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Nanny McPhee Returns: Writer/director Emma Thompson’s (Stranger Than Fiction) extremely successful ‘Mary Poppins but ugly’ character returns for another round of magic and distinctly British life lessons. The film was actually released in its native England back in March and has already made $62 million so its North American grosses are just gravy at this point. As with its predecessor, Returns is sure to be brightly colored, affirmative entertainment for the whole family. Also starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Maggie Smith and (combo breaker!) Ralph Fiennes.
Fun Fact: In the United Kingdom, the film was released under the name Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang. Presumably the film was renamed for the US market to avoid accidentally stepping into the Evolution/Creationism fracas that’s playing out in our country’s legal and educational systems.
Piranha 3D: French Horror auteur Alexandre Aja (High Tension) continues his remake period (he also helmed remakes of The Hills Have Eyes and Into The Mirror), this time tackling a 3D treatment of Joe Dante’s (Gremlins) 1978 horror comedy about stupid people fending off the attacks of vicious school of Piranha. The original film was more notable for begin indie director John Sayles first screenwriting credit and having a sequel directed by James “Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesn’t have any” Cameron than for being particularly good. Still, Aja conducts blood splatter like Bernstein conducted orchestras and there’s nothing like see an artist at the height of their powers. Starring Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell, and Richard Dreyfuss.
Fun Fact: Aja wanted Dante and Cameron to cameo in the film, but neither ended up being able to so he snagged Eli Roth and Christopher Lloyd instead.
Vampires Suck: The latest from Epic and Disaster Movie makers and noted no talent hacks Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. It’s been two whole years since the duo churned out one of their awful Mad TV style parody “movies” and I sincerely hoped Meet the Spartans was the last cinematic abomination that would be inflicted on filmgoers but that piece of garbage grossed over $80 million and so here we are. This one makes fun of the first and second Twilight movie so that will put the jokes in this movie only two years past their expiration dates. Progress is a slow process. Starring Ken Jeong, Jenn Proske as the girl who looked the most like Kristen Stewart at the auditions, and Matt Latner as Edward Sullen.
Fun Fact: 20th Century Fox will not providing advanced screenings of the film for critics. But only because it’s so good that it will ruin the reviewers for all other movies released this year. Fox is being cruel to be kind.
The Switch: Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston are best friends whose friendship is changed forever after Aniston’s decides to have a child via artificial insemination and Bateman accidentally spills Aniston’s carefully chosen sperm and replaces it with his own. Flash forward seven years and Aniston walks back into Bateman’s life with a very familiar seven year old. Cue an hour or so of awkward comedy followed by an emotional wrought confrontation after which the two get together. There really isn’t any other way a movie like this could end and still be considered a comedy. Bateman will be funny and Aniston will be off-putting and no one who sees this movie will fall in love with it. Also starring Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson, and Juliette Lewis.
Fun Fact: The film is based on a short story called “Baster” by The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex author Jeffery Eugenides.
Lottery Ticket: The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift star Bow Wow (née Lil) headlines this urban comedy about a young man who wins a $370 million lottery jackpot but must avoid his conniving neighbors over the July 4th weekend to claim his prize. It’s directed and co-written by music video vet Erik White (“Kiss Kiss”). It’s fairly disheartening to realize that African-American cinema has been reduced to movies like this, Tyler Perry’s banal oeuvre, and whatever diminishing return Spike Lee manages to put out between mainstream blockbusters. Where’s the ambition? Also starring Ice Cube, Brandon T. Jackson, and Mike Epps.
Fun Fact: Bow Wow has contributed eight songs to the film’s soundtrack.
Mario blogs regularly at A Polemic Killer Room