50 Worst Summer Movies of All Time

Cinema history is filled with movies that got burned under the hot summer sun, and every year, we get our share of critically panned big-budget duds (this year’s slate includes such low achievers asFantastic Four and Hot Pursuit). However, it takes a rare kind of awful to merit inclusion into RT’s Worst Summer Movies list, a compendium of cinematic horrors that were granted a wide theatrical release between the months of May and September in the years since the release of Jaws in 1975 kickstarted the blockbuster era. Without further ado, we present our countdown of the 50 worst-reviewed summer movies!



It remains to be seen whether this weekend’s Furious 7 will really be “one last ride” for the franchise, but just in case, we’ve decided to pay tribute to our favorite cinematic rubber-burners by taking a look at the best and worst entries from each cast member’s filmography. This is going to be a bumpy ride, so buckle up – it’s time for Total Recall!

Vin Diesel

97%  The Iron Giant

Long before Diesel made audiences laugh, cheer, and shed a tear as the monosyllabic Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, he proved his unique worth as an animated galoot in The Iron Giant, suffusing director Brad Bird’s future cult classic with immense poignancy simply by speaking a handful of lines. We still can’t hear the word “Superman” without choking up.

6%  Babylon A.D.

Diesel has more than proven his ability to play gun-toting strong, silent types, as well as his comfort with acting to green-screened futuristic landscapes; Babylon A.D., which pitted his grizzled mercenary character against a psychotic Russian mobster played by Gerard Depardieu, should by all rights have been a lot of fun. Alas, if it’s dystopian Diesel you’re after, you should definitely stick with the Chronicles of Riddick movies.

Paul Walker

85%  Pleasantville

While Walker ultimately became best known for his action roles, his wholesome good looks might have made him a terrific rom-com leading man – and as he demonstrated as all-around swell guy Skip Martin in Pleasantville, he also had more than enough charm and sincerity to pull it off. Being able to say “you’re the keenest girl in school” with a straight face? That’s a gift, people.

4%  Meet the Deedles

Arguably the most violent act perpetrated against Hawaiian culture since Pearl Harbor, Meet the Deedles starred Walker as one-half of a sibling surfer duo whose idiot antics convince their father (soap legend Eric Braeden) to ship them off to Yellowstone, where they bumble into a plot cooked up by a renegade ranger (Dennis Hopper) who plans to divert Old Faithful. Possibly worth watching if you are related to one of the former members of Oingo Boingo who make a cameo appearance.

Michelle Rodriguez

87%  Girlfight

Rodriguez set a fairly high bar for herself with her breakout performance in this highly regarded indie drama about a troubled teenager who learns to channel her aggression in the ring, which also launched the career of writer-director Karyn Kusama – who wrote the screenplay inspired by her own boxing lessons. Not only was Rodriguez not a boxer before winning the role, she’d never even landed a speaking part in a film. The rest is history.

4%  BloodRayne

Directed by Uwe Boll. We could say more, but what would be the point, really?

Dwayne Johnson

79%  The Other Guys

Plenty of action stars have subverted their tough-guy personas, but few do it as effortlessly as Johnson, whose blinding charisma is so powerful he managed to emerge from The Tooth Fairy unscathed. (More on that in a minute.) His brief appearance in The Other Guys is a terrific example: Alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Johnson played a meathead star cop with an arrest record as sparkly as his toothy grin – and an unfortunate inability to comprehend or overcome the law of gravity.

18%  The Tooth Fairy

Dwayne Johnson as a brutally violent hockey player who’s cowed into deputy tooth fairy duty by an enraged Julie Andrews (and supplied with fairy magic by Billy Crystal)? It seems like the stuff that legendary comedies are made of, but unfortunately, Tooth Fairy lacked a certain (ahem) biting wit. On the bright side, it’s still more fun than the direct-to-video sequel starring Larry the Cable Guy and a pig.


82%  Hustle & Flow

Admittedly, playing a multiplatinum rapper wasn’t exactly a dramatic stretch for Ludacris, but his appearance as Skinny Black helped personify the level of success that Hustle & Flow protagonist DJay (Terrence Howard) was trying to attain – as well as the barriers he had to struggle against in pursuit of his dream. It is, as they say, hard out here for a pimp.

8%  The Wash

There’s a certain amount of mildly anarchic potential inherent in the idea of a car wash-centered comedy starring some of hip-hop’s biggest stars – but for a movie like The Wash to really work, it should ideally be managed by someone with more filmmaking experience than writer-producer-director DJ Pooh, whose nickname summed up the critical and commercial reaction to the project. Fortunately for Ludacris, his involvement was limited; while headlining stars Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg loomed large over the credits, he was content to serve walk-on duty as an irate character credited only as “Customer”.

Tyrese Gibson

85%  The Take

Gibson hasn’t had an overabundance of opportunities to shine outside the Fast and Furious franchise, but he did enjoy a piece of the critical spotlight for The Take, a relatively little-seen 2007 thriller about an armored car driver (John Leguizamo) gunning for vengeance against the criminal (Gibson) who masterminded a robbery that left him disgraced and close to death.

10%  Annapolis

Plenty of worthwhile stories have been spun out of the conflict between young military officers and their hard-driving superiors, but Annapolis – starring James Franco whose hostile relationship with his commander (Gibson) spills over into the boxing ring – is emphatically not one of them. On the bright side, it introduced Gibson to Annapolis director Justin Lin, who he’d later work with on Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6.

Lucas Black

96%  Sling Blade

After picking up his first film role in the 1994 Kevin Costner/Elijah Wood drama The War, Black made his breakout with Sling Blade, starring opposite Billy Bob Thornton as a young boy who develops an unlikely friendship with a developmentally disabled killer. Thornton won an Oscar for his screenplay, while Black picked up a few accolades of his own, including a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor.

14%  Seven Days in Utopia

As an actor, lining yourself up opposite Robert Duvall is basically winning half the battle; sadly for Lucas Black in Seven Days in Utopia, the outcome of the other half depends on stuff like a solid direction and a great screenplay. As far as most critics were concerned, neither of those crucial components were in evidence in this faith-based drama, about a young golfer (Black) whose career crisis is defused by the sage advice of an older, wiser friend (Duvall) ? but fortunately, Utopia proved little more than a blip for either actor, both of whom quickly went on to greener cinematic pastures.

Jason Statham

79%  The Bank Job

Like any action star, Statham has plenty of shoot-’em-up duds on his résumé, but as his steely work on The Bank Job illustrates, he’s a terrific tough guy if he hasn’t been left holding the bag for a shoddy script. Based in part on real events, Job boasts a tightwire-taut narrative and witty dialogue to go along with its action sequences; years later, we’re still waiting for someone to hand this guy the keys to a truly transcendent franchise.

4%  In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

We repeat: Directed by Uwe Boll. We like to think Statham and Rodriguez may have shared a knowing smile or two on the Fast and Furious set.

Kurt Russell

92%  Swing Shift

Given all the hits he’s had during his distinguished career, it comes as something of a surprise to learn that Kurt Russell’s best-reviewed movie is a period dramedy about a war bride (Goldie Hawn) who falls into the arms of a musician (Russell) while working at a factory during her husband’s overseas service. But even if it doesn’t have the kind of cult following enjoyed by Escape from New York or Big Trouble in Little China, Swing Shift is still a pretty excellent film – and if nothing else, it helped kindle his decades-long love affair with Hawn.

