By Sarah Sluis
Family-friendly films have been doing well in recent weeks, from the G-rated re-release of The Lion King to the PG-rated Dolphin Tale. Now the PG-13-rated Real Steel (3,440 theatres) is aiming for family audiences. Hugh Jackman stars as an ex-boxer who discovers he has a ten-year-old son. They reconnect by training a robot boxer for the championships. Critic Frank Lovece dubbed it "a science-fiction family film in which nine-foot-tall boxing robots are greased not with oil but with schmaltz." The movie, however, is not without flaws. "Something's not quite right when the robots have more soul than the leads," Lovece concludes. The support of family audiences and higher-priced IMAX screens should earn Real Steel over $20 million this weekend. With a third of kids out of school on Monday, Columbus Day, the feel-good robot tale should also experience a fourth-day boost.
The opposing candidate is The Ides of March (2,199 theatres), which stars George Clooney as a presidential contender in a movie he also directed. The ensemble piece, adapted from the play Farragut North, also features Ryan Gosling as a whipsmart press secretary. Unfortunately, "like a good politician," the movie "promises more than it delivers," according to critic Daniel Eagan. "Good intentions" don't make up for the "trite" moments that will create "inevitable bad word-of-mouth." Still, ticket sales from men and women over 25 should bring this movie above $10 million.
I'd rather not dwell on The Human Centipede 2 (The Full Sequence), which is opening in 18 theatres. "Strictly for fans of the original, and you know who you are," THR critic Frank Scheck warns. This is a movie so vile, just thinking about the plot description grosses me out, but it's also become something of a pop culture talking point. So just so you know: The sequel was banned in the U.K., and the first film was parodied on "South Park."
Also on the specialty front is Dirty Girl (9 theatres), which features a teen girl (Juno Temple) behaving badly and her overweight gay sidekick. Critic David Noh championed the "totally engaging road movie," but critical opinion has been less enthusiastic. Just 23% of critics gave the movie a positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
On Monday, we'll see how Real Steel fared and if audiences voted for The Ides of March.