We’re not sure we’d go as far as New York magazine did earlier this week when they proclaimed Nicolas Cage “America’s Sweetheart,” but the man certainly has quite a following. What other way is there to explain the success of Knowing? The apocalyptic science-fiction film—we won’t spoil it for you, but if you’d like to read about the bananas ending, head over to the film’s Wikipedia entry—somehow grossed nearly $25 million dollars at the box office last weekend despite the fact that no one you know went to see it. The thing that separates Mr. Cage from his A-list contemporaries is his resiliency; he can follow up a bomb like Bangkok Dangerous with a midsize hit like Knowing, even if the difference in quality of both films is barely discernable. While the Teflon star counts his money, four other movies hit theaters this weekend, but only one will be mentioned in headlines come Monday morning. (Hint: It’s the animated one!) Here’s a handy guide to the new releases.
Monsters vs. Aliens
What’s the story: As you can no doubt tell from the title, monsters fight aliens in the latest attempt from Dreamworks to unseat Pixar as the preeminent animation brand. If you’re worried about this just being for kids, fear not. The voice cast is loaded with actors and actresses you love, including Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, John Krasinski and Amy Poehler. Monsters vs. Aliens is more than just another blockbuster, however; opening on nearly 1,600 3-D screens, it’s a litmus test for the future viability of the technology. If the film does well, studios like Fox—which has James Cameron’s 3-D behemoth Avatar coming in December—will breathe a sigh of relief; if Monsters vs. Aliens falls flat, however, expect much hand wringing and brow furrowing.
Who should see it: The Monster Squad.
The Haunting in Connecticut
What’s the story: In case you were wondering … yes, Hollywood does release a horror movie every week. The Haunting in Connecticut looks particularly disgusting; the poster, which has been strewn all over subway stations around the city, features a young boy throwing up what looks to be a monster. And that’s the image on the poster! Whatever The Haunting in Connecticut does for an encore, we don’t want to know.
Who should see it: Senator Chris Dodd.
What’s the story: WWE wrestler John Cena does his best Dwayne Johnson–circa-2004 impression, as a beefed-up detective who tries to save his kidnapped girlfriend, in the latest from Renny Harlin. Yep, the same Renny Harlin who directed the classic ’90s action films Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger has now been reduced to helming what looks like a future TNT schedule filler. We guess Hollywood really hasn’t forgotten Cutthroat Island.
Who should see it: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
The Education of Charlie Banks
What’s the story: Finally, a real movie! The Squid and the Whale’s Jesse Eisenberg stars as a privileged college student who has his world shaken by the reappearance of a poor and violent former neighborhood friend (Jason Ritter). Think The O.C. without any Death Cab for Cutie. The Education of Charlie Banks looks moody and sharp, features a fantastic young cast—in addition to Messrs. Eisenberg and Ritter, the film co-stars Chris Marquette, Sebastian Stan and Susan Sarandon’s daughter, the beautiful Eva Amurri—and has gotten very good reviews. So consider our surprise when we saw that Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst was the director. We’re a long way from “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.”
Who should see it: Korn lead singer Jonathan Davis.