10%  Soldier

Most viewers have relatively relaxed standards when it comes to the action sci-fi genre, but even in that context, 1998’s Soldier – starring Russell as a monosyllabic space warrior known as Sergeant Todd 3465 – scrapes the bottom of the barrel in terms of interesting dialogue, character development, or exciting set pieces. Viewed by its screenwriter, Blade Runner co-writer David Peoples, as a “sidequel” to that Philip K. Dick-derived classic, it’s exactly the kind of movie that used to collect dust on the shelf of your local video store…and has rarely been thought of since.

  • Read more Total Recall
  • Furious 7 reviews
  • A four-pack of fall films from specialty distributors fueled a resurgence at the North American box office led by the caper comedy Burn After Reading from the Coen brothers which made off with the number one spot. Solid bows also greeted Tyler Perry’s newest story The Family That Preys and the Robert De Niro-Al Pacino cop thriller Righteous Kill which landed in second and third, respectively. The female-empowerment pic The Women opened in fourth with lukewarm numbers. The four new titles accounted for a whopping 77% of all money spent on the top ten films. It was also the first time that four September films ever opened to double-digit millions on the same weekend.

    Just six months after winning the Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture, Joel and Ethan Coen scored the largest debut of their career and first-ever number one opening with the crime caper Burn After Reading. The R-rated comedy grossed an estimated $19.4M giving Focus Features the biggest debut in company history and its first top spot bow as well. Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and recent Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton, the ensemble film averaged a terrific $7,320 from 2,651 sites. The previous bests for the Coens came from 2003’s Intolerable Cruelty and 2004’s The Ladykillers which bowed to $12.5M and $12.6M, respectively. Reviews were generally good for Burn which benefitted from starpower, cross-gender appeal, and good will created by their triumphs with No Country For Old Men. The performance also comes as good news for Focus which has struggled since 2005’s Brokeback Mountain.

    Tyler Perry scored yet another hit with his latest film The Family That Preys which opened close behind in second with an estimated $18M from 2,070 locations. The Lionsgate release played in the fewest locations of any new pic and its solid $8,705 average was tops among all wide releases. The filmmaker’s loyal fan following came out once again giving Perry his third impressive debut in under a year. Last March, Meet the Browns opened in second place with $20.1M and a $10,011 average while last October saw Why Did I Get Married? premiere to $21.4M and a $10,618 average. Both were Lionsgate titles released in just over 2,000 theaters. The audience was dominated by African American adult women just as with the Atlanta-based director’s previous films. According to studio research, 82% of the crowd was black, 82% was over 25, and 79% was female. Perry returns once again on February 20 with his next comedy, Madea Goes to Jail.

    The pairing of screen legends Robert De Niro and Al Pacino led the new action thriller Righteous Kill to a third place debut with an estimated $16.5M in ticket sales. The Overture Films release averaged a solid $5,235 from 3,152 theaters and played to an audience that was not as male-oriented as was expected. In fact, the serial killer drama’s audience was slightly more female (51%) while mature adults led the way as 69% of the crowd was 25 or older. Reviews were not good, but starpower drove the sales as moviegoers wanted to see the first pairing of the two men since Heat which opened to $8.4M in 1995 on its way to $67.4M. Kill differed in that the Oscar-winning actors played partners and actually had numerous scenes together for the first time. Pacino nailed his best opening in a lead role since 2002’s Insomnia ($20.9M) while for De Niro it was his highest since 2005’s Hide and Seek ($22M).

    Posting the weakest debut among the frame’s new titles was the remake The Women starring Meg Ryan which bowed to an estimated $10.1M from 2,962 theaters for a mild $3,406 average. Co-starring a long list of actresses such as Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler, and Candice Bergen, the PG-13 film attracted harsh reviews from critics. Women is the final film from Picturehouse and only really had strong appeal to one quadrant – females over 25. With the weekend’s other new releases also generating interest with adult women and boasting more male appeal to help bring in couples, the Diane English-directed pic faced intense competition during a time that traditionally sees only so many dollars circulating in the marketplace.

    Leading all the holdover pics was Sony’s hit sorority comedy The House Bunny with an estimated $4.3M, off just 22%, for a $42.2M cume. Tropic Thunder followed close behind dropping 42% to an estimated $4.2M raising its total to $103M for Paramount and DreamWorks. It is the 15th summer film to join the century club and was joined by Will Ferrell’s Step Brothers which reached $100.1M on Sunday to become the season’s 16th blockbuster. Journey to the Center of the Earth should become the final film to join the list as it sits at $98M to date.

    Dipping only 27%, The Dark Knight continued to draw in audiences in its ninth weekend. The Warner Bros. megahit took in an estimated $4M and pushed its domestic cume to a towering $517.7M. Getting closer to the billion dollar club, the Caped Crusader pulled in an estimated $6.7M overseas this weekend to raise its international tally to $448.9M and its worldwide gross to a stunning $966.6M. The Dark Knight climbed up to number five among all-time worldwide blockbusters in between 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($970M) and last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($961M).

    Three star-driven action thrillers rounded out the top ten. Nicolas Cage’s Bangkok Dangerous collapsed in its second weekend tumbling 69% to an estimated $2.4M falling from first to eighth. The Lionsgate release has collected a meager $12.5M in ten days and should finish with only $18M making it one of the actor’s worst-performing action movies ever. The Don Cheadle pic Traitor fell 50% to an estimated $2.1M while Jason Statham’s Death Race fell 46% to an estimated $2M. Totals are $20.7M and $33.2M for Overture and Universal, respectively.

    Four films fell out of the top ten over the weekend. Fox’s Vin Diesel actioner Babylon A.D. dropped 58% to an estimated $1.8M for a weak $20.3M total to date. The sci-fi flop should limp to a $24M finish. The runaway hit Mamma Mia! took in an estimated $1.7M, off just 39% in its ninth session, and boosted its North American tally to $139.3M. A final of about $145M seems likely. Universal’s highest-grossing film of the year also shattered the $300M overseas mark with an estimated $17.5M this weekend. That put the amazing international sum at $307M and the global gross at a stellar $446.3M. Produced for $65M, Mamma Mia! will easily take in over $500M at the worldwide box office by the end of its run.

    The spoof comedy Disaster Movie dropped 47% to an estimated $1.6M giving Lionsgate just $12.7M thus far. Look for a pitiful $16M by the end of its run. Sony’s stoner hit Pineapple Express took in an estimated $1.1M, off 52%, for a $86M cume. The $27M production should end with a robust $88M.

    The top ten films grossed an estimated $83.1M which was up 39% from last year when The Brave One opened in the top spot with $13.5M; and up 47% from 2006 when Gridiron Gang debuted at number one with $14.4M.

    Author: Gitesh Pandya,

    Moviegoers found almost nothing worth paying money for at North American multiplexes as the top ten films at the box office slumped to their lowest gross in five years giving the new fall movie season a disastrous start. Nicolas Cage’s latest thriller Bangkok Dangerous suffered one of the worst action openings ever for the Oscar-winning actor, but thanks to a sluggish marketplace it was good enough to claim first place. Summer holdovers performed relatively well with five pics in the top ten dropping by less than 40%, but most wide releases crawled to averages of less than $2,300 as theaters struggled to find ticket buyers.

    Bowing to only $7.8M, according to estimates, Bangkok Dangerous enjoyed a less-than-spectacular number one debut with a lackluster $2,943 average from 2,650 locations. The R-rated hitman pic gave Cage his second worst opening for an action film since becoming a major player in that genre with 1996’s The Rock. Over that twelve-year span, only last year’s Next posted a weaker debut for an action film with just $7.1M and a $2,618 average. Reviews were poor and Lionsgate’s marketing push was moderate at best.

