This weekend North American audiences were not impressed with the many new titles that Hollywood had to offer. Five films opened or expanded into nationwide release and all underperformed, a couple even had embarrassingly dismal numbers. Moviegoers stuck to well-liked holdover films which all carried good reviews and enjoyed solid holds. The top three films stayed the same as last weekend, though some shuffling occurred, and no film in wide release managed to reach a $5,000 average.

The Martian was in control once again as Matt Damon’s runaway hit eased just 25 percent in its fourth frame to gross an estimated $15.9M finishing in first place by a slim margin. Fox’s blockbuster has grossed a stellar $166.4M and is on its way to breaking $200M domestic joining Gravity to become the only October releases to ever surpass that mark.

Last week’s top draw Goosebumps fell to second place but still posted a good hold as Halloween approaches. The Sony adventure comedy took in an estimated $15.5M, down 34%, for a new cume of $43.7M. A final in the $80M neighborhood may occur for the $58M production.

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks enjoyed a terrific sophomore hold for their latest venture Bridge of Spies which eased only 26 percent to an estimated $11.4M holding steady in the bronze medal position. The Disney release has one more week before Spectre arrives distracting much of its target audience of mature adults. A final in the neighborhood of $70M may result which would still be the lowest ever for Spielberg among movies playing in 2,000+ theaters.

Despite having 96 million Facebook likes, Vin Diesel’s social media promotional machine did little to drive in actual sales for his latest film The Last Witch Hunter which opened in fourth with an estimated $10.8M from 3,082 theaters for a mild $3,512 average. The Lionsgate action-horror title targeted the actor’s large fan base but also showed that outside of the Fast & Furious franchise, his box office pull is questionable. The PG-13 film earned negative reviews and aimed for young men, a demo that doesn’t come out to the multiplex as much anymore, especially for films not associated with an exciting brand. International prospects will be much better.

Hotel Transylvania 2 matched its 2012 predecessor’s total gross this weekend with an estimated $9M in its fifth weekend. Off only 29%, the Adam Sandler-led toon has banked $148.3M – just like part 1 – and may have another $25M or so still to come for Sony.

A once-powerful fright franchise showed its age as Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, the sixth installment in the series, debuted in sixth place with an estimated $8.2M from a more limited 1,656 locations for a moderate $4,952 average. The first four Paranormal flicks all reached number one in October from 2009 to 2012 while the last pic The Marked Ones, more spinoff than sequel, bowed in second place in January 2014.

Paramount is planning a quicker VOD release than usual for the R-rated Ghost so some theater circuits opted not to play the scary film. Given the quick burn of the last few installments, this one (the first offered in 3D) may end its theatrical run with only about $15M which is about how much it cost to produce. The franchise has had limited activity over the past three years which is an eternity in the horror world and most fan interest in the U.S. has now evaporated. Overseas this weekend, Ghost opened to $18M from 33 markets including several number one debuts in Latin America.

Another new film underperforming was Steve Jobs which went nationwide after two strong weeks of limited play. The acclaimed Universal release grossed an estimated $7.3M from 2,493 sites for a weak $2,915 average. Great reviews and Oscar buzz only went so far with a nationwide audience. With low starpower, finite interest in the Apple guru, and competition for adults from many other choices it became a tough sell to mainstream moviegoers. Cume is $10M and finishing with $30M will be difficult.

Horror flick Crimson Peak fell 58 percent to an estimated $5.6M in its sophomore frame and has scared up $22.5M for Universal. Warner Bros. enjoyed another good frame for The Intern which slipped 29 percent to an estimated $3.9M raising the cume to $64.7M with the global gross now up to a solid $155.8M. Drug drama Sicario rounded out the top ten with an estimated $3M, down 35%, for a $39.4M sum for Lionsgate.

Outside of the top ten, two new releases opening in over 2,000 theaters each crashed and burned generating some of the worst results of all-time for wide debuts. The Bill Murray pic Rock The Kasbah bowed to an estimated $1.5M from 2,012 locations for a pathetic $750 average for Open Road. Meanwhile, Universal’s Jem and the Holograms did worse with an estimated $1.3M from 2,413 sites for a disastrous $547 average. Critics and paying audiences gave thumbs in a downward direction to each one.

