So far, even this summer’s biggest box-office hits have appealed to specific viewer demos. Iron Man got the men. Sex and the City got the women. And Kung Fu Panda got the … plushies.
That’s totally in keeping with our compartmentalized, focus-grouped society, which – as Frank Rich of The New York Times recently pointed out – somehow considers it a catastrophe that Barack Obama is behind in the category of “suburban white women.” (The inevitable subdivision for the next election cycle: “ … in a comedy or musical.”) But there’s a movie opening this very week that stands a decent chance of bringing us all together the way politicians always promise to, but only commercial entertainment really can. Can you guess which flick we mean? (OK, it’s the first one. But we’re not telling you what you’re getting for your birthday, so don’t ask.)
Opening Friday, June 27
Wall*E We know. We’re on record saying that Pixar’s history with noncorporeal characters isn’t all that strong. But damned if the ad spots for this robotic fable don’t make it look like a simply adorable amalgam of silent-movie slapstick and heart-tugging pathos. And the growing buzz points to a potential Event about to drop. Worst-case scenario: It ends up a well-intentioned trifle. Best-case scenario: It supplants E.T. once and for all in the public consciousness. Yes, really. (G; Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar)
Wanted Angelina Jolie plays a taciturn assassin who likes to hang off cars, shoot big guns and engage in other motherly pursuits. Everybody who’s waiting to see how faithful the movie is to Mark Millar’s graphic novel may consider it a hint that, in said comic, Jolie’s character was black. Is this what the Obama team means by “post-racial”? (R; Universal)
Mongol Director Sergei Bodrov profiles Genghis Khan, the man whose name was synonymous with cataclysmic militarism until George W. Bush decided to get in on the act. Boy, are we tickled that we don’t get to use that joke much longer. (at Enzian Theater, Maitland; R; Picturehouse)
Opening Wednesday, July 2Hancock On paper, an offbeat tale about a dissipated, degenerate superhero is the definition of a hard sell. But Hollywood’s ruling wisdom has it that Will Smith plus the July 4th weekend equals admissions out the ass. This would probably be a good time to point out that the same sterling logic once led Premiere magazine to declare that the summer of 1990 would be ruled by Days of Thunder. (check theaters for sneak previews Tuesday, July 1; PG-13; Columbia Pictures)
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl When we recently referred to Abigail Breslin’s latest picture as merely a “period piece,” you might have gotten the false impression that we were utterly unaware that it’s been adapted from the hugely popular American Girl line of juvenile fiction and “lifestyle merchandise.” Now, if that were the case – and what a silly notion, ha ha – it would simply prove that we don’t spend any of our free time cruising the “Young Adult” racks at Borders. Can we all agree on that, please? (G; Picturehouse)
Available Tuesday, July 1
Get Smart’s Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control The trend of promoting theatrical releases with thematically related direct-to-DVD features won’t reach full fruition until next year’s Watchmen. For now, we have this quickie companion piece, which shows what the techies at CONTROL get up to while Agents 86 and 99 are out gallivanting around. Note to the late Desmond Llewelyn: We’re really sorry that Q movie never got off the ground. (Warner Home Video; also for Blu-ray)
My Blueberry Nights Director Wong Kar-Wai puts Norah Jones on Route 66 to search for true love. The critical consensus is that Wong did as much for Jones as Ang Lee did for Jewel. (The Weinstein Company)
Sex and Death 101 Four weeks in theaters and a total haul of $23,624 was the sad legacy of this comedy about male promiscuity, which cast Winona Ryder as an avenging angel out to redeem used and discarded women everywhere. Then Sex and the City opened, and everybody involved immediately forgot what the hell they had been so worked up about. (Anchor Bay; also for Blu-ray)
Available Tuesday, July 1
Hancock The original score is by John Powell of the Bourne trilogy. In related news, the soundtrack to Days of Thunder is currently going for 46 cents on Amazon.com. (Varese Sarabande)firstname.lastname@example.org
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