    The weekend after Labor Day is typically one of the slowest frames of the year. With students back in school and a new football season starting, studios generally avoid opening any strong films at this time which in turns helps the box office slow down. But this year with a major tropical storm hitting the east coast and election hoopla getting bigger after the political conventions, moviegoing just was not a priority for people. The top ten films grossed a dismal $47.6M making it the worst showing since this very same weekend in 2003 when the top ten stumbled to $46.2M. The Top 20 grossed $59.7M that year and is estimated to reach $61M this weekend. Factor in ticket price increases and less stubs were definitely sold this time around. Final grosses to be reported on Monday will show if this entire frame will come in lower than that sluggish session from five years ago when David Spade’s Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star led the chart with only $6.7M in its debut weekend. Bangkok also delivered the smallest gross for a number one film since Dickie.

    Following its three-week rule of the box office, the war comedy Tropic Thunder retreated back to a close second place finish with an estimated $7.5M dipping only 35%. After its fourth weekend, the Paramount release has collected a solid $96.8M and should cross the century mark next weekend. Sony’s comedy The House Bunny climbed up one notch to third with an estimated $5.9M in its third session dipping only 29%. Total stands at $37M.

    The Dark Knight dropped only 34% to an estimated $5.7M and raised its amazing North American cume to $512.2M. Overseas, the Warner Bros. sensation raked in an estimated $11.8M boosting the international tally to $437.2M which allowed the worldwide gross to soar to a staggering $949.4M. The Christian Bale-Heath Ledger showdown now sits at number six among all-time global blockbusters sandwiched right between last summer’s megahits Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($961M) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($938M).

    Don Cheadle’s political thriller Traitor held up well in its second weekend dropping 41% to an estimated $4.7M to push the 12-day tally to $17.7M. The Overture Films release should finish off in the vicinity of $30M. The Vin Diesel actioner Babylon A.D. fell 58% to an estimated $4M for Fox putting the ten-day total at $17.2M. A $25M final should result.

    Another macho action pic Death Race followed with an estimated $3.6M, off 43%, giving Universal $29.8M to date. The spoof comedy Disaster Movie slipped 44% in its sophomore session to an estimated $3.3M. Lionsgate has seen just $10.9M in sales and should conclude its run with a mere $19M or so.

    Two successful summer comedy leftovers rounded out the top ten. Mamma Mia! eased 36% to an estimated $2.7M boosting the stellar domestic cume to $136.3M allowing it to enter the top ten list of summer blockbusters. Universal’s singing sensation smashed through the $400M worldwide mark this weekend thanks to a stellar international frame that saw an estimated $15M. That was enough to push the overseas sum to $280.1M and the global gross to an eye-popping $416M. Mamma is now Universal’s top-grossing film of the year both domestically and worldwide beating out the studio’s many action offerings like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Wanted, and The Incredible Hulk which all cost more to produce.

    Sony’s stoner comedy Pineapple Express took in an estimated $2.4M, down 32%, and has grossed $84.2M thus far.

    The top ten films grossed a pathetic estimate of $47.6M over the weekend which was down 23% from last year when 3:10 to Yuma opened in the top spot with $14M; and off 3% from 2006 when The Covenant debuted at number one with $9M in its opening frame.

    The summer movie season of 2008 ended last weekend, and boy, was it a good one. Led by box office smashes like Iron Man, Wall-E, and The Dark Knight, Hollywood raked in the dough week after week — and, surprisingly, scored major Freshness on the Tomatometer in the process. Rotten Tomatoes takes a look at the Summer in Review to revisit the critical and commercial hits and misses of the summer.

    Inside find out which movies fared the best and the worst with critics, which films made box office magic and which earned less than enchanting returns, and how each of the major studios measured up over the course of the season. Also, see which films Rotten Tomatoes’ own editors picked as their favorites of the summer! Chime in below with your thoughts on Hollywood’s summer of ’08.

    The Top 10 Tomatometers of the Summer

    more info…


    Tomatometer: 73%

    Summer comic book movies are usually based on established heroes — as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and Batman can attest — but Universal wanted something out of the ordinary. Their first step? Hire upstart Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch), who infused the film, about a new inductee into a super-powered ring of assassins, with his signature visual flair. Combined with a script loosely adapted from the comic of the same name, uber geek elements like “bullet bending,” physics-defying set pieces, and Angelina Jolie as a sultry killer, Wanted turned out to be one of the more unabashedly entertaining — and simultaneously critically approved — popcorn flicks of the summer.

    more info…

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

    Tomatometer: 77%

    Say what you will about the long-awaited return of Indiana Jones, but even almost two decades after his last crusade, critics decided that the fedora still fit. Director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas seemed to revisit a lot of familiar ground in the fourth big-screen franchise outing, but their 1950s Area 51-esque plotline — and the sheer coolness of seeing Harrison Ford reprise his trademark role — provided enough thrills to delight longtime fans. Could Indy’s newly introduced son (Shia La Beouf) don the fedora in further sequels? $780 million in worldwide returns point to “yes.”

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    Vicky Cristina Barcelona

    Tomatometer: 80%

    Woody Allen’s latest effort opened quietly in limited release before expanding into theaters nationwide, allowing the ebullient enthusiasm of critics to spread. Considering the mixed results of Allen’s work of late (going from the Oscar-nominated Match Point to the uneven Melinda & Melinda, to the disappointing Scoop, to the middling Cassandra’s Dream), critics discovered that watching the Spanish-set Vicky Cristina Barcelona was like unearthing a gem. At 80 percent, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Allen’s best reviewed film since 1997’s Everyone Says I Love You (83 percent).

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    Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

    Tomatometer: 80%

    Critics (and parents) often groan inwardly when they sit down to watch a family film, but Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mystery proved a surprisingly good watch for all ages. Credit for much of the film’s success goes to Little Miss Sunshine Abigail Breslin, but we can also thank director Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park) and scribe Ann Peacock (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) for infusing the kid mystery with wholesome smarts.

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    Tropic Thunder

    Tomatometer: 83%

    Ben Stiller’s Vietnam-set Hollywood satire brought up the rear of this summer’s line up, opening mid-August as (arguably) the last event movie of the season. And it surely did pay off. Audiences loved Tropic Thunder; critics made it Certified Fresh. Even protests over its controversial “Simple Jack” and blackface plot devices couldn’t get this war comedy down. Tropic Thunder also notably became the best-reviewed summer film to open since The Dark Knight debuted a month prior, and the first film to topple The Bat’s stronghold on the box office.

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    Kung Fu Panda

    Tomatometer: 88%

    Let it not be said that Pixar has a stronghold on doing animation well; DreamWorks SKG proved otherwise with Kung Fu Panda, starring Jack Black as a rotund bear destined for martial arts greatness. Prior to release, DreamWorks honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg hinted at the possibility of five or six Kung Fu Panda films, a la Shrek; one 88 percent Tomatometer and $577 million later, we’d say a Kung Fu Panda franchise looks very likely, indeed.

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    Hellboy II: The Golden Army

    Tomatometer: 88%

    While previous summers saw sequelized blockbusters rake in the dough but fall far below Fresh on the Tomatometer (see last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), this summer boasted sequels aplenty that were also critically loved. Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army was one such movie, not only returning its beloved cigar-chomping hero to the screen, but improving on the first film in the process (Hellboy, 80 percent).

