As is the case with most "all star" seasons of reality television, the latest installment of Project Runway All Stars has a few qualified candidates and a bunch of folks who were simply more than available. And, like the various "all star" treatments out there, Project Runway's second outing falls trap to the notion that trying to mix and match old seasons doesn't necessarily make for an attractive new one.
That's not to say there weren't legitimate Project Runway all stars to be excited to see again during the Season 2 premiere last night. What happened to Andrae? Funny you ask, because he was there! Along with fellow runner-up talents like Uli, Anthony Ryan, and Laura Kathleen. (My money is on Uli taking this whole thing. Much like how Mondo nabbed the Season 1 All Star victory to make up for the loss during his season, Uli will likely do the same here.) There's the contestants there for sheer entertainment value like Casanova (who already provided some Soup-worthy quips), Gay Ryan Reynolds AKA Josh, and the villain everybody love to hate to hate to hate, Wendy Pepper. Then there's Suede and Kayne and Peach. (Names have not been changed.)
The problem with both incarnations of Lifetime's Project Runway, both the regular season and now the new All Stars, is that even though you can dress it up the same as the original Bravo show, the fabric of the series has fallen apart at the seams since the network swap. (Come on, who doesn't like a series of fashion puns?! Oh, right, everyone.) Project Runway started to lose its edge when the talent pool not only dwindled substantially as the seasons went on and the challenges were anything but challenging. Case in point: last night's challenge.
After host Carolyn Murphy (who is lovely enough, but is no Heidi Klum as far as hosts go) told the contestants they'd be paired off into dreaded teams, the designers assembled to take on their first "challenge": creating a line with the theme of "attitude". Isn't all high fashion about attitude? How would this be considered a challenge to a fashion designer? Making clothes out of plants and scrap metal and random items at a grocery store, that is a challenge.
Nevertheless, they were split into two teams with Team 1 consisting of Kayne, Uli, Casanova, Ivy, Althea, and picked-last-for-kickball Wendy, and Team 2 had Josh, Peach, Laura, Emilio, Andrae, and Suede. The teams were given the chance to pick a word for the attitude challenge and Team 1 went with "confident" and Team 2 picked "bold". You know since bold and daring are things designers rarely strive for, this was going to be a real stretch.
Given $250 per person and the looming threat that the person with the worst design on the losing team, they all got to work. As well they should have considering how much is at stake this season. Project Runway may be painfully boring, but they sure do keep it interesting for the stars. This year the winner gets to be the Contributing Editor of Marie Claire for a year without all the fun of having to go to J-School, an all-expense paid trip around the world to the various Fashion Weeks, studio space, and $150,000.
If you're a long-running — and at this point, suffering — you know the drill from here on. The designers visit Mood, they eyeball and tear apart each others' progress in the work room, someone makes a blanket statement ("I'm not here to be safe, I'm here to win", "You're only as good as your weakest link"), their models come in, they get ready for the runway show, they put on the runway show, the judges judge, a winner is declared, and a loser is sent packing. Of course, there are a few key differences with regular Project Runway and All Stars in that, like the host, there's an entirely different set of judges (Michael Kors and your totally bats**t analogies for outfits, where art thou?) and instead of the heartwarming Tim Gunn, there's Tilda Swinton doppleganger Joanna Coles.
The judges — composed of Murphy, Coles, Georgina Chapman, and Isaac Mizrahi (who made my favorite declaration ever last night when he pondered "I wonder about shorts anymore!"), along with guest judge, the aforementioned Mondo — watched on as Team Bold showed a series of not terribly bold black-and-blue outfits and Team Confident had a slightly more confident black-and-lace collection. And, despite having Kayne and his super hero gone awry outfit, Team Confident emerged the winner. Team member Anthony Ryan became Season 2's first champ thanks to a chic number with a sexy surprise lace detail in the back (hey, the guy's still got it), while athletic wear enthusiast Peach was understandably the first to get the boot because of her unflattering, long-sleeved disaster of a dress.
All in all, it was a pretty dull episode of Project Runway All Stars. Does the season have potential? Perhaps. Based on the trailer, it seems like Ivy is hell-bent on giving Wendy a run for her money as insufferable TV villain and Katie Holmes makes an appearance as a guest judge. But since these episodes can feel a little tedious and the show itself can hardly muster up the same inspiration that it used to, here's some fun games you can play at home should you choose to watch the rest of this season, such as:
Who Said It: Casanova or Gloria from Modern Family?
Is That Suede Or A Juggalo?
Kayne or Kanye?
That last one doesn't really make sense, but you know, make it work.
What did you think of the Season 2 premiere of Project Runway All Stars? Were you underwhelmed by the lineup and the challenge or just thrilled that you didn't have to go a full two weeks without an episode of Project Runway? Who do you think looks poised to take this season? Share in the comments section below.
