Top 25 SNL Alumni Performances: Numbers 5-1

The list of my personal top 25 cinematic performances from the many alumni at Saturday Night Live reaches the top 5 today! If you missed my previous entries covering numbers 25-6, you can find them all at the following links:

Let’s get to my overall favorites, shall we?

5. Chevy Chase, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Chase’s finest and funniest work belongs to his doofus dad role as Clark Griswold in this classic that spawned three sequels, including the cherished Christmas Vacation. This is one of the pictures that can be rewatched endlessly and much of that is due to Chase’s signature performance.

4. Mike Myers, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Myers successfully translated his SNL character Wayne Campbell to the silver screen in 1992’s blockbuster Wayne’s World alongside his costar Dana Carvey (who nearly made the list for his work in that film). Yet the most hilarious work from Myers comes here as both the title character and (especially) nemesis Dr. Evil. Two sequels would give Myers an opportunity to play even more deliriously over the top parts.

3. Will Ferrell, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

After the back to back hits of Old School and Elf, Ferrell developed his most iconic character with his arrogant and clueless news anchor. Anchorman has deservedly became an all-time comedy classic.

2. Eddie Murphy, Coming to America (1988)

Let’s face it – this list could have been dominated by Eddie. I had Trading Places and The Nutty Professor in the top 25, but could have included 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop, Bowfinger, Shrek, Dreamgirls, or Dolemite Is My Name as well. However, my personal favorite is this 1988 humorous fairy tale when Murphy was at the peak of his power. This is the first pic that gave him the opportunity to portray multiple characters and he certainly makes the most of it.

1. Bill Murray, Groundhog Day (1993)

Just as with Murphy, many movies from Murray could have made the cut. You already saw Ghostbusters and Lost in Translation on here and other contenders included Caddyshack, Scrooged, What About Bob?, Kingpin, Rushmore, and Zombieland. Overall, I go with Groundhog Day as his finest hour and #1 on the whole list. Simply put, I find Groundhog Day to be perfection and the quintessential vehicle for its versatile star.

And there you have it, folks! It’s been fun putting together the list and I hope you enjoyed reading it…

Top 25 SNL Alumni Performances: Numbers 10-6

We have reached the top ten in my personal favorite performances from the dozens of Saturday Night Live alumni. Today’s list covers numbers 10-6 and if you missed my previous editions, you may find them here:

Let’s get to it!

10. Randy Quaid, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Ahhh, Cousin Eddie. One of the funniest supporting characters in film history with Quaid’s performance as the black sheep of the Griswald family. He was great in Vacation as well, but his work in the Yuletide classic gets the nod. Quaid only appeared in one ill-fated season of the show from 1985-86.

9. Kristin Wiig, Bridesmaids (2011)

Wiig is one of the greatest SNL performers period and her first starring role was a blockbuster showcase for her immense talents. Her costar Maya Rudolph deserves a shout out for her performance as well.

8. Eddie Murphy, The Nutty Professor (1996)

Beyond his terrific work as Sherman Klump and Buddy Love, this update of the Jerry Lewis tale also finds the versatile star hilariously playing nearly every member of the Klump clan under Rick Baker’s amazing makeup work. This was deservedly a major comeback vehicle for Murphy.

7. Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man (2008)

People tend to forget that Downey was a cast member in the forgettable 1985-86 season that Quaid was a part of. There’s other performances that I could have included here (including other Avengers work), but I’ll give his first appearance in his signature role the attention it warrants.

6. John Belushi, National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

This is the first breakout role for a SNL cast member and it’s absolutely one of the best with Belushi’s iconic performance as John Blutarsky (or Bluto). You can still find his photo chugging Jack Daniels in many a college dorm across the country.

We will reach the top 5 in short order! Stat tuned…

Tag Box Office Prediction

Improbably based on a true story, the comedy Tag hits theaters next weekend. Based on a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, the film focuses on a group of pals who engage in a long-term version of the kids game. Stars include Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Brian Dennehy, and Lil Rel Howery. It marks the directorial debut of Jeff Tomsic.

The ads hype the “actually based on real stuff” angle, but I felt the trailer could’ve been a bit stronger. I’m not confident this holds any significant breakout potential. The Warner Bros release would likely love the achieve the $17 million debut of this spring’s Game Night and that might be the generous ceiling here. I’d say even with the cast of familiar faces, it doesn’t have the relative star power or laugh out loud promo materials. And I wouldn’t count Renner as this isn’t the genre he’s known for… see The House from a year ago.

