Theater Watch: November 9th, 2007

by Paul William Tenny

Thumbnail image for theater_watch-alamo_drafthouse.jpgIf you're a regular theater bug, you have nothing to worry about from the writers strike that started this past Monday. Feature films move at a glacial pace where most of what you'll be seeing in the theaters this weekend was probably all finished weeks ago. Anything that hasn't been shot yet but already has a completed script will be able to plow forward as if the TV side of things weren't about to lose a billion dollars or two in revenue.

But hey, I'm sure the corporate giants that own the studios will find enough loose change in their pockets to keep paying their CEOs $10-20 million per year for doing such a bang up job this fall.
Three new flicks are hitting the silver screen today with an interesting mix of horror, a Christmas comedy, and a war drama thrown in just for giggles.

Fred Claus - opened in 3600 theaters today and by the time the audience is done with it, they'll probably have wished that number was about 1/3600th the size. The script, written by Dan Fogelman, revolves around the older brother (Vince Vaugn) of Santa Claus (Paul Giamatti) that finds himself in a sticky situation just before Christmas and strikes a deal with his more famous counterpart that lands him at the north pole.

I couldn't possibly say it any better than they did at Wikipedia, so I'll save myself the time (and hopefully yours as well) by shamelessly copying it over here,

In critical reaction, the film scored a 25% positive rating at the critics-aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and 42% at Metacritic. Michelle Orange of The Village Voice said, "The exceptional cast ... is an embarrassment of riches for a script this thin and this beholden to family-fare protocol, with its mushy-minded moral and slick sentimentality. Frank Lovece of Film Journal International said, "An engaging idea gets mostly lost amid underdeveloped characters, a pointless subplot and creepy CGI". Bill Goodykootnz of The Arizona Republic summed it up for most with his opening line, "Bah. Humbug".

Comedies I guess have it the worst, 'cause if it ain't funny, there's not a whole lot let to like.

Lions for Lambs - is a Tom Cruise pic I've never heard of, opening in 2200+ theaters making it the second widest release this weekend. This flick is coming out of the recently revamped United Artists which Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner took over after being shown the door at Paramount for costing waaay too much money. Paramount and United Artists are two studios currently being struck by the Writers Guild of America for paying writers waaay too little.

What can I say, it's another Middle East war movie. Not a single one has done well in the box office this year and I don't see any reason this one is going to upset the trend. Unfortunately your only other choice happens to be..

P2 - is another horror film from the guys that brought us the cinematic abortion The Hills Have Eyes in 2006. I don't know what Wes Craven was thinking keeping his name attached to that...thing, but that movie was simply the worst thing I've ever seen in my life - no exceptions.

The story centers on a corporate climber Angela (Nichols) who gets stuck working late on Christmas Eve before leaving to attend a family holiday party. After her car refuses to start, and her cell phone has no service, she receives help from the seemingly friendly security guard Thomas (Bentley), who also invites her to a dinner he is preparing in the parking lot. Angela laughs off his offer, but does not realize that Thomas has been closely watching her for months. When she declines, he beats her unconscious and handcuffs her to his office. Escaping his office and pursued by him, she must now find a way to leave the parking level P2.

If this description is any indication, P2 will be a fine follow-up to that disaster and fit only for sending on a rocket straight into the freaking sun. I have no clue which film will come out on top this weekend and for all I know, American Gangster will fend off these other flicks or be topped closely by Fred Claus, just because the trailers made it look a lot better than it actually is.

Your best bet this weekend is: to stay home.
in Theater Watch


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