(Photo by © 20th Century Fox, © Buena Vista, @ Universal)
Just because a film is Rotten doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with plenty of Christmas cheer — or at least enough one-liners, touching scenes, or outright weirdness — for it to win our affections at this time of year. This Christmas, for the first time, we at Rotten Tomatoes are spreading the love, giving you an expanded list of the Best Christmas Movies ever – all Fresh and sparkly and ranked by Tomatometer – but also the below list of movies that fall on the Rotten end of the Tomatometer, but which are still on our own nice lists come December. They’re movies the critics mostly dismissed, but that are still worth your yuletide time.
A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)
This 2017 sequel celebrates Father Christmas by doubling the number of moms in the first film. Titular bad moms Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn butt heads with their own mothers, played by Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon, in a comedy that doesn’t aspire to much more than a chance for these talented actresses to pass on a little Christmas cheer and chaos. And that they do.
Almost Christmas (2016)
The worst thing Almost Christmas has going for it is also the best thing: it’s so familiar. It’s a big family coming together for the holidays and they all have their own personal drama and relationships but also there’s love there, and more than a few laughs. We’ve seen this movie before, but we keep seeing it (and studios keep making it) because it works. Like milk and cookies for Santa, comedy-dramas like Almost Christmas and the yuletide are a natural, comforting fit.
No, not the classic animated special featuring Frankenstein’s Monster himself, Boris Karloff, as the narrator; that holiday gem sits at 100% on the Tomatometer. This Jim Carrey vehicle, directed by Ron Howard, translates Dr. Seuss’ whimsical illustrations into live-action, and the results aren’t particularly good, for goodness sake. But, while the Dr. Seuss-meets-Tim Burton’s nightmares aesthetic is a bit unsettling, the comedy holds up — especially in a scene where the Grinch’s own echo shouts “you’re an idiot” at him.
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
You’ve got to appreciate a movie that gives the whole plot away in the title. One of the earliest Ernest films, Ernest Saves Christmas sees Ernest (who began life as a character in local TV commercials) helping Santa Claus as he seeks his replacement. It’s kind of a proto-Santa Clause, in a weird way.
The Family Stone (2005)
Imagine if the worst blowout your family had over a holiday meal was a movie, and also kinda charming and cathartic rather than stressful. That’s The Family Stone, which stars the great Diane Keaton as a forceful matriarch and Sarah Jessica Parker as a potential (emphasis on the “potential”) future daughter-in-law. Rachel McAdams as a kind of Regina George in sweatpants almost steals the show. Bring tissues.
Four Christmases (2008)
Four Christmases understands that the holidays can be rough, especially if you’re dealing with multiple families who may or may not all like each other and/or you and your partner. This 2008 film – which has developed a following over the past decade – adds some hilarious big-name actors (Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon) to that reality in order to create a movie experience that’s a relatable escape. Look out for a very funny turn by Katy Mixon, who would go on to star in American Housewife.
Last Christmas (2019)
Take the Mother of Dragons and the hot guy from Crazy Rich Asians, mix them with the music of George Michael, bring in Emma Thompson to co-write the script and Paul Feig to direct, and sprinkle a bit of holiday magic over the whole thing, and you’re looking at Last Christmas. Look, we get that the story is somewhat predictable – pretty much everyone figured out where it was going just from watching the trailer – and it’s all a tad overly sentimental, but with this kind of pedigree, it’s hard not to be charmed by its immensely likable stars and its feel-good fuzziness.
The Holiday (2006)
It’s fair (if a little reductive) to say that The Holiday is what would be if it only focused on two couples instead of, like, 25. Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet star as two women who swap homes for the holidays and fall in love with Jude Law and Jack Black, respectively. A little predictable, sure, but in that special way that’s warm and reassuring — the Christmas rom-com equivalent of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
There’s something charmingly old-school about Kevin McCallister’s second adventure. He travels to New York by mistake thanks to lax airport security regulations, enjoys a New York City that feels bygone for some vague nostalgic reason, and Donald Trump makes a cameo (that was cute, rather than controversial, at the time). But, if remembering Christmases of yesteryear isn’t enough for you, Home Alone 2 is worth it if only because it’s a hoot to see young Kevin inflict a possibly fatal amount of damage to the hapless Wet Bandits, once again.
