We're bouncing all over the place with this post recently, as it's the older, better Schopp brother taking back the reigns for at least this week's installment of Weekend Releases. There's a lot to talk about this week, but at the same time, not a lot to talk about, as the films "releasing" this weekend are the same ones that opened two days ago on Christmas.
"Les Miserables" and "Django Unchained" headline the class that also includes "Parental Guidance". We already have reviews up for the first two, so I'll mostly let them do the talking. As for "Parental Guidance", sure Billy Crystal stars - which is always a plus - but ultimately, how many of us are really heading to theaters for that?
I'll weigh in on some brief thoughts on all three, and, as usual, touch on some box office numbers.
I'll start with "Les Miserables", as that's probably considered more of the mass appeal film this week - and one that has a leg in the door for a Best Picture nomination and possible win. Special guest contributor Dan Foutch provided us with a rave review for the film yesterday, where he outlined all there is to love with this one. You can find his review here. And I'll let that do most of the work.
I'll only add, in my own opinion (without having yet seen the film), I love the cast, and I have nothing against a good musical. That being said, I'm not sure I'll be able to find the motivation to head to the theater for this. Even with Dan's favorable review, the setting doesn't appeal to me that much. I don't have a problem with the musical end of it, I'm just not generally drawn to films of this time period. But, since it most likely will earn a Best Picture nomination and I doubt I'd get the chance to see it before the awards otherwise, I might just have to go for it and check it out this weekend. The critical response has been very positive so far, and I think that once I get in a theater, I won't have many complaints.
I don't think that many audiences will venture to this one and feel complete disappointment. It does have a long runtime which could detract a few, and if you're just not that open to musicals in general obviously this will give you fits - unless it's the film to show you the light, I suppose - but otherwise, I do think there is enough here that most will find at least some value in it. I think this is a safe recommendation for most this weekend, even if I don't personally make it out.
Next up, Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained". This film I did see. Christmas Day. Ben wrote up a strong review for the film (which you can read here), and my feelings mirror most of what he had to say. Again, refer to that for most of the specifics on the film, but overall, there wasn't much to dislike here. I had so much fun with it, and loved nearly every scene in the film. The acting was all top-notch, with Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio stealing the show. And Jamie Foxx did a great job in the title role. It's funny and tense and action-packed the whole way through.
All of that being said, I can't recommend this film with such blanket confidence as is able with a film like "Les Miserables". First off, the film is rated-R, and it's a pretty hard-R. There's excessive violence - maybe the most we've ever seen from Tarantino before - and he does not hold back on the bloodshed. The language is graphic and true to the times, and if words easily offend you, this could be difficult to watch. There are some great messages and characters in the film though, and all of the excess has a meaning. While being so stylized and exaggerated at times, it's also very real and honest.
This was one of my favorite films of the year, and might even end up being my favorite Quentin Tarantino film ever, so I definitely recommend any interested audiences in checking it out. This isn't one to take the kiddies to, but for all intelligent adults, there's a lot to love here.
As for "Parental Guidance", I'm not sure I've seen much outside of the cast that would ever warrant my attendance to this. It's rated PG, which is a pretty big detractor for me. Not that I have anything against movies rated PG - I've seen plenty of Disney movies that I've loved - but for a live-action film, I just can't imagine any of these characters are ever fully developed. For small children and families out there, this seems like a viable option. The jokes will surely hit with the tots in the crowd, while I'd assume there will be a positive family message at the end to bring it all home.
I will not be going to check this one out, nor will probably ever even give it a rental. For the right audiences, I'm sure it's fine, but if you're not a parent or an 8-year-old kid, there probably isn't much here for you. I'd go with one of the earlier titles.
As for some box office numbers, we've already seen both of the first two films hit with record Christmas day numbers, and they will both look to continue their dominance over their first weekend. Les Mis came out on top on Tuesday, and I expect the same over the weekend. It has a much broader audience than Django, so it's tough to imagine any other outcome. I think it'll be close, and both will probably be in the $30MM range, but if Django comes out on top this weekend, I will see it as a big upset. "Parental Guidance" will probably put up something in the $10MM range, probably good enough for the Top 5. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" should finish in third with something in the $15MM range, while "This Is 40" seems to be the only other title destined to do anything worthwhile, though it only made $11MM last weekend, so expecting double-digits this weekend seems far-fetched. But, as we're between Christmas and New Year's, it's still a holiday weekend, and we might see an overall increase, slightly inflating numbers for all titles.
That's what we can look forward to this weekend though. Which film(s) will you be checking out?