With cast members like Chris Pratt, John C. Reilly, and the rumored Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler, die hard comic book fans might be wondering if the developing Guardians of the Galaxy film adaptation is skewing a bit too lighthearted. But intensity brews! Deadline reports that the latest dramatist to join production is Benicio del Toro... meaning that this film won't exactly be all smiles but feature a good deal of daunting severity. No word yet on what role del Toro is expected to play, but his reported agreement with Marvel Studios has him optioned for future films, suggesting that it's got to be a pretty substantial character. But as Guardians thickens its thespian caliber with del Toro, it also ups the ante on geekiness: Doctor Who favorite Karen Gillan is also joining the cast, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Fans of the long-running sci-fi series will be pleased to see Gillan pioneer a big screen career with Guardians, which will offer the actress her first major film role. Details on the character are slim, except for the fact that she will be the movie's central female villain — in other words, probably a pretty meaty (and fun) role.
With Zoe Saldana and Glenn Close also set for the Marvel film, Guardians is mounting a cast that promises victory in every realm: it's got the factors of comedy and adventure down pat and has just bolstered its bragging rights for the awards circuit and the nerd kingdom. The Guardians' future is bright.
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There's probably still someone somewhere that would fall for one of Sacha Baron Cohen's weird and wooly scenarios but let's face the facts: the days when Ali G. could snag an interview with Pat Buchanan or Gore Vidal are long gone. 2009's Bruno definitely let some steam out of Borat's tires not to mention the ensuing lawsuits. But it's refreshing to see Cohen and his Borat/Bruno cohort director Larry Charles flex their muscles in the fictional universe of The Dictator a vehicle that doesn't skimp on their signature cringe-worthy humor.
The world of The Dictator gives them the leeway to create crazy spectacles — at one point Cohen's General Aladeen rides down Fifth Avenue on a camel surrounded by a giant motorcade. Having a plot helps too; although part of the genius of Sacha Baron Cohen's schtick is how the viewer is made culpable by proxy by our amusement and horror at how he tricks and torments people who aren't in on the joke The Dictator continues the self-reflexive satirical bite. We're certainly not off the hook. Aladeen says and does truly outrageous things but they're also exaggerations of the world we live in. It might be a stretch to call Sacha Baron Cohen the British Lenny Bruce or George Carlin in a face merkin but rest assured that no topic is off limits. If you are offended by jokes about abortion rape feminists body hair race religion politics STDs war crimes ethnic cleansing necrophilia and/or bestiality don't even bother. However if you like the kind of comedy that makes you hide your face in your hands feeling like each laugh is being pried from you against your will you're in business.
Cohen eats up the screen as both General Aladeen and his incredibly dumb body double; the latter prefers the intimate company of one of his goats to a human while the former is a fairly stupid ruthless dictator whose own people are so disloyal to him that they actually ignore his commands to execute people. (He really likes to execute people.) When he arrives in New York City to attend a summit at the UN his uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley) has the two switched so he can easily manipulate the "General" into signing a treaty to make Wadiya a democracy and reap the financial benefits. Aladeen finds refuge with Zoe a hairy-pitted activist who thinks he's a political dissident and is excited to be able to give him a safe haven in her touchy-feely Brooklyn grocery co-op. Instead of being typecast as another blonde dummy Anna Faris is finally given room to play as the wide-eyed naïf who takes Aladeen's very serious statements as jokes or simple miscommunications. She's a great foil to Baron Cohen who is easily half a foot taller than she is and has a wolfish grin. Their banter is often the most politically incorrect of the bunch but also the funniest.
Alas the plot. It's a bare bones situation to get a very broad character from A to B. Aladeen is obviously an outlandish mishmash of modern dictators; he spouts racist misogynist rhetoric endlessly and after a while...yeah we get it. However like all of Sacha Baron Cohen's humor The Dictator also takes a direct shot at Western countries (specifically the United States) which would be all fine and dandy if he didn't wedge an expository speech in about it as well. The problem with making a traditional narrative movie is that with some exceptions you've got to play within the guidelines. The Dictator isn't trying to do anything fancy; all it needs a few big beats and a neat ending to wrap it all up. It doesn't quite manage to tie it all together in a way that makes The Dictator more than an hour and a half or so of laughing and cringing.
