You People Review

You People begins with podcaster Ezra (Jonah Hill) and his cohost Mo (Sam Jay) having a chat about the former’s relationship status. They compare it to the various albums of Drake as far as his moods (looking for love Drake vs. party boy Drake). It sounds like the idea of a conversation you’d have in a movie screenplay before the scribes try for authenticity. Hill and cowriter/director Kenya Barris (creator of sitcom black-ish) rarely get to the authenticity part as this race and family relations concoction feels overly workshopped. There are glimpses in the third act, but what a waste of talent for so much of it.

Ezra’s heart is taken by Amira (Lauren London) after mistaking her for his Uber driver. The couple’s meet cute quickly elevates to an engagement and the meet the parents business complicates the bliss. His are Julia-Louis Dreyfus’s doting Jewish mom Shelley and hubby Arnold (David Duchovny), whose lines are 90% describing 90s rapper Xzibit. Hers are devout Muslim Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and wife Fatima (Nia Long). Ezra’s streaming show is about cultural interactions. Those of the in-laws could fill a season’s worth of content.

The problem is it’s not profound and feels rather tame. A lunch table talk about the ebony and ivory aspects of Forrest Gump is shrimpy in its impact. Same goes for when Ezra is stuck in the car with his future father-in-law as a Jay-Z/Kanye track using a forbidden word comes up. These are sitcom level situations with the humor stuck in bland-ish gear.

A cast filled with familiar faces do add some welcome laughs. Small contributions from Mike Epps as Akbar’s degenerate brother and Molly Gordon as Ezra’s exasperated sister help. Barris and Hill manage to inject a little emotion in the waning moments that could satisfy ardent rom com devotees.

For the most part, You People is listless. The biggest surprise is the term applies to Murphy’s performance. The legend is usually the spark plug even in his mediocre pics. This recalls his lethargic work in Beverly Hills Cop III more than anything else. When that’s the comparison I’m making with his filmography, the heat is off when it comes to his normal firepower.

** (out of four)

80th Golden Globe Awards Recap

Eddie Murphy, winner of tonight’s Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement, might have had the best timed Will Smith Oscar slap joke I’ve heard thus far (better than that of host Jerrod Carmichael). Mr. Murphy being funny was not a surprise. And there weren’t a whole lotta surprises for the cinematic victors at the 80th Golden Globes Awards… with a couple of exceptions.

I went 10/14 on my picks, but two of those misses happened to be the biggest prizes of all. After being snubbed for the shortlist of 16 filmmakers for BAFTA’s directing award, Steven Spielberg and his autobiographical The Fabelmans had an impressive and perhaps needed showing this evening. He won Best Director (which I did predict) and he capped the night by taking Best Motion Picture – Drama. I didn’t predict that as I went with Elvis instead.

The picture with tonight’s best showing was The Banshees of Inisherin at three podium trips. As expected, Colin Farrell was named Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy and Martin McDonagh took Best Screenplay. Banshees also emerged in Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy over my favored Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The news wasn’t all bad for Everything as Michelle Yeoh was Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy and Ke Huy Quan is your Best Supporting Actor. The Banshees victory could spawn some prognosticators switching their vote to it winning the BP Oscar. I’m thinking Everything is still very viable and The Fabelmans did what it needed to make this a three-picture race. Had Elvis or Top Gun: Maverick been your Drama pick, it might’ve surged the buzz for them. It wasn’t to be.

Other than the Motion Picture competitions, my other two misses were for Score and Non-English Language Film. In the former, Babylon was selected over my predicted Women Talking. For the latter, it produced the night’s only shocker as Argentina, 1985 was named instead of RRR (what I went with) and All Quiet on the Western Front (what plenty of others went with).

As for the remaining races I got right – Cate Blanchett is Best Actress (Drama) for Tár while Angela Bassett is Supporting Actress for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Austin Butler got the sole Elvis victory as Best Actor (Drama). Guillermo del Toro saw his version of Pinocchio be crowned Animated Feature. Finally, “Naatu Naatu” from RRR is Best Original Song over tunes from heavy hitters like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga.

Bottom line: The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and The Fabelmans have been my top 3 possibilities for Best Picture for many weeks. Nothing that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association did tonight changed that dynamic.

We’ve got a busy few days coming up with SAG and DGA nominations tomorrow and Critics Choice Awards airing Sunday. I’ll have my updated Oscar predictions up on Monday!

