In just about every one of Kevin Hart's scenes in Ride Along, there's a joke that is just aching to find its way out of the diminutive, rascally comic actor. Hart is a small-scale physical comedian — of the same ilk as Jack Black — who puts nuclear-degree energy into his facial contortions, anatomical outbursts, and the delivery of every gag in general. If only he had material that was crafted with the same energy.
Unfortunately, nothing else about Ride Along seems at all "hard at work." Not the script, which pads a lifeless story with lazy comedy, and certainly not his screen partner Ice Cube, whose only stage direction seems to be "frown, and be taller than Kevin Hart." So lifeless is Ice Cube that even his machismo-obsessed straight man bit doesn't really work. Instead of the virile and intimidating "bad cop," he comes off as a disapproving middle aged dad without much to show for his own life.
But the script pairs the wily, overzealous high school security guard and video game junkie Ben (Hart) with no-nonsense lawman James (Ice Cube) on the titular ride along, with the scrappy cop-wannabe hoping to prove to the force veteran that he's good enough to marry the latter's younger sister. In earnest, he's not. Ben never puts any respectable effort into learning the tools of the trade, insisting on employing his amateur style and controlling the radio despite his proclamations that he wants, and deserves, James' trust. And James is no saint either — he's irresponsible on crime scenes, violent with perps, and disgruntled to the point of being unable to work with anybody else on the force. These are not good police officers... of course, you'll say, this is a comedy. But where are the laughs, then?
They're not absent entirely, you just have to look for them. In a movie so focused with big, broad humor, it's the smaller comedy that actually lands best. Hart's background mutterings and fumblings, his emoticon-laden texts to girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter, whose only stage direction seems to be "smile, and never wear a full outfit of clothing"), and a bizarre repetition of the word "weird" from supporting player John Leguizamo. All good for unexpected chuckles, while jokes like Hart facing off with a pre-teen or being blown backwards into a brick wall after firing a large gun are all lazy, familiar, and flat.
Structurally, the script is a mess. Ride Along spends far too much time on set up — we get it, Hart and his soon-to-be-brother-in-law Ice Cube don't get along — and far too much time on wrap-up — there's a gigantic, dramatic warehouse shootout that, in any other movie, would be the climax, but there's plenty more to go after that — without any cohesive middle to make the movie feel like... a movie.
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Hart, who leaps at every comic opportunity like a kangaroo (wallaby would be more appropriate), is suited just right for a buddy cop comedy, but he needs something fresh with which to work — a real character, an interesting story, actually funny jokes. Even just one of these would be fine!
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
The 15th Annual Webby Awards announced their winners today and, well, there's not too much surprise here. Apparently, the main factor in determining if someone deserves a Webby or not is the level of their fame. This years winners include Justin Bieber, Lisa Kudrow and Zach Galifiankis, among others. Regarding websites, Funny or Die unsurprisingly led the way, considering they're pretty much hilarious in everything they do. Anyway, check out the complete list below:
Winners in Multiple Categories: Funny Or Die (8), Google Creative Labs (5), Wieden+Kennedy (4), @radical.media (4), Discovery Communications (4), Goodby,Silverstein & Partners (4), MLB Advanced Media, LP (3), The New York Times (3), TED.com (3), ESPN (3), AOL (3).
