The only new movies opening this, the last weekend of January, are truly “January movies,” films with limited prospects at the box office, movies essentially dumped here by studios who don’t want to waste a holiday weekend or even a February weekend on product they have no faith in.
There’s “Parker,” a Taylor Hackford film built around a famous fictional tough guy (think “Point Blank” with Lee Marvin, and “Payback” with Mel Gibson — same character), a movie starring reliable B-movie action hero Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez. FilmDistrict decided it wasn’t good enough to preview for most critics, branding the film as garbage without anyone else saying so. Micky Mouse move on their part. No, it’s not very good (my review). But people might have cut it more slack had they shown some pride in it. It’s Taylor Hackford working from a Donald Westlake novel, after all.
And all these names and faces attached to the sketch comedy ensemble piece “Movie 43,” a movie with Oscar winners doing what Oscar winners never do — get down and dirty and supposedly funny. Also not previewed. The trailers looked outlandish. I saw it in the middle of the night — not the best time to assess a comedy, but that was Relativity’s call. Surely they should have taken a chance and screened this for critics. Otherwise, it has zero buzz. Ten short sketch films with big name stars? The Terrence Howard bit about a racist basketball coach giving a racial pep talk to his all black team feels played.
“Hansel & Gretel” didn’t screen for most critics. The “Witch Hunters” horror comedy, produced by Will Ferrell and his boys, pairs up Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as adult versions of the famed witch-cookers and candy lovers. I saw it, and here’s my review.
Thank the Maker for “John Dies at the End,” a trippy semi-successful horror comedy/reality-bender that almost works. It goes into limited release Friday.
So set your expectations bar low and brace yourself and maybe use this as a weekend to catch up on Oscar contenders you’ve missed. Because otherwise, the odds are good that the goods are odd.