It’s finally happening. A start date is set for the long-awaited Three Stooges movie. Apparently, MGM’s recent bankruptcy was 20th Century Fox’s good luck charm, allowing the studio to scoop up the project from recently restructured MGM and slap a date on it.
The Farrelly Brothers are leading the project and since they worked their way into the comedy world with the silly, slapstick ridden classic, Dumb and Dumber, it makes sense that they would be the driving forces behind a film about the kings of slapstick.
With all that time spent waiting, they’ve had a good period to get all their ducks a row. The stepson of one of the Stooges and proprietor of the Stooges estate has signed on as executive producer and Bobby and Peter Farrelly had the help of Mike Cerrone to seal the deal on the script. Everything is set – well, everything except a cast.
No matter how great the framework to pay homage to the classic comedy troupe is, any knucklehead can see that the casting is the key. And of course since that’s the really difficult part, they’ve saved it for last. The film at one point had Jim Carrey (makes sense) and Sean Penn (wait, what?) tied to it, but those notions have been crushed since the project stalled. Also rumored to be involved was Benicio Del Toro as Moe, which could actually be kind of poifect if he ends up signing on for good. He’s got a big enough range to pull off a pretty good “Why I oughta…” but the search is still ongoing.
It may come down to the wire to find the right guys to take on Larry, Moe, and Curly, but I’m sure lifelong comedy fans like Peter and Bobby Farrelly aren’t going to take the chance on mucking up the nyuks, nyuk, nyuks.
Starting near the end of his short 24-year life and then told in flashback this film version of Christopher “Notorious B.I.G” Wallace’s (Jamal Woolard) rapid rise from the streets of Brooklyn to fame is told in standard-issue Hollywood biopic style. We see this Catholic honors student (played by his real life son Christopher Jordan Wallace) become a teenage drug dealer and accidental father before a chance recording finds its way to Sean “Puffy” Combs (Derek Luke) who engineers an almost immediate rise to fame fortune -- and trouble. “Biggie” now must juggle his newfound recording career a marriage to fellow artist Faith Evans (Antonique Smith) his romantic encounters with female rap comer L’il Kim (Naturi Naughton) and a major East Coast/West Coast rivalry with Tupac Shakur (Anthony Mackie) that leads to tragedy for both. As Wallace Brooklyn rapper Woolard is almost indistinguishable from the real man himself. He’s completely convincing performing B.I.G’s biggie hits and proves himself to be a first-rate dramatic actor as well -- at least in a story like this that he can clearly relate to. As his mother Angela Bassett makes the most of limited screen time (despite top billing) and expertly conveys the angst of a parent fighting a losing battle for her son. Luke again shows why he is so promising playing Puffy with just the right amount of flash and supreme confidence. Unfortunately the “balanced” portrait of Combs and many others in B.I.G’s life is tainted by the fact this film was produced by some of the real life players including his managers mother and executive producer Combs. George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food) directs this by-the-numbers account of Biggie’s life in a style we have seen countless times before. Except for a couple of occasions he doesn’t even let the rap sequences play out to give us an idea of how this guy whose songs reflected his rough Brooklyn lifestyle could climb to the top so fast. Whatever was special is lost in what appears to be a brazen attempt to sell soundtrack albums.
