Oscar Watch: Incredibles 2

This should come as no surprise, but reviews out today for Incredibles 2 (out Friday) are pretty encouraging. The sequel from Pixar/Disney arrives 14 years after the original, which stands as one of the vaunted studio’s high marks. The current Rotten Tomatoes score for part 2 stands at 97%.

As I would with any Pixar offering, we turn to its Oscar viability and that takes us on a trip down memory lane. The Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards has been around since 2001. That means the first three Pixar tales (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2) existed in a time when the category did not. I would say all three would have been nominated had the race been around (and the Toy stories likely both would have been victorious).

Since 2001, Pixar pics have won 9 times and they are as follows:

2003: Finding Nemo

2004: The Incredibles

2007: Ratatouille

2008: Wall-E

2009: Up

2010: Toy Story 3

2012: Brave

2015: Inside Out

2017: Coco

There have been two occasions where a Pixar movie was nominated and lost. In 2001, Monsters Inc. couldn’t get over Shrek. In 2006, Happy Feet took the prize over Cars. 

Five Pixar features have failed to garner a nomination. Four were sequels. The only outlier is 2015’s The Good Dinosaur. The others:

2011: Cars 2

2013: Monsters University

2016: Finding Dory

2017: Cars 3

Which brings us back to Incredibles 2. So where does this stand? Note that this sequel is the only one to a predecessor that won before. And seeing that early reviews are overwhelmingly glowing (even though some say it doesn’t match #1), I’ll predict this Pixar sequels makes the final five come next year. The director, Brad Bird, is also responsible for two of the Pixar statues (The Incredibles and Ratatouille). There will certainly be competition (Isle of Dogs was already released and seems assured a spot) and its possibility to win is still a giant question mark. Yet these superheroes seem primed for a return engagement down the red carpet.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Incredibles 2 Box Office Prediction

Disney/Pixar is back on the summer scene as Incredibles 2 blasts into theaters next weekend. The superhero comedy sequel is the follow-up to the studio’s sixth blockbuster that opened in November 2004. Fourteen years later, this is Pixar’s 20th assured mega grosser. Brad Bird, who made the original, is back in the director’s seat after shepherding live-action pics Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland. Returning voices from the original cast include Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, and John Ratzenberger. Fresh voices for part 2 include Jonathan Banks, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Isabella Rossellini, and Sophia Bush.

The question mark here is not whether Incredibles 2 is another huge hit for Pixar (it will be). Rather, the question is whether it sets the all-time opening record for the Mouse Factory’s multi-billion dollar subsidiary. In order to do so, it would need to surpass the current one held by 2016’s Finding Dory. That sequel earned $135 million in the same weekend two summers ago.

For some context, the predecessor to Dory (2003’s Finding Nemo) made $70 million out of the gate with an eventual gross of $339 million. As for the first Incredibles? It did exactly the same in its first weekend ($70 million) and went on to earn $261 million domestically. Of course, most Pixar titles take on long shelf lives and introduce themselves to a new generation of youngsters. The Incredibles is no exception and stands as one of the most appreciated studio offerings.

I see no reason why Incredibles 2 wouldn’t perform very similarly to Dory. That said, I’m reluctant to project that it will get to $150 million plus or anything in that stratosphere. I’ll say this just manages to achieve a personal Pixar high. In doing so, just as Nemo and Incredibles got to the same number in weekend 1, so essentially will the sequels.

Incredibles 2 opening weekend prediction: $138.1 million

For my Tag prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/05/tag-box-office-prediction/

For my Superfly prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/06/07/superfly-box-office-prediction/

Book Club Box Office Prediction

Paramount is hoping to bring in an older female audience next Friday with the release of Book Club. The comedy casts the quartet of Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen as members of a reading group who become influenced by their latest selection, Fifty Shades of Grey. The pic marks the directorial debut of Bill Holderman and costars include Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss, Craig T. Nelson, and Alicia Silverstone.

As mentioned, this Club hopes to capitalize on an often underserved market. Yet there is at least one other title appealing to females as Life of the Party will be in its sophomore frame and possibly still in lower double digits.

I’ll estimate this manages high single digits to low double digits itself out of the gate as it’ll likely hope for smallish declines in subsequent frames.

Book Club opening weekend prediction: $10.3 million

For my Deadpool 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/09/deadpool-2-box-office-prediction/

For my Show Dogs prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/10/show-dogs-box-office-prediction/

For my Pope Francis: A Man of His Word prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/13/pope-francis-a-man-of-his-word-box-office-prediction/

Gold Movie Review

Stephen Gaghan’s Gold tells another fairly recent “inspired by true events” tale of excess and greed. Instead of nefarious Wall Street types (though they’re here), our story takes place in the gold mining industry. Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is a third generation prospector trying to keep his business Washoe afloat.