Outside of the Hangover franchise, Helms has had a rough road recently as Father Figures was a dud and even his Vacation reboot fell a bit shy of $60 million three summers back. I’ll project this reaches low double digits to mid teens for a so-so showing. As we await the blockbuster comedic pic of this season, I have a hunch Tag is not it.

Tag opening weekend prediction: $13.4 million

For my Incredibles 2 prediction, click here:

For my Superfly prediction, click here:

Game Night Movie Review

Too many big studio comedies can be numbered by the handful of gags that work while the rest fall flat. This is thankfully not the case with Game Night. It’s gimmicky, sure. It’s a bit forgettable. Yet it’s consistently amusing and doesn’t overburden itself with too much sentimentality. As far as the genre goes as of late, that’s enough to mark this a success.

The pic comes from co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who last made the more consistently unfunny Vacation reboot. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are Max and Annie, married with no children even though she’s ready. Their biggest shared love is one of competitiveness, which includes their game nights with friends. Their usual group includes playboy Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and childhood sweethearts Kevin and Michelle (Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury). Next door neighbor and police officer Gary (Jesse Plemons) is a former regular until his recent divorce has turned him into quite the weirdo.

Our main couple’s typical showing of charade and board gaming dominance is interrupted when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) pops up. Brooks is the ultra cool brother with a better bone structure and larger pocketbook that Max harbors jealousy for. Instead of Clue or Risk, Brooks has a different idea for game night involving a kidnapping and real actors interacting with the group. The players won’t know what’s real and what isn’t.

Wouldn’t you know it? Turns out some real kidnappers turn up and that Brooks may be involved in some seedy stuff. What follows is a search for a Faberge egg, guns that the principals think aren’t real (an overused gag by now), squeaky toys used to bite down on for pain (a never before seen gag that’s pretty darn funny), and Bateman’s patented ironic detachment that always seems to work.

Night is served with a game cast. Standouts include Plemons as the creepy but probably well-meaning neighbor and Magnussen as the dim bulb participant of the team. Sharon Horgan is his much smarter date for the evening and she provides some humorous moments as well. The screenplay also provides a twist or two that are genuinely surprising.

The actual concept of a game night may not be as joyous as it’s supposed to be on occasion. You need fun people there. This movie has them. Like real game nights, you may forget some of details by the next day but you’ll remember enjoying it.

*** (out of four)

Game Night Box Office Prediction

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are a couple whose night of innocent fun goes horribly wrong in the comedy Game Night, opening next Friday. From John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the guys behind Horrible Bosses and the 2015 Vacation reboot, the pic costars Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Michael C. Hall, Jesse Plemons, and Jeffrey Wright.

Night could manage to appeal to moviegoers looking for a straight comedy in the midst of other genre fare in the marketplace. Black Panther will certainly being tearing up competition in weekend #2 and Annihilation is also out there for sci-fi fans. As far as movies reaching for the funny bone, this stands alone.

I could envision Game Night performing similarly to recent Bateman outings like Horrible Bosses 2 and Office Christmas Party. That would put it in the mid teens range for its start.

Game Night opening weekend prediction: $16.3 million

For my Annihilation prediction, click here:


Vacation Movie Review

The reboot of Vacation may make you long for the days of European Vacation, which came 30 years before it. Not the original Vacation from 1983, which this pic is most inspired by. Not Christmas Vacation from 1989. This new entry doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as those two franchise highlights. I’m saying this is substandard to the Griswolds overseas adventure, which was certainly nothing special and this is more on the level of 1997’s unfortunate Vegas Vacation when the series ran out of steam.

Our fifth flick concentrates on grown up Rusty (Ed Helms) and his bored wife (Christina Applegate) taking their two boys to Walley World, the famed amusement park from the original. What follows is an R rated celebration of sex jokes, poop jokes, and pedophilia jokes (yep) that does little to capture the spirit of when Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo took their brood from Chicago to California the first time around. There’s plentiful nods to the ’83 pic and even Clark and Ellen show up for a surprisingly unfunny cameo where Chevy essentially bumbles around for five minutes. Sister Audrey appears in the form of Leslie Mann, now married to weatherman hunk Chris Hemsworth (who does manage to provide a few weak laughs). Cousin Eddie is nowhere to be found (let’s assume he went to Canada).