Besides Faris and Kingsley there are a number of cameos by a very wide variety of comics and actors. Megan Fox plays herself Kevin Corrigan appears as a creepy dude who works at the co-op John C. Reilly is a racist security guard and Fred Armisen runs an anti-Aladeen café in New York's Little Wadiya district. The very funny Jason Mantzoukas has a large role as Nadal the former head of rocket science who was supposedly executed for not making Aladeen's nuclear warhead pointy. It's a good ensemble and hopefully Sacha Baron Cohen's next feature-length film will build on The Dictator's weaknesses.
Is it just me or does Marisa Tomei take the single MILF role a hell of a lot (The Wrestler and Cyrus for a start)? For example, take a look at this clip from The Lincoln Lawyer where she's at least improved her onscreen prospects (sorry John C. Reilly and Mickey Rourke, but Matthew McConaughey's way higher on the hot scale), but that whole "I have a kid" thing is still getting in the way...sort of. Okay, so it's a little different this time around because in the movie, Tomei plays McConaughey's character's ex-wife so the whole "I have a kid" thing isn't exactly a surprise, but damn does she have the single mother guilt trip down pat at this point.
Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) has been hotdoggin’ since the day he was born--when legend has it his momma (Jane Lynch) popped him out of her belly in the back seat of a car. Now grown up and living his dream as a NASCAR driver he takes his swagger out onto the tracks with mixed results. Even though he and lifelong friend Cal (John C. Reilly) usually end up in first and second place respectively his owner deems him a financial liability after he finishes a race in reverse. Consequently a prim proper and gay French F-1 driver (Da Ali G Show’s Sacha Baron Cohen) is recruited as a new investment and Ricky gets in a horrific crash trying to beat him winding up paralyzed…in his mind. After a long road back--which sees Cal steal Ricky’s lady (Leslie Bibb) and limelight and Ricky reunite with his estranged racer dad (Gary Cole)--Ricky learns to leave showmanship homophobia and pyrophobia (fear of fire) in his dust and just drive the damn car! Ah...Will Ferrell in his total element--it’s a beautiful thing and one we haven’t much seen since SNL. Until now. In Talladega Ferrell brings his energy satire and out-of-the-blue pop-culture references to new highs in his best post-SNL performance yet. And if you close your eyes and listen to Ferrell’s faux South-speak you can hear his great George Dubya send-up of yore. Matching Ferrell scene for scene--in quality not quantity--is Reilly. With his role as a tractable doofus with a good heart Reilly has now completed the whole spectrum of roles and can be unequivocally branded an acting chameleon. Oddly he seems best fit a tractable doofus but that’s merely a testament to his abilities. Cohen’s biggest mainstream role to date is also a hit as he applies equal parts Ali G’s Borat and hyperbolic French stereotype for often hilarious results. And Amy Adams stars as Ricky’s neglected assistant; it’s a role so small that she must’ve signed on before Junebug took her to the Oscars. If after his hit ‘70s San Diego news show Ron Burgundy were to have done something to necessitate placement in a witness protection program it’s not inconceivable that he could've relocated to the South found his true calling as a pompous NASCAR driver and taken the fake-sounding name Ricky Bobby. That’s no coincidence: Talladega like Anchorman is written by Ferrell and Adam McKay who also directed. But the two have filled in the blanks from their previous collaboration for a more well-rounded effort. The duo best complement one another when it comes to Ferrell’s sense of humor; it is at its core drier than most care to realize but the co-writers manage to moisten it in such a way for all to thoroughly enjoy. What really separates this film from its predecessor though is the action--the racing scenes will surprise! And to that end McKay uses the NASCAR angle to reel in its massive contingency as well as Ferrell/comedy fans all of whom should go home happy.
David Callaway (Robert De Niro) is having a tough time dealing with the apparent suicide of his wife (Amy Irving). His young daughter Emily (Dakota Fanning) also has taken her mother's death very hard retreating into her own little world. As a psychologist David decides the only way to help Emily is to move from the big city to a house in the country. Sure that kind of thing usually works like a charm. Emily does perk up a bit when she finds a new "friend " Charlie who likes to have fun and play hide and seek with her. Of course we can't actually see this new friend but that's beside the point. The imaginary Charlie is still a powerful force in Emily's life instructing her not to talk about him much and hating pretty much everyone else in her life including her dad. In short order bad things start happening--yes the family pet gets whacked--which Emily blames on Charlie. This leaves David wondering how his little girl could have turned so psychotic. But wait. Maybe Charlie isn't imaginary after all but actually a flesh-and-blood malevolent presence. Oh god do you think so?