Among awards hopefuls, Room expanded from four to 23 locations and grossed an estimated $254,000 for a solid $11,043 average for A24. Focus opened its women’s rights drama Suffragette in four houses and took in an estimated $77,000 for a decent $19,250 average from platform play. It expands to 26 theaters next weekend in a roll-out similar to Room‘s.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $90.4M which was down 7 percent from last year when Ouija opened at number one with $19.9M; and off 3 percent from 2013 when Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa debuted in the top spot with $32.1M.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

This week on streaming video, Netflix has added a number of fan favorites, including the latest seasons of The Walking Dead and Parks and Recreation, as well as the final season of How I Met Your Mother, among other things. Then, we’ve also got a couple of solid new movie choices, including a music biopic and an indie dramedy. Read on for details:


The Walking Dead – Season Four

When last we left Rick and the gang, they were holed up in a reasonably well-fortified prison. Naturally, it turns out the coast is never clear.

Available now on: Netflix


Parks and Recreation – Season Six

The penultimate season of NBC’s popular workplace comedy finds Leslie (Amy Poehler) struggling with local government issues, domestic life, and the departure of her BFF Ann (Rashida Jones), while Ron (Nick Offerman) learns to be a family man.

Available now on: Netflix


How I Met Your Mother – Season Nine

After the season eight finale reveal of the titular “mother,” CBS’s hit sitcom makes the most of its final season by tying everything together.

Available now on: Netflix


Comic Book Men – Season Three

AMC’s reality show follows director Kevin Smith and the staff of his comic shop in New Jersey, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.

Available now on: Netflix


The Double
83%

Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska star in a Certified Fresh adaptation of the Dostoyevsky novel about a lonely man who finds himself pushed aside by his doppelganger.

Available now on: Netflix


Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
61%

Johnny Knoxville stars as Irving Zisman, a mischievous 86-year-old on a road trip with his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) — which is essentially an excuse to string together a series of outrageous gags that shock unsuspecting onlookers.

Available now on: Netflix, Unrated Version


Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
22%

Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of the Enterprise all-stars venture to the end of the universe in this, one of the least-loved entries in the Star Trek franchise.

Available now on: Netflix


Lucky Them
78%

Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church star in this dramedy about a music writer looking for a forgotten musician who also happens to be her ex.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes


Nas: Time Is Illmatic
98%

This documentary tells the inside story of Nas’ classic, star-making debut album, and features interviews with the likes of Alicia Keys, Q-Tip, and Busta Rhymes.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu

A week before the Hemsworth brothers begin their double feature of November tentpoles, the sci-fi entry Ender’s Game opened atop the North American box office and was joined in the top five by fellow new releases Last Vegas and Free Birds, all of which posted moderate or respectable launches.

Debuting to an estimated $28M, the effects-driven futuristic action pic Ender’s Game landed in the number one spot with a performance that was reasonably good, but not especially impressive for an expensive production. Based on the best-selling novel, the PG-13 film averaged $8,218 from 3,407 locations including higher-priced IMAX and other large-format screens. Reviews were mixed for the Lionsgate release and the CinemaScore grade was a middling B+. Tapping into a built-in audience, not having any standout buzz, and facing the arrival of Thor: The Dark World next weekend, Game is not likely to last very long and should finish up with a front-loaded theatrical run.

Bad Grandpa enjoyed the best second weekend hold ever for a Jackass film dipping only 36% to an estimated $20.5M giving Paramount a healthy $62.1M in ten days. The low-cost $15M comedy should end its domestic run with about $110M making for yet another profitable installment for the eleven-year-old franchise. Fan feedback has been excellent.

The old timers comedy Last Vegas opened in third pace with an estimated $16.5M from 3,065 theaters for a respectable $5,390 average. Starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline, the PG-13 film about a group of old friends reuniting for a bachelor party in Sin City played to a mature crowd as expected. Critics were not too impressed, but moviegoers came out for the CBS Films release for the starpower and premise.

Audience data showed that 53% were female and an understandably high 83% were 25 and older. With a promising A- CinemaScore grade, a much older target audience, and no major direct competition coming, Vegas should be able to hold up well throughout the November weeks ahead and reach a domestic gross that doubles the $28M production cost.

