i>BOURNE TO CHASE SIMPSONS

The reign of the Simpsons at the box office is likely to be shortlived as Matt Damon arrives with The Bourne Ultimatum this weekend. Most analysts are predicting that the thriller will wind up with about $60 million, while The Simpsons Movie will slip to second place with $35-40 million. (It crossed the $100-million mark on Thursday.) Three other films will be making their debut this weekend, including Disney's Underdog, which was not screened for critics ("a sure sign that the movie is a dog," remarked Kyle Smith in the New York Post). It's expected to place third with about $15 million. Expectations are not high for the other two, either. Paramount's Hot Rod and Lionsgate's Bratz: The two movies are each expected to earn less than $10 million.

MOVIE REVIEWS: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

British director Paul Greengrass (United 93, Bourne Supremacy,) continues to impress critics, this time with The Bourne Ultimatum, starring Matt Damon."Greengrass brings a degree of honesty to a completely implausible fantasy that's remarkable," writes Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times. "Mr. Greengrass shatters movie space like glass," says Manohla Dargis in the New York Times, adding, "Mr. Greengrass knows how to do his job, and there's no one in Hollywood right now who does action better." Comments Claudia Puig in USA Today: "Let's just say it now: Paul Greengrass should direct every action thriller. The world of movies would be better for it." And Lou Lumenick in the New York Post, while calling the film, "far and away this summer's best three-peat," remarks that Greengrass "knows how to stage and edit bravura action sequences, generating almost unbearable suspense while deploying a superb cast." But Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post comments that the film makes no sense, is "frenetic to the point of crazy while achieving a mark that barely exceeds the mediocre," and that Greenglass's style is "sorely overused nere, never settling down to give us poor protoplasm sacks a chance to rest." And Jan Stuart in Newsday, while writing a mostly favorable review, concludes, "I'm definitely swearing off bologna before the next Paul Greengrass movie."

MOVIE REVIEWS: BRATZ

A day after the recall of millions of Chinese-made toys because of the lead content of their paint, critics are trashing Bratz, based on a line fashion dolls and a kids TV series, because of the lead content of its story. Ty Burr in the Boston Globe describes it this way: "It's pure marketing chum for tweeners: a proudly shallow, purposefully bland ode to girly-girl narcissism. I could actually feel my brain stem shrivel up as I watched it." Amy Biancolli in the Houston Chronicle begins her review this way: "O.M.G. ! This movie is SO BAD! I can't believe I just spent an hour and a half of my life, like, watching it, when I could have been totally trying on hairbands instead!" And Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune dismisses it as "the most horrifying film of 2007."

MOVIE REVIEWS: HOT ROD

Hot Rod is the latest movie to be ripped from the pages of Saturday Night Live. It stars SNL regular Andy Samberg as an Evel Knievel-wannabe. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times predicts that the movie will make Samberg a star. "With a trusting face, a gigantic smile and an occasional Burt Reynolds mustache, he has the innocence of many great comedians who always seem surprised at the way their schemes turn out." On the other hand, A.O. Scott in the New York Times writes: "Mr. Samberg's wide smile and eager manner are engaging, but he labors under the misapprehension that he is automatically, innately funny. There is a difference between finding humor in laziness and self-delusion and lazily deluding yourself that anything you do will bring big laughs." And Desson Thomson concludes in the Washington Post: "There's no question Samberg has a future in movie comedy, but this caper amounts to a false start."

PRODUCER LADD BEATS HOLLYWOOD'S ACCOUNTING SYSTEM

In the latest blow to Hollywood's notorious accounting system, a Los Angeles jury on Thursday awarded veteran producers Alan Ladd Jr. and Jay Kanter $3.2 million on their claims that they were cheated by Warner Bros. The studio's attorneys immediately announced plans to appeal unless the judge throws out the verdict. "I'm thrilled," Ladd told the Los Angeles Times following the decision. "I hope that other people will start doing the same thing -- taking on the studios instead of being afraid of the big, bad bosses." Separately, he told the Hollywood Reporter: "I hope it makes a difference in the accounting process in this business. ... The studios should stop being corrupt. When they start being honest, this business will change."

FEUD ERUPTS IN INDIA OVER GANDHI FILM

The great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi has defended a film about the turbulent relationship between modern India's founder and his son Harilal, even as prominent figures in India called for it to be banned. Tusher Gandhi told the London Daily Telegraph that he wept when he viewed the movie, Gandhi, My Father, which is being released in some countries today (Friday). "It was deeply moving and very finely balanced. It would be too easy to seek controversy and portray Gandhi as a 'bad' father. This film makes you feel the pain on both sides, for father and son." But Razi Ahmad, secretary of a major Gandhi research center in India and one of the protesters, said, "We are of the view that any attempt to tarnish the image of national heroes should not be permitted."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.