There's a family theme this week, be they sparring with frats or moms letting loose. Variety in this week's wide and limited theatrical releases means everyone should be able to find something to see, but if not, there's always Netflix.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will continue to flex its muscle at multiplexes this weekend, but that doesn't mean studios are kowtowing to the superhero.
Headlining new wide releases is Neighbors, the movie "from the guys who brought you This Is The End" (so Seth Rogen, et al) that is currently being advertised everywhere in the solar system. It tells the gripping tale of a pair of newly-minted parents (Rogen and Rose Byrne, in the great Apatow coupling tradition) who have a college fraternity move in next door. You can imagine how that goes. It's in the frat-comedy lineage of Old School and Animal House (every generation needs one, apparently) and the movie is getting solid reviews so far, holding above 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. If you like Rogen and his gang it's a safe bet that you'll like Neighbors, and there's the bonus of Zac Efron continuing to shed his HSM roots.
The other family-centric comedy opening this week is Mom's Night Out which appears to be a knockoff of Date Night, and strictly moms are having the fun this time. Sarah Drew stars, along with Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin, and country singer Trace Adkins. This is the kind of movie where Patricia Heaton gets tased in the trailer, though, so you've been warned.
The third movie with a wide release is the animated Legend of Oz: Dorothy's Return. Unfortunately, it doesn't have anything to do with the 1985 Oz sequel Return to Oz, which is quite simply bonkers. Still, Dorothy's Return has a solid voice cast despite looking like a direct-to-video release, including Lea Michelle as Dorothy, along with Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Martin Short, Oliver Platt, and Patrick Stewart as various Oz residents. It's a musical too, but that doesn't save it from a 0 percent rating on RT currently.
In Limited Release
There's a good crop of movies opening small this weekend, so you have even less of an excuse to stay home. First there's Chef from Jon Favreau (who directed, co-produced, and starred in the film), which opens in six theaters and is the story of a chef who's fired from his ritzy Los Angeles restaurant, returns to his Miami roots, and starts a food truck. The cast is littered with big names – Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr., John Leguizamo, and Dustin Hoffman all show up – and has an 80 percent RT rating, so even if it's not the best movie, between the cast and the food porn, it's bound to be entertaining.
Joining Chef are Fed Up, Katie Couric's documentary on obesity in America that is already making headlines, and James Franco's Palo Alto, which has a few bright spots. There's also The Double, one of Hollywood's handful of double movies this year, which features not one but two Jesse Eisenbergs. It's supposedly a comedy, but as The Wire's David Sims points out, the trailer has some eerie vibes:
Video on Demand
Your On Demand options this week are bleak. New to iTunes and Amazon Instant is The Art of the Steal, that Kurt Russell/Matt Dillon/Jay Baruchel heist movie from March. It is probably not enthralling, but there are worst ways to spend time. Time Warner has a few movies you can see before they hit theaters: horror flicks Anna and All Cheerleaders Must Die, Trust Me (in which Clark Gregg directs and stars) and Rage which stars Nicolas Cage and is called Rage, so he's obviously perfect for the role. TWC also added a bunch of '90s movies to its On Demand catalog, including Hocus Pocus, The Craft, and The First Wives Club, if you're feeling nostalgia. If not, at least All Cheerleaders Must Die sounds super campy.
Streaming on Netflix
Making up for weak Demand offerings is a truly solid week for new Netflix instant options. You can watch crowd-pleasing Oscar winners Gladiator and Forrest Gump, do a double feature with both volumes of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, or get your fill of post-grad ennui with St. Elmo's Fire, just in time for this year's college graduation season. Or if you're in the mood for some television, a new season of Psych went up this week, as well as new episodes of How It's Made, which is one of life's few simple pleasures.
Movies on TV
Last year's Prisoners is premiering on HBO at 8 p.m. Saturday, a film which got mixed reviews. The consensus, though, seems to be that Jake Gyllenhaal's performance is better than the movie itself, so it might be worth checking out just for that. On Showtime Saturday night is Scary Movie 5, a revival of the franchise seven years after the fourth film. I'm going to go ahead and say that's probably a pass.