By Sarah Sluis
It's Super Bowl Weekend, when studios shy from male-oriented fare at the box office and usually lob a
chick flick. Although the Sunday afternoon/evening event doesn't seem like the biggest deterrent against a Friday or Saturday night movie, for some, the pre-game anticipation makes other events verboten: it's also the least-booked weekend for weddings.
Still, Fox has decided to release male-oriented Taken (3,183 screens), hoping to generate enough business Friday and Saturday to make up for a weak Sunday. Our critic Jon Frosch called the Liam Neeson kidnapping thriller a "toxic combination of grim and
silly" that he "alternately yawned and scoffed" his way through before realizing "the real hostage in this mess is you." Viewer beware.
New in Town, the Renee Zellweger film that underwent a name change in hopes of giving a facelift to the soulless comedy, releases on a concentrated 1,941 screens. With more people in a theatre, maybe the laughter will seem louder and more contagious? According to our reviewer Harvey Karten, who saw the film in a fairly packed theatre of critics, the "shortage of laughs comes close to emulating our current budget deficits."
Joining the parade of Japanese horror remakes, The Uninvited (2,344 screens) seems a promising if
formulaic remake of Korea's A Tale of Two Sisters. The idea of an evil, infiltrating stepmother is compelling and delicious to teen audiences, and is my pick for number one at the box office this weekend. As an added bonus, the cast includes Elizabeth Banks. Making her fourth appearance in the past four months (following Role Models, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and W.), she just might be the new Kevin Bacon.
For those living in New York, a trio of somberly titled movies releases: Blessed is the Match: the Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, Medicine for Melancholy, and Shadows. Each qualify for my loose definition of "somber" in a different way. Shadows is a Holocaust documentary "bereft of...emotion and fire," Medicine for Melancholy could be loosely described as Before Sunrise, plus depressing racial commentary conducted with "self-indulgence and sluggishness," and Shadows is a creepy Macedonian-language thriller whose villain "Monster Mom," "dug up a few graves of refugees, suicides and unbaptized babies to
use for medical research." All in all, a charming array of options for those looking to complement their weekend of hot wings and seven-layer dip.