This Month In Theaters: January 2010

By  · Published on January 7th, 2010

Welcome to 2010… and the supposed cinematic doldrums of January. The beginning of the year used to be considered a dumping ground for terrible films and the month where embarrassing movies went to die. But things changed with a little movie called Paul Blart: Mall Cop that proved critically acclaimed blockbusters could find a home in the coldest month alongside all the chum. This month actually has some solid releases to look forward to, so let’s get started.

January 8th


Who? Directed and written by Michael and Peter Spierig; starring Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe

What? An action/horror/sci-fi hybrid about a future where vampires vastly outnumber humans. The bloodsuckers have redesigned society with them as the dominant species. They live ordinary lives, work typical jobs, and drink the blood of captive humans. A panic begins when the vampires realize their food supply is running dangerously low, and when word of a possible cure reaches a vampire hematologist (Ethan Hawke) he sets out to save the human race and hopefully become a human once again.

Why should you care? Because it’s one of the best vampire movies of the past decade, that’s why. If that sounds a bit over the top check out Brian Salisbury’s review here from when we saw it at Fantastic Fest… could two of us be so wrong? Doubtful, especially since we both disagree on just about everything else. The flick kicks ass with some incredibly stylish visuals, highly energized action scenes, blood and gore galore, and an original take on the genre that comes alive beautifully on screen.

Watch the trailer:

Leap Year

Who? Directed by Anand Tucker; written by Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan; starring Amy Adams, Matthew Goode

What? A woman (Adams) decides she’s waited long enough for her boyfriend to propose so she heads off to Ireland to surprise him. She’s told a woman can ask a man to marry her on Leap Day and he has to say yes by law or face a severe shellacking. But as is wont to happen in the wacky world of romantic comedies her plans take a detour when she’s forced to drive across Ireland with another man (Goode). Could he be her real true love? I wonder…

Why should you care? You probably shouldn’t… early reviews haven’t been very kind, and the synopsis alone sounds like a shitty version of Forces of Nature. Yup, that’s right. A crappy version of the Sandra Bullock/Ben Affleck bomb that nobody liked except for me. This probably won’t reach the sewer depths of last January’s Bride Wars, but it doesn’t mean it’s worth making the trip to the theater.

Watch the Trailer:

Youth In Revolt

Who? Directed by Miguel Arteta; written by Gustin Nash from a novel by CD Payne; starring Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Zack Galifianakis

What? Ah the joys of teen sex! Who among us isn’t a fan? Nick Twisp (Cera) is a typical teen who meets and immediately falls in love with Sheeni Saunders (Doubleday). What’s an awkward and virginal teen to do but devote all his time towards his natural desire for copulation? Create a new persona who’s not afraid to do and say what needs to be said and done to get what he wants I guess. Divorced parents, religious parents, Navy seamen, ex-boyfriends, pending jail-time, and geography all conspire to stop him in his tracks, but this gangly walking hormone is in it to win it. Or something equally inspiring.

Why should you care? Because it’s hilarious. Michael Cera initially starts the film as a retread of his role from Superbad, but the arrival of his suave and devilish alter ego, Francois Dillinger, represents a complete 180 degree turn for the actor. We know Cera can do awkward, but watching his smooth, deep-voiced, and mustachioed Dillinger in action is unexpected comedy gold. Throw in some sharply written and funny dialogue, fantastic supporting performances from Ray Liotta, Fred Willard, and others, and a sensibility that walks a fine line between sweet and dirty as hell, and you have the best teen comedy of the year (so far)!

Watch the Trailer:

In Limited Release:

January 15th

The Book of Eli

Who? Directed by The Brothers Hughes; written by Gary Whitta; starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis

What? A man (Washington) wanders a post-apocalyptic America with his son favorite book while fighting off roving bands of jet skiers ruffians, starvation, and dirty fingernails. His book holds the salvation of humanity, and he has to protect it against Oldman’s sticky fingers.

Why should you care? Maybe because post-apocalyptic movies are too few and far between? The Road was dark and gritty but it was also pretty uneventful. This flick looks pretty action-packed and thanks to the Hughes brothers it should also be fairly stylish. Cast-wise this is also looking good… Washington and Oldman are always reliable, and Kunis is always easy on the eyes. (I just don’t buy her in action movies though.) This is also the screenplay debut of Whitta who I remember as an editor for PC Gamer, so that’s kind of cool. He’s also responsible for the script to the upcoming live-action Akira film.

Watch the Trailer:

The Lovely Bones

Who? Directed by Peter Jackson; written by Philippa Boyens, Jackson, Fran Walsh from a novel by Alice Sebold; starring Marc Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Saoirse Ronan, and Stanley Tucci

What? A young girl is murdered (spoiler!) and finds herself stuck in Pandora a CGI purgatory watching over her family as they grieve and attempt to solve the mystery of her death.

Why should you care? I’m still not entirely sold on this one, so I really don’t know if you should care or not. Jackson is a wildly talented filmmaker, and any film of his is worth keeping an eye on but this is an odd one. We know from the beginning who the killer is so there’s no mystery. It’s a Hollywood movie based on a best-selling book so we know the killer gets his comeuppance. Early reviews have been mostly tepid with claims that Jackson goes overboard with the special effects and lets them get in the way of the drama. His excellent Heavenly Creatures was a perfect blend of the two, so it’ll be interesting to see if that claim is true.

