Looks like this weekend will go down in the books as one of pleasant surprises, both financially and quality-wise. Whether that will translate into Oscar nominations may happen for at least one of them…
Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum take us into the world of male strippers in Magic Mike, about a seasoned dancer who takes a rookie under his wing and shows him the ropes. Based on the star’s own beginnings as a club dancer, critics have been very positive on the film, including our own Joey Magidson, who praised its writing, performances and direction from Soderbergh. Rather than being a bubbly dance flick aimed squarely at female audiences, Joey instead relayed back an offbeat and surprisingly in-depth character study of men in an odd profession. Nevertheless, the presence of handsome men taking their clothes off will certainly draw in one kind of audience and turn off another, no matter how different the actual film is. Online and Friday ticket sales were strong and should give the film a good $30-35 million haul. The critical acclaim, however, raises even more intriguing possibilities for its awards prospects. Too racy for the Academy, you say? Tell that to The Full Monty. I would not be surprised to see this among the Best Original Screenplay nominees next January. The performances are less of a certainty, and will probably require a focused campaign to give the well-received work of Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum or Alex Pettyfer a shot at an Academy Award nomination. My opinion is that good-looking men already have a hell of a time getting noticed by the Academy when they don’t draw attention to how attractive they are, so I am not betting on any of them any time soon, but that could change…
For guys absolutely refusing to see a film about male strippers (go figure, right?), Seth MacFarlane has the medicine for them. Ted is the name of a boy’s teddy bear who magically comes to life and becomes his best friend well into adulthood. But when the little boy becomes a man with a girlfriend demanding he grow up and kick him out, their bromance is tested. Okay, so that’s not even close to an original premise, but critics have been surprisingly kind to the Family Guy creator’s directorial debut, including Joey, who promises that the laughs are frequent and there’s even a little heart in its very raunchy script. Its successful first day box office suggest a possible hit in the vein of The Hangover or even There’s Something About Mary, but don’t hold your breath for any Oscar nominations. I imagine a strong $31-36 million and possibly climbing from there.
After that it gets a little more, well, specialized. Tyler Perry brings back his “beloved” gun-toting maniacal matriarch Madea for another round of disjointed, grotesque comedy in Madea’s Witness Protection. Critics are giving this film pretty much the exact same reception we’ve come to expect from Perry’s comedies, and thus will probably be a successful run of $20-25 million in its first weekend.
People Like Us is Alex Kurtzman’s attempt to show that he can do more than write scripts about robots with wrecking ball testicles beating the crap out of each other. Sadly, if Joey’s review is any indication, he’ll have to keep trying, as my colleague was frustrated by how some very committed performances were sapped by poor edits and absurd plot contrivances. I honestly don’t even see this movie making anywhere over $5 million this weekend.
In limited release is Beasts of the Southern Wild, shaping up to be arguably one of the biggest Oscar contenders of the year. An odd and fantastical tale of a young girl struggling to survive in a drowned world with her father, critics have been mostly ecstatic about its imagination, performances and graceful allegory. Both Joey and Joseph gave the film positive reviews, though the former was less enthusiastic in his praise. Regardless of whether or not it lives up to the hype, Beasts of the Southern Wild has been building up steam to being the Little Movie That Could in the awards season. Quvenzhané Wallis especially is becoming a darling of the festivals and has a good chance of ending up the youngest Best Actress nominee in history. Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Sound and Original Screenplay are becoming likelier by the day despite its unusual story and setting.
The only other major film in limited release is Sarah Polley’s sophomore effort Take this Waltz, starring Michelle Williams as a seemingly happily married woman who develops an attraction to her neighbor down the street. Joey declared this a high caliber romantic drama solidifying Polley as a serious filmmaking talent, though John was not a fan of the film back when he saw it at Toronto. Another Best Original Screenplay nomination for her is possible, but not nearly as certain as it was for Away from Her.
A lot of interesting films are in theaters this weekend. Tell us what you’re planning to check out right here!
Tags: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Channing Tatum, Magic Mike, Matthew McConaughey, Oscar hopefuls, People Like Us, Quvenzhané Wallis, Sarah Polley, Seth MacFarlane, Steven Soderbergh, Take This Waltz, Ted, Tyler Perry, Weekend Openings