Everything is just oh-so-dramatic for 15-year-old Mary aka Lola (Lindsay Lohan) who is uprooted from her beloved New York City by her artist mother (Glenne Headly) and forced to live in what she thinks is the dregs of New Jersey suburbia. Once there however the wanna-be actress decides she'll make a difference in her high school and stand out among the common folk and show them what true art is all about. Of course with an attitude like that Lola immediately gets on the bad side of the school's most popular--and mean-spirited--girl Carla (Megan Fox) but makes fast friends with the meek Ella (Alison Pill) when they both discover they worship the same rock band called Sidarthur. Lola soon proves with unstoppable determination that whatever Lola wants Lola gets; she stands up to the evil Carla wins the lead role in the school musical and has the adventure of a lifetime trying to see a Sidarthur concert in New York with Ella. Yet Lola comes to realize that while being the premiere drama queen she sometimes has to come back down to earth to see what really matters in life.
Lindsay Lohan a Disney favorite who has truly become the Hayley Mills of this generation has the same bebop freshness she displayed in other Disney fare including last year's mega hit Freaky Friday and is the best choice to play the ultimate Teenage Drama Queen. Yet if you strip away all the sparkle and showmanship could Lohan hold her own playing a real honest-to-goodness dramatic role? At least the actress has far more potential than say that other teen fave Hilary Duff (who supposedly has a real-life feud going on with Lohan. Talk about drama). Alison Pill on the other hand who did a nice job playing the forgotten sister in the indie film Pieces of April is the one to watch out for. She illustrates far more depth as best friend Ella who is transformed from a mouse to a lion under Lola's influence. The scenes where Ella and Lola moon over Sidarthur--and the subsequent misadventure to see them in concert--gives the film its most realistic insight to a teenage girl's psyche--and the girls seem to have a great time connecting to one another. In the supporting roles character actress Headly does a quiet down-to-earth turn as Lola's mother while in comparison Carol Kane really hams it up as the drama teacher Ms. Baggoli with the wacky hair lispy speech and hyperactive personality.
Teenage Drama Queen is a Disney specialty. It's the kind of movie the studio is been known for and can execute the best--cutesy over-produced teen fare with a wholesome message tied up in a brightly colored and oftentimes zany package. Back in the day Kurt Russell and Hayley Mills were the favorites in films such as Russell's The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and the sequel Now You See Him Now You Don't (takes you back doesn't it?) as well as Mills' original The Parent Trap (which Lohan went on to remake in 1998). For Teenage Drama Queen the studio picked the up-and-coming Welsh director Sara Sugarman (Very Annie Mary) a self-proclaimed recovering drama queen herself who infuses the film with right amount of joie de vivre while keeping things in vogue for the MTV generation especially with the musical numbers and Lola's dream sequences. Plus the character's wardrobes are terminally hip; even the Sex and the City gals would be impressed. But while the film is certainly not as scary as the very dark Thirteen or dull as Catch That Kid Teenage Drama Queen doesn't offer anything poignant or remarkable beyond its glittering production value.
Top Story: Is Jackson Leaving the Country?
Michael Jackson, whose confiscated passport had been returned to him so he could fulfill contractual obligations to promote his new CD Number Ones overseas, has been ordered by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon to provide "documented confirmation" that his upcoming promotional trip to Britain is still happening, The Associated Press reports. London's Sun newspaper reported Sunday that Jackson, who is facing child molestation charges, had cancelled the planned Christmas tour, and if that's the case, the singer must once again surrender his passport to authorities, according to the District Attorney's office. But Jackson's spokesman, Stuart Backerman, told the AP Monday that he believed the trip was still on. Jackson was originally scheduled to travel to Britain on Dec. 20 and stay until Jan. 6. "I'm not aware of any cancellation," Backerman said. "He still is planning to go as far as I know."
Ozzy Released From Intensive Care
After fracturing his collarbone, eight ribs and a neck vertebra in an all-terrain vehicle accident Dec. 8, Ozzy Osbourne was finally moved out of intensive care Tuesday, AP reports. In a written statement, the Osbourne family said Ozzy had been moved from Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, west of London, to a private clinic. "The Osbourne family are very happy that Ozzy has been allowed out of the intensive care unit for Christmas and would like to thank everyone for their kind support, well wishes and prayers," the statement said.