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    Iron Man

    Tomatometer: 93%

    While the summer of 2008 will be remembered for the domination of The Dark Knight, let’s not forget another comic book superhero that made his mark on critics and audiences: Iron Man. The Marvel character sprang to life in May, thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s witty star turn and Jon Favreau’s glossy direction. Just one point and about 40 reviews shy of The Dark Knight, Iron Man could even potentially catch up and surpass Batman on the Tomatometer…

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    The Dark Knight

    Tomatometer: 94%

    When Christopher Nolan rescued the oft-silly Batman franchise from campy irrelevance in 2005, critics took note: Batman Begins introduced a gloomier dark knight and went Certified Fresh at 85 percent on the Tomatometer. This summer’s eagerly anticipated The Dark Knight followed suit, and then some; it scored an impressive 94 percent on the Tomatometer and dominated the summer box office for weeks, breaking records — and expectations — left and right. Not bad for a comic book movie!

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    Tomatometer: 97%

    In grand Pixar tradition, Wall-E not only charmed the pants off of critics and audiences alike, it blasted its way to the top of the Tomatometer to become the best-reviewed film of the year so far. (Recent Pixar movies Ratatouille and The Incredibles also opened to critical acclaim and went on to become the best-reviewed wide releases of their respective years.) The tale of a lonely little robot is well positioned to win this year’s Golden Tomato Award…and if the Academy follows suit, Pixar might just have a few more of those gold statuettes to put on their mantle.

    Next: The 10 Worst Tomatometers of the Summer

    The 10 Worst Tomatometers of the Summer

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    Meet Dave

    Tomatometer: 20%

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Critics and audiences alike have been mourning the apparent passing of classic Eddie Murphy for several years now, citing the likes of The Adventures of Pluto Nash and Norbit as examples of the dismal turns his career has taken. Unfortunately, Meet Dave isn’t the movie that’s going to change that trend. Settling in at 20 percent on the Tomatometer, it sadly doesn’t qualify as the lowest-rated film in Murphy’s career, but most assert that the clever premise (devised by a Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumnus, Bill Corbett) gets bogged down by stale writing and sitcom-level humor. Meet Dave has its handful of moments, but they just weren’t enough to propel the movie out of our worst-reviewed list.

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    Clone Wars

    Tomatometer: 20%

    Intended to be an introduction to the TV series of the same name that will debut later this year, The Clone Wars might just have been the least anticipated “Star Wars film” ever released. After disappointing many a fan with the prequel trilogy, George Lucas came right back with this animated feature and failed to rally anyone but his most faithful of followers. To be fair, the movie does suffer from the fact that it was originally supposed to air as the first three episodes of the TV show, and as far as animation goes, The Clone Wars looks great for television but subpar for the big screen. Many critics seem to agree that it will do much better when it transitions to its half-hour episodes, but for now, the feature film debut sits at 20 percent on the Tomatometer, making it #7 in our list.

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    The Happening

    Tomatometer: 19%

    We were already becoming a little skeptical of M. Night Shyamalan after The Village underperformed and Lady in the Water downright flopped, but even as audiences grew disillusioned about the suspense director, few could have expected the depths to which he would fall with his latest, The Happening. The trailers were intriguing, especially considering this was Shyamalan’s first R-rated feature, but the overall premise of the film was kept secret fairly effectively, and with a couple of hits under Shyamalan’s belt, the hope was that this would be a return to form. Unfortunately, while it offered some of his trademark chills, Happening mostly fell flat, due to a poorly crafted script, some wooden acting, and what some ultimately deemed to be a silly premise. If this downward trend continues, Shyamalan may earn himself the title of “one-trick pony.”

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    Tomatometer: 16%

    Asian horror remakes are a dime a dozen in Hollywood these days, but that doesn’t stop enterprising directors and studios from consistently making them happen. Mirrors, originally a Korean film, is the latest of the appropriated imports, but with a respectable cast (Kiefer Sutherland, Amy Smart, Paula Patton) and an experienced horror director (Alexandre Aja — High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes) at the helm, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect a halfway decent frightfest. Unfortunately, the movie was dull, with few scares and an overly convoluted plot, thus earning it a 16 percent on the Tomatometer and a #6 spot on our Worst Reviewed list.

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    The Love Guru

    Tomatometer: 14%

    After doing mostly voice work as Shrek and appearing in a few film cameos, Mike Myers came back in The Love Guru with his first starring vehicle since The Cat in the Hat in ’03. Unfortunately, critics weren’t feeling the Love in his latest feature, complaining that the character didn’t work, that the writing was lazy, and that the jokes were juvenile and, even worse, simply not funny. All things considered, The Love Guru still performed better overall than the aforementioned Cat in the Hat, earning a 14 percent Tomatometer score to Cat‘s 12 percent, but it was enough to place it as the fifth worst-reviewed film of the summer.

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    Tomatometer: 14%

    Last summer’s Superbad was such a breakout hit, MGM decided to remake it for this summer season…only by “remake” we mean cop a poor imitation of that flick and just about every other college-set comedy ever made. Teen idol Drake Bell (of Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh fame), whose attempt at crossing over into “mature” roles began with this year’s inane Superhero Movie, dug himself even deeper into Rotten territory in College, which opened last week, the dumping ground of the summer season. Gross-out humor in the vein of Porky’s failed to impress critics, who found the teen buddy comedy to be overly vulgar, homophobic, and sexist — all of which might have been more acceptable if it were only funny.

    more info…

    Made of Honor

    Tomatometer: 12%

    After achieving big-screen success with 2007’s widely acclaimed Enchanted, Patrick Dempsey tried again to bank on his “McDreamy” persona in Made of Honor. Unfortunately, the movie felt just a little too familiar (My Best Friend’s Wedding, anyone?) to most of its viewers, and with nothing particularly unique or interesting to set it apart from its recycled plot, stale humor, and romantic comedy clichés, Made of Honor found its way to our worst-reviewed list for the summer. Scoring a dismal 12 percent on the Tomatometer and prompting such criticisms as “cookie-cutter” and “stew of mediocrity,” the movie is notable for, if nothing else, being the final film appearance of the late Sydney Pollack.

    more info…

    The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

    Tomatometer: 11%

    Seven years after its first sequel was released, the Mummy franchise returned this year with its third installment. While neither of the first two movies could be considered critical darlings themselves, Dragon Emperor brought the series to a new low, earning a paltry 11 percent on the Tomatometer, compared to 54 percent and 47 percent for its predecessors. Many cited the formulaic, poorly written script and the heavy use of CGI as reasons why Dragon Emperor ultimately fell flat. It’s difficult to go wrong when you’ve got Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, dragons, and abominable snowmen, but Tomb of the Dragon Emperor somehow managed to secure one of the lowest Tomatometers of any movie this summer.

    more info…

    Babylon A.D.

