January 31, 2002 5:51am EST
A group of high school seniors put a boy who is eager to become part of their clique through a cruel initiation prank that involves jumping off some sort of high scaffolding into a cloudy pool at a local cement factory. When one of them Landon (Shane West) gets caught the principal decides Landon needs to hang with a different crowd and assigns him to tutor kids on the weekend and take part in the drama club's spring play. Surprise-the plan works! In over his head with the play Landon seeks help from Jamie (Mandy Moore) a dowdy bible-thumper who apparently only owns one ratty cardigan. Jamie however is not your run-of-the-mill unpopular girl. Rather than being introverted and weird she is smart witty and confident-in fact that grubby sweater of hers seems to be the only thing branding her as an outcast. The two grow closer and Landon eventually sees her inner beauty forgoing his own A-list status to be with her. But Landon learns that Jamie has been keeping a secret from him that inevitably blocks their path to happiness.
Moore the underdog of the teen pop stars dyes her hair brown and dulls herself down for the role of Jamie a simple girl that loves to gaze at the stars in her spare time. She did a great job transforming herself into her character but in the process extinguished most of what makes her sparkle on screen. Mind you the script might be to blame for creating a character so unbelievably mundane and one-dimensional. Under all of Jamie's goodness and perfection is well nothing. West does a great job portraying his character transformation. Even while Landon runs with the bad crowd West conveys a sense of humility in the character. Peter Coyote plays Reverend Sullivan Jamie's over-protective father without being too overbearing which is refreshing. An almost unrecognizable and weathered Daryl Hannah has a small but convincing enough role as Landon's mother. Maybe it was her now-brunette hair but I didn't realize it was Hannah until I saw the credits.
In A Walk to Remember director Adam Shankman steered away from being overly sentimental. The relationship that develops between the teens is actually very sweet and interestingly enough the film ends up being more about Landon's transformation than about Jamie's faith. While the film is not as flaky as the rash of recent teen movies it still manages to fall into the same clichés. Though the story is very-dare I say-poignant characters like Jamie's in trying to be different have become a stereotype: The plain Jane whose personality and convictions win over the popular guy. Remember Andie (Molly Ringwald) in Pretty in Pink? Or more recently Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) in She's All That? And though Moore has a beautiful melodic voice her singing scenes are too drawn out. We are not just treated to her crooning a chorus or two of a song during a church scene but the songs in their entirety. Even Mariah Carey spared us that much in Glitter.
Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub) is trying to keep his small family together after losing his wife and the mother of their kids Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth) and Bobby (Alec Roberts) in a tragic fire that left them homeless. Out of nowhere one enigmatic Uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham) wills Arthur a bizarre yet dazzlingly beautiful mansion made almost entirely of glass and filled with priceless antiques. There's not much that could go unseen behind the transparent walls except for perhaps 12 pesky ghosts of disturbed folks like onetime mental patients and a kid whose head got in the way of an arrow. It just so happens old Cyrus with the help of his psychic phantom-wrangler Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) has been summoning up a few restless spirits so he can open the Eye of Hell and take over the world or something. They just need one more spirit to finish the job.
All right who's blackmailing Oscar-winner Abraham into taking roles like this? The man should have thrown the script out sight-unseen and then fired his agent. Rah Digga yet another rapper-turned-wanna-be-actress is there to offer some sassy comic relief as the kids' nanny--she's fun in a usual sort of way. Shalhoub-ho hum. Elizabeth? Yawn. She's not even in half the movie. Lillard it can be said is about the only bright spot in this otherwise not-silly-enough not-cheesy-enough not-funny-or-scary-enough horror movie. He's got the right idea as he tries to camp it up as a borderline hysterical psychic who has guilt issues about being able to see everyone's secrets with his "gift." But worst of all is the usually great Embeth Davidtz (um Schindler's List?!) as a--get this--ghost's rights activist who thinks she's channeling Zelda Rubenstein from Poltergeist as she hisses the obvious: "This house is not a house!"
The only thing scarier than F. Murray Abraham taking a role in this movie is that it ever got made at all--then again we have the Dark Castle folks (the same ones who brought us that masterpiece remake The Haunting a few years ago) to thank. They forgot to hire a director and a scriptwriter instead putting visual effects guy Steve Beck behind the camera to show us some semi-interesting special effects (it is a ghost movie after all and you better score some points there). Unfortunately the movie is uneven makes little sense and strives for both laughs and scares but achieves neither with cornball dialog and silly stereotypes; it's wildly gory to boot. Everyone's gonna say the ultra-modern haunted house is the star of Thirteen Ghosts and with good reason. The production design in this movie is amazing and the idea of ghosts hiding behind clear walls is an intriguing if ultimately wasted concept.
