Long Shot Movie Review

Charlize Theron deserves better. In Long Shot, I couldn’t fully escape the feeling that her character would be far more interesting outside of this familiar beauty and the beast rom com plot. The screenplay (from Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah) seems overly preoccupied with the idea that her U.S. Secretary of State Charlotte Field could fall in love with Seth Rogen’s schlubby journalist Fred Flarsky.

The Secretary of State is the one position in the federal government whose travel itinerary is similar to The Rolling Stones on a worldwide tour. Charlotte Field is an ambitious and bright politician with eyes on the Presidency and a focus on environmental issues. The current Commander in Chief (Bob Odenkirk) is in the Oval because he played the President on TV. He’s a dolt who sees his position as a springboard to breaking into movies (admittedly an amusing concept). She’s relying on his endorsement to bring her to highest office in the land.

At a swanky party, she comes into contact with Fred. He’s a recently fired journalist who is said to be a fine writer, but all we really see are his headlines filled with expletives. It turns out Charlotte was actually his babysitter in the early 90s where his early teenage hormones made an unfortunate impression. Charlotte’s staffers (June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel) believe her one weakness is lack of humor and Fred is brought on to punch up the funny in her speeches.

The two end up falling for each other in between country hopping, terrorist attacks, and a night dancing and tripping on Molly where she also must negotiate a hostage situation. Theron does a fine job here as she’s proven before that she’s adept at comedy. The idea that she must navigate the perception of basically dating Seth Rogen could have been mined for perceptive insights about how we look at our leaders. Long Shot really isn’t that movie. Instead we get Rogen doing his predictable man child thing. He’s just not very interesting and it’s tricky to root for him. O’Shea Jackson Jr. has a couple funny moments as Fred’s successful and conservative best bud. There’s bodily secretion humor and I’ll just say that stuff peaked over twenty years ago in There’s Something About Mary.

Director Jonathan Levine first teamed with Rogen in the decent dramedy 50/50. Lately he’s been doing material that’s barely passable or less so (The Night Before, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Snatched). This falls in that category too despite Theron’s sincere efforts to elevate it.

** (out of four)

Long Shot Box Office Prediction

Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron headline the improbable rom com Long Shot, out in theaters next weekend. It marks the latest collaboration between Rogen and director Jonathan Levine after 50/50 and The Night Before (Levine’s latest was 2017’s Snatched). The film casts Theron as the U.S. Secretary of State who strikes up a romance with Rogen’s journalist. Costars include O’Shea Jackson Jr., June Diane Raphael, Andy Serkis, Alexander Skarsgard, and Lisa Kudrow.

Shot premiered in March at the South by Southwest Festival to favorable reviews and it stands at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. A comparison to The Night Before is tricky. That pic opened in November 2015 on the weekend before Thanksgiving and against the finale of The Hunger Games franchise. The result was just a $9.8 million start (it legged out well the following holiday weekend).

I believe Long Shot will top that number, but perhaps with low teens as it hopes for minimal drops in subsequent frames. If so, this could fall behind the debut grosses of its competition – The Intruder and UglyDolls.

Long Shot opening weekend prediction: $13.1 million

For my The Intruder prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/23/the-intruder-box-office-prediction/

For my UglyDolls prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/23/uglydolls-box-office-prediction/

Snatched Box Office Prediction

Nearly two years after she broke through on the silver screen in a major way, Amy Schumer is back with Snatched next weekend. The action comedy teams the comedienne with Goldie Hawn, making her first film appearance in almost 15 years. This duo play a mother/daughter (which was the working title of the pic) on a vacation that goes all wrong. Jonathan Levine (who made 50/50 and The Night Before) directs and the supporting cast includes Ike Barinholtz, Joan Cusack, Wanda Sykes, and Christopher Meloni.

In the summer of 2015, Schumer’s Trainwreck rode a wave of great buzz to a $30 million debut and $110 million overall domestic gross. The fact that this is her follow-up should automatically get a substantial number of her fans out there. It also doesn’t hurt that Snatched is being unveiled on Mother’s Day weekend and it should serve as decent counter programming to the second weekend of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (in which Hawn’s longtime beau Kurt Russell costars).

Even with those clear pluses, I don’t feel the anticipation for this as there was for Trainwreck. I expect Snatched to grab a high teens to low 20s beginning.

Snatched opening weekend prediction: $21.1 million

For my King Arthur: Legend of the Sword prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/05/03/king-arthur-legend-of-the-sword-box-office-prediction/

Sausage Party Movie Review

The comedic team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (they were childhood friends) was first witnessed by mass audiences in 2007’s inspired Superbad. That pic was conceived by the duo when they were young and that teen spirit infused it with a refreshing authenticity. Their cinematic marriage has since shown their fondness for raunchiness and weed. Nothing has quite hit the effectiveness of their first collaboration. Some have come pretty darn close (Pineapple Express, This is the End) while others have come up a bit shorter (The Watch, The Interview, The Night Before). Most of their works have performed well or at least decently at the box office (The Watch is a notable exception) and Sausage Party is the kind of movie you get to make when studios let you do whatever you want. It ends up on the higher scale of their work.

