Last year's Project X took the house party movie to the next level by introducing some gross stuff we hadn't seen before, and 21 and Over seems to be continuing in that genre as a "one wild night in college" movie -- like Superbad on steroids.
Stop me if you've heard this one already: roughly two decades after a popular cop series has gone off the air, Hollywood gets the bright idea to remake it as a big-screen vehicle for two young, likeable stars (one of whom also writes the screenplay), which puts a decidedly comic spin on what used to be a straightforward procedural. At the same time, they also make sure to include a number of shout-outs to the source material in the form of visual gags, recycled sets and cameos from some of the stars of the original show. No, I'm not talking about the new version of that '80s chestnut 21 Jump Street that's arriving in theaters today, starring the unlikely duo of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. I'm referring to Dragnet, the 1987 Dan Aykroyd/Tom Hanks update of Jack Webb's iconic show, which aired from 1951-1959 and again from 1967-1970. (There were two later revivals as well, but neither of those starred Webb.) It's somehow fortuitous that Dragnet is celebrating its 25th anniversary the same year that 21 Jump Street arrives in theaters, because the two movies really do have a lot in common, except for one key thing... Jump Street is actually really funny. So why did this one succeed where its predecessor failed? We examine the evidence:
In an alternate universe, Rob Riggle may have become a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps. In this version of Earth though, the Kentucky-born Riggle enlisted with the Marines in 1990 only to leave the corps not long after to pursue a career in comedy (he's still a Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve). It took about a decade, but that career move has paid off. A tour of duty with New York's Upright Citizens Brigade led to guest spots on shows like The Office followed by a high-profile stint as a Daily Show correspondent. These days, Riggle is an established scene-stealer on film and television, popping up in everything from Tina Fey's 30 Rock to Tom Hanks's Larry Crowne. This weekend, Riggle has a small, but crucial turn in 21 Jump Street, playing a kooky gym teacher named Mr. Walters, who crosses paths with two undercover cops-turned-high school students (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) investigating a student-run drug ring. Riggle spoke to us about impersonating a gym teacher, his sketch comedy background and why going to UCB was like attending graduate school.
It's understandable that the thought of a 21 Jump Street movie sounds like the height of Hollywood creative bankruptcy. But stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum made it their mission to produce a Jump Street film that's not just a wan carbon copy of the original '80s cop series that's best known for launching the careers of Johnny Depp and... um, Richard Grieco. Audiences will find out for themselves on Friday whether they succeeded in that endeavor. Prior to the film's release, Hill and Tatum turned up at a New York press conference (clad in their cop uniforms from the movie no less) and talked about the origins of the project, their on-screen chemistry and what other '80s series they'd like to remake.
Universal counted on my age bracket to show up at Leatherheads, the George Clooney -- Renee Zellweger football starrer. Enough old fogeys showed up to give it a respectable second place finish, but a Universal exec said she was "disappointed" with second place. I believe the D word she wanted was "delusional," as that's what Universal was if it expected the 35 and over crowd to show up in a bigger configuration than the teenagers who sprouted from their loins. They should thank the lucky stars that share the sky with their logo that $13.5 million worth of horny old women and dirty old men drove their Little Rascals down to the theater to ogle Dr. Ross and Bridget Jones. Leatherheads is a rom-com/sports movie set in the 1920's, a time that must seem like10,000 B.C. to the 12-year old boy itching to see someone younger than their parents.
In an interview, Jodie Foster said Nim's Island, the third place finisher this week, was the first movie of hers she could take her kids to. She neglected to mention that she couldn't take her kids to her 11-year old co-star Abigail Breslin's last movie either. Nim's Island dug up $13.3 million worth of buried treasure, making it respectable but no Harry Potter. Nim placed ahead of the other novel adaption opening this week, Scott B. Smith's The Ruins. The tale of flesh eating vines in Apocalyptoland chewed $7.8 million worth of ass off its pretty stars, tasty enough for fifth place.
A dollar's a dollar, no matter how earned, says Horton, whose who hearing hoedown hopped down to fourth place with 9.1 million. PG-13 rated trifecta Superhero Movie, Drillbit Taylor and Shutter pulled the teens who saw 21 last week, keeping them on the chart. Next week, all these teenagers should help Universal get revenge on Sony when Forgetting Sarah Marshall opens.
The prehistoric action movie 10,000 B.C. remained both in the top ten and well short of ever breaking even. Unless it opens in Bedrock to sell out crowds, 10,000 B.C. will become extinct on the top 10 next week and a flop forever.
1. 21, $15.1 million
2. Leatherheads, $13.5 million
3. Nim's Island, $13.3 million
4. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! , $9.1 million
5. The Ruins, $7.8 million
6. Superhero Movie, $5.4 million
7. Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns, $3.51 million
8. Drillbit Taylor, $3.5 million
9. Shutter, $2.9 million
10. 10,000 B.C. , $2.8 million
Jack the Giant Slayer? More like, Jack the Giant Lame-o.
We critique all the big movie ads that aired during last night's big game, from Iron Man 3 to World War Z.
"Aw, c'mon Channing -- a big-screen version of Cop Rock sounds like a great idea!"
Helming a big-screen version of an old TV series may not seem like the most auspicious beginning to a live-action filmmaking career, but Phil Lord and Chris Miller were determined to make a 21 Jump Street movie that was more than a pale imitation of the campy '80s cop series. They've had some success adapting unlikely source material before; their previous movie was the 2009 animated feature Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, a clever take on the classic children's story that wasn't afraid to depart from the text when it served the film. And while 21 Jump Street has some subtle -- and not so subtle -- homages to the source material, it definitely stands apart as its own (very funny) movie. Lord and Miller spoke with us about their transition from animation to live action filmmaking, why 21 Jump Street had to be R-rated and what jokes eagle-eyed viewers should look for in the background.
Judd Apatow and friends (and the studio promotional vehicle) tried as hard as they could, but they couldn't hold back the martial arts tandem of Jackie Chan and Jet Li (who could, really?) as The Forbidden Kingdom fought its way to the top of the weekend box office, taking in $20.9 million on 3,200 screens, compared to $17.3 million on 2,800 screens for Forgetting Sarah Marshall. That's about $6,500 a screen for Jet Li and Jackie Chan; but the $6,200 take per screen for Jason Segel and Kristen Bell is nothing to sneeze at, either.
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