Box Office Preview – January 21, 2011

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No Strings Attached

Director: Ivan Reitman

Writers: Elizabeth Meriwether and Michael Samonek

Stars: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content, language and some drug material.

Synopsis: Two friends attempt to have a purely sexual relationship with each other, but eventually their feelings get in the way.

Lars’ take: A lot of funny people in this one and a lot of people I like – Kevin Kline, Cary Elwes, Mindy Kaling. It could be a cute little romantic comedy. Unfortunately, you have Ivan Reitman and Ashton Kutcher to deal with and it’s killing me to say Ivan Reitman’s name in this sentence, but he hasn’t made a strong comedy in a long time. It seems like a cute thing that is going to be done horribly.

Joel’s take: The supporting cast seems solid, I’m a big fan of Natalie Portman and I like that it’s rated R, but Ivan Reitman doesn’t make funny movies anymore and Ashton Kutcher rarely makes funny movies so there’s no reason to have any confidence in this one. Also, the premise does nothing for me. Besides, if you don’t like it this time around, you can always watch this story again in a few weeks when Friends With Benefits comes out.

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The Company Men

Director: John Wells

Writer: John Wells

Stars: Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kevin Costner

MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and brief nudity.

Synopsis: After three coworkers lose their jobs, they must find a way to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Lars’ take: This is a group of guys who I really like and Ben Affleck, who I’m starting to like more and more. It’s really topical and it looks like it has a solid script. It looks like there’s nothing fancy about the way it’s shot and instead it just relies on story and solid actors, which I’m a big fan of. It looks really good and I hope it is.

Joel’s take: I like the cast and I think this movie will be solid. The only thing that worries me, and this may just be the trailer and not the movie itself, is that it comes across a little exploitative. I think that’s always a fine line when making a topical movie like this. I guess it just seems weird to me that you are going to be asking a bunch of Americans who have lost their jobs to pay $11 to see a movie where a bunch of rich Hollywood actors play unemployed Americans. I’m sure it’s a great movie, but the concept does give me pause.

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The Way Back (limited)

Director: Peter Weir

Writers: Keith R. Clarke and Peter Weir (screenplay), Slavomir Rawicz (novel The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom)

Stars: Jim Sturgess, Ed Harris, Colin Farrell

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for violent content, depiction of physical hardships, a nude image and brief strong language.

Synopsis: A group escapes from a Siberian gulag in Soviet-occupied Poland during World War II and must walk 4,000 to reach India and secure their freedom.

Lars’ take: Peter Weir, looking at his body of work, is always able to choose a really interesting project and he’s directed at least one movie that you really, really like. However, for me they always miss the mark just a little bit. I can’t explain why. And the cast in this movie, I don’t dislike them as actors, nor am I a huge fan. So I’m completely indifferent toward this movie.

Joel’s take: It looks like it could be good. But it also looks like it could be long and boring and over-dramatic. But I think the elements are in place to make this one good. It will all be in the execution. It could work, but I’m not sold that it will work.

This week’s recommendations …

The Company Men

If nothing else, I think Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones are always entertaining to watch, no matter what they are doing.

The Company Men

I have my reservations about the plot, but looking at the field this week, I think this is your best bet this week.


HoboTrashcan’s Confidence Rating System

Since we force Joel and Lars to make a recommendation each week (using the classic “If a gun was pointed to your head and you had to pick one” scenario), we are also having them rate their confidence in their pick using HoboTrashcan’s patented Confidence Rating System. The system is on a scale of one to five, which breaks down as follows:

  1. Eddie Murphy – Like every film Eddie Murphy has done in the last decade, avoid this movie at all costs.
  2. Nicholas Cage – The movie is most likely awful, but like Cage, there is a chance it may still surprise you.
  3. Samuel L Jackson – With this rating, you don’t know what you are going to get. It could be another Pulp Fiction or it could be Jumper.
  4. Bruce Willis – Like Bruce Willis, chances are the film is good, but there’s always a possibility it’s another Surrogates.
  5. Morgan Freeman – The highest possible rating. The film, like Morgan Freeman himself, is a lock to be entertaining.

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