July 9, 2010, - 5:04 pm

Weekend Box Office: “Despicable Me,” “Predators,” “Girl Who Played w/ Fire”

By Debbie Schlussel

This week features one of the best movies of the summer . . . and the year (but remember, this is a terrible year (and summer) for movies, so all things are relative.



*  “Despicable Me“:   Brilliant.  And outstanding.  I cannot say enough good things about this funny, clever, fun-to-watch piece of entertainment and on-screen eye candy.  So cute. It pains me to say that about a movie in which the execrable Russell Brand has a small role as one of the voices in this animated film.  The movie is available in 3D and 2D.  I saw it in 2D, and it was just fine. I liked it even better than “Toy Story 3” (read my review).

Steve Carell voices “Gru,” the world’s greatest villain, who has a long pointy nose, drives around in a scary giant contraption, and freezes people waiting ahead of him in line at Starbucks, so he can go to the front of the line.  (He uses a Russian accent, but yet has a mother with a French accent, voiced by Julie Andrews.)  At the beginning of the movie, American tourists discover that the Egyptian pyramids have been stolen and replaced by giant rubber sculptures.  Since it’s not Gru who did it, he must top that feat or lose funding from the Bank of Evil (“formerly known as Lehman Brothers”–hey, my cousin, Cookie, was a Lehman).

Gru plots to steal a shrink ray gun, so he can shrink the moon and steal it from the sky.  But the ray is stolen from him by his rival villain (the one who stole the pyramids).  So, Gru adopts three orphan girls so that he can use them to infiltrate his rival’s headquarters and steal the ray gun back.  Soon the heartless villain falls for the girls.  Also, Gru has these very cute one- and two-eyed miniature yellow creatures (the “minions”) who help him in his exploits, and an English assistant/mentor (Brand).

I loved everything about this movie (other than the one dumb fart joke).  I loved the soundtrack.  I loved the story.  I loved the bright colors, jokes, and animation.  This was so entertaining and enjoyable to watch.  It’s rated PG, only because of some “rude humor,” but don’t worry about it.  It’s great for kids, great for a family, and great for just adults or teens.  The last two groups made up the audience when I saw it, and they loved it.  So did I.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Predators“: This is the latest incarnation in the Predator movies about aliens from outer space. In this sci-fi flick, however, the humans wake up to find themselves plucked from their lives on earth and parachuting onto an alien planet and habitat. Soon, they realize that all of them are skilled fighters/soldiers–predators themselves–who’ve been chosen to be hunted game by the aliens. Adrien Brody is the main character in the film and one of the few semi-big names in it.

For about the first half of this movie, it was an interesting thriller, and I liked it. But then it degraded into a messy Predators kill-fest. Throughout there are graphic depictions of devoured and dismembered human bodies. It’s somewhat violent and the language is rough. Definitely not for kids.

Who needs “Predators,” when you have the Palestinians?


Watch the trailer . . .

* “The Girl Who Played With Fire“: This is the latest installment of novelist Stieg Larsson’s mystery novels–about a Swedish female bisexual ex-con with tattoos, who is a researcher and investigator–made into movies. It wasn’t as good as the first one, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (read my review), and that one was disturbing because of the vile, graphic rape scenes, which were completely gratuitous. Both are in Swedish with English subtitles.

This one has a gross, over the top lesbian sex scene. And in this one, the girl with the tattoo is on the run after she is framed for murder. Her former lover/reporter is on the trail, trying to save her from her dysfunctional, rapist former Soviet Spy father. And both are trying to find out who killed two reporters investigating government officials who commit rape and child molestation.

Reminded me of a 1980’s detective show on TV with the addition of four-letter words. Yawn.


Watch the trailer . . .

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15 Responses

Does anyone else feel that this summers movie offerings are a bit on the thin side?

Oscar on July 9, 2010 at 5:40 pm

The summer is usually a time when the studios dump their worst releases on an unwilling public. If a movie really stinks, no one will see it.

NormanF on July 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm

January is when the studios “dump their worst releases”. They save their big films for summer and usually their Oscar films for around Christmas time. It seems to me that every other year lately the summer movies have been better (or more enjoyable), like 2006, 2008 and now 2010 vs. 2007 and 2009. I am thinking once “Inception” comes out there will be less critcism of this summer’s films and even a similar response to 2008’s “The Dark Knight”.
No review for what the critics are toastin–“The Kids Are All Right” or even the “PG-13” rated “Grease Sing-A-Long”? I would be interested in seeing what Debbie Schlussel thought of the new version of “Grease”, but I would really be interested to see her take of “The Kids Are All Right”.

MH on July 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm

lol when you said who needs predators when you have palsetines.
I am a fan of Oleg Taktarov. he fought in the early UFC’s. he is one of the stars in the movie

Carlos on July 9, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Movies have gone way down hill the last few years. I will however watch the predator movie. Maybe they’ll kill off the Mexican mafia dude that played in the new illegalls movie. I used to like him til that.

