This week’s new wide releases promise to make for an ironically quiet weekend. One is an adaptation of the 2006 Tony winner for Best Musical, Jersey Boys (2014), while the other – Think Like A Man Too (2014) – is a Vegas-centered sequel to a breakout hit from 2012. So far, Jersey Boys is projected to bring home a $12 million haul this weekend, while Think Like A Man Too is tracking around $30 million. While the latter would recoup its entire budget if it grossed that much, $30 million isn’t in the world of huge opening weekends anymore – not when studio tentpoles are regularly bringing in $70+ million during the same time frame. Still, that haul wouldn’t be too shabby, all things considered.
Jersey Boys (2014) chronicles the behind-the-scenes true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, who united in harmony on stage but battled disunity and fractured relationships off stage. The project got off to a slow start, with Clint Eastwood replacing Jon Favreau (Iron Man) as director after casting had already begun. That is great news for audiences; while Jon Favreau has a talent for producing entertaining and successful films, he’s never confronted material this emotional and sensitive. Eastwood, on the other hand, has time and again proven his knack for directing prestigious pictures, having won two directing Oscars in the process (for Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004)). The casting seems to have been handled with the utmost care: there are no big name actors portraying any of the four main crooners. All were handpicked from the stage due to their theatrical experience and familiarity with the musical. This is more great news for audiences, who are given the freedom to get lost in the characters and their stories rather than become distracted by a famous face. The most famous face they’ll recognize is Christopher Walken’s, who portrays mobster Gyp DeCarlo. The film is rated R for, as the Paris Las Vegas (where the musical is currently enjoying an extended residency) puts it, “strong authentic Jersey language” and has so far received mixed reviews.
If you feel like taking a vicarious trip to Las Vegas through the ups and downs of four couples, then try your luck with Think Like A Man Too (2014). The four couples we first met in the film’s predecessor (Think Like A Man (2012)) reunite for the wedding of Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael (Terrence Jenkins), each bringing their own trials and tribulations to the festivities. Mars and Venus collide over conception attempts; financial “uh-oh’s”; work commitments; and competing bachelor/bachelorette parties (including a mix-up at a male strip club). Featuring an ensemble cast, including Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Gabrielle Union, and the first film’s standout star – Kevin Hart – who has a bigger role this time around. The film’s reviews confirm that this isn’t the next Hangover (2009) and that, in fact, it may be trying too hard to replicate the success of that film. The first film’s fans, however, are poised to take this film over the $30 million mark this weekend, indicating its demand. They may also drive a peak in sales of the book on which the first film was based on – Steve Harvey‘s Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. The film is rated PG-13 “for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material”.
The Bottom Line is this: I’d advise a quiet, enjoyable trip to the movie theater this weekend to check out Jersey Boys. It shows more promise than Think Like A Man Too – the second worst-reviewed film of the summer (just behind Blended) – and will likely feature an older crowd; this means not having to battle texting moviegoers and raucous young crowds.
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