Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

We have seen numerous takes on the raunchy wedding comedy and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is, well, another one. A grouping of actors who’ve done the genre in considerably better work before on film and television, the pic is stale and uninspired. It even wastes its gorgeous Hawaiian locale in a way that Forgetting Sarah Marshall didn’t.

The title characters are actual people – the Stangle Brothers – whose life story inspired the events that take place here. Dave (Zac Efron) and Mike (Adam DeVine) lead an aimless and hard partying existence while running a liquor business. We’re not really shown many of their wild exploits. In fact, Dave seems like a somewhat well-adjusted and dull dude. Mike, with DeVine’s performance unsuccessfully attempting to ape a younger Jack Black, is more of an annoyance.

Brothers Stangle are called in by mom and dad when their little sister Jeanie (the coolly named Sugar Lyn Beard) is about to tie the knot. They’re asked to bring dates with the idea that they’ll be less prone to make a scene. So they put out an ad on social media which catches fire, culminating with appearing on Wendy Williams’s show.

When they finally choose their matches, it’s the equally aimless and wild duo of Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza). The girls are in it for the free vacay with Alice having the additional motivation of getting over recently being left at the altar. They try to act like good girls but bad things happen across the ocean.

What follows is a buffet of sex and drugs humor that does precious little to differentiate itself from other bawdy buffets we’ve been served up before. One central theme – “Hey, these gals are just as self-absorbed as the dudes!” – doesn’t add much. Like their male counterparts, Kendrick and Plaza have shined in superior material but can’t elevate this stuff. I don’t know what actually occurred or not in this story that bills itself as “sort of” true. I do know that I probably wouldn’t have wanted to hang with the real people and know for sure there’s not enough laughter in the 99 minutes watching others play them.

*1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Watch: 13th

The New York Film Festival has begun and that means a fresh round of Oscar Watch posts will be coming your way over the next couple of weeks. For the first time in the fest’s history, a documentary kicked off the proceedings and it’s a very high-profile one.

Ana DuVernay’s 13th (named after the 13th amendment) explores issues of race relations in America over history. This is the director’s first effort since Selma. Early critical reaction from its screening indicate this is a powerful and emotional experience. And most viewers won’t have to wait long at all to view it as it premieres on Netflix a week from today (Friday, October 7).

Since the announcement of the project, 13th has been seen as a front-runner for Best Documentary at the Oscars. The buzz emanating from the Big Apple confirms that status. A more unknown question is whether this documentary expands outside of that category and becomes a player in Best Picture. To do so, it’ll need to make history as no doc has ever received a nod in the biggest race of all.

So for those making their list for probable Best Pic nominees, it’s best to leave 13th out at the time being. Yet it proved yesterday that it’s the one to beat in the Documentary Feature category.

Todd’s Weekly Oscar Predictions: September 29th Edition

It’s my weekly Thursday Oscar predictions in the eight major categories coming your way and there has been some news since last Thursday. It was officially confirmed that Martin Scorsese’s passion project Silence will be released in December in time for awards consideration (maybe we’ll finally get a trailer soon!). There were trailers released for some high-profile contenders: Denzel Washington’s Fences and Mike Mills’s 20th Century Women. 

As we do every week, I’ll rank my top 25 contenders for Best Picture along with top 15 for the directing, acting, and screenplay races (you can also see the movement from the previous week’s ranking to now).

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees

1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Fences (PR: 2)

3. Silence  (PR: 4)

4. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 3)

5. Lion (PR: 7)

6. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)

7. Moonlight (PR: 6)

8. Loving (PR: 8)

9. Hidden Figures (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Jackie (PR: 11)

11. Arrival (PR: 12)

12. Sully (PR: 13)

13. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 10)

14. Hell or High Water (PR: 16)

15. Live by Night (PR: 14)

16. The Birth of a Nation (PR: 15)

17. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 19)

18. 20th Century Women (PR: 17)

19. The Jungle Book (PR: 21)

20. Passengers (PR: 25)

21. Gold (PR: Not Ranked)

22. The Founder (PR: 22)

23. Allied (PR: 18)

24. The Girl on the Train (PR: Not Ranked)

25. I, Daniel Blake (PR: 23)

Dropped Out:

Collateral Beauty

Hacksaw Ridge

Best Director

Predicted Nominees

1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Ang Lee, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 2)

3. Martin Scorsese, Silence (PR: 3)

4. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 4)

5. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Garth Davis, Lion (PR: 8)

7. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (PR: 6)

8. Jeff Nichols, Loving (PR: 7)

9. Pablo Larrain, Jackie (PR: 11)

10. Denis Villenueve, Arrival (PR: 10)

11. Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures (PR: 12)

12. Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 9)

13. Clint Eastwood, Sully (PR: 13)

14. Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Ben Affleck, Live by Night (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Robert Zemeckis, Allied

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees

1. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 2)

2. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 1)

3. Tom Hanks, Sully (PR: 5)

4. Ryan Gosling, La La Land (PR: 3)

5. Joel Edgerton, Loving (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Joe Alwyn, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 6)

7. Dev Patel, Lion (PR: 7)

8. Michael Keaton, The Founder (PR: 9)

9. Andrew Garfield, Silence (PR: 10)

10. Miles Teller, Bleed for This (PR: 12)

11. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals (PR: Not Ranked)

12. Matthew McConaughey, Gold (PR: 11)

13. Will Smith, Collateral Beauty (PR: 8)

14. Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation (PR: 13)

15. Ben Affleck, Live by Night (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Dave Johns, I, Daniel Blake 

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Emma Stone, La La Land (PR: 1)

2. Natalie Portman, Jackie (PR: 2)

3. Viola Davis, Fences (PR: 3)

4. Ruth Negga, Loving (PR: 4)

5. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Amy Adams, Arrival (PR: 6)

7. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 7)

8. Isabelle Huppert, Elle (PR: 9)

9. Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures (PR: 8)

10. Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 10)

11. Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train (PR: 12)

12. Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane (PR: 11)

13. Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers (PR: 13)

14. Rachel Weisz, Denial (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Sally Field, My Name is Doris (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Rooney Mara, Una

Marion Cotillard, Allied

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees

1. Liam Neeson, Silence (PR: 1)

2. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 2)

3. Stephen Henderson, Fences (PR: 3)

4. Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 7)

5. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sunny Pawar, Lion (PR: 6)

7. Aaron Eckhart, Bleed for This (PR: 8)

8. Steve Martin, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 5)

9. Aaron Eckhart, Sully (PR: 10)

10. Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply (PR: 11)

11. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 9)

12. Timothy Spall, Denial (PR: 13)

13. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (PR: 12)

14. Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees

1. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 1)

2. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (PR: 2)

3. Nicole Kidman, Lion (PR: 4)

4. Laura Linney, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 5)

5. Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 3)

Other Possibilities:

6. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures (PR: 6)

7. Margo Martindale, The Hollars (PR: 7)

8. Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Molly Shannon, Other People (PR: 11)

10. Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky (PR: 8)

11. Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women (PR: 9)

12. Haley Bennett, The Girl on the Train (PR: 13)

13. Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold (PR: 10)

14. Sienna Miller, Live by Night (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Helen Mirren, Collateral Beauty

Aja Naomi King, The Birth of a Nation

Julianne Moore, Maggie’s Plan

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees

1. La Land Land (PR: 1)

2. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)

3. Moonlight (PR: 3)

4. Jackie (PR: 4)

5. Loving (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hell or High Water (PR: 6)

7. Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 9)

8. 20th Century Women (PR: 7)

9. I, Daniel Blake (PR: 13)

10. The Lobster (PR: 8)

11. Zootopia (PR: 11)

12. The Birth of a Nation (PR: 10)

13. Gold (PR: 12)

14. Miss Sloane (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Passengers (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Collateral Beauty


Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees

1. Fences (PR: 1)

2. Silence (PR: 3)

3. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (PR: 2)

4. Lion (PR: 4)

5. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Hidden Figures (PR: 6)

7. Arrival (PR: 7)

8. Elle (PR: 11)

9. Sully (PR: 8)

10. Love & Friendship (PR: 12)

11. Indignation (PR: 13)

12. The Girl on the Train (PR: 10)

13. Live by Night (PR: 9)

14. The Jungle Book (PR: 15)

15. A Monster Calls (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


And that’ll do it for the weekly Oscar predictions! Check back next week, folks…

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Box Office Prediction

The Girl on the Train isn’t the only title out next weekend based on a bestseller as Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life debuts. Based on James Patterson and Chris Tebbits’s 2011 book, the comedy aims to capitalize on its successful source material.

Griffin Gluck plays the middle schooler having a bad time with a supporting cast that includes Lauren Graham, Rob Riggle, and Andy Daly. Steve Carr (in his comfort zone after making other youth oriented yuck fests like Dr. Dolittle 2 and Paul Blart: Mall Cop) directs.

My expectation is that this will have a tough time breaking through to teens. The marketing campaign has been somewhat quiet. At least the animated blockbusters this year are geared toward a pre-teen audience and their parents attend, too. School could struggle to reach double digits, resulting in middling numbers.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life opening weekend prediction: $7.8 million

For my The Girl on the Train prediction, click here:


For my The Birth of a Nation prediction, click here:


The Birth of a Nation Box Office Prediction

When Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation debuted at the Sundance Film Festival all the way back in January, it garnered red-hot buzz that included awards chatter. Fox Searchlight quickly snatched up the rights and it rolls out in theaters next weekend. The pic tells the true life tale of slave rebellion leader Nat Turner in 1831. Parker directed, produced, wrote, and stars in the $10 million production. Costars include Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, and Penelope Ann Miller.

