I confess, I was corner watching just two weeks ago as I watched Shyamalan's The Happening round into Friday night. As Wahlberg and company seemed to squeeze through the pack chasing only the Hulk in the Marvel car, I zoomed in on turn two. Damn, no scrapes going through Saturday night. What a drag. How could such a badly put together entry survive this far? Well, you know the story, Sunday's turn slowed things down a bit when the Dreamworks Panda car surged ahead, but the finish line on Monday morning still gave Shyamalan a third place finish. No wrecks, no crash and burn, no fun. Yes, sometimes I watch the weekend box-office hoping for a car crash.
And I will be again this weekend. Only now there's a lot more potential twisted metal in the field. On the pole in row one, the Hulk is poised for a second start and looking very strong after generally good notices and cheers from the old fans. Next to Marvel is Dreamworks' third run around a weekend track with Kung Fu Panda, who'll be looking for yet another strong finish before his competition gets an enormous dose of nitro with Pixar's championship bread Wall•e revving up for next week.
In row two, are the competitors most likely to cause a pile up. Sandler, driving what appears to be a fake foreign job in the Zohan and Shyamalan in The Happening, hoping against hope to somehow find the finish on Monday still in the top five. We'll be watching them both closely 'cause it's a real good bet that one of them is going into the wall.
Back in row three are the new entries. Steve Carell, still kind of a rookie in the big summer races, running on retreads in Get Smart and the former champ Mike Myers driving a brand new character in The Love Guru. Myers, who's knock with his sponsors is that he just doesn't take anything seriously, may be driving a new vehicle but it looks like it's built on lots of borrowed parts. How it will hold up in the summer heat is anybody's guess, but those that have seen his test laps aren't encouraged.
So that's how it lays out. For people like me, cold and callous enough to actually root for misfortune, this weekend promises the closest thing yet to the third box-office race back at the beginning of the season. That was the weekend the Wachowski Brothers, running against Marvel's supercharged Iron Man provided one of the most stunning and spectacular wrecks of all time. Shards of technicolor pixels seemed to fly right off the screen. If you want to see a great movie wreck try to catch it in Imax. Those are the only screens big enough to capture the explosion of egos and bad ideas that was Speed Racer. With our appetites whetted and our hopes high, here's to this week's racers and to the studio marketing crews who'll be called upon to clear the smoking crumpled mess off the track.