It’s Christmas in Chicago and the far-flung members of the Rodriguez clan are coming home to spend the holidays at the their parent’s house. But Mom (Elizabeth Pena) has a surprise in store for the grown siblings: She is divorcing their father (Alfred Molina) right after the tree is taken down. This doesn’t sit well with the now adult kids including business man Mauricio (John Leguizamo) who has arrives with high-powered wife Sarah (Debra Messing). There’s also Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito) a successful Hollywood actress who seems to be at a crossroads in her life while her nice neighborhood friend Ozzy (Jay Hernandez) would like to be mean more to her. And then there’s Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez) just back from Iraq and unsure of his place in the family. All of these situations intertwine when the serious illness of one of their own is suddenly revealed and the family has to pick up the pieces and come together. Nothing Like the Holidays gains its strength from a superbly chosen cast including the wonderful Molina as the family patriarch who tries desperately to keep his family and marriage together. As his long-suffering wife Anna Pena is superb cutting right to the core of who this woman is. Also very impressive is Six Feet Under star Rodriguez who plays the returning Iraq vet with touching pathos. Leguizamo on the other hand pretty much sleepwalks through his one-dimensional role and is miscast opposite Messing who still manages to evoke sympathy for her career woman quickly running out of time to have a baby. Ferlito is just fine as the fledgling Hollywood actress who seems more at home than the rest. Hernandez is an attractive and forthright presence as the local boy who finds himself attracted to the possibly unattainable star. Meanwhile a cameo by terrific character actor Luis Guzman provides comic relief. Director Alfredo De Villa has proven he knows his way around a character-driven drama with his film Washington Heights. And with Holidays he clearly invests a lot of time making sure these interconnected storylines make sense in the scheme of things and turns the sometimes pedestrian situations into what almost seems like live theatre. The performances snap crackle and pop and the seasonal atmosphere really contributes to the satisfying dramatics . Although some of the actors are allowed to go over the top occasionally De Villa keeps control of the film and makes it work as a very engaging and lively holiday confection you and your family will most likely identify with.
November 04, 2008 12:48pm EST
The standard biopic plotline based on the life story of Carl Brashear follows the uneducated sharecropper's son (Gooding) as he braves 1950s-era racial discrimination for the right to risk his life in one of the most dangerous occupations in the armed services. At the Navy's elite salvage school in New Jersey master diver Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro) gives Brashear the "Officer and a Gentleman" treatment singling him out for special punishment at the request of the base's insane racist commander (Hal Holbrook). Will the hero overcome the obstacles in his path to becoming a master diver himself?
Gooding's glowing likability is the main factor keeping the film's saintly conception of Brashear from getting annoying fast. The one-dimensional character lacks a single flaw for an actor to grab onto but Gooding's enthusiasm is contagious (remember that Oscar speech?) and he gets surprising mileage out of it. De Niro's trademark intensity is put to only minimal use in a variation of the cantankerous drill sergeant part familiar from half the military flicks ever made.
George Tillman Jr. ("Soul Food") delivers some effective if obvious action-drama in the film's first half which chronicles Brashear's tireless efforts to earn his Navy flippers. Unfortunately Scott Marshall Smith's screenplay gets a bit water-logged dealing with the hero's subsequent career both above and below the waves. (One key development closely parallels John Wayne's role as a Navy flier in another true story 1957's "The Wings of Eagles.) All this sets up a particularly weak courtroom finale reminiscent of another slew of movies including "A Few Good Men" and "Rules of Engagement."
It's 1978 and in the suburbs of Chicago every day begins and ends at the roller-skating rinks. For X (Bow Wow) and his friends the news that their home-base rink is going out of business is devastating. They were men amongst boys on the rink and now they're forced to try to fit in at another more classy skating joint--the Sweetwater Roller Rink. There they must face Sweetness Sweetwater's resident celebrity and roller-skating champion and his pirouetting entourage. Everyone except X is intimidated by this daunting obstacle. See although everyone has it rough in their neighborhood X's mom just died and his disapproving dad (Chi McBride) is out of work so the rink is his only outlet. And he's pretty darn good at skating. Eventually X and his crew stand up to Sweetness challenging him and his cast of flamboyant flunkies to a skate off. It's the moment X has been waiting for and what he might lack in skating ability he more than makes up for in heart.