2013 has been a tough year for animated films – especially those that are not on the very top tier – and Free Birds was the latest to lack excitement with family audiences. The PG-rated turkey flick debuted to an estimated $16.2M from 3,736 theaters for a mild $4,336 average. Relativity had relatively clear sailing for its launch as the only other kidpic out there – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – was in its sixth weekend. But the target audience was not excited to spend top dollar for this toon and reviews were lousy.

No animated films open until Thanksgiving so the distributor is hoping that lack of competition will help in the days and weeks ahead. The A- CinemaScore indicates that customers were fairly pleased with their purchase. Even bigger players like DreamWorks, Fox, and Sony have struggled to make toons work this year.

Space juggernaut Gravity fell back to fifth place but still posted a solid frame grossing an estimated $13.1M making for the best fifth weekend gross for any film since The Avengers. Warner Bros. has banked a stunning $219.2M to date making it the highest-grossing non-franchise film of 2013, and number eight overall. The Bullock blockbuster also smashed the $200M international and $400M global marks this weekend. The $27.1M overseas weekend gross pushed the offshore cume to $207.5M with worldwide climbing up to $426.7M.

Captain Phillips, another star-driven survival thriller getting Oscar buzz, followed with an estimated $8.5M. Down only 27%, the Tom Hanks film stands at $82.6M to date.

Fox Searchlight gave another expansion to its awards hopeful 12 Years A Slave which widened from 123 to 410 theaters and more than doubled its weekend gross in the process. The acclaimed period drama took in an estimated $4.6M and posted another promising average with $11,220 putting it in good shape for the road ahead. Many prestige films stumble when expanding to this many markets but Slave is remaining a relevant and much-talked-about film bringing in new audiences thanks in part to stellar reviews. Cume is $8.8M and next weekend it expands again into roughly 1,000 locations.

Three C’s rounded out the top ten. Toon sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 dropped 33% to an estimated $4.2M for a $106.2M cume for Sony. Horror flick Carrie grossed an estimated $3.4M, down 43%, giving Sony $32M to date. Fox’s crime drama The Counselor tumbled 59% in its sophomore round to an estimated $3.3M putting the total at just $13.6M.

Rachel McAdams saw lackluster results for her latest romance About Time which was given a limited release in only 175 locations this weekend by Universal. The R-rated time travel love story bowed to an estimated $1.1M for a mild average of $6,046 which does not bode well for next weekend’s nationwide expansion. Reviews have been mixed.

Generating plenty of must-see awards buzz – especially in the acting categories – was Dallas Buyers Club which delivered a superb platform launch over the weekend as the final release for the current incarnation of Focus Features. The Matthew McConaughey film bowed to an estimated $264,000 from only nine locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto for a strong $29,333 average. The R-rated true story expands on Friday to a dozen new markets – including Dallas – and will be everywhere by November 22. Reviews were sensational and McConaughey is seen as a major contender for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

A week ahead of its domestic launch, the super hero tentpole Thor: The Dark World opened across much of the planet this weekend taking in a sensational $109.4M from 36 markets led by $13.4M in the U.K. The second Thor flick lands in over 3,800 North American theaters this Friday (with first shows beginning at 8:00pm on Thursday night) and has scared away all other new wide releases. China also opens next weekend so the global tally will soar by the end of next weekend.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $118.3M which was even with last year when Wreck-it Ralph opened at number one with $49M; but up 18% from 2011 when Puss in Boots stayed in the top spot with $33.1M in its second weekend.

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Continuing a banner year for R-rated comedies, Paramount’s prank flick Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa debuted at number one putting an end to the three-week reign of Gravity which neared the $200M mark in the process. Overall ticket sales saw a healthy gain compared to a year ago.

Johnny Knoxville’s Grandpa, which opened eleven years to the day after the first Jackass film, debuted to an estimated $32M from 3,336 theaters this weekend generating a strong $9,592 average. All four films in the franchise have opened at number one with this new chapter being more a spinoff than a sequel. The first three low-cost pics have combined for a sensational $254M in domestic box office sales and Grandpa again kept it cheap with a $15M production cost.

