Tag Archives: Groundhog Day

Happy Death Day Movie Review

Happy Death Day begins with a universal disruption. Not the world suffering a catastrophe or anything of that sort, but the actual Universal logo repeating itself three times. It’s a signal of events to come in this horror version of Groundhog Day from the Blumhouse studio, which specializes in bargain basement budgeted genre pics.

The world as a whole may not be experiencing a crisis, but college student Tree (Jessica Rothe) sure is. Her birthday begins as many do for undergraduates. She wakes up in the dorm room of Carter (Israel Broussard) after a drunken night out. Not remembering the previous evening’s events, Tree makes a hasty exit complete with shame walking. She attends class where we learn she’s carrying on an affair with her professor. Tree doesn’t really gel with her sorority sisters, including her kindly roommate (Ruby Modine).

In fact, unlike most of the heroines in slasher flicks, Tree is a pretty unpleasant person. And she’s not that innocent. So I’ll give a bit of credit to screenwriter Scott Lobdell for changing that up, even if makes her a smidge tougher to root for. When Tree goes out for another night of frivolity, she’s stalked and stabbed by a figure donning the mask of the university’s mascot.

And then… she wakes up on her birthday again nursing a hangover in Carter’s dorm room. Unlike Bill Murray rising to the sounds of Sonny and Cher, she repeats her day less than 20 times as she tries to figure out who’s knocking her off. Along the way, we learn some of the root causes of her unpleasantness. She’s mourning the loss of her mom for one. That death factors into the mix.

Happy Death Day has a sense of humor, which is often a good thing. Groundhog Day is mentioned as it would seem foolish not to (the title has become synonymous with anything repeating itself). Rothe is convincing as the bratty coed. Director Christopher B. Landon employs a handful of effective jump scares. The 90 minute runtime is a wise choice as the concept may not be able to sustain much more.

This is an easy and brisk watch. The PG-13 rating decision is a curious one and this may have been better served with more of the gore and aforementioned frivolity actually on display. Happy Death Day probably won’t stick in your memory for long, but it’s not a complete disruption of your time.

**1/2 (out of four)

Happy Death Day Box Office Prediction

Timing is sometimes everything at the box office and that factor could boost Happy Death Day to a lively opening. The pic is essentially a horror version of Groundhog Day with a woman waking on the same day that happens to be the date of her demise. Christopher B. Landon, who last made Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, directs with a cast made up of relative unknowns including Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard.

Death comes from Blumhouse Productions, which specializes in low-budget genre flicks. 2017 has been a very happy year for the studio, with fright pic breakouts Split and Get Out. The budget is reportedly just a teeny $5 million. Regarding its release date, it has the benefit of premiering on a Friday the 13th in October (a good month for the genre). It should also help that It is finally slowing down at multiplexes, so genre enthusiasts may be ready for another horror fix.

High teens to possibly low 20s seems reachable here.

Happy Death Day opening weekend prediction: $20.6 million

For my The Foreigner prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/05/the-foreigner-box-office-prediction/

For my Marshall prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/10/05/marshall-box-office-prediction/

Before I Fall Box Office Prediction

Looking for the teen dramatic thriller version of Groundhog Day? It appears you can find it next weekend when Before I Fall debuts. Based on a 2010 YA bestseller by Lauren Oliver, the pic centers on a teen (Zoey Deutch) living the final day of her life repeatedly. Costars include Halston Sage, Logan Miller, and Jennifer Beals (yep, the star of Flashdance!).

Fall premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to some positive reviews and it sits at 64%  currently on Rotten Tomatoes. That said, the Open Roads release isn’t expected to rise much with audiences. The marketing campaign has been rather low key and I suspect a mid to possibly high single digits opening is the probable result.

Before I Fall opening weekend prediction: $5.3 million

For my Logan prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/23/logan-box-office-prediction/

For my The Shack prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/24/the-shack-box-office-prediction/

Top 25 Best Movies (1990-2015): Nos. 10-6

This evening on the blog, we move to the top ten of my personal favorite 25 pictures of the past generation, from 1990 to now. Not an easy task for sure, but clearly all of these ten titles (top five coming tomorrow) are masterpieces in my book. Let’s get to it:

10. Seven (1995)

David Fincher’s run of terrific movies began with this gut wrenching serial killer tale with Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and a deliciously sadistic Kevin Spacey. The final act of these proceedings represent some of the most intense moments on film I’ve ever witnessed.

