Teaming up Tina Fey and Steve Carell stars of 30 Rock and The Office is a tantalizing prospect for fans of NBC’s back-to-back Thursday night sitcoms. But their big-screen collaboration the action comedy Date Night yields surprisingly little of the comic synergy one would expect from such a potent one-two punch.
In fact it probably never could have — at least not with director Shawn Levy (The Pink Panther Night at the Museum) overseeing the action. Soon after Fey and Carell emerge on-screen playing a suburban married couple whose relationship has devolved into a dull domestic routine the mistake of their pairing becomes evident. Seeing them together serves only to heighten our recall of their TV work and we can’t help but pine for them as Liz Lemon and Michael Scott. But in Date Night they are stubbornly moored to their portrayals of Phil and Claire Foster two entirely normal people who get along perfectly well but who’ve grown a little bored with their daily lives.
Normal of course isn’t ever very funny (if it were Mormons would rule the stand-up circuit). As such the humor in Date Night is supposed to emanate from the extraordinary circumstances with which the Fosters are faced (a case of mistaken identity makes them the target of corrupt cops and the centerpiece of a criminal conspiracy) the desperate lengths they go to get out of trouble and the interesting personalities they meet along the way. None of which unfortunately director Levy or screenwriter Josh Klausner are equipped to provide. As a result two very funny actors are left to twist in the wind for nearly 90 minutes.
What the film cries out for most is a quality supporting player a Dwight Schrute or a Tracy Jordan to enliven the action and give stars Fey and Carell something — anything — to play against but no one in Date Night proves up to the task. Not the mirthless one-dimensional goons tailing the Fosters. Not the mobster played by Ray Liotta who looks more tired of his novelty Goodfellas shtick than we are. And most certainly not Mark Wahlberg whose comic routine in Date Night involves his face playing straight man to his pectorals.
The action is briefly energized by James Franco and Mila Kunis appearing together in a hilarious surprise cameo (oops!) as a feuding miscreant couple. Their comic spark instantly eclipses that of Fey and Carell yielding more laughs in a two-minute span than the two stars are able to conjure throughout the entirety of the film. Unfortunately for us they leave Date Night almost as quickly as they arrive taking their spark with them.
A “bedtime story” is a fairly succinct way to describe Lady. Of course a bedtime story being told by M. Night Shyamalan can go into any number of weird and wild directions. The writer/director says the idea for Lady was based on a story he’d told his kids which began with “Did you know that someone lives under our pool?” and revolves around Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) a lowly superintendent for an apartment building who inadvertently finds Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) a mysterious nymph-like “narf ” living in the pool. She’s there to complete a task and now that it’s done she needs to go home back to the Blue World. But that’s easier said than done. She only has a small window of opportunity and apparently there’s a ferocious beast called a “scrunt” lurking in the grass around the pool waiting to kill her if she tries to leave. Now Cleveland and a few of the other tenants—who find themselves intricately tied to Story’s plight—must help her escape to freedom. Thank god for Sideways. Without it Giamatti would have gone on playing under the radar without the recognition—and juicier parts—he deserves. He is truly a wonder as Cleveland a sad little man with a stutter who is quietly trying to hide from a tragic past. It’s only when Story comes into his life does he face his personal tragedy and learn to live again. Howard on the other hand who wowed most of us with her stunning performance in The Village doesn’t have nearly as much to work with as the pale water nymph. The mystical character is fairly one note—befuddled and cheerless. But the rest of the apartment tenants shine: Jeffrey Wright (Syriana) as a single dad who has a penchant for crossword puzzles; Freddy Rodriguez (HBO’s Six Feet Under) as a weight builder who only lifts weights on one side of his body; Bob Balaban (A Mighty Wind) as a pompous film critic (and as a critic I’m not at all offended when he gets his comeuppances); Cindy Cheung as a Korean college student who is key in telling the epic bedtime story; Sarita Choudhury (She Hate Me) as a quippy young woman looking for her mission in life and Shyamalan himself as her brother the person Story is meant to inspire to write something extraordinary. There’s never a dull moment with this crew around. In a way M. Night Shyamalan has become his own worst enemy having to live up to this reputation as a master of suspense and surprise twists. His last effort The Village left many of his fans feeling unsatisfied—and unfortunately he may alienate more with Lady in the Water. But the fact of the matter is he is still one of Hollywood's more brilliant minds on par with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman for originality who has an innate talent for crafting ingenious stories filled with genuine human emotions. So maybe this time around he’s made a movie more for those most ardent of his fans who simply revel in the way his mind works no matter how incomprehensible and frivolous it may seem. So what? The diehards might feel compelled to defend Shyamalan’s choices with Lady—how he has come up with an entire universe where things like “scrunts” and the “Tartutic” (simian-like creatures who form an invincible force that maintains law and order in the Blue World) and “Madam Narfs” interact with humans in the real world. If the story actually took place in the Blue World then maybe it’d be easier to swallow. But that’s sort of the genius of Shyamalan. It’s as if with Lady in the Water he’s crafted a child-like movie for those adults who remember being told wildly creative bedtime stories who then in turn tell the stories to their kids.
