Jim Carrey publicly announced that he has withdrawn his support from his upcoming film Kick-Ass 2, and will not be involved with its promotion. The actor, who portrays Colonel Stars & Stripes, an ex-Mafia member turned masked vigilante, has decided that the violent nature of the superhero sequel conflicts with his standing sensitivity over tragedies like 2012's Sandy Hook shooting. Carrey tweeted over the weekend: "I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."
Although the storyline's inclusion of a violent 11-year-old (Chloë Grace Moretz) has been met with controversy in the past, the nature of the film hadn't prevented the actor from signing onto the project in the first place, nor have any events since inspired any previous vocalization of conflict about his involvement. In March, Carrey opened up to MTV News about the relationship between the film's super-violence and his beliefs about gun control in the aftermath of the devastation in Connecticut:
"...my character is a guy that came from a violent background who is trying to turn it around and he uses a gun with no bullets in it. These are things I am considering now because I just feel like we don't cause the problem, but we don't help it much either. So, I am becoming more conscious of that. And I made Kick-Ass before all the things, the unfortunate shootings happened and stuff happened, and so that's kind of a little interesting blast from the past almost. But it's just going to be a great movie but I'm being careful with choices."
Mark Millar, the writer and creator of the Kick-Ass comic book series as well as the executive producer for the two films, is inevitably astonished about the comedian's sudden transition from big fan to disapproving criticizer. In a statement posted on Millar World a few hours after Carrey's announcement, Millar replies:
"First off, I love Jim Carrey. When producer Matthew Vaughn and director Jeff Wadlow called me up and suggested we do a conference call with him to talk about the sequel to the 2010 original I was genuinely excited. Like you, I love Eternal Sunshine, Man on the Moon and The Truman Show. Carrey is an actor like no other, an unpredictable force of nature who brings a layered warmth and humanity to his work as well as that unstoppable energy he's always been renowned for. He had lunch with Matthew around the time of the first movie and dug it so much he appeared that night on Conan O'Brien DRESSED as Kick-Ass, singing a duet with Conan dressed as Superman. Vaughn and I made a mental note to work with this guy as soon as possible as we're both huge admirers.
Cut to almost three years later and I'm sitting in a screening room in London watching what I think is one of Carrey's best-ever performances. I'd seen Kick-Ass 2 in many forms, but this was the absolute final cut complete with opening titles, music and a terrific post-credit sequence you're all going to love. I couldn't be happier with this picture. It's as good as the original and in many ways BIGGER as it expands upon the universe and really takes things to the next level. There are a lot of stand-outs in the sequel, every actor really firing on full cylinders and an amazing script that moves like a rocket. But Carrey in particular is magnificent. He's never done anything like this before and even from the trailer, with his masked dog sidekick specially trained to munch criminal balls, you can see that something really fun and special is happening here. Colonel Stars and Stripes is so charismatic and all his scenes are up there with Nic Cage's amazing turn as Big Daddy in the original... which made it all the more surprising when Jim announced tonight that the gun-violence in Kick-Ass 2 has made him withdraw his support from the picture.
As you may know, Jim is a passionate advocate of gun-control and I respect both his politics and his opinion, but I'm baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn't in the screenplay eighteen months ago. Yes, the body-count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says on the tin. A sequel to the picture that gave us HIT-GIRL was always going to have some blood on the floor and this should have been no shock to a guy who enjoyed the first movie so much. My books are very hardcore, but the movies are adapted for a more mainstream audience and if you loved the tone of the first picture you're going to eat this up with a big, giant spoon. Like Jim, I'm horrified by real-life violence (even though I'm Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn't a documentary. No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction and like Tarantino and Peckinpah, Scorcese and Eastwood, John Boorman, Oliver Stone and Chan-Wook Park, Kick-Ass avoids the usual bloodless body-count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it's the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation. Ironically, Jim's character in Kick-Ass 2 is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place.
