Howdy folks. Last week, some technical difficulties along with sleep deprivation issues were the causes for my column's absence. It's a whole new week though, folks, so lets get the ball rolling with what I watched last week.

WHAT DID GALLAGHER WATCH LAST WEEK?

Shadow Warriors: The Complete First Season:

I was really pumped when I got this Sonny Chiba series, but it took me awhile to get to it because I wanted to get other DVD's out of the way first. It was well worth the wait, folks. CLICK HERE for my full review.

Dinosaurs: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons:

The last two seasons of this surprisingly short-lived show. Some brilliant writing and humor from a show that was years ahead of its time. CLICK HERE for my full review.

The 4400: The Complete Third Season:

I've never gotten around to checking this show out, but I've always heard good things about it. We get a very original premise here with a solid (and rather large) cast. CLICK HERE for my full review.

Beauty and the Beast: The Complete Second Season:

You can check out Ron Perlman before Hellboy and Linda Hamilton in between the first two Terminator flicks (a vast difference in character, mind you) in this syrupy set. CLICK HERE for my full review.

The Simpsons Movie:

There aren't many movies out there that were 18 years or so in the making, but The Simpsons Movie is certainly one of them. The longest running sitcom in television history has finally come to the big screen, and it's been well worth the wait. Creator Matt Groening and his army of writers (pun intended; there were 15 writers credited to this movie!) certainly do go a little Hollywood on us, but they also make fun of that fact in several ways, especially in the first scene. They even have a crawl publicizing Prison Break for Fox during the movie. Hilarity.

We don't really learn anything new about anyone in Springfield here, it's just a story that is stretched out to cover a full-length feature... barely, though, at just 87 minutes. It's a story that they went to great lengths to protect, which was just brilliant because, since I had no idea what to expect (and with the trailer dropping ominous clues), I was certainly pleased with the outcome. We get the same brand of humor (plenty of choke's and doh's and everything else you'd come to expect) and the only real newcomers to the whole cast are a boy Lisa pines for, a wonderful cameo by Green Day and, of course, the pig a.k.a. Spider-Pig. So, to recap, it's the same brand of humor with the same characters and, essentially, the same sort of story. That begs the question: why should you go?

Easy. You should go because of the same reason you've watched the show for 18 years. You should go because Groening and Co. are smart enough to know that it indeed isn't broke and there's no need to fix it. You should go because you know you just can't get enough of those yellow folks from Springfield (state unknown) and this movie might just cement the legend of The Simpsons with a great movie that's still fresh after almost two decades.

NOTABLES

"Ray Stevenson Is The Punisher" - Monday, July 23:

Hmm. This Stevenson guy does have the right "look" for this Punisher character, but I'm really surprised this is going forward at all... pleasantly surprised. The last installment, with Thomas Jane, only took in $33.6 million. Although it only had a $15.5 million budget, these still aren't astounding numbers here. I did enjoy the last Punisher vehicle and this sequel gets another great new addition as well with director Lexi Alexander. She directed the smash-mouth Brit flick Green Street Hooligans and she seems like a perfect choice to give the skull-shirted one a new perspective. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"D.J. Caruso to Direct Y: The Last Man" - Monday, July 23:

This one might sound a little odd, but I'm willing to take a chance on it because of who's involved behind the camera. D.J. Caruso will direct and Carl Ellsworth will write this project about a magician who is the last man left on Earth after a plague wipes out the rest of the male mammals and then travels the globe to find out what happened. You might not know Caruso and Ellsworth's names, but they were the director and writer of the sleeper hit Disturbia and a fine pair of filmmakers. Caruso also has the marvelous indie Disturbia and the underrated Two For the Money under his directorial belt and Ellsworth's only other feature writing credit was the solid thriller Red Eye. I think Disturbia proved they're a pretty damn good team and I'll back this one up, as long as they both stay attached. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Brian Robbins to Direct and Produce Jailhouse Rock" - Monday, July 23:

Ugh. This guy is still working? The former actor-turned-bad-director has only turned out one solid flick, his second one, actually, Varsity Blues. It's been downhill from there with drivel like Ready To Rumble, The Perfect Score, The Shaggy Dog and this year's Norbit, which I'm still shocked that it made almost $100 million. That's likely the reason he's still working, actually... but maybe after this dreadful-sounding flick about an American Idol-like contest held in a jail, he will have to fall back on his sub-par acting skills to pay the rent. Hopefully... Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Jim Carrey to Star in Yes Man" - Tuesday, July 24:

I can't say that I've really been on board with everything Carrey has done in the past... well, anything in the 21st Century I suppose. The sole exception there was his marvelous turn in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, but everything else has been way below the level we're used to seeing him perform at. Maybe he's just getting worse at picking his projects. Who knows, but it doesn't look like it's stopping here with this dull flick about a guy who tries to turn his life around by saying yes to anything and everything he's asked to do or say. Gag. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

BOX OFFICE CORNER

It was a good weekend to be yellow and from Springfield. The highly-anticipated The Simpsons Movie simply clobbered the competition en route to an impressive opening weekend take of just over $74 million. The Springfield folks received a fat rollout of 3,922 theaters and posted a lofty $18,877 per-screen average. Their opening weekend was the third highest opening weekend for an animated film, and the highest for animated movie without Shrek in the title. The movie was budgeted at a modest $75 million so they should break even around noon on Monday, or whenever the theaters open across the country. For a movie of this magnitude, I was surprised that there were a few others who decided to brave this release date and open against it. One fared nicely. Two others didn't.

