Life’s never exactly been a walk in the park for Rooster (Antwan Patton) and Percival (Andre Benjamin) even when they were childhood best friends but things are about to get real messy. Now grown up and living in the 1930s South--Idlewild Georgia to be exact--they remain close and even work together. Rooster the more flamboyant of the two is the emcee and Percy the piano player at a place called Church which is “anything but.” Church is a speakeasy beloved by locals but after a gangster (Terrence Howard) forcibly removes the club’s former owner (Faizon Love) the new regime is considerably tighter especially for Rooster who has to answer to the new guy in charge. Rooster is all about business and is concerned about keeping Church in operation. Percy meanwhile is torn between love for a woman (Paula Patton) and allegiance for his widower dad (Ben Vereen). But nothing will get resolved before the gunpowder settles. As Outkast Benjamin (a.k.a. Andre 3000) and Patton (a.k.a. Big Boi) have set pop music on fire while maintaining hip-hop cred. In Idlewild they try to continue that along with taking over a new medium; the results are mixed. Patton the one with seemingly no aspirations of movie stardom actually gives the stronger performance of the two. This is just his second film yet he coolly slides right into this role one that should’ve entailed more dialogue and less rapping. For Benjamin he has certainly displayed acting chops before but his wounded puppy dog Percy does not suit the actor at all. A role with more external drama would seem optimal for him. Benjamin does seem deeply committed to acting though so there’s reason to have faith. But it’s Howard yet again who absolutely pilfers the show making everyone look like mere rappers trying to cross over. His Hustle and Flow hype now calmed Howard proves that he is anything but a one-hit wonder. Bryan Barber is Outkast’s go-to music-video director who’s making his feature debut with Idlewild; both of those facts speak volumes about his writing/directing effort here. As such the film is loaded with bright spots usually consisting of the dance sequences and the overall style and major cinematic blemishes as can be expected for a first-timer. In other words the core elements--i.e. the script and direction--are a mess but the peripheral elements--i.e. the look and sound--are dazzling. Part of the problem is the timing of the release: This film is supposed to do too many things from launching Benjamin into movie stardom to coinciding with the actual Outkast album/soundtrack release and that ambition is a microcosm of the flaws. But most of all there is simply too much going on here. Anachronisms run rampant where they shouldn’t and the same can be said for some of the songs--the vulgar rap played against the film’s Southern themes doesn’t always quite work as the intended contrast is sometimes overbearing.
She's a hip-hoppin' be-boppin' mean ol' nanny who whips a mean stew and your butt for not doing your homework—and now she's back! Alas we don't speak of the Mrs. Doubtfire sequel but rather that of Big Momma a.k.a. FBI Agent Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence). Agent Warner has cut ties with the FBI at the behest of Sherry (Nia Long)—who as you no doubt recall is the granddaughter of the real Big Momma—since she's pregnant with Malcolm's baby. But wouldn't you know that he gets sucked back in after a former colleague is killed. Posing as Big Momma he's hired as a nanny to a suburban family the deadbeat dad of which is involved in the murder and a crime plot. She does it all—cooks cleans dances and even runs down bad guys but it's a race against time to stop the potential national security crisis. That is a race against the film's (mercifully) short running time. Although Lawrence's resume includes some of the dregs of comedy it's hard to argue that he is truly blessed when it comes to physical comedy and comedic timing. He continues both trends here this time without the help of the breakthrough actors of the past two years Paul Giamatti and Terrence Howard who yes both starred in the first Big Momma's House. That means Lawrence's urban mania is truly on its own and absurd and juvenile as the film may be even film snobs can't hold back a few laughs at his Big Momma outlandishness. Longreturns for no more than a select few scenes and to provide a minor conflict in the story. The notable newcomer is CSI's Emily Procter as the sterile mother who hires Big Momma. She does a serviceable job as a suburban Petite Momma. Might she be the next Giamatti or Howard to bolt to bigger and better things in time for the next sequel? No.
Big Momma's House 2 is right up director John Whitesell's alley. He's the guy behind such misses—though not necessarily financially—as Malibu's Most Wanted and See Spot Run and he's right at home here. Whitesell doesn't hold back in (literally and figuratively) pulling the robe off Big Momma but he clearly knows that nothing is to interrupt Lawrence's antics not even the thin story line. Aside from that he knows quite well how to execute thinly veiled rip-offs of the aforementioned Mrs. Doubtfire as well as countless other hidden-motive comedies (i.e. Kindergarten Cop Houseguest et al). Because while the main guise is the Big Momma fat suit Whitesell parades the film about as a feel-good/family flick.
