Jody is a jobless but highly charismatic young man who has not only fathered two children by different women--Yvette (Taraji Henson) and Peanut (Tamara LaSeon Bass)--but still lives with his own mother Juanita (A.J. Johnson). He wants to be with Yvette but can't quite fully commit to her and quit his philandering ways. Jody doesn't think his life is all that bad and somewhat enjoys skirting the line between boy and man. Juanita tries as hard as she can to make Jody grow up and become a responsible adult but it isn't until a new man Melvin (Ving Rhames) enters her life and moves into the house that Jody must face the consequences. There isn't much room for a grown kid who has overstayed his welcome and this realization scares the heck out of him. However the hard journey Jody embarks upon forces him to face his fears own up to his responsibilities and finally settle down with the woman he really loves.
Singleton is known for using relatively unknown actors in his films and has generated some exquisite performances especially from Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. in Boyz and from the late Tupac Shakur in 1993's Poetic Justice. This time around Singleton has found a gem in popular MTV DJ and recording artist Tyrese who besides some guest stints on a few television shows marks Baby Boy as his big screen debut. Tyrese easily handles the role's dramatic requirements as well as exuding Jody's charm. And he certainly holds his own with veteran actor Rhames (much like Gooding Jr. did with Laurence Fishburne in Boyz). In one of the film's particularly tense moments Tyrese and Rhames never say a word but the emotion is all there. The rest of the unknown cast do a fine job relaying a the everyday life of South Central L.A. and one can tell there was a true comradeship between them.
Baby Boy is certainly an interesting companion piece to Singleton's view on life in South Central Los Angeles and the director calls this film his third in a trilogy about the "'hood." Boyz was obviously his most heartfelt and most compelling. The film explored a world of an African-American family life in a violent South Central neighborhood that the audience had never really seen before. And Singleton did it with such finesse that one wonders why those techniques are not as prevalent in his follow up films including the second installment Poetic Justice. He may have given all he had in his first film--Baby Boy also misses that powerful punch. The story doesn't hold many twists or turns but rather slowly goes through the motions showing things we've basically seen before--and done better. It may appeal to a particular group but won't hold the attention of a broad audience like Boyz did. And maybe it can't. Once you've seen the harsh reality of such a life why see it again?
Seagal plays hard-edged Detroit detective Orin Boyd whose unorthodox methods to catch the bad guys generally leave him in hot water. After single-handedly saving the U.S. vice president from a terrorist attack and unfortunately blowing up too many things in the process Boyd is relegated to the dregs of all Detroit divisions - the 15th Precinct. There with the help of his no-nonsense commander (Jill Hennessy) and his naïve partner a by-the-book cop (Isaiah Washington) he discovers how truly corrupt the precinct is when several kilos of heroin and cash turn up missing. Boyd finds an unlikely ally in drug-dealing crime lord Latrell Walker (DMX) who is falsely accused and becomes the main target. The two men must team up together to expose the deep-seated conspiracy within the police department. Of course they do.
If you are a fan it's great to have uber-cool Seagal back on-screen. He took a break from his action fare over the last few years but has returned looking as buff as ever. However this time around he magnanimously shares the screen with a few young actors who take on as much - or perhaps even more - action than the big man himself. Hip-hop star DMX struts and preens with the best of them and Seagal seems almost amused having the young actor take over some of the dirty work. Good-guy cop Washington (Romeo Must Die) lends a helping hand while big guy Anthony Anderson (also in Romeo Must Die) does a nice job playing DMX's henchman. Hennessy is fairly wasted but it's refreshing to see a woman playing a tough police commander.
This isn't a warm and fuzzy film. This isn't a groundbreaking drama. This is a Steven Seagal action movie where the characters will not discover hidden secrets about themselves and become better people. If you are aware of this fact then the film doesn't disappoint. Seagal films have occasionally risen above the standard beat-'em-up blow-'em-up fare. The best example may have been the intriguing Under Siege like Die Hard on a U.S. Navy battleship where his I'm-king-of-the-world attitude wasn't as prevalent. In Exit Wounds Seagal is finally older and maybe a little wiser realizing his own limitations. The film even makes fun of itself (Seagal actually takes an anger-management class). Yet ultimately we know what this film is all about -- the fight sequences the guns the explosions - leaving room for little else.
