When it comes to October, I guess the days of a new horror movie opening every weekend are long gone. While you may be able to curl up on the couch at home every night, there’s a mere two horror flicks opening this month. While one looks way better than the other, the latter still has something going for it behind the cameras that have piqued my interest. So alas, let us delve into the haunt free October that is 2011.
Kicking off with only two new openings comes one for the family, and one for the rest of us. Shawn Levy is not the man who first comes to mind when it comes to big budget action films with Steven Spielberg executive producing and Robert Zemeckis producing. Yet here comes the man behind such disasters as Big Fat Liar, Just Married, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther, and the second Night at the Museum, bringing us an unofficial Rock’em Sock’em Robots film. Granted, the first Night at the Museum wasn’t a complete bust but I have no doubt the only thing holding Date Night together was Tina Fey and Steve Carell. In Real Steel, the gist is that it’s set in the future where robots duke it out in the ring instead of humans. I have some choice words to say about this one and they’ll all be available later this week.
On the flip side of things, we do get a new George Clooney movie! Whether he’s in front of, or behind the camera, the man just does not produce a stinker. Okay, maybe Ocean’s 12. Now he brings us another possible Best Picture front runner with The Ides of March. Also in the spotlight is star Ryan Gosling who’s having the year of his life. Hot off his performance in Blue Valentine last year, 2011 has already given us Crazy, Stupid, Love. and Drive. Maybe we should just give him Best Actor right now on account of collective performances. Anyone? Anyone? Here Gosling plays second fiddle to Clooney’s Presidential candidate where he gets a crash course in corruption. While it sounds slightly cliché, Clooney is directing his own screenplay based on Beau Willimon’s (also credited as co-writer) play “Farragut North.” I think Clooney and company have cooked up another winner.
Two remakes hit screens this day and while I have seen one already, I can vouch that the other will be the greater of the two. First we get a completely unnecessary remake of the Kevin Bacon starring (cult) classic, Footloose. While that film may have been another step to securing Bacon as the huge star that is now, can the same be said for Kenny Wormald? I’ll let audiences be the judge here, but I’m sure had director Craig Brewer opted to adapt the Broadway version he may have really been onto something. But that’s about all I can say about this now.
Meanwhile, another John Carpenter classic gets a makeover in what’s being called a “prequel.” But anyone who’s ever seen his remake of The Thing from Another World, simply titled The Thing, knows that it’s a remake through and through. Thankfully they kept the R-rating and probably upped the gore quotient, even if it appears to be handled from the inside of a computer instead of with stellar practical and makeup effects ala Rob Bottin. At least director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. is keeping things looking cool enough to keep us hot-headed fanboys from getting too bent out of shape. Plus, it gives us all another chance to behold Mary Elizabeth Winstead up on the big screen.
We also get a new comedy from director David Frankel. While not a household name, he did provide us with The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me. Now he’s behind the camera again with his biggest comedic cast yet for an adaptation of the Mark Obmascik novel The Big Year. When your three leads consist of Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black, it’s even more surprising to find a supporting cast packed to the gills such as this. Not only will the comedic trio be on the lookout for the rarest birds in North America, they’ll be in cahoots with the likes of Jim Parsons, Rashida Jones, Anjelica Huston, Joel McHale, Tim Blake Nelson, Diane Wiest, Anthony Anderson, JoBeth Williams, Brian Dennehy, Kevin Pollack, and Corbin Bernsen… phew! I think I smell a sleeper hit in the making with this one.
Three different genre films open this day; our second horror helping along with a big, dumb, action movie, and another comedy. Up first is the film I should have absolutely no interest in seeing. After being burned by the first two Paranormal Activity films I should be holding this third at arms length. Yet leave it to Paramount Pictures to talk the minds behind one of my favorite Sundance Films (Catfish) into helming Paranormal Activity 3. Now we get to see how it all started back when Katie and Kristi are kids. Leave it to a spooky game of Bloody Mary to commence the shenanigans. While the series seemed headed for diminishing returns, I can’t help but love the trailers and TV spots for this one. Plus, like I said, I loved me some Catfish and was totally disgusted when the Academy deemed it ineligible for Best Documentary. Let’s see if Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman can finally give us what we’ve been waiting for.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson has honestly never made a quality film. Even his Death Race remake is just about the only thing he even has close to a guilty pleasure, which isn’t saying much. So now he sets his sights on bringing us yet another big budget explosion extravaganza with his version of Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers. All I’ve gotten out of this so far is that things will blow up, swords will clang clang and swoosh swoosh, and cleavage will rear its head at every chance. I may feel cold on this one, but I have yet to even see one TV spot for the other action film headed our way today.
Another Johnny English heads our way, because apparently Universal is under some kind of contract to release all of Studio Canal’s features regardless of whether they make any money in the states or not. Needless to say, Rowan Atkinson’s titular character is Reborn and I’m sure audiences are as likely to show up as they were last time.
Just because the rest of the month seems lackluster doesn’t mean we can’t have four major releases this day. I’ll try to be quick as there’s only two really worth mentioning. First up is director Roland Emmerich’s first foray into a film that does not revolve the end of the world in some manner. Instead he thinks it’s a good idea to proclaim Shakespeare a fraud in Anonymous. If that doesn’t make one balk already, I don’t know what could.
Meanwhile, Andrew Niccol thought it was a good idea to cast Justin Timberlake In Time as the next big action star alongside Amanda Seyfried’s breasts. While the filmmakers are caught up in legal action, Timberlake tries to play serious action which will probably only make audiences laugh harder than when he’s in his annual SNL Digital Short contributions.
Finishing out the month is a couple of suave exercises in live action and the third dimension. First, DreamWorks finally brings forth the long-awaited Puss in Boots film with Antonio Banderas slipping into his most recognizable character as we all get to see what lead up to that fateful day where he meets up with Shrek and company. Director Chris Miller gives Charles Perrault’s feline lead his own flick, but let’s just pray that he learned from his mistake that was the unbearable Shrek the Third. Maybe the blame could solely be placed on that film’s thirteen(!) credited writers compared to Boots’ seemingly simplified four here but we shall see.
And alas, here we also get treated to more semi-autobiographical misadventures of Hunter S. Thompson courtesy of Johnny Deep in The Rum Diary. Last time he slipped into the warped shoes of Thompson we were treated to Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. While I still may not be able to sit through that head trip in one sitting, things look far more streamlined here thanks to writer/director Bruce Robinson. Tagging along for the ride in debauchery this time is Amber Heard, Giovanni Ribisi, Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins. Having not directed a feature since 1992’s Jennifer Eight, I’m suspecting a lot of love to be awash over Robinson’s production.
So that about sums it up for October. Yes, not a whole lot to be excited about but definitely some tasty morsels sprinkled about to satiate our sweet tooth while we continue waiting it out for November and December when Oscar season really starts to kick it into high gear.
Photos courtesy DreamWorks, Fox 2000 Pictures, Universal Pictures, Summit Entertainment, Paramount Pictures