Vacation isn’t terrible but the majority of its jokes are obvious lowbrow and tired ones mixed in with intermittent genuine laughs. The new Griswolds incarnation is uninspired and this is not a Vacation we need.

** (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: August 14-16

Two high profile releases open up this weekend as the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton and Guy Ritchie spy thriller The Man from U.N.C.L.E. debut. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each right here:

As I see it, these two newbies should take the top two spots on the charts. I look for Compton to dominate with U.N.C.L.E. having a rather lackluster premiere in the runner-up position.

When it comes to holdovers, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation should drop to third after two weekends in the #1 spot. I look for Fantastic Four to fall hard after its disastrous opening this past weekend (more on that below). The Gift should round out the top five in its sophomore frame.

And with that, my top five predictions for the weekend:

  1. Straight Outta Compton

Predicted Gross: $39.3 million

2. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Predicted Gross: $18.6 million

3. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Predicted Gross: $14.9 million (representing a drop of 47%)

4. Fantastic Four

Predicted Gross: $11.1 million (representing a drop of 56%)

5. The Gift

Predicted Gross: $6.3 million (representing a drop of 46%)

Box Office Results (August 7-9)

Let’s get what I got right out of the way. Though I didn’t have it at #1, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation managed to stay on top with $28.5 million, on pace with my $28.1M prediction. In ten days, the Tom Cruise sequel has taken in $107 million.

Now… to the Fantastic Four. Wow. 20th Century Fox’s reboot hoped to start a new franchise but the critically drubbed comic book pic landed with a thud at $25.6 million, way below my $47.7M estimate. This is a truly horrible opening for its genre and its dismal C- Cinemascore average marks the worst ever for a superhero flick. Most of its publicity was negative, including creative differences with the studio and director Josh Trank. That coupled with possible superhero pic fatigue doomed this project and it’s hard to envision a Fantastic Four 2 coming out ever… or at least anytime in the near future until the studio assesses what went so very wrong.

Thriller The Gift debuted third with a reasonable $11.8 million. I incorrectly had it performing better with $16.8M, but this is still a sturdy opening for a low-budget flick with no big box office draws. Solid reviews likely helped.

Holdovers populated the four and five spots and I incorrectly had them both outside the top five. Vacation was fourth in weekend two with $8.9 million for a $37M total so far and Marvel’s Ant-Man was fifth with $7.9 million for a $147M haul.

Two other newcomers fell considerably below my projections. Meryl Streep’s Ricki and the Flash sputtered with just $6.6 million for a seventh place start (I predicted $11.4M). The stop motion animated pic Shaun the Sheep Movie fared worse with only $4 million for an 11th place showing (I said $8.2M).

And that’ll for now, folks! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: August 7-9

August brings in four new titles for moviegoers to consider this weekend: the big budget reboot of Fantastic Four, psychological thriller The Gift, Meryl Streep’s comedic drama Ricki and the Flash, and British stop motion animated pic Shaun the Sheep Movie. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

I actually expect all four newbies to find themselves in the top five. Fantastic Four should have no trouble opening at #1, though I must say the anticipation for this seems less than your typical comic book movie.

After its strong debut, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation should drop to second, losing about half its audience. My predictions have The Gift having a robust opening at third with Ricki and the Flash and Shaun the Sheep Movie rounding out the top five. Due to its less than anticipated roll out over the weekend, Vacation should fall out of the top five in only its second frame.

And with that, my top five predictions for the weekend:

1. Fantastic Four

Predicted Gross: $47.7 million

2. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Predicted Gross: $28.1 million (representing a drop of 49%)

3. The Gift

Predicted Gross: $16.8 million

4. Ricki and the Flash

Predicted Gross: $11.4 million

5. Shaun the Sheep Movie

Predicted Gross: $8.2 million

Box Office Results (July 31-August 2)

Tom Cruise’s fifth appearance as super agent Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation posted positive results as the critically acclaimed sequel earned $55.5 million, a bit above my $52.3M. This finds the franchise in very good shape and a sixth flick has already been confirmed.