He won’t be back. Cinemascape.com reports today that director James Cameron has confirmed once again that he will not be involved in any further "Terminator" films. While attending the premiere of "U-571" recently, Cameron was asked about his potential participation in "Terminator 3." Cameron replied, "Not gonna do it."
Additionally, recent comments made by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton have the pair saying that they have no interest in another sequel unless Cameron is directing.
But the question remains: Will there be a "Titanic II"?
WHAT A SCREAM! Miramax has registered the Web sites www.scream4.com through www.scream10.com in making plans for a new batch of sequels, msnbc.com reports. A Miramax official has no comment, but director Wes Craven is among those who never completely believed that the studio would kill off the successful slasher-flick franchise starring Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox Arquette.
A CALL TO ACTION: Bill Cosby, in Los Angeles on Tuesday to receive the Steven J. Ross/Time Warner award from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television, called for additional outreach programs that give minority students the chance to prepare for careers in the entertainment industry. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cosby said that such programs help give an edge to aspiring talents who already face stumbling blocks as they enter film and television.
GOODBYE, OSCAR: Richard D. and Lili Fini Zanuck have said that they will never produce another Oscar telecast, DailyVariety columnist Army Archerd reports today. Richard Zanuck told Archerd, "Although it was one of my greatest experiences, I'll never do it again." Lili said: "We were very happy with the reception ... (but) we have a day job."
COUPLES WATCH: Howard Stern and Angie Everhart have blossomed into something serious. "They have been going out," the model's rep, Shari Goldberg, tells the New York Daily News. "I don't know about Howard, but she's not seeing anyone else." ... Actress Kristin Scott Thomas is expecting her third child. She is married to Francois Oliviennes. ... Joan Lunden, the former host of ABC's "Good Morning America" who reportedly is a contender to replace Kathie Lee Gifford on "Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee," has married Jeff Konigsberg, who operates children's summer camps. It is Lunden's second marriage.
HERE’S LOOKIN’ AT YOU, KID: Robert Evans’ best-seller "The Kid Stays in the Picture," which chronicles the producer’s rise to power in Hollywood, might be brought to the screen as a feature documentary by this year’s DGA documentary feature winners Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein ("On the Ropes"), the Reporter says. The news first broke March 25 on foxnews.com.
Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane!
No, it's another "Spider-Man" rumor.
For nearly seven years, speculation has run rampant among comic-book geeks and genre-film fanatics about the red-and-blue building-climbing superhero. Nearly every director worth his box-office salt has been linked to "Spider-Man" at one time or another, beginning with no less than James Cameron ("Titanic") and ending with Sam Raimi ("A Simple Plan," "For Love of the Game"), who is now supposedly the front-runner for the job.
One thing's for certain: "Spider-Man," one of the most highly anticipated films in memory, is now on the fast track at Columbia Pictures. The studio wants to release the film in summer 2001, and that means a director is expected to be hired soon -- perhaps within a few weeks. At long last, Marvel Comics' biggest franchise property will get his big-budget Hollywood makeover, a privilege that, until now, has been afforded only to characters from rival DC Comics (home of Batman and Superman).
"Spider-Man definitely has the potential to be a very successful franchise," says Mirko Parlevliet, creator of the Spider-Man Hype! Web site (www.spidermanhype.com), launched in March 1999 when years of legal battles over Spidey's theatrical rights ended and Marvel and Columbia struck a deal to make the movie.
"Unlike Batman and Superman, Spider-Man is a character many people can identify with," Parlevliet adds. "Peter Parker [the web-slinger's secret identity] is a teen-ager who is always picked on for the wrong reasons." He says Spidey is more realistic and down-to-earth than his DC rivals, a positive role model and a "fun guy" to chill out with. "How can you identify with a millionaire orphan or an alien with superpowers?"
For the record, this won't be the first live-action adaptation of the arachnid-man. There was a short-lived TV series in the late 1970s starring Nicholas Hammond as a pudgy Peter Parker. The show featured neato special-effects tricks, like tilting the camera sideways while Hammond crawled across the side of a wall. There also was a Japanese "Spider-Man" teleseries in the late 1970s, in which the web slinger drove around in a cool racecar. And the infamous Cannon Group proposed a Spider-Man movie during the 1980s but, thankfully, did not follow through. There have also been numerous cartoon series over the years.
