We’re slowly making our way out of the box office winter, with some big releases lined up over the next few weeks. Then April is just going to explode with Furious 7 right at the beginning of the month, which should hold us over until Age of Ultron on May 1st. Then it’s the roller coaster ride until The Force Awakens at the end of the year. There’s a ton of geek stuff to be excited about, and much of it nicely spaced out so we’re not sick of it by the time it gets here. It means some fun movies — like Focus, which I enjoyed a lot — are going to be forgotten in the rush, but it’s all about the events now. Studios just hope to sneak in some sleepers during the lulls.
Although Unfinished Business might fall into the more unkind definition of sleeper. Putting Vince Vaughn in a film like this might have been a good idea ten or eleven years ago, when he was riding high with Old School and Dodgeball and Wedding Crashers (and pretty much playing the same character in all of them). But boy did people sour on that act really quickly. Similar efforts like The Watch and The Internship crashed hard, and nowadays, Vaughn couldn’t open a 7-Eleven if the manager gave him the keys. But he’s trying again, with a film that looks like it wants to do for business trips what The Hangover did for bachelor parties. Which is mostly spawn two bad sequels. Don’t think that’s happening here.
Part of me loves the fact that the sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel embraces its very nature by calling itself The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It’s telling you right up front that it’s not quite up there with the original. If anything, you have to admire the honesty. Actually, it might be nice to see this become a continuing series, acting as a sort of retirement home for aging British actors so they can keep busy, the cinematic equivalent of shuffle board and bingo. To be fair, I’ve never seen the first film, which by all accounts is a charming if slight piece of work that works mostly on the appeal of the cast. And there’s bound to be an audience for a film that’s good-natured and sweet. I’m just in a snarky mood, that’s all, and it’s not like Bill Nighy is going to show up and do anything about it.
I was really looking forward to Chappie. I wanted Neill Blomkamp to bounce back from Elysium with something more akin to District 9, and I like the slickly gritty look of his future. And despite some savage early reviews, this still tops the wide releases for me. Truth is, some artists have one great idea in them, and spend the rest of their careers trying to live up to it. I’m hoping against hope that Blomkamp isn’t one of those artists, and who knows, I might be pleasantly surprised by Chappie. But a lot of the negative reviews are mentioning the same problems, so I can’t believe it’s a case of critics just swinging and missing. I’ll still see this, but I can’t say my excitement level is particularly high.
Which is okay, because there’s a smaller film rolling into Orlando that’s got me completely psyched for it. I first heard about What We Do in the Shadows from the enthusiastic review it got on the Filmspotting podcast, and since then I’ve been crossing my fingers it would turn up here. Lo and behold, not three days later, the Enzian announced it was debuting today. Good job, fingers!. The film is a mockumentary co-written by and featuring Jermaine Clement, one half of Flight of the Conchords, which focuses on a group of vampires sharing a house in Wellington, New Zealand, and some of the bits they played on Filmspotting sounded absolutely hilarious. I’ve been meaning to get out to the Enzian more often this year, and this seems like a golden oppo —
Oh. Sorry, I have to go. Bill Nighy is here and he isn’t happy.