Who: Jason Bateman, Rohan Chand, Kathryn Hahn and Allison Janney
What: A spelling bee loser sets out to exact revenge by finding a loophole and attempting to win as an adult.
When: March 14th
Why: If the trailer for “Bad Words” reminds you a lot of the 2003 comedy “Bad Santa,” only set in the world of spelling bees instead of shopping mall Santa Clauses, you’re not alone. But while the comparisons are inevitable, Jason Bateman’s directorial debut already sounds infinitely better than the last attempt to go the crude and naughty route with the Cameron Diaz vehicle “Bad Teacher. Bateman has proven time and again that he’s one of the best in the business at sarcasm, and although we’ve seen the actor play a prick before (most recently on the latest season of “Arrested Development,” it’s never been to this degree. The decision to roll out the movie via a platform release may not suggest much confidence on the part of the studio, but after a positive reception at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, “Bad Words” will likely earn most of its audience from word of mouth.
Who: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Ryan Hansen and Jerry O’Connell
What: Years after walking away from her past as a teenage private eye, Veronica Mars gets pulled back to her hometown in order to help her old flame, Logan Echolls.
When: March 14th
Why: Having only seen the pilot episode of “Veronica Mars,” it’s hard to conjure up the same level of excitement that diehard fans of the CW series are feeling now that their beloved show has been revived on the big screen. And to think that it was all thanks to them, courtesy of the much-publicized Kickstarter campaign that basically funded the entire movie. Though it’s admittedly going to be difficult convincing non-fans to see the film, writer/director Rob Thomas appears to have gone out of his way to make it as accessible to newcomers as possible while still including all the fun insider stuff that its rabid fanbase demands. Who knows? If “Veronica Mars” manages to bridge that gap between non-fans and the show’s loyal legion of Marshmallows, we might even see further big screen adventures. Let’s just hope Warner Bros. foots the bill next time.
Who: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Zoe Kravitz and Jai Courtney
What: Set in a futuristic dystopia, a teenager seeks to break free from her homogeneous society that divides people into factions based on human traits.
When: March 21st
Why: “Divergent” has a certain “Hunger Games” vibe to it, and that’s not just because the film is also based on a popular trilogy of young adult novels… set in a dystopian future… featuring a female lead… who leads a revolt against her government. See what I mean? Still, the books are popular for a reason, and much like “Hunger Games,” Lionsgate has put together an impressive cast of talent, beginning with Shailene Woodley, who’s following a very similar career path to Jennifer Lawrence these days. Much like the Oscar-winning actress, Woodley is one of this generation’s most promising young stars, and she’s been rewarded for her standout performances in indie fare like “The Descendants” and “The Spectacular Now” with a blockbuster franchise of her own. The addition of Kate Winslet as the villain also shows that the producers aren’t messing around when it comes to attracting top talent, and that could be the difference between becoming another “Hunger Games” and failing like the many other YA adaptations.