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Red 2

When it was released in October 2010, the spy spoof Red might not have seemed likely to justify a sequel. In its opening week, it only grossed about $22 million in the US, and its international take to date is less than $100 million. The closest thing to a real star in it was Bruce Willis, whose former brilliance in the Hollywood firmament had been dimmed for some time. What with cast members like John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and the late Ernest Borgnine along for the ride, Red might have seemed like an early part of the recent geezer action-hero mini-trend.

Girl Most Likely

The story goes that Kristen Wiig was interested in actress-writer Michelle Morgan’s script for this comedy before Bridesmaids was made, and that it was only the phenomenal and unexpected success of that film that gave her the clout to get Imogene (as it was originally titled) green-lit. Of course, Girl Most Likely is a substantially smaller affair, coming from an independent distributor that will be lucky to get it in theaters in a few dozen cities prior to cable and DVD. And I can’t help but wonder, cynic that I am, if there isn’t a bit of guilt here. The characters Wiig plays in the two films are so similar that it’s hard not to consider that she may have been influenced in writing Bridesmaids by Morgan’s script. On the other hand, it’s just as likely that both films rely on the same clichés.

The Way, Way Back

Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who shared an Oscar for adapting the screenplay of The Descendants, seems to have had fairly average adolescences, if their directorial debut is any indication. Like Girl Most Likely, theirs is a script that had been kicking around for awhile before they got a chance to film it (reading it was what led Alexander Payne to hire them to work on his film). Reportedly based at least in some degree on their own childhoods, the clunkily titled movie is pleasant but hardly compelling: You wonder what about the story made them feel it so needed to be shared. Liam James has the central role of Duncan, 14-year-old son of whose mother Pam (Toni Collette) is quietly desperate for support a year after her divorce. She’s taken up with Trent (Steve Carrell), who must make a good living because he can afford to take them all for an extended vacation at his summer beach house.

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