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New in Theaters Sept. 21: The House with a Clock in its Walls, Fahrenheit 11/9, Life Itself

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By Chris Kavan - 09/20/18 at 06:44 AM CT

Last week The Predator may have topped the box office, but it was far from a win as it was also the lowest opening weekend for a live-action film premiering in 4000 theaters or more. That isn't exactly a record you want and most of the good news came from the holdovers. This weekend, Eli Roth takes a break from torture porn and cannibalism and gives us a... family film?! Otherwise, Michael Moore gives us another lib-tastic documentary and we get a romance film that spans time and distance, for all the romantics out there.

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS Despite the overly-long title, this House is based on the book by John Bellairs and follows a young orphan, Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) and outsider who is sent to live with his uncle, onathan Barnavelt (Jack Black) only to discover his new home holds a literal magic secret. It looks like a lot of fun - maybe a bit too dark for the youngest, but the PG rating should be perfectly find for the slightly holder to almost teens. Black is always entertaining and, much like Goosebumps, this looks to be right in his wheelhouse. Plus, you get Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Colleen Camp and Sunny Suljic among others. The film reminds me of Harry Potter crossed with Sorcerer's Apprentice, but walking its own path along the way. Also, there's a scary clock that could usher in an apocalypse, so it has that going for it. And Eli Roth, my man of gore-tastic horror, is trying something a bit lighter and I hope he does well. We'll see how it stacks up, but it's easily going to be the best film out of the bunch over the weekend.

LIFE ITSELF Romance is in the air... but will there be anyone out there to watch it? Depending on who you choose to listen to, Life Itself is either a life-altering tear-jerker that spans time and distance or a piece of overly-sentimental trash. Even with a cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, Antonio Banderas, Samuel L. Jackson, Jean Smart and Sergio Peris-Mencheta, this looks like a chore to sit through for all but the most romantically-starved audiences. Director Dan Fogelman is no stranger to dream thanks to his work on This is Us, but spreading depression out over the course of a TV season and packing it into a shorter film are two different things and it sounds like Life Itself want to punish the audience with its emotion. This is no doubt going after a female-dominated audience, but I don't think it will be enough to save it from a mid-level debut at best.

FAHRENHEIT 11/9 Look, conservatives already had their chance with Dinesh D'Souza and Death of a Nation, now it's time to see if the liberals can do any better when Michael Moore unleashes Fahrenheit 11/9. The title is play on Moore's arguably best documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, and while that covered the Bush administration following the terrorist attacks that forever changed the nation. Fast-forward to present day and Bush seems like a genius politician compared to current president Donald Trump. Moore essentially breaks down how we got to this point and if there's anything we can do about it. It's totally a liberal slant, but that's par for the course for Moore. The big question is going to be how this stacks up against Death of a Nation, which will tell me a bit about what direction movie-going audiences are going. I don't expect this to do that well in any case, but I hope it beats D'Souza's propaganda piece.

Those are your new, big entries for this week. I'll be back on Sunday with a full breakdown of the weekend box office.


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