|Taken moments before Pattinson breaks into "Baby Mine"|
Hitting theaters this weekend, three major releases bordering on the cusp between greatness and merely watchable - Water for Elephants, the sort of lonely circus drama that will most likely recall the glory days of Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken; Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, in which Madea gathers her grandchildren to give them all bad news; African Cats, in which Samuel L. Jackson talks about lions for an hour and a half. But which is going to be worth your money? Or your time? Find out after the break.
Water for Elephants. PG-13.
Francis Lawrence is a peculiar director. You know his work from I Am Legend. He works well with the lonelier sides of the human condition, and films like this ought to work as lullabies of sorts. Lots of space, very quiet moments, with just a bit of splash here and there. The template for how not to do a circus drama should be The Greatest Show on Earth. Yes, I know it when Oscars, but... fair enough, it sucks. I'm looking forward to seeing Robert Pattinson in another non-Cullen role. He was wonderful in last year's Remember Me, and he certainly has the chops when given a good script. And working alongside Christoph Waltz? He surely can't go wrong. I'm also eagerly awaiting Reese Witherspoon's work. I'm not her biggest fan, however I think she works wonders with these sorts of roles. For those interested in reading the book, click here to buy a copy.
Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family. PG-13.
Oh, my. It's that time of year again. I'll be the first to admit, I like Tyler Perry. Diary of a Mad Black Woman is genuinely excellent filmmaking, and I have a soft spot for his other non-Madea melodramas like The Family That Preys or For Colored Girls. The thing about Madea, though, is that she(he?)'s become a one-note gimmick. Consider her Ernest by way of Oprah, but with way less in her bank account. Bow Bow and Loretta Devine co-star, and at least Loretta has considerable talent. So, there's that to look forward to. I'm awaiting the day where we get an original Madea work that isn't based on one of Perry's previous stage plays. I'm sure we're a long way from that, though. I can hope against hope for another Diary of a Mad Black Woman quality kind of film, though, right?
African Cats. G.
I'm wondering if there's an outtake somewhere with him yelling about "motherfu*king lions in this motherfu*king jungle". Because that would be amazing. And it would be my ringtone. All aside, Disney documentaries generally wind up being among the most beautifully filmed projects of the year. And lions, by nature, are beautiful creatures. And Jackson, by nature, has a commanding presence, even when he's just talking. So, I'm sure I'll be engrossed from frame 1. I usually learn something from the Disney Nature docs, and I'm sure this will be no different. My only concern, oddly enough, is the running time. I like my nature documentaries pretty languid and soft spoken; I'm wondering if 90 minutes is enough time to achieve their desired effect. We'll see.
There we have it! Make time to go see Water for Elephants this weekend. That's what I'll be seeing, and that's what I'm recommending to you. You've earned a movie. Been a long week.