The Ice Harvest is a Christmas movie in the way Die Hard is a Christmas movie: Arguably. Harold Ramis’ thriller comedy is set on Christmas Eve, and there’s a cool wintry vibe throughout the whole thing. It’s enough to make The Ice Harvest a good Christmas watch when you want to come up for some less holly jolly air while still feeling like you’re honoring the Christmas spirit.
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Jingle All the Way is not just an unfairly maligned Christmas movie — it’s also a pretty good Power Rangers movie in disguise. Turbo-Man is a hero for our time, as are dads like Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Myron Larabee (Sinbad) who, in the true spirit of Christmas (read: capitalism), will brave crowded malls to make sure their kids get the perfect present under the tree on Christmas morn.
Office Christmas Party (2016)
A typical workplace Christmas party is either underwhelming (oh, there’s fake holly in the break room) or a terrible mistake (how many co-workers did I kiss?). This 2016 comedy is about the latter sort. Starring Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, and T.J. Miller, Office Christmas Party doesn’t quite go so far as to put the “X” in “X-mas,” but it certainly earns its R rating, making it a rowdy change of pace for this time of year.
The Polar Express (2004)
Robert Zemeckis’ take on the classic Christmas children’s book was extremely ambitious — only problem was that motion-capture technology wasn’t quite there yet in 2004, so CGI Tom Hanks and Co. ride the titular train straight through the uncanny valley. You can’t help but appreciate what Zemeckis was trying to do, and there’s a very sweet Christmas story underneath the eerily smooth textures. In fact, there’s a case to be made that the uncanny look of the movie only adds to the surreal holiday magic that propels this mighty train’s engines. A case – but not an open-and-shut one.
Reindeer Games (2000)
Another action flick set at Christmastime, Reindeer Games sets itself apart from Die Hard and The Ice Harvest,/i> by making the holiday a little more than just scenery. When Ben Affleck and Co. rob a casino, they’re all dressed as Santa Clauses (Santas plural, not the Tim Allen kind). Reindeer Games is a pretty thorough fusion of Christmas and kick-ass, which is no small feat.
Kris Kringle doesn’t actually do much conquering in this extremely cheap-looking 1964 sci-fi comedy. Instead, Martians kidnap him in order to bring some Christmas cheer to their very boring martian children. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is the subject of one of the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, but even without the bots’ commentary, it’s a hall-of-fame “so bad it’s good” flick – every character acts like they’re high on a mixture of sugarplums and quaaludes. Also, fun fact: This was the first time Mrs. Claus ever appeared on screen.
The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
The Santa Clause 2 is a charming second reminder to always read the fine print – and one that’s just 5% shy of Freshness on the Tomatometer. It’s fun to see Tim Allen as a more confident Santa Claus in his second go-around, and the film operates in a neat space thematically. Everything is fantastical and Christmasy, while also being grounded with talk of contracts, parenting, and finding love after divorce. Let’s call it “Christmas magical realism.”
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)
It doesn’t take a lot of work to make the Santa Claus fable horrifying (“he knows when you are sleeping / he knows when you’re awake”). So, Silent Night, Deadly Night takes the next logical step and makes an axe-murderer out of him. There are some depictions of mental health in this movie that deserve big lumps of coal, but if you’re willing to just accept Silent Night, Deadly Night as a seasonally appropriate ’80s slasher, you won’t be disappointed.
Star Wars: Holiday Special (1978)
George Lucas made a habit of going back to update or change parts of the Star Wars films he didn’t like for new “special editions,” but the one thing he can’t do is erase this 1978 TV special from history. Sure, there was a cool cartoon that introduced Boba Fett to the far, far, away galaxy, but the actors all look miserable and/or stoned, large swaths of the dialogue are incomprehensible Wookie-speak, and at one point Chewbacca’s grandpa gets noticeably horny. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth tracking down this holiday season, if only to see why George hates it so much.
Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)
Imagine if Psycho was set at Christmastime and centered on a demented British lady and her mummified daughter instead of a demented American man and his mummified mother. Who Slew Auntie Roo — originally titled Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?, because, British — is excellent counter-programming for all that colorful feel-good Christmas fare.
