We're used to seeing horror films about creepy old houses, demonic children and animals, and Vatican priests who exorcise anyone who might be possessed. Well, now there's another film about all of these things, but it goes in a slightly different direction than most. It's called Hell Baby, and it's by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, the creators of Reno 911.
The priests have hilariously bad accents and lust after college girls. The crows dropping dead out of the sky have pentagrams shaved into their feathers. The creepy house is called The House of Blood, and new resident Rob Corddry thinks that's cool. It's everything you could want from a horror spoof, complete with a devil-tailed demon baby.
Alongside Garant, Lennon, and Corddry, Hell Baby stars Leslie Bibb, Riki Lindhome, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, Keegan Michael Key, Kumail Nanjiani, and Michael Ian Black. It's available on iTunes July 25th and hits theaters September 6th.
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Poor Jennifer Lawrence, rushing up from the front row to grab her statue for Best Actress in a dress that looks like it won first prize in the Build a Wedding Dress Out of Toilet Paper contest. She fell down. Well, she actually slipped on the banana peel that we all planted there for Anne Hathaway in the hopes that America's most hated actress would take a tumble. But it was Jennifer who stumbled (Hugh Jackman got up to save her fall) and made a joke about how the tumble was the only reason for her standing ovation. It's sad that this was one of the most exciting moments at the 85th Annual Academy Awards.
Yes, this year the Oscars were boring. Well, I don't know if "boring" is the right word. The ceremony is always kind of boring, right? There is the thrill of seeing the host's monologue and the first big Supporting Actor/Actress category. But, typically, that's only followed by the lull of the shorts and documentaries, and then the technical categories before, finally, the ceremony rewards the biggest categories of the night. In recent years, the onslaught of Oscar prognostication in publications and across the Internet created a race that is almost predetermined before the envelopes were opened. (Speaking of which, did we notice that Meryl Streep didn't seem to look at the contents of her envelope, instead decreeing Daniel Day-Lewis the Best Actor winner because she is Meryl F-ing Streep and she can just say so?) This year, the show just seemed more tedious, filled with missed opportunities, some unfortunate technical difficulties, and a muddled tone.
The ceremony was something out of both a frat boy and a homosexual's fever dream. The frat boys had host Seth MacFarlane and his typical potty humor — his schtick included a song about boobs, jokes about pretty girls, comments about how he is decidedly not gay even though everything that has to do with musicals is gay, and edgy quips that could come off racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic if you look at them in the wrong light. (After all, the only thing that Seth MacFarlane likes more than a funny voice is a Jew joke.) Then, well, you had all the gay stuff about musicals. And Barbra Streisand. And musicals. And gay people winning awards. But wait — that didn't happen because Tony Kushner and How to Survive a Plague were robbed. Well, at least the gays just got the musicals!
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The theme this year had something to do with movie musicals, which could have been a great boon for the production value of the show. Given that the ceremony was produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the unambiguously gay duo that specialize in bringing Broadway to the screen, it was the perfect opportunity. Yet the musical salute seemed to be more of a tribute to their musical Chicago than musicals in general. Did we really need to stare into Renée Zellweger's disappearing eye slits as the cast of Chicago reunited on stage?
Plus, we were forced to be privy to a paltry selection of musicals in the tribute itself — only Chicago, Dreamgirls, and a medley from Les Miserables that would make you claw your own ears off were highlighted during the ceremony. Nothing from Best Picture musicals like Gigi, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, or even The Sound of Music? (Instead, the latter Best Picture winner was referenced merely in a Von Trapp Nazi joke.) There is a rich cinematic history of musicals, so where are all the old production numbers that might get people who love Glee logging onto Netflix to watch Sweet Charity? They were in the same place as Zellweger's old face, apparently.