80th Golden Globe Awards Winner Predictions

After controversies kept the 79th ceremony off of the air in 2021, the 80th Golden Golden Awards is set to air on NBC Tuesday night with Jerrod Carmichael hosting. When it comes down to winners for their contribution to film, we can safely bet on one. Eddie Murphy will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his four decades of work onscreen. We can probably safely bet on more than just Eddie (Colin Farrell comes to mind).

Most categories are tougher to project. There are a number of races where I don’t feel confident with my arrived at winner. Quite frankly, if I go 7/14 this year, I’ll be content.

For each category, I’ll give you my pick and my runner-up. Unlike the Oscars, you won’t get detailed analysis though I will say here’s some of the categories that are tough:

Best Motion Picture (Drama) is a four-way race between everything not named Tár while Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) is a genuine two-way competition between The Banshees of Inisherin and Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The Fabelmans might be fading with the Academy and that could hinder Spielberg’s chance at Director. The legendary filmmaker was very notably snubbed from the sixteen shortlist possibilities at BAFTA. However, that happened after voting had closed with HFPA. I still give him the slight edge with the Globes, but watch out for the Daniels or Baz Luhrmann.

In the lead acting races, three are easy to pick. Actor in a Drama is not as I think it’s a coin flip between Austin Butler and Brendan Fraser. My selection comes down to what I chose for Best Picture.

I don’t think Carey Mulligan takes Supporting Actress for She Said. The other four are all viable. While Kerry Condon might be the soft favorite for Oscar, I could see the HFPA going with a more famous performer with a celebrated body of work. Whether that’s Angela Bassett or Jamie Lee Curtis is an excellent question.

RRR could take Non-English Language Film and Song though the runners-up are both strong spoilers. Women Talking, The Fabelmans, and Babylon are all totally feasible for Score.

All right – enough talk! Time to (yikes) choose…

BEST MOTION PICTURE (DRAMA)

The Nominees: Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, The Fabelmans, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Winner: Elvis

Runner-Up: Top Gun: Maverick

BEST MOTION PICTURE (MUSICAL OR COMEDY)

The Nominees: Babylon, The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Triangle of Sadness

Predicted Winner: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Runner-Up: The Banshees of Inisherin

BEST DIRECTOR

The Nominees: James Cameron (Avatar: The Way of Water), Daniels (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Baz Luhrmann (Elvis), Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin), Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans)

Predicted Winner: Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans

Runner-Up: Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE (DRAMA)

The Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Tár), Olivia Colman (Empire of Light), Viola Davis (The Woman King), Ana de Armas (Blonde), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans)

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett, Tár

Runner-Up: Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans

BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE (DRAMA)

The Nominees: Austin Butler (Elvis), Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Hugh Jackman (The Son), Bill Nighy (Living), Jeremy Pope (The Inspection)

Predicted Winner: Austin Butler, Elvis

Runner-Up: Brendan Fraser, The Whale

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE (MUSICAL OR COMEDY)

The Nominees: Lesley Manville (Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris), Margot Robbie (Babylon), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Menu), Emma Thompson (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

Predicted Winner: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Runner-Up: Margot Robbie, Babylon

BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE (MUSICAL OR COMEDY)

The Nominees: Diego Calva (Babylon), Daniel Craig (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), Adam Driver (White Noise), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Ralph Fiennes (The Menu)

Predicted Winner: Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin

Runner-Up: Is there one?? Let’s say Daniel Craig, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The Nominees: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin), Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Dolly De Leon (Triangle of Sadness), Carey Mulligan (She Said)

Predicted Winner: Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Runner-Up: Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The Nominees: Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin), Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brad Pitt (Babylon), Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Eddie Redmayne (The Good Nurse)

Predicted Winner: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Runner-Up: Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin

BEST SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Tár, Women Talking

Predicted Winner: The Banshees of Inisherin

Runner-Up: Everything Everywhere All at Once

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Nominees: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Inu-oh, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Turning Red

Predicted Winner: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Runner-Up: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

BEST NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM

The Nominees: All Quiet on the Western Front, Argentina, 1985, Close, Decision to Leave, RRR

Predicted Winner: RRR

Runner-Up: All Quiet on the Western Front

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The Nominees: Babylon, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Women Talking

Predicted Winner: Women Talking

Runner-Up: The Fabelmans

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

The Nominees: “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing, “Ciao Papa” from Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick, “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, “Naatu Naatu” from RRR

Predicted Winner: “Naatu Naatu” from RRR

Runner-Up: “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick

That equates to these movies achieving these numbers in terms of wins:

3 Wins

Everything Everywhere All at Once

2 Wins

The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, RRR

1 Win

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Fabelmans, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Tár, Women Talking

I’ll have a recap up Tuesday night with analysis!

