''Pie''-eyed teen audience bums ``Rush''

By Carl DiOrio

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - With New Line's ``Rush Hour 2'' stuck in summer traffic this weekend, Universal's ``American Pie 2'' gorged itself on an estimated $45.1 million in box office fast food in the best bow ever for an R-rated laffer.

Second helpings of Universal's ``Pie'' franchise, though critically lamented, moved New Line's action laffer to second place in the box office chow line, as ``Rush Hour 2'' dropped a big 53% to an estimated $31.5 million in its sophomore session. The fall-off marked the 10th consecutive session in which the previous weekend's No. 1 picture failed to hold onto box office supremacy.

In contrast with the ``Rush Hour 2'' crash, Disney's G-rated ``The Princess Diaries'' booked a modest 38% drop. The Julie Andrews starrer shrugged off unusually thick end-of-season competition, including a ``Spy Kids, Special Edition'' release from corporate cousin Miramax/Dimension, for a regal $14.1 million in third place. The ``Spy Kids'' reissue -- out of the top 10 with a paltry $1.4 million -- was so invisible one has to question whether the strategy of hyping the picture's September homevideo debut was worth the re-release's estimated $5 million investment. With 1,676 engagements, ``Kids'' redux averaged a piddling $847 per venue.

Miramax/Dimension did much better with its other opener, ``The Others,'' as the well-reviewed Nicole Kidman suspenser grossed an estimated $13.7 million at No. 4. Miramax split costs on the estimated $17 million production about evenly with Spanish partner Las Producciones del Escorpion.

Warner Bros.' bowing ``Osmosis Jones'' continued an abysmal recent track record for animation and live-action mixes (remember February's ``Monkeybone?'') with $5.6 million in seventh place. Bobby and Peter Farrelly, Hollywood's supposed kings of gross-out comedy, were among producers and directors on ``Osmosis,'' whose negative cost was at least $70 million.

``Unfortunately, it just fell through the cracks,'' WB distribution president Dan Fellman said.

Industrywide, the weekend's $157 million in total grosses represented a 43% improvement over the same weekend a year ago, according to data from box office tracker ACNielsen EDI. The boffo session also puts summer 2001 10% ahead of the last swimsuit season and 5.5% ahead of 1999's record summer. And the performance means '01 is more than 8% ahead of 2000 in a year-to-date comparison.

Meanwhile, the ``Pie'' bow was big enough to virtually assure Universal of moving to the top of this year's market-share heap when official numbers are updated this week. It also represented the fourth consecutive No. 1 bow for Universal, which ended last year with a highly unusual five-in-a-row performance.

``Going back to the first sleeper-hit, 'American Pie' set up the success of this one,'' Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco observed.

Elsewhere, Miramax continued to impress with its other current release -- which like the special ``Kids'' features never-before-seen footage -- a little Vietnam War pic called ``Apocalypse Now Redux.'' The extended version of Francis Ford Coppola's classic grossed $347,000 in 19 theaters for a spectacular $19,323 average and $525,000 total a week before expanding to top-20 markets.

Fox Searchlight's murder drama ``The Deep End'' dove into six Gotham and L.A. venues and hauled back $140,487 this weekend for an Olympic-sized $23,415 average and $196,928 total after a Wednesday bow. The picture expands into 50 theaters in top-10 markets Friday.

Searchlight's black comedy ``Sexy Beast'' approached a $6 million total by grossing another $198,000 from 129 engagements in its eighth weekend. And the Artisan mob laffer ``Made'' made $430,000 from 129 playdates in its fifth frame of release to move its haul to $3.1 million.

Paramount Classics opened its Cold War refugee drama ``American Rhapsody'' in seven Gotham and L.A. theaters and grossed $42,000 for a $6,000 per-venue average. United Artists' black comedy ``Ghost World'' spun another $350,000 from 34 locations for a full-blooded $10,261 average and $1.3 million tally.

Fine Line's transsexual musical ``Hedwig & the Angry Inc'' measured $250,000 in expanding four venues to a total 50. That marks a per-venue average of $5,000 a week before the picture's scheduled expansion to more than 80 playdates. The total stands at almost $1.2 million.