While Shirley Bassey singing "Goldfinger" was one of the highlights of the show, it's difficult to determine just how her package was a tribute to the songs of James Bond. A montage, a few strings from "Live and Let Die," and Bassey's "Goldfinger" — couldn't we have crammed a few more songs in there? Where was Tina Turner, Madonna, Sheryl Crowe, and Duran Duran? 007's case would have been much stronger if the ceremony had capped the tribute off with Adele's "Skyfall," which was inexplicably placed later in the ceremony. (And I couldn't have been the only one left wondering why the Oscars only featured three out of the five Best Original Song entries.)
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Adele's number later ("Skyfall" from Skyfall, of course) was well done, though her nerves — or perhaps sound issues — led to mixed feelings surrounding her comeback. Barbra Streisand, on the other hand, killed her version of "The Way We Were" to cap the In Memoriam montage. But the sound problems only returned for MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth's amusing "Let's Hear it for the Losers" soft shoe to end the night.
The musical numbers weren't the only thing plagued with problems during the Oscars. The banter and gags throughout the show fell on unamused ears. The usually always amazing Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy bombed with a gag about voice work when presenting Best Animated Feature. And things only got worse: Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey Jr. did a confusing bit surrounding a teleprompter argument before awarding Best Cinematography. Was it a joke? Or were they really arguing? Whatever the case, it was awful. And it's just best not to talk about Kristen Stewart's complete inability to annunciate, right?
What's strange, though, is the awards show managed to be the most boring Oscars with the most shocking wins. If you actually picked Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor in your Oscar Pool, then you are a better man than I am. The same goes for Ang Lee, who took home Best Director. Even Lawrence lurched toward victory despite talk that Emmanuelle Riva was poised to steal Oscar gold. The awards this year weren't as cut and dried as they often are (we even had a shocking and exciting tie, but it was for Sound Editing, a category no one can adequately describe not to mention care about), so 2013's ceremony did offer some suspense.
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But not enough to make up for the lack thereof in the night's speeches. When Daniel Day-Lewis becomes known as 2013's class clown, you know the Oscars are in bad shape. There were no animated speeches, no expletive-ridden speeches, and no embarrassing speeches. Anne Hathaway wasn't needy enough, Quentin Tarantino wasn't crazy enough, and Lawrence, maybe thrown off by her bobble, was far more flustered and less winning that we've become used to this awards season. The most remarkable thing about the winners is how they were all trying to outdo Saruman from The Lord of the Rings with their identical long, white hair. Still, Ben Affleck managed to be winning, bringing himself close to tears when Argo won for Best Picture. (The best revenge for a Gigli joke from MacFarlane.)
Speaking of Best Pictures, Michelle Obama shocked us all by appearing on a screen to read the winner and the Oscars said, "Screw you, Golden Globes, for thinking you're so cool that you have Bill Clinton." Yes, there were plenty of surprises and, I'm sure, plenty of moments that will become iconic, but for a show that was more than 30 minutes too long and much longer than most in recent memory, there didn't seem to be that much return on the investment of our time. It was so long, but, for what? All that Captain Kirk stuff at the beginning? All those extraneous musical numbers that seemed more poised to sell Blu-rays than actually educate the public? When the big highlight is Jennifer Lawrence almost embarrassing herself (as if that's possible), you know Oscar has plenty to work on before 2014.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images]
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Educated people who watch movies in the eighth row (because that’s where critics supposedly sit) and read The New York Times have been said to be tracking Jennifer Aniston’s career to prove a theory that her romantic circumstances influence the movie roles she chooses. Our guts tell us they do, for the main reason because they do … but it’s time someone push the Life Alert button and predict the kind of movies we have to look forward to if Aniston keeps picking projects according to how much the main character reminds her of herself. We'll begin with her latest film:
In her newest movie, The Switch, Aniston plays a character that has no husband or boyfriend, which is decidedly inconvenient considering her time to have a child is running out. It's funny, cause that's the exact same situation the real Aniston wakes up to each and every morning (minus the stupendous dimmers that Brad Pitt personally installed in the house they lived in together, and the weighted knowledge that he now has six children that she did not give him). Aniston’s constantly reiterating how many more options there are in terms of how a person becomes a parent to the press, and in this movie, she plays a woman who (for lack of a better term) "takes her own advice" and heaves ho to mommydom. It’s obvious Aniston chose this role because she currently finds herself without a partner, and she's beginning to consider the likelihood she'll have to be a parent by herself if she wants to be one at all.