Reviews were surprisingly good for a low brow prank comedy like this and audiences were somewhat satisfied as the latest Jackass earned a B grade from CinemaScore, down slightly from the B+ of the last installment Jackass 3D. Studio research showed that the crowd was 56% male and 63% over 25 this weekend.

Raunchy comedies have been scoring big cash at the box office this year as five of the six top-grossing comedies of 2013 have had R ratings led by The Heat with $159.4M. Born on MTV as a reality series in 2000, the Jackass brand is still thriving thanks to the makers putting something new on the table and keeping fans in stitches.

After three weeks on top, the space blockbuster Gravity dropped to second place but was still strong enough to post the best fourth weekend gross of any film released since The Avengers. The Sandra Bullock smash declined by 32% to an estimated $20.3M and got within striking distance of the double century mark with a new total of $199.8M. It was a stronger fourth weekend take than such recent juggernauts as Iron Man 3, The Hobbit, and The Dark Knight Rises. Now ranking as the highest grossing film of George Clooney’s career, Gravity is on track to finish with $250-275M domestically.

Gravity did, however, hold onto the number one spots this weekend for both the international and global marketplaces. 53 overseas markets delivered $36.6M for a worldwide weekend take of $56.9M. France opened well with $11.8M, 95% of that from 3D screens. Holdover markets are still led by Russia with $19.2M in four weeks and Korea with $15.3M in just two weeks. The international haul rose to $164.4M pushing the global gross to an impressive $364.2M. With top markets China, Japan, and the U.K. still to open across November and December, a final worldwide tally of over $700M should result for Gravity.

In third place was another star-driven thriller with glowing reviews and Oscar buzz – Captain Phillips. The Tom Hanks hit enjoyed a terrific hold once again in its third round and eased by only 28% to an estimated $11.8M. With an impressive $70.1M in 17 days, the Somali pirate flick is now the actor’s highest-grossing non-franchise movie in nine years. Phillips should be able to break $100M from North America.

Moviegoers rejected Ridley Scott’s newest film The Counselor which ended up in fourth place with an opening weekend of an estimated $8M. The R-rated drug trafficking drama averaged a weak $2,628 from 3,044 theaters and failed to excite its target audience of adults who have much better films to choose from right now. The Fox release features Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, and Javier Bardem but the starpower was trumped by bad reviews which kept audiences away. Studio research showed that Counselor‘s audience was 51% female and a whopping 85% over 25. Paying customers hated the pic as the CinemaScore grade was a dismal D.

Toon hit Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 followed with an estimated $6.1M, off 37%, for a cume to date of $100.6M for Sony joining the century club. The studio’s horror flick Carrie stumbled 63% in its second weekend to an estimated $5.9M giving the remake $26M in ten days. Sly and Arnold saw their action collaboration Escape Plan also fall sharply in the sophomore round. The Lionsgate title fell 56% to an estimated $4.3M and $17.4M to date.

The much-talked-about Oscar hopeful 12 Years A Slave expanded in its second weekend of limited play and powered its way into the national top ten finishing in eighth place. Fox Searchlight’s critically-acclaimed awards contender collected an estimated $2.2M from 123 theaters across a dozen markets for a potent average of $17,480. Cume is $3.4M. Slave is in a promising position and has proven it can pull in audiences across all parts of the country setting itself up nicely for next weekend’s nationwide expansion into over 400 locations. It may just stick around the top ten for a while.

Searchlight had a rare two-film contribution to the top ten as the specialty distributor’s middle-aged relationship comedy Enough Said dipped just 11% in its sixth weekend to an estimated $1.6M for a solid total of $13M. Rounding out the list was Hugh Jackman’s studio pic Prisoners with an estimated $1.1M, down 49%, and $59.1M overall.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $93.2M which was up 25% from last year when Argo climbed into the number one spot in its third weekend with $12.1M; and up 3% from 2011 when Puss in Boots opened in the top spot with $34.1M. This was the first October in twelve years that saw no horror film reach the number one spot.

Follow Gitesh on Twitter.

This week at the movies, we’ve got an amoral attorney (The Counselor, starring Michael Fassbender and Penelope Cruz) and an onerous octogenarian (Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, starring Johnny Knoxville and Jackson Nicoll). What do the critics have to say?



