Tag Archives: Let’s Be Cops

Search Party

Search Party is the worst kind of terrible comedy.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

search partySearch Party begins at the bachelor party of one Nardo (Thomas Middleditch).  In just a few hours, he will be getting married to the love of his life, Tracy (Shannon Woodward), but right now he’s getting high in a van with his two best friends – straight man business guy Evan (Adam Pally), and loser slacker Jason (T. J. Miller).  During this session, he experiences nerves about his impending nuptials which Jason, who doesn’t like Tracy for whatever reason, takes to mean that Nardo just plain doesn’t want to get married.  He therefore crashes the wedding, leaving Nardo heartbroken and Tracy jetting off to Mexico to experience their honeymoon alone.

The next evening, Jason gets a call from Nardo.  Nardo went to Mexico to try and find Tracy, but was promptly car-jacked and “tuxedo-jacked” and so now is stranded in Mexico, naked, with no car, no cash, and no way of getting to Tracy or back home.  Jason promptly grabs Evan – since he’s not allowed to drive Evan’s company car without Evan present – and the two begin their race down to Mexico to try and get Nardo back unharmed.  Preferably before 8am at that, as that’s when Evan has a big meeting with his boss (Lance Reddick) that could land him a big promotion.

I wrote down that entire plot synopsis because I wanted to make it really, really clear to you about just how desperately Todd Phillips-y Search Party is trying to be, and especially like Due Date.  Conveniently, Search Party is the directorial debut of Scot Armstrong, who has been one of Todd Phillips’ closest collaborators, having co-written scripts for Road Trip, Old School, Starsky & Hutch, and The Hangover Part II, so it makes sense that Search Party plays like a bad Todd Phillips movie.  I mean, that’s a redundant descriptor, as pretty much all Todd Phillips movies are bad movies, but the point still stands.

So, it’s a bro-comedy, and comes with everything that you’re expecting from a modern day bro-comedy.  Lots of references to and smoking of weed, racial and just plain racist stereotypes because “ha ha, aren’t non-white people hilarious for being non-white?”, casual sexism verging into outright misogyny at points, painfully laborious set ups for extended setpieces that are not as inherently funny as the film’s writers thought they’d be, a wet-blanked nagging love interest for our straight man (Alison Brie) whose sole purpose is to roll her eyes at the antics of the stupid boys, a cheap and stunningly incompetent action finale, the man-child best friend being the kind of hateful imbecile that makes you wonder why anybody would ever voluntarily hang around this bell-end, terrible CGI, a vomiting donkey…

That’s not why I hate Search Party, though.  Bro-comedies aren’t my thing, but they normally just bore me and cause me to sigh by this point.  They’re not for me and, although I do believe that human society would be a million percent better off by the eradication of their existence, they don’t annoy or offend me anymore, unless they are really atrociously offensive.  And although Search Party is rather offensive – women are either evil, bangable background candy, or personality-free prizes for our cast, Mexicans are lazy or threats to our heroes, JB Smoove’s evil crazed drug dealer is exactly what you’re imagining the result of that description to be – and really poorly made – continuity errors abound everywhere, certain shot choices and cuts make no sense, I can feel the cheapness radiate from this film’s entire being – it’s not offensive enough or incompetent enough to draw my ire by itself.

No, my ire is drawn from the cast.  Specifically, this cast list is a veritable dream team of stars from cult sitcoms from the past half-decade who have long deserved a shot at movie stardom.  Our leads are Adam Pally from the cruelly short-lived Happy Endings, Thomas Middleditch from Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley, and T. J. Miller who is also from Silicon Valley and whose unmistakeable voice has popped up in the margins of pretty much every single animated project released since 2010.  There’s also Alison Brie from Community, Krysten Ritter from the also criminally short-lived Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23, Jason Mantzoukas from The League, JB Smoove from 30 Rock and Chris Rock’s amazing Top Five, and Shannon Woodward from the quietly great Raising Hope.

This is a stacked cast of astoundingly talented comic performers who killed it on their respective shows, have shown talent in guest spots elsewhere, and who deserve their breakthrough moment and an opportunity to headline a damn good comedy feature.  The fact that they’ve been brought together for one movie is ridiculous and should, in theory, produce a film of non-stop hilarity.  Hence my ire, because this is a cast that has been given absolutely nothing to work with.  Like, there is almost literally nothing in this script that constitutes an actual joke and multiple, multiple characters get quite literally nothing funny to do.  Alison Brie is given no jokes whatsoever, inexcusable, and Lance Reddick’s role could genuinely be replaced by a balloon tied to a wet floor sign and you’d get the same effect.

So this isn’t a case of a cast not being able to turn mediocre or worse material into something decent through delivery and sheer force of will, like the best comic performers can, this is a cast trying to make something out of nothing and coming off as incredibly desperate as a result.  Nobody could make this work.  You could give this script to an in-their-prime Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, and Robin Williams and you would still get the exact same results!  Garfunkel And Oates – the musical act of Riki Lindholme and Kate Micucci – show up at the beginning and end of the film to sing two of their own songs and they are far, far, far funnier than anything the film itself comes up with, and their whole thing is “Aww, look!  We’re two sweet girls singing cute songs on ukuleles and acoustic guitars PUSSY VAGINA PUSSY VAGINA PUSSY VAGINA DICK DICK DICK”!

And what gets me, what REALLY gets me, is the fact that this cast will not be given this chance again, and I’m not just saying that because Universal have delayed the film’s release in America for close to a year now and are dumping it in pretty much every other country for the time being.  This cast will not be brought back together exactly like they were here for any other film, not to mention the fact that at least half of these folks’ movie careers are about to hit massive brick walls as a result of this.  Let’s Be Cops was another terrible film that squandered excellent sitcom actors who deserve a chance to prove themselves in a big screen film on completely garbage material, but that film was a success and I have a good feeling that Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. will be brought back together multiple times in the future to try again and again, hopefully on scripts that contain even trace amounts of wit and humour.  But that’s not happening with these folks.

That’s why Search Party is the worst kind of terrible comedy.  It’s the kind of terrible comedy that ensnares a whole bunch of incredibly talented and potential-filled comedic actors and actresses in its web, and then traps them in an extremely lazy script that gives them nothing to do except stumble through the motions of a dreadful bro-comedy, whilst their attempts to try and make something, anything, funny happen in a script that has no funny just makes them look pitiably desperate and hopelessly out of their depth.  That’s why Search Party angers me, because nothing angers me like talented people having their big chance and potential actively squandered by utter shit.

There is a very good reason why you probably haven’t heard of this film prior to this review.  Trust me, you are better off not seeking it out.

Callum Petch has sucked more blood than a backstreet dentist.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Callum Petch’s Bottom 10 of 2014: #10 – #6

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Happy New Year, everybody!  Over the last two days, I have shared with you the 10 films that stuck with me the most throughout 2014 for the right reasons.  Plaudits were thrown about, praises were slathered, and good times were had.  If you missed those articles, you can find them located here and here.  Today and tomorrow, though, I share with you the 10 films that stuck with me the most throughout 2014 for the wrong reasons.

I have never actually done a Bottom 10 list before.  As mentioned in the first of my Top 10 pieces, prior to this year I had to carefully select what films I went to see, but this year I could toss quality control out of the window and see everything.  Therefore, in the name of film criticism, I have seen a lot of total sh*t this past year.  However, this is not a list of the absolute worst made films of 2014.  Some of them are on here, but that is not what the list is about.  It’s too easy and not particularly interesting, especially since many of them are akin to shooting fish in a barrel with a blunderbuss machine gun.  I mean, are any of you at all surprised that Pudsey The Dog: The Movie turned out to be horrendous?

No, this list is a Bottom 10 and encompasses the films from 2014 that made me angry.  To get on this list, a film had to have left me with a strong negative reaction that did not go away after a short while.  These are the films that drew my anger, swallowed me in disappointment, offended my being in some way shape or form, or also represent everything that is wrong with filmmaking and the film industry today.  How much do these films deserve to be on this list?  Transcendence, Annie, Blended, and 300: Rise Of An Empire missed out on placements.

So, same rules apply here as they did for the Top 10, and same presentation style applies too – today, we count down #10 to #6.  If we’re all set, don your bile protection gear, don’t look directly into the films that are listed here, and ONWARDS, AOSHIMA!

There may be spoilers.  Proceed with caution.


boyhood10] Boyhood

Dir: Richard Linklater

Star: Ellar Coltraine, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke

Again, this is not a list of the worst films of 2014.  I can name you at least 20 or so films that I saw that are worse than Boyhood.  No, Boyhood is on this list because, more so than any other film released in 2014, it annoyed me.  It confounded me, it irritated me, it baffled me, it enraged me, it majorly disappointed me, and these feelings have remained with me ever since I saw the film because people won’t shut the hell up about the goddamn thing and because we might as well FedEx all awards ever to its undeserving doorstep now to save time and money on postage.

