Oscar History

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« Emmy Night Winners | Main | Three Reasons Why People Ought to Stop Bitching About the Foreign Film Race and Just Appreciate The Movies »

Box Office: The Family Prisoners of Oz

Jake Gyllenhaal sure needed it. Hugh Jackman's still got it. Prisoners, their tense new child abduction thriller had a strong opening weekend. It shouldn't come as a surprise, really. Hugh hasn't had anything like a true "flop" since Deception (2008) and The Fountain (2006). Even Australia, which people remember as a flop, would have been a hit all told with its solid global gross had it not had such a steroid-humongous budget. We'll discuss Prisoners in depth tomorrow (it's the type of movie that people will unfortunately "spoil" while discussing it enthusiastically so let's give it another night before we dive in) once we're past Emmy weekend.

marketed largely on Hugh Jackman, Prisoners turns out to be a true ensemble piece

01 Prisoners $21.4 
02 Insidious Chapter 2 $14.5 
03 The Family $7
04 Instructions Not Included $5.7
05 Battle of the Year $5
06 We're The Millers $4.6 
07 Lee Daniels' The Butler $4.3 REVIEWED 
08 Riddick $3.6 
09 Planes  $2.8
10 Percy Jackson 2 $1.8 

I ran into Joe Reid at the movies on Thursday and we talked about the tiny short shelf life of some movies. We were joking that people won't even remember that The Family ever came out by Friday. But here it is for the second week in a row in the top three grossers. So perhaps we were wrong. I haven't had the time (or, more pointedly, the heart) to write up the movie. I will say that Pfeiffer, DeNiro and Jones are good enough with the material but none inspired by it. What prompted them to make it beyond the paycheck? The fault lies with Luc Besson and the writing since it's such an unwieldy and even ugly mix of tones, swerving from heartfelt drama to black comedy to slapstick to god-only-knows what in nearly every scene with none of the dramatic empathy or comic inspiration that it would need to survive its indecisiveness and total mediocrity.

Mother & Robot. After school.

P.S. The only moments of joy I felt watching the movie was a couple shots of an endearing beautiful dog (named "Malavita" - ha!) and every shot of La Pfeiffer as it came with tiny flashes of nostalgia from the 80s classic Married to the Mob wherein the goddess was also comically cavorting with gangsters.

P.P.S. Dianna Agron is awful but I actually think she has the film's most impossible role and I can't believe I'm saying this but it needed someone of Chloe Moretz's total "f*** you" adolescent confidence and technical skill - she can fake human-like responses when she has to. Agron can (sort of) "act" confidence but she's like a robot when it comes to emotions; they do not compute.

01 Wizard of Oz IMAX 3-D $3
02 Thanks For Sharing $.6
03 Enough Said $.2
04 Rush $.2 REVIEWED
05 Short Term 12 $.1 REVIEWED (cum $.7)

Having recently rewatched The Wizard of Oz for the millionth time for Hit Me With Your Best Shot I didn't feel the need to see it on the big screen again (I've done that several times, too). But did you? In other news, I fear that Short Term 12 is not long for this world, encountering its first dip during its gutsy and beautiful weekly expansion... so get out there and see it, people. Support movies that are crafted with everything BUT box office on their minds, and we'll get better movies!

What did you see this weekend? And was it money well spent?

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Reader Comments (29)

Didn't see any movies this weekend, but I did see Safe and 8 Femmes, both for the first time, both excellent.
Going to see Prisoners Tuesday, and here's hoping Short Term 12 opens in Montreal soon.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

"She can fake human-like responses when she has to."

This is my new favorite "compliment" ever.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I caught up with some movies on Starz ---

We need to talk about Kevin. (Too many red references but Tilda wa great)

Rust & Bone (Marion was terrific)

Take Shelter (where are the awards for underrated Shannon)

The Sessions (disappointing)

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I fear that Short Term 12 is not long for this world, encountering its first dip during its gutsy and beautiful weekly expansion... so get out there and see it, people. Support movies that are crafted with everything BUT box office on their minds, and we'll get better movies!