Watch the Trailer:

The Spy Next Door

Who? Directed by Brian Levant; written by Jonathan Bernstein, James Greer, Gregory Poirier; starring Jackie Chan

What? An ex-CIA agent (Chan) finds his toughest assignment involves taking care of three precocious children. One of the kids unwittingly downloads something important online and soon Russian spies are… aww who the hell cares.

Why should you care? I don’t know why anyone would care about this one, and I’m a huge Chan fan. Even his most recent Hong Kong films (New Police Story, Shinjuku Incident) are a hundred times better than his paycheck gigs here in the US. This one looks worse than usual though, and in fact just might be a recycled script originally meant to be The Pacifier 2. The director’s resume doesn’t exactly inspire confidence either. Snow Dogs, Are We There Yet?, The Flintstones, Problem Child 2… god I’m depressed now.

Watch the Trailer:

January 22nd

Extraordinary Measures

Who? Directed by Tom Vaughn; written by Robert Nelson Jacobs; starring Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell

What? A couple discovers that both of their children are suffering from a rare genetic disorder and ask Indiana Jones a respected doctor (Ford) to search for the cure. The film is based on a true story and looks to be an inspiring tale about making things happen instead of waiting for them. Or at least that’s what I got from the poster tag-line… “Don’t hope for a miracle. Make one.”

Why should you care? Meh. I don’t have much to say about this one aside from the fact that it’s mix of melodrama and true-life triumph would probably would be a better fit for the small screen. So instead let’s take a minute and ask what the hell has gone wrong with Ford’s career? Who’s letting him choose these scripts? Between this, Crossing Over, Firewall, Hollywood Homicide, and the last Indiana Jones movie I’m starting to think he’s stopped caring altogether. Sure he’s made bad movies in the past, but never so many in a row.

Watch the Trailer:


Who? Directed by Scott Stewart; written by Peter Schink, Stewart; starring Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Doug Jones

What? God has finally grown tired of his little science experiment called humanity and sends an army of angels to kill us all. Michael (Bettany), an archangel and ex-Wimbledon champion, decides mankind deserves another chance and heads to Earth to stop the slaughter. The lines are drawn in a small diner as Michael and a band of plucky humans arm themselves against the impending feathery onslaught.

Why should you care? Two reasons… one, it’s been too long since we’ve seen angels throw down against each other and mankind. The Prophecy was fifteen years ago people! And two, Garth Ennis’ brilliant Preacher comic is never going to get made so we’ll just have to lower our expectations when it comes to seeing angels eating lead on the big screen. And truth be told, I actually dig the trailer as well. The ice cream truck driver bit is creepy, Quaid’s scowl is always a welcome sight, and the old lady scurrying up the wall reminds me of the very underrated Exorcist III (which oddly enough is based on a novel called Legion…)

Watch the Trailer:

Tooth Fairy

Who? Directed by Michael Lembeck; written by five goddamn screenwriters; starring Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Julie Andrews

What? A hockey player (Johnson) crosses paths with that elusive fifth dentist and is punished by being forced to serve as the Tooth Fairy for a full week. The job comes complete with wings, a magic wand, a tutu, and the complete emasculation of the warrior once known as The Rock. (I kid, that happened a long time ago when Johnson first entered the ring wearing a pair of short shorts.) The tooth hurts, indeed.

Why should you care? Because this is why the terrorists hate us.

Watch the Trailer:

January 29th

Edge of Darkness

Who? Directed by Martin Campbell; written by Andrew Bovell, William Monahan; starring Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston

What? A Boston detective (Gibson) sees his daughter murdered before his eyes and wonders if the hit was meant for him. His investigation leads to the realization that he may not have known her as well as he presumed. Dark secrets, government conspiracies, and corporate cover-ups all stand before him and the truth… but these bad guys don’t know who their dealing with here. Look how crazy Gibson got in Ransom. And that kid lived.

Why should you care? Because this is set to be the best movie of the month! Because Gibson is a fantastic actor and this is his first starring role since Signs in 2002! Because it’s based on a smart, taut, and thrilling BBC mini-series that was also directed by Campbell! Because it’s from the screenwriter of The Departed! There are probably even more reasons, but honestly that’s already more than enough. Gibson in pissed off crazy mode is a thing of beauty. I just hope the Jews aren’t behind the conspiracy…

Watch the Trailer:

When In Rome

Who? Directed by Mark Steven Johnson; written by David Diamond, David Weissman; starring Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Will Arnett, Dax Shepard, Jon Heder

What? A woman (Bell) with a poor track record when it comes to love heads to Rome for inspiration. She steals some coins from a supposed ‘fountain of love’ and unwittingly curses the men who dropped them into loving her and pursuing her back to New York. I say curse because Bell is not an attractive woman. (She makes a very pretty little boy though.)

Why should you care? Much like Leap Year, you probably won’t care about this one either. It looks slightly less generic than that one, but just as predictable. (Hmm, will she end up with Duhamel or Arnett? Hmm…) I will admit to laughing at a couple of Shepard’s lines in the trailer though, so anything is possible. The final nail in the film’s coffin is Johnson. He’s already killed off possible franchises with Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and Elektra. So with any luck he’ll kill off Bell’s career as a leading lady too.

Watch the Trailer:

Which movies are you excited about in January? Which ones will you avoid?

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.