By Chris Kavan - 07/23/15 at 11:41 AM CT
It was a minor Marvel letdown when Ant-Man didn't quite pull his own weight last weekend. But luckily Amy Schumer and her Trainwreck managed to stay on track and came in ahead of estimates. This weekend we have a dramatic boxing film, a fun ensemble cast taking down classic video games and a teen-centric mystery. I have a feeling none of the films are going to open as big as many of the previous blockbusters we have seen, but hopefully there is enough gas to continue the winning streak for the year as Hollywood nears the end of an impressive July.PIXELS
Pixels is based on Patrick Jean's 2010 short (running at 2 minutes) about 8-bit video game characters destroying New York (and, eventually, the world). Chris Columbus directs the full-length version of that short with Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Michelle Monaghan, Sean Bean, Brian Cox, Jane Krakowski and Dan Aykroyd all on board. Essentially, the premise remains the same, classic video game characters (like Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Centipede and, of course, Space Invaders) invade Earth and begin to destroy it, one pixelated block at a time. Seems some aliens got our signals crossed and interpreted our games as a message of war and retaliated in like fashion. The main cast is our "heroes" aka video game nerds sent to dispose of the menace with their skills. Okay, so the movie looks ridiculous but, even though I think it's going to be pretty terrible - I kind of still want to watch it. Heck, Dinklage is in it and that raises the bar by, like, a whole foot or something because of his presence alone, right? Anyway, I don't think this is going to run away with any box office records but it looks entertaining enough that hopefully adults and the kids can have a good time.
On the other hand, we have Southpaw, a film that main star Jake Gyllenhaal completely transformed for the role of a boxer going through some life-altering changes. Essentially the lifestyle catches up with him in a big way after his wife (Rachel McAdams) is killed and he subsequently loses his daughter (a scene-stealing Oona Laurence) to child services. In order to sort things out he seeks out trainer Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) to get his career, and life, back on track. It's boxing, so you can't help but draw comparisons to the greats: Rocky and Raging Bull - however, Southpaw looks to stand on its own by injecting some well-placed drama in the mix. It looks like a winner to me - emotional story, great actors, blood, sweat and tears - the big questions is whether audiences are going to get behind this R-rated heavy hitter. If adults support it - it could have a great run but it's not the kind of film that is going to draw huge audiences. I hope for the best.
That leaves us with Paper Towns. Based on the story by John Green (who also wrote The Fault in Our Stars), the story concerns the girl-next-door - Margo (Cara Delevingne) who goes on a night adventure with Quentin (Nat Wolff), expounding on her love of mysteries - before becoming one herself. The next day she goes missing, though she leaves behind a series of cryptic clues to follow. Quentin sets out with his friends to find her. Part coming-of-age-story drama, part romance and part mystery - Paper Towns hopes to find the same success as Fault in Our Stars with the teen audience. It does seem to think outside the box, and it could draw out a good crowd, but we'll see if it can make as big an impact as past successes or if it will get buried and forgotten.
All in all, while the weekend might not have any super-huge breakout films, it should be enough to keep July ahead of last year. I'll be back on Sunday with the results.