Meanwhile, the critically drubbed Vacation reboot got off to a shaky start with $14.6 million from Friday to Sunday and $21 million since its Wednesday premiere. This is below my respective estimates of $17.1M and $24.7M. With a middling B score from Cinemascore, I don’t see this holding up well as moviegoers mostly rejected a return to Wally World.

As for holdovers, Ant-Man dropped to third after two weeks on top with $12.8 million compared to my $11.4M projection. The Marvel pic has amassed $132 million so far. Minions took fourth with $12.3 million, in line with my $11.8M prediction and its total stands at $287 million. The Adam Sandler dud Pixels was fifth with $10.5 million in weekend two, right on target with my $10.3M estimate. Its weak cume is $45 million. Trainwreck was sixth with $9.6 million (I said $10.2M) and it’s made $79 million in three weeks. Southpaw dipped a bit further in its sophomore weekend than I foresaw with $7.6 million compared to my $9.5M projection for a $31 million total so far.

And that’ll do it for now! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: July 31-August 2

As July comes to a close, two new entries look to nab the top spots at the box office this weekend as Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and comedy reboot Vacation debut. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each here:

Tom Cruise’s fifth go round as Ethan Hunt should have no problem at all taking the #1 spot while I look for Vacation to land in the runner-up spot.

As for holdovers, I look for Minions to hold up better than current champ Ant-Man, allowing them to place third and fourth. Adam Sandler’s Pixels had a very poor premiere (more on that below) and I look for it to experience the heftiest decline, putting it in a close race for fifth with Trainwreck and Southpaw.

And with that, we’ll do a top seven predictions for this weekend:

1. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Predicted Gross: $52.3 million

2. Vacation

Predicted Gross: $17.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $24.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

3. Minions

Predicted Gross: $11.8 million (representing a drop of 48%)

4. Ant-Man

Predicted Gross: $11.4 million (representing a drop of 54%)

5. Pixels

Predicted Gross: $10.3 million (representing a drop of 56%)

6. Trainwreck

Predicted Gross: $10.2 million (representing a drop of 41%)

7. Southpaw

Predicted Gross: $9.5 million (representing a drop of 43%)

Box Office Results (July 24-26)

Marvel’s Ant-Man surprisingly held onto the #1 slot in its second weekend with $24.9 million, in line with my $25.6M projection. It has grossed a solid $106M in its first ten days of release.

The “surprise” is that Pixels was expected to top the charts, yet it tanked with a $24 million opening – less than half of my extremely generous $49M prediction. The critically panned video game pic represents another poor performance from Adam Sandler, whose box office star has been waning in recent years.

Minions was third with $22.9 million, on target with my $23.4M estimate and the animated hit has brought in $262M.

Trainwreck held up admirably for fourth in weekend #2 with $17.2 million (a bit under my $18.7M prediction) for a total of $61 million. The Judd Apatow comedy should top $100M when all is said and done.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s boxing drama Southpaw exceeded most expectations with a sturdy $16.7 million, ahead of my $12.9M projection.

Finally, teen romance Paper Towns (based on a John Green bestseller) had a less than expected roll out with just $12.6 million, considerably below my $26.8M estimate. While Towns has a tiny budget and will easily profit, this is disappointing considering The Fault in Our Stars (also based on a Green novel) made $48M out of the gate last summer.

And that’ll do it for now, friends! Until next time…

Vacation Box Office Prediction

A new generation of Griswolds comes to the big screen as Vacation hits theaters this Wednesday. It’s been 32 years since Clark, Ellen, and the kids starred in the now classic original and 18 years since the last installment, the poorly received Vegas Vacation.

Our reboot finds Ed Helms as the grown up Rusty Griswold with Christina Applegate as his wife. Leslie Mann costars as sister Audrey with Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day among the supporting cast. And as you’ve likely seen from the trailers and TV spots, Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo do return once again.

The name brand and nostalgia factor alone should be enough to get this Vacation off to a pretty healthy start. There is some comedy competition in the form of Trainwreck‘s third weekend, but that shouldn’t be a huge factor. With its five-day roll out, the pic looks poised for a likely second place showing behind the weekend’s other newcomer, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. I’ll say it manages to reach mid 20s over the five day frame.

Vacation opening weekend prediction: $17.1 million (Friday to Sunday), $24.7 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation prediction, click here: