Honey Boo Boo Spooks Up Some Ratings: Halloween may have come and gone months ago, but Honey Boo Boo still managed to celebrate in style — the ratings tour de force scared up a whopping 3.1 million viewers (the show's most-watched episode) for its Halloween special, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: A Very Boo Halloween. Now that, my friends, is scary.
NBC Gets New Blood: Miss the dearly departed multiple reality drama Awake? You're in luck! Err, sort of. Awake and Lie To Me scribe David Graziano is teaming up with Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) for an NBC pilot called Bloodline, a "contemporary pulp action thriller in the vein of Kill Bill." It will star a young woman who is caught between two warring families, and has to kill her mother. Light fare, for sure. [Deadline]
A Brat-Packer Gets Awkward: Nothing was more awkward than the '80s (except for maybe the '90s) so it makes total sense that The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles star Anthony Michael Hall is set to recur on MTV's hit teen drama, Awkward. He'll play a sadistic creative writing teacher who likes to steal upperclassmen's panties likes to push students out of their comfort zones. [EW]
OWN-ing Up To It?: Looks like Lance Armstrong will finally tell his side of the story. The disgraced former seven-time Tour de France winner will be the subject on OWN's Oprah’s Next Chapter on Thursday, Jan. 17 in a 90-minute special. This will be his first appearance since the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency charged the cyclist with using illegal performance enhancing drugs during his career, and there's no telling what he'll say about the controversy, being stripped of all his titles, losing his corporate sponsors, resigning from his charity LiveStrong, or being banned from pro-cycling for life. [Deadline]
Making Her Soapy Comeback: Emmy-winning Genie Francis is returning to the ABC soap that launched her career: General Hospital. She will reprise her role as Laura Spencer for the daytime drama's 50th anniversary this year. “I don’t know what the story is,” Francis says. “I have no idea, but [executive producer] Frank [Valentini] is very persuasive, energetic, infectious and has a sense of fun, a positive-ness that makes you want to work for the guy. He assured me there was going to be nice stuff to play. I am choosing to believe him!” [EW]
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The record of rappers becoming actors is decidedly mixed. Eminem drew praise for his semi-autobiographical turn in 8 Mile while his Detroit neighbor Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson was largely panned for his work in his 2005 biopic Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Ice Cube and Ice T have both earned steady paychecks and occasional acclaim on the big and small screens while the less-esteemed member of the Brothers Ice Vanilla never quite recovered from 1991‘s disastrous Cool as Ice.
Two of the latest hip-hoppers to attempt the leap Chris Brown and Tip “T.I.” Harris can both be seen in the heist thriller Takers. They also served as producers on the film and in that regard they deserve credit for helping assemble a cast that quite effectively lowers the bar for their acting work. In an ensemble that includes the likes of Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen they needn’t worry about issuing Oscar-worthy performances. As long as they’re semi-ambulatory they stand a fairly good chance of keeping pace with Takers’ slow-moving herd.
The film’s plot concerns a swaggering crew of bank robbers whose sophisticated methods have enabled them to pull off a number of high-stakes heists with nary a hitch. Their strict adherence to a one-job-per-year schedule is enough to fund a luxurious lifestyle in which they freely indulge their tastes for fancy cars tailored suits single-malt scotch and big cigars (No King Cobra and Swisher Sweets for these classy gents. No siree.) All of which is fastidiously depicted by director John Luessenhop (Lockdown) whose aesthetic sensibility in Takers varies between hip-hop video and Maker’s Mark ad.
And they’re decent civic-minded folks too: Jake (Michael Ealy) is eager to leave the game and settle down with his fiance (Zoe Saldana) the proprietor of a trendy downtown L.A. cocktail lounge; his brother Jesse (Brown) wants to ensure their elderly father is taken care of upon his release from prison; proper English chap Gordon (Idris Elba the lone standout) faithfully shepherds his junkie sister through rehab; John’s (Walker) moral compass won’t allow for shooting cops or unarmed civilians; and A.J. (Christensen) is a talented pianist whose bowler hat and hoarse hepcat diction are I can only assume indicative of a deep appreciation for jazz-age style.
But for all the gang’s obvious intelligence their judgment of character is appallingly poor. When a shady former associate named Ghost (T.I. — which after watching the film I now realize stands for "Totally Incoherent") comes to them with a suspiciously lucrative new opportunity he claims to have hatched during a recent jail stint the fellas need all of a nanosecond to sign on to the dubious scheme forsaking all of the rules that made them successful. Why they’d place their livelihoods on the line for an ex-con who can’t be bothered to raise his eyelids above half-mast or pronounce consonants appearing at the end of words like “love” (which his lazy twang renders “luh”) is beyond me but it’s the first of several missteps that open the door for Detective Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) an old-school cop who refuses allow a crumbling marriage chronic sleep deprivation or established caselaw involving warrants and Miranda rights to deter him in his dogged pursuit of justice.
Takers features a smattering of the expected twists and turns most of which are sufficiently telegraphed by Luessenhop’s direction which downshifts to slow-motion at the advent of every action sequence and the film’s predictable story arc. What is surprising about the film is its lack of verve an absolute must for a heist flick and something which even the worst of the Ocean’s films boasted. For all of its bullets and bling Takers all too often feels as lethargic as its co-producer and co-star T.I. looks. (Although to be fair Dillon appears at times to be sleep-walking as well.)
Jeremy: "Someday you'll look back on all this and laugh and say we were young and stupid." John: "We're not THAT young." And with these prophetic words divorce mediators John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn)--lifelong friends whose hobby it is to crash weddings get laid and never look back--embark on a journey of self-discovery. Well maybe not a journey exactly more like a weekend of debauchery. And maybe not self-discovery per se more a realization falling in love isn't such a bad thing. It all starts when the charismatic and charming duo crash the social event of the year the wedding of Treasury Secretary William Cleary's (Christopher Walken) daughter. They stick to the Crashers Code at first setting their sights on two bridesmaids Claire (Rachel McAdams) and Gloria (Isla Fisher) Cleary creating clever back stories and becoming the hit of the lavish party. But while Jeremy is going about business as usual with the curiously randy Gloria John is uncharacteristically falling hard and fast for the whip-smart and beautiful Claire. John eventually persuades a resistant Jeremy to bend the crashing rules and accept an invitation to an extended weekend party at the Cleary family compound. Uh oh. Once at the palatial waterfront estate the dysfunctional members of the Cleary family put the guys through the wringer. It would be enough to send any confirmed bachelor running--except John really likes Claire and wants to make it work. And Jeremy as he tells John just wants to "ice my balls and spit up blood."
There must be some kind of osmosis thing that happens when the Frat Packers mix it up. Of course I'm talking about the comedic talents of Vaughn Wilson his brother Luke Wilson Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell who just keep churning out one hilarious film--Old School Dodgeball Starsky & Hutch--after another in various tag-team combinations. The Wedding Crashers is no exception. Although it's actually Vaughn and Wilson's first real screen time together (if you don't count Starsky & Hutch) you'd swear they've been working together for years making them the best Frat Pack combo yet. Their diverse comedy styles--Vaughn's rapid-fire delivery Wilson's slow burn--complement each other perfectly. Like Vaughn's character explains in Swingers these guys are "in the rated-R movie…the guy[s] you're not sure whether or not you like yet. You're not sure where [they] are coming from." Vaughn and Wilson also share the wealth with their supporting cast. The lovely McAdams (Mean Girls The Notebook) continues to show her range as Claire and she very sweetly holds her own amidst the calamity. Walken is also particularly entertaining as the elder Cleary who's funny without ever trying to be. But the true scene stealer is Aussie actress Fisher (Scooby-Doo) as the youngest Cleary daughter an obsessive "Stage 5" clinger and nymphomaniac. "Don't ever leave me 'cause I'd find you!" she giggles to Jeremy with a wild look in her eyes. Yikes. Fisher goes full tilt playing the one woman who can truly give Jeremy a taste of his own medicine. Wild and wacky stuff.
