Weekend movies: Dog days of August deliver “Are You Here?” “When the Game Stands Tall”, “If I Stay” and “Sin City”

sinTruthfully, none of the movies opening this weekend is “Let’s Be Cops” or “Into the Storm” awful.

But the tomatometer was most ruthless about “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner’s overambitious dysfunction and drug abuse comedy “Are You Here?” It’s rating there and on metacritic suggest real consensus, which is fair. I was an outlier. I still find Owen Wilson funny, and Weiner loads him, Amy Poehler and Zach Galifianakis with quick, clever lines. But Wilson is in that can-do-no-right stage of his career, and there it is. 6% on the tomatomater, one of those positive reviews being mind.

“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is so much like the first film, from a decade ago, that the reviews reflect fatigue with the graphic novel look and Frank Miller gore and sex. It’s recycled. Gorgeous, clever at times, but been there, seen it.

Then there’s a half-decent doomed teen romance weeper, “If I Stay,” the first film in which Chloe Grace Moretz seems to act on shaky ground. Dating? Love? Awkward. At least she got that and the cello playing right. Decent film adaptation of a popular YA novel, in any event. Weak reviews for that one.

The box office predictions are that “If I Stay” will eat “Sin City” for breakfast. Based on web traffic for my reviews of both films, I think “Sin City” has a chance to do much better than the mid-teens Box Office Mojo predicts or low teens that  Box Office Guru says will be taken in by midnight Sunday. “If I Stay” should clear $20, I think “Sin City” will better that.

“When the Game Stands Tall” soft-sells its faith-based message. This true story of a dominant football team whose Catholic private school character is tested by tragedy and its first losses in a decade is saddled to the stone-faced Jim Caviezel, and suffers for it. Not an awful film, just “Friday Night Lite.”

“When the Game Stands Tall” has been marketed to death among the faithful — many giveaway screenings among church and high school football groups. It’s only predicted to make $9 million. It is on a lot of screens and this audience is pretty forgiving. Maybe it’ll do better.

The best movie opening this weekend is in limited release. “To Be Takei” is a pretty thorough look at how George Takei came to be maybe the biggest winner among the “Star Trek” cast when it comes to his influence on the world. Funny, sweet, touching and blunt. Man, Takei really hates that Bill Shatner.

“Madagascar: Island of Lemurs” is a short IMAX 3D film that is flat out stunning to look at. It goes into wider release this weekend. Maybe wait for that one to show up at your local science center unless you’re starved for something to take the kids to this weekend.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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