Into the Wasteland: The Fourth Weekend of February

by | Jan 29th, 2009 | 2:45PM | Filed under: Trailers

We are officially halfway through our coverage of the Wasteland months!  (Or perhaps we should be crying, "Good God! We're only halfway through our coverage of the Wasteland months?!?") 

(SCHEDULING NOTE: If you were looking for Sarah Michelle Geller's "my brother-in-law/my-husband" thriller Possession in theaters last weekend–January 23–you came up empty. It has been moved off the release calendar and not yet rescheduled. One of the many pitfalls of the Wasteland!)

You can see all the previous Wasteland entries here. Today, we turn our attention to the final weekend of February:

February 27

Assassination of a High School President
— High school student and wannabe detective Bobby Funke (Reece Thompson, Rocket Science) teams up with "the hot girl" in class (Mischa Barton, The O.C.) to solve a mystery involving stolen SAT tests.  Bruce Willis is also along for the ride as the school's principal.  This is the first feature film from music video director Brett Simon.

Erika says: Hot on the heels of Fired Up and Youth in Revolt comes yet another film set in high school… but guess what? I'm totally excited for this one. I've heard nothing but exuberant praise for AoaHSP since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over a year ago. Sure, I still have my doubts because Mischa Barton is in it, and she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag in The O.C.  But everything I've read said that Reece Thompson's performance as Bobby Funke is so brilliant that it will win over even the most stubborn of cynics. Might AoaHSP be this generation's darker, smarter Ferris Bueller's Day Off?

Locke says: Ditto everything Erika just said. Is that enough? No? Okay, lemme just add that I'm a huge fan of the "smart, savvy, well-written" high-school film, the most recent examples of which include the amazing hard-boiled noir Brick and the uneven-but-charming Charlie Bartlett. And yes, the "Hughes" word is being bandied about a lot in connection with AoaHSP. The catch is these days (post-Hughes) this kind of small gem rarely does big business. (Mean Girls is an exception.) This one may not be as easy a box-office winner as something like Fired Up (though we can always hope for a surprise breakout), but I'm betting it has DVD-cult-hit written all over it.

More end of February Wasteland wandering after the jump…

Jonas poster
Jonas Brothers: the 3D Concert Experience
– Attention, Jonas Brothers fans: This is probably the closest you'll ever get to Kevin, Joe and Nick — make the most of it. The guys will be jumping out of the screen at you during their "Burning Up" concert
tour, and you'll get to see some backstage footage as well.  If Miley can do 3-D, so can they!

Erika says: Is now the time to mention that I've never even heard a Jonas Brothers' song all the way through?  I saw part of their "Burning Up" video and thought the song was so awful that I turned the channel.  So unless some strange Freaky Friday or 13 Going on 30 thing happens to me and I am magically transformed into a teenage girl, I am staying far, far away from any theater showing this one. 

Locke says: Uh oh. I just realized I'll be at my sister's this February weekend. Who has a 12-year-old daughter. Who, like Obama's daughter, thinks Nick Jonas hung the moon (while wearing a a cool pinstriped vest). So it's possible I might actually have to see this in the theater with her. That said, as much fun as it is to poke at the Jonases and their screaming fans, I have heard a few of their songs and they really aren't that bad. I'd even say that if they survive the teen-idol years, the Jonas Brothers could someday evolve into a decent growns-up power-pop band. (But then I said the exact same thing about the Hanson Brothers 10 years ago and that didn't really pan out.) None of this, however, has me the least bit excited about having to sit in a theater and watch an entire film's worth of Jonai.

Crossing Over
–Wayne Kramer directs this L.A. story of immigration and border-crossings. Looking at terrorism fears, government bureaucracy and corruption, and culture clashes, the film paints a picture of more than just undocumented Latino workers, but also the many other ethnicities and nationalities coming to America. Featuring Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, and Jim Sturgess.

Erika says: This isn't the kind of movie I'd normally seek out, but once I saw that Jim Sturgess was in it, I became considerably more interested.  He is to me what the Jonas brothers are to hyperventilating fourteen-year-olds.  The question is, however, whether or not Crossing Over will simply be too serious for me to deal with, Jim or no Jim.

Locke says: Despite the big-name cast, this is really more of a director's picture–think Crash. And as a director, Kramer has been hit (The Cooler, with William H. Macy) and "huh?" (the weirdly watchable sleaze Running Scared with Paul Walker). So expect a serious "issue" film that could easily end up being a pretentious here-today-gone-tomorrow misfire. However, the trailer looks very compelling (of course, that's what trailers are supposed to look like) and it seems Ford might actually be trying to do that "acting" thing he's avoided for so long. This is officially bumped this up from "wait for it on DVD" to my "interested" list.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li
-- Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) stars as the titular character, with Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, Armageddon, Talladega Nights), Chris Klein (American Pie, Rollerball), and Neal McDonough (Band of Brothers, Flags of Our Fathers, Traitor). The film, which follows Chun Li's origin and "quest for justice," is directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, action-pulp veteran of Cradle 2 the Grave, Romeo Must Die, Doom, and Exit Wounds.

Erika says: I'm not sure it's possible for me to care less about a movie. I've never played the Street Fighter video games, I never saw the 1994 Street Fighter film with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Kylie Minogue (?!?), and so I'm clearly not going to buy into the franchise now. Especially when it stars Taboo from the Black-Eyed Peas. I have my limits.

Locke says: For those of you whose winter has been woefully short on jumping, spinning, and face-kicking, you'll be happy to know we've transitioned out of the "women-in-supernatural-peril" and "weak rom-com" stretch of the Wasteland and are now heading into "sketchy action flicks" territory. There's not much to note here, other than the fact that Kreuk, despite all the early-decade sexy-heat aimed at her for Smallville, has never done much on the big screen. I'm guessing anyone who wanders into Street Fighter will quickly learn why. And remember when Chris Klein was going to be the next Tom Cruise? How'd that work out for ya, Chris? At least it has one of my favorite current "That Guys," the always terrific Neal McDonough.

Stay tuned… next Tuesday we'll begin our skewering of March's Wasteland releases.  Will a new month bring anything worth looking forward to?

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