Movies in Theaters on July 8, 2011
Now that Transformers: Dark of the Moon has snatched up your hard-earned dollar, it's time to spend your moviegoing money on company a little less intimidating than giant robots. How about obnoxious employers, talking animals, crazy hotties and sword-swingin' warriors? Take your pick of Horrible Bosses, Zookeeper, The Ward and/or Ironclad as summer marches on.
This thing has a can't-miss premise: a trio of working stiffs (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis) can't stand their bosses no more (Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell, respectively), so they hire Jamie Foxx as their "murder consultant" and set out to wipe them off the face of the planet -- the problem is, the bosses end up being a lot harder to kill than they expected. Almost every moviegoer of an employable age will probably be able to relate to Horrible Bosses on one level or another, though we're wondering if it's going to swing for the fences and go to the outrageous extremes it probably needs to in order to work (pun intended). If nothing else, the bosses themselves look to be a lot of fun, with Kevin Spacey doing a postmodern turn on his Swimming With Sharks character, Jennifer Aniston allowed to do more than just have a constant benign look on her face and an unrecognizable Colin Farrell working that amazing forehead. Prediction: Farrell steals the show from everyone, and that's quite the feat, considering the talent involved.
Whilst the trailer has a few embarrassing moments for adults (not the least of which is that rather jarring T.G.I. Friday's product placement), Zookeeper will probably emerge a winner, at least with the kids. Come on, talking animals? And ones that want to help their kindly ol' zookeeper (Kevin James) get the girl? Really, how can this thing lose with the little ones? The laughs will be broad and silly, though Rosario Dawson can make anything more classy, and ultimately you'll get a movie with a big heart and a positive message. The extra bonus will be enjoying all of the celebrity voice actors, which include Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, Cher, Judd Apatow and Jon Favreau, among many others. FYI, this is the third summer movie that Ken Jeong has snuck his way into, following The Hangover Part II and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Will someone remember to lock the fence from now on?
For John Carpenter fans, The Ward might be foolproof, as the fact that it's the first feature film the genre master has directed since 2001's Ghosts of Mars might be enough of a distinction in and of itself to warrant at least a passing grade. However, Ghosts of Mars was pretty much reviled by even the most diehard JC fan, so it would be an extra bonus if The Ward were also actually, you know, good. It's got a lot going for it, seemingly a patchwork of some of Carpenter's favorite themes and scenarios, taking place in an isolated setting (Assault on Precinct 13) as a strong female protagonist (Halloween, The Fog) deals with some sort of supernatural menace (The Thing, Prince of Darkness) whilst shaking a first against "the system" (They Live). That hottie cast, led by Amber Heard, doesn't hurt, either. Here's hoping JC is back, if not to full capacity than at least in fighting shape.
How can a movie with such an incredible cast look so blasted cheesy? Ironclad, a lusty swords-and-catapults account of the siege of Rochester Castle in 1215, stars James Purefoy, Brian Cox, Jason Flemyng, Derek Jacobi, Charles Dance, Mackenzie Crook and even Paul Giamatti as the ruthless King John, and yet the trailer immediately brings to mind Uwe Boll's wretched In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, with at least five over-the-top line deliveries by Giamatti ("England... is MINE, Albany!") and at least one bloodthirsty cry of "NO SURRENDER!!!" Still, no matter what the outcome might actually be (this might end up being a really great movie that just has a really bad trailer), credit must be given to director Jonathan English for at least giving it all a try, even after most of the funding disappeared during what sounded like a massive clusterfu** disguised as pre-production. Megan Fox was once attached to this thing, too -- she was later replaced with Kate Mara, who's quite lovely as well.