Still, I soldier on. It's Friday the 13th today, and if you're the sort of person who likes to celebrate every holiday, you could either a) step on a bunch of cracks and let the chips fall where they may, b) watch 'Friday the 13th' for the millionth time or c) get in line to see 'The Grudge 2,' the sequel to the monumentally successful 'The Grudge,' which earned over $100 million for Sony in 2004. Sarah Michelle Gellar steps aside as the lead and Amber Tamblyn takes over as Gellar's younger sis, who heads to Japan after her sister's accident and similarly encounters the mysterious curse that makes people fall into a rage. And not just at the Tokyo subway system. With 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning' still pulling some of the horror-movie crowd, 'The Grudge 2' probably won't earn as much as the original did; but it's safe to say that people who enjoy having the crap scared out of them are going to be happy campers this weekend.
Also opening this week is 'Man of the Year,' a Robin Williams political comedy/thriller about an acerbic late-night talk-show host (any resemblance to Jon Stewart is entirely intentional) who runs for president on a lark. He wins ... and the plot thickens. If you're thinking that the storyline about a politician who shocks everyone by (gasp) being candid sounds a lot like films we've seen before -- 'Head of State' and 'Bulworth' among them -- then you're not alone. 'Man of the Year' was directed by Barry Levinson, whose 'Wag the Dog' is one of the best political satires ever made, so it's interesting and even a bit mystifying that he chose to go down the same road again but with a broader approach. As for Robin Williams, well, the world is divided into two camps (isn't it always?): those who think he's a comic and dramatic genius, and those whose idea of hell is being strapped into a La-Z-Boy and forced to watch 'Patch Adams' for all eternity. I believe the former group is still much larger than the latter. But the hellbound are making some noise.
Two more movies in wide release this weekend are 'The Marine' and 'One Night With the King.' Both of these films are being targeted toward niche markets, and both could end up with surprisingly healthy box-office returns. 'The Marine' marks the action film debut of John Cena, the WWE superstar and rap artist, who plays, well, a Marine. There's some kind of plot about his kidnapped girlfriend (Robert Patrick co-stars as Cena's evil nemesis) but who cares, really? If the self-proclaimed "Doctor of Thuganomics" can garner even a small fraction of The Rock's fanbase, he's got a modest hit on his hands. Meanwhile, 'One Night With the King' -- which is not, contrary to popular belief, a biopic about an Elvis Presley groupie -- guns for the Christian audience with an epic historical tale about the Queen of Persia.
So let's see. 'The Grudge 2' will draw teens, horror-movie buffs, and people just looking for some good ol' escapist entertainment. 'The Departed' gets all the serious-minded moviegoers who didn't have a chance to see it last week. 'Man of the Year' is the week's sole comedy, 'The Marine' gets the wrestling fans, and 'One Night With the King' has the Christian market cornered. Now, what do you do if you're a teenage Christian wrestling fan who has a thing for Leonardo DiCaprio? Why, you hide out in the bathroom of your multiplex and make a day of it, of course. Not that Moviefone advocates doing that. No sir.
Anyway, here are my picks. Think you know better? Bring it on. I can handle it. Mostly.
The Departed, The Grudge 2, Man of the Year, The Marine, One Night With the King, box office,