Hollywood seems to have found a remedy for the conundrum of casting the parts of precocious teens: either hire Dakota Fanning or find older actors who can look the part. But in the case of Roll Bounce charismatic star Bow Wow is actually not too far off his character's young age. Now all grown up the actor has the ability to grasp his character's urban attitude as well as his internal strife involving some genuine dramatic scenes which a href="/celebrity/Shad_Gregory_Moss/1123746" >Bow Wow pulls off with surprising conviction. Chi McBride--something of a hot film commodity these days but best known for his stint on TV's Boston Public--interacts convincingly with Bow Wow as X's widower-father struggling to be everything to everyone while butting heads with X on a number of issues primarily his obsession with skating. Then there's X's posse played with joie de vivre by a few up and coming actors. They include Khleo Thomas (Holes) as the sweet-natured Mixed Mike; Marcus T. Paulk as the shy Boo; Brandon T. Jackson as the brazen Junior; and Jurnee Smollett (Eve's Bayou) as the only girl in the bunch. The camaraderie is certainly evident.
For what it's worth director Malcolm D. Lee is Spike Lee's cousin who has no doubt lent a helping hand to his cousin's own flourishing career. Whereas Spike makes movies that are usually topical Malcolm tends to make parodies of the inequalities his cousin tries to solve which would include Malcolm's most well-known film Undercover Brother. Accordingly Roll Bounce is able to get away with some crude juvenile humor because it wouldn't dare take itself too seriously. Of course the coming-of-age story is sticky sweet and poignant but really the best part is the roller skating sequences to the groovin' '70s disco soundtrack. Roll Bounce is all about the fun which is achieved rather seamlessly.
The cast and filmmakers behind the upcoming Roll Bounce are doing their part to help with the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
They have announced that when the film is released this weekend, they will donate 10 percent of its proceeds to the Operation USA for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief.
In a partnership with DirecTV, Roll Bounce will also be screened for thousands of people at more than 80 shelters across the Gulf Coast region the night before its theatrical release.
In addition, DirecTV has launched a 24/7 "Hurricane Katrina Information" channel. The channel displays vital information regarding the Katrina relief and recovery efforts to evacuees in shelters (where DirecTV has installed services) and to customers nationwide.
Viewers can now have a personal message scroll across the bottom of the screen in hopes of contacting friends and family separated by the storm. All they need to do is send an e-mail to Katrina@directv.com.
As for Roll Bounce, director Malcom D. Lee (Undercover Brother) and producers Robert Teitel and George Tillman, Jr. (Barbershop) stated in a press release: "We are so proud that the love, laughter and creative force that was poured into making this heart-warming family film will be channeled toward the support of those families in need."
The film's star, Bow Wow, said: "Tragedy can strike any of us at any time. We are honored that Roll Bounce can help to support our communities at such a crucial time."
Roll Bounce is a late '70s-inspired coming-of-age comedy featuring an all-star cast led by Bow Wow, Chi McBride, Mike Epps, Wesley Jonathan, Kellita Smith, Meagan Good, Khleo Thomas and Nick Cannon.
You remember Gina (Queen Latifah) from Barbershop 2? She's the one who worked at a beauty shop next door to the barbershop and gave Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) all kinds of grief. In Beauty Shop the widowed Gina has moved from Chicago to Atlanta so her daughter can attend a prestigious music school. With scissors in hand Gina quickly becomes the most sought-after stylist at a chic-chic salon. Unfortunately the guy who runs it is a superficial egotistical jerk named Jorge (pronounced "Hor-eh") (Kevin Bacon) who tosses his weight--and his stringy hair--around a lot. Obviously the headstrong Gina isn't going to stand for that nonsense for very long. She eventually tells him off and storms out to open her own shop taking a few choice clients with her. And what a shop it is! The ever-creative and determined Gina stocks it with her own hair products or "hair crack" as it's lovingly referred to a cappuccino maker and a myriad of colorful employees who also aren't afraid to speak their minds. So grab a seat under the hairdryer and watch how these women get busy.