The Counselor

34%

On paper, The Counselor‘s pedigree is impeccable: its credits include a top-notch director (Ridley Scott), an A-list cast (Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz), and a screenplay from a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (Cormac McCarthy). However, critics say the result is a bit of a jumble, a collection of eccentric performances and interesting scenes that never fully coheres into a strong narrative. Fassbender stars as a financially strapped lawyer who invests in a risky drug deal; when the transaction is inevitably botched, our hero plunges into a demimonde of sketchy characters and increasingly desperate straits. The pundits say The Counselor is never less than watchable, but its dour tone and occasionally confusing storyline keeps the story from being fully absorbing. (Flip through this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of the best and worst movie lawyers.)



Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

61%

It appears that Johnny Knoxville has taken the words of Dylan Thomas to heart; playing a misanthropic old man in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, he does not go gentle into that good night. And critics say that’s mostly a good thing, for while this Borat-esque hidden camera comedy is pretty hit-and-miss, it still offers plenty of rude, ribald fun. There’s a loose storyline this time — Knoxville stars as Irving Zisman, a mischievous 86-year-old on a road trip with his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) — but it’s mostly an excuse to string together a series of outrageous gags that shock unsuspecting onlookers. The pundits say Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa rises and falls on the strength of its jokes, but some of them are gleefully, shockingly crude, and Nicoll nearly steals the show with his pitch-perfect comedic chops. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some of cinema’s most wild and crazy old people.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • I Am Divine, a documentary about John WatersPink Flamingos muse, is at 100 percent.
  • The Square, a doc about the politics of Egypt since the demonstrations in Tahrir Square in early 2011, is at 100 percent.
  • The Palme d’Or-winning Blue Is The Warmest Color, a coming-of-age drama about a teenager who falls in love with an older art student, is Certified Fresh at 92 percent.
  • When I Walk, a documentary about a filmmaker suffering from multiple sclerosis, is at 88 percent.
  • Torn, a drama about two women who form a bond after their sons are killed in a bombing, is at 86 percent.
  • Spinning Plates, a doc about the innovative staff members who work at three cutting edge restaurants, is at 82 percent.
  • Toad Road, an indie thriller about a group of teenagers whose debauchery leads them to investigate a creepy local legend, is at 80 percent.
  • Capital, starring Gabriel Byrne in a drama about the Machiavellian schemes to wrest control of a bank when its CEO dies unexpectedly, is at 75 percent.
  • Blood Brother, a doc about an American who works in an orphanage for HIV-infected children in India, is at 73 percent.
  • Claire DenisThe Bastards, a neo-noir about a man with an unconventional plan to avenge his brother’s suicide, is at 63 percent.

Old People

Old people. They might look sweet and harmless, but some of them are up to no good — and some of them, as evidenced in this weekend’s Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, are actually Johnny Knoxville disguised as a senior citizen with a misbehaving nuisance (Jackson Nicoll) for a grandson. Knoxville’s latest endeavor got us thinking about actual retirement-aged stars whose cinematic exploits tended toward the unseemly, and before we knew it, we had an entire list of movies. You know what that means: it’s time to put down your crossword puzzle, grab your Ensure and your Metamucil, and join us for a very old-fashioned Total Recall!

Arsenic and Old Lace

82%

Poor Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant). Not only does he have to worry about bringing his new bride (Priscilla Lane) into a goofball family that includes one brother who’s an ex-con and another who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, he’s also just discovered that his seemingly sweet biddy aunts (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) are secretly in the habit of offing local bachelors by poisoning their wine (with arsenic, natch). In spite of its goulish setup, Arsenic and Old Lace is a comedy — and a fairly funny one at that — which takes its inspiration from the classic Joseph Kesselring play while adding a few touches of its own courtesy of director Frank Capra, who shot it on the quick in 1941 in order to give his family some funds to live on while he was serving in World War II. It’s all, as the New York Times observed, “Good macabre fun.”