9. Up (2009)

Over the last 20 years, the creme de la creme of family entertainment has come from Pixar with the Toy Story franchise, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Inside Out, and so on. To me, their absolute high point is Up. I wrote a post on the blog before discussing the sequence which shows the main character’s romance with his wife throughout her life. It’s one of the most beautifully constructed and emotional montages I’ve ever seen, period.

8. The Social Network (2010)

Back to David Fincher again and here we have his brilliant tale of the founding of Facebook that I contend will stand as one of the most important pictures to explain the time we live in.

7. Almost Famous (2000)

Cameron Crowe’s autobiographical tale of his youth spent at Rolling Stone magazine is one of the ultimate feel good experiences filled with great music and performances. The bus scene set to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” is perfect and one of the best examples ever put to film about music advancing the story line.

6. Groundhog Day (1993)

In a career filled with amazing performances, Bill Murray is at his apex in this uproarious and also touching tale of one very long day. It is easily my favorite comedy of the last many years.

And that’ll do it for today and the top five will hit the blog tomorrow!

My Love of Movies Part II: The Blog’s Second Anniversary

This week, Bill Murray spent an hour on Howard Stern’s radio show. Hearing these two true comedic icons shoot the breeze was an absolute pleasure. Filmmakers who try to recruit the indispensible Murray to even be in their movies have a tough time getting through to him. The actor is notorious for not having a manager or publicist or checking his cell phone (which he told Howard he has because his children only text and don’t answer calls).

At one point, the conversation turned to the late, brilliant film critic Roger Ebert and Murray told a fantastic anecdote about him. Earlier in his career, Murray was not known at all for dramatic work and Roger criticized him, stating that he should stick to comedy only. Years later, when Murray saw Ebert at an event, he quoted a famous critic for making that statement. Ebert didn’t know who would make such a claim since Murray was obviously a wonderful actor in any forum. Murray reminded Roger that it was him that said it years ago. As the actor recounted, Ebert gave him a look like, “Boy, was I wrong!” The Ebert conversation ended with Murray stating his love for the critic and Howard agreed. Bill Murray’s main point: Roger Ebert loved movies.

You see that deep affection for the world of cinema in the documentary Life Itself, which recounted Roger’s career and the last few months of his life. I’ve talked about it on the blog before when reviewing that documentary and in my post on the sad day that Roger died. My general feeling is this: you can tell when a person who writes about movies loves them and when they don’t. Let me make an important distinction – I’m not talking about loving a movie that you give four stars to and not liking a movie you award with two stars. I’m speaking of being able to determine whether or not a writer truly loves the craft they’re writing about. Roger Ebert did. Many more do. Other critics and bloggers seem to revel in trashing movies far too often, at least for my taste.

When I read a critic’s work or their blogs, I want to feel like they have a deep appreciation for the subject they spend so much time writing about. Frankly, it’s the main thing I strive to achieve on my blog – which will celebrate its 2nd anniversary officially on Saturday. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve written my share of negative reviews. So does every other critic and blogger on planet Earth. Many pictures, simply, don’t measure up to expectations, are a rehash of previous material, are badly paced, etc…

Yet here’s my philosophy when it comes to writing about movies – every time those theater lights go down or (more often) I hit play on the Blu Ray or On Demand, I hope that I’m going to like what I see. I hope to have that satisfactory or even profound film watching experience that us lovers of cinema seek out again and again and again and again. I’ve had it recently with that Ebert documentary. I had it when Little Groot danced to the Jackson 5 in Guardians of the Galaxy. I had it watching the delicious twists and turns of David Fincher’s Gone Girl. I had it watching Leo DiCaprio on speaker phone suckering in a client in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. I had it watching Tom Hanks remind me that he’s one of the most astonishing actors in the world during the last five minutes of Captain Phillips.

And that was all in the last year! Now let’s go to just last night when I reviewed Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West. I’m a fan of his work – both “Family Guy” and 2012’s Ted. I found his sophomore directorial effort to be pretty darn disappointing. Guess what? I loved writing my review of that just as much as writing a highly positive post – the kinds I recently wrote for Her or Fruitvale Station. 

Now here’s the irony: two years ago when I began this little venture, I stated that I wouldn’t write movie reviews on the blog. Boy, was I wrong! Just like I’ve been wrong about many of my box office predictions that remain the most read entries on this site. For every time I nail a prediction (or close to nail) on The Equalizer or Gone Girl, I grossly underestimate the potential of Annabelle or grossly overestimate the performance of the Sin City sequel.