(Photo by Buena Vista/ courtesy Everett Collection)
John Cusack pulled off the tricky act of being one of those It kids of the ’80s without having that distinction become an albatross hanging across his career once the decade ended. Cusack found breakthrough roles in just about every permutation of the teen comedy in the spandex and big-hair era: the hormonal-driven (One Crazy Summer), the bizarro creations (Better Off Dead), the rom-com (The Sure Thing). But Cusack had an erudite quality that separated him from his contemporaries, drawing him to name directors like John Sayles (Eight Men Out) and Cameron Crowe, the latter of whom he worked with to close out the decade with perhaps the best romantic-comedy in a decade full of classics: 1989’s Say Anything….
Cusack of the 1990s represented a maturation that allowed him to fit into just about any mold: drama (The Thin Red Line), comedy (Bullets Over Broadway, The Grifters, Being John Malkovich), romance (Pushing Tin), and even action (Con Air). Some movies combined all the genres, like 1997’s Grosse Pointe Blank (in which he plays a hitman attending his high school reunion), one of those high-concept Hollywood movies that endures for decades after release.
2000’s High Fidelity may have been the last we’ve seen of Cusack in classic rom-com leading man form, as in the ensuing years he’s been putting more work into genre fare, and playing shadowy figures and villains. Highlights from this ongoing period include 1408, 2012, and Grand Piano. Meanwhile, 2015’s Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy is just about as good as anything he’s done in his career. And now we’re taking a look back with all John Cusack movies ranked by Tomatometer!
This week at the movies, we’ve got wacky cops ("Reno 911!: Miami"), numerological tension ("The Number 23," starring Jim Carrey), a rocket man ("The Astronaut Farmer," starring Billy Bob Thornton), and a haunted house ("The Abandoned"). What do the critics have to say?
On the small screen, the "COPS" parody "Reno 911," with its incompetent lawmen, zany situations, and absurd fashions, is good for its share of laughs. In the multiplex? Critics say "Reno 911!: Miami" is a slightly less arresting proposition. The gang heads to Miami to break up a terrorist plot on spring break; hilarity ensues. Sketch comedy is often on shaky ground when moved from the tube to the big screen, and a few of the critics say "Reno 911" is no exception; they feel the film has some good laughs but ultimately runs out of steam. Others say that fans of the show will get exactly what they want. At 55 percent on the Tomatometer, "911" is a call you have to make for yourself. (Check out an interview with "Reno 911" cast members by RT’s own Jen Yamato.)
I don’t know about you, but when I think of the number 23, visions of Michael Jordan dance in my head. (Or perhaps former Red Sox first baseman Brian Daubach.) Director Joel Schumacher and star Jim Carrey want the titular figure to be synonymous with psychological intrigue, but the critics say it’s more like the law of diminishing returns. Carrey stars as a man whose wife (Virginia Madsen) has given him a pulp novel that appears to be about his life, and he subsequently becomes fixated on the number 23, which seems to turn up everywhere he goes. The pundits say "The Number 23" is incomprehensible and overly busy, draining the film of suspense. At 11 percent on the Tomatometer, you may want to subtract "The Number 23" from your list.
Here’s a high concept for you: "Field of Dreams" in orbit. Sound ridiculous? Well, cynics be darned; critics say "The Astronaut Farmer" is a heartwarming fairytale, an inspirational family film that seems out of place in contemporary Hollywood. The movie tells the tale of a former astronaut (Billy Bob Thornton) who, facing foreclosure on his farm, dreams of building his own rocket against all odds. The pundits say "The Astronaut Farmer" is a heartwarming ride, featuring a strong sense of its Midwestern locale helmed with an unpretentious, pleasant directorial touch by the Polish brothers. At 78 percent on the Tomatometer, "The Astronaut Farmer" may be worth a ride.