So if there were so many similarities between Aniston’s real life and her character’s life in The Switch, it’s fair to reason her future movie roles would continue to be from her real life too, right? Well, sure! Brett Favre’s the pope, right?! Here are a few roles that some love-struck paperboy surely plopped down on her "Suck it, Brad!" mat outside her door just this morning.
First on Aniston’s calendar would be a little film called The Party, which would be about a woman so depressed over her divorce that she throws herself a party, and only invites eligible and outrageously handsome men. This assumed plot is almost identical to the scores of men whose souls she sucked out through their ear canals when she attempted to make herself feel better after she made the irrevocable decision to divorce Brad Pitt. Of course, no one is capable of having a functional relationship immediately after a divorce, and Aniston’s character surely embraces this truth by giving each and every guy who walks through her door a heavy dose of PCP so they’re all virtually unconscious and, therefore, much more amenable to letting her vent and rant about her plagued relationship. In the morning, after the party's ended, they all are certain to wake up and find they’re each missing four fingers and their ties, and they all have Hitler mustaches made out of toothpaste smeared on their faces. Of course, Aniston's real-life PCP habits don't happen to be documented very well, but that doesn't necessarily mean they don't exist. So this gotta-be-produced flick is far from out of the running.
Then there’s The Survivor, which would be a darker film ... indubitably, Jen would feel her experience with The Good Girl and Derailed and maybe even the skills that allowed her to show up on set for Management on time would serve as the driving force for her involvement in this movie. It's not a thriller, per say, because Jennifer Aniston doesn't get scared. About the closest she gets to scared is a combination of suspicion and embarrassment, with just a hint of self-loathing, like the lemon peel that sits on the rim of a Cosmo. The Survivor would be about a woman who is the only survivor of a plane crash (undoubtedly yet another reference to what going through a divorce felt like for her, the the inevitable change of becoming much more evaluative and unsure of life once she can't rely on someone else to bring the mail inside). In an attempt to get through her PTSD and the numerous other phobias she gained from the experience, she enters very serious therapy, attends group sessions every day, and lights a blue candle for herself every night for a reason the director does not think we should be privy to (because his previous movie was remarkably uninformative and yet earned him worldwide praise). Despite the rules of the healing book provided by her counselor, which forbid dating anyone in her therapy group, she finds herself falling in love with a man who was hit by a train and somehow, and almost stupidly, survived. The movie would be about the two of them trying to experience the joys of a relationship, even though their stubborn pasts have made them almost unflinchingly somber and their act is nearly impossible to get together.
And finally, there will be The Paper, about a woman named Nicole who works at a newspaper in Chicago. Nicole is dead-set on advancing her career in journalism and has completely abandoned the family she once wanted so terribly, replacing it with the desire for a Peabody Award. But then she meets Ben, a charming and perfect fellow journalist. The two quickly fall in love and get married, and everything's honky dory because they even get a dog named Norman together. Then one day, Ben's boss assigns him an article that is way too large for him to write by himself, so he's partnered with Angelica, who happens to be the most beautiful and powerful and assertive and strapless dressy-wearing journalist at the entire paper. Ben is quickly ready to trade Nicole's "wool socks and Casablanca" nights for Angelica's vivacious and unpredictable lifestyle, and swiftly ditches his wife for the intriguing young temptress. Abandoned and devastated, Nicole begins to feed Norman nightcrawlers because she feels compelled to make herself seem more adventurous.
