Four girlfriends head into their near-40s and wonder if they'd even be friends if they met today. Frannie (Joan Cusack) is rich and happily married trying to decide how to give away $2 million. Christine (Catherine Keener) is fighting with her co-screenwriting partner/husband (Jason Isaacs) about an addition to their house and Jane (Frances McDormand) is a successful fashion designer who won't wash her hair--and has a husband (Simon McBurney) everyone thinks is gay. The youngest of the friends is Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) who's single a pothead and a maid who goes through people's drawers. The other three worry about Olivia and set her up with handsome trainer (Scott Caan) but he ends up treating her as bad as all her past boyfriends. It isn’t until she meets Marty (Bob Stephenson) an average-Joe living in a messy apartment does she finally find some harmony. No Aniston isn't doing Rachel from Friends here although it may look like that at first. Rachel would never take a vibrator out of a stranger's drawer and well you know. More the actress revisits her Good Girl character adding some additional more hard-hitting layers. Some of the fights she has with Caan sound like they could have come right out of a spat she may have had with Brad Pitt. Oscar-winner McDormand is once again a wonder as a woman so filled with angst and anger she has no idea the effect she has on those around her. Keener too steps up as the screenwriter struggling with a failing marriage. In fact all the relationships these women have hit home mostly because this odd collection of stellar actresses seem to have a genuine and natural affinity for one another. Writer/director Nicole Holofcener has captured a world of cross-economic friendships that may seem awkward but comes across as realistic. She has cast her alter-ego Keener in all three of her films including Walking & Talking and Lovely & Amazing. This time Keener is a bit more hard-edged and frustrated and yet excruciatingly funny when she admits "I don't get SpongeBob." Holofcener has painted the men into the background very subtly but ultimately are unimportant to the friendships anyway. Some of the best moments are when the group is together chatting and talking over each other and that's why it's going to be unfairly compared to Sex and the City--girlfriends do get together in other cities too. Friends with Money is just an enjoyable slice-of-life for couples of any kind.
Once respected NYPD detective Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is now pretty much on his last legs literally and figuratively. He drinks is relegated to a desk job and walks with a limp. One morning after a long shift he’s corralled into transporting a petty criminal Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to the courthouse 16 blocks away so he can testify by 10:00 a.m. What Jack doesn’t know is that Eddie is one of the key witnesses in a case against crooked cops--that is until the two start getting shot at. Then it becomes crystal clear. The main bad guy Jack’s former partner Frank (David Morse) basically lets Jack know Eddie will never testify to just go ahead and hand him over but Frank underestimates Jack’s desire to finally do something good. So Jack and Eddie fight their way to the courthouse block by gut-wrenching block. Oh no there’s nothing formulaic about 16 Blocks not at all. In a film as predictable as this the only thing that’ll make it stand out is the performances. 16 Blocks nearly succeeds--but not quite. It would seem Willis is playing a character he’s played a hundred times before--the misunderstood and slightly unorthodox cop with a heart of gold. But as Jack the actor does a nice job trying out some new things namely playing fat bald and grizzled. You can almost smell how bad Jack’s breath has to be. Rapper/actor Mos Def who usually brightens any film he’s in also tries his hand at something different but his choices aren’t as smart. As the talkative and affable Eddie Mos comes up with one of the more annoying nasally accents ever recorded. After about five minutes of screen time you desperately want him to stop and say “Just kidding! I don’t really talk like this.” But he doesn’t. It’s too bad something like an accent can ruin an otherwise decent performance. Old-school director Richard Donner best known for his Lethal Weapons is a consummate professional when it comes to making these kind of movies. In other words he pretty much paints by numbers. We watch Jack and Eddie get out of one tight situation after another as the gaggle of bad cops try to gun them down. I mean 16 blocks doesn’t seem that far to go so they better throw in as many highly implausible obstacles as they can. Chinese laundries alleyways rooftops subways. And yes even a city bus which the pair--who have by now bonded big time--has to hijack. Donner also employs a popular but nonetheless annoying technique of zooming in when the action heats up so you can’t really see what’s going on. Even if you’re addicted to action movies--a Bruce Willis action movie no less--16 Blocks just doesn’t deliver the goods.
Imagine wearing the heaviest winter clothing, sitting in the hot tropical sun all day and having very little water. This is the plight of seven polar bears who travel with a circus in Puerto Rico--but not for long, if Scottish actor Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge; Black Hawk Down) has anything to do with it. He has written an open letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton on behalf of the charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), requesting the polar bears be transferred to an accredited zoo in the United States.
McGregor became interested in polar bears when he hosted a British Broadcasting Corp. documentary about the arctic animals last year. "Polar bears are intelligent animals who are specially adapted to freezing weather conditions," the actor wrote in the letter.
She knows what she did last summer. Singer/actress Brandy (I Still Know What You Did Last Summer), 23, is expecting her first child with her husband, producer Robert Smith, whom she secretly wed last summer. The baby is due sometime in July.
Comic strip feline Garfield will be staying at home these days. Garfield creator Jim Davis has decided to sell his private twin-engine Dassault Falcon 20F-5 jet since he no longer needs to travel as much as he used to. The jet is being offered for $7.6 million and is advertised as "an aircraft fit for a fat cat."
An unidentified woman decided The Rosie O'Donnell Show was as good as any place to flash her breasts. On Thursday's live show in New York, the woman opened her blouse as the camera panned the audience before a commercial break. When the show resumed, Rosie quipped, "A crazy woman...is now with security, waiting to get into the Montel show."
Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert announced Wednesday he will undergo surgery to remove a cancerous growth on his thyroid. "I am told this type of tumor is slow-growing and not aggressive, and that my prognosis is excellent for a quick and complete recovery," Ebert said in a statement. The movie critic had similar surgery in 1987.
A French court Thursday turned down a Catholic group's request to ban a poster designed by Oliviero Toscani for the independent film Amen. The court ruled the image, which blends a cross with a red swastika, fairly depicts the subject matter of the film, examining how the Vatican's silence during the Holocaust made it partially responsible for the millions of Jewish lives lost.
A Venezuelan actor, Juan Carlos Diaz, who has been harassing singer Gloria Estefan and her music mogul husband, Emilio, for two years, was arrested Thursday for allegedly trespassing on the couple's mansion on Star Island in Miami Beach. As well as trespassing, Diaz has publicly accused Emilio of making unwanted sexual advances toward him, while the music producer, who has denied all charges, has filed a defamation suit against the troubled actor.
The California Supreme Court Thursday overturned the state's "Son of Sam" law preventing criminals from selling their stories for profit, citing its violation to a criminal's state and federal First Amendment rights. This decision came about after Barry Keenan, who kidnapped Frank Sinatra Jr. in 1963, challenged the law, which was preventing him from selling the rights to his story to Columbia Pictures for $485,000.
British actor John Thaw, best known for playing the gruff Oxford sleuth Inspector Morse in the BBC TV series Inspector Morse, died Thursday in Wiltshire, England, from cancer of the esophagus. He was 60. Sheila Hancock and three children survive Thaw.