    Tomatometer: 4%

    You know you’re in for a bumpy ride when a director publicly denounces his own film, as Babylon A.D. helmer Mathieu Kassovitz did a week before its release. Once the world took a gander at the sci-fi actioner, it seemed to agree wholeheartedly. With unintentionally cheesy dialogue, poorly staged set pieces, and a silly, muddled plot, the Vin Diesel vehicle played exactly as many people expected — which might be good enough for Diesel fans, but certainly not for critics. Just how bad is Babylon A.D.? Were it not for two lone positive reviews — U.K. critics James Christopher of The Times and Xan Brooks of The Guardian — the flick would be looking at double zeroes on the Tomatometer.

    more info…

    Disaster Movie

    Tomatometer: 0%

    Speaking of zero percent Tomatometers…we’ve got Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, quite possibly the most reviled cinematic duo since Hitler and Riefenstahl. (Though Triumph of the Will would probably be Certified Fresh given enough reviews.) Friedberg’s and Seltzer’s long-standing assault on spoof comedy (and cinema, in general) appears to be hitting its stride with Disaster Movie, a film so hastily thrown together that it spoofs trailers, which currently holds a zero percent Tomatometer. This year has been rife with the goose eggs (Witless Protection, Deal, Strange Wilderness, One Missed Call), but this Tomatometer is especially important for Friedberg and Seltzer: after getting single-digit percentages on their previous movies, they’ve finally hit the coveted rock-bottom. Enjoy, guys, you’ve earned it.

    Next: The Best and Worst Box Office Earners of the Summer

    The Best and Worst Box Office Earners of the Summer

    While capturing both critical and commercial success seems to be as difficult an achievement as capturing lightning in a bottle (moreso for a summer blockbuster), the summer of 2008 saw an unusually high number of well-reviewed hit movies. Christopher Nolan’s grown-up superhero movie The Dark Knight struck that rare confluence of art and commerce, driving Bat-fans the world over into a ticket-buying Bat-frenzy, but it also earned raves and Oscar-buzz, and could end up one of the best-reviewed films of the year. Furthermore, The Dark Knight was in good company with its fellow top money-makers, as only two Top Ten films — the femme-driven event flick, Sex and the City: The Movie and Will Smith’s Hancock — earned a rotten Tomatometer rating.

    Top 10 Box Office Earners (Gross)

    1. The Dark Knight $493,671,047
    2. Iron Man $317,570,520

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the

    Crystal Skull

    4. Hancock $226,547,044
    5. Wall-E $216,798,080
    6. Kung Fu Panda $212,958,340
    7. Sex and the City $152,440,062

    The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

    9. The Incredible Hulk $134,426,930
    10. Wanted $133,822,865

    Bottom 10 Box Office Earners (Gross)

    *Films released prior to the week of August 29, 2008

    1. The Rocker $4,664,559
    2. Fly Me to the Moon $4,733,063
    3. The Longshots $5,149,624
    4. Vicky Cristina Barcelona $9,783,911
    5. Meet Dave $11,662,184
    6. Swing Vote $15,555,204
    7. Death Race $16,849,530
    8. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl $17,408,308
    9. The House Bunny $19,551,243
    10. The X-Files: I Want to Believe $20,750,074

    Next: Which Studio Came Out on Top?

    Which Studio Came Out on Top?

    1. Paramount
    Average Tomatometer: 71%
    Box office: $966 million

    Summer’s winner! Paramount is the only major studio to achieve more than one
    $200 million hit leading to the highest box office total, and it did so with
    the highest Tomatometer average (four of its five movies hit Certified Fresh
    status). The critics’ influence may be diminished during opening weekend, but
    here we see good
    reviews are indicating what summer movies will have positive
    word-of-mouth and staying power.




    Iron Man



    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull



    Kung Fu Panda



    Tropic Thunder



    The Love Guru



    2. Disney
    Average Tomatometer: 67%
    Box office: $376 million

    Disney has the least amount of movies, with two of them vastly underperforming
    (Swing Vote was a blip and Prince Caspian‘s gross is only half of The Lion,
    The Witch, and the Wardrobe
    ‘s). The silver lining: Wall-E is this year’s
    best-reviewed movie and has a strong chance of remaining so if Pixar’s past
    performance record is any indication.







    The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian



    Swing Vote



    3. Warner Bros.
    Average Tomatometer: 56%
    Box office: $1.02 billion

    The fact that Warner Bros. put out the summer’s most notorious bomb (Speed
    is easily offset by the enormous success of The Dark Knight. It’s
    become second-highest grossing movie off all time (and Certified Fresh to
    boot!), pushing WB over the $1 billion mark for the summer.




    The Dark Knight



    Sex and the City



    Get Smart



    Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (New Line)



    Speed Racer



    The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants 2



    Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (Picturehouse)



    Star Wars: The Clone Wars



    4. Universal
    Average Tomatometer: 53%
    Box office: $655 million

    Wanted gave Universal a surprise critical and commercial hit and Mamma Mia!
    has quietly become the highest grossing musical ever. Surprisingly, it was the
    superheroes that let the studio down, with both The Incredible Hulk and
    Hellboy falling shy of recovering their reported costs.







    The Incredible Hulk



    Mamma Mia!



    The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor



    Hellboy II: The Golden Army



    The Strangers



    Death Race



    Hamlet 2



    5. Sony
    Average Tomatometer: 40%
    Box office: $581 million

    Sony was in classic Hollywood mode this summer, relying on the stars like Will
    Smith, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell to draw crowds in. Behind the scenes, Judd Apatow proved
    reliable once more, producing the studio’s sole fresh movie.







    You Don’t Mess With the Zohan



    Step Brothers



    Pineapple Express



    Made of Honor



    The House Bunny



    6. Fox
    Average Tomatometer: 26%
    Box office: $250 million

    It was a brutal summer for Fox, which lacked a single fresh movie or $100
    million success. If Paramount is keeping its audience around with fresh movies,
    Fox proves the vice versa: resoundingly rotten ones can repel audiences.




    What Happens in Vegas



    The Happening



    Space Chimps






    The X-Files: I Want to Believe



    Babylon A.D.



    Meet Dave



    The Rocker



    Next: RT’s Editors Pick Their Favorite Films of the Summer

    RT Editors’ Favorite Films of the Summer

    Here in the RT office we all had our favorite films this summer. And we didn’t always agree with the Tomatometer. But hey, that’s what favorite means — rhyme or reason aside, these movies spoke to us. Below, our editors share their picks!

    Join in below and let us know what you think were the best and worst films of the summer season.

    The Dark Knight, picked by Editor in Chief Matt Atchity

    My pick for best movie of the summer? I’m going to have to go with The Dark Knight. It’s not perfect; Bale’s Bat-voice is a bit much after a while, and it runs perilously close to overstaying its welcome, but those (very minor) complaints aside, it’s a fantastic film. As with Batman Begins, this film is as much a psychological crime drama as it is a comic book movie, and continues to take a sort of realistic look at the idea of a costumed vigilante. And if Batman Begins showed us a plausible scenario that could result in the creation of the Batman, then The Dark Knight shows us how the world would respond; the citizens of Gotham both embrace and condemn him. But if the Batman represents the extreme avatar of order amidst chaos, then it’s inevitable that someone will rise to Batman’s challenge. Which brings me of course to the Joker. Heath Ledger‘s Joker is simply the best comic book villain ever to menace the screen. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that Ledger’s Joker is going to stick with us as an iconic villain, along the lines of Hannibal Lecter, Darth Vader, and Norman Bates. It’s truly a tragedy that Ledger isn’t with us anymore, if for no other reason than that he’ll never experience the acclaim he so richly deserves.

    Iron Man, picked by RT Australia Editor Joanna Cohen

    I first loved Robert Downey Jr. in Less than Zero as a spoiled new romantic with deep, glassy eyes and a pastel blazer. Since 1987 I have remained devoted through every dive of his cardiac-like celebrity Tomatometer graph. Iron Man is Robert Downey Jr. and vice versa. The flawed genius, the troubled vulnerability…I adored every misogynistic, world-dominating, politically incorrect moment. He shone. And someone should give Gwyneth an award for best acting of a pencil skirt.