Beauty Shop also has a myriad of animated performers. Everyone seems to be having a great time except maybe the Queen Bee herself. In Barbershop 2 Latifah's Gina got to be one of those full-of-life supporting players sparring with Cedric the Entertainer and delivering some of the film's better moments. Now that the actress has to carry the film she also has to play it straight most of the time which doesn't suit her quite as well as it did for Ice Cube. But she still manages to infuse her own particular brand of charm every once in awhile when the film warrants it. The rest of the cast keep things light and lively especially the over-the-top Bacon who plays Jorge as a cross between one of those pretentious hair salon owners we all know and a bit player in a bad disco movie complete with a faux Austrian accent and gold chains. It's good to see him have some fun. It's also good to see Alfre Woodard who plays one of the shop's more eccentric hairdressers wearing low-cut leopard prints and spouting poetry by Maya Angelou. Also making an impression are Alicia Silverstone as the token white girl in the salon who eventually gets a ghetto makeover; and Keisha Knight Pulliam all grown up from playing little Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show as Gina's lackadaisical sister-in-law.
Initially it's fun to see the same Barbershop dynamics applied to Beauty Shop this time from a woman's point of view. Director Bille Woodruff (Honey) does a nice job setting up all the different personalities in the shop from the sardonic to the bubbly to the unconventional as the women talk about anything from bikini waxes to men crying during sex to interracial love. It's amusing and will hit home for many of the women in the audience but you'll soon realize Beauty Shop's script is far more tame and predictable than outrageous. Basically Beauty Shop doesn't have an Eddie character which is what makes the Barbershops work so well. He's there to say the most outlandish--and sometimes offensive--things that make people stop think and then laugh their butts off. Beauty Shop only touches upon social and cultural differences never really digging in deep and rarely making you laugh out loud.
September 13, 2002 6:39am EST
"Calvin I need a haircut. Like how you did to Ronnie last week: A little off the top long in the back but not quite a shag slope to the left like Gumby Eddie Munster in the front a lil' Wyclef on the right..." Just a typical day at the barbershop. A stressed-out father-to-be Calvin (Ice Cube) inherits his father's shop on the south side of Chicago where business is not exactly booming. In a moment of weakness Calvin sells the business to a sleazy neighborhood loan shark who wants to turn the place into a strip club. Calvin regrets the deal the moment he makes it realizing that his shop is more than a place for haircuts; it's a place where people meet hang out and talk politics or current events a family legacy important to both the community and the people who work there. Calvin tries to renege on the deal but it's too late. He must now find a way to save the barbershop or break the news to his staff. There is also a story line involving two buffoons who steal an ATM and spend the entire film trying to either hide it or break into it. Barbershop is not a groundbreaking comedy but it's sweet and relatable and definitely has some good knee-slapping moments.
With his powerful performance as Doughboy in the 1991 drama Boyz N the Hood Ice Cube proved he was a force to be reckoned with. More than a decade after his big screen debut Ice Cube shows a gentler softer side as Calvin in Barbershop. Calvin for example is the type of guy who at one point asks one of his employees to stop cussing. He does not revel in the spotlight here but instead is quite content taking the back seat and letting the ensemble cast do their thing. Cedric the Entertainer (Serving Sara) actually steals the show as Eddie one of Calvin's barbers who never actually cuts any hair: his specialty is the lost art of the straight-razor shave. Cedric gets into character--all the way down to Eddie's voice--and launches into one funny diatribe after another. Anthony Anderson also churns out a hilarious performance as JD the bungling ATM thief. If you thought he was funny in Me Myself and Irene Big Momma's House and Two Can Play That Game you will like him even more now. Also worth mentioning are Eve Sean Patrick Thomas Troy Garity Michael Ealy Leonard Earl Howze and Keith David all of whom turn out really great performances.
In his big-screen directorial debut Tim Story does a great job recreating an authentic old-school inner-city barbershop. The fact that producers Robert Teitel and George Tillman Jr. insisted on shooting the film in Chicago in the thick of winter only adds to the film's authenticity. The dingy walls are decorated with African-American art and photos of historical figures and locals who frequent the shop. The staff bickers about things that takes place in any work environment including who ate whose lunch out of the fridge. The characters are all well developed and the cast makes the film work in part because we all have someone similar to them in our lives. There is the cocky guy who thinks he's better than everyone the white guy who think he's black and the friend who just can't bring herself to dump her cheating boyfriend. But despite all their infighting the clients and staff have created a sort of dysfunctional family that works and the barbershop is the backdrop for this familial microcosm. Keep an eye out for some of the shop's customers who include the Chicago Bull's Jalen Rose former Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle and probably a lot more I can't name.