Winners boasting star-power include:
Lisa Kudrow’s “Web Therapy,” (Best Comedy: Long Form, and Best Individual Performance in an Online Video)
Adrian Grenier’s Shft.com (Webby Award and People’s Voice Award)
Arcade Fire’s “The Wilderness Downtown,” (Webby and People’s Voice Award for Best Experimental & Weird Video)
Conan O’Brien‘s “Team Coco,” (Webby Award and People’s Voice or Best Celebrity/Fan website)
Zach Galifianakis’ “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” (Webby Award for Web Personality/Host , Webby Award and People’s Voice Award for Best Online Variety Show, Webby Award and People’s Voice Award for Best Comedy Individual Short or Episode featuring Steve Carell)
Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Dana Carvey, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, Darrell Hammond’s “Funny or Die’s Presidential Reunion” (directed by Ron Howard), (People’s Voice Award for Best Comedy: Long Form or Series)
Snoop Dogg and LL Cool J’s “Snoop Dogg vs. LL Cool J: The Ultimate Halo Smack Down,” (People’s Voice Award for Best Branded Entertainment)
Jim Carrey’s “Funny or Die’s Presidential Reunion,” (People’s Voice Award for Best Individual Performance in an Online Video)
Winners of Both a Webby Award and People’s Voice Award include:
2 Guys 600 Pillows
Best Use of GPS/Location Technology
Best Use of Online Media
The Johnny Cash Project
Best Use of Social Media
Old Spice Response Campaign
Best Tourism Website
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Online
Best Mobile Game
Best Celebrity/Fan Website
Best Green Website
Best Weird Website
Awkward Family Photos
Best Personal Website
What I Made
Best Web Service and Application
A list of winners in other major categories follows:
REDU (Webby Award)
Avaaz (People’s Voice Award)
Dropbox (Webby Award)
Skype (People’s Voice Award)
Best Web Personality/Host
Funny or Die’s Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifinakis (Webbys Award)
Justine Ezarik for iJustine (People’s Voice Award)
Team Coco (Webby Award and People’s Voice Award)
OpenIDEO (Webby Award)
Twitter (People’s Voice Award)
Entertainment – Tablets and Other Devices
PBS for iPad (Webby Award)
MythBusters App (People’s Voice Award)
SHFT.com (Webby Award)
Funny Or Die (Webby Award)
College Humor (People’s Voice Award)
Web Therapy (Webby Award)
Funny Or Die's Presidential Reunion - Jim Carrey as President Reagan (People’s Voice Award)
New Yorker (Webby Award)
National Geographic Magazine (People’s Voice Award)
What I Made (Webby Award)
Travel – Mobile & Applications
TripIt (Webby Award)
KAYAK Mobile for iPhone (People’s Voice Award)
Boardwalk Empire - Interactive Boardwalk (Webby Award)
Hulu (People’s Voice Award)
CNN Walk Around the World (Webby Award)
Girls Are Bad At Sound Effects (People’s Voice Award)
Rated Awesome (Webby Award)
Bed Intruder Song (People’s Voice Award)
Web Service and Application
Dropbox (Webby Award)
Awkward Family Photos (Webby Award)
When 20th Century Fox originally announced it's ambitious new Steven Spielberg/Peter Chernin-produced adventure show Terra Nova, the media-munching-masses got really excited, really quickly. After all, it's not every day that the innovative minds behind small-screen hits like Band of Brothers, 24, FlashForward, Amazing Stories and The Pacific get together for one super-sized program. Needless to say, Terra Nova was one of the big hits during May sweeps.
Unfortunately, since the spring presentation, the production's momentum has slowed down and the delay has caused Fox Television and the producer's to push the premiere of the anticipated show back from a mid-season launch to May 2011 (NOTE: the show will premiere in May, but won't return with regularly scheduled episodes until Fall 2011). It's not surprising, considering Terra Nova's themes involving grand, pre-historic science fiction and effects-heavy production demands. With only one actor set - Life On Mars' Jason O'Mara - and a whole lot of design work to be done, this minor setback ensures that the producers will have enough time to create the most visually stunning and immersive experience that the tube has ever broadcast. Come May 2011, we'll have an engrossing small screen experience to look forward to in addition to the many movies that we're all excited about.
Read on below for Fox's official press release:
TERRA NOVA, the new family adventure drama series executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, Brannon Braga and David Fury, will preview in May 2011 on FOX prior to its series premiere in the fall.