So are you picking up on my merit badge-worthy Morse code here? Jennifer Aniston is an actress who rarely, if ever, does a movie where she's pushed outside her comfort zone. Clearly her strategy is to stick to what she knows best, which are stories of romance where funny things happen, like a dishwasher overflowing or an ex-husband chaining her to a bed because he's a bounty hunter. Will she ever star in the Lady Gaga biopic we all know will happen before the Elvis one does? Never! Aniston wouldn’t even get a tattoo for Courteney Cox! But what about a movie where a woman sleeps with a musician and has his baby, or even one who masquerades as a doctor because she believes a patient at a hospital is her soul mate and accidentally kills an old woman so as not to blow her cover? Not to worry – she’s on both of those like a perfectly cooked pasta noodle that’s stuck to a wall.
For a few years in the '60s and '70s producer Gerry Anderson made "supermarionation" all the rage in the world of British children's television. His stop-motion puppets starred in a number of sci-fi adventure series most memorably Thunderbirds which followed the exploits of International Rescue -- a team comprised of ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his sons. Based out of their secret fortress on Treasure Island the Tracys (aided by lovely secret agent Lady Penelope) used their amazing rocket-powered vehicles to prevent disasters and save lives around the world. Now 40 years after Thunderbirds' TV debut Star Trek vet Jonathan Frakes has brought Anderson's characters to life on the big screen. Front and center is youngest son Alan Tracy (Brady Corbet) who dreams of the day he too can pilot one of his family's fab ships and lead missions. But first he has to prove himself to his father Jeff (Bill Paxton). That opportunity comes sooner than either expects when mysterious villain The Hood (Ben Kingsley) strands Jeff and the older Tracy boys in space and attacks Treasure Island. With only his friends Tintin (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) and Fermat (Soren Fulton) to help him Alan has to grow up quickly if he wants to save his family ... and the world!
It would be easy to mock several of the performances in Thunderbirds-- to chide Paxton for his earnest seriousness as Tracy patriarch Jeff to dismiss Corbet's angst-tinged eagerness as Alan to roll your eyes at Kingsley's over-the-top mystical fierceness as The Hood and to wince at Fulton and Anthony Edwards' nerdy stuttering as science whizzes Fermat and his dad Brains. But actors are only as good as their script and the one Frakes has given his cast (courtesy of screenwriters William Osborne and Michael McCullers) is weak and clichéd at best filled with after-school-special-worthy lessons for Alan to learn. "You can't save everyone " Jeff tells his son somberly and even Tintin has a moral for her crush when he's feeling selfish and indulging in self-pity: "This is hard on all of us Alan." Talk about insight! What makes it even more frustrating is knowing that the actors are capable of much more even the kids: Both Corbet and Hudgens did well with supporting roles in Thirteen. Thunderbirds' only real bright spot is Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope. A cross between Reese Witherspoon's Elle in Legally Blonde and Jennifer Garner's Sydney on Alias Myles' Lady P doesn't let her pink couture wardrobe prevent her from coolly kicking ass when the situation demands it. Attended by her droll driver/man-of-all-trades Parker (Ron Cook) Lady Penelope is a fresh feisty heroine with all of the film's best lines -- and the coolest car to boot.
Frakes cut his directorial teeth on episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and his first feature film was Star Trek: First Contact so he would seem like a natural choice to bring a cult sci-fi TV show to the big screen. Unfortunately while he does an admirable job re-creating (and improving on) the original Thunderbirds' mod sets cool ships and special effects (which are fine if a bit more TV-sized than summer blockbustery) Frakes can't seem to decide who his audience is. If he was aiming at grown-ups who remember the show fondly from their own childhood he should have embraced the source material's campiness (à la Starsky and Hutch) rather than restricting it to the Tracys' plastic Barbie-like furniture and Lady P's bouffant hairdo. If on the other hand Frakes was hoping to entertain today's kids he should have really reinvented the show for a 21st-century world (à la Stephen Hopkins'1998 Lost in Space) rather than clinging to the '60s references As it is he's stuck somewhere in the middle leaving adults bored during the kids-on-an-adventure bits and children mystified by the handful of jokes aimed at their parents.