Look, my seething distaste for Boyhood is very much equal parts it not being a very good film, and my own personal feelings and baggage.  Boyhood purports to be a look at the coming-of-age of a white, suburban, straight, middle-class male throughout the 2000s but does so in a way and tone that feels like it’s putting down the final word on the matter.  That this is how it was for everybody, that it’s making some giant statement about it all, especially since the film keeps throwing out philosophical sound bites and barely tolerable bullsh*t about how “the moment seizes you” and stuff.  It looks down from upon high and decrees “THIS IS WHAT BOYHOOD WAS LIKE IN THE 2000s” with absolutely no self-awareness or analysis of what it actually means to be that kind of privileged white, straight, middle-class male, which makes its declarative nature all the more insufferable.

“Oh, but Boyhood is a character piece!” I imagine many are trying to counter with right about now.  Problem with that argument is that the film fails at that, too.  Mason, Jr. is a non-entity.  I spent two hours and forty minutes in his company – watched him go through 12 years of life – and the most I learnt about him is that he possibly has a interest in photography, and that his actor grew up to resemble Ethan Hawke so much that I’m honestly not 100% certain that he’s not just a clone of Ethan Hawke.  I don’t know what makes him tick, I don’t know what his aspirations are, I don’t know how he progressed from his six year-old self to his eighteen year-old self.  He feels less like a character and more like a blank slate that either you’re supposed to project your own self onto or who is supposed to stand in for every white privileged guy ever.

“But the whole point of the movie is that your adolescence cannot be boiled down to big standout moments!  That’s why it skips Mason, Jr.’s first kiss, first job, rambunctious teenager phase, etc.!”  OK, so why does the entire first half of the film concern itself with the theme of being too young to truly understand how the world works?  Much of the film’s first half dedicates itself to the lives of Mason and Olivia, Mason, Jr. and Samantha’s parents, and the complicated nature of their various relationships, living arrangements and procession of step-parents as viewed through the eyes of children who will never truly understand why these things are happening.  That’s why there is this ridiculously cartoonishly delivered sequence where Olivia bolts with the kids away from her alcoholic and abusive new husband.  That is a major standout moment of somebody’s life, and its grand theatricality – not helped by Marco Perella swinging for the fences with his playing of that scene – goes against the low-key nature of the rest of the film.

Yet the film drops that theme at about the halfway mark and just ambles about aimlessly for its remaining runtime.  It’s maddening to see a film wilfully waste its potential and possible avenues of storytelling and thematic resonance at damn near every opportunity.  Patricia Arquette has been getting major praise for her role as Olivia and understandably so, she does great work, which makes it all the more infuriating that, despite being Mason, Jr.’s primary parent and guardian, the film repeatedly side-lines her in favour of even more screen time with Mason, Sr. in a bunch of scenes that eventually reduce themselves to just hitting the same beats over and over again.  Olivia gets an outstanding scene near the end where she breaks down as an uncaring Mason, Jr. gets the last of his stuff from her house about the passage of time, and of heavily implied regret for giving her life to him instead of living it for herself.  That scene is outstanding, which only makes it all the more infuriating that the film isn’t about her – the one character in the film with an arc, thematic resonance or f*cking something going on.

That’s ultimately what annoys me most about Boyhood, is the fact that it has nothing going on besides its “shot over 12 years” gimmick.  It is a film with no central character, no consistent thematic arc, and nothing interesting to say because it actively steers itself away from having anything interesting to say.  I get the feeling that Linklater started this project with a real passion and desire, only for that to fade away from him as the years progressed, eventually becoming more of an obligation than anything he was seriously interested in working on – the film gets lazier and lazier, just drifting through its last forty minutes with no drive except for some half-assed pseudo-philosophical rambling (very much like a teenager).  Linklater is better than this, he has consistently proven over the last 12 years that he is a better filmmaker than this, and that’s why Boyhood disappoints me so.  It’s a pointless, muddled, dreary slog of a film that also touches on something real and honest infrequently enough to make its bungling of everything even more irritating.

Also, its last scene is one of the worst and most aggravating that I have seen all year, and the film managed to make me hate Arcade Fire for a good two hours after I left the cinema.


09] Let’s Be Copslet's be cops

Dir: Luke Greenfield

Star: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans, Jr.

Let’s Be Cops is not the worst comedy of 2014 – that honour goes to Sex Tape, since that barely qualifies as a film, let alone a comedy.  It is not the most offensive comedy of 2014 – that honour goes to Blended.  It is also not the most disappointing comedy of 2014 – A Million Ways To Die In The West – or the most pointless – Horrible Bosses 2 – or the biggest pile of evidence that we should stop allowing British people to make comedies – Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie.  What Let’s Be Cops is, and why it is on this list instead of the far more deserving Sex Tape, is the most perfect encapsulation of everything that is currently wrong with the American feature-length comedy movie.

2014 has been a pretty miserable year for out-and-out comedies.  Of the many, many, many comedies released these past 12 months, only two were actually any good – Bad Neighbours (which came this close to cracking my Top 20) and 22 Jump Street (which had a very good chance of actually cracking the Top 10 if I had managed to watch it again before list-making time) – the rest were either diverting but pointless, or just plain torture to sit through.  I realise that every year has maybe two great straight comedies – a number that’s bumped up to four if you include comedy-dramas or black comedies – and a whole load of tripe surrounding them, but you’ll have to forgive me for being disappointed that an increased number of releases this year led to the same number of hits compared to misses.

The American comedy is currently stale, and Let’s Be Cops is such a grab-bag text of all of its worst impulses that I’m honestly still not sure that it wasn’t intentional – a desire to make a comedy I can point to for all aspiring comedy filmmakers and go “You see that?  Don’t do that.”  A loose rambling structure that sacrifices these things we call “set-ups” and “punchlines” in favour of dropping talented comedians with decent chemistry into scenarios and praying that they can improv up enough gold to fill out the runtime, direction and scene set-ups that are dull and interchangeable, editing that doesn’t know when to stop a scene, a needlessly stretched out runtime that gets way too close to two hours, genuinely funny material being beaten into the ground or stretched so thin that the entire enterprise feels endless, a casually tossed off sexist attitude towards women, a final third where the jokes are dropped completely because apparently only Phil Lord & Chris Miller know how to make plot funny anymore…

Let’s Be Cops also has the extra dead albatross of being released in the immediate aftermath of the tragic events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri which have sparked off an additional nationwide conversation about police brutality, racism and militarisation of the police force, adding an extra layer of awkward tastelessness to jokes like our two leads playfully brandishing their loaded guns at each other in a public restaurant.  But, honestly, that’s the least of its problems.  Let’s Be Cops could have used its premise to explore and ask tough questions about the current state of the police force in 21st century America, but it didn’t have to and it’s not automatically lesser for not doing so – there’s nothing wrong with a silly comedy and at no point did either of the Jump Street movies use their cop-comedy premises for social satire.  What is inexcusable, though, is the sheer laziness and half-assery of the film’s entire construction.  This is soulless, paint-by-numbers filmmaking where the only people trying are its two stars, which only serves to make them look desperate.

Again, Let’s Be Cops is not the worst comedy of the year – holy hell, is Sex Tape ever an appalling train wreck – but it is a perfect distillation of everything that is currently wrong with the comedy genre.  This trend of foisting near-laugh-free scripts on talented actors with lightning chemistry and expecting them to do all the heavy lifting with endless improv needs to stop.  I don’t care that the majority of today’s movie star comedians and comediennes come with an improv background; there is a never a better substitute for tight editing and a raucous script stuffed to the brim with proper jokes from start to finish.  Bad Neighbours got that, 22 Jump Street got that, why can’t anything else get that?


new york winters tale08] A New York Winter’s Tale

Dir: Akiva Goldsman

Star: Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown-Findlay

That’s right, folks.  A film that I declared back in February to have been “one of the worst films that I have ever seen” is only #8 on my Bottom 10 of 2014.  And, honestly, it’s really only here out of some sort of obligation.  Oh, sure, A New York Winter’s Tale is pure garbage of the highest order, but it’s a film that I have warmed to since then, probably because it, unlike a lot of the tripe populating this list, at least is completely sincere in its attempts to be good.  Therefore, although I hated it at the time, I don’t hate it with the same ferocity that I once did.  Not anymore, I feel like I have moved on from it.

Again, though, that doesn’t stop A New York Winter’s Tale from being a complete and total failure on every single conceivable level of filmmaking.  The dialogue is atrocious, the plot is nonsense, it looks dreadful in both the practical sense – of set design, shot composition, costumes, hairpieces and such – and the computer-generated sense, it boasts atrocious performances from everybody involved, it is paced like a marathon populated by narcoleptics, its attempts at thematic resonance and foreshadowing are quite literally laughable…  I’m honestly not sure what’s more inadvertently hilarious, the movie or the fact that a former Oscar winner convinced Village Roadshow Pictures to give him $60 million and several talented high profile actors to give several weeks of their lives to filming this piece of guff.

