Friday, April 25, 2008

Weekend update: What - if anything - is worth watching?

I suppose I'd be extremely remiss if I didn't lead off today with the news that Guillermo del Toro is now officially going to be making "The Hobbit," even if the news does now seem more than a little anticlimactic.

He'll be moving to New Zealand for the next four years because, I suppose, it's now written law that any Tolkein movie with Peter Jackson involved has to be filmed there (and I can certainly think of a few worse sacrifices to have to make.)

The somewhat dubious move, of course, is that they're actually making two movies, one that's the real "The Hobbit" and then a sequel that somehow bridges the gap between that work and the first of the "Lord of the Rings" novels. Since this rather extreme act of hubris means they certainly can't call the sequel "J.R.R. Tolkein's 'The Hobbit'," how about "Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson's imaginary bridge to 'The Lord of the Rings' "? I kid, of course, but I bet they'll both turn out to be simply uber-cool.

Though no release date has been set, Variety - with the four-year window - bets it will be one in 2011 and one in 2012, which seems to make sense.

And, before we move on to this week's movies, two bits of TV news, one nothing but bad and one that could turn out to be surprisingly good.

Just to get the ugly out of the way quickly (it is Friday, after all), NBC has definitely traded down in announcing Jimmy Fallon will take over Conan O'Brien's show when the latter moves into the "Tonight Show" chair. I've been wrong at least once before, and to be honest I rarely manage to stay up until 12:30 a.m. very often any more anyway, but I just can't see any scenario in which I'll do so for Jimmy Fallon. Sheesh.

In better news, Nathan Fillion - a k a Captain Mal from "Firefly" and "Serenity" - has signed on to star in a pilot for ABC called "Castle." Despite that rather mundane title, the premise - a "comic procedural" about a famous mystery novelist (Fillion) who helps the NYPD solve crimes - does hold some promise.

But enough about that ... now lets take a look at this week's offerings (which are all really just filling space until the arrival of "Iron Man" anyway), with the added bonus of a trailer for a flick that should probably have made my previous Summer Top 10 list.

1. Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
I realize that I'm far too old to watch this one in a theater, and I can't with good conscience recommend that anyone else take a chance on anything this juvenile, but I will indeed be there Saturday afternoon. My inner snob led me to pass on "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," but once I saw it on DVD it's just become one of those silly little comfort movies - like "Office Space" or "Super Troopers" - that help erase my mind after a particularly dreary work day. Besides, here's what critic Nell Minow, an always reliable friend to this site, had to say:

Cheerfully offensive, cheekily raunchy, happily outrageous, and often just plain disgusting, the movie avoids the usual sophomore slump by ramping up the political jabs while keeping it all unpretentious and moving quickly.

Sounds right up my rather juvenile alley, so this time, I'll be there for the first round.

2. Deception
I had never heard of this until it showed up at our multiplexes this week, but with a cast that includes Michelle Williams (hearty huzzah), Ewan McGregor and Hugh Jackman, I might have been willing to take a chance. A quick peek at the Rotten Tomatoes, however, shows it only managed a 6 % positive rating, which seems rather astonishing. Granted, that's only with a few reviews, but the words "predictable potboiler" are enough to stop me (and besides, even "Harold & Kumar" managed to garner 51 % positive.)

3. Baby Mama
I have nothing but love for both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but I just can't shake the suspicion that this one just won't have enough funny to sustain a feature-length movie. Besides, in the commercial, there's a litmus-test joke, methinks, when Maura Tierney actually wipes something brown off the face of youngun and tastes it to decide if it is "chocolate or poop" (I may be paraphrasing just a bit, but you get the gist.) It's hypocritical I know since I support the often just disgusting "Harold & Kumar," but that joke just kind of makes me sick enough to wait for DVD on this one.

And finally, as promised, the extended trailer for "Hancock," which made its premiere on the TV last night, probably during the rather great "Office" episode with the coke-addled Ryan, but since I fast-forward through the commercials I would have missed it anyway. For anyone else who did the same, here's a look at Peter Berg's July 2 flick about an alcoholic superhero (Will Smith) in need of a makeover from a PR expert (the always funny Jason Bateman.) All those ingredients sound right to me, and the trailer is indeed pretty darn funny. Enjoy, and have a perfectly enjoyable weekend. Peace out.


Ashok said...

Actually, I am kind of eager to watch "Harold and Kumar escape from Guantanamo Bay". But before that, I am right now in Champaign IL for Ebert Fest and hope to watch 5 movies till Sat nite. Harold and Kumar got to wait till Sunday.

Jimmy Fallon for O' Brien.hmmmmm. Thats interesting.

Mercurie said...

While I am happy to know del Toro is on The Hobbit and its sequel, I'm none too happy that he will be tied up for so long on two films! I don't know if I can go that long without a film by Guillermo del Toro!

Reel Fanatic said...

That is indeed the big downside to all this, Mercurie ... A small part of me was kind of hoping all this would fall through so he would make another crazy horror movie ... I really Hellboy II is gonna be one the surprise just humongous hits of this summer

Ian said...

I just hope that "The Hobbit" doesn't turn into another Miramax experience for the director. I think Del Toro is a perfectionist, albeit one who works hard to deliver projects on budget and on time. Peter Jackson, on the other hand, invariably leaves everything to the last minute, requires reshoots longer than most films have for principal production and has yet to make a film that comes in at the agreed budget. And Jackson's "the boss". I fear for Del Toro's health I really do, although his involvement means I'm actually looking forward to these films whereas before I figured making them was a mistake.

Went to see "Speed Racer" this morning and was pleasantly surprised. It's too long, has far too many false climax endings, and suffers from a first half-hour that's confusing as hell even for adults but it's pure eye candy for its two hours running time. And pretty awesome eye candy at that. Every dollar of the $200 million budget is up there on screen. Think "Tron" but much better! I laughed out loud more than a few times too. Definitely needs to be seen on the big screen (and apparently being released on IMAX day and date with the main theatrical release on May 9th).

Reel Fanatic said...

"Tron" but much better? With that recommendation, count me psyched, Ian, especially since I know something of your taste in movies .. Sure, it's gonna be all kinds of silly, but I hope I have as much fun with it as you did

jeremy said...

Besides the fact that I've never seen a Will Smith movie I like--the title. Really?
What a horrible, horrible title.
I mean, what's his super power?
Signing his name big?

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm with you there, Jeremy, but I've grown to like Will Smith more after being very hesitant at first .. plus, I like just about every thing Peter Berg has done so far, so I'm betting it will be pretty darn good

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