February 29, 2008

Women at the Box Office the Weekend of February 29, 2008

There are three semi-wide films vying for the female audience this weekend, and two other limited releases. Penelope and The Other Boleyn Girl seem to be going after the same market -- young women not interested in Will Ferrell's Semi-Pro -- and Bonneville is looking to tap into the older female market. Vivere is opening in NY and LA and the documentary Beyond Belief about two women whose husband's were killed on 9/11 and their journey to Afghanistan to help widows like themselves. (I saw the film at last year's Tribeca Film Fest. It was quite moving.) For more details on where its playing: Beyond Belief

Check out my reviews/ interviews from earlier this week on Vivere and Bonneville.

Penelope tells the fairy tale story of a young woman addled with a long family curse that the next born girl child would be doomed to live life with a pig's snout until she finds someone of her "class" to love her. Christina Ricci plays Penelope has spent her life hidden by her parents (mostly her mother played by Catherine O'Hara) so that she does not have to experience the world's cruel treatment of people who looks different.

A series of proper suitors are engaged on the search to break the curse and it is only when Penelope realizes and embraces that she is happy with herself and the way she looks pig nose and all, that the curse is broken.

The film was shot two years ago and was produced in part by Reese Witherspoon's Type A films. Witherspoon plays a small part (which she probably had to agree to do to get financing.) Sadly, she's too big a star for small parts and she seems out of place here. The film also stars a younger and greener (and freer) James McAvoy before his breakout performances in The Last King of Scotland and Atonement. This guy really has the goods, he lights up the screen.

I thought the film was cute and the story was touching. I think it's really good for the younger set and has a great message which is that we all need to love ourselves for who we are no matter what we look like.

The film is written by first time screenwriter Leslie Caveny whose goal was to rework the typical fairy tale "We've seen many fairytales where the woman loves the guy no matter what he looks like, so I wanted to create a story giving the woman the same treatment."

On the complete opposite end is The Other Boleyn Girl, this weekend's guilty pleasure movie. Big costumes, big dances, lots of deception. Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman play Mary and Anne Boleyn, the two sisters who seem to have a new movie or mini-series based on their lives each year. The film is based on Phillipa Gregory's best-selling historical novel that tells the story we all know too well. I've never been a big fan of Johansson's and this movie doesn't sway me any more in her favor. She seems shocked (shocked!) at the continued treachery of her sister played by the slumming Natalie Portman. Eric Bana is disappointing as King Henry. This bland film made me even more excited for the return of The Tudors on Showtime later this spring.

Films Opening
Penelope - 1,196
The Other Boleyn Girl - 1,166
Bonneville - 101
Vivere- NY/LA
Beyond Belief - NY

Remaining in Theatres
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
A Walk to Beautiful (LA)
27 Dresses
P.S. I Love You
The Golden Compass
The Savages
Mad Money
How She Move

Opening March 7
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Girls Rock