Where the Crawdads Sing Review

Crossing a John Grisham style potboiler with the 1994 Jodie Foster woman in the wild pic Nell begets Where the Crawdads Sing. This is the adaptation of the hugely popular 2018 bestseller from Delia Owens (so well known that Taylor Swift offered to contribute an end credits tune called “Carolina”).

That’s North Carolina beginning in 1953 where Kya lives in the marshland with her alcoholic father, abused mother, and siblings. One by one they all flee until the seven-year-old is all by her lonesome. She sells mussels to the married local store purveyors (Michael Hyatt and Sterling Macer Jr.) to make ends meet. Kya attempts an education, but the harassment of schoolmates makes that a one-day excursion.

As she grows into a young woman (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones), her interest in arts and nature hints at a promising career. The screenplay concentrates on Kya’s two romances. The first is with Tate (Taylor John Smith), who helps her learn to read and write before he’s slated to go away to college. The second is with star quarterback Chase (Harris Dickinson) whose union with The Marsh Girl (as the townsfolk call her) is his little secret.

For those uninitiated with the source material (this includes me), I’ll be careful not to wade into heavy spoiler territory. It’s not revealing too much to say that Kya’s publishing future is interrupted by a murder trial where she’s defended by David Strathairn’s dignified counselor.

Crawdads is all about Kya’s many experiences with abandonment. Part of the problem is that both of her beaus are blank slates. I never felt the chemistry between the Kya/Tate or Kya/Chase connections as much as they’re just presented to the audience. And that assisted in abandoning my own investment in the proceedings… both romantically and legally.

The screenplay never finds the right balance between the trial and the trials of our heroine away from the courtroom. From Edgar-Jones on down, the performances are serviceable but nothing beyond that. Crawdads has beautiful scenery to be sure. I wanted a more compelling story to occur there.

** (out of four)

See How They Run Box Office Prediction

**Blogger’s Note (09/14): I am revising down estimate down from $4.8 million to $3.2 million.

Shades of Agatha Christie are said to inspire See How They Run, a whodunit slated to hit approximately 2200 venues on September 16th. Marking the directorial debut of Tom George, the cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Sam Rockwell, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, and David Oyelowo.

The Searchlight production has generated mostly positive reactions thus far (it opens in UK cinemas a week prior to the North American start). The Rotten Tomatoes score is 75%. Run‘s existence is likely due to the success of recent genre fare like Murder on the Orient Express and especially Knives Out. 

Without significant star power and with buzz muted, I do believe this could struggle to find an audience. Murder mystery aficionados may wait to get their fix with the forthcoming Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. An opening in double digits would be surprising. I think the range is more $4-6 million and my estimate  is at the middle of it.

See How They Run opening weekend prediction: $3.2 million

For my The Woman King prediction, click here:

The Woman King Box Office Prediction

For my Pearl prediction, click here:

Pearl Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: See How They Run

With plenty of critics citing inspiration from Agatha Christie, the humorous murder mystery See How They Run arrives in UK theaters Friday and in the US on September 16th. Marking the directorial debut of Tom George, four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan and one-time winner Sam Rockwell lead a cast that includes Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, and David Oyelowo.

Run forewent the fall festival circuit which surprised me a bit. Some reviews are appreciative of its charms while others aren’t nearly as impressed. The 76% Rotten Tomatoes indicates that most write-ups don’t have their knives out for it.

Speaking of, we’ll know whether Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is an awards player when it premieres in Toronto this weekend. I don’t believe this genre predecessor will be. Perhaps something like Production Design or Costume Design but that’s likely the extent of it. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Where the Crawdads Sing

Delia Owens had a massive bestseller released in 2018 with Where the Crawdads Sing and the North Carolina set mystery’s film adaptation is out on Friday. Directed by Olivia Newman, the cast of mostly relative unknowns includes Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, and Harris Dickinson.

