This week, the Rotten Tomatoes Show will be looking at the movies that opened over the weekend, including Couples Retreat, Bronson, and An Education, with help from you (the Rotten Tomatoes community), the Current TV community, and the viewers of the show. The cutoff for webcam reviews has already passed (midnight on Sunday), but the good news is that you can still contribute your Haiku Reviews of the last movie you saw. In order to submit your beautiful Haikus, click here.

Otherwise, be sure to tune in to our show this Thursday (10:30pm on Current TV), and if you missed last week’s episode, you can either download the podcast on iTunes, watch it on Hulu, or watch it here:

Couples ruled the box office as Universal’s
Couples Retreat

took top honors at the box office this weekend. But the real story was the
low-budget horror entry from Paramount,
, which crashed the top five from only 159 theaters.

Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Kristen Bell and the rest of the ensemble cast of
Couples Retreat

landed, as expected, in the number one spot at the North American box office
this weekend. The tale of four couples going through intense comical therapy
grossed an estimated $35.3M this weekend from 3,000 theaters for a per screen
average of $11,780. If that number holds, it would be the sixth highest opening
weekend for the month of October, just ahead of a quadrilogy of Saw
films. Poor reviews didn’t hurt the film as its well-known cast certainly
provided enough star power to make it the top choice for audiences. That and
being the only wide release this weekend as other studios opted to sit this
weekend out.[rtimage]MapID=10010502&MapTypeID=2&photo=3&legacy=1[/rtimage]Falling
a very reasonable 39% to second were the hunters of the living dead in
. The
Sony release brought in another $15M this weekend, according to estimates,
bringing its total to $47.8M. Look for a final total in the $90-100M range.
Dropping a very slim 24% in its fourth lap was the animated 3D adventure

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
. The flying food flick ate up an
estimated $12M this weekend bringing its cume to $96.2M. $150M is certainly
within its reach[rtimage]MapID=1207888&MapTypeID=2&photo=80&legacy=1[/rtimage]In
fourth place this weekend, families continued to enjoy

Toy Story & Toy Story 2 (3D)
as the double feature brought in $7.7M,
according to estimates, a fall of only 39% from last weekend. Impressive
considering the number of years the two titles have been available on DVD. But
the lure of 3D and the chance to see a preview for Toy Story 3 has opened
the film to a whole new generation of moviegoers. Its cume from the rerelease
stands at $22.7M.

Storming into the top five was the horror film
which grossed an estimated $7M from only 159 for a per screen
average of an astounding $44,440. The film, which cost a reported $11,000 to
produce, has been gaining momentum with TV ads showing the audience reaction to
what they’re seeing on screen, making people believe they’re in for a true
scare. Do we have another Blair Witch Project on our hands? Almost exactly 10
years ago that low-budget horror film exploded onto screens grossing $1.5 from
only 27 theaters in its opening weekend, giving it a per screen average of
$56,002. Two weeks later it expanded nationwide and made $29.2M for a per screen
average of $26,528 and become a cultural phenomenon. Already in its third
weekend, Paranormal Activity is rolling out slower, but word-of-mouth is making
this a must-see event.

In sixth place was the Bruce Willis sci-fi pic

which fell 43% in its third weekend to and estimated $4.1M. The film has grossed
a disappointing $32.5M and seems headed for the DVD rack soon. Falling into
seventh place in its second weekend was the Ricky Gervais dramedy
The Invention of
which took in an estimated $3.4M, a drop of 52% from last weekend.
Cume now stands at $12.7M. Good reviews haven’t been helping the British
comedian cross over into North American success. Look for the film to end up
with a final gross in the $20-25M range.[rtimage]MapID=1207968&MapTypeID=2&photo=6&legacy=1[/rtimage]Eighth
place belonged to Drew Barrymore and the women of
Whip It
which fell
40% in its second weekend to an estimated $2.8M. Its cume stands at only $8.7M
and won’t make too much more before hitting the DVD shelves. In ninth place was
was the latest from documentarian Michael Moore,
Capitalism: A
Love Story
, which made an estimated $2.7M, a 39% decline from last
weekend. The total for the film now stands at $9.1M. Rounding out the top 10 was
Fame which fell 45% in its third outing to an estimated $2.5M, bringing its cume
to $20M.[rtimage]MapID=1200869&MapTypeID=2&photo=14&legacy=1[/rtimage]The top
ten films grossed $92.6M which was up 14% from last year when
Beverly Hills
remained in the top spot in its second weekend with $17.5M;
and up 15% from 2007 when
Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?
debuted at number one with $21.3M.

Author: Sujit Chawla, Box Office Guru!

