Have you ever played the card game crazy eights, in which you place one card on top of another if it matches in either suit or number? Good luck trying to find any connection in Hollywood's eight (count 'em, eight!) new releases this weekend, films so disparate in tone and content they read more like a song from Lerner and Loewe than a normal box-office lineup. ("Killers and thrillers and talking fast food! Travolta, Liotta and some Viking dude!")
But as the punch line to an old joke goes, "It may be a stacked deck, but it's the only game in town."
All eyes this weekend will be on Shia LaBeouf, who's only rumored to be in every blockbuster film in development (see "Shia LaBeouf On Living Down Disney, Why He Won't Do 'Juwanna Mann 2' "). His "Disturbia," a re-imagining of "Rear Window," centers on a teen under house arrest who begins to suspect his neighbor of murder. A big opening would go a long way toward furthering the young star's still-fledgling career — it seems like he's been around forever, but the man they call Beef is still only 20.
Which is roughly how many years ago "Perfect Strangers" debuted on television. We're betting the Bruce Willis/ Halle Berry cyber-thriller of almost the same name — but no relation to Balki Bartokomous — will have a somewhat less, uh, humorous slant. The film, about an online game of cat and mouse, is directed by James Foley, best known for "Glengarry Glen Ross." "Perfect Stranger" should start well on Friday, but hands off the coffee, sir — it's for closers.
But what if you can't even get an opening? That might be the fate of three new releases this weekend: "Lonely Hearts," starring John Travolta as a detective hot on the trail of the "honeymoon killers" (Jared Leto and Salma Hayek); "Pathfinder," an action-adventure about a Viking child (Karl Urban) raised by Native Americans; and "Slow Burn," with Ray Liotta as a would-be mayoral candidate in a 24-hour showdown with gang kingpin LL Cool J. All three have gathered dust over the last year, in the can and on the shelf, only to be released during a crowded spring weekend.
Three, of course, is the number of anthropomorphic fast-food items in the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters" gang (Frylock, Master Shake and Meatwad). Questions remain about the flick's promotional campaign ("Sorry, that's not a hair question"), but as for the film itself? Some critics (we're looking at you, Associated Press) have basically come out and said you need to be intoxicated to enjoy the movie's bizarre humor (see "Rewind: Will Big-Screen 'Aqua Teen' Be Next 'South Park' — Or 'Scooby-Doo'?").
We presume Eddie Griffin wasn't intoxicated when he recently destroyed a $1.2 million Ferrari to promote his new movie, "Redline." Just stupid — really, really stupid. The flick follows four drivers who compete in a million-dollar race.
But life's not a race, it's a journey. Just ask Molly Shannon, whose new movie, "Year of the Dog," centers on a woman whose life hits the ultimate speed bump when her pet dog and best friend, Pencil, dies suddenly after being poisoned.
Crazy eight, we're out! And speaking of putting all our cards on the table ...
The Predictions: He may have played a high school student on "The O.C.," but at 27, celebrity prognosticator Adam Brody is a grand old man among Hollywood's talented youngsters. This week, the "In the Land of Women" star is pulling for another up-and-comer, pegging Shia LaBeouf's "Disturbia" as the weekend's top film. And if he should lose?
Well, he'll be on the run, driving in the sun, right back where he started from. See what I did there, dear reader? Now the song's stuck in your head.
What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "Blades of Glory" ($15 million) "First things first, I cannot and will not predict 'Perfect Stranger.' Unless Bronson Pinchot shows up and does a dance of joy, this one is destined for a double feature with 'Mercury Rising' or 'Striking Distance' one day. 'Disturbia' is a fun little flick that could find an audience, but I don't know if Shia's ready to open a movie just yet. So it's back to the 'Blades of Glory' well one more time for me."
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "Disturbia" ($24 million) "This is a really hard week to predict, with 'Grindhouse' and '300' done, 'Blades of Glory' fading and such halfhearted fare as 'Pathfinder' and the 'ATHF' movie limping into theaters. Rather than leaning toward Halle and Bruce, I'm going to predict a surprisingly strong opening for 'Disturbia.' It's a solid flick that should appeal to the MySpace generation, and it might also attract the parents (and grandparents) who remember 'Rear Window.' A $24 million opening weekend would make for a very nice coming-out party for Shia LaBeouf, leading man."
Adam Brody, "In the Land of Women" star: "Disturbia" ($14 million) "I can't believe 'Blades of Glory' [will win] again. I've seen the posters for 'Perfect Stranger,' and I know there are big movie stars in it, but I haven't even seen a trailer, so how could I [pick it]? I think 'Disturbia' is going to do pretty solidly — PG-13 is a good thing for it. Why don't we say 'Disturbia' wins in a slow weekend with $14 million."
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