John Hamburg’s WhyHim? borrows a bit from the MeettheParents formula and no wonder because it was Hamburg who wrote that picture. He also cowrote that blockbuster’s two sequels, which dwindled in quality with each entry. Him? keeps the downward spiral going. That’s a shame because Mr. Hamburg’s two previous efforts behind the camera, AlongCamePolly and ILoveYou, Man, were both pretty decent. This one never finds its rhythm.
Bryan Cranston is middle class Michigan man Ned Fleming, who travels with his wife (Megan Mullaly) and teenage son (Griffin Gluck) to visit college age daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) over the Christmas holiday. She’s got a new serious boyfriend in the form of Laird Mayhew (James Franco). He’s a super eccentric and ultra foul-mouthed tech gazillionaire with attachment issues. Naturally (and totally understandably), Ned doesn’t approve of the situation.
WhyHim? is a cartoon with a hard R rating. There’s drug humor, toilet gags, and lots of sex talk. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before save for a gag involving a moose encased in urine (first time writing that sentence!). Franco is a performer that can be solid and also grating and the latter applies here. Cranston is a fantastic actor saddled with the straight man role. Part of the problem is I think we’re supposed to sympathize with Laird, but he’s such a bizarrely creepy dude that we never really do. The rare laughs come from supporting players. Keegan-Michael Key has a moment or two as Laird’s sidekick, as does Kaley Cuoco doing voiceover work as a Siri like assistant who watches all.
Overall, however, this is just a substandard example of a storyline we’ve seen done better… and from the same guy no less.
Looking for the teen dramatic thriller version of GroundhogDay? It appears you can find it next weekend when BeforeIFall 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.
BeforeIFall opening weekend prediction: $5.3 million
Audiences looking for laughs over the holidays have an option with WhyHim?, the latest comedy from John Hamburg, director of AlongCamePolly and ILoveYou, Man. The pic casts James Franco as an eccentric tech billionaire who doesn’t meet the approval of his fiancée’s pop Bryan Cranston. Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullaly, Griffin Gluck, and Keegan-Michael Key costar.
Him opens on Friday the 23rd, unlike three other big releases that debut on Wednesday, so my estimate is a simple four-day here. This could benefit from being the only new comedy out on a packed Christmas weekend (OfficeChristmasParty will be in its third weekend).
That said, reviews have been rather weak as it stands at 42% on Rotten Tomatoes. Last year, Daddy’sHome cleaned up on the festive weekend with nearly $40 million out of the gate. Yet that one had the more bankable Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. WhyHim? might be lucky to do a bit over a third of that for its start.
WhyHim? opening weekend prediction: $13.2 million (Friday to Monday)
Richard Linklater brings his Dazed and Confused sensibilities to the early 1980s in Everybody Wants Some!!, focused on a college baseball team enjoying the spoils of boyhood in a slightly more grown up world than high school. The entire proceedings take place in a late August weekend before classes begin at an unnamed Texas university.
Ace pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner) is a freshman moving into one of two run down joints that house the team’s 16 players. Speaking of joints, we’ve got ’em along with lots of beer. There’s also the natural competitive nature of these young lads in full display (some of whom look far too old for college, by the way). This isn’t limited to the baseball field and it includes pool, ping pong, flicking knuckles, and chasing coeds. As you might imagine with Linklater, it’s all backed by a killer soundtrack with lots of rock but also some Sugarhill Gang (rap was just revealing itself to the masses here) for good measure.
Some!! is successful in showing the wide eyed awe of that time when anything seems possible and the night can take you anywhere (hangovers don’t really exist at this age). The 80s setting brings Jake and his mates smack dab into the social scene that dominated 1980 and conflicted with itself on occasion – discos, country western bars, punk rock moshpits.
Along the way, Jake meets a theater major (Zoey Deutch) who exposes him to yet another new and different crowd. All in a weekend. Linklater knows how to spring a certain era to life and that holds true here. Is it as memorable as Dazed or as brilliantly written? It is not, yet it’s a pleasant, sometimes raucous, and sometimes sweet experience. Fun while it lasts and ultimately a bit forgettable. That describes what’s happening with the people in Everybody Wants Some!! and for us as well.
Not a Johnny Knoxville sequel to Bad Grandpa, Robert De Niro and Zac Efron get into some raunchy R Rated hijinks with Dirty Grandpa, out next Friday. The two stars have had some successes in the comedy genre, most recently with Efron in Neighbors.
Aubrey Plaza and Zoey Deutch costar in this tale of De Niro and about to be married grandson Efron letting loose on spring break. The January release date raises some red flags and the trailers for it are, frankly, not encouraging. This should reach nowhere near the level of Neighbors or De Niro’s hits like Meet the Parents or Analyze This.
A fair comparison point could be De Niro’s Last Vegas, which opened to $16.3 million in fall 2013. Yet that had the benefit of possibly bringing in an older crowd due to the teaming of him with Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline.
I’ll estimate that Dirty Grandpa limps to a opening in the mid teens.
Dirty Grandpa opening weekend prediction: $14.6 million