A major blockbuster film is coming out this weekend, one that could even be an Oscar contender.
That’s right; the highly anticipated Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer is finally hitting theaters in wide release! Adapted from Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody children’s book series, the film tells the story of the titular third-grader (Jordana Beatty) who enlists the help of her wacky Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) to have the most awesome summer vacation of her life. She even goes so far as using a “thrill chart” to track her progress of fun, because she can’t, I don’t know, go to summer camp or something. Critics have been nearly unanimous in calling it “shrill,” “obnoxiously frantic,” and “goofily overzealous,” which should put it in a good position for Best Picture, Director, Actress and Supporting Actress. Or…it could be an ill-fated cash-in that only small children can tolerate, ending up with barely $5-7 million in its opening weekend, but who honestly would make THAT bet?
Oh, there’s also a little sci-fi pic called Super 8. Details about the story itself have been mostly kept under wraps, but the film appears to be about a mysterious force that has appeared in a small town in the wake of a train crash, and a group of kids who decide to investigate it. The director, J.J. Abrams, is a guy you may have heard of; he made his start creating some of the most successful TV shows of the past decade before moving on to directing Mission: Impossible III and the reboot of Star Trek. Producing is Steven Spielberg, which explains why the film (or the trailer at least) recalls the look and feel of his science fiction classics. All kidding aside, several reviews are calling Super 8 a richly entertaining adventure, though some are complaining that it’s too woozily nostalgic of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Super 8 does not have the benefit of big-name stars, but Abrams is engendering a lot of goodwill even among general moviegoers, and the fairly secretive marketing could work in its favor similar to how he made Cloverfield a hit. I’m going to peg its opening take at a relatively modest $50-55 million and grow from there based on its subsequent word-of-mouth. Mike and I predicted Best Picture and Original Screenplay nominations for the film, which to be honest I’m personally not as confident about as I used to be. In “The Summer & the Oscars,” I argued that Super 8 would likely be the critically acclaimed summer blockbuster that translates to Academy love in the manner of Inception and District 9. But Super 8 just doesn’t seem to be getting the raves that those films received, and it also gives off this vibe of trying a little too hard to be loved, which has already rubbed some people the wrong way. I’ll see for myself if it’s actually Oscar-baiting enough – or more importantly, any good – before speculating further.
There’s really nothing notable opening in limited release this weekend, save for the vérité creature feature Troll Hunter, about a group of Norwegian film students who set out to blow open a government conspiracy covering up the existence of trolls. Clearly, we’re not looking at one of the future Best Picture nominees, but the unique design of the trolls themselves plus the fairly positive reception from critics could develop into a cult following.
Don’t forget as well that Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life are continuing to expand to more theaters. Let us know what you saw right here on The Awards Circuit!