i>NUMBER TWO FORECAST TO BECOME NUMBER ONE

It will be high-brow versus low-brow at the box office this weekend as Sony's remake of the political drama All the King's Men vies with Paramount's Jackass Number Two for the top position. Universal's Fearless and MGM's Flyboys are expected to debut as also-rans. Most analysts expect Jackass to ride herd over the others, with several predicting that it will earn as much as $30 million. The original Jackass film opened with $22.7 million in 2002.

MOVIE REVIEWS: JACKASS: NUMBER TWO

The folks who will flock to see Jackass: Number Two are probably not the kind who will read the reviews of the movie. On the other hand, the folks who have absolutely no intention of seeing it probably are. The problem is that so scenes in the movie are so grossly obscene that most of the critics for "family newspapers" can't even describe them. As Gene Seymour writes in Newsday: "You're dying to hear about the gags involving body hair, fecal matter and horses, aren't you? Oh, look, we're running out of space! Some other time." Jessica Reaves in the Chicago Tribune begins her review by remarking, "Quite honestly, I don't know what to say about Jackass: Number Two." Nathan Lee in the New York Times pretends to approach the movie as if he were an art critic reviewing an obscene modern art exhibition: "At the root of the "Jackass" project is an impulse to deny the superego and approach the universe, with all its hard edges and shark-infested waters, as an enormous, undifferentiated playpen. That, and the impulse to watch a 400-pound woman belly-flop on top of a midget. The Surrealists would have loved these guys, and relished the film's signature image: the application of a leech to the surface of an eyeball." Kyle Smith in the New York Post does give readers a hint of what appears in the movie: "You probably know by this stage of your life whether you'd like to see a man place a sock on something that rhymes with sock and introduce both into a snake's den. But even if you find that funny (hell, I do), you probably don't need to see a beer enema or several vomit scenes, one resulting from a turn in the 'fart mask.'" Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel reluctantly acknowledges that he let out a "painful laugh" at some of the set ups, then thought, "I am so ashamed of myself." He adds, "What, exactly, does a movie ratings board have to see to give a studio picture an NC-17 rating? Granted, this is adolescent humor, in the extreme. But watching people defecate on camera should be an automatic." And Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe echoes: "It's a miracle that the MPAA let Number Two off with a mere R."

MOVIE REVIEWS: ALL THE KING'S MEN

The remake of All the King's Men was no doubt produced with the noblest of artistic and social intentions, but the filmmakers have found no critical reward for their effort. The drama, based on the political career of Louisiana politician Huey Long, is simply overcooked, most critics agree. Well, "over-" a lot of things, according to Philip Wuntch in the Dallas Morning News, who calls it "overacted, over-directed, over-written, over-photographed, over-musically-scored. And, oh yes, it's overwrought." Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times calls it "an unholy mess," then adds: "That we occasionally get a glimpse of the crackling entertainment this movie could have been only makes it more frustrating when the story and the performances lapse into overwrought melodrama seasoned with some deep Southern camp." "Nothing in the picture works," writes A.O. Scott in the New York Times. "It is both overwrought and tedious, its complicated narrative bogging down in lyrical voiceover, long flashbacks and endless expository conversations. ... It is rare to see a movie so prodigiously stuffed with fine actors, nearly every one of them grievously miscast." And Joe Morgenstern sums up in his first words in The Wall Street Journal: "What a botch."

MOVIE REVIEWS: FLYBOYS

Flyboys appears to be all about old World War I planes and the handsome pilots who flew them, but there's not much of a script here, the critics indicate. Indeed, Michael Booth in the Denver Post lifts quotes from the dialogue to describe just how bad he believes the movie is: "'It's a beautiful country. I can see why the French fight for it.' And, 'Every time I go up, I'm afraid.' Or, 'You can either join in, or go up to your room and cry like a little baby.' Wait, there's more. 'So you're a prostitute? You don't look like one.' ... 'I'll give you a half-hour to get out of town.' OK, that's enough, you're already reaching for the air-sickness bag and you haven't even met the Black Falcon yet."

REPORT: WAL-MART BLOCKS ONLINE MOVIE SALES

Wal-Mart may be single-handedly blocking the major studios from selling their movies on Apple's iTunes online store, the New York Post indicated today (Friday). "We all want to be in the Apple business," an unnamed executive at a major studio told the Post, noting that Apple's pricing -- $9.99 to $12.99 -- is lower than Wal-Mart's. According to the newspaper which cited other studio executives, Wal-Mart has sent "cases and cases" of DVDs back to Disney, the only studio selling movies on the iTunes site, and has threatened to retaliate if other studios do business with Apple. "They threatened to hurt us in terms of buying less [sic] products," a source told the Post.Cinemark Movie Club

Brian B.