The current Spider-Man project began as Cameron's brainchild; he wanted to make the movie immediately after "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." Cameron wrote a lengthy Spidey treatment and Carolco obtained the theatrical rights to the character -- or so it thought. Pretty soon it seemed like everyone in Tinseltown was suing to get a piece of the Peter Parker pie.
By the time Sony/Columbia emerged as the Spidey legal sweepstakes winner, Cameron had signed an exclusive deal with Fox that basically barred him from directing the superflick. However, Sony got the rights to Cameron's treatment, and screenwriter David Koepp ("The Lost World") was hired to fashion a screenplay out of The King of the World's outline.
For the record, the following names have been linked to "Spider-Man" since 1993:
James Cameron, Ron Howard, Tim Burton, Ridley Scott, David Fincher, Chris Columbus, Jan De Bont, Stephen Sommers, Ivan Reitman, Barry Sonnenfeld, Sam Raimi, the Wachowski brothers, Terry Gilliam and Robert Rodriguez, in no particular order, have been rumored to direct.
Charlie Sheen, Corin Nemec ("Parker Lewis Can't Lose"), Michael Biehn ("Aliens," "Terminator"), Bruce Campbell ("Army of Darkness"), Jason Patric, Leonardo DiCaprio, Owen Wilson, Jim Carrey and Australian actor Heath Ledger ("10 Things I Hate About You") have all been rumored to star as Peter Parker/Spidey.
In the villain department, Jack Nicholson has been pegged as Spider-Man's arch nemesis, the Green Goblin, while Arnold Schwarzenegger could play either Doctor Octopus or Venom, according to the rumor mill. There hasn't been much talk about who might play Peter's girlfriend, Mary Jane, or his editor at the Daily Bugle, the hot-headed J. Jonah Jameson.
David Mamet, if you believe the latest word, has been secretly hired by Columbia to revamp David Koepp's screenplay.
For the uninitiated, "Spider-Man" (the comic book) is the story of Peter Parker, a high school whiz kid who is bitten by a radioactive spider during a biology experiment. The bite gives Peter some nifty powers, like the ability to walk on walls, and enhanced strength and agility, plus a "spider sense" that enables him to detect danger.
Peter is also a gifted inventor; he creates wrist-mounted "web-shooters" that spray a sticky compound resembling a spider's web, from which he swings from skyscraper to skyscraper. Peter dons a Spider-Man suit and greedily uses his powers for personal gain (he becomes quite a celebrity) until his uncle is killed by robbers and he re-dedicates his life to fighting crime. Peter becomes a newspaper photographer, using a well-placed, timer-activated camera to snap pictures of himself (as Spider-Man) in action.
One major issue that remains to be decided is whether Columbia's film will be based on the old-school, idealistic Spidey comics of the 1960s, or one of several more recent incarnations, such as comics guru Todd McFarlane's dark, moody version.
"I'd prefer to see Spider-Man done old school," said Rob Worley, Webmaster of the Comics 2 Film Web site (www.comics2film.com), which tracks (what else?) comic books optioned by Hollywood. "The thing that made Spider-Man great (the thing that current writers of the comic have forgotten) is that the character, under the mask, was so relatable. Peter Parker is an Everyman. He's not some square-jawed, iron-willed vision of perfection. He's a kid who has all the normal problems that a regular young man has, in addition to the monkey wrench of having the great power that he feels compelled to use responsibly."
Now it remains to be seen whether Spidey can escape the curse -- real or imagined -- that has plagued film adaptations of other Marvel Comics franchises in the 1990s.
Witness "Captain America," a 1992 film version of Marvel's Nazi-fighting hero, starring Matt Salinger. In this barely watchable, low-budget film (which was widely advertised for a theatrical release, then instead went straight-to-video), the Cap's evil foe Red Skull is inexplicably Italian, not German, and the villain wears an embarrassing rubber mask.