This week at the movies brings only one wide release: Couples Retreat, starring Vince Vaughn and Kristen Bell in a comedy about a group of friends in marriage counseling in a tropical locale. What do the critics have to say?


Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat contains some of the funniest actors in the business, and is set in a lush island paradise. Sounds like the recipe for a good time, right? Unfortunately, the critics say Couples Retreat is essentially a series of gags sorely in need of some over-arching comic discipline. Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell star as a couple whose relationship is in trouble, so they invite a group of married friends (including Vince Vaughn, Jon Farveau, Kristen Davis, and Malin Ackerman) to a resort for their counseling sessions — and it turns out the whole gang is required to undergo treatment as well. Hilarity ensues. Or, as the pundits say, it doesn’t; the script doesn’t give its talented actors much to do, and so despite the occasionally funny line, the characters are too underdeveloped for much comedic momentum to build. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Vaughn’s best-reviewed films, as well as director Peter Billingsley‘s Five Favorite Films).

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Damned United, starring Michael Sheen as Brian Clough, the legendary manager of the English soccer team Leeds United, is at 91 percent.

  • Good Hair, a documentary in which Chris Rock explores complex relationship between African Americans and their hair, is at 88 percent.

  • An Education, starring Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan in a Nick Hornby-scripted drama about an ambitious young woman whose life changes when she falls for an older man, is at 83 percent.

  • The Yes Men Fix the World, a gonzo documentary starring the titular political pranksters, is at 81 percent.

  • Araya, a rediscovered 1959 drama about menial laborers in Venezuela, is at 80 percent.

  • Bronson, a dark comedy about the famous jailbird of the same name, is at 74 percent.

  • Peter and Vandy, a dramedy that follows a young couple in various stages of their relationship, is at 64 percent.

  • Adventures of Power, starring Ari Gold and Michael McKean in an indie comedy about a wannabe air-drummer, is at 17 percent.

  • Free Style, starring High School Musical‘s Corbin Bleu as an aspiring motocross racer, is at 11 percent.

  • Vince Vaughn

    Vegas, martinis, and the words “baby” and “money” helped launch Vince Vaughn‘s film career — and helped established him as an extraordinarily compelling cinematic scoundrel, a role he’s played repeatedly over the last decade and change. But that isn’t all Vaughn can do, as he’s proven while assembling an admirably eclectic filmography, moving from comedy to horror to action thrillers and back again, and sharing screens with everyone from Richard Attenborough to Jennifer Lopez in the process. This weekend, Vaughn reunites with his old partner Jon Favreau in Couples Retreat, and to celebrate, we decided to revisit his best-reviewed films, Total Recall style!

    As always, we let the Tomatometer do the sorting for us, and although it did the easy work, tossing out the obvious rotten flicks (bye bye, The Break-Up), we still had to make a few judgment calls on roles that, though memorable, still amounted to cameos (adieu, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Into the Wild, and Anchorman). What we were finally left with was a list that we think captures the breadth of Vaughn’s filmography while limiting it to the movies that gave him a healthy amount of screentime. And with that, let’s dispense with the formalities and get down to the films, shall we? Ladies and gents, the best of Vince Vaughn!


    10. The Cell

    Vaughn received second billing to Jennifer Lopez in Tarsem Singh’s directorial debut, but both of them (along with Vincent D’Onofrio) took a back seat to the incredible special effects in 2000’s The Cell — not to mention the stupendously grisly violence that alternately made critics think (Nick Davis called it “amazing, courageous, and thoroughly dark”) and run screaming for the aisles (ViewLondon’s Matthew Turner pronounced it “bad in so many ways that it’s difficult to know where to begin”). Ultimately, this tale of a child psychologist who has to enter the mind of a depraved serial killer to save the life of his latest victim wasn’t one of the year’s biggest critical winners, but it broke $100 million at the box office — and it gave Vaughn a chance to flex some dramatic muscle in an effects-heavy thriller completely devoid of dinosaurs.


    9. The Lost World: Jurassic Park

    Vaughn’s first major role came in Swingers, a film with a budget of $250,000. His next movie was a bit of a step up: 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park boasted a $73 million bankroll, not to mention Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair and a cast including such famous names as Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, and Lord Richard Attenborough. Of course, Lost World wasn’t greeted with quite the same critical reception enjoyed by Swingers, but on the other hand, it did make over $600 million at the box office — and it featured dozens of awesome-looking CGI dinosaurs, which makes up for any critical brickbats, or the fact that Vaughn’s character is a knuckleheaded environmentalist who’s more concerned about saving giant carnivores than his own traveling companions. Looking Closer’s Jeffrey Overstreet summed it all up succinctly when he wrote, “If you liked Jurassic Park, you’ll probably like this one a little less. What the first film did poorly, this film does worse.”