Jason O'Mara ("Life on Mars") has been cast in the lead role of JIM SHANNON, the patriarch of the show's central family. As previously announced, Emmy Award winner Alex Graves (FRINGE) will direct the pilot, and Emmy Award-winning executive producer and director Jon Cassar ("24") has joined the series as an executive producer and series director.
"TERRA NOVA will be one of the most visually stimulating and dramatically grand series to air on network television," said Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. "It deserves to have an equally unique launch to distinguish that the show is unlike any other, and the spring promotional platform will give us the perfect opportunity to introduce this bold show to audiences."
TERRA NOVA, an epic family adventure 85 million years in the making, follows an ordinary family embarking on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a massive experiment to save the human race. In the year 2149 the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped, overcrowded and overpolluted. Knowing there is no way to reverse the damage to the planet, a coalition of scientists has managed to open up a fracture in the space-time continuum, creating a portal to prehistoric Earth. This doorway leads to an amazing world, one that allows for a last-ditch effort to save the human race...possibly changing the future by correcting the mistakes of the past.
The series centers on the Shannon family as they join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to TERRA NOVA, the first colony of humans in this second chance for civilization. JIM SHANNON (O'Mara), a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family - wife ELISABETH and children JOSH and MADDY - through this new land of limitless beauty, mystery and terror. In addition to blue skies, rolling rivers and lush vegetation, TERRA NOVA offers new opportunities and fresh beginnings to its recent arrivals, but the Shannons have brought with them a familial secret that may threaten their citizenship in this utopia. These adventurers soon discover that this healthy, vibrant world is not as idyllic as it initially appears. The areas surrounding TERRA NOVA are filled with dangerous dinosaurs and other prehistoric threats, as well as external forces that may be intent on destroying this new world before it begins.
TERRA NOVA is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, DreamWorks Television, Kapital Entertainment and Chernin Entertainment. Steven Spielberg, Peter Chernin, Brannon Braga, David Fury, Jon Cassar, Aaron Kaplan, Katherine Pope, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Craig Silverstein and Kelly Marcel serve as executive producers. Alex Graves will direct the pilot episode.
Though Garry Marshall hasn’t made a decent flick since 1990’s Pretty Woman he still apparently wields a not inconsiderable amount of clout in Hollywood. What else could explain the all-star ensemble of actors who gathered for Valentine’s Day? Among the major names found probing the turgid depths of the nearly 80-year-old director’s insipid rom-com are Julia Roberts Anne Hathaway Ashton Kutcher Jessica Alba Jamie Foxx Jessica Biel Taylor Lautner and various other prominent actors who either owe favors to Marshall or whose incriminating photos he holds in his possession.
A slice-of-life tale unfolding in Los Angeles over the course of a single Valentine’s Day the film chronicles the romantic adventures of a diverse cast of characters at various stages of relationships and encompassing virtually every conceivable demographic category. Their ages backgrounds and perspectives often dramatically differ but they each share one trait in common: Almost without exception they are all ceaselessly painfully disastrously unfunny.
Some temper their dishumor with a dose of the annoying like Kutcher whose dopey florist Marshall unwisely chose to anchor Valentine’s Day’s story around. Others add a dash of the preposterous like Roberts dressed in military fatigues in a laughable attempt to play a U.S. Army Captain on leave from the front. Still others add cloying sentiment to the mix like Bryce Robinson’s lovelorn 10-year-old whose grandparents played by Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo ply him with nostalgic romantic tips pre-fabricated for maximum inter-generational cuteness. Whatever your preferred method of cinematic torture may be you’ll undoubtedly encounter it in this film.
In addition to challenging the pain threshold Valentine’s Day offers a test of endurance as well its story requiring over two hours to satisfy the narrative demands of its swollen cast. If you didn’t despise Hallmark’s ersatz holiday before you certainly will after enduring this Bataan Death March of rom-coms.
