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January, no longer the worst movie month of the year.

January, no longer the worst movie month of the year. (photo)

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It’s common knowledge that January is when — if you’re not lucky enough to live in one of the relatively few American cities with an arthouse theater — there’s nothing much to see, as studios use the month to unload their least promising, most half-baked goods.

But last year, the surprise one-two punch of “Taken” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” kicked the door open. Who’s to say what unlikely, unexpected or just plain silly looking commercial juggernauts might emerge this month?

One of the weird things about this January is how much more expensive it looks compared to last year’s slate. The January ’09 releases were pretty cheap; genre stalwart “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,” for all its CGI beasts, came in at a trim $35 million, which was about the top on the expense front. This January comes loaded with “The Book of Eli,” which cost $80 million, and the upcoming Mel-Gibson-kills-people extravaganza “Edge of Darkness,” with a reported price tag of $60 million.

These aren’t commercially undesirable movies. “The Book of Eli” made back nearly half its production budget in one weekend, and while how “Edge of Darkness” will fare remains to be seen — it’s hard to tell how people currently feel about Gibson — it’s still sure to have better production values (and explosions!) than the average January release. Lesson learned? You can open a movie that’s not terrible in January and even make bank off of it, especially if you’re catering to the underserved meat-and-potatoes action movie crowd.

01192010_romebride.jpgFor romcom fans, last year saw the little-loved “Bride Wars” and the dreadful “New In Town,” and this year has the hardly more promising looking “Leap Year” and “When In Rome” — no change on that front. What are gone are the cheap horror joints. 2009 had the odd dybbuk-terrorizes-teens “The Unborn” and K-horror remake “The Uninvited.” This year, those lusting for attacking loud noises will have to wait til the end of February for “The Crazies.” Are anonymous casts of interchangeable beautiful people being slaughtered by CGI ghouls and lurking killers on the way out? We can only hope.

It’s impossible to predict from January alone if 2010 will be another record-setting year of audiences going to the movies as they run away from the recession, but hey, can you still get more from less? Looks like it, for studios and audiences alike.

[Photos: “Edge of Darkness,” Warner Bros., 2010 vs “Taken,” Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 2009; “When in Rome,” Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2010 vs “Bride Wars,” Fox 2000 Pictures, 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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