In 1977 Harvey Milk (Penn) was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. While this would not normally be an earth-shattering phenomenon in this case Milk became the first out-of-the-closet gay person to win a major public office in the United States -- and was assassinated in 1978 along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. Based in part on the Academy Award-winning documentary The Life and Times of Harvey Milk the film focuses on the last decade of his life as he moves from New York at age 40 to San Francisco with lover Scott Smith (James Franco). Using his experience as an entrepreneur as a catalyst he suddenly becomes more politically involved making a couple of runs for office and finally getting elected. With a new lover (Diego Luna) and agenda Milk takes on some major issues -- including lobbying against California’s controversial Prop 6 an initiative to fire gay schoolteachers. But his activities anger another supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin) and soon their destinies will collide. It’s not an overstatement to say that Sean Penn’s performance here is a revelation. As Harvey Milk he not only perfectly embodies the late politician but exudes a certain kind of warmness and humor we rarely see from the star. His immersion into the persona of Milk is truly remarkable and winning. A large supporting cast includes: standout performances from Franco as Milk’s true love and friend Scott who eventually can’t compete with Harvey’s increasing ambition; Diego Luna hilarious and annoying as Milk’s lover later; and Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones a young activist and Milk protégé. Brolin as the unlikeable White perfectly captures the frustration and simmering jealousy the man he feels steals his job. It’s a risky role and there is little room for audience empathy but Brolin makes this loser understandable if not acceptable. As the lone woman among the principal players Alison Pill is bright and appealing as Milk’s campaign manager Anne Kronenberg. Gus Van Sant’s odd directorial career encompasses a series of ups and downs with the highlights being Drugstore Cowboy and his Oscar-nominated work on Good Will Hunting. The absolute nadir of Van Sant’s resume is undoubtedly his ill-advised shot-by-shot remake of Hitchcock’s untouchable Psycho. It’s nice to report he’s back in form now with the warm funny and moving Milk a film that doesn’t quite escape the clichés of the biopic genre but still finds its own beats thanks in large part to the piercing performances. Getting such mature and joyful work from Penn a brilliant but distant actor is impressive indeed. He also imbues the movie with a documentary feel appropriate since much of the source material comes from the Oscar-winning docu. Milk paints us a triumphant and inspiring life one that won’t soon be forgotten especially with its parallels to current California circumstances. The state’s recent anti-gay marriage initiative Prop 8 could not have come at a more significant time in making Harvey Milk’s crusade seem more relevant than ever.
When ordered to fire a long-time janitor named Stavi (Luis Avalos) Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) softens the blow by hiring him to mow the lawn at his apartment complex. Steve didn't provide him with health insurance so Stavi naturally loses a few fingers in a mowing accident and now it'll cost thousands to save the digits. What's a guy to do? Why of course fix the Special Olympics—a suggestion of Steve's degenerate uncle Gary (Brian Cox) who's also in the financial dumps. Former track star Steve reluctantly goes along with the scam and competes in the Special Olympics. His competitors are quick to pick up on his ruse but they decide to help him after Steve explains his motive. He must also try not to disappoint Lynn (Katherine Heigl) the beautiful volunteer who doesn't know of his real identity. What's a guy to do? Take the high road of course. Certainly Knoxville—of Jackass infamy and debauchery—would have no moral trepidation about headlining offensive exploitative crap like The Ringer but stardom beckons him if he only he stops aiming so damn low! His performance here was probably not as easy as it'd seem but it's reasonable to think that Jackass stunts involving a bottle of absinthe and some paper cuts to the cornea quickly eliminated any butterflies. What Knoxville has in spades is that rare charisma to prevent him from ever looking uncool. Then there's Cox the latest revered journeyman to sell his soul on the cheap for a role completely beneath him. Mostly disabled actors round out the cast uttering any and all funny lines but there's something fundamentally wrong when the audience erupts in laughter before the lines are even delivered. Though the Farrelly brothers—directors of There's Something About Mary and Dumb & Dumber--only acted as executive producers of The Ringer their lowbrow stamp is smeared all over. Directing chores were handed over to Barry Blaustein prolific writer of comedies like Coming to America making his feature directorial debut. The Ringer delivers on its promise of frat-dude humor and Blaustein certainly knows how to make his leading man shine—but it does so in cheap sophomoric ways.
September 30, 2003 10:50am EST
Top Story: Farrelly Brothers Take on Stooges
Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the filmmaking duo behind the comedies Dumb & Dumber, There's Something About Mary and Osmosis Jones, have been tapped to helm The Three Stooges for Warner Bros. According to Variety, the adventure pic will revolve around the Stooges characters originated by Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Jerome "Curly" Howard. The Farrelly siblings spent last winter and spring writing an updated script with Me, Myself and Irene scribe Mike Cerrone. The Three Stooges will provide Warners with a high-profile comedy-something that the studio hasn't had in several years. The comedy is expected to start shooting early next year for a summer 2005 release.
