Friday, September 23, 2011

Weekend Movie Guide

"Moneyball" - Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
A baseball executive (Pitt) with a set of unique ideas takes over the Oakland Athletics, a franchise with limited funds, and transforms them into a contender. Based on Michael Lewis' best selling book which is based on the actual events that took place in Oakland, Moneyball bounced in and out of production hell for years before Pitt finally got it off the ground. I've always been a bit skeptical about this film (***SPOILER ALERT***) because the story doesn't end well. The A's never made it to the World Series (let alone win one) and Billy Beane (Pitt's character) is somewhat on the outs in Oakland. It's hard to buy into a sports film that you know doesn't end in glory. On the other hand however, the trailer paints a picture of a compelling human interests story and the Aaron Sorkin-lite dialogue is a selling point for me and I almost always enjoy the work of Pitt.

Value: $10 This is going to be good and I'd say it's a near lock to wind up on top of the weekend box office returns. As an aside, please do not pay attention to the negative reviews that baseball people (like ESPN's Keith Law) will dole out concerning Moneyball. Hardcore baseball people didn't like this book (when it first came out), don't like the sabermetrics system that Billy Beane used to propel Oakland back to prominence, and in general, don't like anything that isn't traditional, straight-foward, fact-for-fact truth telling. So kindly ignore any and all reviews written by baseball people.

"Abduction" - Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver
After finding out that he was abducted as a child, a teenager (Lautner) is forced to go on the run in order to uncover the truth of his identity. Here's the sad thing about Abduction: when you watch the trailer, if you ignore all of the HORRENDOUS dialogue and pretend it centers on a real actor instead of Lautner, it seems like a movie that could be somewhat enjoyable. Basically, the concept sounds decent enough. But good gracious, that trailer is appalling. Abduction currently sits at "rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes with a staggering 0% approval rating (it's still early, of course, but it's pretty hard to pull a goose egg like that) and there's absolutely no way that it's going to do well outside of the Twilight crowd. Also, does anybody remember that John Singleton directed Boyz n the Hood, one of the great films of the early '90s? Better yet, does John Singleton remember that John Singleton directed Boyz n the Hood? What happened, John?

Value: $1 As I said, Twilight fangirls will certainly buy in here but I'm actively rooting for the failure of this film and I'm hoping America pays attention to the stink coming off of this thing.

"Killer Elite" - Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Robert De Niro
An ex-special forces agent (Statham) must take out an assassin (Owen) in order to save his mentor (De Niro). When a buddy of mine asked my opinion of Killer Elite, may response was: "Looks terrible but never underestimate the ability of Statham to make terrible films entertaining." I stand by that statement. I always write Statham off as a one trick pony and dismiss his films when the trailers go live but eventually I'll see the film on DVD and I won't hate my life (excluding In the Name of the King, of course). He's a niche actor to be sure but you could do a lot worse than becoming the king of a given niche (which he unquestionably is) and making $5-10 million for each film.

Value: $3 HBO was designed with Killer Elite in mind.

"Machine Gun Preacher" - Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon
Based on a true story, Machine Gun Preacher focuses on a former outlaw (Butler) who finds God and heads to Sudan to save a group of children who were forced into becoming soldiers. Color me cautiously intrigued. I have no faith in Butler per se but I believe the guy is capable of quality performances as long as someone picks his roles for him and keeps him away from total crapholes (read: Law Abiding Citizen). This movie has some potential.

Value: $4 The early reviews have been pretty "meh" but even the negative reviews have given Butler some real credit. I won't be heading to the theater but a DVD viewing is in my future.

"Dolphin Tale" - Nathan Gamble, Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick, Jr.
A boy (Gamble) convinces a prosthetic expert (Freeman) to build a new tail for a wounded dolphin that washed up on shore near his family's aquarium. This is the third entry on this list that qualifies as "based on a true story." I think this is one of those films that will be really easy to make fun of but if the mockers (of which I am usually one) were being really honest, they'd admit that despite the knowledge that this will be cram-packed with fake emotion, it doesn't look too bad. Now proceed with the mocking!

Value: $5 Dolphin Tale will, of course, be a serious player for the family crowd but again, I'm betting it isn't half bad regardless. Could be worth a shot.


  1. For all the titles that release this weekend, I'm surprised at the amount of bad ratings that have resulted. I'm still going to see Moneyball, but with lowered expectations now. and Abduction? well, I have a reader that insists I review it. That, and Lily Collins and Alfred Molina will be my only reasons for seeing that one.

  2. Hope you made it out of Abduction without developing homicidal tendencies.


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