It appears that the people behind "The Abandoned" have, ahem, abandoned it, since it wasn’t screened for critics. The film tells the story of a woman who returns to the house where she was born in a remote part of Russia; horrifying events ensue. Get a search party together and Guess that Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release: "Starter for 10," a Britcom about a working class kid at a posh university, is at 86 percent; "Glastonbury," a rockumentary about England’s most venerable music festival, is at 73 percent; "Cocaine Angel," a harrowing no-budget indie about a few days in the lives of Florida addicts, is at 60 percent; "Amazing Grace," about William Wilberforce’s 20 year struggle to end slavery in the British Empire, is at 55 percent; and "Gray Matters," a rom-com about a brother and sister expanding their romantic horizons starring Heather Graham, is at 20 percent.
Finally, props to FernandoDANTE and alwaysforevernow for coming the closest to guessing "Ghost Rider"’s Tomatometer of 27 percent. Get your respective motors running, and then, subsequently, head out on the highway.
Recent Jim Carrey Movies:
27% — Fun With Dick and Jane (2005)
71% — Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
93% — Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
49% — Bruce Almighty (2003)
42% — The Majestic (2001)
Recent Billy Bob Thornton Movies:
27% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
46% — The Ice Harvest (2005)
45% — The Bad News Bears (2005)
79% — Chrystal (2004)
82% — Friday Night Lights (2004)
Ashton Kutcher fans get two chances to see (or hear) their favorite star this weekend as the Hollywood prankster takes on reigning box office champ "Jackass: Number Two" by voicing a mule deer in the animated comedy "Open Season" and going up against Kevin Costner in the action drama "The Guardian."
Hollywood’s umpteenth computer-animated feature film of the year hits multiplexes on Friday in the form of "Open Season." The PG-rated pic features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Kutcher and finds a domesticated grizzly bear being dropped into the wilderness right before the start of hunting season. Young kids usually eat up these fish-out-of-water comedy toons and this Sony release should play to the same family audience. The target demographic has had an endless line of movies this year featuring talking animals getting into wacky situations, but since the current marketplace is lacking any major offering for children, "Open Season" should score as the first animated hit of the new school year. The studio is saturating the market with screens giving the film the fourth widest bow ever for a non-DreamWorks toon, and the second widest in Sony history for any film after 2004’s webslinger sequel. With no competition and solid funnyman starpower behind the mics, a strong number one bow could result. "Open Season" makes its way into 3,833 theaters and may debut with around $24M this weekend.
For those who would rather see the "Punk’d" star’s face, Buena Vista sets sail with its Coast Guard thriller "The Guardian" which finds Kutcher playing a young and cocky swimming champ who butts heads with his unorthodox teacher played by Kevin Costner. Directed by Andrew Davis ("The Fugitive," "Collateral Damage"), the PG-13 film has broad appeal with each star pulling in his respective generation. Cross-gender appeal is also present with the military-like storyline doing the job for males and the hunky actors attracting the ladies. Disney offered successful sneak previews two weeks ago to get some word-of-mouth spreading before the official debut. The studio will try to lure in the same audience that spent a solid $22.1M on the John Travolta–Joaquin Phoenix firefighter drama "Ladder 49" two autumns ago. Launching in over 3,000 theaters, "The Guardian" might debut with about $18M.
Following his commercial success with the male-driven comedy hits "Road Trip," "Old School," and "Starsky & Hutch," Todd Phillips returns to theaters with "School for Scoundrels" which finds Billy Bob Thornton squaring off against "Napoleon Dynamite"’s Jon Heder for the affection of a young gal. MGM’s PG-13 film about an awkward young misfit who enlists the help of an expert on getting the ladies should aim for an audience of teens and young adults, plus fans of the "Bad Santa" star’s rogue ways. Starpower is not very high here. Films anchored by the former Mr. Jolie usually don’t explode on opening weekend as evidenced by the recent debuts of "The Bad News Bears" ($11.4M), "The Ice Harvest" ($3.7M), and "The Alamo" ($9.1M). Competition for young males will be tough, but if "School" can connect with teen girls as a funny romantic comedy, then it has a chance of doing some respectable numbers. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, "School for Scoundrels" might debut with about $12M.
Some high profile indies pop into limited release this weekend. Fox Searchlight launched its Idi Amin pic "The Last King of Scotland" in four theaters on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles and has already been receiving early Oscar buzz for Forest Whitaker‘s portrayal of the Ugandan dictator. Coincidentally, a year ago this same weekend, "Capote" debuted and fueled its own Best Actor buzz which sustained itself throughout awards season leading to a trophy for Philip Seymour Hoffman. Reviews for "Scotland" have been good and for Whitaker, have been electric.
