It's a bit of a down week in blockbuster season right before summer officially starts, but there are a handful of interesting limited releases and on Demand must-sees to tide you over until things heat back up.
In terms of wide releases, it's taking all we can muster not to make a Boyz II Men joke, since we're looking at Jersey Boys and Think Like a Man Too. Have we come to the end of the road when it comes to Clint Eastwood's directing prowess? Will audiences make love to the sequel to the surprise 2012 comedy hit based on a Steve Harvey advice book? Let's not wait 'til the water runs dry, folks! On to the movies!
One of the two big movies this weekend is Clint Eastwood's film adaptation of Broadway sensation Jersey Boys. If you're unfamiliar with the production, it's a musical history of The Four Seasons, complete with cheesy, claw-your-brain-out earworms like "Sherry." The only problem is that Eastwood's movie isn't really a musical. The Wire's Esther Zuckerman writes: " Perhaps the only time when it comes close is the production number choreographed to 'December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)' that accompanies the closing credits. It's the only musical number in the film that feels like it's from an actual musical, and therefore seems out of place, but at least everyone on screen seems like they are having fun." And really, the music is most of the fun in Jersey Boys – without which the movie is left with little more than, as Zuckerman writes, "the-band's-breaking-up-clichés." Eastwood has had a long career, filled with some truly must-see films. Jersey Boys is likely not one of them.
Think Like a Man Too is the second movie going wide, the sequel to 2012's Think Like a Man. The series is based on Steve Harvey's relationship advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man and while billed as an ensemble comedy ("The film is at its best when it tosses away any and all interest in narrative clarity or continuity and just grooves on the energy of its likable, attractive cast," Bilge Ebiri writes for Vulture), the main attraction is probably Kevin Hart, who seems to be at his Kevin Hart-est. In this one, the group of couples vacations in Las Vegas and, well, you know how that goes. If you liked the first, this seems like a pretty safe bet (though it's Rotten Tomatoes rating is currently about half of the first film's).
In Limited Release
The options for smaller releases are a bit limited this week. Le Chef (not to be confused with Jon Faveau's Chef) looks like a pleasant enough film about a burned-out french chef looking for new inspiration, but it's mediocre RT rating is a hint there's not too much going on here. Third Person has enough big names (Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Adrien Brody) in it to attract attention, so you have to wonder how they all ended up in this colossal mess of a movie. I've watched the trailer a few times now and still don't know what's going on:
Roman Polanski's Venus in Fur is the headliner, though, both in terms of buzz and acclaim. It's based on a play based on a book about a play, and features only two actors, so if you're in New York City this weekend it could be worth checking out. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Unless you've seen the stage play, in which case just sit home and think of how great Nina Arianda was.]
Video on Demand
Sure, you could watch sexy Jesus in Son of God on demand this weekend, but we're going to recommend two animated movies for your viewing pleasure, because they're both excellent. We won't begrudge Frozen its Oscar win, but the French Ernest and Celestine, about the unlikely friendship between a mouse and a bear, is a positive delight and one of the best from last year. And then there's The Lego Movie, which you haven't seen yet you must immediately. It has an excellent pedigree, and features the song "Everything is Awesome" which just about sums up the movie.
Streaming on Netflix
New to Instant releases are all over the place this week. The best of the bunch is either World War Z, in which Brad Pitt faces a zombie apocalypse, or the Mia Wasikowska version of Jane Eyre, depending on your sensibility. If you're feeling adventurous there's the 2013 remake of Bonnie and Clyde starring Emile Hirsch, which who knew even existed. Or, and I implore you to really think about your decision here, you can watch The Smurfs 2.
Movies on TV
In the spirit of Days of Future Past, The Wolverine premieres on HBO at 8 p.m. Saturday evening. It's probably not the worst X-men film but it's definitely not the best – don't expect much more than a ripped Hugh Jackman doing super hero-y stuff for two hours (although maybe that's all we need). On Showtime Saturday at 4:30 p.m. is Beauty Shop, which has Queen Latifah and Kevin Bacon, and at 6:30 is The Last Exorcism II, again.