Innocent Voices depicts the brutal reality of El Salvador’s 1980 civil war as seen through eyes of an 11 year-old boy who may soon get drafted by the army despite not understanding what the war is about. Though both sides were soldiered with young boys it was the government that actively recruited all 12-year-olds and forced them to fight. Eleven year-old Chava (Carlos Padilla) is about to turn but that doesn’t stop him from trying to enjoy life. Since he’s the man of the house--his father left to earn money in America and never returned--Chava wants a job so he can help his overworked mom (Leonor Varela) who quit her restaurant job to stay home and shield her three children from stray bullets. His first job comes when he stumbles upon an old bus owned by a jovial but careless bus driver (Jesus Ochoa). The two become instant friends as Chava rides the railing and calls out the stops. Meanwhile he discovers love after summoning the courage to ask the teacher’s daughter to fly paper fireflies with his friends. All the while the moment he has dreaded--his 12th birthday--looms large over his days. His Uncle Beto (José María Yazpik) a guerilla fighter on the run tries to convince his mother to let Chava live with him in the hills where it’s safe but she can’t let him go. Once he turns Chava must hide with the other boys when the soldiers come around to recruit. But he grows tired of hiding and takes matters into his own hands running off to join the guerillas where he discovers a fate worse than fighting--that of never seeing his family again. Perhaps the strongest element in the film is the surprisingly mature Padilla. Getting a child actor to perform on any level can sometimes be an exercise in futility but director Luis Mandoki manages to get Padilla able to run the gamut of emotions--joy fear the awkwardness of new love--in a very real and convincing way. While most directors would shy away from placing so young an actor into difficult situations particularly the climactic scene where Chava faces execution and watches his two best friends get shot in the back of the head Mandoki defies conventional wisdom and challenges Padilla who is most worthy of the call. As Kella Varela exudes strength despite her constant worry over her children particularly Chava whose arrival home after curfew causes her to feel rage worry forgiveness and joy in a matter of seconds. Legendary Mexican actress Ofelia Medina has a small but important supporting role as Kella’s mother--she provides her daughter’s family with their last peaceful refuge before their lives are destroyed by the army. Minor characters such as Uncle Beto the Bus Driver and Chava’s classmates all serve their purpose though Xuna Primus the classmate Chava falls in love with handles emotional scenes with Padilla with similar maturity. Innocent Voices marks the first Spanish-language film for Mandoki since the international success of Gaby-A True Story--and he’s back true to form. With Innocent Voices he has crafted a powerful and emotionally gripping film that never shies from the ugly realities of how war destroys families and makes men of boys well before their time. Sharing screenwriting credit with actor Oscar Torres on whom the story is based Mandoki benefits from his strong cast particularly Padilla; a wrong choice in casting Chava could have sunk the film. Mandoki masterfully lulls us into thinking that Chava might have some hope of living a normal life in El Salvador--he plays with friends just like any other kid. But every time it looks as though Chava is experiencing life as he should bombs explode machine guns erupt and soldiers come storming in to remind us that he’s living in the middle of a civil war. Ultimately Chava’s only escape is to America but he must leave behind his family much like his father in the beginning. It’s a nice bookend to Chava’s development: Despite the chaos around him his position as head of the family and the specter of being recruited into the army his real transformation into manhood comes when he finds the courage to strike out on his own.
