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Spade's 'Dirt' Could Bury 'Em

12 Apr, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

Joe Dirt is poised to wipe the floor with the competition this weekend.

The Sony release about a janitor with a long-simmering case of parental-separation anxiety is the most promising of the four new films set to open nationally during Easter weekend. Universal's Josie and the Pussycats and Fox Searchlight's Kingdom Come debuted Wednesday along with Dirt, while Bridget Jones's Diary from Miramax breaks Friday.

That Dirt could clean up is based on its fervent following among young males, who, with most schools recessed for spring break, are free to indulge in the giddy pleasures of crass comedy. Expectations for business as a whole should be tempered by the warning that none of the four features is exhibiting breakout potential, however.

David Spade co-wrote and stars in Dirt as a sanitary engineer with a signature pompadour hairdo who becomes a minor celebrity during a mission across the country to find his birth parents, who abandoned him near the Grand Canyon when he was 8. Brittany Daniel and Christopher Walken co-star in the first-time feature effort from veteran TV director Dennie Gordon.

Written and directed by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, Pussycats is a live-action feature version of the 1970-72 animated TV series about a young female pop band. Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid and Rosario Dawson are the trio of femmes in the movie who uncover a plot to brainwash America's youth via subliminal recorded messages in songs. Parker Posey, Gabriel Mann, Paulo Costanzo and Alan Cumming co-star.

Kingdom is a comedy about a contentious family gathered together to lay to rest one of their least-loved relatives. LL Cool J, Vivica A. Fox, Whoopi Goldberg, Clifton Davis and Jada Pinkett Smith are the featured players. Doug McHenry directed from a screenplay by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones, who penned the play Dearly Departed, on which the film is based.

Renee Zellweger stars as the title character in Diary, a romantic comedy set in London about a year in the life of a thirtysomething single woman whose personal peccadilloes complicate her quest to find the perfect man to marry. Sharon Maguire directed from a script co-written by Helen Fielding, whose 1998 novel is the source material for the film. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth co-star.

Pussycats and Diary will play to women, though the former's following will be decidedly younger. Kingdom will draw from the upper age brackets of both sexes, particularly within the black community.

In the broader market, the winners of recent weeks will likely continue to prevail. Miramax's Spy Kids, which has earned about $55 million in two weeks, is a family favorite that should hold up well during the Easter period.

Paramount's Along Came a Spider and New Line's Blow are generating good word-of-mouth while ranking higher on weekend wish lists than the majority of the new product. Spider did more than $20 million in its first week, while Blow opened to about $15 million.

Two films play exclusively in New York: First Look's Chopper, which opened Wednesday, and Winstar's The Circle, which goes Friday.

Written and directed by Andrew Dominik, Chopper is a fact-based Australian import about the life of Mark "Chopper" Read (Eric Bana), a working-class lad who hit the road on his bike in a misguided quest to become Down Under's version of Al Capone. Simon Lyndon, Vince Colosimo, David Field and Daniel Wyllie co-star.

Circle is an Iranian drama directed by Jafar Panahi that won the Golden Lion award at last year's Venice Film Festival. The story line explores the dilemma faced by women in Iran, who have few rights and no control over their fate at the hands of men. Maryiam Palvin Almaini and Nargess Mamizadeh star.

Eros' Jodi No. 1 opens in select cities today. The Indian comedy from director David Dhawan follows a pair of con men (Sanjay Dutt and Govinda) as they flee Bombay for greener pastures.

Lions Gate's Mexican thriller Amores Perros, which has earned about $175,000 in two weeks in just two theaters, expands to 150 runs Friday.

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