Happy Friday – we’ve got some big movies afoot. Before we get to the great big Green Lantern in the living room (now that people have finally stopped confusing it with Green Hornet) I want to say something about Mr. Popper’s Penguins – the new film opening today starring Jim Carrey and several birds who impact his life in a significant way. Okay, here goes: several years ago, I was interviewing a guy about his film. He was a very nice man; we spent several hours chatting and judging from his description, the movie sounded excellent. His mother had written the children’s book upon which it was based, and he’d written the screenplay. The movie was called A Bridge to Terabithia, and when I told my friends about it they all stared in shock.
“What? You don’t KNOW about that book? You didn’t read that book? What’s wrong with you? Everyone knows that book!” They said.
I had no clue. Yet there it was, and there was everyone I came into contact with for the next few weeks wondering how I could have had a childhood – even a young adulthood — and missed that book. The answer is, I just did. Which brings me to Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Same deal. Only the other way around. Because I have YET to meet anyone who read that book as a kid – as I did. Repeatedly. No one I have spoken to has even the teensiest familiarity with Mr. Popper’s Penguins — the book – which was a huge part of my childhood. Spent, it would seem, on another planet. Or underground. Yet, whenever critics discuss Mr. Popper’s Penguins they say it was based on a beloved children’s book. Enjoyed, I must now assume, by a group of phantom children and me. Anyway, this movie looks like a lot of fun and it will no doubt be very popular with other children who just want to seeJim Carrey do his thing with a bunch of unwieldy, egregiously cute birds. Plus, it’s a story of redemption in that Carrey’s character has no time for his family – until the birds pay him a visit and we can only assume that he’s magically, ornithologically transformed.
Then we have Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds and I’m not sure there’s been so much hype around a big summer action hero film since, well, probably the last big summer action hero film. Although this one looks different because Ryan Reynolds is not the type of guy you’d normally expect in the role. Not that I expected Tobey Maguire to shoot spider webs out of his hands either, but you get my point. Reynolds is different, he is adored across several audience groups and ages and this will test his blockbuster mettle. I do expect this story of a test pilot who winds up with a green ring who must then keep order in the universe to do very well indeed. Largely because of Reynolds’ unusual appeal; he’s likely to approach the whole thing with a healthy sense of irony and some smirks – which certainly did the trick for Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man. Green Lantern also stars Blake Lively and Mark Strong as Sinestro (expect to hear lots about this English dude over the next few months – he is about to get very popular in the US).
For those in the mood for something kind of indie we have a little film called The Art of Getting By, which stars Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts. Set in New York City, this one’s about a quirky young high schooler who’s managed to exist doing little or no work who “befriends” a headstrong and equally quirky young woman who may or may not challenge him. This looks solidly nestled into the “troubled teen” category but the buzz here is extremely good and the movie got lots of attention at film festivals (which we know probably means it’s definitely cool, but it may also be very good, if the talk is to be believed). I’ll definitely go see this.
Those are just a few of the movies opening now, hoping to take on the X-Men, Thor, Super 8, the Pirates and those fools in Bangkok (with their $200- million-dollar envelope-pusher). There’s serious competition, but I’m guessing that Green Lantern will shine – at least financially.
As always, let us know what you see and most importantly, what you thought.
1) Green Lantern
2) Mr. Popper’s Penguins
3) Super 8
4) X-Men: First Class