What’s Hot at the Movies This Week 1/22/09

| January 23, 2009

I guess we were ready for some new offerings at the box office last week. Only one movie in the top five was in theaters before last weekend. The movies that have been sitting up there quite comfortably for weeks are now relegated to the positions of sixth through twelfth place, including Marley & Me. Jennifer Aniston need not worry, she’s still topping her ex in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on the list, then again, he’s the own with the Oscar nomination. This big glut of new movies last weekend is probably the reason we only have two opening this week with a wide release.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop I have to admit I’m a little shocked this movie is doing so well. Some have really trashed it, and realizing that I liked a few movies that got Razzies nominations, I figured it to be an okay film that would garner some laughs, but those types of movies usually don’t do this well at the box office. As he talks about in his interview with Paul Fischer, Kevin James breaks away from his sitcom role and out of the shadow of Adam Sandler, co-writing and starring in this film about a rent-a-cop that rides around a mall on a Segway, then finds himself using his skills just like a real cop.

2. Gran Torino. It’s a good thing the public really likes Clint Eastwood’s film and is showing him that every week, as the Academy totally snubbed him this week with Oscar nominations. He produced, directed, and starred in this film, and it’s still number two in its sixth week at the box office, and the critics seem to have enjoyed it as well. Maybe they figured the other Oscars he has sitting on his shelf are enough for him. Eastwood stars as an aging Korean War veteran, retired and widowed, being forced to confront his prejudices. He’s held on to these prejudices for so long, yet he doesn’t have a choice but to change in the face of the current times as many of these people he despises have now become his neighbors.

3. My Bloody Valentine 3D. I’m always surprised when slasher flicks do well at the box office. I guess I should finally get the hint and realize their power with certain audiences. This one doesn’t even have any big names in it, yet, I suppose it has the 3D thing going for it, and heck, I even saw Friday the 13th Part III in 3D. Slasher films back then, though, didn’t seem as grisly, even with the eyeball coming at me. A man that fell into a coma after a coal mining incident seeks revenge on the town, waking up on Valentine’s Day one year later. Ten years after that, someone is killing again. Reviewer Jason Coffman calls this a surprisingly gruesome modern take on the classic slasher formula.

4. Notorious. It’s no surprise this film is doing well, as it’s causing violence at the premieres across the country, and that type of publicity just seems to hype people up more. Relatively unknown Jamal Woolard stars in the title role in this biography of rapper Notorious B.I.G., and Angela Bassett takes time away from the final season of ER to costar as his mother. Sean Combs, or any of his other aliases of P-Diddy, Puffy, etc., executive produces. Read Elaine Hegwood Bowen’s take on the film as she dissects how these actors played their real-life roles, many of them well-known.

5. Hotel for Dogs. As much as I really, really liked this film, it is a pleasant surprise to see it up this high. I enjoyed it, and my daughter the dog lover may have possibly liked it even more than Marley & Me, but I wasn’t sure how that would translate to the rest of the public. Two orphaned kids, trying to keep their own dog hidden from their foster parents, hide him out in an old hotel with a few other dogs, then get the idea to house all strays here so they aren’t destroyed within 72 hours at the pound. Read my review to read about the strong message in the film of good vs. evil.

Opening this weekend:

Inkheart. Brendan Fraser told Ellen DeGeneres on her show this week that this movie originated from a book, and the interesting part of that is how he first obtained it. He was sent the book with a note from the author saying he inspired the book, and she always saw him in the title role. He plays a dad who shares a unique gift with his daughter. When they read books aloud, they can bring characters to life. The problem is it comes with a cost. Someone else is then captured and sent into the pages of the book. He makes it his mission here to save his wife who had disappeared into a book back when his daughter was just a toddler. Read Paul Fischer’s interview with Fraser to find a frank talk on how he sees himself in the business.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. This movie examines the long-held feud between the vampires, aka the Death Dealers, and the werewolves, aka the Lycans. It seems to have a Romeo & Juliet/West Side Story pull as along with the warring factions, we also have star-crossed lovers of a young werewolf and beautiful vampire. Interestingly, two of the stars are in other films out right now. Michael Sheen also stars in Frost/Nixon, and Bill Nighy also stars in Valkyrie.

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