We've assembled representatives of some of Hollywood's key demographics. Each week, our group weighs in on the coming weekend's releases, letting us know whether all the script fixes, the re-shoots and the product tie-in campaigns have added up to a movie they are likely to see.
The Christian Keenan Roberts: Senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Northglenn, Colo., as well as director of the ministries of the Hell House Outreach.
The Rapper GLC: Originally from Chicago, he now lives in Los Angeles where he is at work on his album.
The College Boy Justin Scharf: A freshman at Georgia State University. He is 6-foot-3, listens to a lot of music, and works at Starbucks.
The Teenage Girl Elena Roye: An eighth-grader at a middle school in Westchester County, N.Y.
The City Girl Carol Creighton: Lives in the West Village of Manhattan. She is a manager for a pharmaceutical company, volunteers at a women's shelter, and enjoys her martinis with a twist.
It looks like our rapper has found himself a life partner. There's no engagement ring yet, but if a romantic getaway to the Wisconsin Dells this weekend works out, then GLC may be relocating to Chicago permanently to be with his girl -- the one who used to work at the same mall as him back when they were 17. "I've been turning down a lot of sex coming my way," he said. "Those 4 a.m. booty calls? I'm sending them straight to voicemail."
In the meantime, our Pastor is at a Christian camp, our college boy cannot stop sleeping, our teenage girl can't wait for the end of school, and our city girl takes her responses to the next level.
Now, to the movies!
Suite 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel is supposedly haunted, which is perfect for a writer (John Cusack) working on a book about haunted hotel rooms. When he decides to stay the night, he experiences something out of a Stephen King story, which is appropriate, since screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski adapted King's short story.
Keenan: "There seems to be a natural conundrum in writing that the preacher's wife loves scary movies, but that's exactly what I've got with my sweetheart Anjela. She is not shy about loving a good old-fashioned scare, although she enjoys her scares without the gore and violence.
She just wants the shiver up the spine that shakes you out of your seat. I think it's connected to her childhood in some way and that intimidating statue at the end of the hallway growing up. All you good Catholics know what I'm referring to: the Mother of the Unholy Nightmare statue in every house. Anj has been talking about this movie for a couple of weeks and "for better or worse" she'll make me tag along."
GLC: "This is a white guy, right? Because I'm a black man and that is some [stuff] that black people don't want to be around. If there is a hotel room where everyone dies I do not want to be a part of it, I don't want to see the movie, and if anyone else wants to see it then God bless them, but it's not for me!"
Justin: "I'm not sure what to say about it, but whenever Samuel Jackson is in a movie I'm inclined to think it is bad. He just signs up for every movie whether it is good or not. I don't know. I'm getting no vibe from this movie at all."
Elena: "Oh yeah. It does seem like a good story and I think I like that actor who plays the main character -- the writer. I think I'd see it."
Carol: "Love John Cusack, but hate scary...so this is a no go for me."
In the sequel to "Bruce Almighty," God (Morgan Freeman) returns to Earth to give orders to an uptight congressman (Steve Carell): Build an ark and fill it with two animals of every kind. With Lauren Graham, John Goodman and John Michael Higgins.
Keenan: "I'm going to go see it. I hope to really enjoy it. The last thing I want is to be offended yet again, by the entertainment industry. (Don't miss the review next week. If they blow it, I'm going to seriously take them to the wood shed. If they don't, I'll give kudos where kudos belong.)"
GLC: "I want to see how "The 40 Year Old Virgin" handles his powers. They say Jesus was a virgin. This dude may inspire a whole virgin movement. If you know any virgins, don't laugh at them, befriend them. They may be the ones that get chosen by God to build the arc."
Justin: "I was just reading about this one in the paper and how far Steve Carrell has come in a really short time. That's really cool, but I never really considered 'Bruce Almighty' to be very good. I don't know if the sequel to a movie that is not very good is the law of diminishing marginal returns right there."
Elena: "Yeah, it's a little stupid but it's kinda funny too. It's unique and I think I kinda want to see it because of its uniqueness."
Carol: "OK, so there are a few things to evaluate here; namely the storyline, the stars and the 'message.' The storyline should make for a fun movie; there are songs about Noah and the ark, why not a movie loosely based on it? As for the message, as I understand it, the goal is to have the audience end up caring about the environment, and having faith tied to being good to the earth. Not a bad message as far as I am concerned.
Finally, although I love Steve Carell, the big draw for me is Lauren Graham. I think she is hysterical on 'Gilmore Girls,' in other movies and even just seeing her in interviews, I think she is great and I hope the movie does well. I am sure I will end up seeing this movie at some point."
"A Mighty Heart"
The slaying in Pakistan of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is the basis for this story about his abduction and the race to find him before tragedy strikes. With Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman and Archie Panjabi.
Keenan: "I don't know one single thing about this film. I haven't heard anything about it, don't know who is it in it and frankly I don't care. After my epistle above I have no desire to even watch the trailer and learn one single tidbit about it. I really hope 'Evan Almighty' is a winner."
GLC: "I will see this because I'm a big fan of Angelina Jolie's top lip, but it does seem like Hollywood is running out of names. They have 'Evan Almighty' and then 'A Mighty Heart.' I think they should have called this 'The Mighty Top Lip' because her top lip curls up and it looks mighty!"
Justin: "I didn't even know about it until I saw the trailer this weekend. It looked like Angelina Jolie is doing a good job with the accent, but she brings all this baggage with her and it takes away from the story. I just think of her adopting kids when I see her. But Michael Winterbottom directed it and he directed one of my favorite movies ever--'24-Hour Party People'--so that kind of tempts me to go see it."
Elena: "Oh gosh, um, I think I'm a little intimidated but it would be really interesting. Maybe if I was older, but I'd see it now. The fact that it's reality kinda scares me though."
Carol: "I probably won't see this as I think perhaps the movie does not give a fair perception of the horror around someone being tortured and killed because of their faith, and focuses on the positive aspects from a very sad situation. I am all for remembering the positives, or attempting to figure out what good came of a situation, but when it diminishes the horror created by Daniel Pearl's captors to achieve this, I don't see the value."
Indie Focus Newsletter
Movie news, screening invitations and reviews from the world of independent film and beyond.