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January: or, the Burial Ground

January 5th, 2003

In Hollywood, January is known as the “dumping ground”, the month when studios release movies they lack faith in and pray to the god of Cold Hard Cash these films will find an audience. January features the wide releases of several critically praised and Oscar-worthy films, but the new kids on the block, the ones with DOA stamped on their foreheads are the ilk of the herd that usually hear the word “goodbye” very fast.

Moviegoers who aren’t interested in seeing Meryl Streep in The Hours, or Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt, will have plenty to choose from in January 2003.

If I had a penny for every teen comedy that came bouncing along… Semi-celebrities Ashton Kutchner (That ‘70s Show) and Britney Murphy (8 Mile) are up first for the January 10 opening of Just Married. They play a couple just—yes—married and having one heck of a crappy honeymoon. The trailer offers a few chuckles but nothing fresh.

Then there’s A Guy Thing, with Jason Lee (Almost Famous) who’s engaged to Selma Blair (Legally Blonde) but wakes up one morning in bed with Julia Stiles (The Bourne Identity). The film was originally planned to open sometime last fall, but its distributor, MGM, decided to put it on hold as to not interfere with another Lee comedy, Stealing Harvard. Harvard flunked out and A Guy Thing opens on January 17.

Also hitting theaters on Jan. 17 is something called Kangaroo Jack, a Warner Bros. kiddie flick starring Jerry O’Connell and an all-CGI animated kangaroo. And Martin Lawrence is back (after a series of bombs in 2001) in National Security, a cop comedy co-starring Steven Zahn (Out of Sight).

Those looking for something completely different can head on to the horror flick Darkness Falls. Sony is behind the spooky-looking production that spins the tale of terror surrounding a lighthouse and a creature called the Tooth Fairy. Darkness will fall on January 24.

Gwyneth Paltrow fans will be happy to see their darling in A View from the Top, flying into multiplexes on January 24. The flight-assistant comedy, co-starring a cross-eyed Mike Myers, got several laughs from the audience I was with during a showing of Chicago, but it’s hard to judge a book by its cover. This one could fly high, or crash on site. I’m betting on the latter.

January 31 sees three new films opening wide. The one to have the best chance at the box-office is the Al Pacino thriller, The Recruit. Pacino, hot off the brilliant Insomnia, plays a CIA recruiter who scopes up smarty-pants Colin Farrell (Minority Report) to help him smoke out a possible mole in the CIA training academy. The trailer is catchy, but I had the felling the film was meant to come out last fall and was quickly back-tracked to 2003 because of heavy competition. Farrell will be seen in Phone Booth next month, a movie that was taken out of the November schedule due to the gruesome sniper shootings in and around the Washington, D.C. area.

Final Destination 2 hopes to scare up the same business as its predecessor; The original was a word-of-mouth hit in the spring of 2000, but unlike the Scream series, Final Destination’s premise was interesting only one time around. Last, and probably least, of the trio is Biker Boyz. Starring Laurence Fishburne, it concerns a group of suit-and-tie guys who trade in their briefcases for wheels at night. (Dates are subject to change.)

Matthew Dalton

Source: Upcoming Movies @ Yahoo!