Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, Peter Serafinowicz
Ugh—another October title that promises much more than it can probably ever deliver. Jon Favreau’s long time producing pal Peter Billingsley (yes, Ralphie from A Christmas Story) is taking up residence in the director’s chair, making his feature film debut with a script from his buddy, Vince Vaughn, and What Happens in Vegas scribe Dana Fox. Sounds sketchy already. Now add in the cast, which combines solid comedic talents like Jason Bateman and Faizon Love with wildcards like Malin Akerman (The Heartbreak Kid—bad!) and Kristin Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall—good!). While the basic concept is satirically sound, recent preview screenings have suggested that the film is loaded with dead space and cartoonish, caricature-like performances. Here’s hoping Billingsley and the boys can pull this one out of the fire before actual paying audiences have a chance to condemn it once and for all.
Lance Crouther, Paul Marchand, Chris Rock, Chuck Sklar & Jeff Stilson
Chris Rock taking on the delicate subject of African American women and their hair? Sign us up! Similar in style to Bill Maher’s Religulous, as well as other serio-comic docs like Super Size Me, the usual suspects still make their necessary appearances: racism; unrealistic portraits in the media; minority-specific marketing; peer pressure; cultural significance and shifts. Add in Rock’s typically irreverent style, the inherent curiosity factor within the narrow-minded mainstream audience, and a built in demographic willing to watch themselves exposed on screen and you’ve got a realistic recipe for a major box office triumph. Indeed, if Tyler Perry can draw in the urban crowd with his melodramatic morality plays, a comedy titan like Rock should definitely deliver a surge of sleeper success.
Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Justin Long, Celia Weston
Here’s one that’s hard to get a handle on. It has a stellar cast—Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci, Justin Long—and an intriguing premise (girl caught between life and death, a funeral director who can communicate with her and help determine who’s trying to kill her). But the wildcard here is writer/director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo. She is virtually unknown in Hollywood, her only other credits including a collaboration on a multi-media project for the Paris Opera Ballet and a short called Pâté. On the positive side, many found the latter to be a visionary post-apocalyptic masterwork. How this particular cinematic story will play out is anyone’s guess. And with the film still categorized as in “post production”, don’t be surprised if it gets moved to sometime in 2010.
Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Rosamund Pike, Emma Thompson, Olivia Williams, Alfred Molina
It appears to be the same old cautionary tale—a young girl falls for an older man, throws dreams of going to college away to be with him, and then gets hit in the face with reality when her Prince Charming turns out to be decidedly less regal than originally believed. What makes this intriguing British import stand out is the source material (an autobiographical book by UK journalist Lynn Barber), the director (former Dogme ‘95 devotee Lone Sherfig), the writer who adapted the screenplay (High Fidelity/About a Boy scribe Nick Hornby) and the late ‘60s setting. Together, this solid set of talent provides the more than capable cast with enough fodder to deliver what many are calling a superb and wholly satisfying film. Already a sensation at Sundance, here’s hoping the title can live up to its publicity.