Miramax gets its Oscar campaign going, but for the Best Actress prize, with its Helen Mirren film "The Queen" which opens in New York City on Saturday after it officially opens the New York Film Festival on Friday evening. Mirren has already taken home the top actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in the dark days after the death of Princess Diana. The PG-13 film is directed by Stephen Frears ("Mrs. Henderson Presents," "Dangerous Liaisons") and has ranked number two at the U.K. box office for the last two weeks.
First Look Studios takes audiences back to Queens in 1986 with its coming-of-age drama "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" which stars Robert Downey Jr., Chazz Palminteri, Shia LaBeouf, Dianne Wiest, Channing Tatum, and Rosario Dawson. The R-rated film won awards for Best Director and Best Ensemble at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and bows in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.
Last weekend, "Jackass: Number Two" flexed its muscles at the box office with a better-than-expected $29M launch. The Paramount film’s predecessor dropped 44% in its second weekend in the fall of 2002, but the sequel may drop harder. A 50% decline would still give the Johnny Knoxville flick about $15M for the weekend and a strong ten-day cume of $51M.
Jet Li‘s "Fearless" also drew upon a built-in audience of young men last weekend setting itself up for a sizable sophomore drop. The Focus title might also lose half of its business and take in roughly $5M. That would give the martial arts saga $18M after ten days. Sony’s "Gridiron Gang" held up well last weekend despite tough competition. Another 35% fall could be in order giving The Rock a $6M frame and a $34M total after 17 days.
LAST YEAR: For the second straight weekend, Jodie Foster‘s airline thriller "Flightplan" topped the box office with $14.8M dropping only 40% from its bow. Opening in second place was the sci-fi actioner "Serenity" which grossed $10.1M on its way to $25.4M for Universal. Warner Bros. followed close behind with $10M for its animated comedy "Corpse Bride." The revenge thriller "A History of Violence" expanded nationally and placed fourth with $8.1M and a solid $6,047 average which was the best in the whole Top 20. Opening in fifth was the Jessica-Alba-in-a-bikini pic "Into the Blue" with only $7.1M leading to a weak $18.5M final for Sony. Disney debuted its historical golf drama "The Greatest Game Ever Played" to the tune of $3.7M. A $15.3M final gross resulted.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got jive talking woodland creatures ("Open Season," with Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher). We’ve got a school for Coast Guard rescue swimmers ("The Guardian," starring Kevin Coster and Kutcher again). And we’ve got a school…for scoundrels ("School for Scoundrels," starring Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder). Which of these flicks will get a passing grade from critics?
"Open Season," Sony Pictures Animation’s first picture, features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher as a grizzly bear and a deer, respectively, who must team up after getting stranded in the woods at the start of hunting season. Critics say that despite some impressive visuals and funny sequences, "Open Season" does little to distinguish itself from the recent glut of CG kiddie films. At 43 percent on the Tomatometer, you should turn, turn, turn away from this middling "Season."
Kevin Costner makes a hopeful return to the action genre in "The Guardian," in which he plays a veteran U.S. Coast Guard officer who must mentor a cocky young upstart played by Ashton Kutcher. The film features intense training sequences, dramatic rescue scenes, and the requisite love story. Sound familiar? Critics seem to think so, calling it a cliched mix of "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Top Gun," with a predictable storyline. At 40 percent on the Tomatometer, "The Guardian" needs rescuing.
"Oh, man… Finally, a funny ‘Waterworld‘ joke!"
Director Todd Phillips brings us his latest comedy "School for Scoundrels," about a nerdy meter maid (Jon Heder) who takes confidence building classes from a smarmy instructor (Billy Bob Thornton). When the student gains the confidence to ask out his longtime crush, he discovers he must compete with the teacher for her affections. Most critics are in agreement that the real scoundrels are the screenwriters who couldn’t devise a script worthy of the considerable acting talent involved. At 21 percent on the Tomatometer, "School for Scoundrels" receives a failing grade.