Why you may ask would an acting icon like Robert De Niro star of such classic movies as Raging Bull and Goodfellas choose such a cheesy film as Hide and Seek? Very good question. Maybe he was drawn into the project based on the premise like the rest of us without realizing how derivative the story would get as things progressed. Of course De Niro plays the confused father--dealing with what could possibly be a demonic child--with a fair amount of finesse. But he's a pro that's what he does. Fanning (I Am Sam) too does the best she can as the sunken-eyed pasty-faced Emily. She sulks around rarely smiles and draws scary pictures of people dying horrible deaths which has now become a prerequisite for any child in a scary movie. In the supporting roles Elisabeth Shue Famke Janssen and Dylan Baker are all pretty much wasted. Shue who hasn't acted in anything major since 2000's Hollow Man makes a brief appearance as a potential paramour for David. Janssen (X-Men) playing David's colleague and Emily's confidante thinks living in isolation is a bad idea (and she's right!). Veteran character actor Baker (Kinsey) takes on the predictable role of the hapless town sheriff who never quite gets he's about to be in a world of hurt.
It is always disappointing when the promise of something potentially creepy turns out to possess the same old tired plot points and scare tactics seen countless times before. Director John Polson--best known for helming Swimfan another predictable stalker-gone-mad thriller--and novice screenwriter Ari Schlossberg don't have the necessary skills to take Hide and Seek above and beyond its conventional trappings. To its small credit the film does build a bit of tension in the beginning as David and Emily skirt around each other trying to grasp onto some kind of normalcy. Then when Emily introduces Charlie you continue to hold out hope that somehow the filmmakers will channel some of M. Night Shyamalan's aura and start really scaring the bejesus out of you. But alas it isn't meant to be. Instead you're sitting there pretty much guessing every move the film is going to make before it happens. When the twist finally comes around--you knew there was a twist right?--it doesn't really surprise you whether you've guess it or not.
Top Story: Sean Connery Tops Worst Film Accent Poll
According to a poll by UK movie magazine Empire, Oscar winner Sean Connery has been named the actor with the worst film accent of all time. Edinburgh-born Connery may have won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe in 1988 for his performance as Irish cop Jim Malone in the 1987 film The Untouchables, but movie experts agreed his accent was the pits. "Whether he's a Russian sub captain (The Hunt for Red October) or even an English king (First Knight and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), always that baritone Highland burr remains," one critic said in the magazine's August edition. Others who made the list include Dick Van Dyke for his attempt at an East London cockney accent in Mary Poppins; Brad Pitt for his Austrian-accented mountaineer in Seven Years in Tibet; Heather Graham for her British-accented prostitute in From Hell; Julia Roberts for her attempts at a Brit accent in Mary Reilly and Meryl Streep for her try at Danish accent in Out of Africa.
Company Sues Greek Wedding Team
MPH Entertainment, the company that first optioned Nia Vardalos' screenplay for My Big Fat Greek Wedding in 1997, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles against the writer/actress and the film's producers, claiming they are owed 3 percent of the actual profits from the picture. Jim Milio, Melissa Jo Peltier and Mark Hufnail say they have received nothing to date save for an accounting statement from producers HBO and Gold Circle Films, who are being sued along with Tom Hanks' Playtone Prods, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The statement claimed the $5 million film lost $20.6 million as of March 31 despite selling more than $600 million worth of tickets worldwide.
TCM To Air Hepburn Marathon
Turner Classic Movies will honor the late Katharine Hepburn on Thursday with a 24-hour film tribute, hitting many of the high points from 1933 to 1968. The films slated to air include Mary of Scotland (1936), Holiday (1938), Woman of the Year (1942), Adam's Rib (1949), Pat and Mike (1952), The Lion in Winter (1968), Katharine Hepburn: All About Me, a documentary by David Heeley (1993), Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Little Women (1933) and Undercurrent (1946).
Madonna Gets Her Privacy
Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie, who wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair expressing concern that the planned walkway just 100 yards from their country mansion in Wiltshire, southern England, would encourage curious sightseers and paparazzi, have won their battle. The Countryside Agency said the singer was among hundreds of residents who filled out a comment sheet about proposed changes under a redrawing of maps for the area. Madonna previously complained about low-flying aircraft above her $14.5 million Ashcombe House and was ordered to dismantle 12-foot-high security gates after failing to apply for planning permission.