[Photo credit: Lifetime]
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Go ahead and throw logic out the window on this one folks. A mysterious Tibetan monk with no name (Chow Yun-Fat) has spent a lifetime protecting an ancient document known as the Scroll of the Ultimate--a parchment that will yield unlimited power to anyone who reads it. After running around the globe for 60 years the Monk knows it's time to hang up his robes and find a new guardian but spotting a successor isn't easy in the hustle bustle of the 21st century where Tibetan traditions and rituals are almost non-existent. Maybe the next protector should be the crafty rebellious pickpocket Kar (Seann William Scott) who learned martial arts from watching kung-fu movies; after all Kar helps the Monk escape from the scroll's most avid pursuer Strucker (Karel Roden) a sadistic old Nazi who wants to use the its power to rid the planet of inferior races. Or maybe the Monk's successor is the elusive but beautiful bad girl Jade (James King) whose skills are numerous and who seems to pop up to help Kar whenever he gets in a jam. Whomever the Monk eventually chooses they must first unite to battle the ultimate enemy--and keep the scroll safe.
If it weren't for Yun-Fat Bulletproof Monk would be pretty hopeless. The charismatic actor finds a nice balance no matter what he does and in this case he resists the obvious temptation to play the Monk as a fish out of water in the big city. Since he's long been one of Chinese cinema's most well-known action heroes he's definitely in his element in Monk standing on top of a car with guns blazing and the Zen master persona he discovered in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon serves him well here too. The script requires him to spout off fortune-cookie mumbo jumbo but he manages to do it without sounding ridiculous. The petite King actually holds her own as the brawny-yet-brainy tough chick but the wisecracking Scott is completely out of his element for the first time in his career. He handles the little comedic tidbits well but in no way is it possible to believe that the "Dude" who couldn't find his car and the jackass who drank someone else's bodily fluids in American Pie can be a martial arts hero who saves the planet. It just isn't going to happen.
Bulletproof Monk relies on the ghosts of movies past including Crouching Tiger and the 1986 Eddie Murphy stinker The Golden Child for its plot which results in a film that's chock full of cliches especially the evil Nazi who has spent 60 years chasing after the scroll using his tow-headed granddaughter whose cover is an organization for human rights to do the dirty work. A few bright moments with Yun-Fat coupled with director Paul Hunter's good use of fast-paced martial arts action make the rest of this unimaginative movie somewhat palatable--even novices Williams and King look good doing the moves--but all in all Bulletproof Monk is shooting blanks.
As the opening song belts out fast cars champagne and caviar are what professional basketball player Jamal Jeffries (played by Miguel A. Nunez Jr.) is all about. In fact Jeffries is so taken by his own success that he doesn't sign autographs but uses a stamp. His Dennis Rodman-style antics however reach a breaking point when he strips during a game in front of millions of fans and flings his jock strap into the seats. The stunt gets him thrown out of the league and before he can say "slam-dunk " Jeffries loses his house his cars and his girlfriend. Desperate to work again at the one thing he does best Jeffries comes up with the mother of all schemes: He shaves his legs dabs on mascara and tries out for the women's league--and it works. But as he builds friendships and gains the trust of the women on his team he feels torn between his obligation to his team the Banshees and his need to return to a normal life. If you've seen the 1982 comedy Tootsie you know exactly how this film plays out. Surprisingly Juwanna Mann is not crammed with bad slapstick humor but is an entertaining twist on an old classic with a delightfully sweet storyline.
Nunez (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps) not only pulls off the Jamal/Juwanna character with ease but he pretty much steals the show here. His character comes off as endearing rather than obnoxious because he takes his role as a woman seriously and is never condescending about playing in the women's league. Nunez also delivers some great one-liners the best being when he is fighting off advances from the gold-toothed Puff Smokey Smoke. Vivica A. Fox (Two Can Play That Game) plays Michelle a fellow player whom Jeffries develops feelings for. Although it's hard to buy the sweet and almost delicate Fox in such an athletic role she pulls it off--but there is not all that much chemistry between her and Nunez. As Jeffries' crass sports agent Lorne Daniels Kevin Pollak (3000 Miles to Graceland) is seedy with just the right touch of humanity so his character is not completely despicable. The most cartoonish and unlikable character is Tommy Davidson's (Bamboozled) Puff Smokey Smoke. He has some funny lines but is too far-fetched to be believable.
Jesse Vaughan who directed a season of In Living Color makes his directorial debut with Juwanna Mann. Judging from the trailer I thought the film would be a low-brow comedy with a lot of overdone men-in-heels humor. I was instead pleasantly surprised by the film's storyline which--although it is a complete take on Tootsie--is short sweet and non-offensive. While some characters like Puff Smokey Smoke are a bit over the top Nunez's Jamal/Juwanna character is never clownish and well developed enough that you can't help but feel for his/her predicament. Some scenes appear to have a Klumps influence like the scene in which Jeffries is playing cards with his aunt and a gang of her senior friends but the overall effect is a moderately funny film peppered with some slightly funnier moments. Newcomer Bradley Allenstein had the sense to deliver a sweet comedy screenplay that was short enough and knew when to quit.