The review embargo is lifted and critical reaction is mixed at best. With a 38% Rotten Tomatoes rating, it’s safe to assume awards voters will ignore it… with one possible exception.

A big fan of the source material, superstar Taylor Swift composed the track “Carolina” for the soundtrack. If the Academy nominates it in Best Original Song, that practically guarantees Oscar night performances from Swift and Lady Gaga (whose Top Gun: Maverick ballad “Hold My Hand” should be a no brainer for the final five). Gaga’s chances are considerably stronger, but it could be tempting to bring that double star power to the evening’s festivities. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Where the Crawdads Sing Box Office Prediction

The actual actors in Where the Crawdads Sing are not the most recognizable individuals involved in the production. Opening July 15th, the mystery drama is produced by Reese Witherspoon. It features an original song titled “Carolina” by Taylor Swift. Perhaps most important to the box office viability, it’s based on a huge bestseller by Delia Owens.

Directed by Olivia Newman, the cast includes Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, Harris Dickinson, and David Strathairn. With a budget of just over $40 million, Sony is banking on a sizable female audience that led the source material to eventually sell 12 million copies. In 2019, it sold more copies than any other adult novel.

I will cop to be unfamiliar with the book’s existence. However, I’m not the target demo. With those kind of sales, there should be a built-in crowd tailor-made for the adaptation. Estimates on other sites are as low as $10 million and as high as $25 million. This should at least place in the middle of that range.

Where the Crawdads Sing opening weekend prediction: $18.7 million

For my Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank prediction, click here:

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank Box Office Prediction

For my Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris prediction, click here:

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Box Office Prediction

Oscar Predictions: Triangle of Sadness

Five years after his satire The Square won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Swedish filmmaker Ruben Ostlund has won the top prize for another satire. That picture is Triangle of Sadness which stars Harris Dickinson and Charibi Dean as models stranded on an island with a group of billionaires, including Woody Harrelson.

Sadness was a bit of a surprise honoree over pics that received stronger reviews such as Broker and Decision to Leave. The Rotten Tomatoes score is 71% with some raves and others calling it a disappointment.

Perhaps the buzz garnered by the Cannes victory could propel it to a Best Picture nod. However, that’s far from a guarantee. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

The King’s Man Box Office Prediction

In the Yuletide battle for franchise supremacy, The King’s Man will undoubtedly come in fourth among the contenders. A prequel to the two Kingsman features that preceded it, the spy thriller was originally set for release over two years ago. COVID delays have pushed it all the way to December 22nd.

Matthew Vaughn returns in the director’s chair with a cast including Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans (who’s also costarring in Spider-Man: No Way Home), Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander (not to be confused with Tom Holland of Spidey fame), Harris Dickinson, Daniel Bruhl, Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance.

The aforementioned Spider-Man juggernaut will most certainly reign supreme over the holidays, followed by The Matrix Resurrections and Sing 2 in the 2-3 slots (the order of that is up for debate). Moviegoers punching their tickets for the superhero and Neo will siphon away plenty of viewers that may have an interest in this.

In February 2015, Kingsman: The Secret Service exceeded expectations with a Presidents Day weekend haul of over $40 million. 2017 sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle made $39 million in its September debut. Four years is quite a lag time between entries and the fact that it’s a prequel (and missing Colin Firth and Taron Egerton) doesn’t help. The 45% Rotten Tomatoes score doesn’t inspire great confidence either.

The five-day grosses should be able to reach low double digits to low teens, but it might only make single digits for the traditional Friday to Sunday frame. I believe the competition is just too steep for the King’s to shine.

The King’s Man opening weekend prediction: $8.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $13.1 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my The Matrix Resurrections prediction, click here:

The Matrix Resurrections Box Office Prediction

For my Sing 2 prediction, click here:

Sing 2 Box Office Prediction

For my American Underdog prediction, click here:

American Underdog Box Office Prediction

For my A Journal for Jordan prediction, click here:

A Journal for Jordan Box Office Prediction