing the title ... the picture itself may finish the job." Stephen Cole in the Toronto Globe and Mail suggests that the movie may be of special interest to youngsters who were barred from seeing Snakes on a Plane. "There is no getting around it, How to Eat Fried Worms is no more or less than its title promises. What we have here is a 90-minute worm-eating contest, a spectacle that could be of interest only to robins, small-mouth bass and eight-to-11-year-old boys. Girls, don't bother." And Lou Lumenick in the New York Post suggests that the film will probably find a receptive audience among preteens. "Gross-out title notwithstanding," he writes, "How to Eat Fried Worms is a blandly inoffensive 'After School Special'-type comedy based on a perennially popular children's book."
PRODUCER ARRANGING MOVIE DEALS FOR CONFESSED JONBENET KILLER'S FAMILY
Relatives of John Mark Karr, who has confessed to killing JonBenet Ramsey, have hired a "producer" to negotiate media deals for rights to the family's story. Little was known about the man, Larry Garrison, who told the Associated Press Thursday that he had received no money from Karr's relatives and that they were only seeking "to support John's boys' college education and to make sure all legal fees are covered." Karr's brother Nate confirmed that Garrison is representing the family.
WERE GRAZER'S CONGRATULATIONS TO REDSTONE REALLY IN ORDER?
Producer Brian Grazer is reportedly contradicting statements by Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone that he phoned Redstone to congratulate him on decision to break off ties with Tom Cruise's production company. L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke, citing a Grazer intimate (Grazer, she said, is on vacation and could not be reached), reported Thursday that Grazer had merely phoned Redstone "to ask what's going on." Finke's source added that "anyone would be shocked to see a private phone call ever discussed publicly, much less reported in The New York Times." Meanwhile, Paramount chief Brad Grey and Viacom CEO Tom Freston remained conspicuously silent on Redstone's critical remarks about Cruise. Today's (Friday) New York Post quoted an unnamed studio executive as saying that Redstone "chopped his management off at the knees" and "showed no confidence" in either. "they look castrated."