Director David Dobkin likes to try his hand at different genres. He first worked with Vince Vaughn in the serious-minded serial killer flick Clay Pigeons and then worked with Owen Wilson in the action-packed but lighthearted sequel Shanghai Knights. Now Dobkin has got the both of them in a balls-out comedy--and handles the chores with aplomb even if all the director has to do is turn on the camera and point it at his stars. From the moment we see Jeremy and John crashing a variety of ethnic weddings (Jewish Hindu Chinese) to their escapades at the Cleary home Wedding Crashers will simply split your sides and make you spit out your Coke. You're probably going to see it a few more times just so you can pick up stuff you might have missed while laughing so hard. The only problem is how to end it. Granted we are dealing with in essence a romantic comedy so you know there's got to be some sort of happy resolution. We'll accept that. But the film seems to lose some steam and turns predictable once the guys leave the Clearys. The last 10 minutes--save for a memorable cameo from a fellow Frat Packer (and I won't tell you who)--drag on a bit. Still it doesn't completely take away from the good time you've been having.
February 18, 2003 10:38am EST
At the tender age of 12 Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) was splashed in the eyes with radioactive waste and lost his sight--but his other four senses developed with superhuman sharpness. He grew up to become a bleeding-heart lawyer running a law practice with his best friend Foggy Nelson (Jon Favreau) and chasing beautiful women including the bright and fearless Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner). By night he is the masked vigilante Daredevil using his incredible senses and abilities to defend the downtrodden in New York City's Hell's Kitchen. Daredevil the movie stays true to all the elements that are pervasive in the Marvel Universe: drama love action violence revenge a spiteful police department and best of all the probing reporter on a quest for the truth. Here moviegoers will become familiar with events that become catalysts in Daredevil's crime-fighting career including the death of his father (David Keith) at the hands of the mob and the victimization of those close to him. The villainous underworld figure Wilson Fisk a.k.a. Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) and his hired hand the psychotic killer Bullseye (Colin Farrell) are also introduced as Daredevil's foes--and the battle between good and evil is born in this gritty urban borough.
Daredevil's appeal is that he does not possess any superpowers which made Affleck (Sum of All Fears) a good choice to portray this rather vulnerable crime fighter. While he beefed up for the role Affleck still retains that guy-next-door quality that makes both Murdock and Daredevil so relatable. His love interest in the film Elektra is played by Garner better known as Sydney Bristow on ABC's Alias. Elecktra is as brawny as she is brainy and Garner is the perfect fit for the character: she's gorgeous in a non-Hollywood kind of way and convincing as skilled fighter. Playing Murdock's lifelong friend and partner Foggy Favreau's (Made) role here is the most low-key of the bunch but he delivers some comic relief with some really funny lines. As far as villains go no one could be better suited for the role of Kingpin than the larger-than-life Duncan (The Scorpion King). This massively muscled character had to be played by someone with a powerful presence and sophisticated intellect making Duncan the ideal candidate. Rounding out the malefactors is Farrell (The Recruit) who churns out a powerful performance as the psychotic killer Bullseye complete with the nervous twitches and shifty eyes.
The decision to place Mark Steven Johnson at the helm of Daredevil was a little surprising. His 1998 directorial debut Simon Birch and his screenwriting credits Grumpy Old Men and the astoundingly bad Jack Frost hardly seemed on a par with an action adventure feature like this. The fact that Johnson hasn't worked extensively with digital effects becomes apparent in some of the film's action sequences that include a CGI Daredevil running upside walls and taking giant leaps from rooftop to rooftop. The completely animated version of Daredevil doesn't behave naturally and lacks details such as muscles texture highlights and shadows. But Daredevil didn't have a huge budget (compared to Spider-Man at least) and what it lacked in f/x it made up for with a gripping and gritty story line. Daredevil's mission is to rid Hell's Kitchen--not the universe--of as much crime as he can and his vendettas are personal--and grotesquely violent. More importantly Johnson's screenplay stays true to the comic book characters and their attributes. Fans of the comic book will appreciate his truthful touches such Bullseye's maniacal talents which include being able to turn a paperclip into a deadly weapon and Kingpin's ritualistic removal of his blazer before pounding the snot out of adversaries.