This Month In Theaters: January 2010

Welcome to 2010… and the supposed cinematic doldrums of January. The beginning of the year used to be considered a dumping ground for terrible films and the month where embarrassing movies went to die. But things changed with a little movie called Paul Blart: Mall Cop that proved critically acclaimed blockbusters could find a home in the coldest month alongside all the chum. This month actually has some solid releases to look forward to, so let’s get started.

January 8th


Who? Directed and written by Michael and Peter Spierig; starring Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe

What? An action/horror/sci-fi hybrid about a future where vampires vastly outnumber humans. The bloodsuckers have redesigned society with them as the dominant species. They live ordinary lives, work typical jobs, and drink the blood of captive humans. A panic begins when the vampires realize their food supply is running dangerously low, and when word of a possible cure reaches a vampire hematologist (Ethan Hawke) he sets out to save the human race and hopefully become a human once again.

Why should you care? Because it’s one of the best vampire movies of the past decade, that’s why. If that sounds a bit over the top check out Brian Salisbury’s review here from when we saw it at Fantastic Fest… could two of us be so wrong? Doubtful, especially since we both disagree on just about everything else. The flick kicks ass with some incredibly stylish visuals, highly energized action scenes, blood and gore galore, and an original take on the genre that comes alive beautifully on screen.

Watch the trailer:

Leap Year

Who? Directed by Anand Tucker; written by Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan; starring Amy Adams, Matthew Goode

What? A woman (Adams) decides she’s waited long enough for her boyfriend to propose so she heads off to Ireland to surprise him. She’s told a woman can ask a man to marry her on Leap Day and he has to say yes by law or face a severe shellacking. But as is wont to happen in the wacky world of romantic comedies her plans take a detour when she’s forced to drive across Ireland with another man (Goode). Could he be her real true love? I wonder…

Why should you care? You probably shouldn’t… early reviews haven’t been very kind, and the synopsis alone sounds like a shitty version of Forces of Nature. Yup, that’s right. A crappy version of the Sandra Bullock/Ben Affleck bomb that nobody liked except for me. This probably won’t reach the sewer depths of last January’s Bride Wars, but it doesn’t mean it’s worth making the trip to the theater.

Watch the Trailer:

Youth In Revolt

Who? Directed by Miguel Arteta; written by Gustin Nash from a novel by CD Payne; starring Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Zack Galifianakis

What? Ah the joys of teen sex! Who among us isn’t a fan? Nick Twisp (Cera) is a typical teen who meets and immediately falls in love with Sheeni Saunders (Doubleday). What’s an awkward and virginal teen to do but devote all his time towards his natural desire for copulation? Create a new persona who’s not afraid to do and say what needs to be said and done to get what he wants I guess. Divorced parents, religious parents, Navy seamen, ex-boyfriends, pending jail-time, and geography all conspire to stop him in his tracks, but this gangly walking hormone is in it to win it. Or something equally inspiring.

Why should you care? Because it’s hilarious. Michael Cera initially starts the film as a retread of his role from Superbad, but the arrival of his suave and devilish alter ego, Francois Dillinger, represents a complete 180 degree turn for the actor. We know Cera can do awkward, but watching his smooth, deep-voiced, and mustachioed Dillinger in action is unexpected comedy gold. Throw in some sharply written and funny dialogue, fantastic supporting performances from Ray Liotta, Fred Willard, and others, and a sensibility that walks a fine line between sweet and dirty as hell, and you have the best teen comedy of the year (so far)!

Watch the Trailer:

In Limited Release:

  • Bitch Slap – Four hot bitches (well, 3 out of 4 anyway). Two really bad guys. Green-screen effects reminiscent of the old “Wing Commander” games. And Kevin Sorbo. Oh, and one tease after another as cleavage shots, slow-mo water fights, and sexy lesbian make-out sessions fail to include any nudity! (Aside from one topless and seemingly pregnant stripper and a couple ass shots during the end credits…)
  • Crazy on the Outside – Tim Allen directs and stars in this comedy about … well I don’t know what it’s about, but it co-stars JK Simmons, Ray Liotta, Sigourney Weaver, and Kelsey Grammer which isn’t too shabby.
  • Wonderful World – Matthew Broderick plays an unhappy and divorced office worker whose only joy in life is his pre-teen daughter. When his roommate falls ill he begins an affair with the man’s sister that opens his eyes to a few additional joys. (Sex. I’m referring to sex.)

January 15th

The Book of Eli

Who? Directed by The Brothers Hughes; written by Gary Whitta; starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis

What? A man (Washington) wanders a post-apocalyptic America with his son favorite book while fighting off roving bands of jet skiers ruffians, starvation, and dirty fingernails. His book holds the salvation of humanity, and he has to protect it against Oldman’s sticky fingers.

Why should you care? Maybe because post-apocalyptic movies are too few and far between? The Road was dark and gritty but it was also pretty uneventful. This flick looks pretty action-packed and thanks to the Hughes brothers it should also be fairly stylish. Cast-wise this is also looking good… Washington and Oldman are always reliable, and Kunis is always easy on the eyes. (I just don’t buy her in action movies though.) This is also the screenplay debut of Whitta who I remember as an editor for PC Gamer, so that’s kind of cool. He’s also responsible for the script to the upcoming live-action Akira film.

Watch the Trailer:

The Lovely Bones

Who? Directed by Peter Jackson; written by Philippa Boyens, Jackson, Fran Walsh from a novel by Alice Sebold; starring Marc Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Saoirse Ronan, and Stanley Tucci

What? A young girl is murdered (spoiler!) and finds herself stuck in Pandora a CGI purgatory watching over her family as they grieve and attempt to solve the mystery of her death.

Why should you care? I’m still not entirely sold on this one, so I really don’t know if you should care or not. Jackson is a wildly talented filmmaker, and any film of his is worth keeping an eye on but this is an odd one. We know from the beginning who the killer is so there’s no mystery. It’s a Hollywood movie based on a best-selling book so we know the killer gets his comeuppance. Early reviews have been mostly tepid with claims that Jackson goes overboard with the special effects and lets them get in the way of the drama. His excellent Heavenly Creatures was a perfect blend of the two, so it’ll be interesting to see if that claim is true.

Watch the Trailer:

The Spy Next Door

Who? Directed by Brian Levant; written by Jonathan Bernstein, James Greer, Gregory Poirier; starring Jackie Chan

What? An ex-CIA agent (Chan) finds his toughest assignment involves taking care of three precocious children. One of the kids unwittingly downloads something important online and soon Russian spies are… aww who the hell cares.

Why should you care? I don’t know why anyone would care about this one, and I’m a huge Chan fan. Even his most recent Hong Kong films (New Police Story, Shinjuku Incident) are a hundred times better than his paycheck gigs here in the US. This one looks worse than usual though, and in fact just might be a recycled script originally meant to be The Pacifier 2. The director’s resume doesn’t exactly inspire confidence either. Snow Dogs, Are We There Yet?, The Flintstones, Problem Child 2… god I’m depressed now.

Watch the Trailer:

Click Here to See the Releases for the Rest of January

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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