Elizabethtown (D: Cameron Crowe, 123 min
Cameron Crowe 's latest is shaping up to be the most controversial big pic of the year. Orlando Bloom plays a failed businessman who meets a flight attendant ( Kirsten Dunst ) on his way to Kentucky for his father's funeral. Apparently, Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) wrote the role with Bloom in mind, and it'll be a good chance to see if the actor best known for playing a determined elf can actually act without wielding a crossbow. Some are claiming he's reinvented himself and can, based on this, carry an entire movie. Others are saying it's one of the worst films of the year. Promising things: the appearance of Susan Sarandon as Bloom's mom, plus the fact that it's been trimmed from its earlier version, screened at the Toronto International Film Fest, that clocked in at 135 minutes. Fear factor: Crowe's always had difficulty ending his films. Maybe we should wait for the DVD, which will -- no doubt -- have the director's various cuts and comments on it.
The Fog (D: Rupert Wainwright, 100 min)
If we've learned anything this year, it's that remakes suck. The Amityville Horror, The Longest Yard, Bad News Bears.... C'mon, aspiring screenwriters, you can do better than this, can'tcha? Now comes The Fog , the remake of John Carpenter's horror film about a New England town that gets immersed in a creepy mist that hides old pirates. It seemed silly the first time around, but the trailers actually do look pretty scary.
The presence of easy-on-the-eyes Tom Welling (Smallville) and Selma Blair should ensure a good opening-weekend take. But most horror flicks don't have stamina to last more than a few weeks.
School Of Life (D: William Dear, 111 min)
After a charismatic middle school teacher passes away, his awkward son ( David Paymer ), also a teacher, tries to get the students to like him, despite the presence of cool new staffer Ryan Reynolds . That seems to be the plot for this film, which arrives here without much fanfare and -- not a good sign -- no advance press screening.
The attraction is Paymer, an underrated character actor best known for his Oscar-nominated turn as Billy Crystal's brother in Mr. Saturday Night.
All three films open Friday (October 14). Screened after press time - see reviews of Elizabethtown October 13 and The Fog and School Of Life on October 17 at www.nowtoronto.com/film.