The plot powering this guff – based on a novel I haven’t read but is apparently, by all accounts, nowhere near as rubbish as this – centres around Colin Farrell as a potential miracle maker who was raised and then hunted by a demon, played by Russell Crowe, legitimately named Pearly Soames (real name, not the gender-flipped version of Pearl from Spongebob Squarepants), who works for Lucifer, played by Will Smith (an incredibly sleepy and checked out Will Smith, before you get excited and, yes, it is problematic that the one major black guy in the film is playing Satan).  It turns out that Colin Farrell’s miracle is to apparently cure a young woman’s terminal tuberculosis through the power of love, whilst Pearly (real name) hunts the pair down with murderous intentions cos Lucifer don’t like any sunshine or kittens getting out into the world, thank you kindly.

See, this all sounds like the most enjoyable nonsense, a “So Bad, It’s Good” of epic proportions.  Yet, whilst I was watching the thing, I didn’t find it funny because it is so po-facedly earnestly serious about its stupid endeavour that any fun to be had at its ridiculous awfulness was lost.  This was a film with a Pegasus, a ridiculous pace-killing near-century time-skip, and a sequence in which somebody is quite literally f*cked to death, and all I could do was check my watch, yawn and question whether walking out would be preferable to continuing to submit myself to the thing – although I did laugh at the reveal of the Pegasus, mostly because it looks like what you’d get if you asked a 5 year-old to recreate the Tri-Star logo in MS Paint in the next 30 minutes.

But I no longer hate A New York Winter’s Tale.  I did, once upon a time, enough to write a long-winded and pretty funny review (if you’ll allow me one of my five annual tootings of my own horn) tearing the thing to shreds, but no more.  I have made my peace with this film’s existence.  If I were to ever see it again – preferably in the company of friends, drunk on soda of various kinds, during a Bad Movie Night – I’d probably be able to crack wise at the thing effortlessly and have myself a gay old time.  It is still one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my 20 years of existence, but as previously mentioned this is not a Worst Movies of 2014 list.  Therefore, A New York Winter’s Tale stalls out at #8.  The bile saved from this can instead be deployed on other, more deserving films, such as…


07] Transformers: Age Of Extinctiontransformers 4

Dir: Michael Bay

Star: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci

This one is just as much my own goddamn stupid fault as it is the film in question.  I stupidly – and it is stupidly, there is no other word or reasoning to make this alright – let a part of me become somewhat hopeful that this time things would be different.  The Transformers series, under the creative direction and influence of these people, gave me absolutely no reason to believe that it could produce anything great or even worth my time.  Yet, a part of me was allowed to be quietly optimistic.  After bottoming out with Revenge Of The Fallen, Dark Of The Moon took the series’ first tentative steps towards being a good movie – it wasn’t one, but it was on the path to at least being entertaining – and 2013’s underrated Pain & Gain proved to me that Michael Bay hadn’t forgotten how to make movies.  So a part of me got a little hopeful; this time, things were going to be different.

They weren’t.  They weren’t at all.  Age Of Extinction is a regression back to all of the same toxic sh*t that Transformers, Revenge Of The Fallen and to a lesser extent Dark Of The Moon had peddled beforehand, only now even more bloated and expanded and epic-ised (which isn’t even a real word but was likely a direction used for scene prep at some point during this thing’s production) to levels that make the resulting product an endurance test instead of anything that anybody could find entertaining.  Casual racism, creepy paedophilic undertones, an actively hateful bordering on misogynist view of women, product placement – including product placement for The People’s Republic of China despite current world events making that one of the most tone-deaf things one could do – abysmally directed and incomprehensible action, active wasting of interesting themes, and an utterly awful Imagine Dragons song – which is a step down from Linkin Park.

And in other news, the sun rose today, the sky is blue, and George Clooney is an incredibly sexy man.  Look, I get that we have all collectively realised that the Transformers movies are abhorrent pieces of trash and that their continued financial success will be one of life’s big mysteries.  Age Of Extinction’s appearance on this list is that barrel full of fish that I mentioned earlier, but sometimes really obvious fish need shooting for a reason and this metaphor has broken down.  Point is, Age Of Extinction is a reminder that there are people out there who have nothing but contempt for the movie going audience.  Who believe that they can push out thoughtless, stupid, toxic crap and that people will show up to buy it because the explosions are big and shiny and purdy.  There is always room for big dumb action films – the Fast & Furious franchise is beloved for a reason, after all – but those are films that do so with glee, joy and smartness, as crafting a good big dumb action film takes actual effort.

Age Of Extinction is not that film.  It is a cynical, joyless, mindless exercise whose sole reason for its existence is to line Paramount Pictures executives’ pockets with more money.  And I went into it stupidly thinking that it wouldn’t be.  People went to see this and not Edge Of Tomorrow, and, thanks specifically to China, we will be suffering through two more of these sh*tfests.  Well done, everyone.  Sterling job.


906429 - The Amazing Spider-Man 206] The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Dir: Marc Webb

Star: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx

We are in the middle of a full-on comic book boom at the cinema.  Now, admittedly, we’ve been in one since the early 2000s when Spider-Man, X-Men and Blade were ruling the box office, but we’re really in the midst of one.  Every studio has, or is attempting to cultivate, their own comic book empire out of the materials that Marvel Studios hasn’t already swallowed up, everybody is trying to serialise everything, and Marvel this year dictated the exact days in which I need to sit my ass down in a cinema for the next five years.  This boom will bust out eventually, but things are looking good for now.

They won’t look so good for very long, however, if studios keep pumping out films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  This one was a time-bomb, folks.  As you may have gathered from my original review, I strongly disliked the film but I didn’t hate it at the time – I thought I’d found a couple of redeeming factors and let the potential of the series dilute some of my venom for it.  But then it sat in head.  And sat.  And sat.  And, for at least three months afterwards, it wouldn’t leave because myself and my friends kept finding more and more wrong with it the more we let it settle.  We found new problems – like the incredibly poor pacing and structural mess that robs anything of any resonance – whilst old problems – the incredibly creepy and borderline sexist crap with Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey, Peter’s problem of him being a giant dick – were found to be even more systemic and problematic.

In the end, though, it all comes back to this simple fact: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not a film.  It is a commercial for the next film, and also a Sinister Six film that literally nobody was ever asking for.  This is not a film that was made by a cast and crew with a vision, a story to tell, and the drive and passion to pull it off.  This was a film ham-fistedly dictated by a studio for the sole purpose of forcing a franchise and making a lot of money because, “Yo!  Those kids loves them some Spider-Man!  I spies dollar signs, boys!”  There is no narrative reason for this film to exist, there is no thematic reason for this film to exist; this is a film that exists because Sony saw that Marvel Studios have made Scrooge McDuck-money with their franchises and shared universe continuity and wanted that green without actually having to do the work necessary to earn it.

Do you know why Marvel can unveil concrete dates for a five-year plan of films and the only negative thing it does to us is make us contemplate our own fragile mortality?  It’s because they, first and foremost, tell stories.  Each film so far, despite this shared-universe thing and their franchising and sequelising and such, works as a film on its own.  They tell complete stories, have effort and craft put into them, and each of them exist because, or give a good enough illusion, somebody wanted to tell a story, first and foremost.  Are they often still safe, less groundbreaking and risky than they appear, and mandated by the producers at the studio?  Well, yes, undoubtedly, but the films are great and satisfying and fun and have real effort put in that I really don’t care.

Marvel Studios, essentially, have earned my trust, and near everyone else’s trust, in this grand experiment because they have proven first and foremost that their movies are worth the commercial avenues that they will be taken down.  Sony don’t want to wait for that trust and have forced the Spider-Man license through the most cynical, money-driven, bereft-of-ideas ringer they could get their hands on, and practically every problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 can be traced back to a studio wanting their money now and not thinking through, or putting any effort whatsoever into, a single one of the film’s creative decisions.  When people disparage comic book movies and serialisation of movies, this is what they are referring to and I shiver at the possibility that I will be seeing more Amazing Spider-Man 2s in the coming future.

Sony, just torch the franchise and negotiate with Marvel.  Please?  It’s clearly been more trouble for you than it’s worth.  Just wash your hands of this game and move on.  For all of us.


Well, we’ve made it halfway through the list.  Agree?  Disagree?  Think I was being too harsh/not harsh enough on some of these?  Let me know in the comments below!  Tomorrow, we wrap up this week with the absolute bottom of the barrel.  Brace yourselves…

Callum Petch only dreams in black and white.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 3/10/14 – 5/10/14

Gone Girl disappears with a lot of cash, Annabelle scares up big bucks, Nas: Box Office Gross Is Illmatic, you already know the obvious pun for Left Behind, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Defying typical David Fincher luck, Gone Girl obliterated the weekend and took first place with $38 million in ticket sales.  Why do I say “defying typical David Fincher luck”?  Well, because David Fincher films do not open past the $20 million mark, the only exceptions being The Social Network (and even then just barely), The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (which had Brad Pitt and enough crowd-pleasing Oscar bait schmaltz to drown kittens in) and the prior biggest opener Panic Room (which… OK, I’ve got nuthin’).  Plus, you know, the fact that the film is bleak and nihilistic and preposterous and nasty as all hell.  But, hey, it’s the date movie of the year!  I mean, I don’t know about you folks, but I find that films about psychopaths and sociopaths are just the most hopelessly romantic!