2022: The Year of Tom Cruise

As I do annually when the year winds down, it’s time to take a look at the performers who made significant impacts on the silver screen in the previous 12 months. I’ll do so with 6 of them in the coming days.

For 2022, that list has to begin with Tom Cruise. Before May, the biggest opening in the superstar’s near 40 years of headlining pictures was 2005’s War of the Worlds at $64 million. That’s right. Even though he’s consistently been one of Hollywood’s most bankable figures, there were no premieres north of $100 million. In fact, only three of his titles exceeded $200 million domestically: Mission: Impossible II, the aforementioned Worlds, and Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

There was understandable skepticism when Top Gun: Maverick was finally green lit. Would crowds turn out for the sequel to a relic from the mid 80s? It arrived in multiplexes after many COVID delays some three years plus after filming wrapped.

What it did at the box office was astounding and very important in preserving the viability of the theatrical experience. This wasn’t a superhero franchise entry with the dollars already built in. Maverick brought out moviegoers who hadn’t ventured out to the multiplex in a couple of years. Some of them went for repeat viewings.

It nearly doubled Cruise’s previous best with $126 million over the Friday to Sunday of the Memorial holiday weekend and $160 million for the four-day. Then the money kept holding on. It even returned to 1st place over two months after its release for the Labor Day frame. All in all, Maverick soared to $718 million domestically and nearly a billion and a half worldwide. The ripple effect of its success is evident even in humorous ways. Another continuation of an 80s blockbuster coming soon sees Eddie Murphy back in his signature role. The title? Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley (!!!).

In the year where he turned 60, Tom Cruise experienced easily the largest hit and cultural phenomenon of his career. Millions of people saw the preview for next summer’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One play in front of it. It might be the most talked about trailer of 2022 that doesn’t involve a demonic doll dancing.

At a time when true movie stars are hard to come by, audiences turned to a reliable one in 2022. It was indeed his year. These posts will continue with another legend who turned 60 and got the role (multiples ones) of a lifetime…

The Curse of Bridge Hollow Review

Marlon Wayans is a frequent presence in comedic horror mashups and they’ve been of the R rated variety with Scary Movie and its first sequel and A Haunted House and its follow-up. On the Netflix circuit, The Curse of Bridge Hollow ditches the scatological humor for a family friendly concoction about a Halloween obsessed town where the decorations come to life. It’s not hard to envision Adam Sandler or Eddie Murphy in the Dad role that Wayans fills. In fact, Sandler mined similar territory recently with Hubie Halloween. This one isn’t exactly a treat, but I found it more tolerable than that one.

Howard Gordon (Wayans) is a science teacher transported from Brooklyn to Bridge Hollow, a small New England town that looks quaint but is far from it. The residents wear their Patriots jerseys loudly and talk even more thunderously about the town’s spooky history. It involves the tale of Stingy Jack, whose mythology gave us the Jack-o’-lantern. You don’t want to wake him and that’s precisely what Howard’s teenage daughter Sydney does when they settle into their haunted house. She’s played by Priah Ferguson, a consistent bright spot on Netflix’s Stranger Things. The father/daughter relationship is a cliched one with Howard as the overbearing holiday skeptic who just needs to listen more. Mom (Kelly Rowland) really gets the short shrift. Her defining character trait is that she bakes inedible vegan desserts. The screenplay could’ve done better than “the wife can’t cook” material for the former Destiny’s Child and Freddy vs. Jason star.

Priah and Dad must get over their differences as they battle a slew of creatures of the crawly and skeletal variety. The special effects aren’t half bad. Hollow is aimed squarely at delighting kids and placating the adult supervision. It’s an easy and breezy watch and Wayans seems committed to the part. That’s more than I could say for Murphy, who appeared downright bored in The Haunted Mansion. Ferguson, on the other hand, doesn’t quite get to display the personality that’s so winning on her smash hit role as Erica Sinclair. A few chuckles come from a supporting cast including Rob Riggle, John Michael Higgins, and Lauren Lapkus as Bridge Hollow’s very New England accented Mayor.

