In yet another variation on the shopworn road picture in which two mismatched former buddies are forced to cross the country together Soul Men’s uneasy brand of overly broad humor and contrived situations is saved intermittently by some cool musical numbers. But alas it’s not enough. Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd (Bernie Mac) are part of a major musical group led by Marcus Hooks (John Legend) who goes solo leaving Floyd and Louis in the lurch. Fast forward 20 years Hooks has died and Louis and Floyd who did not end on good terms and have not spoken since have been coerced into appearing a tribute show for Hooks at New York’s famed Apollo Theatre. Afraid to fly they get in Floyd’s 1971 Cadillac El Dorado accompanied by a talented young woman (Sharon Leal) who may be Floyd’s daughter. Along the way they try to get their act up to speed by appearing in various redneck honky tonks filling the interminable 103-minute running time with a lot of unfunny sexual encounters and unbelievable situations. The late Bernie Mac was a terrific comic talent and is highly wasted in this mishmash in which he is constantly encouraged to mug for laughs. Mac is so much better than the lowbrow material he has to work with here that it’s a shame this film should stand as one of his last (at least there’s Madagascar 2). Faring even worse however is Samuel L. Jackson who is out of his element in a musical comedy and seems to be taking none of this hokum seriously. Thankfully the soulful musical numbers reminiscent of classic ‘60s Sam and Dave R&B are well chosen and capably performed even though neither Mac nor Jackson are known for their singing. Best number in fact is fronted by John Legend making his acting debut as Hooks. As the young eager beaver manager trying to get Floyd and Louis back together Sean Hayes is way too broad. Faring better is newcomer Adam Herschman as Hayes’ mop-topped intern who uses his fanboy infatuation with the pair to nice advantage. And there’s a nice now bittersweet bit near the end with the late Isaac Hayes. Malcolm Lee (Undercover Brother Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins) is a director who tends to go for the slapstick when a little subtlety and believability would be more in order. With a great Sunshine Boys premise and some nifty musical material to pepper the proceedings Lee still manages to drop the ball letting his talented actors down and encouraging them to chew up every scene. The corny silly situations certainly doesn’t help matters with the road trip device feeling more like padding than anything else. Soul Men doesn’t find the right rhythms.
With stories like this who even needs the “Inspired by true events” shield? Primeval tells of the world’s most prolific killer Gustave. You see Gustave is a crocodile and he remains at large to this day. His thirst for human blood goes unpublicized until he chows down on a white woman at which point an American newsman Tim Manfrey (Dominic Purcell) his cameraman Steven (Orlando Jones) and TV personality Aviva (Brooke Langton) head down to Burundi Africa where they hope to document the capture of Gustave. They’re joined by a wildlife preservationist of sorts (Gideon Emery)—a rare breed in a post-Steve Irwin world—who doesn’t want to harm Gustave. The deep jungles of Africa become a veritable obstacle course when the locals embroiled in a long-standing civil war and unwilling to have some damn Yankees televising their homeland stand in the crew’s way not to mention Gustave proving an evasive 20-foot-long um little bugger! The names might not ring a bell but you’ve seen these three stooges before--all on TV in fact. Purcell is currently enjoying about half the 15 minutes of fame of Wentworth Miller on Fox’s slipping Prison Break. Purcell plays Tim with steel and virility as he hides his Aussie accent for the most part but he’s still got a ways to go to reach Clive Owen’s caliber of acting--and more importantly Owen’s caliber of roles. Langton of The Net (the TV show adapted from the Sandra Bullock movie of the same name) and Melrose Place fame shows off the beauty that will afford endless opportunities to prove herself as a “real” actress—which is ironically similar to her character’s plight—but will never get there with roles in movies like Primeval. And Jones still best known for and plagued by his 7-Up commercials is in true negligible-sidekick mode here--worthy of a snicker approximately once out of every dozen times he tries overzealously to get one. Jaws may come to mind based on the water creature-stalking-man plot but well it’s tough to even mention those two in the same sentence. Director Michael Katleman a TV fixture himself at least doesn’t even aim high enough to reach that level. No from the get-go he’s shooting more for an Anacondas feel—and yes that’s the horrific sequel to the so-terrible-it’s-fun J.Lo “original.” Katleman almost reaches Anacondas-ian highs but not quite. Among other notable problems the director cannot for one moment strike the right balance between the aforementioned level of guilty pleasure-dom and genuine horror. Instead he catches us off guard with what are supposed to be the thrills—and also with the comedy. Finally once Gustave is revealed which should essentially be the moviegoers’ reward the croc looks more a prop sitting in a theme-park lot. And the script from John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris (Terminator 3 co-writers)—well let’s just hope with the story being uber-derivative and cheesy enough as it is Orlando Jones ad-libbed all of his unlaughable comedy!
Even though they've long been split up, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise joined together to file a lawsuit against a Spanish cosmetics chain, Sephora USA, for using their images to promote Sephora's products without their consent. The suit claims Sephora, which is owned by the French conglomerate Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, put out ads in 2001 for their "Celebrity Scents," featuring Cruise and Kidman as "Hollywood's royal couple" and creating the impression the couple "used, preferred, endorsed or sponsored Sephora's products," The Associated Press reports. The lawsuit seeks $15 million in damages.
Former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson has been diagnosed with emphysema, but Reuters reports Carson's spokesman says the 76-year-old television legend is "in great shape." Jeff Sotzing, who runs the Carson Entertainment video production company for Carson, told Reuters, "He does have emphysema, but he's dealing with it the best he can and it's not causing him any major problems."
Will Smith can have his name back. Carlos Lomax, who charged up to $33,000 in credit using the actor's name, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of the use of an unauthorized access device. Lomax gained access to Smith's social security number and opened 14 credit accounts at various department stores in the Pittsburgh region. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Nicole Kidman is in discussions to star in Columbia Pictures' Bewitched, a remake of the classic '60s & '70s television series. Starring Elizabeth Montgomery, the series centered on the beleaguered Samantha Stevens, a witch who just wanted to be the perfect--and normal--housewife to her mortal husband, Darren. Sounds perfect for Kidman since she's already played a witch (Practical Magic).
F/X is getting into the world of politics. The News Corp.-owned cable channel, along with documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler (The War Room), director Jay Roach (Austin Powers) and producer Tom Lassally are developing a new reality series which would mount a huge campaign to look for the American public's "people's candidate" to run for president of the United States in 2004. "It's like a cross between The War Room and American Idol," Cutler told Daily Variety. "We will be making available to every American who is qualified, by virtue of the Constitution, the opportunity to run for president." Wow. Look out, Bush!
In preparing for their new reality series The Real Beverly Hillbillies, CBS' casting people are holding open auditions all over the rural South to try and find real-life counterparts to the fictional Beverly Hillbillies' Clampett family. "We're looking for people who have country smarts, but maybe not so much sophistication," casting agent Ken Billings told AP. One question, really--why?