Ultimately, this is his decision, but I've never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real-life. Our job as storytellers is to entertain and our toolbox can't be sabotaged by curtailing the use of guns in an action-movie. Imagine a John Wayne picture where he wasn't packing or a Rocky movie where Stallone wasn't punching someone repeatedly in the face. Our audience is smart enough to know they're all pretending and we should instead just sit back and enjoy the serotonin release of seeing bad guys meeting bad ends as much as we enjoyed seeing the Death Star exploding. The action in Kick-Ass 2 is like nothing you've ever seen before. The humour, the characters, the heart and the set-pieces are all things we're very proud of and the only warning I'd really include is that it's almost TOO EXCITING. Kick-Ass 2 is fictional fun so let's focus our ire instead of the real-life violence going on in the world like the war in Afghanistan, the alarming tension in Syria right now and the fact that Superman just snapped a guy's fucking neck.
Jim, I love ya and I hope you reconsider for all the above points. You're amazing in this insanely fun picture and I'm very proud of what Jeff, Matthew and all the team have done here."
It seems like Carrey's sudden change of heart is a reflection of his dual personalities in Me, Myself & Irene. Regardless of how he's feeling, Kick-Ass 2 will fire into theatres on August 16, with or without the star's support.
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The majesty of the Emerald Isle is on full display in Leap Year an opposites attract romantic comedy starring Amy Adams (Julie & Julia Enchanted) and Matthew Goode (A Single Man Watchmen). Director Anand Tucker (Shopgirl Hilary and Jackie) shooting entirely on location in Ireland takes us on a whirlwind tour of the country’s breathtaking landscape reveling in its fabled fairy-tale charm.
Pity then that such a magnificent setting is so mercilessly defaced by Leap Year’s unrelenting mediocrity. The film’s dubious premise testing the already loose limits of rom-com believability casts Adams as Anna a type-A career girl who flies to Ireland intending to pop the question to her feet-dragging boyfriend on February 29th aka Leap Day. Why Leap Day? Because according to some idiotic old Irish tradition that’s when women are allowed to do such things. (Click here to watch Adams herself try to explain the plot.)
Unfortunately for Anna weather problems force her plane to land far away from Dublin and her would-be fiance. Trapped in a tiny coastal town with no reliable transportation at her disposal she enlists the help of a scruffy abrasive barkeep named Declan (Goode) to drive her cross-country so she can reach her destination by the 29th. And thus begins the traditional rom-com mating ritual of sexually-charged bickering followed by moments of abrupt awkward intimacy.
While watching Leap Year I swear I could hear the Irish countryside quietly weeping as it witnessed Goode and Adams slog through the film's succession of trite misadventures the talented actors straining in vain to manufacture some semblance of romantic chemistry as an assortment of jolly Waking Ned Devine types futilely spurred them on. Oh if only Greenpeace could have intervened and put a halt to such wanton environmental desecration. It's the worst thing to come out of Ireland since The Cranberries.
Love means never having to say you're sorry; it's a many splendored thing; it's all you need. But in tennis love means zero; it means you lose. Or does it? For Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) a British pro tennis player seeded near the bottom of the world tennis ranks love actually inspires him. After scoring a wild card to play in the prestigious Wimbledon tournament he meets and falls for the rising and highly competitive American tennis star Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst) fueling a winning streak he hasn't had since he began his career. For Lizzie however the love thing doesn't necessarily work out as well. Her feelings for Peter become a distraction throwing her off her game. Hmmm. Can these two crazy kids keep it together long enough so Peter can fulfill his lifelong dream of winning the men's singles title even if it means his muse might have to sacrifice her first Wimbledon title?
Kirsten Dunst may be what draws you in but Paul Bettany is the reason you don't walk out. The British actor who made an impression with American audiences playing the oh-so-witty Chaucer in A Knight's Tale and then wowed them in Oscar winners such as A Beautiful Mind and Master and Commander doesn't disappoint in his first lead role. Bettany's Peter embodies all that charm we've come to love and expect in our British actors--although thankfully not as floppy as Hugh Grant--he stumbles about and apologizes profusely. It's so cute. And he makes a pretty darn believable tennis player to boot (one would hope so after the intense training session the actors apparently had to go through to prepare for the movie). Unfortunately Dunst does not fare as well. Her Lizzie is appealing and she adequately handles the tennis stuff--but she ultimately fails to connect with her male lead making their relationship seem forced. Their beginning sparks are fun but when there's suppose to be a real flame igniting between them you're left scratching your head wondering just when where and why they fell in love so hard so fast. Yep that's a big red flag.