Jeff Wadlow, whose traditional scary movies Truth or Dare and Fantasy Island were subpar, directs. Bridge Hollow is better than either of them. I realize all of my compliments likely sound hollow. That’s not inaccurate, but youngsters could do worse than dialing this up and the more seasoned viewer shouldn’t curse themselves for having to watch it.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Predictions: Dead for a Dollar

Half a century ago, Walter Hill wrote the screenplay that turned into the Steve McQueen/Ali MacGraw vehicle The Getaway. 40 years back, he was directing Eddie Murphy in his cinematic debut alongside Nick Nolte in 48 Hrs. Now at age 80, the filmmaker is still active behind the camera.

His Western Dead for a Dollar has played in Venice prior to its September 30th stateside release. Two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe, and Rachel Brosnahan headline the cast of the late 19th century set pic. Reviews are decent at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes though not strong enough to indicate this will come out and play in any awards category. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Summer 2002: The Top 10 Hits and More

In the turbulent months that followed the terrorist attacks of 9/11, domestic audiences needed some escapism at the box office. In the Christmas season of 2001, they found it with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. 

By summer 2002, moviegoers turned out in record-setting droves for the first big screen treatment of an iconic superhero.

20 years later, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed as Spidey continues to dominate the charts. It all started with a memorable upside down kiss. Before we go there, there’s plenty more to discuss for the cinematic summer of two decades past.

As I do every season on the blog, I’m recounting the top 10 hits, other notable features, and flops from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. If you missed my post covering 1992, it’s right here:

Summer 1992: The Top 10 Hits and More

Let’s begin with that top 10!

10. Mr. Deeds

Domestic Gross: $126 million

When Adam Sandler remade Frank Capra, the result was another blockbuster for the star and a needed one after his previous pic Little Nicky was a rare commercial flop.

9. Minority Report

Domestic Gross: $132 million

The first and still only collaboration between Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg is a prescient sci-fi tale and its reputation has grown since its release. It’s my personal favorite film of 2002.

8. xXx

Domestic Gross: 142 million

Riding high off the success of the previous summer’s The Fast and the Furious, Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel reunited for this over the top action flick. A sequel would follow three years later without Diesel’s involvement (Ice Cube starred instead), but Vin would return to the role in 2017.

7. Lilo & Stitch

Domestic Gross: $145 million

This Disney animated effort performed just fine (if not in the stratosphere of some 90s gems) and spawned numerous direct-to-video follow-ups. A live-action version is being planned.

6. Scooby-Doo

Domestic Gross: $153 million

Critics might have thought it was a dog, but crowds lapped up this live-action/animated hybrid based on the very 1970s cartoon. Scoob and the gang would return two years later for part 2. Fun fact: James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy fame wrote the script.

5. Men in Black II

Domestic Gross: $190 million

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones teamed up again for the sci-fi comedic spectacle from Barry Sonnenfeld. This fell short of the original’s $250 million domestic haul and the reviewers weren’t impressed, but that didn’t prevent a third offering that will be discussed in my summer of 2012 post.

4. Austin Powers in Goldmember

Domestic Gross: $213 million

Mike Myers continued to flex his box office mojo alongside Beyonce, Michael Caine, and Mini-Me in this threequel that I believe surpassed the quality of predecessor The Spy Who Shagged Me. 

3. Signs

Domestic Gross: $227 million

After the more mixed reaction that Unbreakable garnered, M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs with Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix was more of a return to crowd favorite status. What followed was several pics from him that drew considerably more ambivalent to negative vibes.

2. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

Domestic Gross: $302 million

$302 million is just dandy for nearly any movie, but this second prequel from George Lucas fell well short of the $431 million achieved by The Phantom Menace three summers prior. Many consider this the worst of the nine officials episodes. I’m one of them.

    1. Spider-Man

Domestic Gross: $403 million

When Sam Raimi’s spin on the webslinger kicked off the summer, it did so with the largest opening weekend of all time at $114 million (breaking a record that had just been set by the first Potter). Two sequels followed for the Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst trilogy and, as we all know, the character has never left us. Spider-Man: No Way Home recently brought all 3 Spideys (Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Tom Holland) into its MCU Multiverse.

