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Some Movies To See This Weekend, January 23, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015 Rob Samuelson

Movies released in January, aside from the Oscar season stragglers getting wide releases, tend to be pretty dreary. It's after the holidays, kids are back in school, nobody wants to leave the house, the list goes on. Studios don't have much confidence in making money during this time and thus don't put their best foot forward in what they send to theaters. There can always be surprises, like everyone's favorite “January movies aren't always bad” example, The Silence of the Lambs, but typically when you hit the cinema this time of year it's to pass the time, not to be challenged by great art. And boy oh boy can that be refreshing and fun. So, let's take a look at the fun-time trash queued up for us this weekend at the movies.

The Boy Next Door
Director: Rob Cohen
Writer: Barbara Curry
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Ian Nelson, John Corbett, Kristin Chenoweth

The quintessential January garbage thriller, this one stars Jennifer Lopez as a teacher who moves to a new town and sleeps with her (possibly underage, as the trailer isn't entirely clear on this point) next door neighbor, who turns out to be a psychopath who stalks and later causes mayhem in her life. It looks like low-rent Brian De Palma, and if it has even a tenth of the wacky psychosexual stuff he put in, say, Body Double, we could be in for a treat. Likely, it's awful, but there's a draw to it nonetheless.

Director: David Koepp
Writer: Eric Aronson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Ewan Mcgregor

Speaking of low-rent versions of things, here's the modern take on The Pink Panther, with Johnny Depp in the Inspector Clouseau role, who is running low on cash so he stages a heist to be paid to solve, or something. It doesn't matter. It's Depp doing another silly voice and replacing a silly hat with silly facial hair. You know the drill. However, the production design and colors indicate a Wes Anderson influence, which could be eye popping at the very least, plus it's the first deadpan comedy role in a while for Paltrow, who has had the thankless role of being Iron Man's girlfriend in the Marvel movies for years. This could be right in her wheelhouse.

Strange Magic
Director: Gary Rydstrom
Writers: David Berenbaum, George Lucas, Irene Mecchi, Gary Rydstrom
Starring: Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Elijah Kelley, Meredith Anne Bull

“From the mind of George Lucas” comes this CGI animated feature about fairies and stuff like that doing what looks like a jukebox musical. The animation looks impressive, but based on the trailer and the fact that it didn't screen for critics, this could have a rough go of it. Before you get all, “But George Lucas did Star Wars,” he didn't do anything but write a short story one time that has been all “sequels to Shrek”-ified. He's more concerned with philanthropy and building museums than filmmaking these days, so don't expect any of that Han Solo magic this time around.

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