Friday movie roundup – Nov. 3

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The funniest movie this week, or any week so far this year, is “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” though you can just call it “Borat” for short. I saw it at a MySpace screening several weeks ago, and my review has been posted since then. But today’s the day the review becomes official. There’s no turning back now! This movie really is being released.

Actually, Fox decided a few weeks ago to open it in only about 900 theaters today and the rest next week. They thought that while the Internet is ripe with Borat buzz, and though Borat has been showing up all over pop culture the last few weeks, there might not be enough awareness of the film in “middle America” (i.e., everything between the coasts).

They might be right about that, and it’s interesting to see a studio being thoughtful about these things. I suspect the failure of “Snakes on a Plane” was sobering. That film SEEMED to have huge buzz, but it turned out all that excitement was only on the Internet. Regular people — people who use the Internet to check e-mail and maybe glance at a couple favorite sites — either didn’t know or didn’t care about the movie. Fox seems to think that might be the case with “Borat,” so they’re being cautious.

I have no idea how “Borat” will play in middle America. The MySpace screening audience loved every minute of it, but who’s to say they’re a barometer of public tastes? These are people who spend all their time on the worst-looking, least-functional Web site ever built. What do they know?

The widest release this weekend is “Flushed Away,” a cartoon from Aardman Animations, the people behind “Wallace & Gromit.” This one is computer animated, though, rather than being made with clay. (The reason: Much of it takes place in water, and water is ridiculously hard to convey with stop-motion photography of clay figures.) The writers and directors are not the same staff from “Wallace & Gromit,” though the directors did work on “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”

Anyway, it’s about a fancy-pants rat who winds up living in the sewer with the common rodents, and I couldn’t see it because it is being distributed by Paramount Pictures.

You know, I always include that link whenever I mention Paramount, so you can see the story of why they banned me from their press screenings. But I’m not giving enough credit. Allied Advertising is responsible, too. They’re a national advertising and P.R. firm, headquartered in Boston with offices all over North America. The Seattle office handles Portland affairs. I mention it because I’m not 100 percent certain that the decision to ban me wasn’t entirely Allied’s, with no input from Paramount at all. Certainly no one from Paramount ever contacted me; it was all Allied, claiming the decision came from above, but who knows? And it was definitely Allied who made the decision to ban me from screenings for the other studios they handle (Weinstein Company, Dimension and Miramax) — allegedly because Paramount asked them to, but again, how do I know that?

Anywhich, the other wide release today — also a children’s film — is “The Santa Clause 3,” in which Tim Allen falls off some more roofs and some more reindeer break wind. ‘Tis the season! Apparently!

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