Weekend Openings (May 13-15)

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Dear readers, this weekend is going to be a very special one for me.  In fact, it’s a weekend I’ve spent four years working towards…but I’m sure you all don’t want me to get all sentimental here, so let’s take a look at the weekend’s new releases:

Hoping for the best from this film... I normally don’t make personal recommendations to films I haven’t seen yet, but this is a special exception.  Kristin Wiig is, in my (and many others’) opinion, one of the most talented comediennes to come around in a long time.  Contributing a number of small but hilarious supporting performances in films like Knocked Up and Walk Hard, she finally has a film of her own, and managed to gather an impressive ensemble of other funny women for the Judd Apatow-produced Bridesmaids.  It’s no secret that Hollywood rarely allows actresses to carry comedies, or even allow them to play comedic characters.  If this film isn’t successful they may never take that risk again for a very long time.  If my pleas aren’t enough to convince you, most critics also recommend the film, calling it an imperfect but frequently hilarious showcase for its talented star.  The online buzz and early ticket sales are pretty good, so I don’t think I’m engaging in too much wishful thinking by pegging it to earn $18-23 million in its opening and having strong box office “legs” throughout the summer.

Also, we have the slick supernatural thriller/pseudo-western Priest.  Set in an alternate future, Paul Bettany stars as a legendary warrior who breaks his ties to the church he serves to rescue his niece from vampires.  Most of you have probably already read my piece on my uneasiness towards religious-themed action movies earlier this week, but it looks like that’s the least of this film’s problems if critics are to be believed.  Skewering its tired premise and humorlessness, reviews have been positively deadly.  It’s the new big fanboy action film, but it doesn’t stand a chance of dethroning Thor (nothing will this weekend).  Paul Bettany isn’t exactly a major draw, the gothic tone will probably turn away a lot of moviegoers, and it has a very limited fanbase to its source material.  I just can’t see Priest making anything beyond the $15-17 million range.

Will this movie suck as much as Stranger Than Fiction? There are a lot of notable films in limited release this weekend, starting with the dramedy Everything Must Go.  Will Ferrell stars as an alcoholic who, after losing his wife and job, decides to start over by holding a yard sale of all his possessions on his front lawn.  I must admit, I’m a little wary of Will Ferrell attempting a semi-dramatic role, since his last foray into that territory was the unforgivably bad Stranger Than Fiction.  Then again, critics seem to be mostly taken by the film and especially by Ferrell’s performance, so maybe my apprehension is unfounded.  Who knows, maybe it’ll even manage a Best Actor…Golden Globe nomination.

Also on the limited circuit, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is greasy-haired, misanthropic loner Hesher from Spencer Susser.  This bizarre and off-kilter character study has been getting mixed reactions from critics.  The majority of reviews I’ve read have cited a laundry list of complaints (mainly having to do with the second half of the film) to go along with their praise of Levitt’s assured, fire-breathing performance.

Now, what else is there?  Hmm, let me think…gotta be something else…oh right, A Serbian Film – that horror movie featuring explicit pedo and necrophilia – is making its stateside release this weekend.  Critics, predictably, are unanimous in calling it revolting, but whether or not it’s justified is another debate entirely.  Look, I’m not planning on watching this because, frankly, life is too short, but our own Joey Magidson is much braver (or maybe just masochistic) than I, so I’ll defer any opinions on the film itself to him when his review hits sometime next week.