Vin Diesel storms Jennifer Aniston at the box office
The UAE's biggest-grossing films September 5-11
Time Out staff
10 The Smurfs 2 Director: Raja Gosnell Stars: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays
The first big-screen Smurfs movie was a harmless Saturday-morning romp that earnestly catered to the youngest crowds. For the sequel, director Raja Gosnell sticks to the formula: Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) is again kidnapped by the Great Gargamel (Hank Azaria), this time taken to Paris, where the sorcerer has become a world-renowned magician.
Lost in the jump across the Atlantic is the original’s New York charm: The rest of the Smurfs venture off to save their blond sister; married couple Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) tag along for human support; and Gosnell finds a surprising balance between the wacky and the heartfelt.
The Smurfs 2 is lively but routine. Gargamel’s pair of artificial underlings, who take Smurfette under their wings for airborne joyrides through the towers of Notre Dame. Gosnell treats it like a Smurfified version of Avatar, but the antics wear thin. Matt Patches
Weekly box office: Dhs142,231 Weekly admissions: 3,908 Total box office: Dhs9,692,300 Total admissions: 223,990
9 One Direction: This Is Us Director: Morgan Spurlock Stars: Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan
What’s the opposite of warts-n-all? ‘No warts’ doesn’t even begin to describe Morgan Spurlock’s fly-on-the-wall film about One Direction. No warts, no acne – there’s not even a pimple on this on-tour portrait of the reality-bred poster boys. The band comes across surprisingly well – un-brattish, hard-working, puppy-dog sweet, bit self-obsessed. There’s a priceless Zoolander scene, where Zayn shows off the graffiti room in his new house. The film is as harmless as the band. Until you reach the music. In Super Size Me, director Morgan Spurlock’s McDonald’s-only diet had him vomiting on screen. These songs test your gag reflexes in other ways. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs207,586 Weekly admissions: 4,372 Total box office: Dhs945,641 Total admissions: 19,202
8 Grown Ups 2 Director: Dennis Dugan Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock
Once again wrangling Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James and various other ’90s Saturday Night Live alumni in need of work, the follow-up to the 2010 comedy constructs middle-aged malaise and Porta-Potty humour from Dazed and Confused’s nostalgia blueprints. Matt Patches
Weekly box office: Dhs186,185 Weekly admissions: 5,140 Total box office: Dhs2,743,492 Total admissions: 67,169
7 Despicable Me 2 Director: Pierre Louis Padang Coffin, Chris Renaud Stars: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt
Children learn through repetition, something that Hollywood’s animation studios are taking to heart this year. With sequels to Monsters, Inc and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs also on the way, the multiplex is a veritable Sesame Street of cuddly familiarity. Quite what kids stand to learn from this loud, broad and disjointedly amusing follow-up to the 2010 surprise hit is open to question. But its repetitive qualities are beyond reproach. Every bit as amiable and disposable as its predecessor, it recycles everything from slapstick gags to its own voice cast (Kristen Wiig pops up again, but as an entirely different character).
The first film ended with Steve Carell’s reformed Russian super villain Gru settling down with his sickly-sweet trio of adopted daughters. Here, he’s still trying to go straight, with an unpromising business making jellies and jams in the pipeline. The MI6-style Anti-Villain League, however, has other plans. Enter goofy secret agent Lucy (Wiig) to whisk Gru into a madcap scheme to take down an unidentified despot with dastardly designs on Gru’s cute, cackling horde of canary-yellow minions. Right down to the closing-credits ‘audition’ for their upcoming spin-off feature, the frantic antics of these critters are scarcely disguised as the film’s raison d’être. The human activity, including Gru and Lucy’s appealing but half-baked romance, is strictly to get us from A to, well, A. Youngsters won’t mind. Their parents will be as charmed or annoyed – or, maybe, both – as they were the first time. Guy Lodge
Weekly box office: Dhs259,831 Weekly admissions: 6,906 Total box office: Dhs10,926,092 Total admissions: 259,542
6 The Conjuring Director: James Wan Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Joey King, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver
So much is thrown at us by today’s hyperventilating horror that stillness has become the scariest move. Actually, that’s always been the case, but it takes a retro-fashioned winner like The Conjuring to remind us that if the creaky, old house ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Styled like a forgotten Nixon-era classic and set in the autumn of 1971, James Wan’s latest sheds all traces of Cabin in the Woods snark: no mobile phones and no sarcasm either, as based-on-real-life heroes Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson), a married pair of self-described demonologists, deliver a college lecture about possession. Joshua Rothkopf
Weekly box office: Dhs511,091 Weekly admissions: 13,293 Total box office: Dhs3,839,575 Total admissions: 104,542
5 Kick-Ass 2 Director: Jeff Wadlow Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Morris Chestnut, Claudia Lee, Amy Anzel, Clark Duke
It’s been three years since Chloë Moretz’s Hit-Girl first kapowed onto the screen, taking out a room of bad guys with a shiny new butterfly knife. Now 15 and starting high-school, she’s promised to hang up the nunchucks for good. Her friend, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the high-school nerd whose only superpower is not dying of shame while wearing a green wet suit, still continues to ‘fight’ street crime as Kick-Ass and inspire folks like Justice Forever, a group of amateur do-gooders led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). But the pint-size, foul-mouthed heroine is coaxed out of retirement by the reappearance of Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). As with the 2010 original though, Moretz is, once again, the best thing about this giddy take on caped-crusader films, getting all the choice lines (‘I’d rather be waterboarded than listen to Justin Bieber’) and pulling the reality of teenage life into the comic-book fantasy. And while Kick-Ass 2’s critics will inevitably take issue with the cartoon splatter violence (as did star Carrey), it’s the presence of a particularly offensive, pointless joke that makes the movie go from revelling in bad taste to leaving a bad taste. Even without that low point, however, this slightly disappointing sequel is less anarchic and tries harder overall than its predecessor. Kick-Ass giggled at action-movie clichés; Kick-Ass 2 simply slips into them. Cath Clarke
Weekly box office: Dhs644,809 Weekly admissions: 17,612 Total box office: Dhs644,809 Total admissions: 17,612
4 Turbo 3D Director: David Soren Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, Michael Peña, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader
Elation: That’s what Theo, a garden snail with dreams of race-car-driving glory, feels when, thanks to a nitrous oxide mishap, he becomes a speed demon and a serious contender in the Indy 500 in the process. Deflation: That’s what you’ll feel after sitting through this DreamWorks animated feature that laps the competition in being merely generic.
