Unless you live near an artsy cinema in New York or Los Angeles, you will find that the only new movies to see this weekend are a couple of off-beat buddy films.
Buddy movies typically pair two dissimilar characters and set them to play off each other and/or solve a major crime.
Some highlights of the oeuvre:
-- Laurel and Hardy, 1930s;
-- Bob Hope and Bing Crosby "Road to ..." movies, 1940s;
-- "I Spy," a television series with Bill Cosby and Robert Culp in the 1960s;
-- "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," Paul Newman and Robert Redford, 1969;
-- "Silver Streak," Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, 1976;
-- "48 Hours" Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, 1982;
-- "Lethal Weapon," Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, 1987;
-- "Thelma and Louise," Susan Sarandon and Geena Gibson, 1991;
-- "Rush Hour," 1998, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker; and
-- "The Hangover," a buddy ensemble film, 2009.
Over the years, the genre grew to include black and Asian heroes, and even women.
LIke the last entry in the list, this week's releases are a little offbeat, pairing a man with a teddy bear and a boy with a dog. Here's what's up:
This is actually a sequel to "Ted," a movie about a grown man whose talking teddy bear accompanies him through life. The original, also an R-rated comedy, was pretty well received even if it was not every moviegoer's cup of tea. One disgruntled critic's take:
"The lone punch line? It's that the cute-and-cuddly teddy bear is actually a filthy mouthed, pot-smoking, ethnic-slurring, gay-bashing, beer swilling degenerate misogynist who parties with prostitutes like an oversexed rock star."
Haters gonna hate, I guess.
The first Ted movie was the 12th highest grossing picture of 2012. A second iteration was inevitable.
This movie's premise wears its heart on its military sleeve. Its two lead characters are a grieving dog whose Marine handler has been killed in Afghanistan and the Marine's younger brother, a moody and struggling teenager.
I haven't read a review of this, but one film writer says, "It appears to be a nice story until the kid and dog need to be Hardy Boys in order to solve some sort of crime involving a member of the deceased brother's unit."
That said, there is no reason to believe "Max" will not find its audience. People love dogs. Men and boys are moved by tales of brave soldiers. And parents are always eager for stories of young people who grow into honorable adults.