Like Love Actually and any number of other ensemble romantic comedies in which we watch a starry cast navigate their way through the treacherous world of romantic relationships He's Just Not That Into You -- based on the Sex and the City catch-phrase and very loosely on the resulting self-help book of the same name -- focuses on a select group of twenty- and thirtysomethings who find love is just not easy to find and hang on to in the Internet age. Here’s the scorecard: Neil (Ben Affleck) loves his seven year live-in girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Aniston) just not enough to marry her; while Beth (Jennifer Connelly) forced marriage on Ben (Bradley Cooper) before he was ready and now he’s seriously flirting with seductress. Anna (Scarlett Johansson) who’s kinda bored with her occasional sex partner Conor (Entourage’s Kevin Connolly) who would love to get her to take him seriously. Then there’s sweet likeable and lovelorn Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) who hasn’t had the best of luck with men and takes advice from restaurant manager Alex (Justin Long) who constantly gives his perspective of the harsh realities of dating. Finally there’s good-natured Mary (Drew Barrymore) a newspaper ad sales exec who uses any number of new technologies to meet a man -- usually via her computer. The well-chosen cast is strong and likeable making the experience of seeing this overlong (at 129 minutes) romantic trifle enjoyable and fun. It’s great to see Connelly trying something lighter these days and as a wife whose marriage is slipping away she manages to be alternately funny and touching. Aniston scores in the teary scene department as a perpetual bridesmaid involved with a marriage-shy guy nicely underplayed by Affleck. Cooper is wryly funny in his wandering hubby role and Long’s romantic advice is dished out with sardonic style and wit. But it’s Goodwin who carries much of the load here and she’s endearing in her own way. Ken Kwapis knows his way around chick flicks having directed Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants among others and he shows he’s up to the challenge presented by the multi-character storyline – though at times it seems like he’s playing traffic cop just keeping the various parts merging into a whole that makes dramatic sense. None of it is earth-shatteringly original but as a date movie there’s more than enough to satisfy the girls -- and the guys.
Well if the title doesn’t say it all…Picking up where Alien vs. Predator left off those pesky aliens cause the Predator ship to crash on Earth setting them free near a Colorado town. A lone Predator (Ian Whyte encoring from AvP) comes to Earth to clean up the mess and what the hell maybe pick up a few human trophies too. Needless to say the town’s human residents are completely unprepared for this sort of inter-galactic free-for-all on their streets. This is after all the sort of town where everybody knows everybody but no one seems to notice when a spaceship crashes in the woods outside of town or when the self-same spaceship blows up the next day. In short you could say that they get what’s coming to them--and they sure do. Pretty dreadful all around. Then again Shane Salerno’s script is pointless to begin with. Steven Pasquale (TV’s Rescue Me) plays the ex-con hero Dallas (a nod to the original Alien). Reiko Aylesworth (TV’s 24) plays a veteran of the Gulf War who returns stateside just in time to engage in another one--a pretty pale homage to Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley character. John Ortiz plays the local sheriff one of the dullest (and dumbest) screen lawmen in recent memory. Veteran Robert Joy drops in briefly as a weasely U.S. Army colonel who would just as soon nuke the town as try to save it. Every time this film focuses on the (one-dimensional) human characters it stops cold. Unfortunately this happens a lot. There’s no reason to root for them because you simply don’t care. True to form most of them are sliced diced chopped lasered exploded from within and otherwise treated in a shabby fashion. They are simply fodder. Just for the record this is the sixth Alien film and the fourth Predator film and it holds the dubious distinction of being the worst of any of them. The special effects are just dandy but not much else is. This also marks the inauspicious feature directorial debut of noted visual effects artists Colin and Greg Strause (billed as “The Brothers Strause”). They clearly have an affinity for this sort of thing--and for the Alien and Predator franchises--but are just as clearly content to simply let the special effects run away with the story. The first Alien vs. Predator movie was no great shakes but it was better than it had any right to be. This one is not. Responding to the fans who wanted this film to be R-rated the Brothers Strause have delivered on that--and absolutely nothing more. It’s a pointless exercise.