A video game adaptation and another Tyler Perry movie headline this weeks' wide releases, while the cult favorite and Kickstarter-backed Veronica Mars opens in theaters and goes up online for digital download. There was a time, once, when the second part of that sentence would make absolutely zero sense.
Let's start with the first: Need for Speed. That films based on video games are generally not good, at least reviews-wise, has been well established. But honestly, who's going to Need for Speed looking for a critical darling? There aren't going to be any surprises: it's a post-Breaking Bad Aaron Paul driving fast cars and mugging for the camera. There will be little to no original plot, the dialogue will be cringe-worthy at moments, and a concocted love story will be intertwined somewhat arbitrarily amid the car-chase action. You may not be into that, but it's exactly what the trailer advertises, so you have no reason to complain. Look, it's a video game movie. If you're looking for some mindless popcorn fodder for a Saturday afternoon, NFS is perfect.
The second movie going wide this weekend is the latest from Tyler Perry: The Single Moms' Club. Again, you're going to get exactly what you're expecting from a Tyler Perry movie. As Bilge Ebiri writes for Vulture, "With writer-director-producer Perry displaying some rare focus, you’re intrigued at first by the possibility of watching them interact for a couple of hours. It doesn’t last." It becomes, as any movie titled The Single Moms' Club is wont to do, about finding the perfect guy. Which, come on.
In Limited Release
After spending last weekend in just New York City and Los Angeles, The Grand Budapest Hotel expands just a tad, hitting over 40 cities Friday. It's Wes Anderson at his most Wes Anderson-y, and while not the greatest in his filmography, it's worth seeing. Also opening limitedly is The Art of the Steal, which has a 50 percent RT rating and stars Kurt Russell as someone named Crunch Calhoun. It is, apparently, a "con comedy." Jason Bateman's Bad Words hits a few theaters (six, mostly in NYC) as well. His directorial debut, the film stars Bateman as a middle-aged man who enters a spelling bee because he never passed the eighth grade. He befriends a young Indian boy (lots of cheap ethnicity jokes ensue) and flirts with Kathryn Hahn, all while being a grade-A jackass.
But the real headliner this weekend is the Veronica Mars film, which will be shown in almost 60 cities. The Kickstarter-funded follow-up to the cult TV series will also be available this weekend for digital download, but if you have a chance to see it on the big screen, why not?
Videos On Demand
The aforementioned Veronica Mars will be available on iTunes, Amazon, and Flixster. Other films new to On Demand this weekend include Spring Breakers (winner of The Wire's prestigious alt-Oscar for Best Picture) and Adult World, starring Emma Roberts as a college graduate employed at a sex shop. But really, you should just watch Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest film from the Coen brothers and one of the best movies released last year. It didn't get any Oscar-love, but watch the movie and you'll understand why that goes perfectly with the film itself.
Streaming on Netflix
After last week's great haul of new streaming movies, this week is more sparse. It's a solid week for television, with the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series going up and a new season of Archer to binge on, but the new movie selection is ... not great. Your options include the latest in those unbearable spoof movies, The Starving Games, and a period action piece called Sweetwater, which stars January Jones as a pioneer woman who has to defend "her land" from a "calculating preacher." But we recommend the documentary Stevie Nicks: In Your Dreams. No comment necessary.
Movies on TV
Premiering on HBO Saturday at 8 p.m. is Baz Luhrmann's empty, glitzy The Great Gatsby. If somehow you have never read the book, it'll sort of be like watching Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, as told by your 11th grade high school English teacher. If you have read the book, it's another ill-fated attempt to adapt the (probably unadaptable) novel, this time with a Jay Z fueled soundtrack. On Showtime Saturday evening is Alex Cross, the 2012 crime drama with Tyler Perry as the title character, based on the books of James Patterson.