Now let’s move to some other notable titles from the season:

The Bourne Identity 

Domestic Gross: $121 million

While outside the top ten, Paul Greengrass’s action thriller with Matt Damon as an amnesiac spy is more influential than the bulk of the flicks above it. Damon would return to the role three times.

The Sum of All Fears

Domestic Gross: $118 million

Right behind Damon is his buddy Ben Affleck who took over the role of Jack Ryan (previously played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford) in the Tom Clancy adapted hit.

Road to Perdition

Domestic Gross: $104 million

His follow-up to Best Picture winner American Beauty, the Depression era crime drama from Sam Mendes cast Tom Hanks against type as a hitman with Paul Newman as his underworld boss. This only nabbed a Cinematography Oscar, but reviews were mostly strong. It also provides a juicy role for pre-007 Daniel Craig.

Insomnia

Domestic Gross: $67 million

Hanks wasn’t the only legend stretching in a villainous turn. Robin Williams memorably did the same as he was pitted against Al Pacino’s detective in this chilly thriller from Christopher Nolan (three years before Batman Begins).

Unfaithful

Domestic Gross: $52 million

Adrian Lyne made a movie about another fatal attraction and Unfaithful earned Diane Lane an Oscar nomination as the cheating wife of Richard Gere.

And now for some movies that didn’t perform so well…

Reign of Fire

Domestic Gross: $43 million

This dragon centered fantasy arrived before Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale would be Oscar winners a few years later. Critics weren’t kind and the box office failed to generate much fire.

Windtalkers

Domestic Gross: $40 million

John Woo’s financial win streak blew over with this World War II action drama headlined by Nicolas Cage that only managed 32% on Rotten Tomatoes.

K-19: The Widowmaker 

Domestic Gross: $35 million

Seven years before her Oscar winning The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow’s 1960s set submarine thriller with Harrison Ford was a pricey disappointment.

Halloween: Resurrection

Domestic Gross: $30 million

Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode are about to team up for the final (?) time in Halloween Ends in October. In 2002, this was the sequel to the successful Halloween H20 from 1998. This one was not so successful and it’s considered by many aficionados as the weakest of the whole franchise.

Bad Company

Domestic Gross: $30 million

One is a double Oscar winner and the other is one of greatest stand-ups of all time, but this cinematic pairing of Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock in Joel Schumacher’s action comedy was met with a shrug.

Blood Work 

Domestic Gross: $26 million

Ten years after Unforgiven won Best Picture after its summer release, Clint Eastwood’s mystery didn’t work for critics or crowds.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash

Domestic Gross: $4 million

Speaking of legendary stand-ups, Eddie Murphy reached a career low point as sci-fi comedy Nash stands as one of cinema’s most notorious flops. Its budget was a reported $100 million and that’s not a misprint above… it made an embarrassing $4 million.

2012 is up next!

Summer 1992: The Top 10 Hits and More

1989 was unquestionably the Summer of the Bat as Tim Burton’s take on the Caped Crusader broke records. For 1992, it’s a bit more murky but we could call it The Summer of the Cat based on the sequel being the season’s biggest blockbuster.

As I have every season on the blog, I’m recounting the top 10 hits as well as some notable pics and failures from the summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago. For 1992, it was a time of no crying in baseball, a Best Picture winner being discovered, and audiences refusing a biopic about a discoverer of America.

We begin with the moneymakers from #10 on up before moving to additional hits, misses, and those somewhere in between.

10. Housesitter

Domestic Gross: $58 million

While not the blockbuster he’d had just six months prior with Father of the Bride, Steve Martin had a midsize performer with this rom com costarring Goldie Hawn.

9. Honey, I Blew Up the Kid

Domestic Gross: $58 million

The return of Rick Moranis and plenty of special effects had shrunken grosses compared to the predecessor. The $58 million tally is less than half of what Honey, I Shrunk the Kids made. Nevertheless a direct to video sequel and TV series followed.

8. Far and Away

Domestic Gross: $58 million

Tom Cruise is ruling summer 2022 with Top Gun: Maverick. It was a different story 30 years ago with this rare misfire. Ron Howard directed the epic Western costarring Tom’s ex Nicole Kidman. The domestic take was less than the reported $60 million budget. Cruise would quickly get back in the good graces of moviegoers later in 1992 with A Few Good Men. 