The Bucket List

41%

When’s the best time to get up to no good? When you have nothing left to lose. Witness Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman), a pair of terminal cancer patients who decide there’s no sense waiting to make their last few wishes come true and bust out of the hospital, hit the road, and get into some shenanigans. It’s pretty mild stuff — a casino here, some caviar there — which reflects The Bucket List‘s generally mild tone and weakness for schmaltz, qualities that tended to annoy most critics but were good for nearly $100 million in box office receipts. Still, even if they were happy to take a few swipes at director Rob Reiner’s ever-softening focus, some scribes found it enough to simply take pleasure in the movie’s impeccable stars. As Richard Roeper put it, “Any filmgoer’s Bucket List should be seeing these two legends playing off one another.”

Get Low

85%

What kind of past drives a man to bushy-bearded solitude and misanthropy? That’s the question at the heart of 2010’s Get Low, a minor-key drama about a small-town pariah (Robert Duvall) whose curious decision to hold himself a funeral before he’s dead and buried stirs up decades of long-buried secrets, assumptions, and lies. While he’s far from the most irredeemable coot on our list — in fact, as it turns out, he’s actually pretty sweet — old Felix Bush spends the movie’s opening acts taking delight in the upbraiding, tormenting, and general discomfort of others. Bolstered by a supporting cast that included Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek, Get Low earned the admiration of most critics, including Roger Ebert, who admitted, “After you get to a certain point with an actor, you don’t much care what he does, you just want to watch him doing it. So it is with Duvall and Murray.”

Going in Style

82%

Golden years, shmolden years — for Joe (George Burns), Al (Art Carney), and Willie (Lee Strasberg), senior citizenry is one long drudge, and they see so little hope for change on the horizon that they decide they might as well go ahead and rob a bank. In spite of its seemingly wacky setup, 1979’s Going in Style is really a bittersweet slice of social commentary, with poignant observations on aging and economic reality in modern America — and then, of course, there are those remarkable leading men, making the most of a unique opportunity to carry a film in the twilights of their spectacular careers. “There are laughs,” admitted the Chicago Reader’s Dave Kehr, “but the prevalent tone is one of discreet compassion, without condescension or sanctimony.”

Gran Torino

81%

Clint Eastwood’s character, Walt Kowalski, doesn’t get into anything particularly untoward in Gran Torino, but he also isn’t the kind of guy you’d necessarily want to pal around with — especially if you happen to be someone other than a grizzled old white Korean war vet who sympathizes with Kowalski’s narrow, jaundiced view of the rapidly changing world around him. He’s kind of a jerk, in other words — but as portrayed by Eastwood, he’s our jerk, and the viewer becomes as eager to accept his slow redemption as they were to turn away from his racist epithets in the movie’s opening moments. Calling the film “a compelling study of anger and violence and the guilt and shame that shadow them,” Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune argued that Eastwood “has sat high in the saddle for decades, but rarely has he ridden so tall as in the driver’s seat of Gran Torino.”

Grumpy Old Men

63%

They both appeared in Oliver Stone’s JFK, but by the early 1990s, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau’s prolific screen partnership seemed to be on permanent hiatus — they hadn’t really shared a movie since Buddy Buddy in 1981. They finally reunited for the descriptively titled comedy Grumpy Old Men in 1993, and the movie’s $70 million gross — as well as its largely positive reviews — proved their potent comedic chemistry hadn’t grown stale. While the movie’s plot is little more than an excuse for the old sparring partners to antagonize each other and vie for the affections of Ann-Margaret (with quips from crusty old Burgess Meredith for accompaniment), it more than enough for TIME’s Richard Schickel, who chuckled, “Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon are awfully good at this sort of thing.”

Harry Brown

63%

While it might resort to lurid violence to get its point across, 2009’s Harry Brown has some rather thoughtful things to say about urban blight and the experience of getting older in modern society — as well as a pointed warning about what can happen to you when you’re part of a group of lawless punks who anger an ex-Marine with nothing left to lose. While it boasted a perfectly chilling Michael Caine in the title role, Harry struck some critics as too bloody and not thought-provoking enough, although for most scribes, just having him on the screen was enough to anchor the film. “Caine, that master of gentle sadness, lets us know Harry immediately as a good man trying to get by — and trying to understand what seems like madness,” mused an appreciative Moira MacDonald for the Seattle Times.