    8. A Cool, Dry Place

    Based on Michael Grant Jaffe’s novel Dance Real Slow, 1998’s A Cool, Dry Place broke Vaughn’s string of rapscallions and ne’er-do-wells and gave him the first thoroughly sympathetic role of his career: Russell Durrell, a young lawyer struggling through single fatherhood after his wife (Monica Potter) abandons him and their five-year-old son (Bobby Moat). Despite a cast that also included Joey Lauren Adams, Place barely squeaked its way into theaters, grossing a few thousand dollars during a one-week run — and though many critics rolled their eyes at the film’s leisurely pace and heavy melodrama (Filmcritic’s Christopher Null accused the plot of “just [sitting] there like a stuffed monkey”), they were matched by scribes such as Sandra Contreras of TV Guide, who wrote, “Its heart is in the right place, but this sweet drama just doesn’t build enough true drama from its slender premise. That said, it’s not bad enough to merit the kind of stealth release its studio has imposed on it.”


    7. Old School

    After 2000’s The Cell, Vaughn was relatively quiet for a few years; although he appeared in a pair of major releases (Domestic Disturbance and Made, both released in 2001), he spent much of his time in films whose appeal was more, uh, selective (The Prime Gig, I Love Your Work). It took another testosterone-heavy ensemble comedy to remind audiences what made the Swingers star famous — and okay, so Old School ended up being stolen by Will Ferrell, but Vaughn got his share of laughs, too, and it foreshadowed his funny bit parts in Anchorman and Starsky and Hutch. A not inconsiderable number of critics dismissed Old School‘s raunchy lowbrow humor, but the majority agreed with Cinerina’s Karina Montgomery, who gasped, “I can’t believe it, but I want to see it again.”


    6. Clay Pigeons

    After making a splash with Swingers, Vaughn hit the ground running, booking roles in several years’ worth of big-budget productions, including 1997’s Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World, and the costly Jennifer Lopez flop The Cell. Between the tentpoles, however, Vaughn hadn’t lost his taste for the odd lower-profile project — like Clay Pigeons, a Ridley Scott-produced black comedy about a drifter (Vaughn) who uses his imagined friendship with a casual acquaintance (Joaquin Phoenix) as the impetus for a homicidal, Throw Momma from the Train-style “favor.” Playing a charming, murderous lunatic helped prep Vaughn for the starring role in Gus Van Sant’s Psycho remake — and while Pigeons didn’t make much of an impression at the box office, it earned the admiration of critics like the Palo Alto Weekly’s Jeanne Aufmuth, who wrote, “This is not your classic whodunit. It’s blacker,funnier, and edgier.”

    Warning: NSFW — language.


    5. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

    Vaughn has an admirably varied resume, having done everything from thrillers to dramas to comedies, but if forced to choose, most people would probably say he works most successfully as half of a comic duo. It stands to reason, then, that 2004’s Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story — which pits Vaughn against a hilariously over-the-top Ben Stiller in a fight to the finish to be decided by bouncy rubber balls traveling at punishingly high speeds. The idea of a movie about grown men playing professional dodge ball is funny all by itself, and when you have the added benefit of a cast stuffed with funny supporting players (including Jason Bateman, Gary Cole, Stephen Root, and Rip Torn), you’re almost assured of a movie that’ll make at least two-thirds of its audience laugh — and, as it turns out, 70 percent of the world’s top critics. Of course, there were a few curmudgeons turned off by Dodgeball‘s broad humor, but most reviews echoed the sentiments of Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, who wrote, “This masterpiece of modern cinema depends upon a single truism: A guy getting hit in the nuts a hundred times in a row is funny a hundred times.”


    4. Return to Paradise

    This Joseph Ruben-directed remake of the 1989 French movie Force majeure arrived during a period when American filmmakers were apparently pretty fascinated with the travails of reckless U.S. tourists in Southeast Asian prisons — Brokedown Palace was released a year later, and both films suffered comparisons with Alan Parker’s Midnight Express. Starring Vaughn, Joaquin Phoenix, and David Conrad as a trio of pot-puffing Malaysian tourists who inadvertently run afoul of the law, Paradise took a familiar plot device — innocent American awaiting death in a foreign prison — and added a new wrinkle: Vaughn and Conrad, safe on U.S. soil, are told they can save Phoenix from being hanged, but only if they return to Malaysia to do hard time. Though the script wasn’t without its fair share of contrivances, Paradise‘s thorny moral dilemma was enough to satisfy most critics, and even those who didn’t give the movie their stamp of approval tended to find positive aspects — like Luisa F. Ribeiro of Boxoffice Magazine, who wrote, “Vaughn labors mightily under the obviousness of the script, while managing to reveal a fragile but profound fear of being an aging frat boy who longs to realize a finer, better self, only to be petrified that quality isn’t within him.”


