Welcome back to Defamer Attractions, your weekly guide to everything new, noteworthy and potentially nausea-inducing at the movies. If summer was really just a heady four-month industry bender of superheroes and the occasional Sex romp, then consider this week the hangover: The brutal post-Labor Day doldrums, when phoner-inner Nic Cage has the box office to himself, our underdog is an ethnic punchline, and we want to to do nothing but shut ourselves in with a few of this week's only slightly more intriguing DVD releases. So read on for a remedy; as always, our opinions are our own, but let's just assume we're all in agreement this time around. It's kind of hard to screw up a week like this. WHAT'S NEW: However wistful our recollections of Nicolas Cage's finer moments, it's never enough to shake the grave reality of seeing him as a laconic, hairplugged hitman in Bangkok Dangerous. And while our pity is mitigated slightly by the minor majesty of his Thai survival struggles, we're guessing a deafult number-one opening around $9.3 million (nothing else is opening wide this week) is deflating enough to set us back at least a few years to The Wicker Man — another ill-advised remake he had no business touching. Anyway, it's too late now. And did we mention we're hungover?Also opening: Jamie Bell's teen-voyeur tale Mister Foe; Azazel Jacobs's wildly overrated Sundance darling Momma's Man; Oscar-winning docmaker Jessica Yu's narrative debut Ping Pong Playa; and Claude Chabrol's moody May-December psychodrama A Girl Cut in Two. THE BIG LOSER: Honestly? You, the moviegoer. Even Tropic Thunder could drop 50% from last week and still surpass its production budget, a symbolic bump that will probably please all those woozy DreamWorks execs with hot compresses on their foreheads just fine. But until the Coens, The Women and the rest of the fall players start trotting out of the tunnel next week, your options are as limited as they've been all year. Sorry!
THE UNDERDOG: Roadside Attractions is positioning as the next My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which we don't necessarily buy; Wedding had Tom Hanks's money and Bob Berney's marketing genius behind it, not to mention ethnic and gender appeals that Nia Vardalos plugged into a general cultural vacuum at exactly the right time. There's something a little more cynical about Italian and it's aggressively goomba TV and print ad campaign, but on 96 screens this weekend, a $350,000 opening could hint at a market that will take what it can get. Keep an eye on it. FOR SHUT-INS: Not a whole lot better, though we stand by Helen Hunt's directing debut (and Underdog alum) Then She Found Me. There's also the '50-set ensemble melodrama Married Life, with Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Patty Clarkson and Chris Cooper; the 20th anniversary rerelease of Bright Lights, Big City; the fourth season of The Office; and finally — finally! — the 10th season of Cheers. Sigh. We can't wait until this headache wears off; maybe spend some time outside until then.