By Katey Rich
It's looking like that kind of weekend. All the new release titles are movies you've never heard of, starring people who sound vaguely familiar and with concepts that sound either way overdone or completely absurd. We have the ghost of a woman who haunts her ex-fiance as he tries to find new love, another woman who can suddenly see ghosts following eye surgery, and a bunch of guys who go off into the woods and get into accidents involving wild animals and drug use. One of the smallest releases of the weekend may turn out to be the biggest hit, though, as Hannah Montana hits the big screen in the 3D movie of her hit concert tour, Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds. Apparently 12-year-olds can't get enough, and if they can convince a parent to drag themselves away from the Superbowl long enough to drive them to the multiplex, they could make the first big hit of a 3D concert movie.
THE EYE. Opening in 2,200 theatres.The widest release of the weekend hasn't been screened for critics. As a remake of a Japanese horror movie starring Jessica Alba, it's not hard to see why. Alba's last films were Awake, which earned a Metacritic rating of 33, and Good Luck Chuck, which got an even-lower 19 rating. These two films earned her a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress of 2007, though she'll likely be beaten by Lindsay Lohan thanks to I Know Who Killed Me. Anyway. In The Eye Alba plays Sydney, a concert violinist who has been blind since birth. When she receives a corneal transplant, she begins seeing things from the past of the woman to whom the eyes once belonged. When the ghosts and the spirits start appearing, Sydney becomes involved in the supernatural world. I'm not entirely sure at what point the hand starts crawling out of the eye.
OVER HER DEAD BODY. Opening in 1,950 theatres. Another new movie starring a woman who made her fame on television, Over Her Dead Body actually does have reviews...well, a few. Eva Longoria Parker plays Kate, a woman who is killed in a freak accident on her wedding day, but is so busy squabbling with the angels she meets in heaven that she is sent back to earth without even knowing what her purpose as a ghost is. She finds her ex-fiance (Paul Rudd) visiting a psychic to try to move on from her death, but gets jealous when he starts dating the comely psychic (Lake Bell). Kate decides to wreak havoc in the psychic's life in order to win her man back, even though she's, uh, a ghost. Jason Biggs also stars.
Paul Rudd has been on a roll lately with his supporting parts in Judd Apatow's movies, but Over Her Dead Body does not seem to be part of that trend. Gene Seymour at Newsday has some especially hilarious choice words: "There's something really special about the way Over Her Dead Body makes its 93 minutes seem more like nine hours. [...] This is the kind of film that makes you regret living in a world where tired cliches about flatulence, gay male best friends and cat owners can be served up as if they were fresh from the oven." At Slant Magazine Ed Gonzalez is no fan either, writing, "For his maiden outing behind the camera, John Tucker Must Die scribe Lowell exhibits zero directorial flair, but then again, virtually everything about his film is bungled." But at the L.A. Weekly, Nick Pinkerton is game: "Nobody was clamoring for this Blithe Spirit revival, but, real talk, it's a fine hiatus from earthly life."
STRANGE WILDERNESS. Opening in 1,100 theatres. Targeting a young male audience the weekend of the Superbowl, and on the heels of Rambo, Meet the Spartans and Cloverfield, Strange Wilderness doesn't exactly have an easy road ahead. The comedy from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison productions stars Steve Zahn as the host of a nature show that's down in the ratings. To save his show he decides to hunt down Bigfoot, with the help of a ragtag group of friends (including Apple spokesman Justin Long, Superbad's Jonah Hill and frequent Sandler collaborator Allen Covert). The trailer hints at a lot of bong and fart jokes, as well as a guy whose crotch is attacked by a wild turkey. Draw your own conclusions.
HANNAH MONTANA/MILEY CYRUS: BEST OF BOTH WORLDS. Opening in 680 theatres. Adolescent children and their parents should need no explanation of why this 3D concert movie is expected to be a smash success. Miley Cyrus is a teenage girl who has a secret alter ego as rock star Hannah Montana, as documented on the hit Disney TV show. When Miley/Hannah went on tour last year it was a phenomenal success, and now the movie captures the concert with brand-new digital 3D technology. Disney is booking the movie for a one-week-only run, building the kind of frenzy you usually only find for real concerts. At $15 a ticket with a rabid fanbase to draw into theatres, Best of Both Worlds is likely to make a huge splash this weekend, though in a limited 680 theatres. Critics haven't seen this one yet either, but given that the appeal is aimed toward tween girls, I'm not sure how much their opinion would matter at this point anyway.