You're probably as tired of me telling you about remakes as I am telling you about remakes. Like Will Rogers once said, "I don't make the news, I just report it." Variety reports that Hollywood's latest trip to the remake well is Alan Parker's 1987 Gothic gumbo Angel Heart. 21 producer Michael DeLuca will produce. Folks may remember this is the film that got Lisa Bonet rechristened "Lisa Bonaked" before she was practically booted off The Cosby Show. The Cos apparently didn't want to have the nude co-star of a sex-filled, R-rated movie on his family-oriented show, a small bit of hypocrisy that bit Bill on the Pudding Pop when he got busted doing "filth-flarn-flarn-filth" with a woman who wasn't his wife.
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.
Oscar-winning makeup man Rick Baker made Eddie Murphy look like a reasonably credible old Jewish man in Coming to America. Ben Stiller and company could have used his help on Tropic Thunder, the movie that reveals to the world that Robert Downey Jr. is not only a Black man, but one that couldn't have been created by the same God that gave me my permanent tan. In stills, Downey looks so unconvincing that he makes Al Jolson look like Wesley Snipes. I suppose Downey won't get the part if they remake Black Like Me. At least Downey's blackface is in service to Tropic Thunder's plot. During the studio system's heyday, White actors and actresses were constantly attempting to pass for something they were not. Remember Swede Warner Oland as Charlie Chan, Gale Sondergaard as evil Dragon Lady in Bette Davis's The Letter, and any number of white actresses playing tragic mulattoes? How about Elvis as an Indian or Mickey Rooney as an Asian? It seems like this trend is coming back in a way, though not with Tropic Thunder. 21 opens this week and the ads tell you it's "based on a true story and the novel Bringing Down the House. 21's casting, however, is as corrupt as the game show that bore its name back in the '50s. The protagonist of the novel is Asian, yet in the film, he has been recast as a white character played by Jim Sturgess. You may remember Sturgess from Across the Universe, the movie that made John Lennon spin in his grave like a propeller on crack. He played Jude, as in Hey, Jude, your movie's bad.
It's the filmmakers' right to change the race of their main character, but that should automatically cost them the "based on a true story yada yada yada." Denzel Washington and his filmmakers came under intense fire for The Hurricane and The Great Debaters for marketing those films as factually based though they had poetic license changes. Why aren't protesters bringing down the house over 21? Shouldn't we be holding Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic's feet to the fire for this, the way Washington's and Norman Jewison's were? If anything, Asians should be happy that Sturgess isn't playing the character as an Asian. After Breakfast at Tiffany's, anyone who attempts to do so should be shot anyway.
This weekend, moviegoers resurrected the horror genre from the pits in which One Missed Call and The Eye put it in earlier this year (along with The Ruins, which is slowly deteriorating from the top ten), by making Prom Night the highest grossing movie at this week's box office (raking in just a little over $22 million), but it wasn't the only new release that made it out strong. Street Kings, a crime thriller starring a very discombobulated cast (Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Chris Evans, Cedric the Entertainer and Hugh Laurie... I kid you not) fell into the second spot with $12 million, while Smart People brought in $4.2 million, earning a spot in seventh place (that's like a C average, which is not very smart at all, but considering it was released in selected cities, it's a pretty triumphant premiere). Box office sweetheart, 21, took a fall to third place, which pushed the rest of its fellow champs down, especially George Clooney's Leatherheads (let's just hope this kills the forever mundane football genre once and for all). The biggest surprise of the week is seeing Superhero Movie and Drillbit Taylor still holding on to the top ten for dear life. (Whoever is still going to see these two movies needs to seriously reevaluate their movie choices and go see something better next week.)
1. Prom Night, $22.7 million
2. Street Kings, $12 million
3. 21, $11 million
4. Nim's Island, $9 million
5. Leatherheads, $6.2 million
6. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, $6 million
7. Smart People, $4.2 million
8. The Ruins, $3.25 million
9. Superhero Movie, $3.1 million
10. Drillbit Taylor, $2 million
For the second week in a row, Sony's 21 emerged as the highest box office grosser, tackling a football movie, stomping a botanical gross out and sinking Jodie Foster's first kiddie movie since Bugsy Malone. 21 cashed in 25,000 purple chips, 25,000 black chips, and 4,000 green chips at the box office cashier's window, none of which came from yours truly. I saw it on a free screener and disliked it for turning an exciting, unpredictable novel into a dull, clichéd and predictable movie. My hatred must be due to my not being in the age bracket for such collegiate hero worship bullshit, I mean shenanigans.
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. The tally:
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