REVIEW: This Is 40

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This Is 40
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Written by: Judd Apatow (screenplay)
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow and Iris Apatow

Paul Rudd is the only main character in Judd Apatow’s latest movie who isn’t part of the comedy auteur’s actual nuclear family.  The wife (Leslie Mann) and two children (Maude and Iris Apatow) are basically playing out better-written scenarios of their lives with a cuter dad.

This makes everything about This Is 40 feel both a little weirder and a little more alive; it’s like making your family relive an awkward Christmas on camera.  Apatow is a keen observer of white upper middle class life, though his considerable success as writer, director and producer over the past few years has made his class standing considerably higher than that.  This movie is his best since his other movie with 40 in the title, albeit much more pensive and mature.

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If they were in television… Michael Bay

Notable Films: The Rock, The Island, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Transformers series. 

Famous for: Explosions, great action sequences, narrative incoherence, military propaganda, the decline of mainstream American cinema, shooting women like he is filming porn.

Hypothetical title: The Colony

Hypothetical premise: Focuses on the first station in space to host private citizens from Earth.  It starts off peacefully enough, but soon enough the mixed cultures start feuding, and in order to keep order, the station’s AI turns on them and begins killing anyone who starts a fight.  This doesn’t sit well with the nearby military installation, who begin planning to rescue everyone with the latest military technology.  The series rotates between a couple brave American soldiers and a witless but charming protagonist on the colony, his shallow love interest, and over-bearing but comical parents.

Cross between: The Island, The Rock, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Wall-E, and Transformers.

Likely to bring: Some Bay regulars are Ben Affleck and Shia LaBeouf, so why not cast them in the two lead roles?  You can place pretty much any attractive super model in the love interest role, but why not take an exceptional actress like Scarlett Johansson and drain her of life?  For the parents, why not add in Patricia Clarkson (she’s a mom in everything now) and John Turturro. 

Likeliness of this happening: 4/10.  Bay couldn’t make enough money in television and explosions don’t look nearly as good on a small screen.

Summer Box Office Predictions 2011

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Release date: June 29

Plot summary: The Autobots are back in action after discovering a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon. They find themselves racing with the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets in order to ultimately save the human race in some form.

Why it will rule: The first Transformers movie was a $320 million hit and the second skyrocketed to a $410 million hit. Both of those movies were without the third dimension however, which is likely to add somewhere near an additional 25% to box office receipts. Dark of the Moon will enjoy a few of the finer luxuries summer has to offer: an IMAX slot and the Fourth of July weekend it usually dons. Director Michael Bay promises to not necessarily make the third film bigger than Revenge of the Fallen, but darker and more emotional, getting into the mythos and character development, something Nolan has faired well from at the box office.

Why it will fail: Michael Bay has never made a dark, emotional movie with character development in his career. Audiences saw what a car wreck Revenge of the Fallen was and it was panned by every known critic. Given what information is known about the plot and teaser, we have no reason to believe Dark of the Moon will be any different from the first two, except that it will be sans Megan Fox, the eye candy that seemed to bring in salivating young males by the droves. Another critical disaster and story-less film may not be a box office pounding for Bay, but it also isn’t going to be the same out of the world hit unless the trailer is another Linkin Park jammed visual trip.

Estimated box office: $120 million OW / $385 million domestic

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

Release date: July 15

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REVIEW: Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex
Directed by: Jim Hayward
Written by: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor (screenplay)
Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, and Michael Fassbender

We must face it: the comic book adaptation is here to stay.  You can bet your (kick-) ass that any character that’s ever been drawn to a page to tell a story along with words will eventually get its Hollywood due.  So step right up for Jonah Hex, yet another unknown adaptation from an allegedly brilliant source material.

Hex begins compellingly different than most of its counterparts.  We begin almost immediately at our title character’s (Josh Brolin) moment of dire straits.  Rather than have that Utopian, dull first few scenes with bright colors, giggling children, and adoring spouse, we see arch nemesis (Jon Malkovich) light them all on fire.  One thing that can be said of Jonah Hex, if not much else, is that it doesn’t bull-shit you with its pretentious morality.  The script may try to hint at a soul within our weary anti-hero, but Brolin quells it rather quickly.

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