Cameron Crowe was a big name in the 1990's. With hit films like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, he created a name for himself that became synonymous with quality. Then along came Elizabethtown, a rather uninspired drama that has kept him out of the game for five years. Today, Variety reports that he'll finally make his return to the big screen with 20th Century Fox's long-delayed dramedy called We Bought A Zoo.
The true story centers on a widowed father who buys a dilapidated zoo in hopes of making a fresh start. Facing enormous odds, he and his children, along with a small but loyal staff, work to get the zoo re-opened. The trade states that the multi-hyphenate Crowe just had his deal finalized by the studio, which will pay him to re-write Aline Brosh McKenna's adaptation of Benjamin Mee's memoir. As soon as he finishes his draft, Fox will go out to talent and is looking to land a top-tier male lead.
All I have to say is: it's about time! I've been waiting for Mr. Crowe to get back to what he does best since Vanilla Sky left me speechless. As Rod Tidwell once said: "Show me the moneeeeey"!
Fame will "live on forever" with a remake of the 1980 musical scheduled to hit theaters Sept. 25, 2009.
The $25 million project, written by Allison Burnett and Aline Brosh McKenna, has added a roster of stars to fill out the administrative and teaching roles in the Kevin Tancharoen-directed remake. Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Charles S. Dutton, Bebe Neuwirth and Debbie Allen have joined the cast of the film which is set to start production on Wednesday.
Each of the newly recruited actors boast noteworthy performing arts backgrounds: Mullally graduated from the School of American Ballet; Grammer attended Juilliard; Dutton went to the Yale School of Drama and Neuwirth has won two Tonys. Allen, who played dance teacher Lydia Grant in the original film, will appear in the updated version as Principal Simms.
The casting also marks a reunion for Grammer and Neuwirth who starred together as husband and wife in Cheers and later in Frasier.
The student cast includes newcomers Kristy Flores, Paul Iacono, Naturi Naughton and Kay Panabaker.
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Then there are the 27 really bad bridesmaid dresses Heigl’s character Jane keeps in her closet. Quite spectacular really--ranging from a Goth rocker dress dog collar and all to a rodeo Western dress complete with cowboy hat. You see the completely selfless Jane is pretty much the world’s best bridesmaid. She’s happy to put on the most heinous outfit because she knows this is her girlfriend’s day and anything she wants goes. Thing is Jane forgets about taking care of herself forever putting aside her own hopes and dreams. Then she meets Kevin (James Marsden) a newspaper reporter on the bridal beat who witnesses Jane’s bridesmaid expertise one evening and decides a story about this wedding junkie is his ticket to journalism fame. Jane initially brushes him off--until her younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) comes to town and steals the heart of her boss (Edward Burns) a man Jane has been pining for for years. With Kevin’s influence Jane finally realizes it’s time to stop eating someone else’s wedding cake and take a stand. Heigl is on a roll these days. She got Knocked Up in one of last year’s funniest comedies and then won the Emmy for her role on Grey’s Anatomy. It makes sense she’d follow things up with 27 Dresses since she’s now considered the new go-to girl for romantic comedies. Of course Heigl as the “plain Jane” sister next to Akerman’s glitzy blondie is a tad unrealistic but Heigl totally sells it. The actress should be cautious about doing too many rom-coms however because she could pigeonhole herself and never be able to shake it (Meg Ryan anyone?). Marsden and Burns are adequate as the love interests with Marsden coming out of it smelling the sweetest. Akerman (The Heartbreak Kid) does what she can with the thankless role of bridezilla. But the real gem is Judy Greer as Jane’s coworker and resident wisecracker. The supporting actress has done the “best friend” character in countless romantic comedies--and in wedding ones to boot such as The Wedding Planner--but we never tire of her snarky enthusiasm. Director Anne Fletcher’s film career has been mostly as a choreographer specializing in comedies such as Along Came Polly The Wedding Planner and The 40-Year-Old Virgin (did they dance in that?). She got her directing break when they handed her the reigns to modest dance hit Step Up but it’s obvious being involved in all those romantic comedies rubbed off on Fletcher as she handles 27 Dresses with ease. Directing fluff movies of this kind has got be fairly easy technically speaking but Fletcher isn’t quite experienced enough to bring out the best in her actors which is what makes or breaks a good romantic comedy. That and the script of course--which unfortunately for 27 Dresses is a rather pedestrian effort from The Devil Wears Prada screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna. The film’s highlight is definitely when Jane models all 27 bridesmaid dresses but other than that it’s all pretty formulaic.
Julianne Moore plays Audrey Woods an undefeated divorce attorney whose neurotic need for junk food and impossibly hip mom (Frances Fisher) might be the reasons for why she's been single all her 35 years (in Hollywood logic anyway). While marching into a particularly messy divorce case she meets Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan) a slovenly but damn sexy divorce attorney who also has never lost a case in spite of his seemingly precarious methods. He's immediately smitten but she's uptight or in denial or a combination of the two even after they get drunk a half an hour into the film and fall into bed. Oops. They find themselves at battle when Audrey courts a kooky but famous dress designer getting a divorce (Parker Posey) who opts to hire Daniel as her laywer leading an infuriated Audrey to take on the philandering rock star husband as her client. While Audrey and Daniel compete they scope out the estranged couple's biggest asset--a glorious castle in Ireland. In Lucky Charm land where everything is apparently a party the attorneys loosen up at a local festival dancing jigs and getting drunk again. This time they not only sleep with each other but get married! Disaster! What to do?
Moore has so far been the queen of torment specializing in women who've suffered from maladies ranging from cocaine addiction (Boogie Nights) severe environmental allergies (Safe) and repressed lesbianism (The Hours). Maybe she wanted to take a vacation from the dark side by tackling a character who's biggest problem is her Cheetos consumption but more likely she thought playing (gasp!) funny would further prove her acting mettle. But getting laughs is a lot tougher than it looks if you're good and really really tough looking if you're not. Awkwardly stumbling through this fifth-rate screwball comedy Moore is positively tragic thudding out one-liners with the grace of a wounded deer. The breezy Brosnan fares better only because his ingratiating lilt and calm demeanor makes him at least charming though when in one "funny" scene he picks a fleck of food off her face puts in his mouth and utters the name of a Hostess product ("Snowball...")--even he can't make that sexy.
Director Peter Howitt attempts to capture the sparkle and magic of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy specifically their legal screwball Adam's Rib but considering this is the same director who un-funnied Rowan Atkinson in the abysmal Johnny English why anyone would trust him with such a feat is baffling. Maybe it was his other hilarious film Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow that convinced 'em. Right. Working with the ham-fisted screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna and Robert Harling (if we are to assume this is the actual first draft) Howitt directs with little distinction other than managing to make the typically side-splitting Parker Posey barely half hearted. Though there are a few moments that garner a mini giggle Laws of Attraction is lazy and at 90 minutes lumbering. Howitt's idea of humor is placing a Hostess pastry in front of the luminous Moore and making James Bond work in a sloppy office (Get it? Yeah…). In the famous words of a five-year-old it's so funny we forgot to laugh.