Magic Mike: Don’t tell anyone who’s probably going to turn this movie into a hit, but Steven Soderbergh directed Magic Mike! It makes a kind of backward Soderberghian sense that Haywire, the marketable-seeming action movie on which Soderbergh met former male stripper and Magic Mike inspiration/star Channing Tatum, will very likely wind up much less financially successful than Magic Mike itself, despite the lack of proven market for male stripper movies.
As a Soderbergh fan, I’m expecting some kind of cross between his 2009 triumphs The Informant! (true-life deadpan comedy shot in sickly yellows) and The Girlfriend Experience (sex drama with procedural-aesthetic interest in a whole lot of non-sex transactions). In non-Soderbergh news, the Tatum-featuring G.I. Joe: Retaliation was, up until about a month ago, supposed to open on this very same date; its bump to March 2013 ruins a lovely Channing Tatum Channing Tatum double feature. Rumor has it he dies early in Retaliation—or at least he did; maybe a recut will capitalize on 2012: Year of the Channing—so you could’ve watched Magic Mike first and seen Retaliation as his amusingly ignominious end, or Magic Mike second, in which case it becomes his glorious resurrection.
People Like Us: What is it about the last weekend of June that has studios deciding to re-embrace some degree of humanism in the summer? Warner Brothers releases its Soderbergh male-stripper extravaganza, while Disney (releasing a DreamWorks leftover, but still) up and does a full-on family drama, albeit one that sees hack screenplay perpetrator Alex Kurtzman making his directorial debut with the full force of Chris Pine’s post-Christian Slater oily charm behind it, plus the always charming Elizabeth Banks and always welcome Michelle Pfeiifer. This seems to be getting a more enthusiastic push (and better notices, at least so far) than Focus’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which died in wide-but-not-that-wide release last weekend despite Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. When Disney is doing better by its smaller-budget human dramedies than Focus, problems are afoot.
: Even the big R-rated comedy coming out this weekend, shuffled here after Retaliation gave the all-clear, has pretty benign special effects in the form of a computer-animated stuffed bear, wished to life by a kid who grows up to be a lovable dolt of the Comedy Mark Wahlberg type. I tried to enter into the feature film debut of Seth MacFarlane with an open mind, but it pretty much slammed shut on a gust of the writer-director’s bad habits—though by virtue of Wahlberg (game and often funny), Kunis (game but underutilized), and a pretty cute stuffed bear (MacFarlane, always game to capitalize on his brand), it is much more pleasant to look at than any of his animated shows. Like almost everything coming out this weekend, it’s getting good reviews; I guess I can take solace in the implicit proof that press screenings for comedies aren’t always where laughs go to wither away in the darkness.
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection: Rounding out the least effects-intensive weekend of the summer until August is the newest Madea joint, which boasts, from the look of it, extremely effects-light make-up and prosthetics to once again turn the gigantic (both physically and financially) Tyler Perry into an elderly woman. I have never seen a Tyler Perry movie, though I have a friend who is working his way through all of them. This one looks a lot Madea-heavier than his descriptions of some of the other movies, even ones with “Madea” in the title. When I went to the wrong theater for a Ted screening the other night, I did run into the red-carpet premiere of this movie, which is the closest I’ve ever gotten to being able to go to a screening of a Tyler Perry movie. If Lionsgate ever starts actually offering them, I’ll be all over it!
Take This Waltz: If you still prefer your human stories smaller, more intimate, and probably more recognizably, you know, human, Sarah Polley has a new movie out, after what seems like years of speculation about whether it would be as wrenching as Away From Her, how Michelle Williams would follow up her multiple Oscar nominations, and if Sarah Silverman really is naked in it. Plus: serious Seth Rogen! He plays a hapless-sounding husband whose wife (Williams) contemplates an affair with a handsomer dude. Marriage: if the Alzheimer’s doesn’t get ya, the ennui will.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: I actually went to college with the guy who directed this, and though I don’t really know him, I probably should refrain from judgment even after I see it (which I haven’t yet)not just to be professional, but to keep myself from reliving that time I got an internship at a literary agency and one of the clients was a dude who graduated with me a year and a half earlier. I will say that Beasts of the Southern Wild looks like David Gordon Green, which should satisfy those disappointed with David Gordon Green’s forays into making other types of movies; and that Nichoas Rapold has an interesting take that differs significantly from what we in the business call the buzzzzzzz on this movie.