Party gives us the rare instance of a truly R rated animated flick. Rogen and Goldberg’s affection for vulgarity is on full display and one suspects it was green stuff other than money that may have assisted in coming up with the concept. Here it is: the food and products in your local grocery store are alive and blissfully unaware of what happens to them after they walk out of the sliding doors. Rogen’s Frank is a sausage and Kristin Wiig’s Brenda is a bun and they’ve been waiting to connect once they break out of their respective packages. In their understanding, this will occur once they’re purchased by the Gods (who are actually just your everyday consumers) and enter the Great Beyond outside of Shopwell’s.

A returned jar of honey mustard (voiced by Danny McBride) tries to warn his market friends of what lies ahead when their dream of freedom is met. Many are skeptical and what’s often most surprising about Sausage Party is its allegorical themes pertaining to religion and sex with some expected drug humor thrown in. It’s also chock full of bad puns (some quite hilarious) and plenty of the living products representing their stereotypes. The most obvious and amusing example? The villain of the establishment (voiced by Nick Kroll) is literally a Douche. We also have Sammy the Bagel, giving Edward Norton a chance to be funny and essentially do a Woody Allen impersonation and his ex-girlfriend Salma Hayek coming out of her shell as Theresa del Taco.

As mentioned, Goldberg and Rogen are free to do what they want here and Sausage Party does have plenty of uproariously inappropriate moments. There are also times when their out there idea is funnier in concept than actual execution. Additionally, the final gag practically begs for a post-credits sequence that never materializes. Still, at a brisk 88 minutes, this Party is fresh enough for consumption of its creators fans.

*** (out of four)

The Night Before Movie Review

Far from a Christmas comedy classic nor a lump of coal, The Night Before gives us a drug fueled holiday happening from the team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. They’ve penned better work in the form of Superbad, Pineapple Express, and This is the End and this is more on the level (though not tone) of the hit or miss humor of The Interview.

Before centers on three friends who have a Christmas Eve tradition of spending their time together after Ethan’s (Joseph Gordon Levitt) parents died. His supportive buddies are Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) and they’ve agreed that their 14th year of buddying up will be their last. Isaac is married and ready to become a first time dad and Chris is a famous NFL player. Their lives are moving on while Ethan remains aimless, especially after a recent breakup with the lovely Lizzy Caplan. The boys make sure their final excursion is hopefully a memorable one when Ethan scores tickets to the Nutcracker Ball, an NYC kick ass bash they’ve only heard about in mythological terms.

Getting there is a challenge for many reasons. Isaac’s wife (Jillian Bell, who stole scenes in 22 Jump Street and does here) gives him a night to let his freak flag fly and that means lots of narcotics. Chris gets caught up with the wrong woman and is preoccupied with impressing his newer celebrity friends. Ethan is struggling with the knowledge that life’s traditions are changing.

While The Night Before is centered on these sometimes not so wise men, some supporting players shine. This holds especially true for Michael Shannon’s drug dealer character, who seems to possess powers even more potent than his weed. Mindy Kaling amusingly turns up and there’s some fairly effective (if obvious) celebrity cameos sprinkled in.

The proceedings don’t really pick up steam until close to the hour mark and what comes before it is often ho (ho) hum. Ethan and Chris’s storylines are just OK and the biggest guffaws come from Isaac on his pharmaceutically fueled journey. One wonders how good this could’ve been if it focused solely on him. The Night Before has its laughs to be sure, but it’s on the lower end of what these writers have accomplished before.

**1/2 (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: December 4-6

The first week of December is traditionally a weak frame at the box office as the month’s heavy hitters have yet to roll out and moviegoers are mostly nibbling on Thanksgiving leftovers. This year figures to follow suit as only the Christmas themed horror comedy Krampus opens wide and I don’t see it performing too well. You can read my detailed prediction post on it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/11/26/krampus-box-office-prediction/

The post holiday weekend also usually means big drop offs for existing pics. The last two Hunger Games entries have fallen more than 60% on this weekend and current champ Mockingjay – Part 2 should do the same.

Disney’s animated features that debuted on Turkey Day weekend have typically fallen over 50% and that could true here with The Good Dinosaur.

And that could create a serious photo finish for the top spot. To add to the mystery: Creed opened to better than expected results and I foresee it having the smallest decline due to very positive word of mouth.