No Reservations was the best newcomer, finishing in 5th place and taking in a decent $11.7 million. The Catherine Zeta-Jones cooking romcom bowed in a surprising 2,425 theaters, taking in a just-above-average $4,826 per-screen average. No budget figures were released for this movie, but to put up a 8-figure gross going up against one of the most hotly anticipated movies in recent history, well, that isn't too damn bad at all.

The other two newbies this weekend rounded out the top 10, with Lindsay Lohan's thriller I Know Who Killed Me taking the 9th spot with just $3.5 million and the comedy Who's Your Caddy taking the 10-spot with $2.7 million. Each flick received a meager rollout with each bowing in just over 1,000 theaters (1,320 for I Know; 1,019 for Caddy) and each nabbing similarly-terrible per-screen averages ($2,656 for I Know; $2,705 for Caddy). For the people in Who's Your Caddy, take solace in this. It's not so bad. At least JUST your movie failed this weekend, and not (possibly) your whole career like some other people mentioned in this paragraph...

GOING LIVE

Pathology: (EnterPathologyLab.com)

We don't get much here on this teaser site. The site opens up and we get a video from one of the stars, Milo Ventimiglia, talking about their appearance at Comic-Con and a few other things for a few minutes. There is also the full write-up about the Comic-Con panel, a few links to movie websites (like MovieWeb) who have run features on the movie and, of course, there is a link to register for updates. So, aside from Milo's little video, there isn't much here folks. Pathology opens on November 30.

Bee Movie: (BeeMovie.com)

Not much buzzing over here either. All we get is the Synopsis, a Media menu with four trailers, a Photo Gallery menu with three photos and a Downloads menu with four wallpapers and six AIM Icons to download. Blah. Bee Movie opens on November 2.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: (AlvinandTheChipmunksMovie.com)

UGH! All we get here is the retarded Trailer, a brief Synopsis and a link to Register for updates. They don't even have the friggin Gallery up yet. Coming soon, they say. Moronic. Alvin and the Chipmunks open on December 14.

Doomsday: (DoomsdayIsComing.com)

The week of the teaser sites continues. This just has one thing to peep, although it's pretty cool. It's this slideshow deal with a lot of pictures and stories from the set in this Making-Of package. There are some great shots from the set and its interesting reading. It's just too bad that's all we get here. Doomsday is still looking for a release date.

OK, there are three more teaser sites this week, (The Incredible Hulk, Things We Lost in the Fire and Watchmen) but I'm getting sick of writing about them. They all have just a few random things on there like synopses or cast listings and whatnot. The sites are on each movie's MovieVault link above, so check them out of you have a few nanoseconds to kill...

TRAILER PARK

Things We Lost in the Fire

We haven't seen Benecio in anything since his brief-but-memorable turn in Sin City two years ago. It looks like he's going all dramatic on us here with this flick. He plays the best friend of Halle Berry's recently-deceased husband, and a heroin addict as they both use each other to cope with their trials and tribulations and stuff. Doesn't look too bad, I guess. Nothing I'm dying to see, but I might give it a shot. Things We Lost in the Fire opens on October 26.

Beowulf

We don't get a whole lot of info here and this trailer seems to be just a bit above teaser status... but it still looks pretty damn cool. We get a very solid cast with Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Brendan Gleeson, Alison Lohman and Angelina Jolie. With a script from Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman and direction from Robert Zemeckis, along with this fine cast, this should certainly be one to look out for, folks. Beowulf opens on November 16, in conventional and IMAX 3D theaters.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

I'm going with the terrific writing/directing combo of DJ Caruso and Carl Ellsworthy re-teaming for my Best News of the Week. Sure, most of the props for Disturbia went to the marvelous young actor Shia LaBeouf, but equal props certainly go out to Caruso and Ellsworth and I think Caruso and Ellsworth might just be as huge as LaBeouf is getting to be. They're a talented pair of filmmakers and I'll be stoked for any new project of theirs, together or separately. This one, about a magician who is the last male on Earth and searches for answers, certainly does have potential under their collective belts.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

It just has to go to the horrible Brian Robbins somehow continuing to work for my Worst News of the Week. He was the rebel smart kid in that Head of the Class show back in the late 80s and somehow he turned into a director of kids movies and other cinematic landfill. I haven't seen Norbit yet (doubt that I ever will want to) but somehow he turned that into a modest hit and that is probably why he still gets to make moronic projects like this true-story tale of a bunch of inmates doing their own American Idol. This is based off a L.A. Weekly magazine story and set in an Arizona jail. Apparently when the prisoners started this contest, the morale went up and violence went down. Hmm. Weird. If that's the case, then why, just from hearing about this movie, my morale went down and it feels like my violence is going way way up...

That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official sites for upcoming flicks, new trailers and, of course, the best and worst news of the week. Take care folks and always remember: if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free. Gallagher out!

Cinemark Movie Club