Anyways, the success of Gone Girl means that, for once, justice prevails at the box office!  My favourite film of the year so far managed to hold off blatant coat-tails riding cash-grab Annabelle, which entered in second with $37 million!  Admittedly, that is still extremely close and could lead to a switch in positions when the actuals come in, but I am going to pre-emptively do my happy dance jig right now, if you all don’t mind.  The fact that its opening is still massive and that it’s guaranteed to make crap tonnes due to it being the only horror movie out for the majority of October (Dracula Untold will bomb, just you watch) are both irrelevant.  Gone Girl came out on top!  Everything’s going to be OK, folks!  Everything is going to be OK.

Other films came out this past weekend, though, so we have to talk about them.  Left Behind, an adaptation of a faith-based book series starring noted religious man Nicholas Cage and directed by former stuntman Vic Armstrong, was resoundingly… you know what?  I am above the obvious joke that everyone else has already made, I draw the line at jokes this easy.  All I’ll say is that Left Behind took almost $7 million for sixth place.  Faring infinitely worse was the “mother of God, this trailer is so offensive and offensively treacly that a crazed homeless man could jump out of nowhere and scoop my eyeballs out of their sockets right now, and it would honestly be preferable to having to see the rest of this trailer or the film that it’s promoting” The Good Lie, which could only manage $935,000 from 461 screens despite Reese Witherspoon being somebody whose name we should all know.

Doing much better than both of those was the Bollywood epic (and I do mean “epic”) Bang Bang!, a remake of that world-famous and widely-revered Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz vehicle Knight & Day that you all totally didn’t forget about 5 minutes after watching.  In any case, its 271 screens, as part of one of the biggest release roll-outs for a Bollywood movie ever, convinced $1.2 million worth of people to finally try this Bollywood thing they keep hearing so much about, the highest opening of the year for a Bollywood film in the US.  Faring much, much, much worse was the latest film from once bright directorial star Jason Reitman: Men, Women & Children, which has been absolutely savaged by critics, only managed to take $48,000 from 17 screens for a per-screen average of $2,824 which is horrible.  The film might do better when it expands nationwide in a few weeks, but that’s still two straight critical drubbings in the space of 10 months for Reitman.  Dude, what the f*ck has happened to you?

Finally before we get into the full list, Nas: Time Is Illmatic, a documentary about the creation of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, rap albums of all-time and the people behind it, managed to open to $23,200 from 2 screens.  I mention this purely for the reasons of I think that’s genuinely awesome and to tell you to listen to Illmatic right now if you haven’t yet.  In fact, listen to it even if you already know it front-to-back, it’s never not a good time to listen to that album!


XXX GONE-GIRL-MOV-JY-2007-.JPG A ENT

This Full List sneaks a uzi on the island in its army jacket lining.

Box Office Results: Friday 3rd October 2014 – Sunday 5th October 2014

1] Gone Girl

$38,000,000 / NEW

My review, in which I battled against an unrelenting cold and a desire to avoid spoiling anything to tell you why I think Gone Girl is the best film I have seen all year and likely will see all year.  Before anybody shouts “BUT INHERENT VICE HASN’T COME OUT AND CHANGED ANYONE’S LIVES YET” or some such like, UK release dates mean that films like Inherent Vice don’t make it over here until January because Americans just can’t get over that one time we forcibly colonised them.  In any case, no film has made me as excited about films and cinema and going to the cinema this year as Gone Girl did.  It’s going to be divisive, but I f*cking adore it and, for me, it’s the bar to clear for everything else this year.

2] Annabelle

$37,200,000 / NEW

I am so glad this comes out next week here.  Then I can finally stop hanging around outside cinema screens for films I want to see waiting for the trailers to finish in case this one starts up and gives my easily-scared self a heart-attack.  Instead, I’ll be hanging around outside cinema screens for films I want to see waiting for the trailers to finish so that other films I want to see aren’t spoilt for me; a totally legitimate reason for doing so.

3] The Equalizer

$19,000,000 / $64,500,000

Fine, I guess I’ll see this tomorrow or whatever.  I’m probably going to hate it, but at least then we’ll all know together!

4] The Boxtrolls

$12,425,000 / $32,539,000

A 28.1% drop between weekends, which is excellent.  Now, yes, considering the soft opening, that’s still a bit too much of a drop for my liking, but it’s actually really excellent.  Why?  Well, again, stop-motion animated films open soft anyway and a near 30% drop is rather expected between weekends for them, it’s better than ParaNorman’s near 40% plummet two years back and is equal to the fall that Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit took between weekends.  Boxtrolls will pass Frankenweenie by Friday in terms of total domestic grosses, it’s doing well overseas, and it may close closer to Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride than initially thought.  Overall, things are going to turn out alright for Laika.  I’ve got a good feeling about this!

5] The Maze Runner

$12,000,000 / $73,921,000

OK, then, Friday, bring on The Maze Runner.  I’m ready to give it a fair shot.  My expectations are low but my mind is willing to give the film a chance to win me over.  This is your shot, Maze Runner.  Impress me.

6] Left Behind

$6,850,000 / NEW

Yeah, I’ll just stick to watching The Leftovers, is that’s alright with everyone.

7] This Is Where I Leave You

$4,000,000 / $29,003,000

So… have we all come around to Arrested Development Season 4 yet?  Granted, I haven’t watched it since it came out (I have been busy, but I’d like to have a run back through all of Arrested Development yet again some point soon), but it fulfilled pretty much all of my expectations when I saw it; I spent pretty much three straight days in varying levels of hysterics with it.  That made my going online and seeing the bile-filed reception the season got from most people rather perplexing.  I mean, sure, it’s not as good as Season 2, but I ask you what else is?

Can you tell that I’m really reaching for stuff to talk about with regards to this film, cos I want to hold off on making any judgements until I’ve seen the thing for myself?

8] Dolphin Tale 2

$3,530,000 / $37,940,000

So, in preparation for finally seeing this in the very near-future, I watched the original over the weekend.  It’s an OK film, does exactly what it promises to do and not much more but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it did work for small stretches at a time.  It felt very much like a film that’s been pulled out of time and released in the early 2010s, specifically a time between 1993 and 1996.  Still have no idea what they can do for a sequel, mind, besides hit the exact same beats this one did but with diminishing returns.  I guess I’ll find out soon.

9] Guardians Of The Galaxy

$3,034,000 / $323,360,000

Well, it’s been an incredible 10 week run, but it’s time to say goodbye to the Guardians Of The Galaxy.  Next week sees the release of a sh*tty looking Dracula movie, an abysmal looking live-action Disney family film, and a mediocre looking Robert Downey Jr. starring piece of award bait.  But it’s not the quality that’s the point here, it’s the fact that they’ll be new films and that Guardians will be an 11 week old film that will hit home media in exactly two months from now.  Ah, well, it’s been fun!  Let’s play it out, shall we?

10] No Good Deed

$2,500,000 / $50,157,000

America, you could have seen anything else.  Almost quite literally anything else.  Just remember that fact.

Dropped Out: A Walk Among The Tombstones, Let’s Be Cops, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Callum Petch never sleeps cos sleep is the cousin of death.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 26/9/14 – 28/9/14

The Equalizer has no equal, The Boxtrolls live underneath The Maze Runner, take Pride in that film’s per-screen average, these are some of the worst puns you will see all week, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Now that that awful headline has chased off anybody without a strong enough constitution, let’s get down to business.  The Equalizer is your new number one with $34 million in ticket sales and a per-screen average of over $10,000.  You know, despite it looking like garbage.  Still, that didn’t stop it becoming the fourth-highest September opening in history behind Hotel Transylvania, Insidious: Chapter Two, and Sweet Home Alabama which, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be googling right now to find out what the hell that was.  Chalk up the success to the presence of Denzel Washington, the Patron Saint of movies that inexplicably make a lot of money despite immediately fading from memory after viewing.  Don’t believe me?  OK, then: what year did 2 Guns come out?  The correct answer was August of last year, not that you’d get that seeing as you actually had to google 2 Guns to remember what it was.

As for the week’s other new release, The Boxtrolls, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that the film now has the second biggest opening for a stop-motion animated film ever, behind Chicken Run, said opening is more than the ones for both Coraline and ParaNorman, and the lack of any family-focussed films on the release docket for next week gives it a strong chance of holding well!  The bad news is that it opened in third with only $17 million in ticket sales.  Again, that’s still a lot considering the genre, but, dammit, Laika deserve even more success!  I may be a bit more down on The Boxtrolls than most people, but it’s still better than most animated films I’ve seen so far this year and the company deserve a full-blown financial success after the outstanding ParaNorman barely broke even!

