Deciphering your moviegoing options for the third week running, Defamer Attractions returns today with a look at the final weekend before the studios spill summer in our lap. Today we gauge Tina Fey's chances for box office superiority, corral the highest-profile dog since 88 Minutes (that was only last week? Really?), recommend a certain Oscar-winning actress's directing debut and scan the new arrivals shelf for DVD's of notice. As always, our opinions are our own, but they're also right. You can thank us later!
WHAT'S NEW: Baby Mama and Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay will duel for the top spot, with the latter film predicted to ride its franchise basis all the way to No. 1. Its R-rating won't help against the PG-13 Tina Fey vehicle, however, which could lure its core female demographic to an opening take of $13 million. Harold and Kumar's estimates are all over the place — from $11 million to $16.6 million — so wager now for Monday morning bragging rights. Also opening: Errol Morris's Abu Ghraib doc Standard Operating Procedure; the Burt Reynolds gambling drama Deal; and French legend Claude Lelouch's suspenser Roman de Gare.
THE BIG LOSER: Talk about dump-and-run: A-listers Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor, and Michelle Williams are hiding in plain sight in the "thriller" Deception, which we didn't even know existed until Variety revealed Fox was throwing it on 2,000 screens this weekend. And the critics love it almost as much as last week's Pacino-Bomb 88 Minutes; with 6% favorable ratings currently at Rotten Tomatoes, the film "was made to be forgotten," writes Onion AV Clubber Scott Tobias.
THE UNDERDOG: We're of two minds about Helen Hunt's directorial debut Then She Found Me. Yes, the sex in the film is quite terrible, and yes, the story lapses perhaps too eagerly at times into rom-com convention. (First mistake: casting Colin Firth.) But! Hunt's story of an adopted, baby-craving New Yorker (Hunt) whose husband leaves just as her birth mother (Bette Midler) reenters her life has way more going for it than we'd thought — Midler, for starters, whose meddling, mendacious mommy is one of her most modulated performances in years. Paired with Hunt, their timing, vulnerability and overall chemistry are as worthy as any of the Fey/Poehler maternity schtick anchoring Baby Mama.
FOR SHUT-INS: You'd be crazy to stay indoors this weekend, but still: New DVD's include Cloverfield, Charlie Wilson's War, The Savages and the most heavily anticipated TV revival of at least the last seven days, Laverne & Shirley: The Complete Fourth Season.
So are you with Team H&K or Baby Mama in the Battle of the Middling Spring Comedies? Will you roll the dice on Deception? Will you trust us on Bette Midler? Go ahead: Now tell us how to spend our weekend.