I’ve now been writing movie reviews for about 23 years since I was a preteen. It took my snap decision to start the blog to rediscover my love for that exercise. Yet the movie reviews are just one part of that aforementioned love of movies. There’s plenty more posts – whether box office related or Oscar prediction related. Hell, I’ve even found myself posting about music and TV more often than I could have imagined.

In the two years since the blog began and much to the assistance of WordPress, I’ve been able to discover other movie bloggers. They may have different writing styles than myself, but they have one thing in common: they love movies too. Joe Giuliano, who predicts box office results with freakish accuracy. Thy Critic Man, Daniel Prinn and Justine B, whose reviews are a joy to read. Trevor and Jason from boxofficeace.com and their fine podcast… I just wish they did it every week! And there’s many more.

As I said on my year anniversary of the site, I sincerely cannot thank you enough for reading this site. I would love writing this blog regardless, but it means a heckuva lot more knowing that eyeballs actually see it. I appreciate each and every one of the thousands of blog views and readers in 142 countries (!) who’ve read some of my 777 (!) posts. For those who take their time to check my box office predictions or read my Oscar forecast or peruse my reviews and so forth, I can tell you what I strive for everyday on this wonderful hobby of mine. The goal is for the reader to come away with this general feeling – that guy loves movies and writing about them. And if I’ve been able to direct you in the path of something great that you haven’t seen, that’s a feeling I cherish.

Back to the beginning:

Bill Murray. Roger Ebert.

For movie lovers like me and you, think about the joy that someone like Bill Murray has brought into your lives. Caddyshack. Ghostbusters. Groundhog Day. Lost in Translation and so forth. I’ll have that feeling of excitement soon when St. Vincent premieres. Maybe it’ll be great. Or maybe not, but I love anticipating finding out and I’ll love writing about it.

For movie writers and bloggers like me and some of you, think about how Roger Ebert’s work may have influenced you. I know damn well he influenced me. He helped teach me how to put that indescribable affection for this world of movies into words. Don’t get me wrong – I am no Roger Ebert and never will be. I’m just trying my best to put my perspective on movies before the reader and hope you enjoy it.

The thing about movies is this – as I described in an earlier post, it’s a Never Ending Story. There’s always more to discover. There’s always something new to write about. There’s always the joy of revisiting older titles and or rediscovering something about a favorite that you hadn’t noticed before. There’s always box office predictions to make for this blogger. There’s always Oscar predictions as the race takes shape.

And there is always, always, always the love that I hold for the subject I choose to write about and the joy that those making and writing about movies give to us, the audience. Whether it’s Bill Murray in front of the camera or Roger Ebert at that typewriter.

Mr. Ebert might be gone, but his words are here for us to enjoy forever. In the last year, we’ve been saddened to learn that Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman are gone. Yet their work will live on for us to savor – from Truman Capote to a British nanny to a cult religious leader to a therapist telling his pupil that “It’s not his fault” to the Big Lebowski’s socially awkward assistant to that inspirational teacher telling his students to “Seize The Day!” For us movie lovers, the medium gives us these special moments and performances and memories to seize on those days when we might need it.

And I’ll close by saying that it’s a real pleasure to write about it.

This Day in Movie History: February 12

21 years ago Today in Movie History – February 12 – the now classic comedy Groundhog Day debuted in theaters. One of the greatest uses of the brilliant talent that is Bill Murray, the film debuted at #1 with $14.6 million on its way to a $70 million domestic gross. The term “Groundhog Day” has entered the cultural vernacular as a term meaning something repeating itself. I consider it to be one of best comedies of all time.

As for birthdays, Josh Brolin is 46 today. The actor became known to filmgoers in 1985’s The Goonies. Things were quiet were for awhile following that but in the 21st century he had a massive career resurgence. His notable pictures include Grindhouse, No Country for Old Men, American Gangster, W., Milk, True Grit, Men in Black 3, Oldboy, and Labor Day.

Christina Ricci is 34 today. She became known as Wednesday Addams in the two Addams Family features. She would go onto headline kids pics such as Casper and That Darn Cat. She would soon transition into more serious fare including The Ice Storm, Buffalo ’66, The Opposite of Sex, Sleepy Hollow, Monster, and Black Snake Moan.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between them:

Josh Brolin was in Oldboy with Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson was in Black Snake Moan with Christina Ricci

And that’s today – February 12 – in Movie History!