    Gonzo, picked by Editor Sara Schieron

    Telling you it inspired my summer reading list will make Alex Gibney‘s Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson sound a lot less hot than it is. A doc about Hunter S. Thompson, the miserable genius, self-titled “Dr.” and inventor of Gonzo Journalism, Gonzo paints a crystal portrait of an era and a man that in some light looks golden and in others looks leaden. Thompson and his stories teeter between snark and melancholy, fascinating always, by page or by screen.

    Mongol, picked by
    Community Manager Ryan Fujitani

    This summer brought us several wildly entertaining blockbusters, but the one movie that got me hitting up Wikipedia and updating my “countries to visit” list was Mongol, a moderately successful indie biopic chronicling the life and times of Genghis Khan. It may have had something to do with my fascination for ancient cultures and fallen empires, but Mongol grabbed me from the start and wrapped me up in its epic story until the credits rolled. While the movie isn’t without its problems (questionable editing choices, a somewhat abrupt ending), the cinematography was appropriately gorgeous, the action was visceral and cathartic, and Mr. Khan himself was fascinating to watch. Oh, and it inspired me to grow a beard and move every three months.

    Pineapple Express, picked by Editor Alex Vo

    The Dark Knight‘s better-crafted, and WALL-E got me a little teary, but I haven’t had as much plain ol’ movie fun all year than watching Pineapple Express the first two times. (Yeah, here’s that rare movie that’s beckoned me back to the theater multiple times.) The movie’s alternately breezy and intense, while director David Gordon Green‘s loving care towards fringe characters makes Pineapple Express feel earthy and organic, a rarity for so-called stoner flicks.

    Wall-E, picked by Senior Editor Tim Ryan

    Is WALL-E more poignant than City Lights? Is it a more potent allegory than Metropolis? Is it as powerful a reflection on what it is to be a cognizant being than 2001? Time will tell if Pixar’s latest marvel is mentioned alongside those classics in the cinematic canon, but let the debate begin here. Achingly romantic, darkly funny, and blessed with some of the most remarkable visuals ever committed to celluloid, WALL-E is one for the ages — and great summer fun to boot.

    Speed Racer, picked by Senior Editor Jen Yamato

    This particular pick is bound to stir some controversy (bring it on, haters!), but so be it: Speed Racer was my favorite summer flick of 2008. Inventive, innovative, intriguing, spectacular — the Wachowski brothers’ live-action, anime-based adventure is everything I hoped it would be, and more. It’s a “kid flick” I’d have enjoyed as much as a tyke as I do today, a film that transcends the medium as we’ve known it, bursting through traditional boundaries of moviemaking to create an entirely absorbing, eye-popping, immersive alternate reality. It is the movie equivalent of mixing Coca Cola and Pop Rocks. Or like BeDazzling your cerebral cortex. Which would be awesome, were it only possible…

    Want to browse more features? We’ve got tons archived right here!

    Studios dumped out their usual trash over Labor Day weekend and moviegoers responded by avoiding most of them. That allowed Robert Downey Jr. to rock both the opening and closing ceremonies of the summer movie season as Tropic Thunder retained the number one spot for the third consecutive weekend. Five films opened or expanded nationally and were scattered all across the Top 20, most with weak results. Meanwhile, The Dark Knight moved up a notch in its seventh session and broke through the $500M mark over the long holiday weekend putting an end to what turned out to be a better-than-expected summer box office.

    Still ahead of the pack for a third time, Tropic Thunder grossed an estimated $14.3M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend and lifted its impressive total to $86.6M after 18 days of release. The Ben Stiller-directed war comedy saw its three-day take of $11.5M drop only 29% from last weekend and joined the Batman juggernaut as this year’s only films to rank number one for three or more weekends. The $90M DreamWorks production is on course to end its run in the vicinity of $110M for Paramount which coincidentally also kicked off the summer blockbuster season at the top in May with Iron Man.

    Leading all new releases, but lacking muscle, was Vin Diesel’s return to the action genre with Babylon A.D. which bowed to an estimated $12M over the long holiday weekend. Fox’s latest clunker enjoyed the widest launch by far among debuting titles but generated a lackluster $3,540 average over four days from 3,390 theaters. During the Friday-to-Sunday portion, the R-rated thriller grossed $9.6M for a weak $2,822 average. Babylon A.D. capped off a summer that the studio would like to forget following such misfires as Meet Dave, The Rocker, and The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Some were not costly films and others Fox just distributed for a fee, but the studio still failed to score a $100M+ summer grosser for the first time in eleven years.

    The comic book overachiever The Dark Knight smashed through the $500M mark and placed third in its seventh weekend with an estimated $11M. Warner Bros. bumped its stunning cume up to $504.7M and surpassed the quintuple century barrier on Sunday in its 45th day of release. The new Batman epic has now sold approximately 70 million tickets beating out Spider-Man which snapped up roughly 69 million stubs in 2002. Knight is on a trajectory to end its North American run with about $525M translating to around 74 million admissions. Overseas, The Joker’s antics attracted an estimated $19.2M boosting the international total to $417M and the global gross to an eye-popping $921.7M. That was enough for The Dark Knight to break into the all-time top ten list of worldwide blockbusters. Shattering the $1 billion mark is a virtual guarantee.

    Sony’s sorority comedy The House Bunny ranked fourth for the weekend with an estimated $10.2M over four days in its second term. The Anna Faris starrer has grossed a solid $29.8M in 11 days and could finish in the neighborhood of $45M. The budget was only $25M.

    Overture Films saw a respectable debut for its Don Cheadle political thriller Traitor which bowed to an estimated $10M over the long weekend and $11.5M in the six days since opening on Wednesday. The PG-13 pic landed in 2,054 theaters and averaged a good $4,869 over four days representing the second best average among films in wide release. Reviews were somewhat positive.

    Jason Statham’s latest action offering Death Race fell to sixth grossing an estimated $8.2M over the long weekend pushing the 11-day total to $25M. The $45M Universal release should end up with $35-40M.

    Moviegoers finally said no to spoof kings Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg as their newest comedy Disaster Movie flopped taking in an estimated $6.9M over four days. Opening in 2,642 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a weak $2,604 for Lionsgate. Disaster‘s three-day bow of $5.8M was less than one-third of what the filmmakers saw on opening weekend for their most recent hits Meet the Spartans and Epic Movie which both debuted at number one with respective takes of $18.5M and $18.6M.

    Two hit comedies followed. Universal’s musical sensation Mamma Mia! sang to the tune of $5.8M, according to estimates, and raised its cume to $132.9M. The studio released a new sing-along version in selected theaters on Friday which helped give sales a boost over the holiday weekend. A final domestic tally of $140-145M could result for the $65M songfest. Sony’s stoner hit Pineapple Express collected an estimated $4.5M and took its sum to $80.9M. The final gross for the $27M production should reach $85-90M.

    Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona popped back into the top ten with an estimated $3.5M over four days. The MGM release has now taken in $13.3M which is an impressive number for the veteran filmmaker. The Javier Bardem tale also generated the best average among all movies in wide release. Look for a final take at or slightly north of $20M.

    With seven other comedies ahead of them on the charts, two new R-rated laughers stumbled in wide release this weekend grossing less than $3M each over four days. MGM’s teen pic College failed miserably with an estimated $2.6M from 2,123 locations for a dismal $1,241 four-day average. Focus expanded its expensive Sundance acquisition Hamlet 2 from 103 to 1,597 theaters in the second weekend and walked away with just $2.1M, according to estimates, for a pitiful four-day average of just $1,330. Cume for the Steve Coogan pic is an embarrassing $3.1M which will not help the distributor recoup the $10M it paid for the indie comedy. Hamlet 2 is shaping up to be this year’s Happy, Texas which Miramax bought for around $10M at 1999’s Sundance but grossed a measly $1.9M from 146 theaters in commercial release that fall.