Also opening this week in limited release: "The Queen," a speculative drama about the reaction of Britain’s royal family after the death of Princess Di starring Helen Mirren, is at 95 percent on the Tomatometer; "The Last King of Scotland," which features an electrifying performance from Forrest Whitaker as the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, is at 86 percent; "Be With Me," a three part meditation on love, hope, and destiny, is at 80 percent; "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints," a coming-of-age story starring Robert Downey Jr., is at 77 percent; and "loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies," which chronicles the triumphant reunion tour of the influential cult band, is at 60 percent.
The IMDb sums up the plot like so: "Based on a pitch by Richard Wenk, the mismatched buddy film follows a troubled NYPD officer who’s forced to take a happy, but down-on-his-luck witness 16 blocks from the police station to 100 Centre Street, although no one wants the duo to make it. The story is a redemptive tale for characters who are polar opposites. The cop, a dark guy and a heart attack waiting to happen, who is escorting this witness who is a 14-time loser with a sunny outlook."
Warner Bros.’ "16 Blocks" opens wide on March 3rd.
Proving that not even a big handful of new releases can not keep a good wizard down, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" continued its impressive box office ways, handily dominating the holiday box office and remaining #1 for a second consecutive weekend.
Seems like a whole bunch of people decided to take in Harry Potter’s fourth adventure once all the turkey was tasted and the stuffing was stuffed. The resoundingly popular "Goblet of Fire" conjured up a $55 million 3-day weekend, which puts its total tally in the immediate neighborhood of $201 million … in less than two weeks!
Second place went to the well-attended Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line," which added another $19.7 to its $54.7 million bankroll, thereby proving that, yes, grown-ups sometimes do go the movie without the tots in tow.
The most successful newcomer this past weekend was the family comedy "Yours, Mine and Ours," which made just about $17.5 from 3,200 theaters, while Disney’s "Chicken Little" continued its impressive hold in the henhouse: It added another $12.4 million to its $118 million nest egg.
Rounding out the top 5 was the long-awaited movie version of Jonathan Larsen’s "Rent," which sang for $10.7 million from 2,400 screens. (Throw Wednesday and Thursday into the equation and that’s about $18 million in "Rent" money.)
Other new arrivals fared as either "not bad" or "downright painful." New Line’s "Just Friends" pulled in $9.2 million from 2,500 theaters, which covers the "not bad." As for the "downright painful," we have Lion’s Gate’s "In the Mix," which made $4.5 million from 1,600 theaters, and Focus Features’ "The Ice Harvest," which made $3.8 million from 1,500.
The upcoming weekend gives the current flicks a fair shot to battle it out, since the only new wide release is the Charlize Theron sci-fi action flick "Aeon Flux," a flick that seems unlikely to unseat Master Potter from his Money Throne.
For a closer look at the holiday numbers, stop by and poke around at the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.
What’s Thanksgiving without stuffing yourself silly? The studios haven’t disappointed us in that regard, as they pack the theaters this holiday weekend with offerings ranging from a movie adaptation of the Broadway musical "Rent" to the latest black comedy featuring Billy Bob Thornton. And yes, there are a couple of turkeys in the mix.
You know, given time, all popular Broadway plays and musicals will get their own movie adaptations. "Rent," the long-running "rock musical" based on Puccini’s opera "La Boheme," tells of a diverse group of bohemians living in New York’s East Village as they struggle to make a living and produce their art. However, what works on stage may not work on screen, at least not in this adaptation. While "Rent" is energetic and faithful to the stage play, critics say the raw emotions and style of the latter are missing.
If misery loves company, then those without the holiday spirit will find comfort in "The Ice Harvest." A black comedy about a mob lawyer and his co-conspirator, played by John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton, who try to swindle two million dollars from their employer, "The Ice Harvest" will offer a few chuckles for those with an ear for witty dialogue, but the mean-spiritedness of the movie, critics warn, may be a turnoff.
In the original 1968 film, Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda were able to make their family of 20 work. In the new "Yours, Mine, & Ours," Rene Russo and Dennis Quaid give it their best, but critics say that while genial, this remake is a bland and frantic slapstick comedy that falls flat more often than not.
