This past weekend featured a weird toss-up between two new releases at the domestic box office. Horror thriller “Knock at the Cabin” made slightly more money, with an estimated $14.1 million to its opponent’s $12.5 million, but football comedy “80 for Brady” sold slightly more tickets, with an estimated 1.3 million (many with matinee and senior discounts) to its opponent’s 1.1 million. I’ve decided to give a short review to both films.
“Knock at the Cabin”
Director M. Night Shyamalan returns with this psychological thriller about a family of three (Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Kristen Cui) held hostage at a remote cabin by a kidnapping party of four (Dave Bautista, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint). The kidnappers claim that unless the family willingly sacrifices the life one of its own members, the Apocalypse will consume the rest of humanity. The proposal seems preposterous at first, but evidence in support of the kidnappers’ claims soon starts piling up.
The film is based on a book, and I imagine the premise working much better on the page than it does here. With a book, the reader can stop at their leisure and pontificate on how they would react to the situation given the information at hand, which makes for a lively hypothetical. With the movie, the action and stimuli have to go at a certain pace, so there’s less opportunity for viewers to use their imagination, and I’m sorry to say that the direction chosen for them is pretty unimaginative.
Bautista is certainly a commanding presence as the surprisingly soft-spoken antagonist, but otherwise the movie is much more predictable and dull than Shyamalan seems to think it is. I’ve never bought into his reputation as a master of twist endings, and the ending here is so aggressively foreshadowed that I don’t know if it even counts as a twist. My advice: stay in your comfy home, don’t venture out to the “Cabin,” and you won’t have to worry about a “Knock.”
“Knock at the Cabin” is rated R for violence and language. Its running time is 100 minutes.
“80 for Brady”
“80 for Brady” follows a group of four friends (Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Lily Tomlin) – all past or near the age of 80 – as they travel to the 2017 Super Bowl to watch Tom Brady mount the most spectacular comeback in the game’s history. Adventures include a football-throwing contest, a spicy wing-eating contest, a party with recreational drugs, issues with tickets, sneaking into the stadium, impersonating backup dancers, and affecting the outcome of the game.
More than any one gag, storyline, or scene, the appeal of the film lies in just spending time with these women, all of whom are funny and have effortless chemistry with one another. Just enjoy these four screen veterans playing off each other and it will become increasingly easy to ignore flaws that otherwise make the movie seem cheap and incompetent, like lowbrow humor, dodgy special effects, and scenes in the stands clearly not taking place at the game.
It helped that I saw the movie with a good crowd that was cheering wildly by the film’s end. That’s the way to see this movie, with a group. It’s a good “compromise” movie that no one person is likely to love, but nobody will be able to truly detest either. The consensus seems to be that on a scale of 1 to 100, it’s about an “80.”
“80 for Brady” is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some drug content and some suggestive references. Its running time is 98 minutes.
Robert R. Garver is a graduate of the Cinema Studies program at New York University. His weekly movie reviews have been published since 2006.