In limited release town: The Skeleton Twins began its move towards a wide-ish release by expanding to 385 theatres and netting a total of $1.231 million from them, for a decent per-screen average of $3,200.  Christian (the faith, not the professional wrestler) musical-drama The Song hit many bum notes on the 340 screens it infected, taking only $568,596.  Más Negro Que La Noche, a Mexican remake of the 1975 Mexican horror film of the same name (so never let it be said that only the American film industry is out of ideas), did slightly better by netting $550,000 from 178 screens.

The real winner, though, was Pride, which began its charm offensive on the American shores with a measly 6 screens.  It more than made the most of them, though, raking in a per-screen average of $13,662 for a weekend total of $81,971.  Some box office reporting outlets describe this success as “decent”, seemingly forgetting that not every limited release is a f*cking Wes Anderson project that can rack up a $200,000+ per-screen average from 4 cinemas.  Pride expands a bit further in a couple of weeks and, if you’re not sold to go and see it just yet, here’s my review to persuade you to part with your cash.  See what I did there?  Seamless, wasn’t it?

Also, If I Stay decided not to this week.  I am absolutely not a hack writer.


the equalizer

The enjoyment that you will derive from this Full List is equal to or greater than your appreciation for those four prior paragraphs.

Box Office Results: Friday 26th September 2014 – Sunday 28th September 2014

1] The Equalizer

$34,137,828 / NEW

There should be a review of this up soon somewhere on here, although not by me as I haven’t seen it yet.  Cut me some slack, I was busy last weekend and, besides, this looks like garbage.  I mean, that clearly hasn’t stopped me from going to anything this past year, as you may be able to tell, but everything I hear about this film just fills me with dread and bile.  Ugh, just bring on Gone Girl already, please.

2] The Maze Runner

$17,437,020 / $57,955,347

Only a 46% drop between weekends which bodes incredibly well for its long-term financial prospects.  And it’s also apparently pretty good?  That last part bodes well for its critical prospects with myself, but we’ll have to see.  Besides, it’s not like I’m not seeing it in two weeks.  What am I gonna skip it for?  Annabelle?  In the words of one Lana Kane: NNNOOOOPPEE!

3] The Boxtrolls

$17,275,239 / NEW

Dammit, people!  “Good, not great” does not equate to “skip it almost entirely”!  In fact, what do you all seem to have against stop-motion animation?  Not one has been able to break past the $18 million opening barrier (unless you count the wide-release expansion of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride which, as you may have already guessed, I do not); what gives?  Why are you not enamoured by the medium?  What, do you hate seeing love, effort and attention being lavished on every frame?  Look, I am not leaving here until I get answers as to why The Motherf*cking Nut Job opened with more cashola than The Boxtrolls did!

4] This Is Where I Leave You

$6,894,340 / $22,441,091

Now, on the one hand, this film has only had a 40% drop between weekends.  On the other hand, there’s a difference between third and fourth place of over $10 million.  I’m just saying, it looks bad.

5] Dolphin Tale 2

$4,788,153 / $33,618,190

Oh, Christ, I have to watch the first one of these before Friday, don’t I?  Dammit, I don’t have time!  I have been busy!  I still am busy!  Why did there have to be a sequel to Dolphin Tale, for f*ckssake?!

6] No Good Deed

$4,509,127 / $46,532,221

Well, it could be worse.  It could be a film version of Kevin Williamson’s new TV show, Stalker.

7] A Walk Among The Tombstones

$4,192,785 / $20,830,290

An almost literal plummeting of 67%.  Seems like Liam Neeson will not be becoming the next Denzel Washington any time soon.  Both with regards to box office and also with regards to the fact that, for the most part, his films are actually good.  Yeah, I went there.

8] Guardians Of The Galaxy

$3,765,941 / $319,169,216

Now officially the third highest grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe film domestically, having passed the original Iron Man last weekend.  Worldwide, it’s still only at number five, but it should pass Thor: The Dark World soon enough, seeing as there is still the very lucrative China market still to go.  On a related note: man, did Thor: The Dark World have foreign legs or what?  I mean, I loved it (unlike pretty much everyone else I talked to) but I didn’t picture it as the kind of film that would do as extremely well as it did.

9] Let’s Be Cops

$1,516,021 / $79,628,884

This is still making money?  How?!  Who in their right mind decides, on the seventh week of its release, to go and see Let’s Be Cops again, or even for the first time?  What, did those involved go, “Well, Ferguson has been on the back-burner for a while, I can watch this without it weighing on my conscience” or something?  Cos, news flash, that’s still going too!  Never let it be said that this feature doesn’t keep you in the loop with regards to current events.

10] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

$1,450,177 / $187,182,309

Go, ninja, go, ninja, go!  Go, ninja, go, ninja, go!  Far, far, far, far, far away, if possible, please.

Dropped Out: The Drop, If I Stay

Callum Petch can only ask himself, oh where you all are going.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 19/9/14 – 21/9/14

The Maze Runner out-runs the competition, audiences leave This Is Where I Leave You, refuse to invite in The Guest, and ask Tusk to go away, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

In what should come as a surprise to pretty much no-one, giving audiences the opportunity to watch brand new movies at the cinema stimulates box office income.  Therefore, this past weekend was the most alive the American box office has been in a good month or so.  Leading the charge was The Maze Runner, working title “Attempt To Capture That Harry Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games Lightning Again #749”, and its status as the first new Event Film to come along since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paid dividends as it cruised easily to first place with $32 million in ticket sales.  That’s a pretty good opening, although it’s nowhere close to Divergent levels ($50 mil) and I imagine that 20th Century Fox will have wanted it a bit higher in general.  That sequel is still going ahead, though, so I guess this is another bunch of interchangeable pretty faces and stupid character names that I’m going to have to learn.  Swell.

Fairing a lot worse, we have the Liam Neeson-fronted A Walk Among The Tombstones and perhaps Neeson-fatigue is setting in, as this one could only manage $13 million for second place.  Now, yes, that is a second place opening but, more importantly, that’s only $13 million.  Maybe people are just sick of seeing Liam Neeson vehicles every 12-or-so months, or maybe everybody saw the trailer and correctly said to themselves, “Great!  Thanks for that!  Now I don’t need to see the movie!”  Below that we have the Shawn Levy-directed dramedy This Is Where I Leave You, starring pretty much any well-liked American comedic actor primarily found on television that you can think of, which could only muster a little under $12 million in tickets and which continues Mr. Levy’s failed attempts to be seen as anything other than “The Director Of The Night At The Museum Movies”.

Meanwhile, artier cinemas practically groaned under the weight of new debuts filling their boots this past weekend.  Audiences of said cinemas proceeded to groan in exasperated derision in the general direction of Tusk, the first of what currently amounts to 4 films that Kevin Smith postponed his retirement to make (although, this being Kevin Smith, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number jump up to 11 by the time I finish this sentence).  Advertising was supposedly only focussed on Kevin Smith fans, and I get the feeling that an opening weekend total of $886,000 from 602 screens (for a per-screen average of $1,472) accurately displays the amount of patience that Kevin Smith fans have left for Kevin Smith nowadays.  Still, could be worse.  Could be an action film about 15 year-old yoga aficionados starring Johnny Depp, Johnny Depp’s daughter and Kevin Smith’s dau… that’s exactly what his next film is?  For fu…

In sadder limited release news; audiences, for some utterly bizarre reason, decided to collectively stay away from writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard’s latest, despite it being one of the best films of the year so far.  The Guest only managed to bank $82,100 from 19 screens for a per-screen average of $4,321, which is decidedly average.  Of course, if you add on Wednesday and Thursday, that total goes up to $111,700, but that’s still not enough for me, goddammit!  Everybody should watch The Guest al-frickin-ready!  Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem, meanwhile, finally got its US debut this week and, fittingly for a Terry Gilliam movie where nothing seemed to go catastrophically wrong during the production process, it crashed and burned at cinemas with only $82,000 from 63 screens and a $1,302 per screen average because the man is CURSED!

Beating both of them in terms of audience demand was Hector & The Search For Happiness which took $46,000 from 4 screens for a per-screen average of $11,500.  Goddammit, America.


THE MAZE RUNNER

Take a walk among the Full List.

Box Office Results: Friday 19th September 2014 – Sunday 21st September 2014

1] The Maze Runner

$32,500,000 / NEW

OK, I was rather overly mean when I referred to The Maze Runner’s cast as “interchangeable pretty faces” earlier.  There are actually a fair few I recognise from other places.  Like, look, it’s Will Poulter from Son Of Rambow and Wild Bill (and also Plastic, which we don’t talk about)!  And there’s Thomas Sangster, otherwise known as Jojen from Game Of Thrones and Ferb from Phineas & Ferb!  Kaya Scodelario from Skins has found the vehicle to bring her worldwide mainstream attention!  So you know what?  Even if this film sucks uncontrollably (which it may not, it’s not out here in the UK for another three weeks), I’ll be glad it exists, letting me know that talented people are getting steady paycheques for the next few years!

