Fall Movie Guide: September 2011 – Week 2

Week 1: September 2nd, 2011

Week 2: September 9th, 2011

Title: Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

Writers: Adam Sandler, Allen Covert and Nick Swardson

Director: Tom Brady

“A kid from the Midwest moves out to Hollywood in order to follow in his parents footsteps — and become a porn star.”

I don’t care what anyone says, I love Happy Madison Productions, and their litany of stupid movies. Here is the latest, starring Nick Swardson (who now has his own Comedy Central show) in his first starring feature film role. Swardson and his writing partner Allen Covert scored an underground hit a few years ago on the awesome Grandma’s Boy, but so far they have yet to recreate the magic, coming out with the flop Strange Wilderness in the time since, which I loved, but was critically panned by everyone.

Here is their latest effort, and the man behind the scenes, Adam Sandler decided to sit in the writer’s chair on this one, maybe to buy some goodwill towards the project. Whatever the case, the early critical word is panning the film already. Director Tom Brady (no, not the Pats QB) is an old Sandler associate, responsible for the screenplays for The Hot Chick, and The Animal, also Sandler productions.

The thing is, anyone walking out of this movie disappointed didn’t know what they were walking into. They might have thought they knew, but they didn’t. Based on the trailer, anyone that would actually pay money to see this film would know exactly what they’re getting. Silly, goofball potty humor, which was what made Sandler a star in the first place. Here, he sticks with his big goofy movies for himself, but he lets guys like Fred Wolf, Tom Brady, Swardson, and Covert run wild on these low budget Sandler productions, at least creatively.

While this may hurt the overall box office (they have no money in advertising, no good word of mouth) but they’ll make the budget back with video sales, as they have done every time so far seemingly. I personally can’t wait to see it, and if I get the time to run out and catch it in theaters, I’m sure I’ll laugh my ass off, but this one is not for everyone. Most will avoid it because they didn’t hear about it, or they think it looks really stupid. Neither is a reason to not go see it, especially for those of us in the minority of Strange Wilderness fans.

Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star opens September 9th, 2011 from Columbia Pictures.

Title: Contagion

Writer: Scott Z. Burns

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne and Gwyneth Paltrow

“An action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.”

Supposedly, Steven Soderbergh was going to quit making movies after Che. However, he kept going, and here he is with a visceral action thriller centered on a disease outbreak, with an Oscar-caliber cast that includes Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, and John Hawkes.

However, early word on the film is not great, most reviews saying it’s rather slow and mundane, devoid of any real action or thrilling moments. It looks extremely well shot, but many are complaining of the lack of anything real happening, with scientific explanations in place of actual story elements. Despite the large, well praised cast, apparently they aren’t given anything to do.

I would be less inclined to believe this if I hadn’t seen Che, a very slow, meandering film that managed to sap any excitement from the few action scenes with experimental camera shots, rendering most of the film dull, with large spaces of nothing happening. While Soderbergh has always been at least a little bit experimental in his filmmaking, I feel like lately, since he decided he could do without filmmaking, that he is just further experimenting. This sounds like an experiment that didn’t work as he had planned, but I’m sure it’s an interesting film nonetheless.

I don’t know, however, if it will be something worth going to the theater and plunking down $10 for. First weekend word of mouth will sink or float that boat, and to this point, it’s sinking hard.

Contagion opens September 9th, 2011 from Warner Brothers, who unfortunately need a hit in this pre-awards season.

Title: Warrior

Writers: Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorman

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte

“The youngest son (Hardy) of an alcoholic former boxer (Nolte) returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament — a path that puts the fighter on a collision corner with his older brother (Edgerton), a former school teacher.”

From the director of the Edward Norton/Colin Farrel police film Pride & Glory comes a new film featuring the stars of Australia’s fantastic Animal Kingdom, Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, who are quickly rising their stars together it seems. Here, they are put with Nick Nolte as their father Paddy, an alcoholic that has emotionally damaged his family with his years of neglect, walling too long in his own sorrow.

When ex-Marine Tommy (Hardy) returns home, he enlists his drunken father Paddy (Nolte) to help him train, but he wants nothing more from the man than his training. His brother Brendan is a school teacher who has fallen under unfavorable circumstances, and is drawn back to the ring, where he used to fight in the UFC.

Ultimately, this is just another underdog story, but instead of having a clear villain, like Rocky did, it instead features two underdogs that need to win for their own reasons. Jeremy got a chance to catch an early screening, and he loved the film, saying it was filled with honest emotions, well drawn characters, and some exciting fights, which is more than I think most people would ask of the film. (Read his review here)

Warrior releases September 9th, 2011 from Lionsgate in theaters nationwide.

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