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By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previews of The Dictator, Battleship and What to Expect When You're Expecting

After last week’s minimalist release, the theaters are stacking up again as three new contenders vie for the Box Office crown.  Can any of these three top The Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?  I believe one might have a shot, but my magic 8 ball tells me, “Outlook Not So Good.”  First up to try is a movie that opened on Wednesday.  That movie is…

THE DICTATOR

The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed. *

Sacha Baron Cohen’s (The Jolly Boys’ Last Stand) brand of comedy has never appealed to me.  While I did chuckle at some of his antics in Borat, it was more from the sheer disbelief at what he was trying to pull on unsuspecting bystanders.  He exploited the naivety of a few, manipulating them to say and do things that no normal person would.  Here, he steps away from the shock improv and into a more scripted affair.  The results from the trailer leave a lot to be desired.  While I did laugh during the track race sequence, the other 2 minutes did not elicit even a smile.  Maybe I’m just growing a little cynical.  I have liked Cohen in other roles, namely his supporting turns in Hugo and Sweeny Todd.  I think he can be great in more supporting dramatic roles.  I just find him tough to take in his comedic outings (weird since he is primarily a comedian).  He has his fans and I’m sure they’ll turn The Dictator into a hit.  It probably won’t be one for me.  I’m coming off my throne and oppressing 2 Peasants out of 5.  The Dictator is rated R for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images.

BATTLESHIP

A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals. *

The Avengers was not the only film I was looking forward to this month.  However, while I was expecting quality from the Marvel production, here I am expecting a ship wreck of epic proportions.  This looks like a poor man’s Transformers, a film series that resides near the bottom of my worst summer blockbuster list.  Loosely based on the Hasbro board game, this film takes what could have been an interesting strategic naval battle between two Cold War nations and turns it into a dime a dozen alien invasion film.  The only measure of hope I have that this could be decent and not just a reach by producers riding the Transformers money train is its choice of director. 

Peter Berg started off as an actor, playing bit parts in films like The Great White Hype, Cop Land and as Dr. Billy Kronk in Chicago Hope, before directing his first feature film, Very Bad Things.  He went on to helm The Rundown (one of the few entertaining Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson features), and Friday Night Lights.  Both of those films I love, for various reasons.  Unfortunately, the last outing he had was a potential summer blockbuster that fizzled, mostly because the studio and its star neutered down the initial concept, that film being Hancock.  That still doesn’t deter me from keeping his name off of my short list of good directors. This film may end up causing me to lose my faith in Peter Berg. 

The trailers play up the very loose Transformers connection (the properties are both owned by Hasbro and that’s it) and try to make it look like a Michael Bay film.  I’ve read on message boards that to truly appreciate what Berg is trying to accomplish, one must look at the film as not a Navy promotional video.  A different outlook must be observed that I won’t spoil for the few readers here that are interested.  It still doesn’t make me change my mind that this could be a bad, bad movie.  I’m screaming G-7 but am only sinking a patrol boat (or a destroyer, depending on which version you have) out of 5.  Battleship is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING

A look at love through the eyes of five interconnected couples experiencing the thrills and surprises of having a baby, and ultimately coming to understand the universal truth that no matter what you plan for, life doesn't always deliver what's expected. *

After a heavy dose of testosterone this summer season, it’s time to concentrate on the fairer sex.  Loosely based on the pregnancy guide by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, the filmmakers try to turn a self-help guide without a narrative structure into a comedy film about 5 couples at various stages of their pregnancies.  The concept of a comedy film out of a self-help guide is not a new one.  Currently in theaters, enjoying a mild success, is Think Like a Man which is based on Steve Harvey’s guide for women to better understand men.  Another example comes from Tina Fay’s Mean Girls, which is based on the book Queen Bee’s and Wannabe’s.  Those films show that it can be done.  As for this film, I will admit it was on the bottom of my radar.  I had no clue it was coming out until I browsed by IMDB and saw its listing.  This is not a film that is marketed for my demographic, which is why I was so ambivalent towards it initially.  The trailers have me changing my mind.  I laughed more during the first trailer than all of The Dictator’s and I found it amusing when I saw Chris Rock (Dogma) as a leader of the Dude Group.  There are some bright comedic minds associated with this so it may turn out to be good.  However, it will probably end up on my Netflix Instant Queue list and not my theatrical outings.  My mom and sister may have other ideas.  That being said, based on the previews and the talent involved, I’ll be dressing up as a doctor and delivering 3 babies out of 5.  What to Expect When You’re Expecting is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language.

That will do it for this week.  Stay tuned for next time when we nod our heads and get jiggy with Tommy Lee Jones.  Until then, I’m going to say Mr. Green in the hall with the Revolver. 

*all movie summaries taken from IMDB.com

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