When Products Clash

My moxie brings all the boys to the yardAfter a string of unchallenged tentpoles, this week brings us a good old-fashioned throwdown, as two studio sequels go up against each other for your box-office dollar. (Did I manage to keep all my metaphors separate? I do believe I did.) Of course, there’s plenty of counterprogramming to be had, too, as you’ll see below …

“The Brothers Bloom”: Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody set out to fleece Rachel Weisz in Rian Johnson’s con-artist picture, which has been getting some pretty mixed reviews since its TIFF bow last fall. Adam sort of liked it; Susan, not so much.

“Dance Flick”: The Wayans family, having accidentally ceded the scattershot-parody franchise to a couple of their “Scary Movie” writers a few years back, regroups for an assault on teen dance movies. So, you know, good for them.

“Little Ashes”: In which “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson threatens to alienate millions of screaming teenage girls by playing Salvador Dali and kissing a dude. But he’s apparently using a different facial expression, so that might throw them off. Susan liked it, anyway.

The Limits of Control“: Jim Jarmusch’s intriguing, frustrating art-house thriller works a lot better if you imagine that Issach de Bankole’s character is a Terminator. I’m just saying.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian“: Second verse, same as the first — only now Ben Stiller is frantically running away from reanimated historical personages in Washington rather than New York. Amy Adams shows up and goofs around most appealingly as a slang-slinging Amelia Earhart. But the whole thing’s awfully pat.

Rudo y Cursi“: “Y Tu Mama Tambien” co-stars Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal reunite as squabbling pals in Carlos Cuaron’s wretched sports picture, which teaches us that (a) professional soccer in Mexico is fairly corrupt, and (b) humble banana-plantation workers are not necessarily equipped to handle meteoric success. There, I just saved you twelve bucks.

Serbis“: Brillante Mendoza is currently scandalizing the Croisette with a grim tale of remorseless murder called “Kinatay”; this film, which he brought to Cannes last year, is much lighter in tone. It has a goat!

Terminator Salvation“: Okay, technically it opened yesterday, and that’ll probably give McG’s empty action sequel the edge over Stiller and his pals in the final box-office tally.

And if you’re in the Toronto area, Tony Stone’s fascinating “Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America” is screening this evening in the Over the Top festival’s film component, which I covered in yesterday’s paper. About half of the audience will love it; the other half will probably try to beat them up when they applaud. Seriously, you should check it out. But bring a helmet.