The Spy Next Door
Directed by Brian Levant
At this point, a new genre should just be created: “Tough guys forced to be babysitters.” Arnold Schwarzenegger did it in Kindergarten Cop. Tom Selleck changed a diaper or two in Three Men and a Baby. Even Vin Diesel became The Pacifier. Now Jackie Chan corrals some pesky rug rats in The Spy Next Door, with the countrified help of Billy Ray Cyrus. This incarnation casts Chan as a secret C.I.A. agent whose Russian (obviously) nemesis arrives to harass Jackie and his brood of nimble tykes. Here’s what to anticipate: Dizzying martial arts sequences, children beating up buffoons a la Home Alone and the requisite familial bonding.
The Book of Eli
Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes
It seems odd for another post-apocalyptic film to come out so soon after December’s The Road. Both films have the same sepia palette, but The Book of Eli promises to deliver a more action-packed punch. In it, Denzel Washington plays hero to Gary Oldman’s villain, as Washington strives to protect a mystical tome that holds the secrets to mankind’s survival. Mila Kunis of “That ’70s Show” joins Washington’s crusade as a willing pupil in the art of bad guy butt-kicking. Directors (and brothers) Albert and Allen Hughes have established a truly symbiotic career having worked together on almost every project on their resume, but the last time they helmed a feature-length film was From Hell in 2001.
The Lovely Bones (Wide expansion)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Basically, take David S. Goyer’s The Invisible (2007), double its budget, replace Justin Chatwin with Saoirse Ronan, and presto, you have The Lovely Bones. Peter Jackson’s take on Alice Sebold’s novel centers around the rape and murder of Susie Salmon (Ronan). Observing her family and her killer (Stanley Tucci) from “the in-between,” Susie struggles between her thirst for revenge and her desire to help her family move on. Jackson has had an undeniably successful career using CGI to turn the impossible into the plausible, but with Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon and Tucci, it’ll be a minor tragedy if Jackson lets his special effects overwhelm the performances of an immensely talented cast. (by Michael Walsh)