All Turbo does is give Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Samuel L Jackson and Snoop Dogg the easiest pay cheques they’ll ever make we imagine and its corporate overlords the chance to sell a few toys. David Fear
Weekly box office: Dhs1,072,494 Weekly admissions: 24,582 Total box office: Dhs3,409,396 Total admissions: 78,889
3 2 Guns Director: Baltasar Kormákur Stars: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos
In this star vehicle for Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, the headlights are on full beam but the engine is struggling in second gear. Some will welcome the very notion of an old-school cop movie which hasn’t been CGI-ed up the creek, but they’d welcome it even more if it had a plot we cared about and fresher car chases, shootouts and punch-ups. In Tex-Mex territory teeming with crime cartels, Washington and Wahlberg choose the wrong bank to rob. Complications escalate to a tiresome degree, leeching the fun from the movie, which is slung together with cold competence by Icelandic maverick Baltasar Kormákur (101 Reykjavik). Final tally: 30 mins absolutely primo banter, 80 mins gubbins. Occasionally fun, but those numbers don’t quite add up. Trevor Johnston
Weekly box office: Dhs1,179,532 Weekly admissions: 30,704 Total box office: Dhs4,984,250 Total admissions: 120,503
2 We're the Millers Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly C. Quinn
The problem with writing an accurate review of We’re The Millers is not trying to interpret the subtle nuances of Jennifer Aniston’s performance. Nor is it offering an informed critique of the film’s thoroughly American brand of multiplex humour. It’s simply finding a way to write about the movie that wouldn’t make your grandmother balk with embarrassment, or your grandfather unleash a torrent against modern-day morality.
David (Sudeikis) is something of a failed entrepreneur, peddling a particular product to the same clients he has had since he was in college. His neighbour Rose (Aniston), well let’s just say she works in a bar. When David is robbed by some teens, he’s left owing the kingpin of his supply chain big-time – and is asked (okay, forced) to take a trip to Mexico in comeuppance. He decides his expedition will attract less heat if he poses as a Middle American family going on their summer hols, and so grabs the neighbourhood teen dork (Will Poulter) and a homeless waif (Emma Roberts, yep, Julia’s niece), and hits the road in a lumbering motor home that provides their cover.
This central conceit is pure silliness, and what follows comes comfortably from the school of farce. But there’s enough brains to lift this above your typical post-Hangover road trip gross-out, and despite some misfires of taste, the script is littered with genuine laugh out loud moments. But what puts this a cut above the obvious is a great supporting cast – Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn make the movie as the fellow family of road-trippers they encounter – and the human beating heart at its core. There’s something resembling chemistry between Aniston and Sudeikis, and when the journey ends inevitably with Hollywood idealism, it feels like the satisfying conclusion of a familiar homecoming, rather than another road trip down Hackneyed Avenue. Rob Garratt
Weekly box office: Dhs1,949,349 Weekly admissions: 46,266 Total box office: Dhs1,949,349 Total admissions: 46,266
1 Riddick Director: David Twohy Stars: Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Katee Sackhoff, Jordi Mollà, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo
A surprise hit on its release in 2000, Pitch Black was touted to kick-off an original sci-fi franchise, and launch Vin Diesel into the Hollywood stratosphere. Sequel The Chronicles of Riddick sputtered on arrival though, while Diesel struggled to establish himself just as the traditional macho tough guys in Hollywood action films were starting to go out of fashion. With Riddick, Diesel – also acting as producer – is trying to inject new life into the series that made his name. The plot, with its inter-planetary combat between Necromongers and Furya, sounds more Battlefield Earth than Star Wars or Blade Runner, but this could provide some pared-back genre appeal à la Dredd last September. Time Out staff
Weekly box office: Dhs2,883,414 Weekly admissions: 70,823 Total box office: Dhs2,883,414 Total admissions: 70,823