Horn Gets To Go Home
After spending two months at the University of California, Los Angeles, hospital recovering from a tiger attack, animal trainer and entertainer Roy Horn has returned to his home in Las Vegas, Reuters reports. Horn, 59, part of the duo Siegfried and Roy, was nearly killed Oct. 3 when a male white tiger grabbed him by the neck and dragged him offstage at the Mirage resort in Las Vegas. Horn is able to write notes, his spokesman told Reuters, but no other details of the extent of his recovery were available.
Rings Tops African American Film Critics List
The African American Film Critics Association has picked The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as the top movie for 2003, AP reports, followed by Lost in Translation and In America. Director F. Gary Gray, who helmed the hit film The Italian Job, will receive a special achievement award. The African American Film Critics Association, which consists of print, broadcast and online movie reviewers, aims to draw attention to works that appeal to black audiences, star black actors or are made by black filmmakers, AP reports.
Palm Springs Fetes Johansson
Golden Globe-nominated actress Scarlett Johansson, who received nods for her work in Lost in Translation and Girl With a Pearl Earring, will be honored at the 15th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, along with Oscar-winning writer Sidney Sheldon and Cold Mountain production designer Dante Ferretti, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The awards gala will be held Jan. 11.
Judge Grants Magazine Excerpt of Eminem Song
Manhattan federal Judge Gerald Lynch will allow the hip-hop magazine The Source to publish CDs containing limited excerpts of a previously unreleased track by rapper Eminem that includes lyrics such as "black girls are dumb," AP reports, but the magazine can only print 20 seconds of material from the recording, rather than the entire song. The Source said it uncovered the recording while investigating the forces corrupting hip-hop, including racism, and had planned extensive coverage of it in their February issue, AP reports. Eminem has called the recording "foolishness," something he made as a teen "out of anger, stupidity and frustration" after breaking up with a black girlfriend."
White Stripes Singer Charged With Assault
Jack White, frontman to the Grammy-nominated band The White Stripes, was charged with aggravated assault Monday stemming from an unprovoked attack on another singer, Jason Stollsteimer, at a Detroit, Mich., club Dec. 13, Reuters reports. Witnesses say White approached Stollsteimer, 25, who sings for a local Detroit band the Von Bondies, spat on him and punched him in the face, continuing to hit Stollesteimer as he fell to the floor. White, 28, could face up to a year in prison if convicted.
Role Call: Lion Roars to the Big Screen
With the huge success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series, another classic fantasy epic, C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is coming to the big screen, AP reports. New Zealander Andrew Adamson, best known for the Oscar-winning animated feature Shrek, will direct the film and shoot it entirely on location in New Zealand. The movie is expected to be the first of five films based on Lewis' seven Chronicles of Narnia books. Lion, the second and most popular of the novels, centers on the tale of four British children who, to escape the blitz during World War II, are packed off to the rambling country mansion of an old professor. There they discover a wardrobe that is a gateway to the magical land of Narnia, with its fauns, centaurs, dwarves and giants, as well as a witch and a lion named Aslan.
Cradle 2 the Grave isn't going to be known as one of those action flicks that thrills you but also has a surprisingly interesting story to back it up. Still Cradle has enough credible plot points to keep things moving until the next fight sequence. The action begins with Tony Fait (Earl "DMX" Simmons) and his fiercely devoted crew--including the stunning Daria (Gabrielle Union) and comic relief Tommy (Anthony Anderson)--pulling off a complex jewelry heist and snagging a valuable cache of black diamonds. These diamonds aren't what they appear to be but are actually something much more powerful--and deadly. Su (Jet Li) working for the Taiwanese government as a secret agent must retrieve them before its too late. Fait would be happy to hand over the stones for the right price but word of their value has hit the street and they are stolen by a powerful crime lord (Chi McBride). Su and the crimelord end up being the least of Fait's problems however when Su's ex-partner Ling (Mark Dacascos) now a ruthless arms dealer enters the picture. He and his treacherous woman (Kelly Hu) will stop at nothing to get those black baubles including kidnapping Fait's daughter Vanessa (Paige Hurd). OK things just got personal. Fait Su and company have to work together to fight off the onslaught of nasties exact revenge stop possible world destruction and get back the only thing Fait cares about in the world--his daughter.