TBS To Air Sex Reruns Next Summer
HBO has sold reruns of its hit series Sex and the City to TBS for a licensing fee of $450,000 for each of the 94 half-hours. TBS will get the show in June 2004--15 months before it is kicked off in syndication on the Tribune-owned TV stations. TBS plans to air episodes four times a week in primetime, probably one hour a night over two nights in mid-week, Variety reports. But since the show will run in primetime rather than in the early evening, the network will be able to run episodes that are less edited than for TV syndication
Woman Pleads Guilty To Stalking Jennifer Love Hewitt
A 47-year-old woman from the San Diego, Calif., suburb of La Mesa, pleaded guilty Monday to stalking Party of Five actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, Reuters reports. Diana Napolis, who was diagnosed as delusional but was found competent to stand trial, pleaded guilty to felony stalking in exchange for the dismissal of five other charges. Napolis first threatened Hewitt, 24, outside a San Diego radio station, then continued trying to contact the actress in Los Angeles and via e-mail between July 29 and Nov. 3 of last year. She faces up to three years in prison when she is sentenced next month.
Jennifer Aniston's Dress Fetches $4,100 on eBay
The midnight blue, knee-length dress that Jennifer Aniston wore to the 55th annual Primetime Emmy Awards last Sunday attracted bids of more than $4,100 in a charity auction Monday, Reuters reports. Aniston's dress was the top-priced item in eBay's online auction, which closes Wednesday. Proceeds from the "Clothes Off Our Back" benefit, co-created by Malcolm in the Middle star Jane Kaczmarek, will go to Cure Autism Now and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Last year, the "Clothes Off Our Back" project auctioned off Emmy outfits from about 20 celebrities and raised more than $87,000.
Hope Inducted Into Officer Hall of Fame
Bob Hope, who died July 28 of pneumonia at his Toluca Lake, Calif., home at the age of 100, was inducted posthumously into the Reserve Officers Association Minuteman Hall of Fame for his 50 years of entertaining military troops overseas, the AP reports. His son Kelly accepted the award at Saturday's ceremony, saying his father took his show on the road to thank the troops for their efforts in defending freedom. Hope's traditional Christmas tours began in 1948, when he went to Berlin to entertain soldiers, and lasted through 1990, when he visited the troops during Operation Desert Shield. Other famous honorees include President George W. Bush and former presidents John F. Kennedy and Harry S. Truman.
"Dr. Feelgood" Pleads No Contest
A doctor who allegedly overprescribed narcotics to celebrity clients such as Winona Ryder pleaded no contest Monday to charges of grand theft and practicing medicine without a license, The Associated Press reports. Dr. Jules Lusman, who had his license revoked last year by California's medical board, entered the plea to two charges in exchange for the dismissal of six others by prosecutors. The charges stem from a complaint by a woman who said she went to Lusman in March for a cosmetic procedure similar to a Botox injection. She claims Lusman refused to help her or return her $600 fee after large bumps developed around her eyes. Ryder, who according to her probation report had who had 37 prescriptions filled by 20 doctors from 1996 to 1998, was one of the celebs medical investigators found to be connected to Lusman.
Cirque du Soleil Strips Down ... to G-Strings
Cirque du Soleil has launched a new erotic act in Las Vegas titled "Zumanity," in which troupes strip down to G-strings, caress each other as they swim in a fish bowl and indulge in lingering kisses while a drag queen cabaret singer croons, "Sex is beautiful." Billed as "another side of Cirque du Soleil, the act must compete with two other Cirque du Soleil shows and a third one in the works, but audiences are pouring in nonetheless. According to Reuters, the two nightly performances over the last month have helped raise casino revenue by 30 to 40 percent.
Role Call: Sandler's Happy Madison Gets Fat
Columbia Pictures is shelling out a $675,000 guarantee against potential seven figures for Fat Man, a spec script by Simpsons scribe Mike Reiss about an 800-pound man who drops 600 pounds with the help of a nurse he finds more appealing than a Happy Meal, Variety reports. Adam Sandler's Happy Madison banner will produce but reps for the comedian say the odds are slim that the he will do anything more than produce.