    3. Made

    Five years after they gave each other their big break in Swingers, Vaughn and Jon Favreau reunited — this time, with Favreau behind the camera in addition to writing the script — for the mob comedy Made. Starring Vaughn and Favreau as a pair of low-level Mafia knuckleheads, Made took their funny, fast-paced banter, surrounded it with a bigger budget, and added drugs, violence, and Sean “Diddy” Combs. Predictably, critics couldn’t help but compare Made to its surprise hit predecessor — and just as predictably, these comparisons didn’t do Made any favors. Still, even if Made didn’t reach Swingers‘ lofty critical heights (and barely made back its budget), Vaughn and Favreau’s chemistry remained potent enough to impress critics like’s Stacie Hougland, who wrote, “Vaughn hits the bullseye as a strident, volatile jerk who can’t keep his mouth shut. You never really like him, but you can’t wait to see what he’ll do next — his missteps and offenses are so unbelievable you wince, but you can’t look away.”


    2. Wedding Crashers

    Part of the recent R-rated comedy renaissance, Wedding Crashers may not have given Vaughn the opportunity to do anything new — here, he appears as Jeremy Grey, a lech with a heart of gold who isn’t terribly dissimilar from the character he played in Swingers — but it fell squarely in Vaughn’s comedic wheelhouse, had a solid Steve Faber/Bob Fisher script, and surrounded Vaughn and his co-star, Owen Wilson, with some terrific supporting talent, including Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, and Isla Fisher as the crazy nymphomaniac who thrills and torments Vaughn in equal measure. Though some critics had problems with Crashers‘ uneven tone — and the scads of gratuitous flesh on display in the movie’s opening montage — most found it too much fun to resist. “The likes of the sneakily subversive Wilson and Vaughn deserve better,” wrote MaryAnn Johnson of Flick Filosopher, “but this is darn close to a perfect showcase for what they can do, and how much better they do it together.”


    1. Swingers

    Somehow, we doubt many of you are surprised that this list ends where it all began for Vince Vaughn — specifically, with his scene-stealing turn as the appealingly smarmy Trent Walker, best bud to Jon Favreau’s sad sack Mike Peters. Favreau may have written the script, but it was Vaughn who ended up with many of Swingers‘ best lines — and although it’s true that those lines inspired countless wannabe hipsters to pronounce various persons and objects as “so money” for years to come, that’s just an unfortunate byproduct of the movie’s immense likability, and Vaughn’s seemingly effortless cool in the role, which showcased his gifts for comedy and drama. “Four guys hang out, kid one another, get into scuffles and flash their gonadal searchlight for available women,” wrote Time’s Richard Corliss. “Yikes, haven’t there been enough variations on the multiple-buddy movie? Actually, no.”

    Take a look through Vaughn’s complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for Couples Retreat.

    Finally, here’s Vaughn in Fred Claus going off on Kris Kringle:

    Kristen Bell

    Kristen Bell made her mark on the pop culture landscape as the star of TV’s Veronica Mars, which she followed with a run on the hit series Heroes and one of her most famous (if unseen) roles — as the voice of Gossip Girl in the much-loved teen drama. Last year she arrived on the big screen for real after starring in the Judd Apatow-produced comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a surprise hit with both audiences and critics.

    This week, Kristen’s back on screens — and back in tropical climes — for Couples Retreat, a relationship comedy written by Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, and she’ll soon be heard as the voice of Cora in the animated film of Astro Boy.

    We caught up with the star to find what her all-time favorite films are.

    The Apartment (1960,
    90% Tomatometer)

    The Apartment

    Okay… as they are now. I might change my answers. Let’s see… The Apartment, starring Shirley Maclaine and Jack Lemmon; I mean, you don’t get much better than that.

    The Last King of Scotland (2006,
    87% Tomatometer)

    The Last King of Scotland

    I really like The Last King of Scotland, if I’m in a dramatic mood, because it was so furiously disturbing. Even though I don’t love the subject matter — it’s not a subject I crave, ’cause it scares me so much — I was sort of put into a real dark place after that movie.

    When Harry Met Sally… (1989,
    91% Tomatometer)

    When Harry Met Sally...

    Maybe When Harry Met Sally…, because I think Meg Ryan is adorable and I think that was a really nice look at a very funny relationship.

    National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989,
    61% Tomatometer)

    National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

    Christmas Vacation. It never fails to make me laugh.

    Fletch (1985,
    74% Tomatometer)


    And probably… Fletch. It’s definitely up there.
    Yeah I was big on Chevy Chase for a while. Chevy Chase looks just like my dad so I think I’m very comfortable watching him. [Laughs]

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