Your Weekend Trying to Figure Out Which January Movies Are Actually Worth Seeing

01/08/2010 9:41 AM |

How dare vampires usurp our role as the bearers of allegory in mid-budget horror movies?!?
  • How dare vampires usurp our role as the bearers of allegory in mid-budget horror movies?!?

Daybreakers: There’s always a bumper crop of genre schlock that hits theaters in January; most of it is pretty typical cheap-thrills-if-you’re-lucky fare, but sometimes the utter lack of pretension can offer a nice break from all of the turn-of-the-year awards-mongering. Last year offered weekend after weekend of horror, none very distinguished, but Daybreakers looks like something I’d actually be excited to see even in July or October. The ambitious premise, insofar as something that borrows ideas from at least two Blade movies can be called ambitious, has humankind nearly extinct after most of the globe has turned to vampirism. Naturally, this leaves not so much human blood left for consumption, which causes problems. Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe both showed up for this, and while neither steers completely clear of trash, they’re both capable of making trash a little more interesting.

Leap Year: I’ll take even disappointing genre schlock over romantic comedy pandering, although I may be powerless to resist Amy Adams—which is to say, this rom-com is already pandering straight to me by casting her. I won’t be powerless to resist liking Leap Year, mind, but I may be powerless to resist seeing it, because I can still remember the days of 2005 when I had just seen Junebug and was hungry for more Amy Adams, all the time. I saw Enchanted, Julie & Julia, and Night at the Museum 2 for her; maybe it really will take a movie where she actually shrieks, mid-turbulence, about not dying before she can get engaged to break me of my illicit (yet quite cheery) habit. Speaking of irritation: this movie is about how Amy Adams travels to Ireland to propose to her slightly clueless boyfriend on February 29th because then and only then is it OK for a woman to propose marriage to a man rather than just hector/dither/whine about it—just as only this ridiculous contrivance can provide circumstance for a romantic comedy to be centered around a woman proposing to her boyfriend rather than vice versa. It’s almost enough for me to organize a please-write-a-good-romantic-comedy-for-Amy-Adams contest.

Youth in Revolt: Another January surprise: long-delayed Youth in Revolt is getting good reviews, including a positive notice from our own Henry Stewart. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise anyone, as the Weinstein brothers don’t delay movies solely based on quality; they delay movies because frankly, they aren’t very good at releasing more than two per year. Plus, the director is Miguel Arteta, who made Chuck & Buck and The Good Girl; Michael Cera is generally pretty hilarious; and Steve Buscemi is in it! What could go wrong? It’s a January miracle!

Crazy on the Outside: Now this is more like it, January. Dumping a Tim Allen comedy, by which I mean a comedy starring and directed by Tim Allen, into a few hundred theaters when no one’s paying much attention. That’s how it’s done! I’m not sure if anyone remembers this, but for a little while, Tim Allen was kind of a big deal movie star. They made three Santa Clause movies, after all. There is sort of an alternate-universe Tim Allen who voices Buzz from Toy Story and appears in oddball ensemble comedies like Galaxy Quest and Big Trouble and does self-mocking work in Redbelt. Maybe this Allen directed Crazy on the Outside; it’s about a parolee adjusting to life outside of prison, rather than, say, adopting a crazy jungle orphan. I must say, I half-chuckled a few times at the trailer, which may constitute some sort of record for a non-ensemble Allen comedy. But mostly it looks like a slightly more grown-up, relaxed version of his Disney junk. I do wonder what renders this untouchable by any kind of wide-release arm; back in the early nineties, this could’ve gone out on a thousand screens maybe. The future is now, I guess.