The holidays are a time best spent with family and to reconnect with loved ones, and that’s exactly what Ryan Reynolds is trying to do in the comedy "Just Friends." Reynolds plays a record exec who has it all, except the girl he’s had a crush on since high school. As expected with a comedy milking a person’s weight problem for laughs, the humor here is pretty crude, but if you want to see a person humiliate himself in the name of love, "Just Friends" is worth some laughs, critics say.
Back in 2001, Emmanuelle Chriqui starred opposite Lance Bass of ‘NSync fame in a rom-com titled "On the Line." Let’s just say that movie disappeared from theaters faster than Bass’ singing career. Now Chriqui is back in another romantic comedy, this time with pop singer Usher in "In the Mix." Any parallels here? We’ll see when the reviews come in.
Turkeys from the previous Thanksgivings:
15% — Alexander (2004)
4% — Christmas With the Kranks (2004)
12% — Timeline (2003)
14% — The Haunted Mansion (2003)
14% — Adam Sandler’s 8 Crazy Nights (2002)
7% — Extreme Ops (2002)
It’s no big shock that the fourth entry in the "Harry Potter" series was, far and away, the number one draw at the weekend box office. But the flick turned out to have the fourth biggest box office weekend in the history of moviedom: Harry snagged over $101 million from nearly 3,900 North American screens … in only three days!
The rest of the top five consisted of hangers-on, including Disney’s "Chicken Little" ($14.7 million weekend; $99.1 million overall), the Weinsteins’ "Derailed" ($6.5m, $21.8m), and Sony’s "Zathura" ($5.1m, $20.2m).
But back to Mr. Potter for a second. Here’s how Variety breaks down some of the magically delicious numbers:
""Potter’s" perf shaved a point off the year’s overall B.O. deficit compared with 2004; it now stands at 6%.
"This is the biggest weekend in Warner Bros. history," noted WB distrib prexy Dan Fellman. "With three more (Potter pics) to go, we’re looking forward to leaving more marks in the record books."
"Potter" reached the stratosphere without setting any one-day records. First-day take of $39.4 million does tie it with "Spider-Man" for the biggest Friday ever, but that’s the seventh highest opening day in history.
In a promising sign for playability, "Goblet of Fire" declined only 10% to $35.5 million on Saturday.
The first three "Potter" pics bowed with, in order, $90.3 million, $88.4 million and $93.7 million, with the first two opening in November 2001 and 2002 and the third in June 2004.
"Goblet of Fire" made $2.8 million on 66 Imax screens over the weekend, giving it a per-play average of $42,951. That’s the highest ever in the giant-screen format, just beating the $2.7 million record set by "The Polar Express.""
As is usually the case, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving offers a whole bunch of new cinematic choices. The day after tomorrow sees the release of New Line’s rom-com "Just Friends," Sony’s long-awaited cinematic version of "Rent," Focus’ dark ensemble comedy "The Ice Harvest," the family farce "Yours, Mine and Ours," and a teen-centric crime comedy called "In the Mix."
For a closer look at Harry’s magical box office spell, take a visit to the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page. (And have a great holiday weekend!)
Harold Ramis‘ ensemble heist comedy "The Ice Harvest" doesn’t hit the screens for a few months, but fans of John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Platt, Connie Nielsen, and Randy Quaid might want to check the (WMP) trailer out right here.
Focus Features contributes a general plot synopsis: "A wickedly funny thriller that takes moviegoers on a wild ride brimming with larceny, lust and lethal behavior. In icebound Wichita, Kansas, it’s Christmas Eve, and this year Charlie Arglist just might have something to celebrate. Charlie, an attorney for the sleazy businesses of Wichita, and his unsavory associate, the steely Vic Cavanaugh have just successfully embezzled $2 million from Kansas City boss Bill Guerrard. But the real prize for Charlie is the stunning Renata, who runs the Sweet Cage strip club. Charlie hopes to slip out of town with Renata. But as daylight fades and an ice storm whirls, everyone from Charlie’s drinking buddy Pete Van Heuten to the local police begin to wonder just what exactly is in Charlie’s Christmas stocking – and the 12 hours of Christmas Eve are filled with surprises."
"The Ice Harvest" slides onto screens on November 23rd.