    The top ten films grossed an estimated $86.4M over the Friday-to-Monday span which was down 24% from last year when Halloween opened in the top spot with $30.6M; and off 3% from 2006 when Invincible stayed at number one with $15.4M in its sophomore frame.

    Bit of a wild slate for the Review Revue crew this week.
    Five movies — two getting decent reviews, two negligibly screened for critics,
    and one so reviled that it’s been disowned by its own director. Join us in the video below
    as RT EIC Matt, editor Jen, and creative director Gabi discuss the critical
    noise behind Babylon
    , Hamlet 2, Disaster
    , Traitor,
    and College.

    And with that, the violent, explosion-obsessed summer season comes to a close. Join us next time as we talk about the lone upcoming release, the violent and explody Bangkok Dangerous.

    So the big movies out this week are Vin Diesel-powered Babylon A.D., yet another Judd Apatow-produced comedy about immature losers – Step Brothers with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly – and the 90s coming-of-age teen drama The Wackness, starring a bong-chugging, Olsen twin-snogging knight of the realm, Sir Ben Kingsley. What did the UK critics have to say?

    Denounced by its director, the Vin Diesel sci-fi action flick Babylon A.D. flops into the cinema with UK critics mirroring the US critics’ response, pretty much universally denouncing it for its indecipherable plot, tacked on action sequences, and wholesale shameless plundering of sci-fi flicks Children of Men and Blade Runner. With the Tomatometer tallying the UK response, Babylon A.D. has shot from a pathetic 0% to a measly 7%. When one of the only positive review reads, “It’s utter codswallop, yet enjoyable if you unplug your brain.” (The Times), you know you’ve got a stinker on your hands.

    Will Ferrell teams up with John C. Reilly again, and with their last effort Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby garnering a respectable 73% on the Tomatometer, the standards are set high, but can they repeat their success with Step Brothers? It’s had a mixed response from the UK scribes, with the general consensus being that if you like the relentless, absurd and puerile shtick peddled by Farrell and Reilly in Anchorman, Talledega Nights and Semi-Pro, then you’ll fall for Step Brothers too. On the other hand, if the sight of two grown men behaving like 12-year-olds, and sporting prosthetic testicles, seems a bit infantile to you, then steer well clear. Step Brothers is currently the black sheep of the family at 53% on the Tomatometer.

    Is 1994 too recent to be considered a period piece? The critics didn’t think so with most UK critics rating The Wackness fresh, mainly for the ever-versatile Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of the bong-smoking, long haired, last hippy on the block, Dr Squires, but also for its touching and quirky story of adolescence and love in mid-90s New York. The performances save the movie from its meandering, and at times soppy, sauntering pace, and at 67% on the Tomatometer, it has just enough Dopeness to stop it truly being The Wackness.

    Also worth checking out…
    Badlands. Terrence Malick’s 1973 debut gets a limited re-release. This masterpiece is worth seeking out. Currently 100% on the Tomatometer.

    Times and Winds. Lilting and meditative, Reha Erdem’s story of three adolescents in rural Turkey captivates with intimate details and long takes of the endless countryside. 83% on the Tomatometer.

    Quote of the Week
    “A sci-fi actioner that sees bald hero Vin Diesel back, stomping around the future like a small, gun-toting penis.”
    Babylon A.D. – Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro.

    A better-than-expected summer box office comes to a close over the four-day Labor Day holiday frame with the release of four new films plus the national expansion of a fifth title. Pushing and shoving their way into the multiplexes are Vin Diesel‘s action entry Babylon A.D., the spoof comedy Disaster Movie, Don Cheadle‘s spy thriller Traitor, and the raunchy comedy College. Going nationwide after a mediocre limited bow last week is the indie comedy Hamlet 2. The final weekend of summer usually finds moviegoers playing catch-up and flocking to big hits they just haven’t had time to see yet. Some of the more popular holdover pics should continue to see solid numbers including heavyweight champ The Dark Knight which will crash through the $500M barrier this weekend.

    It seems like every four years we get the Summer Olympics, a presidential election, and … a Vin Diesel action movie? It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. The rugged hero’s last action vehicle let loose on the American public was The Chronicles of Riddick which attacked theaters in June 2004 before the Athens Games and John Kerry’s Boston convention. The star of The Pacifier returns to familiar territory with the sci-fi flick Babylon A.D. which will target Diesel’s usual core audience of young males. The commercially-friendly PG-13 rating will allow the pic to reach young teen boys at a time when the main action offerings Death Race and Tropic Thunder carry R ratings.

    By no means is Babylon a strong option though. Even its director Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika) wants nothing to do with the final product. The marketing push has been ramped up in the last week so awareness is increasing and television spots are highlighting the special effects which are not all too impressive, but good enough for this time of year when standards are at a 52-week low. The combination of a brand name star returning to his bread and butter genre with a rating that will allow all of the target audience in should make for what could be a number one debut. Although Fox has had by far the worst summer of any major studio, it can at least end the season breathing a sigh of relief salvaging its first and only summer weekend at number one. Babylon A.D. launches very wide in over 3,200 theaters on Friday and could generate around $17M over the four-day weekend.

    Gerard Depardieu and Vin Diesel in Babylon A.D.

    Hollywood loves 14-year-olds. Make a comedy spoofing current pop culture hits and they’re guaranteed to bike their way to the local multiplex. Lionsgate’s Disaster Movie will be targeting these young teens with the latest PG-13 concoction of the successful spoof genre. The target audience probably won’t even mind that fun is being poked not at disaster films, but at this summer’s bigger hits like Indiana Jones, The Incredible Hulk, and Sex and the City. Look for sales to come from the same moviegoers that drove March’s Superhero Movie to a $9.5M bow and January’s Meet the Spartans to a $18.5M debut. Disaster will have a few competitors to deal with also aiming for teens so the pie will be split. Attacking 2,642 locations, Disaster Movie might take in about $12M over four days.

    Disaster Movie

    Overture makes an aggressive bid for adult audiences with its espionage thriller Traitor starring Don Cheadle as a spy accused of switching sides. The PG-13 film will play mostly to older moviegoers and is trying to sell itself with a Bourne Ultimatum feel. Cashing in at the box office will be tough since Cheadle, as well-respected as he is, is not really a major draw when anchoring a film. Co-stars Guy Pierce and Jeff Daniels don’t add much bang either. Plus the subject matter is very deep for the end of summer when ticket buyers are not looking to do much thinking. Reviews have been mixed with good marks for the lead’s performance, but harsh words for everything else. However, most films in the top ten this weekend will play to the under-30 crowd so an opportunity could present itself. Already playing in 2,054 theaters after an early Wednesday launch, Traitor could capture around $8M over four days and $10M across six days.

    Don Cheadle and Jeff Daniels in Traitor

    Yet another comedy tries to squeeze into the marketplace just ahead of students returning to classes. MGM’s R-rated College is a raunchy tale of three high school seniors caught up in pledging fun at a local university. Older teens and young adults will be the primary audience here with zero interest coming from the over-25 set. R-rated comedies with little to no starpower that are aimed at this crowd usually struggle at the box office unless there is some sort of wild buzz spreading. That’s not the case here. Overall excitement is low and there are no elements here to truly draw in a paying crowd. A brief theatrical run will set it up for a DVD release where kids on their holiday breaks will catch it on their lazy days off. Opening in about 2,000 locations, College could gross about $6M over the Friday-to-Monday period.

