No limited releases this weekend: it’s Presidents’ Day, dammit, it’s time for America to go to the movies and presumably see Avatar for a third time. However, in the tradition of a presidential primary circus, Hollywood has readied three other ultra-mainstream releases clamoring for your attention.
The Wolfman: It seems to me that Universal Studios is overthinking the hell out of their gothic werewolf movie. The trailers look pulpy and stylish, it’s full of cool actors, and wolfpeople are hotter than they’ve ever been in pop culture, which is to say they are able to generate mild, sub-Frankenstein levels of interest. Yet the studio has done everything it can to make this look like a potential disaster.
Directors have been hired and fired; the movie has been recut, unrecut, and double-recut a number of times; Danny Elfman’s score was started, then dropped, and then reinstated. This could, of course, indicate a kind of waffly, studio-hack werewolf picture you might expect from journeyman director Joe Johnston. But, again, the trailers have been cool, and the Benicio Del Toro miscasting (when I first heard about this movie, I assumed we were dealing with a modern wolfman, not a Victorian wolfman) is kind of intriguing, Anthony Hopkins actually has appropriate reason to chew the scenery into a gooey pulp, and judging from The Rocketeer, Johnston seems like the kind of guy who actually enjoys this kind of material and wouldn’t condescend to it. So I say vote wolfman in 2010! At least until the Scorsese candidate comes on the scene next weekend.
Valentine’s Day: A faux-sequel to He’s Just Not That Into You, Valentine’s Day rejiggers that movie’s all-star interlocking romance stories into an all-starrier single-day journey into love lives as simulated by Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Jessicas Biel and Alba, the That 70s Show reunion you’ve been pining for, the FDA recommended maximum of two Taylors, and Into You alum Bradley Cooper—no escaping that one, I guess. Once again, the wattage of the lady stars outglows the gents; last year it was inexplicable use of Entourage alums, and now we’ve moved on to the slightly more presentable but scarcely more charismatic Grey’s Anatomy dudes. I’m sure there’s something to be written about the way that big female stars feel the need to do these type of movies at least once in awhile, while the likes of Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., and Brad Pitt have pretty much abandoned the rom-com genre. Because the director here is grandfatherly dork Gary Marshall, we can at least be certain that the movie will actually deal with (movie-world) love; He’s Just Not That Into You seemed like it was more about fucking, which would be great except that, you know, most studio movies are only sexy by accident, if at all.