I've said sports movies usually work (see the Mr. 3000 review). To clarify: That is team sports. Sport movies where the action revolves around a single competitor are harder to pull off. It's just not as exciting watching an underdog struggle with himself in order to win. Luckily director Richard Loncraine (HBO's My House in Umbria) seems to know this fact. Even though Peter takes Centre Court (that's the British way of spelling it) Loncraine tries to at least create a more complete picture giving us a glimpse into the world of tennis as well as delving into the traditions of Wimbledon and how the Brits feel about the prestigious tournament where British champions are few and far between. Loncraine also utilizes real-life tennis pros such as John McEnroe and Chris Evert who appear as announcers to liven up the proceedings. Even the action on the court with close-up shots of the ball whizzing over the net gets the blood pumping a little--wish there was a lot more of that. But then of course one could just turn on the TV and watch the real Wimbledon instead watching a silly run-of-the-mill romantic comedy set there.
Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) has it made. His screenwriting career is on the rise his first movie's just been made and he's got a cute girl. Life is good--until the House Un-American Activities Committee mistakenly fingers him as a Communist and he quickly falls from the A-list to the blacklist. Getting dumped by both his studio and his girl is nothing a little drinking can't remedy but after drowning his sorrows he nearly drowns himself when he decides to drive drunk and his car veers into the river knocking him unconscious. When Peter comes to he can't remember who he is or where he came from so he's taken in by the kindly people of Lawson a burg stuck in time and still mourning the loss of many of its sons in World War II. They mistake him for Luke Trimble one of their long-lost boys who went MIA in World War II and are overjoyed at his return. Luke's father Harry (Martin Landau) whose zest for life had dwindled so much that he let his beloved movie house The Majestic fall to ruin but with "Luke's" return he plans to reopen it. Celebrations abound. Peter-as-Luke even returns to his relationship with fiancée Adele (Laurie Holden). Meanwhile Peter may have forgotten who he was but the Feds haven't and they're on his tail.
When Carrey's given the right material like he was with The Truman Show he can exhibit moments of greatness. The Majestic doesn't give Carrey the leeway to show his quirky sensibilities demanding that he play it straight throughout the movie (there are a few--too few--glances at humor that Carrey doesn't play up). To bring off the kind of schmaltz this movie oozes Carrey had to bring something of an edge to his character. Instead Peter is neither likable nor unlikable coming off as a bland confused schmo until the climactic end which after two hours of his weak personality is wholly unbelievable. Landau is unexciting as a caricature of the sad sentimental old man without hope--you want to sympathize but there's something faintly chilly about him. Holden's liberated-woman lawyer might have played better in a contemporary movie; she looks and acts too much like a modern-day actress trying to portray a woman of the '50s.
Was this some kind of vanity project dreamed up by a director too taken with his own greatness and past success? Was Frank Darabont envisioning an It's a Wonderful Life for the next generation? (Psst…it's likely the majority of the modern moviegoing public doesn't know who Frank Capra is and could care less especially when the movie is as slow and as completely unbelievable as this one.) Apparently Darabont's in love with his own direction because hardly a moment goes by without some lingering reaction shot. Darabont took an intriguing story about amnesia and mistaken identity and slathered it with sap. Old-fashioned period stories can be lots of fun but it's imperative they be able to keep a present-day audience's interest by including a bit of modern wit and pace. Unfortunately this sticks to the straight-and-narrow. Nobody's going to buy the two-dimensional main characters the shiny happy townspeople or especially the schlocky my-country-'tis-of-thee finale. In its favor The Majestic's ultimate message is a nice one. The movie does have its heartfelt moments and its '50s feel is authentic if a little polished.