The nostalgic prequel-type movie did surprisingly well this weekend, while the fate of an unexpected summer bomb came clearer into focus and Ryan Reynolds took his second stumble of the season.
1) Rise of the Planet of the Apes — $54M
Apes! Everywhere there are apes! Tall ones, skinny ones, even ones with chicken pox. Who the hell knew this thing was going to do so well? Apparently everyone who went was old and loved it, so that probably means that there will be lots of old-person word of mouth ticket sales to come. "Hey, did you hear that story on NPR about the Tuvan throat singers who run a recycling plant in Bhutan?" "You know, I caught the end of it. Carl and I were actually driving to see a movie." "Oh, did you see Sarah's Key at Kendall?" "No, actually, we went to see the Planet of the Apes, with, you know, James Franklin or whoever." "What?? Carol, that's so unlike you!" "I know, I know, but Carl was a fan when he was a kid and I dunno, I thought it'd be fun. And you know what? It was." "Well, Bob Mondello did say it was good..." "It was! You should see it with Dean. Some night when you need the air conditioning." "Well maybe we will. Once the Outback's out of the shop." SCENE. And that's how a movie like this makes its money! (Well, no, not really.)
2) The Smurfs — $21M
As summer camp ends for a lot of kids, desperate parents resorted to desperate measures and took their squirming whelps to this squirming whelp of a movie. Parents sat dead-eyed in the darkened theater watching the cold CGI catastrophe unfold, their scraggly summer-mad children wriggling and barking in the seats next to them. The floors were sticky and the air too cold and the burnt scent of popcorn filled was awaft and on the screen Neil Patrick Harris was making some kind of strange facial expression, some simulacrum of acting that isn't quite acting, and that weird bug-eyed woman from the singing show, the one the parents' pimply nieces and nephews like, chirped annoyingly and the blue monstrosities made shit jokes and fart jokes and other thickly dumb jokes that made the kids howl their snotty, phlegmy howls and the parents' breath felt sharp and sad in their lungs and the school year could not come fast enough, sweet Jesus in swampy heaven please send September to the world, it needs to come, it needs to come, save us all from the Smurfs, September needs to come.
3) Cowboys & Aliens — $15.7M
Welcome to Yikestown, population: everyone involved with this clunker. Down a worrisome 55% or so from last week's debut, this literally titled movie is still a whopping $100 million shy of its production budget. Not good! Not good for disaster-prone Daniel Craig, not good for grizzle king Harrison Ford, not good for fading prospect Olivia Wilde, and not good for Jon Favreau, who, after the Iron Man movies seemed somewhat unstoppable but clearly isn't. I guess people just don't much care for mixed-genre entertainment, which really doesn't bode well for my samurai romantic comedy. Nor for my motion capture erotic thriller. Sometimes combinations work and they are delicious (see Combos combo snacks) and sometimes they are gross and terrible (Cowboys & Aliens). I suppose you have to do the experiment to know the results, it's just a shame when the experiment costs $160 million. It's a shame when it costs that. Oh well. Better luck next time, millionaires.
4) The Change-Up — $13.5M
Yoops, Ryan Reynolds! Yooops! His second failure of the summer, Reynolds' The Change-Up tried to be the fourth or fifth or whatever raunchy comedy to do well this summer, but ultimately failed. I think the problem was that the idea was "Oh how funny that these two very different dudes are switching bodies" but the dudes were Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, who are essentially the same dude. They are both crisply sarcastic jerks who are likable in their jerkdom. Y'know? They're sort of the same guy, only one has muscles where the other has just regular body parts, and that's about the only difference. So this wacky concept of them switching lives for a movie just wasn't that exciting. If it had been Jason Bateman and, like, Robert Pattinson, or Ryan Reynolds and Wayne Knight, then I think people would be interested. But not this way, nope. Better luck next time, switched-body comedies. You have a long and noble history, but you screwed this one up. And to poor Mr. Reynolds, still smarting from The Green Lantern, I offer my condolences for you being a millionaire movie star.
7) Crazy Stupid Love — $12M
This movie held up nicely in its second week, dropping only about 35% and closing in on recouping its budget. I saw it last week and it is good? Well, no, I mean it's OK. Everyone is really charming in it, which is surprising because when has anyone ever liked Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Steve Carell, or Julianne Moore in a movie? Never! Everyone hates them. ("Where are Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Kevin James, and Courtney Thorne-Smith?" - Everyone, upon first seeing the Crazy Stupid Love trailer.) But despite the (surprisingly) charming cast, there was still stuff about the movie that was annoying, like all the cheesy emotion and the stupid plotline with the horny teenager with the hots for the deer-like babysitter. Man was that plot geigh. And then all the speechifying at the end. (SPOILER ALERT) Why are we talking earnestly about the nature of love at an eighth grade graduation? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. (Also why are we having an eighth grade graduation?) I dunno. It was OK. Kinda geigh, but OK. And that's the news from Criticz Corner™.