Reuters/Variety REUTERS

The top movies in North America -- August 10-12

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Following are the final data for the top 10 movies at the North American box office during the August 10-12 weekend, according to studio figures released Monday by Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

Film Three-day Cumulative

Title Gross Gross

1. American Pie 2 .......... $45,117,985

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $45,117,985

2. Rush Hour 2 .......... $33,117,312

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $133,525,381

3. The Princess Diaries .......... $14,216,447

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $52,092,481

4. The Others .......... $14,089,952

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $14,089,952

5. Planet of the Apes .......... $13,302,881

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $148,717,365

6. Jurassic Park III .......... $7,524,975

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $160,396,215

7. Osmosis Jones .......... $5,271,248

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $5,271,248

8. America's Sweethearts .......... $4,405,836

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $83,247,240

9. Legally Blonde .......... $3,774,114

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $78,696,785

10. Original Sin .......... $3,075,072

BOX OFFICE SO FAR:  $12,517,699

Reuters/Variety REUTERS

John L.:  This summer has had more movies open above the $40 million mark than any time I can remember.  The quality has not been all that great, but the last 2 weeks have included some pretty good movies.  American Pie 2, in my opinion had a lot to live up to since I thought the first one was the best movie of 1999.  Did this coming of age flick live up to the hype or is it another Scary Movie 2?  Nicole Kidman is entering a divorce in real life, but still has to deal with her ex-husband producing her latest foray onto the silver screen.  The Others is supposed to be very scary compared to the other horror crap that has been released in recent years.  We shall see if it supplies the goosebumps.  Osmosis Jones continues the Farrelly Brothers misfires as of late.  I guess the premise just did not interest people looking for crazy glue and curtains. Be warned, the American Pie review may be inappropriate for the language sensitive, discretion is advised.


