Is it wrong to admit that we were quite pleased to see that The Love Guru missed the top spot last weekend? That honor went to Get Smart, the Steve Carell-starring remake of the 1960s TV comedy series; it pulled in $39 million while the grating Mike Myers vehicle earned only $14 million, taking a disappointing (for its studio) fourth place. Kung Fu Panda and The Incredible Hulk both hung in there, but we’re guessing they’ll get pushed out of the way this weekend when Angelina Jolie comes blazing through with the action-packed Wanted. And for the kiddies, there will also be Wall-E, the Pixar-iffic movie about a little robot (which we’ll be steering clear of).
THERE ARE SOME quality indies opening this week, too. Just a day after the NBA draft comes the terrific Gunnin’ For that #1 Spot. Directed by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, this movie documents a 2006 game between 24 of the best high-school basketball players in the country (many of them big names in this year’s draft) at Rucker Park in Harlem—a personal Mecca for just about every organizer and player in the film. For us New York basketball fans, the NBA has brought nothing but despair and disappointment for the past decade or so. But watching these kids is magical; the beauty and thrill of the game is there, and the action is set to an infectious hip-hop soundtrack. Mr. Yauch shadows eight of the players, some of whom will be multimillionaires with Gatorade and Nike sponsorships by this time next year. Watch them now, with the hilarious Bobbito Garcia affectionately tagging each with a nickname, before they turn into smooth-talking jaded pros.
Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot opens Friday at AMC Magic Johnson, Empire and Village theaters.
THE LABEL “BLACK COMEDY” is applied to many movies, but never has it been so apt a description than with Finding Amanda. In this directorial debut from screenwriter Peter Tolan, co-creator of FX hit Rescue Me, Matthew Broderick stars as a television producer with a more-than-healthy taste for drinking and gambling, who is sent to Las Vegas to bring his young niece (Brittany Snow) to rehab after learning she’s working as a prostitute. The only problem is that when he arrives, he discovers she’s more than happy with her life. It might take a minute to adjust to the humor of the situation, but the film will consistently surprise you, and make you laugh. Mr. Broderick is great as a down-and-out mild-mannered addict, and graciously plays the straight man for others in the cast (which includes the always great Maura Tierney, Steve Coogan and Peter Facinelli). Ms. Snow is particularly excellent; we’ll never confuse with her fellow blondies Brittany Murphy, Anna Faris or Malin Akerman again.
Finding Amanda opens Friday at Landmark Sunshine cinema.