But I won’t be adding Won’t Back Down to the list. Everything about this strikes me as overly earnest melodrama with an ending you could see coming through a fog bank while wearing sunglasses. The whole issue of charter schools and parent trigger laws has a lot more layers to it than just the uplifting struggle of inspiring mothers, but from the trailers, this film appears to have no room for nuance. No, it’ll be all “little people good, government/bureaucracy bad,” and as such, will probably get some support from the same folks keeping 2016: Obama’s America in theaters, while any complexity the issue has will be ignored for the sake of a feel-good story.
One sure way to get me to avoid a movie is to put Adam Sandler in it. Throw in Andy Samberg and you may get me actively angry at it (I’m looking at you, That’s My Boy). Yet here I am actually excited about the two of them together in Hotel Transylvania. Of course, my anticipation has little to do with either one of them. No, what’s got me on board is director Genndy Tartakovsky, the man behind Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack and who gave us the Star Wars prequels most of us actually wanted to see with his Clone Wars shorts. The guy’s a talent, especially when it comes to purely visual storytelling. And so help me, the trailers for this made me laugh, and since I’ll only have to listen to Sandler and Samberg, I think I can handle them for ninety minutes or so. The problem Hotel Transylvania faces is Frankenweenie looming next week. Audiences might decide they’ve only got time for one spooky animated film this Halloween season and go with the Burton brand name, despite his best efforts to tarnish it of late.
But the big gun this weekend is Looper, the time-traveling action film from Rian Johnson. Johnson burst onto the scene in 2005 with his high school noir Brick, which also starred Looper lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s got a lot of buzz behind, just as the film does. It’s got a killer concept, what looks to be a great dynamic between Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis playing two versions of the same character, and those who have seen it can’t stop praising it. It’s got a bit of a hurdle in that R-rated sci-fi tends to be a tough sell, and, like Hotel Transylvania, it’s got a bit of a doppelgänger next week in Liam Neeson’s Taken 2, another R-rated action film. They’ve really been laying on the full court press with the TV ads for this though, so hopefully they can get people out to see it. Imagination like this needs to be encouraged with more than just good reviews and cult status.