Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your guide to the latest surges and scourges among this weekend's new movies. After a fairly predictable go of things last week, we face a pair of high-profile releases that couldn't be further apart in their critical and commercial futures, a nifty and thoroughly unnerving art-house project (hint: wheelchair sex) and a surplus of worthwhile DVD debuts for the shut-ins among us. As always, our opinions are our own and, of course, exceedingly tasteful and accurate. We are always looking out for you!
WHAT'S NEW: Edward Norton still may not be doing much to promote The Incredible Hulk, but once all the behind-the-scenes drama died down and we actually got a chance to see the film, we realized, "Hey — this isn't so bad." Or rather, it is what it is: A loud blockbuster for 14-year-old boys, with top-to-bottom miscasting (with the exception of a pathologically brutal Tim Roth) exacerbated by action auteur Louis Leterrier's hamfisted touch. But! It is kind of spectacularly dumb, arresting summer viewing — we've heard it described as King Kong meets The Bourne Identity, which is just about perfect — and predictions of a $55-$60 million opening might even be understating things. It certainly won't get much competition from the paucity of what's around it this week, particularly...
THE BIG LOSER: The Happening has miserable word-of-mouth and an R-rating working against it, and while we can't add much beyond our previous dispatches and what our own Reviewer X mentioned here on Monday, we can say that we'll be pretty shocked if Manoj's Folly cracks $20 million by Sunday night. And that's probably a number Fox would be happy with, even if it means third or even fourth place overall behind Hulk, Kung Fu Panda and possibly Zohan. But this isn't Speed Racer — if this does hit $20 mil, expect a backlash to the backlash by the time we reconvene next week.
THE UNDERDOG: We alluded yesterday to the unhinged creepiness of Quid Pro Quo, a mystery/romance/mindfuck featuring Nick Stahl as a paraplegic radio journalist who, er... stumbles? Rolls? OK, happens upon a subculture of "wanna-be" disability fetishists. Among them: Vera Farmiga, who takes an immediate (and suspicious) liking to Stahl's baffled chair jockey even as their physical trajectories cross radically — hers en route to the paralysis she craves, his en route to walking again. The actors' heavy lifting saves writer-director Carlos Brooks's pretentious ass on more than one occasion, but conceptually, anyway, Quid wields the kind of strength and endurance M. Night Shyamalan only experiences these days from his hair product.
FOR SHUT-INS: This week's new DVD releases include the terminal-cancer buddy bomb The Bucket List; the Hayden Christensen teleportation adventure Jumper; Michael Haneke's American remake of his torture opus Funny Games; Zak Penn's terrific poker-culture satire The Grand; and finally, by popular demand, What's Happening! The Complete Series.
So are you Team Hulk or Team Happening? Can Manoj shatter expectations and bring home the hit he so desperately needs? Did we miss a diamond or some other, less-precious gem in the rough? It's Father's Day weekend — what does your old man want to see?