Let's get to it, American Pie 2 is very good, but it is not better than the first one, even though in several ways it is funnier.  AP2 takes place a year after the first movie when all the major players have completed their first year of college. It seems that it will take more than a year for these characters to get their sexual appetites under control especially Jim (Jason Biggs) and Stifler (Seann William Scott). The other characters of Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), and Oz (Chris Klein) all have had their ups and downs over the last year with various degrees of success. Instead of a plot these 5 guys wander around the film in search of a life as they live in a summer house and paint another for a living. There is no one main story, just some that get more screen time than others. Let's go through what is going on and if it holds up as being worth our time in a sequel. First up is Chris Klein's Oz and his girlfriend, Heather played by Mena Suvari. There is no real development in their relationship from the first film and the only conflict between them is that Suvari has run off to Europe for most of the summer so they are reduced to finding time to have phone sex. These are the 2 most boring characters in the film because they really have no story. Suvari has become more well known since her star turn in the best picture winner, "American Beauty," so she literally just phones in half of her scenes. So, whenever OZ and Heather show up, you can ignore anything they say since it has no bearing on anything important that happens in the film. Thomas Ian Nicholas' Kevin is the biggest loser in the film since he is still obsessing over Tara Reid's annoying Vickie character. They broke up at the end of the first film after they consummated their relationship, and now a year later, Kevin wants to give it another go. This is another waste of screen time as there are not enough moments between them to even realize they were lovers in high school and the resolution of their relationship is pretty much just tacked on in almost a throaway moment. Their storyline is only in the film to give them something to do since like Oz and Heather, could have been eliminated with no one noticing. A third person mixed in their problems is the too wise for her own good Jessica portrayed by Natasha Lyonne. She is a good actress who has been given nothing to do in both films. She probably has less screen time in AP2 than she did in the first one. Her big scene here is telling Tara Reid about the rule of 3 when it comes to how many people a girl or a guy admit to sleeping with. It is a pretty obvious observation that is not changed up in anyway. It was just another "let's throw her in the film again just so we can say we got the whole cast back together" gimmick. The other disappointing thing about the Jessica character is that she talks all about how people should be when they are together, yet she never ever gets to have a boyfriend. There is a good story in there somewhere which I hope gets developed in a future sequel. The previous members of the cast are the weakest links in the movie. They make up a total of about 20 minutes of screen time, but whenever they are given something to do, it grinds the film to a halt. It is almost enough to totally hate this movie based on their performances and stories alone. I disliked Reid and Suvari in the first American Pie and this movie just cements my opinion. Reid either needs to drink a glass of water or quit smoking since her speaking voice is so raspy. There is no chemistry between her and Nicholas at all especially their big moment when she tries to hug him and he tries to kiss her. At least Oz and Heather get to goof around with the phone sex, these two never have one comedic mishap or occurrence. Yawn. If you can forget the 20 to 25 minutes you spend with these characters, then you will have a good time because the rest of the cast is excellent with what they are given to do. My favorite character in this and the previous movie is Paul Finch. In the first film, he had the reputation of being a suave ladies man when in reality he had never been with a girl. At the end of AP1, he finally did hook up with the queen of the MILFs ("Mom I'd Like to Fuck"), Stifler's Mom, played by Jennifer Coolidge. She likes her wine like she likes her men... aged 18 years. Their tryst is legendary in the annals of raunch comedy moments. Finch lives for the day when he can be reunited with his one true love. Finch is about the subtleties of relationships, and his deadpan deliveries are a joy to behold. He does not get the biggest laughs in AP2, but he is never uninteresting when he appears on screen. To prove how the writers like using him, he even gets the big centerpiece of the film bit involving him, Stifler, and Jim on their lesbian quest. Kevin and Oz are left on the outside looking in during this remake of the internet scene in AP1. Of all the characters in the movies, I identify with Finch the most, whatever that means. The person that steals the picture from anyone or anything on screen is Steve Stifler. This is one of the great comedic characters of all time, at least in the last 25 years. Seann Scott's portrayal of the sex crazed, starved, neurotic, jealous, insane, smarmy, pissed off, pissed on, pissed in, bumbling, funny as frick, obscene, and generally nice guy has been gold for his career because he has been in 4 movies since AP1 and he has played a variation on Stifler in each. This is especially evident in "Road Trip" and "Dude Where's My Car" where scenes in those movies are duplicated here like the advice on when cheating is not cheating in Road Trip and his one upmanship kissing scene in DWMC. Without Stifler, the American Pie movies would be no where near as popular as they are. Stifler was supposed to be this bully character that picks on everybody, but he has evolved into the best friend you can goof on while he thinks he is the one doing the goofing. Scott's role is doubled from the first one here and he makes the most of every scene he is especially with his facial expressions. He has many hilarious moments in AP2, but my favorite has to be the look on his face at the very end of the movie. It is a classic moment that sums up his character perfectly. My only problem with Stifler in this movie is that he uses the "F" word way too much. Every joke is punctuated with a variation on the "fuck." This is funny, but it becomes overkill after a while. Fortunately, it does not take away from the brilliance of the work on screen. If there was a way to spin Stifler off in his own movie or cable tv show, I would be all for it. The last major character is that of Jim. Jason Biggs has been in several movies since AP1 and he too keeps playing the same character. Heck the movie title "Loser" was probably based on Jim from American Pie. Biggs is superb as the hopeless lovesick schlup who can't seem to do or say the right things when he is around women he finds attractive. In the first movie Jim molested an apple pie and premature ejaculated twice while being watched on the internet by the entire high school. Jim had an obsession with the Czech foreign exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), but was too nervous to consummate their relationship. However, at Stifler's party, he became involved with the personification of the Kama Sutra of Band Camp, Michelle (Aylson Hannigan) who one time at band camp stuck a flute up her pussy. Ha ha ha ha, I still remember how funny that was to the theatrical audience. Jim learns that Nadia is coming back at the end of summer, so he enlists the help of the only girl he had sex with, Michelle to teach him how not to blow his load again. This plot of Jim preparing for Nadia becomes the only thing resembling a story that is presented in AP2. Between the lessons, Jim has several embarrassing encounters with things the human body is not supposed to come in contact with. Fortunately, he has his dad (Eugene Levy) to help guide him through these troubled times. Levy's part is still small in the movie, but very significant and funny. His overly understanding Dad character helps give these movies a sweetness and family values attitude that could easily be missed when the raunch gets most of the screen time. With about 3 more scenes, I could easily see Levy be a worthy candidate for best supporting actor at Oscar time. The person that should actually get the nomination for best supporting actress is Hannigan. Her part in AP1 was used as the payoff for one of the best punchlines in the last 5 years of film, and in the sequel she is given a whole lot more to do. She has a great chemistry with Biggs on screen and the point where she gets into her car to drive away is very touching after what she had just done in the previous scene had seemed so over the top. Hannigan is very good on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it is nice to see her given a chance to shine here. Of all of the girls who show up from the first one, the character of Michelle actually has a story arc and character development. She will most likely be overlooked when award season comes and that is too bad. Shannon Elizabeth shows up again as Nadia, and she is not as bad as many might think. Her screen time is small, but she has a key moment near the end that gets a good laugh and actually develops her character to a certain degree because you learn what attracts her to Biggs' Jim. Elizabeth's accent is still no better than it was in the first film, but it doesn't really matter. Overall, American Pie 2 is actually much funnier than the first film. I did not laugh harder, but I laughed more. Stifler and his antics are gold and are reason enough to sit through the movie. The weaker parts are not given much screen time, so they do not ruin the picture. The best things from the first are expanded upon here and the worst things are suppressed. American Pie 2 shows that tales of the death of the raunchy teen comedy have been greatly exaggerated. Final Review: 3 1/2 stars out of 5; 7 out of 10; B; thumbs up. If an American Pie 3 is made I suggest that the main guys get married, Jim walks in on his parents having sex since that is a moment that every kid hopes to never see, and that Natasha Lyonne's character gets the push that Alyson Hannigan received in AP2. This movie looks to be very successful, so an AP3 should one day show up.


