Director Nicole Holofcener reunites with her Enough Said star Julia Louis-Dreyfus for You Hurt My Feelings, which has screened at Sundance. The comedy is drawing satisfactory notices in Utah with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Look for distributor A24 to mount an awards campaign as the year rolls along.
Enough Said was able to nab Louis-Dreyfus a Golden Globe Best Actress nod in Musical/Comedy and that could certainly occur again. She stands the best chance among costars that include Tobias Menzies, David Cross, Amber Tamblyn, Michaela Watkins, Arian Moayed, and Owen Teague.
Holofcener is already an Academy nominee for cowriting the adapted screenplay for 2018’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? I wouldn’t count on a second writing mention. While critics are being kind, this has the feel of a Globe Predictions post with its lead’s chances. My Oscar Predictions posts will continue…
Director Gavin O’Connor is known for his sports dramas like 2004’s Olympic hockey recounting Miracle with Kurt Russell and the MMA pic Warrior starring Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte. The filmmaker is back in the genre next weekend with The Way Back, which centers on Ben Affleck as a basketball coach struggling with addiction. Costars include Al Madrigal, Michaela Watkins, Janina Gavankar, and Glynn Turman.
O’Connor’s biggest box office opening came outside the genre in 2016 with his thriller The Accountant, which also starred Affleck. That pic surprised prognosticators with a debut of nearly $25 million. Miracle had the Disney marketing machine behind it (and a well-known story about a game that just celebrated its 40th anniversary). It made nearly $20 million. On the other hand, Warrior struggled with just over $5 million.
The Way Back, despite Affleck promoting it all over sports media, is not expected to be a breakout success. Solid reviews (not out yet) could help it achieve more than the expected range of high single to low double digits. As of now, that general forecast appears likely.
The Way Back opening weekend prediction: $8.3 million
Perhaps this is more of a Golden Globes Watch when it comes to the new comedy BrittanyRunsaMarathon. The pic features Jillian Bell as a hard partying single lady whose life is altered when she competes for the NYC Marathon. It screened at the Sundance Film Festival back in January to solid buzz. The Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 93% ahead of its release this weekend.
Bell has been a scene stealer on TV’s “Workaholics” and features such as 22JumpStreet. This appears to be her breakout starring role and some reviews have suggested it could be a minor hit if Amazon handles marketing correctly. While this holds little chance at Oscar recognition, it will be interesting to see if the studio mounts a campaign for Bell for Best Actress in Musical/Comedy at the Globes. She could follow in the footsteps of Amy Schumer in Trainwreck for a similar part that got nominated. That said, Brittany is definitely lower profile. My Oscar (or GG) Watch posts will continue…
I’m not sure if I’m “spoiling” anything here, but Jeremy Renner takes a break from franchises and shows up in the final third of TheHouse. Playing a bad guy, the mere fact of his presence is meant to elicit laughter because… well, I’m not entirely sure why. That’s emblematic of the film itself. You have a lot of famous performers (most known for their comedic skills unlike Renner) trapped in a flimsy concept that only manages to wring less than 90 minutes of material. And there certainly isn’t an hour and a half’s worth of funny.
Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are Scott and Kate Johansen, a middle-class couple about to become empty nesters as their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) is about to enter college. It’s the summer before her exit and her folks are trying to maximize their time with her. They’re a bit of the overprotective type who smother their kid and guilt her into WalkingDead nights instead of visiting her friends. Alex’s higher ed plans take a hit when the Johansens learn a long-planned for scholarship is kaput because a corrupt city councilman (Nick Kroll) would rather spend it on a community pool.
With the need to make some fast money, what’s this seemingly normal couple to do? In this high concept exercise, the answer is teaming with down on his luck divorcee neighbor Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) and opening an illegal casino. The scheme yields dollars but other complications that come with the high roller life. Criminal elements enter the mix and this new job also gives the Johansens a personality transplant into a hard partying couple who start to believe their dangerous notoriety.
Bottom line is that we see Ferrell do his goofy Everyman type turned goofy comedic hard ass. If you find that irresistible, maybe there’s enough to sustain you here. Yet this effort from director Andrew J. Cohen (who co-wrote the much more satisfactory Neighbors) hits its marks with infrequency. Adam McKay is a producer here and he’s done better work with Ferrell. I couldn’t help but wonder if the sometimes sharp political commentary McKay brings to his work would have helped here. I’m pretty sure the script is trying to say something about the plight of the middle class and their earning power, but it’s buried in spurting blood gags and believing Jeremy Renner turning up will work as a gag on its own terms. There’s humorous moments peppered throughout, but nowhere near enough to recommend it.