7. Boomerang 

Domestic Gross: $70 million

While not approaching the earnings of his largest hits, Eddie Murphy’s first foray into romantic leading man territory did decent business. A string of flops would follow before a plus sized comeback four years later in The Nutty Professor. 

6. Patriot Games

Domestic Gross: $83 million

Harrison Ford stepped into the role of Jack Ryan after Alec Baldwin (who played the role in The Hunt for Red October) didn’t return. The result didn’t quite reach the financial or critical levels of its predecessor, but it easily made enough to warrant Clear and Present Danger two summers later.

5. Unforgiven

Domestic Gross: $101 million

Clint Eastwood’s tale of an aging cowboy out for revenge took the August box office by storm and eventually was an awards favorite – winning Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor for the villainous Gene Hackman. Unforgiven is the rare BP winner to release in the summer season and kickstarted an impressive second act for the legendary filmmaker.

4. A League of Their Own

Domestic Gross: $107 million

Penny Marshall’s World War II era baseball comedy was celebrated for its interplay between players like Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell in addition to one of cinema’s longest urination sequences from Tom Hanks.

3. Sister Act

Domestic Gross: $139 million

Coming on the heels of her Ghost Oscar, Whoopi Goldberg hit the jackpot with this fish out of water pic putting the comedienne in a convent. A less regarded sequel would follow in December 1993 as well as a Broadway musical.

2. Lethal Weapon 3

Domestic Gross: $144 million

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover’s third go-round in their buddy cop franchise didn’t generate the reviews of its two predecessors, but it had no trouble raking in the bucks. Rene Russo joined the party this time as Gibson’s love interest and fellow officer. Part 4 would come six years later and a fifth is in development right now.

1. Batman Returns

Domestic Gross: $162 million

Breathlessly anticipated and then received with mixed reaction due to its dark tone, Batman Returns is now seen by many as an improvement over the 1989 original. One thing that’s generally agreed upon is Michelle Pfeiffer nailing the role of Catwoman. This would be Burton’s last time helming the series with Joel Schumacher taking the franchise in a far more cartoonish direction for 1995’s Batman Forever.

And now for some other noteworthy selections outside of the top ten:

Unlawful Entry

Domestic Gross: $57 million

Coming on the heels of the Rodney King verdict and the L.A. Riots, this thriller starring the late Ray Liotta as a dirty cop tormenting Kurt Russell felt timely.

Single White Female

Domestic Gross: $48 million

Liotta was the Cop From Hell while Jennifer Jason Leigh was the Roommate From Hell terrorizing Bridget Fonda in this memorable psychological thriller.

Encino Man

Domestic Gross: $40 million

The cinematic era of MTV personality Pauly Shore (as well as Brendan Fraser) began with this caveman comedy that grossed several times its meager $7 million budget.

Universal Soldier

Domestic Gross: $36 million

Action lunkheads Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren teamed up for this futuristic sci-fi pic that turned a nifty profit and spawned numerous sequels. Four summers later, director Roland Emmerich would dominate the season with Independence Day. 

Honeymoon in Vegas

Domestic Gross: $35 million

With a plot similar to Indecent Proposal that would follow a few months later, Honeymoon in Vegas took the more comedic route and earned decent grosses in the cast led by Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the just departed James Caan. Plus… Flying Elvis impersonators!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Domestic Gross: $16 million

It did manage to double its meager budget, but this vampire comedy likely wouldn’t be remembered had it not led to a critically acclaimed WB series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. The title role in the film version belonged to Kristy Swanson with a supporting cast including Luke Perry, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman), and pre double Oscar winner Hilary Swank.

My final section of the summer 1992 recap gets to the under performers and downright flops…

Death Becomes Her

Domestic Gross: $58 million

This star studded satire from Robert Zemeckis boasted Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, and Bruce Willis above the title and some innovative special effects. While it just missed the top ten, the $58 million take barely surpassed the $55 million budget. Audiences and critics were mixed though Death has become a cult favorite in subsequent years.

Alien 3 

Domestic Gross: $55 million

Despite marking the directorial debut of David Fincher and featuring a memorably bald Sigourney Weaver, Alien 3 is considered to be a step-down from its iconic predecessors Alien and Aliens. In spite of the backlash, the franchise has continued and, of course, Fincher went onto brighter (albeit even darker) pastures.

