Skyscraper Movie Review

Rawson Marshall Thurber takes a break from directing comedies and Dwayne Johnson is on a hiatus from pairing with jungle animals in Skyscraper. Drawing clear inspiration from The Towering Inferno and Die Hard, the action thriller casts Johnson as Sawyer, an ex FBI agent who lost a leg in a hostage situation gone wrong. It didn’t all turn out badly though because he ends up marrying his surgeon (Neve Campbell) and they have two cute kids. Sawyer now works as a safety analyst for giant buildings and the biggest one has just been erected in Hong Kong by a billionaire entrepreneur (Chin Han). An occupational hazard develops when some terrorists led by Roland Møller set The Pearl (what the 200 plus story structure is named) on fire. Sawyer must then save his family from the burning. If you think one of his kids is asthmatic and the screenplay uses that overused cliché, you sure are right!

For a filmmaker who’s done Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, We’re the Millers, and Central Intelligence (with Johnson), Thurber keeps this a mostly humor free experience – save for our protagonist’s affinity for duct tape. While I’ve already mentioned its most obvious influences, the climax pays homage to The Man with the Golden Gun, of all Bond pics. That one is on the lower end of 007 efforts and so is this as far as Johnson’s action output.

Skyscraper never bothers to develop worthwhile villains and that’s something Die Hard sure had. The Towering Inferno had cutting edge effects at its time. Not here. And, um, the aforementioned Bond movie had a main bad guy with a third nipple. So that’s something.

Johnson manages to exude some charm, but it can only go so far with this ultimate nondescript affair. I could say something obvious like “Skyscraper didn’t floor me”, but that would be as lame as putting in a kid with asthma.

** (out of four)

Night School Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Update (09/27/18): My estimate has risen to $27.6 million to $31.6 million

One of the most dependable comedic actors at the box office teams with one of the hottest newer names when Night School opens next weekend. Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish headline the pic about a group trying to pass their GED exam. Malcolm D. Lee (who just directed Haddish in her breakout Girls Trip) is behind the camera. The supporting cast includes Rob Riggle, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Taran Killam, Romany Malco, and Keith David.

Hart has been a model of consistency in recent years when it comes to high earners. In addition to just coming off the massive blockbuster Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, he’s had a handful of $30 million plus openers including Think Like a Man, both Ride Along features, Get Hard, and Central Intelligence. The Think Like a Man sequel almost reached $30 million while About Last Night made $25.6 million for its start. The low-end of the spectrum is The Wedding Ringer with $20.6 million. As for Lee and Haddish’s Trip, it took in $31.2 million.

The collaboration of these talents should yield pleasing results and the likely #1 spot over its made competitor – the animated Smallfoot. I’m a little skeptical this reaches $30 million, though it certainly could. A gross in the mid to high 20s seems more probable.

Night School opening weekend prediction: $31.6 million

For my Smallfoot prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/18/smallfoot-box-office-prediction/

For my Hell Fest prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/09/20/hell-fest-box-office-prediction/

Skyscraper Box Office Prediction

Dwayne Johnson has built quite a box office list of hits over the past few months with titles like The Fate of the Furious, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and Rampage. As for Baywatch… well, nobody’s perfect. Next weekend sees the release of Skyscraper, an action film which appears to be heavily influenced by The Towering Inferno and Die Hard. The pic is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber who’s best known for comedies like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, We’re the Millers, and Central Intelligence (his 2016 blockbuster collaboration with Johnson). Costars include Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Moller, Pablo Schreiber, and Noah Taylor.

Johnson’s last two efforts (Jungle and Rampage) both opened in the mid 30s. However, that’s a little misleading with Jumanji as it opened in a massively crowded Christmas frame and legged out to a gross of over $400 million. Rampage, on the other hand, sits at $98 million total. Central Intelligence, by the way, also premiered in the range at $35 million.

I don’t see any compelling reason why Skyscraper would debut over those titles. And I also don’t see much reason why it would open too far under them. The PG-13 rating should help bring in teens, though the second weekend of AntMan and the Wasp does present direct competition. I’ll project Skyscraper for a low to mid 30s start, right on pace with its lead’s other rock solid roll outs.

Skyscraper opening weekend prediction: $33.2 million

For my Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/03/hotel-transylvania-3-summer-vacation-box-office-prediction/

2017: The Year of Kumail Nanjiani

It was early in 2017 when The Big Sick started garnering buzz from its screening at the Sundance Film Festival. Nearly one year later, the unique rom com was a smashing box office success and established its star/co-writer as a fresh and exciting new voice on the big screen.

Kumail Nanjiani was best known for his role on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” and stand-up. He had appeared in numerous supporting roles in comedies such as Central Intelligence and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but The Big Sick was something else entirely.

The Pakistani born performer penned the screenplay with wife Emily V. Gordon. Loosely based on their relationship and their dealings with her illness and cultural issues, the pic resonated with critics and audiences. The reported $5 million production took in $43 million stateside with a sizzling 98% Rotten Tomatoes score. Sick could soon attract Oscar attention, especially for Best Original Screenplay and Holly Hunter in Supporting Actress.