2] A Walk Among The Tombstones

$13,126,000 / NEW

My review, for those of you who have seen the trailer but are still undecided.  Will point out that if you have seen the trailer, you have basically seen the movie.  The only things it doesn’t show, not kidding here, are the identities of the killers (which the film promptly gives up on hiding about 45 minutes in, anyway) and the fact that Brian “Astro” Bradley from Earth To Echo is also in this.  It’s not a bad film (it’s pretty good but totally forgettable), but there’s no reason to turn up if you only see films for the plot and have been exposed to the trailer.

3] This Is Where I Leave You

$11,860,000 / NEW

Disappointed to hear that this one is bad.  I realise that stacked casts mean absolutely nothing if the material isn’t fantastic or engaging (I learnt that one the hard way when Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy did absolutely nothing for me), but that still won’t stop me from being bummed out when I hear that a film with Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver and Jane Fonda is exactly as disappointing as the underwhelming trailer threatened it to be.

4] No Good Deed

$10,200,000 / $40,100,000

A pretty precipitous 58% drop between weekends, perhaps as word got around that the “GIANT SHOCKING TWIST” the marketing company pivoted the film on at the last minute could have been figured out by anyone within two minutes of hearing about the film’s premise.  I mean, take away the “GIANT SHOCKING TWIST” hook and all you’ve got to sell the film with is that it looks offensively awful which, as marketing hooks go, is not exactly a strong base to sucker punters in with.

5] Dolphin Tale 2

$9,005,000 / $27,070,000

Dolphin Tale 1 used its second weekend to leapfrog to the top of the chart.  Just saying: don’t expect a Dolphin Tale Part III.

6] Guardians Of The Galaxy

$5,180,000 / $313,669,000

So… what’s Chris Pratt’s flaw?  You know what I’m talking about.  The man’s pretty much perfect.  He’s a talented actor, he’s very funny, a total beefcake and a half, he’s charitable, he steals his costume from film sets so he can visit kid’s cancer wards dressed as said characters, and he can spit Eminem’s verse from Dr. Dre’s “Forgot About Dre” at double speed at the drop of a hat.  So, what’s his flaw?  What’s wrong with him?  Does he have a pile of dead bodies buried in his wine cellar?  If I have learnt anything these past few years, it’s that anybody who seems amazing or cool or perfect is actually a complete sh*tbag in some department!

Except Anna Kendrick.  For, as we all know, Anna Kendrick is a goddess who can do no wrong, sent down from heaven to remind us all that the world is not completely without merit.

7] Let’s Be Cops

$2,675,000 / $77,196,000

Well, this has been a pretty poor year for comedy, hasn’t it?  I count 22 Jump Street, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Bad Neighbours (and, if you really want to stretch the comedy definition, The Double) as the only ones that have been great, and everything else (with the exception of The Inbetweeners 2, which was just good) has been meh to awful.  I know that this is usually the ratio for comedy every year anyway, but it hurts extra bad this year because there have been so many of them.  You’d figure that at least a few more would hit it out of the park to some degree.

8] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

$2,650,000 / $185,018,000

This list is based off of the Weekend Estimates and I expect that these two may actually swap positions when the Actuals come in, it being that close between the pair and all.  Do not expect me to update this list if they do, though.  My time is far too occupied with watching and writing about the crappy period in DreamWorks Animation’s lifespan to take 10 minutes out of my life to writing a new pithy addition should such a thing occur.  Accept it and move on.

9] The Drop

$2,050,000 / $7,690,000

Don’t make the obvious joke.  Don’t make the obvious joke.  Don’t make the obvious joke.

10] If I Stay

$1,835,000 / $47,672,000

Hey!  It actually outlasted The Fault In Our Stars after all!  Way to… go… bad movie… ah, crap.  At least Chloë Grace Moretz has a decently-performing box office success to add to her resume!  Now she can go back to starring in great movies that I li…  “She’s appearing in that dull-looking Denzel Washington-starring film reboot of The Equalizer next week?”  (*flips table in frustration and storms off*)

Dropped Out: The November Man, The Giver, The Hundred-Foot Journey

Callum Petch is trying to cuss and see, trying to figure it out.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 12/9/14 – 14/9/14

No Good Deed goes without an accompanying first-place victory, America shrugs at Atlas Shrugged Part III, Dolphin Tale had a sequel, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Hey!  It finally happened!  Americans were finally given films to see that weren’t Guardians Of The Galaxy!  Unfortunately, in their combined crazed panic to get to the cinema and see these new films, lest they be taken away at the last second and they end up having to see Guardians yet again for the 27th goddamn time, American moviegoers failed to realise that most of the films that they were seeing were actually utter sh*t.  But, hey, when has that ever stopped anything from becoming popular, right?  In first place is No Good Deed, the Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson starring home invasion thriller that absolutely does not have anything disagreeable going on under the surface no siree bob, with $24.5 million in ticket sales.  Behind that we have Dolphin Tale 2, a sequel to Dolphin Tale and one I whose existence I will never not be bewildered by, which managed to con $16.5 million worth of families out of their monies because they don’t have Netflix in those far flung corners of the country (along with electricity, heat, and running water) and had to take what entertainment they could get.

In the more limited release-y side of proceedings, The Drop, a crime drama starring Tom Hardy and featuring James Gandolfini’s final role, succeeded best out of being the one released in the most screens, managing to break into the Top 10 with $4.2 million banked.  As for those films that didn’t have that luxury benefit of a screen count that barely counts as “limited”; awards-season-hopeful that-will-be-nominated-for-jack-sh*t-because-it-was-released-too-early The Skeleton Twins did the best of the bunch taking $411,000 from 15 screens for a $27,000 per-screen average.  Next up is My Old Lady, a comedy-drama that looks conspicuously lacking in both comedy and drama but managed to overcome those handicaps to take $134,000 from 11 screens, for a per-screen average of $12,182.  After that we have The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, the smushed-together cut of a romance-drama that is supposed to have its separate “Him” and “Her” cuts (which view events exclusively through the perspective of him or her) released at some point but you know the Weinsteins, which disappeared $77,200 from moviegoers pockets at 4 separate screens.  Ha.  Ha.

In the midst of all of this, though, spare a thought for poor old Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?  The final instalment in the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s landmark novel that continued pressing on regardless of the fact that audiences said “no” twice before, having to raise the second film’s budget by selling the debt of the first one due to it bombing spectacularly, and taking to Kickstarter to fund the finale (not joking), escaped into the wild, this week.  Now, normally, I’d sit here and laugh ultra-derisively at its pathetic opening of $355,000 from 242 cinemas (for comparison, Atlas Shrugged Part 1 opened on 299 screens in 2011 and made $1.6 million), but I kinda pity the thing more than anything.  Everyone involved kept shouldering on, regardless of the financial bombs, the critical paddling, and the fact that they had to replace the entire cast between each film, because they wanted to tell their story.  They desperately wanted to tell the story of Atlas Shrugged on the big screen and they weren’t going to let such a little thing as “repeated total systemic failure” get in their way!  That’s kinda admirable, in a deluded way, and I applaud them for keeping on!  Then I remember that the movies are absolute garbage and return to laughing at their quixotic endeavour.

Elsewhere, As Above, So Below bottomed out spectacularly in only its third week, slipping from sixth to twelfth; The Trip To Italy, otherwise known as “the cut-down film version of The Trip’s second series for fat stupid Americans with short attention spans”, extended its reach to 71 more screens and managed to take another $481,000 overall; The Identical, otherwise known as last week’s only new release, plummeted from an already dreadful opening by 75%; and Guardians Of The Galaxy became the first film this year to cross $300 million domestic.  Which, you know, is a sign that Hollywood is f*cked and all that.  Rather than deservedly doom-mongering for a couple of minutes, though, can we at least just celebrate the fact that a brilliant goddamn movie is making serious money, with China still to go?  …  …  …  …OK, that’s long enough.


This full list just broke into your house and is standing right behind you.  I’m joking, of course.  But one day, I might not be.

no good deed 2

Box Office Results: Friday 12th September 2014 – Sunday 14th September 2014

1] No Good Deed

$24,500,000 / NEW

So, this is a film in which a big scary black man basically forces his way into a small defenceless woman’s home and tortures her mentally and physically for about 70 of the film’s 85 minutes?  Nope, can’t see anything wrong with that set-up!  Absolutely nothing that makes it tone-deaf in today’s societal climate!  Not at all!  Thank goodness the woman was black instead of white, otherwise then, and only then, would things have just crossed the line of good taste!

2] Dolphin Tale 2

$16,550,000 / NEW

Right, I want answers, which of you asked for a sequel to Dolphin Tale?  Who honestly left the cinema after seeing the first film three years ago and went, “I need a sequel to that yesterday!”  Who was it?  Was it any of you on the Failed Critics staff?  Was it you, Shawky?  Don’t try to deny it!  You’re the kind of guy who has seen Guardians Of The Galaxy 18 times in the cinema!  Seeing this there once would not surprise me in the slightest!