Romantic movies are easy. Action movies are easy. Even comedies have a certain formula that when followed can be very simplistic. The genre of film that seems to be the most difficult to make is the horror film. Horror movies used to be scary back in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, but then it became all campy and stupid and has rarely ever recovered. Modern horror films are either thrillers like "Hannibal," or slasher pictures like "Scream." Films like the Haunting and House on Haunted Hill tried to be scary but they goofed around too much and were poorly made. Well, I am happy to say that someone has finally made a horror film that, get this, is genuinely frightening to watch. The Others is the best straight up horror movie I have seen in years. Nicole Kidman stars as a mother living in a Victorian mansion on a British Island just after the end of World War II. Her husband is presumed dead, killed in action, and her two children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) cannot venture outside the house because they are allergic to sunlight. Curtains must be drawn at all times since the mere brush of sunlight across their skin can result in deadly consequences. It seems that Anne and Nicholas are hearing and to some extent seeing ghosts wander through the halls and their bedrooms. Kidman's Grace character is of course a doubting Thomas and hopes that her kids would just be quiet. The problem is that when they are quiet, there is a better chance to hear the footsteps and the whispering. Are these ghosts the Others? Or are the Others the new mysterious help that arrives to take the place of the servants who have recently just disappeared without a trace? Or are Kidman and her children the true Others interfering with the ones who believe that this house is theirs? These mysteries are all answered in this somewhat slow, but very engaging ghost story. The thing that makes this movie so amazing is that there are very little special effects used. Footsteps, whispering, fog and loud music jumps are all that is used to generate feelings of terror to the people on screen and watching the movie. The Others are eventually revealed at the end, but you don't really feel cheated when it happens. I is very hard to do a horror movie without violence and gore, but there are no real violent moments shown at least, and the goriest thing you see are the whites of someone's eyes who may or may not be possessed by a demon. I generally hate movies that scrimp on showing things, but the context in which it is done here is very well done and that gives credit to the director, Alejandro Amenabar making his English language film debut. He has put together a very tense film. Kidman is doing her best work since "Dead Calm" and finally gets to use something resembling her real speaking voice. Without having to concentrate on getting her accent perfect every moment, she is allowed to get into the role more and you can feel sorry for her plight. Kidman is still annoying to watch in here like in most of her movies, but she is less annoying this time. The best actor in the movie is Mann as Anne. She reminded me of Anna Paquin's performance in "The Piano" which gave the X-Men beauty a best supporting actress Oscar. Alakina Mann is just a little girl, but she delivers her lines with more maturity than Kidman. In fact, she is the scariest thing in the film. The Anne character is so strange, you get nervous just watching her talk or walk down a hall or staircase. James Bentley has a smaller part as Nicholas, but he is the scene stealer of the film. He is constantly scared out of his mind at what is going on in the house and his odd facial structure also makes me nervous when I see him show up. His rant at the end when it looks like the ghosts are finally going to make their big move is my favorite part of the film. Very tense and scary stuff when Bentley gets to talk. He also out acts Kidman. There are not a lot of actors in the movie, but the only other one of note is Fionnula Flanagan as Mrs. Mills. She knows the secret of the Others, but is unwilling to reveal what she knows without Kidman and her kids going through hell. Flanagan gives the typical creepy old woman in the haunted house performance, but she does a good job with the clichéd material she is given.  There are some problems with the movie.  For one thing, it is a bit slow at times.  You may find yourself blacking out at some moments.  The previews for The Others pretty much show you all the key scary points in the film which makes you think there might be more to it, but there really isn't.  There are maybe 2 times in which a true ghostly special effect is used and that hurts the film for those looking for a more visceral experience.  Nicole Kidman's wide eyed gasps are a bit over exaggerated as she tries to act scared.  The kids do a better job with being frightened.  Also, there is this one character that shows up literally out of nowhere that just plain sucks and should not have been included.  His appearance slowed down the picture significantly.  The Others is a good movie if you are looking for an adult horror film you can show to adults.  The teen set might enjoy it, but it is really not made for the under 25 set.  The younger people go for the more extreme horror that TO tries to avoid.  Final Review: 3 1/2 stars out of 5; 7 out of 10;  B+; thumbs up. 

