Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your regular cheat sheet to what's new, noteworthy and/or doomed among the week's movie releases. Today we break down the hand-to-hand combat between a violence-prone bear and an equally vicious Israeli hairdresser, determine which also-ran will look on pitiably from the sidelines, suss an underdog for the multiplex-allergic among you, and review the best and brightest new DVD's. As always, our opinions are our own, but in keeping with the spirit of this week's Big Two, they are also reliable and brutally precise.
WHAT'S NEW: With the May tentpoles out of the way, Sony and DreamWorks Animation are set to spar in the first head-to-head weekend of the summer. Sadly, however, with such diverging demographics for You Don't Mess With the Zohan and Kung Fu Panda, we will not get the Kimbo Slice-esque ass-beating the box-office sadists in us were quietly praying for. Theaters are happy about it, though, with Adam Sandler's annual mediocrity orgy guaranteed its minimum $35 million and Panda — with its Black/Jolie firepower and well-above-average reviews — raking in the $50-$55 million from families who dodged Speed Racer a month ago and have three weeks before Pixar's Wall-E emerges. Far be it from us to be content with a draw, but this is a weekend when our blood lust may go unsatiated.
Also opening: the John C. Reilly/Seann William Scott workplace comedy The Promotion; Dario Argento's slipshod gore-stravaganza Mother of Tears; the Sundance '07 leftover The Go-Getter; the Genghis Khan epic Mongol; and Heather Graham's long-awaited foray into menopausal baby-making comedy, Miss Conception.
THE BIG LOSER: We made a critical math error last week, underestimating the take for The Strangers by, oh, 150% or so. That won't happen again this week, if only because as mentioned above, nothing new stands to tank. Even Sex and the City enjoyed a robust week since its initial windfall ($73 million through Wednesday) and shouldn't drop more than 50%. But that's OK! Next week, The Happening should implode more than spectacularly enough to make up for it.
THE UNDERDOG: Another fairly flimsy week here, but we did kind of like the When Did You Last See Your Father?, starring Colin Firth as an author reconciling the secrets, guilt and memory of his dying dad, played by Jim Broadbent. Despite a few narrative lapses (a frustrating Firth affair subplot dies at the intersection of chamber drama and bad editing) and director Anand Tucker's overbearing stylistic flourishes, newcomer Matthew Beard's coming-of-age awkwardness as young Firth dovetails nicely with the adult animus that follows. You could do worse.
FOR SHUT-INS: New DVD's this week include the completely remastered, retooled and highly acclaimed Dirty Harry Collection; the less-highly acclaimed Will Ferrell basketball laffer Semi Pro; the much-less-highly acclaimed Jon Heder/Diane Keaton duel Mama's Boy; the Ian Curtis biopic Control; and the long-shelved, sadly underachieving The Onion Movie.
So who takes it? Bamboo or matzo, fur or mullet? Can SATC break $100 million before its sequel's screenplay is written (if it isn't already)? Tell us what's worth your time this weekend; are you retrofitting your bomb shelter for the next two weeks of releases? And can we join you?