It's amazing how one hit pop song and an electronic gizmo that makes your voice sound like a robot can lead to global domination.
Forbes magazine released its annual "Celebrity 100" list Thursday, power-ranking the world's greatest actors, entertainers, athletes, authors and other notables according to how much moola they made last year and how much media attention they received making said moola. Most of the names in the Top 10 were no-brainers, given their recent successes: Julia Roberts is the world's No. 1 omnipotent celeb (with estimated 1999 earnings of $50 million), followed by people like George Lucas (No. 2 -- $400 mil), Oprah Winfrey (No. 3 -- $150 mil), Tom Hanks (No. 4 -- $71.5 mil), golfer Tiger Woods (No. 7 -- $47 mil) and Steven Spielberg (No. 10 -- $60 mil).
But then there's No. 9. One word: Cher.
According to the magazine, Cher only made a measly $40 million last year (peanuts compared to Lucas' league-leading $400 million haul). Cher's take presumably came from sales of her chart-topping "Believe" album, and from copies of her terribly thoughtful book, "The First Time," in which she observed that Jackie Kennedy was better looking than Mamie Eisenhower.
Perhaps based on the power of such ideas, Cher's Forbes "power rank" was higher than that of Spielberg, Bruce Willis (No. 11 --$54.5 mil), Jim Carrey (No. 19 -- $45.5 mil) and Tom Cruise (No. 20 -- $27 mil).
Although Cher's 1999 earnings were less than those of other celebs in the Top 10, Cher's rank was bolstered by the number of Web site hits, press clips, magazine covers and TV/radio stories she generated. All this from a woman whom Sonny Bono once said was so stupid, she thought the moon was the backside of the sun.
Here are some other notable story lines to emerge from the Forbes list:
BOY POWER: While most members of the "Celebrity 100" are well past puberty, the Backstreet Boys are representin' the teen crowd (even if they aren't exactly teens anymore themselves) at No. 8, with 1999 earnings of $60 million.
THE POWER OF THE PRINTED WORD: Most of the celebrities named by Forbes are of the short-attention-span variety (i.e., TV stars, music stars, movie stars and athletes). But lest you think that America doesn't read anymore, think again. Bestselling authors making the list include Stephen King (No. 14 -- $65 mil), John Grisham (No. 21 -- $36 mil), "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling (No. 25), Dean Koontz (No. 53 -- $34 mil) and poet Maya Angelou (No. 81 -- $3.3 mil). Then again, most of these guys, save for Angelou, are makin' the big bucks off film rights.
WHO? So, we know who Michael Jordan (No. 5 -- $40 mil) and Harrison Ford (No. 15 -- $46.5 mil) are, but who the heck are Anna Kournikova (No. 58 -- $11 mil), Gerald Cassidy (No. 69 -- $18 mil), The Rock (No. 83 -- $3 mil), Reed Hundt (No. 89 -- $2 mil), Edgerrin James (No. 75 -- $15 mil), Jean-George Vongerichten (No. 91 -- $3 mil) and Jim Romenesko (No. 96 -- $60,000)? Answers: A tennis player, an artist, a pro wrestler, an ex-chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, a football running back, a chef and a Web site guy. (But we cheated and looked 'em up.)
FLASH IN THE POWER PAN? Somebody tell "Mambo No. 5" guy Lou Bega (No. 87) to savor the moment. He's not likely to be included in this list ever again. Of course, with a $6 million haul on the strength of one novelty hit, does he really need to be?
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PHOTOGENIC: These days, you can become a powerful celebrity even if you've got a face for radio -- or the Internet. That helps explain the lofty rankings of the likes of Howard Stern (No. 30 -- $18 mil), Rush Limbaugh (No. 40 -- $22 mil), Dr. Laura Schlessinger (No. 70 -- $13 mil), Dr. Joy Brown (No. 90 -- $2 mil) and Internet movie-rumor guru Harry Knowles (No. 95, with an estimated 1999 income of a whopping $100,000).
GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Taking a year off, quitting your hit sitcom or breaking up the band isn't healthy for your power ranking. Three celebrities who made the Forbes Top 10 just one year ago fell entirely off the 2000 edition of the "Celebrity 100" list. Notable MIAs include: Leonardo DiCaprio (No. 3 in 1999 with $37 million in earnings); Jerry Seinfeld (No. 4 in 1999, with $267 million); and ex-supergroup Spice Girls (No. 6 in 1999 with $49 million).
FORGOTTEN, BUT NOT GONE: Will someone please tell the Rolling Stones (No. 6 -- $50 mil), Mike Tyson (No. 17 -- $33 mil), surname-free Roseanne (No. 74 -- $8 mil), George and Barbara Bush (No. 76 -- $6 mil),and unfunnyman Don Imus (No. 77 -- $10 mil) to give it up?
HOW'D THEY DO THAT? What have Penn & Teller (No. 88), that early 1990's comedy/magician duo, been up to lately? Whatever it is, it's lucrative: They made $3 million last year.
The Force could still be with "Titanic" mega-star Leonardo DiCaprio, who talked about the "Star Wars" rumors in an interview last week with "Entertainment Tonight." Leo reports that he and George Lucas have discussed the idea of the 25-year-old playing Anakin, and the actor wants to do it. So far, though, there has been no official word from either camp.
Leo's comments came during a round of press interviews for his latest project, "The Beach." The 20th Century Fox movie, an eerie adventure directed by "Trainspotting's" Danny Boyle, is set to open Feb. 11.
Meanwhile, Lucas is busy preparing the next "Star Wars" script. If the stars align right, the director will begin filming the second in the series' prequel trilogy in June. He expects to complete shooting by October.
STAR TREKKER SETS PHASER TO SPOOF: "Star Trek: Next Generation" actor and director Jonathan Frakes can't be accused of lacking a sense of humor. Daily Variety reports that the franchise player has signed up to helm the sci-fi spoof "Steve Was Here" for Sony-based Centropolis Entertainment.
The filmmaker, who's already directed two "Trek" movies, signed a six-figure deal for the project. Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, heads of Centropolis and the filmmakers responsible for "Stargate," "Independence Day" and "Godzilla," will serve as the movie's executive producers. "Steve" tells the story of a sad town and its civilians, who decide to create a fake alien landing in order to boost tourism. Norman Steinberg is the screenwriter.
SELLECK TRIES NEW PARTY: Republican Tom Selleck joins the Hollywood majority playing a Democratic presidential candidate in an upcoming cable TV movie. According to Variety, Selleck will headline TNT's dramedy "Washington Slept Here," about a leading candidate in the Democratic primaries. The $10 million film is supposed to begin a six-week shoot in Los Angeles in order to make its scheduled air date in August, which would coincide with the real Democratic convention in L.A. Selleck's co-stars include Faye Dunaway, Laura Linney, Nancy Travis and Teri Hatcher.
FRIENDLY CYBERGIRL: Jennifer Aniston will prove she's Internet-friendly as the producer and star of an original series for the Web site VOXXY. Aimed at teen-age girls, the site plans to feature 13 "empowering" and "entertaining" half-hour episodes throughout the spring.
Worried you were dozing in Sunday School? Never knew God was a grandpa?
Don’t worry this isn’t sequel to the biblical TV miniseries. Set in the
early ’70s "Jesus’ Son" is the raw account of a young man (Billy
Crudup) shooting up throwing up and staggering through his wasted
youth. Through his journey he encounters a bizarre assortment of
misfits that make this film look like an indie "The Wizard of Oz" for
the messed up. Our hero collides with a beautiful and fragile heroine
addict (Samantha Morton) who becomes the cause of his downfall and
possibly his salvation.
Crudup could have capitalized on his teen-idol good looks to grab some
glossy Hollywood roles (and bucks). Instead he seems intent on using
his impressive acting skills to explore diverse and disturbing sides of
the human experience. As "Jesus’ Son " the actor gives an
inspirationally playful portrayal of the junkie’s arc from recklessness
to recovery as if he lived it. Morton (an Oscar nominee for "Sweet and
Lowdown") makes screwed-up nearly endearing as the woman who like Eve
turns her mate on to the forbidden fruit. The film is also blessed with
extended cameos from Denis Leary Jack Black Dennis Hopper Holly
Hunter and Greg Germann.
Far from glamorous or mainstream Allison MacLean has crafted a daring
grungy portrait of lost youth from Denis Johnson’s book. Brutal yet
compassionate MacLean rewards the adventurous with this disquieting
look at the wounded (literally and emotionally) that eventually leads to
a small but oddly uplifting triumph.