For Nanjiani, the year began with a festival screening that turned his movie into an audience favorite throughout the year. 2017 ends with his many new fans eager to see his next move.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (12/20/17): My Jumanji prediction has been lowered.

Even with the considerable competition including the second weekend of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, animated fare like Ferdinand and Coco, and a slew of other holiday wide releases, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle looks primed for a healthy box office haul. The board game related comedic adventure follows up on the 1995 Robin Williams hit with a cast that includes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Bobby Cannavale, and Nick Jonas. Jake Kasdan directs.

It doesn’t hurt that Johnson and Hart are two of the more bankable stars around (their collaboration Central Intelligence was a blockbuster). It also helps that the wealth is usually spread around on Christmas weekend. Jumanji debuts on Wednesday next week as it looks to play well throughout the long weekend frame.

Kids should turn out if they’re not clamoring to see Jedi a second time. The X factor here that makes me believe it could over perform? It’s garnering surprisingly solid buzz with a Rotten Tomatoes score currently at 82%. An even more important factor could be the nostalgia one as older moviegoers are quite familiar with the 22-year-old original. We already have witnessed how that dynamic propelled Jurassic World to amazing numbers.

Jumanji will be no Jurassic, but I certainly believe a four-day take in the mid 40s and mid 60s six-day take is quite doable. That should put it in second after Jedi for the holidays.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opening weekend prediction: $40.5 million (Friday to Monday), $55.1 million (Wednesday to Monday)

For my The Greatest Showman prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/12/the-greatest-showman-box-office-prediction/

For my Pitch Perfect 3 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/12/pitch-perfect-3-box-office-prediction/

For my Downsizing prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/13/downsizing-box-office-prediction/

For my Father Figures prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/12/14/father-figures-box-office-prediction/

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence is not bad, which is more than you can say with some scripts that Kevin Hart has been saddled with over the last few years. From Ride Along (both of them) to The Wedding Ringer to Get Hard, the talented Mr. Hart has not seen much material that rises above the strictly mediocre. With a worthy comedic partner in Dwayne Johnson that he has an easy chemistry with, Intelligence may not be very intelligent but it’s got its share of genuinely amusing moments due to their partnership.

The film begins in 1996 when the two stars are high school seniors. Hart is Calvin. He’s the star athlete, resident heralded drama thespian, and runaway Most Likely to Succeed. Johnson is Robbie, whose figure is anything but rock solid. He’s bullied mercilessly by his fellow students and Calvin is the only guy who seems to show him any mercy.

Flash forward two decades as the two are up for the 20 year reunion. Calvin has become a bored accountant in a dead end job, still married somewhat unhappily to his high school sweetheart (Danielle Nicolet). Robbie is now the blandly named Bob Stone,  complete with a physique befitting the actor portraying him. He’s now in the CIA and being accused of being a rogue agent trying to sell secrets to the highest bidder.

What follows is a routine buddy flick where Bob/Robbie and Calvin must team up while chased by people who may or may not be bad guys. Amy Ryan gets the change of pace role of the government agency head pursuing them and Aaron Paul pops up as Robbie’s former partner. The threadbare plot of Central Intelligence is ho-hum at best, but it’s also not what it’s centrally about.

The pic rises and falls on the interaction between the leads and there’s some good stuff to be witnessed. Johnson has already proven his sense of humor (he seems well aware that his character in the Fast & Furious franchise is supposed to be funny). We also have some messages written in about bullying that’s presented slightly better than you might expect in this type of material. There’s some unexpected cameos from other well known comedy actors that are welcome. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber had a hit in 2013 with We’re the Millers, which I enjoyed. That effort had the benefit of hilarious supporting work from Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn and a whacky villain role for Ed Helms that accentuated the proceedings beyond its main stars. Central Intelligence doesn’t have that, but at least the two names above the title help deliver something a bit more worthy of their talents.

**1/2 (out of four)

Kevin Hart: What Now? Box Office Prediction

Kevin Hart has been busy at the box office in 2016. Ride Along 2 debuted in January with an overall gross of $90 million (shy of its predecessor, but not bad). This summer came Central Intelligence, his team-up with The Rock that marked his second highest grosser ever at $127 million (after the first Ride Along, which made $134M). While the comedian has broken through on the silver screen in a major way, he hasn’t forgotten his stand-up roots. That leads to Kevin Hart: What Now?, out next weekend, which presents his latest comedy tour with a show taped in 2015 in Philadelphia.

For comparisons sake, it’s been three years since Mr. Hart released his last stand-up pic theatrically. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain had a $10 million premiere with a $32M eventual domestic haul. Comedy concerts released in multiplexes are a rare breed, but there’s some hope this could outshine Explain. The most obvious reason is that Hart has become a much bigger movie star in the three years that have transpired. On the other hand, moviegoers know even more now that Now will likely be available for their viewing pleasure via streaming quite soon.

Add that up and I believe What Now? will manage to outpace Explain for a debut in the low to mid double digits.

Kevin Hart: What Now? opening weekend prediction: $13.5 million

For my The Accountant prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/10/05/the-accountant-box-office-prediction/

For my Max Steel prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/10/06/max-steel-box-office-prediction/