3] Guardians Of The Galaxy

$8,041,000 / $305,926,000

Speaking of, I finally fulfilled my promise to my cousins to get them to the cinema to see this, this past weekend.  They loved it, the elder one even forgot he had sweets for the entire first hour of the movie because he was so transfixed by the film on display.  They both declared it “BEST FILM EVER” which I imagine was just as much because it was my treat as well as it being a great damn movie, but it was still refreshing to see just how much of an impact a good film can have on younger children who haven’t hit the “jaded teenager” mark yet.  Ah, to be young…

Oh, sorry.  Forgot for a sec that you don’t give a sh*t about my personal life.  Moving on.

4] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

$4,800,000 / $181,041,000

On the subject of films with uncomfortable treatments and scenarios for women, is anyone else really kinda disturbed by how the turtles treat April O’Neal in this trailer?  They tower over her, menacingly intimidate her, one of them lays claim to her, and then they all threaten to “find her” if she reveals their existence.  Err… our heroes, ladies and gentlemen?  Maybe things are better in the finished film but, this being a film with Michael Bay involved in some capacity, I’m not holding my breath.

5] Let’s Be Cops

$4,300,000 / $72,972,000

So, I suspect that we will be getting that sequel notification any day now.  Oh, you think there won’t be one?  We are just two months away from a sequel to Horrible Bosses and seven months away from Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.  We will be getting a sequel to Let’s Be Cops, just wait for it.

6] The Drop

$4,200,000 / NEW

Yay!  Tom Hardy’s starring in movies again!  Which reminds me, I need to get around to seeing Locke.  Would have seen it already, I love me a film with a purposely constraining premise, but it never came to any of my cinemas.  Also, last time we’ll see James Gandolfini in a role.  😦  At least this gives me an excuse to link you to his scenes from In The Loop.  Not that I need the excuse, mind.

7] If I Stay

$4,050,000 / $44,937,000

Just one more week in the Top 10 and it beats The Fault In Our Stars’ run!  Let it have this one, America.  It’s going to spend the rest of its life being unfavourably compared to that film, in terms of quality, financial success, impact and staying power; might as well give it this one break.  Course, there are 4 wide release films next week, so that’s pretty unlikely, but wouldn’t it be something if it did succeed?  And what if it beat The Maze Runner into bloody submission!  Oh, wouldn’t that be something!

8] The November Man

$2,750,000 / $2,495,000

Right, forget this crap; have you seen the trailer for John Wick yet?  Tell me you have!  It is the most brilliantly ridiculous nonsense!  If you somehow don’t want to see this film immediately after watching this trailer, then you and I are no longer on speaking terms.  In fact, I’m going to embed the trailer below this entry so that there is no possible way for you to miss it!

9] The Giver

$2,626,000 / $41,329,000

Oh.  Sh*t.  Right.  So, I didn’t actually expect this one to stick around this week, which means that my world-beating pun from last week is now rendered premature and wasted.  Fantastic.  F*ck you very much, The Giver.

10] The Hundred-Foot Journey

$2,461,000 / $49,409,000

HIS DOG WAS A GIFT FROM HIS DYING WIFE AND THE BAD GUYS KILLED IT!!  That is pure gold, folks!  Why are you not as hyped for that crap as I am?!

Dropped Out: As Above, So Below, When The Game Stands Tall, Lucy

Callum Petch will shoot your mouth if he knows where he’s aiming.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 5/9/14 – 7/9/14

Absolutely nothing happened, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Well.  This is embarrassing.  Here I was, all set to begin a re-launch of my US Box Office Reports on the site that has been willing to tolerate my deranged ramblings and draining of their resources for the past six months, bringing you the same verve, insight and poor stand-up that I did on a weekly basis for the last site I did this stuff for… and absolutely nothing happened.  There was one new release that was even close to Wide and that’s it.  Almost literally nothing happened.  Teade outlets are already reporting on this being the worst weekend at the US box office for two years, but, well, I think we all knew that this outcome was inevitable when we all looked at the release schedule and saw this giant void where films are supposed to be.  Calling this the worst weekend in years in an alarmed and surprised fashion is like calling a child foolish and in the worst shape of his life after voluntarily choosing to try and jump a 10 mile wide gorge on a unicycle only to fall face first into the thing; duh, why are you surprised at this completely expected outcome?

Eh, anyways, similarly surprising no-one due to its completely expected nature, Guardians Of The Galaxy three-peated at the top of the chart with $10 million in ticket sales.  Also surprising no-one, the film is now the biggest August release ever, smashing past The Sixth Sense’s prior record of $293 million, has become only the fourth film in the last 10 years to top the charts for four weeks (alongside such company as The Dark Knight, Avatar No Not The Great TV Show The Crappy James Cameron Film, and The Hunger Games), and maintained its position by being the only decent film that’s playing in over 2,000 theatres.  Behind that, as it has been for the last several weeks as well as in life itself, we have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which eased to $6.5 million.  Seems that we will be very much getting those sequels after all, the people involved taking the canny “shove it out in a month where there is literally nothing else coming out to give everyone a collective feeling that they have to see it” approach to maximising profits.

The lone new wide-release for this week was The Identical, a faith-based piece of speculative fiction, inexplicably featuring Seth Green in the supporting cast, about what might have happened if non-copyright-infringing Elvis Presley’s twin brother hadn’t died at childbirth and which looks exactly as awful as that sounds.  Thankfully for everyone involved, nobody liked the sound of it either and it only made $1.9 million from just under 2,000 screens for 11th place continuing the trend of faith-based movies that don’t explicitly reference religion in their titles (like devout Christians are way too busy to actually do some research about films beyond their titles or something) bombing spectacularly.  Also attempting to kick up the vaguest spurts of activity for me to talk about, Forrest Gump received an IMAX re-release for some bizarre reason and a nation collectively dug out their DVDs of it instead; only managing $405,000 from 337 screens.  In better news, the documentary Last Days In Vietnam managed to take $30,500 from 2 screens, and the debut feature from Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, God Help The Girl, swindled $12,800 also from 2 screens.

And… yeah, that’s about it.  I imagine we’ll have a very similar sort of situation next week, as well, when the only new films are the Idris Elba-starring thriller No Good Deed and Dolphin Tale 2, a sequel to Dolphin Tale 1.  No, really, they made a sequel to Dolphin Tale.  You know what’s even crazier?  Dolphin Tale was actually a box office number 1.  Not kidding.  So, yeah, the American box office doesn’t get going for another two weeks.  Just goes to show you how lucky we Brits got it this weekend, don’t it?


This full list is almost Identical to last week’s.  Do you get it?  Cos there’s a film called The Identical and the list is basically the same as last week’s.  It’s a play on words.  We call these things “puns”.  Can’t help but notice you’re still not laughing at my Identical pun, so I’ll take this to mean you don’t understand humour in general.  You see, “humour” is based on subverting…

gotg2

Box Office Results: Friday 5th September 2014 – Sunday 7th September 2014

1] Guardians Of The Galaxy

$10,160,000 / $294,567,000

All of these accolades that Guardians keeps racking up are thoroughly deserved.  Couldn’t have happened to a better movie!  Unless said movies were Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes or The Raid 2.  Cough.

2] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

$6,500,000 / $174,647,000

This hits the UK two days after my birthday, so thanks for the wonderful belated birthday present, Paramount!  How did you know that I wanted an absolutely abysmal-looking movie for my 20th?  You shouldn’t have!

3] If I Stay

$5,750,000 / $39,663,000

Think it’s fair to say that this one hasn’t quite caught on in the Fault In Our Stars way that I imagine Warner Bros. and New Line were hoping it would.  Still, all it has to do is hang on for another two weeks and it will have outlasted The Fault In Our Stars’ run in the Top 10.  Next week will be dead easy, because we’ve already established that nothing is coming out.  The week after, maybe not so much.

4] Let’s Be Cops

$5,400,000 / $66,598,000

Look, my jokes may stink, but at least they’re funnier than pretty much the entirety of this movie.  OH, SNAP!

5] The November Man

$4,200,000 / $17,870,000

You know, as his post-Bond career keeps trundling along, I’m starting to get the impression that only we Brits know how to use Pierce Brosnan right.  I mean, there’s The Ghost Writer, The World’s End, The Love Punch, Mamma Mia!, A Long Way Down… actually, disregard pretty much everything I just said.

6] As Above, So Below

$3,723,000 / $15,576,000

A precipitous 57% drop between weekends.  Does this mean that we can finally retire found-footage now?  The gimmick has been run into the ground, then run a bit further for good measure and then run a little bit further still.  Find something else to abuse for your horror movies!

7] When The Game Stands Tall

$3,700,000 / $23,490,000

I… I got nothing for this one, folks.  Not even a decent pun or pithy aside.  Sorry to waste your time.

8] The Giver

$3,591,000 / $37,835,000

I couldn’t Giver f*ck about this movie.  OOOOOOHHHHHHHH!!!!  PUNS!

