What’s Hot at the Movies This Week 1/29/09

| January 30, 2009

I have to give Clint Eastwood credit for making a movie that is still doing well at the box office. Now if only the Academy would have noticed that as well. The Academy did notice Slumdog Millionaire to the tune of ten nominations, including Best Motion Picture of the Year. I think it is that attention alone that is making it move up the chart after eleven weeks at the box office instead of downward.

1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Okay, I’ll give this movie one week at the number one spot, but two weeks in a row? I had no desire to see this movie originally, but I’ll admit to falling to peer pressure. The more I see it at the top of the box office chart, the more I want to see it. 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. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Okay, so a movie about a Segway-riding rent-a-cop is number one, and the number two movie is werewolves and vampires doing West Side Story? It’s truly puzzling. This movie examines the long-held feud between the vampires, aka the Death Dealers, and the werewolves, aka the Lycans. 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.

3. Gran Torino. Hopefully this is making it up to Clint Eastwood for the Oscar snub, that this movie is still number three after seven weeks at the box office. He produced, directed, and starred in this film 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.

4. Hotel for Dogs. I really liked this movie, so I’m thrilled that it’s still in the top five after two weeks, and that it even moved up a spot this week. My daughter the dog lover may have possibly liked this 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.

5. Slumdog Millionaire. This movie is climbing the charts after eleven weeks at the box office. Of course, we have to recognize the fact that like most of the moves receiving critical acclaim from the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards, it wasn’t released nationwide until after the Golden Globe nominations. Surely the success there has helped Slumdog tremendously. Dev Patel stars as an 18- year-old orphaned boy from the Mumbai slums who goes on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, and just when he’s about to go for the big win, he’s arrested for cheating.

Opening this weekend:

Taken. This action thriller stars Liam Neeson as a former government operative that is given ninety-six hours to find his teenage daughter (Maggie Grace) who was kidnapped while on vacation in Paris. He uses all the skills he’s been honing over the years to track the kidnapper, and thinks it’s the work of an Armenian sex trafficking ring.

The Uninvited. It’s another thriller opening this weekend, with this one starring Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, Arielle Kebbel, and David Strathairn. Browning stars as a girl that is locked up in a psychiatric facility after her mom dies. When she is eventually released, she comes home to find the nurse that had attended her mother has moved in and become engaged to her father. She works with her sister to try and show her dad the truth behind his fiancĂ©e.

New In Town. For a break away from the two thrillers opening this weekend, Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. star in this romantic comedy. Zellweger is a Miami executive sent to a blue collar town in Minnesota to restructure a manufacturing plant, and finds life there very different than what she’s used to. In typical romantic comedy style, it’s not love at first sight between her and Connick, Jr.

About the Author:

Paul Fischer I've been an entertainment writer going on for three decades. Born in Australia, I began writing for Australian papers and was the first Australian journalist ever to interview both Woody Allen and Mel Gibson. I moved to Los Angeles at the end of 1999, and apart from my teaching career, have written for Film Monthly and Dark Horizons.

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