Animation and live action don't always mix. For every "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" you get a "Cool World." This week, we have Osmosis Jones starring the voice of Chris Rock as a white blood cell living in the body of Bill Murray. Bill Murray eats an egg that has fallen in a monkey cage and is infected with a deadly virus known as Thrax which is voiced by Laurence Fishburne. Only Osmosis and cold capsule Drix, voiced by David Hyde Pierce can stop the infection. What you get are live action scenes with Murray, Molly Shannon, and Chris Elliot reacting to the goings on in Murray's body such as pimples, body odor, and farts. We then cut to the inside of the body which is portrayed to be a large city full of inhabitants that make up different aspects of a human being. These inside the body movies have been done before in "Fantastic Voyage" and "Innerspace," but this time, it is animated with funny characters. The premise sounds like it could be good, but for some reason very few people decided to make it a priority to see this film this weekend. Bill Murray is a very well known star who has been in some of the funniest movies ever made. His sick character of Frank Pepperidge looked to bring back fond memories of "Caddyshack." Chris Rock is promoted as being the funniest man alive and him as a WHITE blood cell writes itself. Just hearing Rock's signature voice should make you laugh. The Farelly Brothers, Bob and Peter, have made 2 of the most popular comedies of all time, "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary." This movie should have opened with at least $20 million this weekend on the cast alone. But, like with every movie, its the plot that counts. It does not matter who is in the film, if the premise does not interest people, they won't go see it. The names alone were not enough, there had to be a hook to bring in an audience. That hook was the animation, but it was not enough. I think if this movie had been released 2 or 3 years ago, it would have opened better, but there is a backlash against bodily function humor. American Pie 2 gets away with it because it is sequel and people expect it to be that to certain degree. But the today's audiences only have the patience for one raunch comedy a year it seems. Osmosis also is a cartoon with a PG rating with lots of gastric and anatomy technobabble. I think if they made Osmosis Jones an R-Rated movie with that could have explored some of the more sexual areas of the human body, then they might of had a bigger hit. Trying to get the child audience hurt the film. Blame Congress. At worst, the movie should have gone for a PG-13, especially with Rock doing the voice since he is best when he is allowed to rant uncensored. Right now, the top animated studio is, Dreamworks, with Disney trying to catch up after dominating for so long. Warner Brothers, which produced OJ, used to rule animation with Bugs, Daffy, and Porky, but now they can't seem to get a cartoon break. If they make an Osmosis Jones 2, maybe they should get Ralph Bakshi, Don Bluth, and Hironobu Sakaguchi to do the animation with the Farrelly Brothers and Adam Herz to write, and Alejandro Amenabar to direct. Instead of Bill Murray, we can have Dan Ackroyd as the sickly specimen. Chris Rock could be joined by Martin Lawrence and Chris Tucker as the white blood cells battling Don Cheadle as Ebola and Keith David as Big Daddy Rickets. Now that would be a good movie.


1. Rush Hour 2 has held up better in its second week after being number one than any other movie that came out this summer.

2. The reason behind that, of course, is the presence of Zhang Ziyi.

3. Since Miss Zhang has returned to the top 10 in 10, so has her pic:

4. Princess Diaries is a big hit and looks to be one of the more profitable movies of the year.

5. Planet of the Apes is doing very well at the box office despite being one of the sillier movies to be released this year.

6. Jurassic Park III only fair performance at the box office could mean the end of the trips to the islands just outside Costa Rica.

7. Maybe it is time to see what was happening in the Triassic, Mesozoic, or Cretaceous Parks.

8. Julia Roberts may be worth $20 million, but unless she is in a movie with a plot, a $100 million gross will be hard to come by.

9. Reese Witherspoon has to now prepare for Legally Blonde 2: Electric Boogaloo since if she tried to make Election 2 or Cruel Intentions 3, her agent would probably hang him or herself.

10. Antonio Banderas' luck continues to be bad at the box office as Original Sin fades away and the special edition of Spy Kids with sleeping shark footage failed to make the top 10.

American Pie 2 should remain as the number one movie next week because the new movie competition is pretty weak with Rat Race, American Outlaws, and Captain Corelli's Mandolin trying to make a name for themselves. For the first time in weeks, I might not see a new movie. Rat Race is the 10,000th movie trying to recapture the aura of Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, American Outlaws tries to capture the aura of a Young Guns 3, and Captain Corelli's Mandolin tries to capture the aura of being the movie with possibly the worst title in the history of film. Bye for now.