9] The Hundred-Foot Journey

$3,200,000 / $45,669,000

Saw and reviewed this one at the weekend.  It’s OK.  I was bored to tears, but I could appreciate the decent craft on display and the film isn’t bad or anything.  It is two hours, for some genuinely inexplicable reason, though and I will definitely hold that against it.  If you were able to get some enjoyment out of it, good on you, I won’t stop you.  And besides, why should you listen to what I think?  I put 47 Ronin on my Top 10 Films of 2013 list, tied with My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, no less!

10] Lucy

$1,950,000 / $121,207,000

It’s up to $313 million worldwide, at the moment, and this news pleases me to absolutely no end.  It proves that Scarlett Johannson is a full-fledged box office star who can open pretty much anything by herself, it proves that gloriously dumb films that aren’t insultingly so really can find an audience, it proves that female-led films (along with Maleficent, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Frozen and The Fault In Our Stars) do succeed no matter what idiots may think, and it proves that Hollywood will once again not pay one damn iota of attention to all of this, instead continuing to just do what they always do despite this past Summer proving that that may not be the best idea.  It’s the little victories, folks, it really is.

Dropped Out: The Expendables III

Callum Petch is the changingman built on shifting sands.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Let’s Be Cops

Let’s Be Cops has Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. going for it, and nothing else.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

let's be copsStop me if you’ve heard this one before.  An American comedy film comes to you with a rock-solid and easily marketable premise.  It casts two leads who have excellent chemistry with one another and a natural ability to make great material outstanding and turgid material decent due to said aforementioned ability and chemistry.  The film then saddles them with not particularly funny material and expects them to carry the film based solely on their lightning chemistry and raw talent, and their sheer effort to make the material work does sometimes yield results but mostly just makes everyone involved come off as trying way too hard.  Finally, the final third eventually rolls around, upon which time the plot muscles its way in and the jokes dry up because nobody seems to know how to make plot funny despite that being one of the main ingredients of a comedy.  Oh, and it’s also way too long.  Like, way too long.  Like, wow.

It is an all-too familiar story and one that Let’s Be Cops slips into so comfortably one would be forgiven for thinking that everyone involved were trying to make a disappointingly mediocre-to-bad comedy.  The premise: two losers, named Justin and Ryan, hitting their 30s and stuck in a rut get dressed up as police officers for what they think is a fancy dress party, discover that they can pass off for actual police officers in public and, with nothing better going on in their lives, decide to see how far they can take the ruse.  The leads: Jake Johnson (as Ryan) and Damon Wayans, Jr. (as Justin), both having gotten their breaks on cult TV sitcoms (New Girl for Johnson, Happy Endings for Wayans), both now starring on the same show and both being tremendously talented performers with a tonne of comedic chemistry.  The jokes: rather thin on the ground, the film instead being content to just come up with scenarios to drop the actors in and see what funny may or may not happen.  The final third: unbelievably tonally ill-fitting, joke-free and just a badly made version of better films that do this stuff seriously for their entire run-time.  The run-time: just under an hour and fifty but feels well over the two hour mark even before the last third makes its unwelcome entrance.

Of course, Let’s Be Cops also has a black mark against it that can only come from inadvertent poor timing, so let’s address the elephant in the room.  Yes, in the wake of the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri this past month, where just some of the true extent of the abuse of force by police officers has come to horrifying light, a lot of Let’s Be Cops’ sillier moments become a little uncomfortable to sit through, in much the same way that the tragic massacre in Isla Vita back in May made A Million Ways To Die In The West’s narrative thread of “good guys deserve to get the girl” more than a little awkward.  Watching Justin and Ryan test how much they can get away with by playfully brandishing their unloaded guns in a crowded restaurant, recklessly driving on busy sidewalks and harassing pedestrians for the simple reason that they can, hews a little too close to our depressing reality to be able to register as genuinely funny; I found myself giving the kind of awkward uncomfortable chuckle that one may do after hearing a joke that you’ve found more offensive than funny.  If the film actually crafted full-on jokes instead of scenarios, if it went big and cartoony and exaggerated instead of staying rather close to reality, then this may not have been such a problem.  In fact, if you’re not even aware of Ferguson (and you really, really should be) or are able to distance yourself enough from current events to not be bothered by the parallels to real life, then it may not be a problem for you, but it was for me and it may be for other people.  Again, I realise that this can’t really be helped, but stuff like having Justin’s big videogame pitch be ridiculously similar to Battlefield Hardline really did strike a not-particularly-pleasant chord with me.

Oh, and whilst I’m on personal hang-ups that will not affect everyone, and probably surprising absolutely no-one at this point, I take issue with the portrayal of women in this film.  With the exception of Nina Dobrev, who plays the role of Token Love Interest in order to remind us all that Justin is straight no matter how close he may be Ryan (because god forbid an American comedy have the really close male leads just be gay lovers for once), every woman is somebody who wants to have sexual relations with Ryan and Justin or, at least, kiss them repeatedly on the lips purely because they’re cops.  The one exception is when the pair pay a visit to a domestic disturbance where they encounter a college student Ryan would like to have sex with and two angry, crazy and masculine-acting black women.  Look, you all may think that I am nit-picking here and that this is inconsequential overall, but Let’s Be Cops isn’t the only film to use women as simply window dressing for the men to leer at or have sex with.  This is the norm, especially in American comedies, and I am going to keep pointing this out until I start seeing more films, and more American comedies, that treat women as characters and people instead of just things for the male characters to have sex with or humourless straight men.  And seeing as Let’s Be Cops perfectly fits into that niche of embodying everything that’s wrong with American comedies nowadays, I am going to dock it points for this stuff because, in this case, it really does add up.

Anyway, let’s get to that final third because that’s where the film’s biggest problems lie.  See, as expected, up until that point, the film is happy enough to just drop the characters in silly situations and see what Johnson and Wayans, Jr. can come up with.  It’s light, it’s silly, it’s inconsequential and, obviously, it’s at its weakest when the plot and our villains for the film’s runtime show up and make things all serious and stuff.  As mandated in The Blueprint To Making An American Comedy Film, the last third consists of the plot and the villains turning up to be dealt with in a very serious and joke-free way.  The reason why this time it’s a huge issue instead of a depressingly familiar thing we just have to accept nowadays is because Let’s Be Cops’ final third switches from being a goofy buddy-(fake)-cop movie to, I kid you not here, an End Of Watch knock-off.  And a really, really bad one, too.  Action is shot and staged poorly, tension is non-existent, plot twists carry no weight because none of the characters are interesting or likeable, the drama falls flat because a film that was just twenty minutes ago showing us a scene where Justin crazily trips on crystal meth now wants to make you feel feelings that aren’t laughter-related and it’s as an abrupt a left-turn as that sounds.  I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised, its prior occasional dramatic thread (Ryan and Justin hitting 30 and realising that they haven’t really done anything with their lives) was executed a million times better in May’s Bad Neighbours, but it’s still unbelievably misguided.  And then it ends way, way, way too cleanly and happily, especially since the film spends a lot of its runtime stressing the consequences that their actions will have, only to have everything just sort of work itself out.

All this being said, Let’s Be Cops is not totally without merit.  It’s just that its merits are entirely related to Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. merely showing up.  Even when their characters are being unabashedly terrible people (another reason why the ending feels way too neat), the duo manage to keep them on the edge of likeability due to their natural charm, charisma and comedic chemistry.  Probably from that time they’ve been sharing on New Girl, they slip into a very comfortable rhythm, each clearly at ease with one another and knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  When laughs do come, and they do eventually come, mostly being sequestered to the film’s middle stretch, it’s pretty much down to them, much like how The Other Woman’s few laughs came from a fiercely-determined-to-make-this-crap-work Leslie Mann and Kate Upton.  They lock into a groove that sells mediocre material at a higher price than it deserves.  The inevitable sequence in which Ryan trades gay double entendre with a real cop actually becomes funny purely by Justin’s background reaction to the thing, an inevitable bit of sudden gross-out humour (this time involving a fat naked man) is saved because Damon Wayans, Jr. is one of the best in the business today at freak-out scenes, and Johnson and Wayans, Jr. get enough bicker-filled exchanges to remind me that I’d rather see them in a film with infinitely better material.

This one saddens me, folks.  I really like Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. and they deserve big things.  Big things that are better than this, at any rate.  I must admit that I did laugh at Let’s Be Cops, enough to feel like I hadn’t completely wasted nearly two hours, but it’s such a neat distillation of everything that is currently wrong with American comedies that the fact that I laughed doesn’t really amount to much in the grand scheme of things.  If we’re lucky, some enterprising young studio exec will snap up both Johnson and Wayans, Jr. for various buddy comedies for as long as this pairing are able to retain their lightning chemistry.  If we’re very lucky, Keegan-Michael Key will be brought back along for the ride, too.  And if we’re very, very lucky, they’ll all be given a script that’s a million times funnier and less problematic than the one for Let’s Be Cops.  It’s not the best comedy of the year so far, it’s not even the best cop-based comedy of the year (although, admittedly, both are one and the same).  It’s just an overlong and not very funny comedy that’s not worth your time.

Callum Petch is a naughty girl with a lovely smile.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!