Stretch

Blumhouse

Joe Carnahan has carved out an eclectic career for himself as a director. Three years ago he made his best film to date with the emotional and tense dram, The Grey. That film followed The A-Team and Smokin’ Aces, movies that are best described as fun. One was an unabashedly over-the-top popcorn the movie, the other a wacky R-rated shoot’m up, and the voice that gave us those two films has now returned with Stretch. Happily though, this is a more consistent and successful blend of sorrow and anarchy. Kevin Stretch (Patrick Wilson) moved to Los Angeles with the dreams of becoming an actor, but instead found himself behind the wheel of a stretch limousine. After overcoming his substance abuse and gambling problem, Stretch is at his lowest point — he has zero money to his name, a job he’s unhappy with, an ex-girlfriend (Brooklyn Decker) he can’t get over and the ghost of his old pal Karl (Ed Helms) haunting him. The only bright spot in his life is his friendship with a co-worker named Charlie (Jessica Alba). To make matters worse, he has to come up with $6,000 in one day to payoff a gambling debt. To achieve the seemingly impossible, he agrees to drive around “eccentric” billionaire Roger Karos (Chris Pine), a whizkid known for his antics and, better yet, his generous tips. Set mostly over one night, this wicked step-sister to Martin Scorsese’s After Hours ultimately yields promise, even if the start of the film doesn’t.

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Birdman Movie

Hopefully you got all of your exercising in last month because October is determined to plant your ass in a theater seat for days on end. It’s our entry point into what we lovingly know as “Awards Season,” but there’s plenty here beyond prestige pics. The variety is commendable, from movies that have no business seeing a podium to slick future contenders to films too good for Oscar. Let’s look for the movies with the most potential to be great. We can even look for Ben Affleck’s missing wife while we’re at it.

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Chris Pine in Stretch

With Joe Carnahan‘s latest film, Stretch, Blumhouse is hoping to do for action what the production company has done for horror: make a project with low risk, high reward. Their movies cost peanuts compared to most major releases. If they make a hit, it’s a major success. If they put out a bomb, nobody is going to the poorhouse. It’s a great business model that’s mostly been used for horror movies. They’ve stepped outside of their wheelhouse every now and then, to mixed results. For example, Catherine Hardwicke’s Plush was a melodramatic rock ‘n’ roll sex thriller that, despite being Hardwicke’s most fun movie in a years, went unnoticed. Hopefully that won’t be the case for Stretch. The film was originally going to be released by Universal back in March, but they dropped the picture two months before its scheduled debut. The studio was unwilling dish out the money necessary to advertise it. Carnahan, to a degree, empathizes with their decision. “To hear $25-40m [to market it], okay, I guess that makes sense,” he told Slashfilm. “I don’t know why we’re still marketing films that way. Do you know what I mean? It seems like that’s the only way. But like for everything you need, you can’t just be ‘it’s only this way.’ But again, I get it. It’s Universal. It’s a studio. They have a way of doing things. I respect that.”

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Carnahan

Joe Carnahan is a director whose work has improved at such a rapid pace, pretty much everyone was caught by surprise when his 2012 survival thriller The Grey ended up being as good as it was. Even fans who were enthusiastic about his previous work like Smokin’ Aces and A-Team weren’t ready for what a deep and affecting meditation on mortality and the mercilessness of nature that movie ended up being. And the studio suits certainly didn’t know what they had on their hands with The Grey. Despite the fact that it was good enough to end up on a whole bunch of critics’ end of the year lists for 2012, they released it in January when the crap that they’re not optimistic about generally gets dumped, and they mis-marketed it as some sort of exploitation film where Liam Neeson boxes a pack of wolves. Just imagine the awards potential it could have had if it was released in the fall and was effectively marketed as the powerful drama it proved itself to be. What’s the point of bringing all of this up? Well, it looks like Carnahan’s followup to The Grey—a  movie called Stretch that’s said to be a darkly comedic thriller—is also experiencing some problems thanks to the studio people who are supposed to be supporting it. So many problems that, at the moment, there isn’t even a solid plan to put it out anymore.

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