Is it me or is Jet Li just too damn cool for words? The whole martial arts arena has certainly been stepped up with the Jackie Chan's and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon's of the world but Li brings back that calm yet deadly demeanor the late Bruce Lee made so popular. Granted Li hasn't had the same success in the U.S. as Chan--save for maybe his American debut performance in the smokin' Romeo Must Die. But he sure is impressive on-screen kicking the bejesus outta someone without blinking an eye no matter what the asinine plot line. Hip-hop singer DMX who also appeared in Romeo Must Die (along with Anderson) holds his own as a tough nut über-thief but he finds a little difficulty emoting when the time comes. The hilarious Anderson and the oh-so-alluring Union are quickly becoming the "It" black actors (him: Kangaroo Jack Barbershop; her: Deliver Us From Eva the upcoming Bad Boys 2) while the forever-irritating Tom Arnold pops up as a demolition surplus dealer (but make sure to stay all the way through the credits to watch a hilarious exchange between him and Anderson). Hurd does an nice turn as the feisty Vanessa who is fairly resourceful for a kidnapped 10-year-old. It's easy to see the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Enough with all the superfluous plot lines and acting analysis--let's get down to real reason the movie exists. Action. High octane fist-flyin' action and as a self-proclaimed action junkie--and newly transformed martial arts fan--Cradle certainly doesn't disappoint. Director/cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak who worked with Li and DMX on Romeo Must Die knows how to frame the martial arts sequences while using the pounding hip-hop soundtrack and urban locale to full effect. One of the more fast-paced sequences has Fait outrunning police cars on a three-wheel ATV eventually jumping the bike from rooftop to rooftop while Su in another location is fighting off a dozen guys in a boxing pit including an aggressive midget who would like to smash Su's face in but ends becoming a device to fend off the rest. All while DMX is belting out a jammin' song. Great stuff. Of course you wait for the ultimate showdown between Su and his nemesis Ling and when it comes it's a jaw-clencher. The film is just a purely mindless roller-coaster ride.
Zak Gibbs (Jesse Bradford) finds what looks like a wristwatch while scavenging through a box of his father's junk. What he doesn't know is that the watch is actually a device that makes its wearer move so quickly that the rest of the world appears to be moving in slow motion. The device was sent to his father (Robin Thomas) a science professor and dilettante inventor by a former student (French Stewart) who is being held captive by an evil corporation. Now the evildoers want their watch back and kidnap the professor while Zak unaware that his father is in grave danger runs around town with a cutie pie exchange student (Paula Garces) freezing time. Of course the two teens eventually join forces and save the day. Not only is the film's plot is so unbelievably implausible the characters are ridiculously typecast. The most insulting is Zak's black friend Meeker (Garikayi Mutambirwa) who dreams of winning a DJ competition. Eager to help him win Zak and his gal pal go into hypertime and make like puppeteers moving Meeker's arms and legs so that in real time it appears as though he's a good dancer.
Jesse Bradford (Bring It On) is the most redeemable thing in this film. His character Zak is a conventional teen who is smart but not brilliant and clever without being a hero. But unfortunately Bradford is stuck in this mess of a movie acting alongside the pretty but frothy Paula Garces. Like most girls in the movies nowadays her character Francesca de la Cruz is a vixen that cleverly puts guys in their places and can single-handedly beat up a villain. French Stewart is Dr. Earl Dopler the watch's creator. Although his brainy character is the opposite of his airheaded Harry on Third Rock From the Sun Stewart seems like he is the same persona simply reading a different script. Robin Thomas (The Contender) and Julia Sweeney (Whatever It Takes) play Zak's parents. Both are pretty standard fare: Thomas the parent married to his work at the expense of his relationship with Zak while Sweeney is a regular June Cleaver type.
Why Jonathan Frakes better known as Commander Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation or anyone for that matter would put their names on this project is unfathomable. From the hideously flashy and noisy opening credits to the predictable denouement Clockstoppers is about as entertaining as nails scraping against a chalkboard. The ridiculous story accompanied by flimsy special effects was penned by too many writers to mention. This may explain the massive plot inconsistencies--are they not supposed to count because this film is aimed at younger viewers? At one point Zak comes to the realization that for others to come in and out of hypertime they must be touching him. But there are several instances throughout the film that clearly contradict this. The watch also makes its users age rapidly but seems to spare Zak his friends and the evildoers of this fate. And is there no gravity in hypertime? Zak and Francesca were able to toss Meeker around the stage like he was weightless. And is Meeker a typical cheery Jamaican caricature with thick dreadlocks in the film for no other reason than to offend? His character disappears halfway through the film after being redeemed by his white rescuers.