Brandy and Hubby Split
Former teen pop princess Brandy has confirmed reports that she and Robert Smith, her husband and father of her 1-year-old daughter, have split, the AP reports. A statement released Tuesday by Atlantic Records said: "Brandy and her husband are splitting. They will remain friends and raise their daughter jointly." Brandy, 24, announced in February 2002 that she had been secretly married to Smith, a music producer, for several months. In June, she gave birth to her first child, with MTV documenting the preparations for the birth with the reality series Brandy--Special Delivery.
P. Diddy Sued for Racketeering
Kirk Burrowes, the former president and general manager of Sean "P.Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment, has filed a $25 million suit Monday in Manhattan federal court against the rap mogul, Reuters reports. Burrowes claims that in 1996, Combs threatened him with a baseball bat and forced him to surrender his 25 percent interest in the company, which he had formed with the rapper in 1992. Borrowes, who earned $125,000 a year as president of Bad Boy, was fired in 1997. The suit also alleges Combs interfered with a contract Burrowes had to manage Mary J. Blige, causing the singer to end the contract. Combs called the allegations "pure fantasy."
Brits Need New Celeb Couple
What will the British do now that celebrity couple David Beckham and his wife Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham are moving to Spain? According to Reuters, Britain's celebrity watchers are searching their gossip magazines for a new couple to take over as the nation's unofficial king and queen. Contenders include Chris Martin, lead singer of pop giants Coldplay, and girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow; or Australian pop diva Kylie Minogue and her actor boyfriend Olivier Martinez. But celebrity watchers say neither couples have the charisma nor the desire for fame that has driven the Beckhams to the top of the showbiz heap.
We've all known nobodies like Joe Scheffer (Tim Allen)--a milquetoast fellow who works at his job while hardly anyone notices him. Even though he's a talented video specialist for a big company he is regularly passed over for a long-promised promotion. Only one of his co-workers "wellness coordinator" Meg Harper (Julie Bowen) pays attention to him--mostly because it's her job but she also genuinely likes him (he secretly likes her too). One day the straw breaks when he loses his hard earned parking spot to the office bully Mark McKinney (Patrick Warburton) and is then humiliated by Mark in front of his precocious 12-year-old daughter Natalie (Hayden Panettiere). Joe decides he is not going to roll over and play dead; he's going to challenge Mark. Suddenly his popularity grows at the office. He starts climbing the corporate ladder. He gets a makeover and takes martial arts instruction from a washed-up "B" action star (Jim Belushi). Life is good--that is until Joe notices how unimpressed Meg and Natalie have become; they want the old Joe back (and darn it so do we). As the big day approaches Joe must decide if he will play into the popular vote or show everyone that he is truly a "somebody" now.
You've got to admit that Tim Allen is a funny guy. He can be thrown into any comedy (and he's smart enough to keep making them instead of trying to do a "drama") and you know he's going to pull out a pretty good performance. Some of his efforts like the hysterical Galaxy Quest have been better than others. Unfortunately Joe falls into the "other" category but don't blame Allen too much since he still manages to make Joe an endearing character. Bowen is plucky and spirited without much substance while Panettiere is a standout as Joe's daughter Natalie. With a face like an angel she projects more real emotion than anyone else and if she plays her cards right she might turn into a good little actress. Best of all it was great to see Belushi again. Definitely a high point of the film he is hysterical as the has-been action star trying to teach Joe how to fight.
Joe provides just enough laughs to keep you in your seat but it isn't really going to surprise you. The formula is simple-wimpy guy stands up for himself learns invaluable lesson about being true to oneself and gets the girl. This isn't rocket science folks and the script lapses into pat answers a little too easily. Still it's one of those comedies that grows on you whether you want it to or not. The funniest moments in the film are between Allen and Belushi hands down with the comic veterans playing off one other expertly. It's also clear director John Pasquin and Allen have a long history together. They began their relationship on Allen's hit TV show Home Improvement and then went on to make a few successful films for Disney including The Santa Clause and Jungle2Jungle. Pasquin can bring out good stuff from Allen but somehow misses the great things Allen can do.