That's a myth. Hollywood is in the junking making business. Until a piece of art accidentally leaves the editing suite. Of course when art is deliberate you causally dismiss it (THE MASTER) and that's why we can't have nice things.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

AFTER TILLER, which was a barrel of laughs. :/

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

3rtful -- do you ever get tired of being hostile/negative? quick think of a happy thought! you can do it. i know you can.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

It's not like I ever thought, "The Family", was going to be a huge hit, but I did want it for Pfeiffer. All I want is for her to have a solid comeback (though she hasn't really gone anywhere). This lady deserves a great project to showcase her talents!

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZacary

Jan -- even when i try to compliment her it somehow comes out wrong ;)

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

You do not need to explain your favs:Pfeiffer, Kidman, and Moore

We all have our own favs ... maybe we do not all gush over them ... but you give fair acting reviews to these three...

I love Streep, but hated her in Doubt and French Lieutenant's Woman, House of the Spirits,etc.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I actually laughed out loud at the caption of Michelle Pfeiffer and Dianna Agron.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

Why are you painting me as a villain? No profanity no rage against the Streep yet I get chastised for sharing an opinion. I have no idea what else you want from me.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I almost went to see Short Term 12 again and decided that was a sign I needed to take the weekend off from theaters. I only really need to see The Butler at this point just so I can explain why Oprah was nominated in a few short months.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

I'm enjoying "Sundays with Hitchcock" on TCM in September. "Prisoners" will be tomorrow afternoon. Helloooooo Hugh and Jakey-poo!!!!!!

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

@3rtful--Why do you always bring up Meryl Streep? I mean, it's fine that you don't like her, but she has nothing to do with this article...

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

i live in France so i saw BEHIND THE CANDELABRA with Douglas and Damon (the decoration and the acting are terrific)

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterfrench girl

"Blue Jasmine" has finally arrived in London and I was there for the very very first screening today.

Yes, Cate Blanchett is not only locked for a nomination, the current favourite but is highly likely to win the Oscar.

Now I truly understand why there is a such a huge number of admirers of this performance -> the character is very interesting, the film moves very fast, it all ends in no time and you are forced to go back and think about her.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

I haven't seen The Family nor Glee for that matter (= not a fan of Agron) but your words on Agron's performance are among the cruellest I've ever read here. :(

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Nothing this weekend, though I did see The Grandmaster on Thursday. Every second involving Zhang Ziyi is thrilling, live wire cinema - the whole movie should have been about her, as far as I'm concerned. The rest of the movie was an overstylized snooze, and worse, a snooze that had obviously been semi-butchered by Harvey Weinstein. I'd say I need to search out the international cut, but I'm afraid that it won't actually be that much better - just a bit longer and less dumbed down.

I'm seeing Short Term 12 this week, and hoping I'll have time to squeeze in Prisoners before the NYFF starts up this weekend!

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

frenchgirl -- was that released as a normal movie there?

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

I can hardly wait for Streep to win her 4th Oscar with a dedication
to 3rtful....

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark


Good, nothing else.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo - Brazil

I agree that Michelle Pfeiffer deserves a great movie. I saw " Insedious 2" which was horrible! Laugh out loud bad, dragging up every lazy horror film cliche imaginable and it ends with the threat of a third movie!!!

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I saw a best picture double feature: "The Hurt Locker" and "Argo" -- first times for both (yes, I know I'm far behind). Perhaps this wasn't fair to "Argo" because it suffered a bit in comparison.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercash

I finally decided to watch Singin' in the Rain based solely on your constant (and loud) praise of the film. It wasn't just good...it was DAMN GOOD. The choreography for the "Make em Laugh" number is the best I've ever seen; for my money Donald O'Connor had the best performance in the film (after Jean Hagen of course, I agree with you that she was robbed). Great songs, terrific story and dialogue, and strong performances all round; best musical ever in my book.

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

somebody in the prisoners marketing department hates paul dano

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Maria Bello doesn't have it much better..."Golden Globe nominee"

September 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkin

Paul Dano is a BAFTA nominee, they could have used that?

September 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKermit The Frog

@3rtful - Nat doesn't really have to "paint" you as a villain. You do it yourself with almost every comment.

September 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay


September 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMA

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