Hitting Screens, Week of July 4, 2016

Coming off the long holiday weekend, the media is wondering what went wrong at the box office for Steven Spielberg’s critically acclaimed The BFG., based on the book by Roald Dahl.

Opening this week is a childrens movie that is the opposite of The BFG, panned by critics, but expected to do very well.

MV5BMjIzMzA1OTkzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODE3MjM4NzE@._V1_Secret Life of Pets opens July 8. The animated film follows the adventures of pets when no owners are watching. It stars the voices of Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, and Kevin Hart.

Reviews are generally flat for the comic romp created by the same team that made “the ultra-successful Despicable Me and Minions movies.”  The Guardian gives it 3 out of 5 stars and calls it “silly but funny.” Indiewire gives it a B-, saying “It may be technically impeccable, but it’s something less than a feeling.” The reviewer for Den of Geek says, “I’m sure it’ll make lots and lots of money … I’m less sure that lots and lots of people will love it.”

It is not based on a book but there are tie-ins, as we reported in the May 30 Titles to Know.

MV5BMjM4NDIxNzI5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTg4NTY5NzE@._V1_SX214_AL_The other wide-release film this week is Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. The raucous and bawdy comedy came out first as a memoir, written by brothers Mike and Dave Stangle with the intent of using it as a bid to get a movie contract.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s review is damning, but it is expected to be a blockbuster, starring as it does Zac Efron and Adam DeVine opposite Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza. A tie-in came out on June 21.

MV5BMTEzNTQ2OTYxMjheQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDc0OTkzNzgx._V1_Already disappointing horror fans is the film version of Stephen King’s Cell. Even though King adapted his own novel, working on the screenplay with Adam Alleca (The Last House on the Left), reviews are not good.

Horrorfreak News says it is an “absolute disaster … A disappointment and an embarrassment – for all those involved … With all of the mega-talent surrounding this production, I have to ask, “Seriously, what happened here?’”

BloodyDisgusting says “Given the absurdity of the premise, you’d think Cell would be an entertaining ride. It’s not. It’s gratuitously grim and gloomy, with no real message to drive this misery home … The story packs absolutely no punch and the solid stable of actors look bored.”

The film was released on June 10th on VOD and opens, without much promotion, in a limited run of theaters on July 8. A tie-in came out last week.

MV5BMjE0MjYyMjQ4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjk5ODI2ODE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Our Little Sister, a Japanese film with subtitles, is opening in LA and NYC on July 8, to be followed by a wider release later. It is based on the manga series Umimachi Diary by Akimi Yoshida.

It received modest to glowing reviews when it aired at Cannes. The Guardian said the “sweetly tender movie … is superbly unforced and unassuming, finding delicate notes of affirmation and optimism and discreetly celebrating the beauty of nature and family love. It is watercolour cinema with nothing watery about it.”

The Hollywood Reporter, on the other hand, sums it up as “Generous spirited, pristinely shot and, quite frankly, somewhat dull.”

No tie-in edition was issued and the series was not published in the US. The author wrote the Banana Fish series, published in the U.S. by Viz Media.

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