    Following its underwhelming premiere in limited release, the Focus comedy Hamlet 2 expanded nationwide on Wednesday hoping word-of-mouth will help sell it to young adults. The film’s Sundance buzz is wearing out fast and a market already crowded with R-rated comedies is making it tough for the Steve Coogan laugher to stand out. Its $4,271 average from 103 sites last weekend was not even good enough for the Top 20 and it makes for a tough jumping off point into this holiday frame. The four new titles will make it even harder to compete. Now rocking in 1,530 playdates, Hamlet 2 may bank roughly $5M over the long weekend putting the cume at $6M.

    Catherine Keener and Steve Coogan in Hamlet 2

    After two weeks on top, the war comedy Tropic Thunder is likely to lose its hold atop the charts. The Ben Stiller action pic showed strength in its sophomore frame sliding by just 37% and this weekend it should still collect respectable grosses. Its four-day figure may drop by 15% from last weekend’s three-day take. That would give Paramount around $14M and a 20-day tally of $86M.

    With more comedies hitting the multiplexes, a substantial decline for The House Bunny is likely to occur. Following its strong debut, the Sony release’s four-day figure could fall 30% to about $10M and push the 11-day cume to $30M. Universal’s Jason Statham actioner Death Race will also fall sharply in its second round thanks to the arrival of Vin Diesel. Look for a 40% drop to $7.5M pushing the total to $25M after 11 days.

    The Dark Knight may actually see its grosses rise this weekend. People who never got around to seeing it, plus those just aching to see it again, will line up in strong numbers over the final summer weekend. Late summer’s top blockbusters often see their four-day Labor Day weekend grosses inch up over the previous frame. Last year, The Bourne Ultimatum increased by 7% while the previous year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest climbed 24%. The Caped Crusader could rise by 15% and capture around $12M across the Friday-to-Monday span for its seventh session in the top five. That would allow The Dark Knight to shatter the $500M mark on Sunday after just 45 days of release and finish the holiday frame at $505M.

    LAST YEAR: Rob Zombie‘s new take on the horror classic Halloween set a new Labor Day opening weekend record by scaring up a sturdy $30.6M over four days leading the overall marketplace to its highest gross ever for the summer-ending holiday frame. The MGM release went on to finish with an impressive $58.3M. The teen comedy Superbad dropped to second with $15.9M in its third lap. Focus bowed the ping pong comedy Balls of Fury in third with $14.1M and $17.1M across its five-day opening frame. A $32.9M final would result. Rounding out the top five were The Bourne Ultimatum and Rush Hour 3 with $13.4M and $10.8M, respectively. Fox’s action entry Death Sentence bowed in eighth with just $5.3M on its way to a weak $9.5M.

    Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

    This week at the movies, we’ve got post-apocalyptic transport (Babylon
    , starring
    Vin Diesel and
    Michelle Yeoh), international intrigue (Traitor,
    starring Don Cheadle and
    Guy Pearce), a high school musical (Hamlet 2,
    starring Steve Coogan and
    Catherine Keener), a disaster spoof (Disaster
    , starring
    Kim Kardasian and
    Carmen Electra), and fraternity hi-jinks
    (College, starring
    Drake Bell). What do the critics have to say?

    You can guess that a movie may not be worth your money when its director is
    trashing it, and that’s the case with the post-apocalyptic thriller
    Helmer Mathieu Kassovitz has gone on record as saying this Vin Diesel-starrer
    isn’t very good, and the critics are inclined to agree with him. Diesel plays a
    mercenary who’s tasked with transporting a valuable package from Eastern Europe
    to New York and immediately gets more than he bargained for. The pundits say Babylon
    has moments of visual invention that are resoundingly negated by an
    indecipherable storyline, so-so action scenes, and shopworn tropes from other
    dystopian sci-fi flicks. At five percent on the Tomatometer, Babylon A.D.
    is shaping up to be one of the year’s worst-reviewed films.

    “Put this up your nose and get your heiny to Mars.”

    Don Cheadle is one of contemporary cinema’s most dynamic performers, and he’s
    been able to inject a healthy dose of thoughtful politics into his roles without
    compromising any dramatic thrust. However, critics say
    is caught
    between those two impulses, and as a result, doesn’t fully cohere. Cheadle stars
    as a former Special Ops officer who’s suspected by an FBI agent (Guy Pearce) of
    being involved with terrorist groups; a high-stakes game of international
    cat-and-mouse-ensues. The scribes say Traitor is smarter than your
    average spy thriller/action flick, with an intriguing take on the post-9/11
    political landscape. But many also feel the film doesn’t explore its themes
    deeply enough, and it features a plot that’s more twisty than suspenseful. At 54
    percent on the Tomatometer, this Traitor tries to play both sides, but
    comes up short.

    “I’ll tell you one more time: Umbrellas are your friends.”

    Steve Coogan is a sly devil; alternately calculating and ingratiating, he’s a
    comic actor of rare craftiness. And critics say he’s the best thing about
    Hamlet 2
    , an uneven but often hilarious musical comedy. Coogan stars as a failed
    thespian turned high school drama teacher whose personal and professional life
    is in disarray — until he decides to mount a controversial musical sequel to Hamlet
    that includes both time travel and Jesus. The pundits say Hamlet 2
    doesn’t often make the most of its admittedly great premise, and its satirical
    aspirations often miss the mark, but Coogan’s fearless, guileless performance
    helps sell it — he’s unafraid to make a fool of himself, and his energy is
    infectious. At 61 percent on the Tomatometer, Hamlet 2 is more to be than
    not to be. (Check out our countdown of the best Shakespeare adaptations, as well
    as “The Play’s the Thing,” a list of great movies about theater life.)

    “Sexy Jesus needs a pull-my-finger gag.”

    It’s the dog days of summer, and we’ve got not one but two unscreened/embargoed
    movies this week: Disaster
    . Written and directed
    by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Disaster Movie movie spoofs (or,
    perhaps more accurately, references) such disaster-themed thrillers as Juno,
    , and Sex and the City. College (which shares only a
    title with the Buster Keaton classic) stars Drake Bell as a guy who attends a
    wild frat party during his freshman orientation; wacky misadventures with booze
    and babes ensue. Hey kids, it’s time to guess those Tomatometers! (And be sure
    check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run through the history of
    the spoof movie.)

    “They tried to make us shoot a funny movie, but we said no, no, no.”

    Also opening this week in limited release:

    Day of Wrath, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1943 masterwork about witch trials in
    16th century Denmark, is at 100 percent.

    Takashi Miike’s
    Sukiyaki Western Django
    , a visceral, bizarro mash-up of
    Spaghetti Western and samurai movie tropes, is at 68 percent (check out RT’s
    exclusive clip

    Year of the Fish, a rotoscopped Asian-American Cinderella story set in
    contemporary New York, is at 53 percent.

    Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!, about the wacky misadventures of
    four friends at spring break, is at 21 percent.

    “Tarantino’s in this movie with a crappy accent? La la la…”

    Recent Don Cheadle Movies:
    69% — Darfur Now (2007)
    70% — Oceans Thirteen (2007)
    64% — Reign Over Me (2007)
    81% — Talk to Me (2007)
    57% — The Dog Problem (2006)