Cool World

Domestic Gross: $14 million

Animator Ralph Bakshi is best known for his X-rated 1972 feature Fritz the Cat. After Cool World, he was still mostly known for Fritz the Cat. This hybrid of live-action and cartoon fantasy starred Kim Basinger and Brad Pitt. Yet it bombed with reviewers and crowds alike and only earned half its budget back stateside.

Christopher Columbus: The Discovery

Domestic Gross: $8 million

No one had interest in discovering this critically drubbed Columbus biopic that had Marlon Brando and Tom Selleck in the cast. Later in the fall, Ridley Scott’s 1492: Conquest of Paradise about the title character would also bomb.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Domestic Gross: $4 million

In 1990, David Lynch’s bizarre TV series was a cultural phenomenon… at least for a season. The movie version arrived after the second and final season and audiences had tuned out.

And that’s your look at the cinematic summer from 30 years ago! My recap of 2002 will be available in short order…

Summer 2001: The Top 10 Hits and More

My annual recounting of the cinematic seasons that preceded 30, 20, and 10 years prior continues on the blog today with the summer of 2001! It was a frame dominated by an animated jolly green giant that kicked off a massive franchise for its studio.

As is tradition, I’ll run through the top 10 domestic grossers as well as other notables pics and some flops. If you missed my post covering 1991’s May-August output, you can find it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/06/26/summer-1991-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

Let’s get to it!

10. Dr. Dolittle 2

Domestic Gross: $112 million

Eddie Murphy returned as the doc who talks to animals in this sequel that managed to cross the century mark, but failed to approach the $144 million earned by its 1998 predecessor. This would mark the end of Eddie’s involvement in the franchise, but a direct to DVD third helping came in 2006.

9. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Domestic Gross: $131 million

Angelina Jolie (fresh off an Oscar for Girl, Interrupted) headlined the video game adaptation that, despite weak reviews, spawned a sequel and an eventual reboot with Alicia Vikander that will soon get its own follow-up.

8. The Fast and the Furious

Domestic Gross: $144 million

We first saw Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and those souped up whips 20 years ago. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or haven’t heard of The Rock), this begat a franchise which is still running strong today. F9 is currently the #1 movie in America in this series that has topped a billion bucks.

7. American Pie 2

Domestic Gross: $145 million

Universal quickly green lighted this sequel to 1999’s smash hit comedy. The gross out gags in part 2 (which resulted in another theatrical effort in 2003 and numerous direct to DVD entries) stands as the largest worldwide earner of the bunch.

6. Planet of the Apes

Domestic Gross: $180 million

Tim Burton’s reimagining of the 1968 classic didn’t result in the new franchise that 20th Century Fox hoped for. Critics had their knives out for Mark Wahlberg’s lead performance and the surprise ending that didn’t pack the wallop of Charlton Heston’s encounter with the Statue of Liberty. The studio would get their successful trilogy a decade later beginning with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which will be covered in 2011’s blog post).

5. Jurassic Park III

Domestic Gross: $181 million

Joe Johnston took over directorial duties from Steven Spielberg is this threequel. Sam Neill was back in this dino-tale that (while profitable) failed to reach the heights of the first two commercially. A reboot 14 years later would get the series back in billion dollar good standing.

4. Pearl Harbor

Domestic Gross: $198 million

Michael Bay’s romantic war epic failed with reviewers but still approached $200 million domestically and $450 million worldwide. Its six Golden Raspberry nominations topped its four Oscar nods.

3. The Mummy Returns

Domestic Gross: $202 million

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz returned for this adventure sequel to the 1999 hit that topped part 1 domestically by nearly $50 million. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would join the fun here and was rewarded with his spin-off (The Scorpion King) the next year. A third Mummy landed with disappointing results in 2008.

2. Rush Hour 2

Domestic Gross: $226 million

It was the best of times for director Brett Ratner and stars Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan as this action comedy built upon the grosses of the 1998 original. A third would follow six years later.

1. Shrek

Mike Myers as the title character ogre, Eddie Murphy stealing scenes with his voice work as Donkey, and Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona proved that Disney wasn’t the only animation game in town. Shrek even competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in this DreamWorks game changer that resulted in three sequels and a stage musical.

And now for some other notables flicks from the summer that was:

The Princess Diaries

Domestic Gross: $108 million

Disney’s live-action fairy tale served as a breakout role for Anne Hathaway and a return to the studio for Julie Andrews for the first time since Mary Poppins. A 2004 sequel followed.

