Looking ahead to what the next year has in store for us, there’s the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, St. Albert will have its municipal election and hopefully peace and sanity will finally reign over the Earth. Apart from all that, there are many movies that we should look forward to watching as soon as the new year drops on Friday. Some will be good; many will not be. Here’s my rundown of what to expect at the theatres for the next 365 days so that you don’t foolishly spend your money on something like Max Payne.
Lucky for us, there is no Max Payne II on the slate as it stands right now. Instead Mark Wahlberg will next be seen in the summertime alongside Will Ferrell in Adam McKay’s The Other Guys. Throwing a tough guy into the pot along with the two goofy jokesters who also came up with Anchorman … that could get interesting. The long-awaited Anchorman sequel, by the way, is still listed as in development, which means it might still be years away. The Other Guys appears to have a stellar cast that also features Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, Eva Mendes and several other hot names. It will be really great to see Paris Hilton express herself artistically as an actor. It’s the story of two NYPD detectives in the forensic accounting department. Notch it up as an action-comedy piece.
If it’s humour you want, especially adult humour, then look no further than Youth in Revolt opening in just a week and a half. Michael Cera plays his usual nebbish, after the girl who is way out of his league. So he develops a secondary persona, an alter ego if you will, that gets him more than the girl. It gets him into a whole heap of immense trouble. Cera is 21 now but will likely be able to carry off the 15-year-old awkward teen shtick for another five years.
If that’s not your style then there’s Hot Tub Time Machine (March 19), as self-explanatory a movie title as Snakes on a Plane. If this didn’t have John Cusack in it then it probably wouldn’t even be worth paying attention to the name. Four middle-aged guys get drunk on Red Bull and vodka before they immerse themselves in the hot bubbly waters of destiny. They find themselves back in the swinging ‘80s with their one chance at changing their fates.
I Love You, Phillip Morris (March 26) features Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, an unlikely love story ripe for our times. It will be interesting to see if state legislators in California watch this one carefully for any possible lessons on how to treat your fellow man. I’m just hoping that it turns out to be more thoughtful than I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
Date Night (April 9) stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey. That’s pretty much all I need to know in order to be sold. They’re a married couple out for the evening when they get caught up in all kinds of mistaken identity and mayhem. Think After Hours but with two poor schmucks instead of one.
Death at a Funeral (April 16) hardly seems necessary, especially considering the original British version came out just a few years ago to a mostly positive reception even on this side of the pond. Here, Neil LaBute takes the helm and considering his last adaptation of a British pic (The Wicker Man, starring Nicolas Cage), he should really stick to directing scripts from his own pen.
Speaking of Cage, the poor guy has dug himself a bit of a money hole in real life so it looks like he’s hanging his hopes on any or all of his five movies on the slate for next year. The most notable (or just plain big) of these looks like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (July 16) and Season of the Witch (March 19). I sense a supernatural trend here. Of course there’s also his part in Kick-Ass (April 16), an adaptation of the comic book series of unlikely superheroes by Mark Millar. Jonah Hex (June 18) is the other unlikely superhero movie of the year, unless you count Iron Man 2 (May 7).
If it’s a solid independent movie that you’re jonesing for, you can probably count on quirky and unsettling writer/director Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime (unscheduled), a sequel of sorts from his earlier film Happiness. He’s definitely an acquired taste, which is why this one likely won’t get a wide release. Failing that, check out Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s visual feast of Micmacs à tire-larigot (a.k.a. Micmacs, also unscheduled). You know him from AmĂ©lie but that was just a sample of his true brilliance.
On the lighter side, there are a number of fine children’s movies that adults are also likely to enjoy. Toy Story 3 (June 18), The Beauty and the Beast (February 12, re-release in 3-D), Megamind (November 5), Shrek Forever After (May 21), and Alice in Wonderland (March 5). This last one is interesting because it reunites Tim Burton and Disney, where he got his start in animation of all places. This one isn’t a cartoon but it might as well be with Burton’s trademarked visual style, intense colours, funky designs and Johnny Depp. If ever a director and an actor were more suited for each other than these two, I’ll never know. Someday when Depp wins an Oscar, it just has to be in one of Burton’s creations. His characterizations are absolutely unique and flawless. Disney is just figuring out the George Lucas business philosophy on how to capitalize on past successes without really trying. They just re-released the first two Toy Story movies in the new 3-D format so you can expect them to take all their past classics back to the big screen in the future.
If you’re old enough to buy tickets to movies of any rating then you’ll have the prime opportunity to enjoy some ‘reboots’ of films and franchises that won’t win screenwriting awards but might garner the adoration of a whole new fan base. Clash of the Titans (March 26) looks like 300 and is set in ancient Greece. Starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, Titans perpetuates the myth that the gods of the Old World all came from the British Isles, accents included. If realism is what you’re after, go for either Ironclad (unscheduled) if you can find it or Centurion (August 27).
After that there’s the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street (April 30) with Jackie Earle Haley in the famous hat and striped sweater. Predators (July 7) has a fine cast including Oscar-winner Adrien Brody and Oscar-nominee Laurence Fishburne, and some guys dressed up like greasy-haired hunter-killer aliens with shoulder mounted laser cannons. NimrĂłd Antal, who knows a thing or two about compelling action, is the director.
There’s also the long-awaited and long-delayed The Wolfman (February 12) with a more-hirsute-than-usual Benicio del Toro in the title role. Tron Legacy (December 17) follows up from the 1982 original with some old school high tech visuals and neon motorcycles. When was the last time you saw Bruce Boxleitner anyway?
Apart from these, my guilty pleasures will include Machete (April 16, starring Danny Trejo), based on a fake trailer from Grindhouse. District 13: Ultimatum (unscheduled) is the sequel to the French action flick that taught everyone what parkour means. Bitch Slap (unscheduled) may prove to also have fun and frivolous flair, throwing audiences back to the good (yet awful) old days of sexploitation with Russ Meyer in the 1970s. I just hope it doesn’t turn out as boring as Hell Ride.
I’ve barely scraped the surface but I need to mention several others. Shutter Island (February 19) was delayed from 2009 but that only means that my anticipation for Martin Scorsese’s latest is heightened past the boiling point. I’m also looking forward to Mel Gibson’s return to acting in Edge of Darkness (January 29) about a cop investigating his daughter’s death. I sure hope that he gets intense.
If macho intensity is not your thing, however, then there are some titles that you should pay attention to, namely Letters to Juliet (May 7), Sex and the City 2 (May 28) and Eclipse (June 30), the third part in the Twilight series. The Last Song (April 2) stars Miley Cyrus as a young woman reconnecting with her father through the power of song. If it didn’t come from the pen of Nicholas Sparks, the scribe of The Notebook, then I would have passed this off as another young singer’s attempt to act like Britney Spears in Crossroads. Only time will tell for this one and for all the others too.