August 13, 2003 11:22am EST
Top Story: Montreal Film Fest Short on Hollywood Pics
The 27th annual Montreal World Film Festival, which runs from Aug. 27 to Sept. 7, unveiled a slate rich in art-house and fringe movies but short on Hollywood studio films. This year's festival will pay tribute to Martin Scorsese, but besides the American filmmaker, officials declined to name the list of actors and directors expected at the festival. According to Reuters, festival president Serge Losique told a crowded news conference Tuesday, "Judge by the quality of the films. The names mean nothing." This year's festival features the newly created Cinema of the Americas, which will showcase 10 features including Salma Hayek's feature directorial debut The Maldonado Miracle; Michael Pressman's Frankie and Johnny Are Married; Mark Rucker's Die Mommie Die; and Jim Hershleder's shot-on-video Ash Tuesday. The festival will kick off with the French-Canadian movie Gas Bar Blues, directed by Louis Belanger, and close with Les Marins Perdus, one of the last films by the late French actress Marie Trintignant, who was allegedly killed her boyfriend, French rock star Bertrand Cantat, earlier this month. The festival, which overlaps with almost all of the Venice fest and the first weekend of the Toronto fest following a divisive date change, will present 439 movies from 68 countries, with 115 as world premieres.
Would You Eat There?
Rocco DiSpirito's new Italian eatery, which is the subject of NBC's reality series The Restaurant, has been cited by the health department for "evidence of live flies" and greasy spoons during an unplanned health department inspection July 29, the AP reports. The show follows restaurateur DiSpirito and his staff through the trials and tribulations of opening a Manhattan restaurant. The restaurant was also cited for having three "moist wiping" cloths "soiled with old food particles and not stored in sanitizing solution." The citation also said an employee toilet facility wasn't equipped with the required "self-closing door." A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 22.
Boston Radio Station Plans "I Survived Gigli" Bash
Boston radio station WBCN will be giving away "I survived Gigli" T-shirts to moviegoers left in their seats when the lights come up after the final screening of the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez film at a Boston theater this Thursday, Reuters reports. "We're doing this because the movie's been such a bomb," WBCN's creative services director Chachi Loprete told Reuters Tuesday. The station will be giving away free tickets to 130 "lucky" listeners before Gigli vanishes from U.S. movie theaters following miserable ticket sales. The film cost $55 million to make and brought in less than $6 million during its first 10 days at the box office.
Robert Conrad Denies Drunk Driving
Actor Robert Conrad, best known for his roles in the TV series Baa Baa, Black Sheep and The Wild Wild West, pleaded innocent Tuesday to two felony counts of driving under the influence of alcohol, The Associated Press reports. His blood-alcohol level was 0.22 percent when he crashed head-on into another vehicle, injuring the driver, on March 31 near the Sierra foothills town of Arnold, about 100 miles southeast of Sacramento, Calif. A judge ordered the actor not to drink alcohol and said he was not to drive his vehicle more than 6 miles from his Bear Valley home. A preliminary hearing has been set for Nov. 18.
NBC Reruns Gregory Hines' Law & Order Episode
NBC will rerun an episode of its hit series Law & Order Wednesday night in which late actor Gregory Hines guest starred as a Johnny Cochran-like lawyer. Hines died on Saturday from cancer. "We are all saddened by the loss of Gregory Hines, one of the most versatile performers of his generation," the show's executive producer Dick Wolf said. "This episode showcases his often unheralded talent as a dramatic actor. He overwhelms the courtroom with his energy and sharp wit and is a very potent force opposite (show star) Sam Waterston." The episode, one of Hines' last TV performances, first aired March 26.
More Christina Aguilera /Justin Timberlake Shows Postponed
Promoters of the Christina Aguilera /Justin Timberlake tour postponed three more concerts, scheduled for Monday in Albany, N.Y., Wednesday in East Rutherford, and Thursday in Hartford, Conn., after three stagehands were injured Saturday when a lighting grid above the stage at Boardwalk Hall collapsed. "All I can say is that it's under investigation. It's much too early to know what happened," said James Evans, president of Mountain Productions, which assembled and installed the grid. "There's a laundry list of things that could have gone wrong. I can't even guess." The postponements have been confirmed but no plans to reschedule the shows have been announced.
Snoop Dogg Sued For Girls Gone Wild Video
Two Louisiana women are suing Snoop Dogg, claiming the rapper offered them drugs during Mardi Gras 2002 to flash their breasts for pictures that later appeared on a cover of the video series Girls Gone Wild. One of the women was 17 years old at the time of the alleged incident. The suit also names Joseph R. Francis, the owner of Mantra Films Inc., which produces the series of mail-order videos. According to the AP, Francis was arrested April 2 during Spring Break in Panama City, Fla., and faces 22 charges including racketeering, procuring minors for sexual acts, filming minors engaged in sexual performances and conspiracy. Attorneys for Francis and Snoop Dogg, who was host of the video, have both denied the allegations in court filings, saying that any pictures taken were done with voluntary consent.
Role Call: Murphy in Talks for Daddy Day Camp
Eddie Murphy is in talks to reprise his role in a sequel to Daddy Day Care. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Revolution Studios has hired Toy Story scribes Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow to pen the script, titled Daddy Day Camp. The film would see Murphy's character, Charlie Hinton, in charge of a summer day camp. No deal is yet in place for the actor.