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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

4 Bizarre Films Coming To A Theater Near You

In the excitement following last year's Hollywood writer's strike, a lot of projects got restarted or greenlit. The fruits of those labors are now unfolding in movie theaters across the country, and some of them are too weird to live, and too rare to die. Whether it was studio enthusiasm to get any project going, any at all, or a desire to repeat the same old formulas and see if they could still make money (or do so for the first time), these upcoming films seem particularly unlikely to succeed:

Are the executives who put together these projects high, or just crazy enough to be billionaires?

The Film: Four Christmases
When? November 29
Whose Idea Was This Exactly?: Director Seth Gordon's first feature features the completely incomprehensible couple of Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. I thought I'd have to wait for a Helen Keller or Jane Goodall biopic to see these two cast together. The two of them have an unhappy series of Christmases that will surely lead to some kind of emotional reckoning and probably a wedding as well. Hopefully the film's hijinks will prevent Vaughn from crushing Witherspoon during intercourse.
Could It Work?: We celebrate Hanukah, so we have no true way of knowing what Christian folk are looking to watch at Christmastime. Perhaps this film will be screened on the HD monitors mounted on the back of pews. That's what they did for The Passion, right?

The Film: Seven Pounds
When? December 19
Whose Idea Was This Exactly?: From Happyness director Gabriele Muccino, which at least had a true story it was based on. Smith's semi-inspirational follow-up to The Pursuit of Happyness has him as an IRS agent and do-gooder extraordinaire. Now is really the time to be inspired by government, must be the thinking. Unless the government plans on screening this as propaganda to stop people from going all Wesley Snipes, I don't know about this one. Perhaps they could subtly reference Obama in the promotional effort before the movie's release date? Terrific.
Could It Work?: Pounds will have a tough time in the crowded Christmas season.

The Film: Duplicity
When?: March 10, 2009
Whose Idea Was This Exactly?: I realize that Mike Nichols' film Closer has many fans, but I was really not among them. One seemingly indisputable part of the movie was the lack of chemistry between Julia Roberts and Clive Owen in the gorgeous loft where they considered and reconsidered their white people's problems. Owen even tracked down Natalie Portman because he was so bored with Roberts. So why team these two up again, for a film in which the title itself threatens to put audience to sleep? But wait: they play spies for pharmaceutical companies. The only reason this movie got the go is that it's written and directed by Bourne screenwriter Tony Gilroy.
Could It Work?: It will put the test to the theory of whether you can go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American (and British) public. But is no one as worried as I am that Julia Roberts' extensive plastic surgery is about to reduce her into a slobbering mess of not-so-hot?

The Film: 2012
When?: July 10, 2009
Whose Idea Was This Exactly?: Independence Day director Roland Emmerich decided to take a year with some importance in New Age belief — and make a huge action blockbuster out of it! The movie's apocalyptic scenario isn't the first Emmerich pitch to come directly from Wikipedia: Remember 10,000 B.C.? After the film comes out next year, it will have three short years before it's so dated it will never be watched again. With a budget of $200+ million, it better work fast.
Could It Work?: John Cusack and Amanda Peet star as a cute bickering couple in order to grab the attention of the womenfolk. I wouldn't think audiences would fall for something this simplistic, but 10,000 B.C. made over $270 million worldwide on a budget half of 2012's. Here's the first trailer for the movie to help you decide.