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New in Theaters February 20: Hot Tub Time Machine 2, The DUFF, McFarland USA

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By Chris Kavan - 02/19/15 at 06:47 AM CT

It may have been cold across much of the U.S. over Valentine's weekend, but thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey, it was steamy enough to break multiple records. There's a very good chance, however, that the goodwill is going to be short-lived. Facing a trio films targeting the younger demographic, there is a very good chance it's going to be one-and-done for the film - especially as Oscar weekend will likely keep some adults at home (or catching up on some of the nominees before the big show hits).

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 A lot of people considered the original Hot Tub Time Machine fun, if a forgettable, good time. I, for one, think it is one of the better comedies I have seen in last five years - but maybe that's just me. Anyway, instead of going back in time to fix the past (and alter the future) this time the guys (once again the team of Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke with Adam Scott taking over for John Cusack) must travel to the future in order to save the past... which is really the present. Okay, so the time-travel aspect is not the strong point of the film. Apparently this film takes place in the "alternative reality" that was created by the first film (when Lou is insanely rich for creating "Lougle" and Robison's Nick character has stolen numerous pop hits to become a huge recording star). But this leads to a future in which must be fixed - and apparently a lot of time travel goes on (previews mention the revolutionary war amongst others). This one does look all over the place, but because I had such a good time with the first movie, I'm willing to give this a shot. It will probably be ludicrously bad, but hopefully it will also be entertaining. It has been promoted mercilessly as of late - we'll see if that means big returns for the film.

MCFARLAND, USA You can't go a year without Disney releasing at least one feel-good movie - and sports are a favorite subject. From Miracle to Invincible to Million Dollar Arm - it doesn't matter the sport, there is bound to be a good story somewhere. McFarland, USA continues that trend - this time focused on cross country. Now, running isn't the most exciting of subjects to focus on - but the story (based on a true story - of course) concerns a coach (Kevin Costner) in a small California town who discovers the Latino community holds surprising depth - and some mighty fine athletes. He recruits some teens, molds them into a team, goes up against some of the best in the state - and wins. Much like previous films, I'm sure things are sugar-coated and presented in the best possible light - but this is the kind of up-lifting film that doesn't need to get every detail right. It has a built-in audience - and while some films have been more successful than others, they always do well enough (well enough to have one nearly every year). It will be interesting to see what kind of audience this one draws in.

THE DUFF The DUFF is an acronym for "Designated Ugly Fat Friend" in this case main character Bianca (the underrated Mae Whitman) finds out this is what some members of her high school have designated her. Naturally, she is a bit upset and seeks to upset the balance by turning the tables on some of her so-called friends. The Supporting cast on this includes the likes of Bella Thorne, Allison Janney, Robbie Amell, Ken Jeong, Chris Wylde and Nick Eversman (amongst others). This has a very Mean Girls feel about it - kind of throwing the whole clique/social pecking order of high school into upheaval - and it has worked in the past. But it will be very hard to capture the same goodwill as Mean Girls - lightning doesn't often strike twice - but it also depends on if the target audience shows their support. If it can get young women to arrive in droves (or at least in decent numbers) it has a chance to show up at the box office. However, if they avoid it, it's likely to make little impact.

Chances are this weekend is going to be subdued in comparison to the fireworks over Valentine's weekend. But with three new entries, hopefully it doesn't quiet down too much.


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