This weekend brings us one of the first Serious Fall Movies of the season: 'All the King's Men,' starring Sean Penn as a man-of-the-people politician who's corrupted by the intoxicating whiff of power. With a cast that includes Jude Law, Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini and Anthony Hopkins, you'd think this would be a slam dunk, right? But after 'King's Men' premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, the buzz-o-meter turned against the movie with almost bewildering speed, and the majority of reviews have been less than kind (USA Today: "a thuddingly tedious soap opera"). If this movie were a baseball franchise, it'd be a cross between the Yankees (loads of superstar talent) and the Red Sox (high expectations, disappointing down the stretch). And yes, I realize I just made Yankees and Red Sox fans' heads explode by even mentioning their teams in the same sentence. Just doing my job.
On the opposite end of the moviegoing spectrum, we've got 'Jackass Number Two,' which features Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and the rest of the boys doing gobs more stuff you'd like to think your parents have never heard of ... unless, of course, you're Bam Margera, in which case your parents have seen and heard it all. 'Number Two' (hee, I said "number two") is even wilder and grosser than its predecessor, which bodes pretty well considering 'Jackass: The Movie' earned a respectable $65 million in 2002. That's more than 'Blue Crush' but less than 'Snow Dogs,' a fact that's kind of blowing my mind right now, since it means the 'Jackass' guys are more appealing than Kate Bosworth but less appealing than Cuba Gooding Jr. in a parka. We live in a strange world.
[Fun bonus tidbit: After we filmed an extremely R-rated Unscripted interview with the 'Jackass' gang, our lawyers freaked, even though we'd already bleeped out half of it and obscured all sorts of obscene gestures with black boxes. We had to make more cuts to be able to promote it anywhere at all; and while you'll have to wait for the DVD to watch the too-hot-for-AOL version, what we ended up with is still insanely funny. Be sure to check it out.]
Rounding out the weekend's wide releases are what I'll call The Three Fs: 'Flyboys,''Fearless' and 'Feast.' Hmm, let's see: a by-the-numbers James Franco military flick, Jet Li's last martial arts film (this is a little like Tiger Woods hanging up the golf clubs, though I'll admit I'm skeptical -- just wait until he keeps losing out to Robin Williams for those kindly professor roles, and he'll come running back, you'll see) and the horror-film winner of HBO's Project Greenlight series. Do any of them have the legs to knock off the juggernaut that is 'Jackass'? Probably not -- but you know you're looking at a seriously weak movie weekend, or weakend, if you will, when a little-publicized frightfest starring Eric Dane (that's McSteamy to you 'Grey's Anatomy' fans) has the chance to make it into the top five.
Enough! Without further ado, I present to you my predicted top five for the weekend. Check back on Monday to see how badly I missed the mark.