Then there is "The Fantastic Four," a $2 million epic shot by Roger Corman's (say no more) Concorde Pictures, and then suddenly shelved before release when Marvel cut a new deal with 20th Century Fox wherein Chris Columbus was to direct a new megabudget version.
"I have a sentimental attachment to The Fantastic Four, and I was heartbroken to think it might appear only as a low-budget quickie," Marvel godfather Stan Lee told Entertainment Weekly. That was way back in 1994. There has been nary a peep about the film since.
Rights have been acquired and screenplays have been written for film versions of The Incredible Hulk and Silver Surfer, two Marvel properties with amazing potential, but both have landed in development hell.
So far, the only Marvel property to get a (fairly) big-budget film adaptation is New Line's "Blade" (1998) starring Wesley Snipes. New Line is currently developing an Iron Man movie, with Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott ("The Mask of Zorro") writing the screenplay and Tom Cruise supposedly interested in the starring role as reclusive billionaire/inventor/superhero Tony Stark.
Worley says one reason that Marvel's film adaptations have mostly been low-budget has to do with poor licensing decisions made by the comic book company that gave Marvel little say in the way the movies were made.
"I recall readi g a letter from Stan Lee [in a comics trade magazine] around the time the low-budget Fantastic Four movie was due to come out. Lee said fans asked him all the time why Marvel movies sucked. He promised fans that it was due to bad negotiating on Marvel's part and ... no movies would be made from that point forward without Marvel having a say in things. So Marvel sold off their movie rights, cheap, to filmmakers who didn't get it."
Now all fanboys' eyes will be on Fox's "X-Men," due out this summer from director Brian Singer and starring Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
"In the past, it seemed the low-budget constraints hurt Marvel's superhero adaptations," says Parlevliet. The X-Men film, he says, will be Marvel's big test. "If it succeeds, the film will set the stage for many similar projects in the future. There really is no such thing as a Marvel curse. It's just hard to adapt a comic book and make it believable on the big screen."
The last to know Steven Spielberg had signed on to produce and direct the film version of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was apparently the director himself.
A spokesman from Spielberg's office says the filmmaker hasn't officially climbed aboard and is still considering the project.
"Potter" is just one of the projects Spielberg is considering along with Stanley Kubrick conceived "A.I." (for artificial intelligence) and a bio about Charles Lindbergh. He's also set to make the Tom Cruise starrer "Minority Report" and a movie version of the acclaimed book "Memoirs of a Geisha."
SUPER-ACTION TEAMUP: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone hope to use their combined muscle at the box office to star in one massive project, The Hollywood Reporter says.
They're currently searching for a feature, which would mark the first time the two action icons have appeared onscreen together. Besides their combined weight, the film would be heavy in expenditures -- Stallone reportedly earned $20 million for the upcoming "Into Thin Air," while Schwarzenegger cashed in $25 million for last fall's "End of Days."
HE'S BAAACK: The next "Friday the 13th" will take place in the year 2455. And, yes, ol' hockey-mask-face himself will still be around.
"Jason X" (as its title indicates, it'll be the 10th installment in the series) is being set up at New Line Cinema, with up-and-comer James Isaac at the helm. The movie is scheduled to begin shooting in March in Toronto, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The story, scripted by Todd Farmer, involves a field trip in the future to visit the long-abandoned planet Earth. A teacher and his students discover a cryogenically frozen young lady and a hockey-masked thug. Before anyone can say "space kebob," the thawed out psychopath has returned to his killer ways, wreaking havoc on the citizens of outer space.
PARTY OF TWO: Teen idol Jennifer Love Hewitt will receive motherly advice from veteran actress Sigourney Weaver in MGM's upcoming comic noir "Breakers."
Daily Variety reports that the two have closed their deals and that Kevin Kline has been offered the role of Weaver's love interest.
The shoot is scheduled to begin in Florida and Los Angeles in April, with "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" director David Mirkin helming a script by Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur. The story's about a mother daughter con team and their male victims.
SIGNED AND SEALED: After surveying all the major talent agents in town, Harrison Ford has signed up with United Talent Agency. Longtime agent Patricia McQueeney will act as the actor's point person with the agency, which beat out estimable competitors including Creative Artists Agency and William Morris.