A prologue shows happier times for the company in 1981. At that juncture, Kenny’s dad (Craig T. Nelson) is running it successfully and his offspring is merrily working at it. Seven years later, dad has passed and son isn’t so lucky. He runs Washoe from a bar where he indulges in their key product heavily.

Kenny has a dream that leads him to Indonesia to seek out Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez), a geologist who’s also run into lean times. They believe there might be gold in them Indonesian mountains. Finding it isn’t easy and Kenny even catches malaria, but eventually their fortunes turn.

As the company becomes an extremely hot commodity, Kenny must stave off the vultures of the corporate world, his competitors, third world governments, and the FBI. He also must battle his own issues, which includes the fact that he’s way out of his league suddenly running an operation of its size.

Gold is McConaughey’s show and we get the full Matthew here. That means effective dramatic moments mixed with comedic and quirky ones. He goes through a physical transformation here as he’s done before. Here, the effects of Kenny’s constant boozing shows. Magic Mike physique Matthew is nowhere to be found.

There’s plenty to admire about the lead actor’s work here. The problem is that none of the other characters are very interesting. Bryce Dallas Howard is Kenny’s wife and their relationship goes through the familiar ups and down that massive success brings. Ramirez’s Michael is a bit of a blank slate for most of the running time.

There are a couple of legit crises after Kenny hits its big. One is quite a surprise in the third act and it left me wishing the screenplay spent more time on it. Another involves shady Indonesian politicos and it might have been another subplot worth exploring. It could have provided a chance to give us characters matching the dynamism of what McConaughey brings.

Yet the screenplay doesn’t go there. While its star provides some memorable moments, too much of the rest of Gold feels standard.

**1/2 (out of four)

Gold Box Office Prediction

Matthew McConaughey packed on some pounds for next weekend’s Gold, but whether it manages to be a heavyweight at the box office is very much in question. The pic casts the Oscar winner as a hapless businessman who strikes you know what in the jungles of Indonesia. Stephen Gaghan makes his first directorial effort since 2005’s Syriana and costars include Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Corey Stoll, Stacy Keach, Toby Kebbell, Craig T. Nelson, and Bruce Greenwood.

The early 90s set adventure comedy/drama faces some obstacles in breaking through. First, while it received a very late 2016 limited release for Academy consideration, that didn’t bear fruit. Gold stands at only 43% currently on Rotten Tomatoes. While McConaughey has been a draw in various genres, this may not stand out enough to strike… you get it.

I believe a decent comp for this could be the star’s previous headlining role – last summer’s Free State of Jones, which managed only $7.5 million in its premiere. Bottom line: I don’t see audiences rushing to it and I’m not totally convinced it even reaches the Jones number.

Gold opening weekend prediction: $5.4 million

For my A Dog’s Purpose prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/a-dogs-purpose-box-office-prediction/

For my Resident Evil: The Final Chapter prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/18/resident-evil-the-final-chapter-box-office-prediction/

Get Hard Movie Review

Get Hard is a limp premise that wastes the pairing of two talented stars of the genre in a sea of dated jokes. In this film’s world, gay and racial humor is displayed in full force and the writers seem to believe it’s edgy just because it exists on the page and its high profile performers are saying the lines. It doesn’t connect and the result is a pic that will soon be easily forgotten on both Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart’s resumes.

James King (Ferrell) is a hedge fund manager who’s engaged to his boss’s (Craig T. Nelson) materialistic and cliched money grubbing daughter (Alison Brie). Darnell (Hart) runs the car wash business that services King’s building. When King is wrongfully convicted of embezzlement, he enlists Darnell to help him cope with his upcoming ten year stint at San Quentin. You see, King assumes Darnell has done hard time because… well, he’s black and he believes statistically there’s a likelihood of it. When Darnell is promised $30,000 to assist with King’s request, he is perfectly OK with misleading him.

This sets up elaborate scenes in which Darnell simulates prison riots and instructs King on how to stand up for himself. Mostly it involves advice on how not to get raped in the joint. Lots and lots of jokes about it, which are all stale. The filmmakers even go as far as putting King in a situation where he must learn to, um, service a man should he have to. It’s more uncomfortable than funny. Like the entire idea of this venture.

Get Hard is not anywhere close to as dangerous as it wants to be. It must waste some of its running time investigating who really is behind the crimes King is charged with and that part is dull. The rest of the way is gay joke, racial joke, gay joke, racial joke. Mixed in occasionally is tired commentary on how corporate America contains the real bad guys, a thread also common in much more rewarding Ferrell fare like The Other Guys and The Campaign. Even what purports to be the pic’s comedic highlights, like Ferrell accidentally getting injured by a weapon, only reminded me of when he did it better like in Old School. And let’s face it – how many times have we already seen Will use his naked body as a punchline? It’s here too! The main side effect of taking the journey to Get Hard in this case is absence of laughter.

*1/2 (out of four)