Since its wildly successful roll out this past winter, Birth has faced an interesting and sometimes troubling journey to the wide release date. While its 82% on Rotten Tomatoes indicates the aforementioned positive critical reaction, the film has seemed to diminish in the view of Oscar forecasters. Whether that’s due to buzz waning or other worthy pictures being screened since then is an open question.

And, yes, there’s the matter of Nate Parker’s personal life stemming from a 1999 rape case and his accuser’s suicide years later. The matter has received significant publicity over the last few months. How the story affects Nation‘s box office performance obviously seems inconsequential considering the larger picture, but it must be taken into consideration for any prediction.

All of those factors have contributed to Birth losing some luster and, truth be told, my opening weekend prediction post Sundance probably would’ve been higher. I’ll predict this manages to get past double digits, but not by much.

The Birth of a Nation opening weekend prediction: $10.5 million

For my The Girl on the Train prediction, click here:


For my Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life prediction, click here:


The Girl on the Train Box Office Prediction

Just last year, the novel The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins became a massive bestseller and Universal Pictures wasted no time in getting the big screen adaptation to eager audiences. The book has been described as the “next Gone Girl” and the studio would love to replicate that film adaptation’s success here.

The thriller is directed by The Help‘s Tate Taylor and stars Emily Blunt with a supporting cast that includes Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramirez, Lisa Kudrow, and Laura Prepon.

Train should undoubtedly bring in fans of the source material (including a hefty female demographic). Yet reaching the heights of Gone Girl seems like a fairly unlikely prospect. Two years ago in the same first October weekend, the David Fincher effort earned just over $37 million out of the gate. It wouldn’t shock me to see this top $30M for its opening weekend, but I believe a mid-high 20s gross is more probable. If Train manages solid audience buzz, it could keep chugging along with smallish drops in future weekends.

The Girl on the Train opening weekend prediction: $28.2 million

For my The Birth of a Nation prediction, click here:


For my Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life prediction, click here:


Box Office Predictions: September 30-October 2

Four new titles roll out in wide release this weekend at the box office and they are: Mark Wahlberg’s true-life disaster pic Deepwater Horizon, Tim Burton’s YA fantasy Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, oft delayed Zach Galifianakis/Kristin Wiig comedy Masterminds, and Disney’s Ugandan chess prodigy tale Queen of Katwe. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:





As I see it, Deepwater Horizon should top Peregrine for the top spot. Both have the chance to debut higher than my predictions, but the trend over the last couple of weeks has been titles under performing and not over performing. If Magnificent Seven loses close to half its opening weekend audience, it should be third with Storks at the four spot (it should experience the smallest decline of holdovers).

My estimates for Masterminds and Queen of Katwe put them in the sixth and seventh positions with Sully holding on for another week in the top five.

Here’s how the blog readers feel about my projections for the newcomers:

Deepwater Horizon – 45% Too Low, 38% Just About Right, 17% Too High

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – 69% Too Low, 16% Just About Right, 15% Too High

Masterminds – 54% Just About Right, 46% Too Low, 0% Too High

Queen of Katwe – 50% Just About Right, 38% Too Low, 12% Too High

And with that, a top 7 predictions for this weekend:

1. Deepwater Horizon

Predicted Gross: $24.7 million

2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for the Peculiar Children

Predicted Gross: $19.6 million

3. The Magnificent Seven

Predicted Gross: $18.2 million (representing a drop of 47%)

4. Storks

Predicted Gross: $13.2 million (representing a drop of 37%)

5. Sully

Predicted Gross: $9.1 million (representing a drop of 33%)

6. Masterminds

Predicted Gross: $6.3 million

7. Queen of Katwe

Predicted Gross: $5 million

Box Office Results (September 23-25)

As expected, The Magnificent Seven remake with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt easily topped the charts, though it did come in towards the bottom end of most expectations. The Western took in $34.7 million and I went considerably higher with $47.1M. Still, the opening is in line with Washington’s The Equalizer from two years ago.

After the animated talking animal mega-hits that were Zootopia, Finding Dory, and The Secret Life of Pets – perhaps family audiences had their fill as Storks posted a debut on the lowest end of expectations. Despite positive reviews, the Warner Bros release made $21.3 million for second (below my $27.9M projection). Its best hope is for smallish declines in future weekends.

Sully dropped to third after two weeks on top with $13.5 million (under my $14.9M forecast) for a total of $92M.

Last weekend’s newcomers all posted lackluster debuts and they all experienced unimpressive second weekends as well. Bridget Jones’s Baby was fourth with $4.6 million (I said $5.1M) for a $16M total. Snowden was fifth with $4 million (I said $4.3M) for a $15M tally. Blair Witch dropped to sixth with $4 million as well (I predicted $3.4M) for a $16M overall gross.

And that’s all for now, folks! Until next time…