My Fellow Americans

47%

Jack Lemmon perfected the art of the cinematic comedy duo in his films with Walter Matthau, but he could be pretty funny with other people, too — and although 1996’s My Fellow Americans is hardly one of his biggest hits (or brightest critical highlights), it does demonstrate how adeptly he could go for laughs even without Matthau around. Admittedly based on a rather flimsy conceit — Lemmon and James Garner play bickering former U.S. presidents who are, for reasons too convoluted to summarize, in danger of being murdered by the current Commander-in-Chief (Dan Aykroyd) — it manages to transcend its narrative shortcomings in spots, thanks to the barbed comedic interplay between its leads. “Mr. Lemmon and Mr. Garner are such pros that they carry the movie smoothly over its dull patches,” wrote an appreciative Stephen Holden for the New York Times. “The chemistry between the two pits Mr. Lemmon’s pious, sourpussed worrywart against Mr. Garner’s expansive, unflappably blithe hedonist.”

Nobody’s Fool

91%

Aside from a little wife-coveting and some petty larceny, Donald Sullivan (Paul Newman) doesn’t get into too much bad behavior during Nobody’s Fool — but on the other hand, the ramshackle state of his life, including the sparse flat he rents from his former grade-school teacher and the cash-under-the-table construction career that’s left him broke and hobbled, is the result of a bad attitude and many willfully poor choices. Still, he’s a charming old devil — especially as played by Newman, whose tenderly nuanced performance helps bring to life the 1993 novel by future Pulitzer-winning author Richard Russo. Rounded out by a marvelous supporting cast that included Jessica Tandy, Melanie Griffith, and Bruce Willis, Fool earned the admiration of critics like Caryn James of the New York Times, who wrote, “It says everything about Mr. Newman’s performance, the single best of this year and among the finest he has ever given, that you never stop to wonder how a guy as good-looking as Paul Newman ended up this way.”

Oh God! You Devil

33%

One could argue that all of the Oh God! movies depict a senior citizen misbehaving — after all, in the franchise’s first installment, God (George Burns) cheerfully wreaks havoc on a hapless supermarket manager’s (John Denver) life — but it isn’t until the third and final chapter, 1984’s Oh God! You Devil, that Burns finally busted out the red tuxedo jacket to play Beelzebub himself. Unfortunately, audiences failed to turn out as strongly as they had for the other Oh God! movies, and quite a few critics felt it was You Devil‘s script that proved particularly sinful. Janet Maslin of the New York Times cast a mildly dissenting opinion, arguing that it was “commendable for what it doesn’t have — John Denver — as for what it does” and adding, “George Burns goes it alone in Oh God! You Devil, and it turns out that he’s better off that way.”

RED

72%

“Retirement” takes on new meaning in RED, director Robert Schwentke’s adaptation of the graphic novels about a cadre of former CIA spooks whose classification as “Retired and Extremely Dangerous” leaves them pegged for extinction at the hands of a mystery assassin. A cheerfully ludicrous burst of slam-bang violence, RED is distinguished by a tremendous veteran cast that included Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich — and the combined might of their acting prowess was enough for most critics to concede that the $90 million hit was worth seeing, if only for the chance to see Mirren wielding a submachine gun. Mused Kathleen Murphy for MSN Movies, “Although there’s no dearth of spectacular gunplay and fisticuffs in Robert Schwentke’s light-hearted actioner, what makes RED really rock is old-fashioned movie-star style.”

The Sunshine Boys

72%

Herbert Ross behind the cameras, a script by Neil Simon, and a cast that includes Lee Meredith, F. Murray Abraham, and Howard Hesseman — plus George Burns and Walter Matthau starring as a pair of cranky old comedians lured into a reunion in spite of the fact that they hate each other. All the ingredients are there for the 1975 adaptation of Simon’s play The Sunshine Boys to join the ranks of classic squabblin’ comedies — and as far as most critics were concerned, it lived up to that promise with an appealingly wordy screenplay that made the most of its leads’ copious vinegary charms. Calling “a lot of it epically funny and all of it cheerful,” Vincent Canby of the New York Times chuckled, “Mr. Burns, now approaching 80, is old enough to be his co-star’s father, but he works beautifully — Mr. Matthau is so good playing old men, we may never know when he finally becomes one.”

Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.

Finally, here are two of cinema’s meanest old men — Statler and Waldorf:

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