Krampus should land in the four spot with Spectre rounding out the top five. And here are those top five estimates for a fairly sleepy weekend:

  1. The Good Dinosaur

Predicted Gross: $18.7 million (representing a drop of 52%)

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Predicted Gross: $18.5 million (representing a drop of 64%)

3. Creed

Predicted Gross: $16.4 million (representing a drop of 44%)

4. Krampus

Predicted Gross: $7.1 million

5. Spectre

Predicted Gross: $6 million (representing a drop of 52%)

Box Office Results (November 25-29)

Katniss and crew maintained their dominance as Mockingjay – Part 2 ruled Thanksgiving with $52 million over the Friday to Sunday portion of the weekend and $75.9 million for the five day holiday frame. This was in line with my respective projections of $48.4M and $75.5M. The franchise finale stands at $198 million so far.

Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur had a so so premiere compared to what the company is used to with $39.1 million over the three day and $55.4 million for the long weekend. This is well under my predictions of $56.6M and $78.9M. It will need meager drop offs over the holidays to avoid potentially being Pixar’s smallest earner in its storied two decade existence.

With legitimate Oscar buzz, Creed tapped into Rocky nostalgia and made a magnificent $29.6 million (three day) and $42.1 million (five day), knocking out my estimates of $19.6M and $27.4M. The red hot word of mouth clearly brought this to heights that were unimaginable just weeks ago.

Spectre was fourth with $12.8 million (three day) and a five day tally of $18.2 million for a $176M overall gross. I was close with $13.1M and $17.7M.

The Peanuts Movie came in a bit below my forecast at fifth with $9.7 million and $13.6 million compared to my predictions of $11.1M and $15.3M. It’s made $116M.

The Night Before was sixth in its sophomore frame with $8.3 million and $10.7 million – right in line with my estimates of $8M and (bingo!) $10.7M.

Last and majorly least, critically drubbed Victor Frankenstein tanked with an embarrassing $2.4 million and $3.5 million since its Wednesday start. This put it in just 12th place and way below my generous $10.8 and $14.8M projections.

That’s all for now folks! Until next time…

Thanksgiving 2015 Box Office Predictions

The Turkey Day weekend box office is upon us and we have three new holiday offerings joining the fray: Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, critically lauded Rocky spinoff Creed, and gothic horror tale Victor Frankenstein. You can read my individual prediction posts on each here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/11/18/the-good-dinosaur-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/11/19/creed-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/11/19/victor-frankenstein-box-office-prediction/

Since the final Hunger Games pic opened to less than expected results (more on that below), I believe Dinosaur should roam to the top of the charts, though it could be somewhat close.

Solid buzz should put Creed solidly in third place, while I expect Frankenstein to struggle a bit in its opening. Holdovers like Spectre, The Peanuts Movie, and The Night Before should experience small declines as is typical over this holiday weekend.

And with that, I’ll do a top seven predictions that includes projections for both the traditional three day weekend and expanded Thanksgiving five day frame:

  1. The Good Dinosaur

Predicted Gross: $56.6 million (Friday to Sunday), $78.9 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Predicted Gross: $48.4 million (Friday to Sunday), $75.5 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

3. Creed

Predicted Gross: $19.6 million (Friday to Sunday), $27.4 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

4. Spectre

Predicted Gross: $13.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $17.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

5. The Peanuts Movie

Predicted Gross: $11.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $15.3 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

6. Victor Frankenstein 

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million (Friday to Sunday), $14.8 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

7. The Night Before

Predicted Gross: $8 million (Friday to Sunday), $10.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

Box Office Results (November 20-22)

Katniss and company easily ruled the box office as Mockingjay – Part 2 debuted, but it undeniably came in with less than anticipated numbers. The fourth and final chapter of The Hunger Games franchise made $102.6 million compared to my $124.2M forecast. This is easily the lowest opener of the series and over $50M below the heights of what Catching Fire did two years ago. A nine-digit premiere is always pretty solid, but Lionsgate was likely hoping for a better result than this.

007 was second with Spectre taking in $15 million, on target with my $15.3M forecast. In three weeks, its total stands at $154M.

Snoopy and the gang were third with The Peanuts Movie making $13.2 million, in line with my $14.1M projection. Its three week tally is $99M.

Raunchy Christmas comedy The Night Before had a lackluster beginning with just $9.8 million, well below my $16.6M projection. Its best hope is for smallish declines as the holiday it focuses on draws closer.

The weekend’s other newcomer, thriller Secret in Their Eyes with Julia Roberts, settled for fifth with a muted $6.6 million. It did manage to top my $5.1M prediction.

In sixth, another Christmas comedy Love the Coopers made just $3.9 million in its sophomore frame, below my $5.4M guesstimate.

Finally, Oscar hopeful Spotlight expanded its screen count and took in $3.5 million for 8th place. It couldn’t match my $4.7M projection, but did have the second highest per screen average of any film in the top ten after Mockingjay.

And there you have it, folks! Until next time…