    Oleg Taktarav should be interesting. He plays a good heavy.

    samurai on July 10, 2010 at 12:04 am

Who needs “Predators,” when you have the Palestinians?

I’m still laughing!

perception of truth on July 9, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Predators was a boring, sorry waste of time. Like last summer’s disappointing Terminator IV (Salvation), it was dumbed down, tired, targeted to the lowest denominator, possessing none of the snap of the original. Unlike in the first two in the series, the aliens here were not thoughtfully devious adversaries gradually earning our respect–they were simply special-effects obstacles to be blown up or stabbed, one after another. All the humans were flatly uninteresting, even for the genre and this particular franchise. The female was an unappealing Michael-Jackson look-alike playing the feistily compassionate type that liberals love. No cliche was left unturned. In its favor, the movie wasn’t anti-Defense (a la Avatar or The Crazies) or anti-corporate (as with Aliens and Resident Evil).

I found Despicable Me boringly trite and cutesy, especially lame compared to Toy Story 3. Big, kitten eyes on the slightly lisping youngest tyke; overly frantic and uninspired action; dull, unclever dialogue. Thankfully, though, no liberal subtext.

Dragon with Tattoo (still playing in this area) is disgustingly liberal. The heroine is a hip feminist who ties up mean men and rapes them (if they “deserve” it); her love interest in the film is an unthreatening man who is motherly. I fear the worst for the sequel (Girl Who Played With Fire).

Burke on July 9, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Burke, I didn’t see the movie, only read the book, so maybe the movie is different. But in the book the heroine ties up and rapes just the one man (not multiple men) – her court-appointed guardian, who uses his authority and her lack of social status against her so that he can brutally, violently rape her. So “mean” is a little bit of an understatement – at least, it’s not really the word I’d use to describe rapists. Anyway, she’s getting revenge on him for that, and while I personally don’t necessarily agree with the “eye for an eye” thing, it seems that the general consensus is that revenge is ok in movies where an innocent is murdered (The Punisher, Edge of Darkness), but not when someone is raped?

    And Debbie, again, I didn’t see the first movie, so maybe there were a bunch of gratuitous rape scenes that weren’t in the book, but the rape scenes in the book were necessary to the plot. Additionally, the original title of the book was “Men Who Hate Women” – the director had said that he wanted to show how unflinchingly awful the violence was, to give a realistic idea of the brutality of rape. Were they sensationalized or sexualized in some way, or is the issue just that the violence made you uncomfortable?

    hellcat on July 12, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Er… DS. Uh… with respect to your review of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, you gave it 5 Marxes-plus. Compared to the rating that you gave “The Girl Who Played With Fire”, the former was worse than the latter.

Then again, I’m just nitpicking.

The "Reverend" Jacques on July 10, 2010 at 12:09 am

Actually, from a theatre’s perspective, the bombs really start dropping from mid-August through September. Since parents have already (or are starting to) drop major bucks for school supplies, they’re less likely to take kids to the movies. Most years, it’s not until late October that things get busy again- either with the usual Halloween product, or guaranteed hits, like High School Musical 3.

Since the studios know that even if a REALLY GREAT MOVIE were released during this 6-8 week period, few would see it, they usually push either crap, or some art house content that might do okay mainstream. Hence why Disney released “Valiant” in mid-August, and Chronicles of Narnia in December.

Counter-intuitively, this can be a great time for R-rated adult comedies (both the mature and juvenile stripe), such as Superbad (which grossed more than American Pie) or Little Miss Sunshine (which went wide mid-August).

Robert on July 10, 2010 at 4:08 am

Why is “Despicable me” using “GRU”? Soviet Military Intelligence?

Barry on July 10, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Re; Predators.

Come on now.

Lawrence Fishburne
Danny Trejo
Walton Goggins (an Oscar winner in his own right)

I will say a bunch of great actors thrown together doesn’t make a great film, but come on “semi-big names?”

Just sayin’


Paul on July 10, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I saw “predators” over the weekend and I loved it. A really nice change in the usual story and the ending leaves it open for a sequel. What can I say I love this stuff.

spaceship22 on July 12, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Thank you so much for recommending Despicable Me, it was great to watch this movie with my children.

Lex on July 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm

ACTUALLY>>>>>”The Girl who played with fire” movie is worth watching because of the hilarious fart blooper!!!Its in the beginning of the movie after Lisbeth makes love to her girlfriend. After her girlfriend gives her the cigarette holder gift….the girlfriend moves a little bit then farts…they immediately cut to the next scene but Lisbeth had a smirk on her face. I rewinded it? like 3x to make sure it was a fart and it definitely was….LOL!!!!!!

Juicy on December 19, 2010 at 7:22 pm

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