The Others

Domestic Gross: $96 million

With its own Sixth Sense style twist ending, this gothic horror pic with Nicole Kidman earned solid reviews and got genre fans to turn out.

Legally Blonde

Domestic Gross: $96 million

Shrek isn’t the only feature to spawn a Broadway treatment. So did this Reese Witherspoon hit which also resulted in a sequel and a third Blonde that is slated for May 2022.

Cats & Dogs

Domestic Gross: $93 million

Dr. Dolittle wasn’t the only animal game in town. This kiddie pic featuring featuring talking creatures also began a franchise.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

Domestic Gross: $78 million

Long planned as a project for Stanley Kubrick (who passed away in 1999), Steven Spielberg directed this sci-fi visual feast with Haley Joel Osment. The film elicited strong reactions from critics and crowds (both positively and negatively). It may not have reached $100 million domestic, but it’s still a picture people like to debate about today and that’s more that can be said for most titles on this list.

Swordfish

Domestic Gross: $69 million

Hugh Jackman and John Travolta headlined this action pic which somewhat underperformed expectations. This is mostly known as the film that paid Halle Berry an extra $500,000 to go topless during a few seconds of screen time.

Moulin Rouge!

Domestic Gross: $57 million

Baz Luhrmann’s postmodern musical with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor scored 8 Oscar nominations and has its legions of fans that have endured over the past two decades.

Sexy Beast

Domestic Gross: $6 million

This crime drama is mostly known for its menacing supporting turn from Sir Ben Kingsley, who was rewarded with an Oscar nod.

Ghost World

Domestic Gross: $6 million

Terry Zwigoff’s dark comedy (based on a late 90s comic book) earned raves for its screenplay and for costars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi.

And now for some pictures that did not meet expectations:

America’s Sweethearts

Domestic Gross: $93 million

Yes, it may have approached $100 million, but this rom com starring Julia Roberts and featuring John Cusack, Billy Crystal (who cowrote), and Catherine Zeta-Jones didn’t come near what her previous blockbusters like My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, and Runaway Bride managed.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Domestic Gross: $84 million

Disney’s animated sci-fi adventure was a letdown that didn’t recoup its reported $100 million budget domestically. A hoped for franchise with TV spin-offs and Disneyland ride attraction never rose to the surface.

Scary Movie 2

Domestic Gross: $71 million

This rushed horror spoof follow-up to the 2000 surprise smash couldn’t get close to the $157 million of the original. However, this didn’t stop several sequels from following that achieved greater success.

Evolution

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Director Ivan Reitman and supernatural comedy sure worked well in 1984 with Ghostbusters. Not so much here in this DreamWorks flop with David Duchovny which earned less than half its budget in North America.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Domestic Gross: $32 million

Tomb Raider was an example of a video game adaptation that made money. Not so here with this rendering of the popular role playing fantasy series that didn’t score with audiences.

Ghosts of Mars

Domestic Gross: $8 million

It wasn’t a good day at the box office for this science fiction flop from director John Carpenter and Ice Cube.

Pootie Tang

Domestic Gross: $3 million

Moviegoers didn’t turn out for this comedy written and directed by Louis C.K. that originated from a sketch on The Chris Rock Show (who costars). Despite the failed run at the box office, it has since become a cult hit.

And that does it for 2001, folks! Look for my post about summer 2011 in the coming days…

Shoulda Been Oscar Contenders: Kristin Wiig in Bridesmaids

As SNL just wrapped its 46th season last night, today seemed like a good opportunity to showcase an alumni deserving of awards consideration from a decade ago. In the summer of 2011, Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids became the comedy smash of the season. It was noticed by the Academy. Melissa McCarthy landed a nod in Supporting Actress while Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo were nominated for their Original Screenplay.

I would contend that Wiig should have been a double nominee in lead actress, especially considering that 2011 was a rather weak year in that race. Meryl Streep took the gold for The Iron Lady in what’s widely thought of as one of her least impressive victories. She triumphed over Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Viola Davis (The Help), Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn).

Bridesmaids is perhaps the most impressive SNL cast member starring debut in history (an argument could also be made for Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs.). Wiig’s drunken scene on an airplane headed to Vegas alone is worthy of awards attention and her work would have marked a fine occasion for the Academy to throw a rare bone to the comedic genre.