November 21, 2002 1:20pm EST
Leonardo DiCaprio, who has not given a sit-down TV interview since 1997, had a one-on-one with Barbara Walters in an interview set to air Friday on 20/20. DiCaprio has two high-profile films coming out next month, including Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York and Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can--and shares the interview with Spielberg and his Catch Me co-star Tom Hanks. According to People.com, Walters asked DiCaprio what early stardom had taught him about success, to which the heartthrob replied, "Not much," then explained: "I think ultimately success is good. Failure not so good…" He griped to Walters about how the media sometimes portrays him and added, "But on that same token, I'm not going to sit here and say that I am not completely grateful and feel completely blessed for everything that's happened in my career." That's the spirit, Leo.
Guess she can't have her cake and eat it, too. Madonna borrowed money from strangers in a London restaurant to buy a piece of cake for her son, Reuters reports. Madonna was in the restaurant with her husband, Guy Ritchie, their son Rocco and her daughter Lourdes when she told two sisters that she had forgotten her purse. The women did not recognize the singer but gave her a two-pound coin to help cover the tab. Reps for Madonna said the sisters would be sent CDs and a check to cover the loan.
Danny Glover has started a three-day visit to Trinidad to film an upcoming TV program on HIV-AIDS and children, a U.N. spokeswoman told The Associated Press. The 55-year-old actor will host the first of 10 episodes of the Hot Spot series, slated to begin airing in January on the Showtime cable network.
The live-action/computer-animated feature version of Garfield has sunk its claws into a director. Peter Hewitt, who most recently directed the children's pic Thunderpants, will helm the project, with scribes Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow penning the screen adaptation, Variety reports.
The Jodie Foster-helmed Flora Plum is being dusted off after being shelved two years ago, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Set in the 1930's, the film revolves around a circus "freak" who takes pity on a penniless waif and sets her on the course to stardom, but finds himself falling in love with her. Ewan McGregor, Meryl Streep and Claire Danes will star in the project, with production set to begin in either fall 2003 or January 2004.
Speaking of Leo, DiCaprio will star in The Good Shepherd, Robert De Niro's second turn as director, Variety reports. The film, written by Forrest Gump scribe Eric Roth, charts the history of the CIA through the Cold War. DiCaprio will play James Wilson, a character modeled in part on former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton.
Primetime reality romance has proven more attractive to audiences than ladies in scanty panties. The AP reports ABC's The Bachelor trounced CBS's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in the ratings last night as some 26 million viewers tuned in to find out which lucky lady Aaron picked in the two-hour Bachelor finale, versus an unexpectedly low 10.5 million for the lingerie show--which came in third even behind The West Wing. No doubt NOW is happy to hear it.
MTV is planning a Snoop Dogg variety show. According to the AP, the pilot for Snoop's half-hour program, title Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, will mix sketch comedy with music and man-on-the-street bits. The show is scheduled to air Monday at 10:30 p.m. EST.
Bill Maher has found a new home on cable. AP reports that starting Feb. 21, Maher will host a yet-to-be-titled late-night talk show on HBO airing once a week for 20 episodes. Maher's last show, Politically Incorrect, ran on ABC from 1997 until it was canceled last May.
Colombian folk singer Carlos Vives topped the Latin Grammy nominations with six nods Wednesday, including album, record and song of the year.
Vives, who also won a Grammy this year for best traditional tropical Latin album, performs in the style of Vallenato, the traditional music of Colombia's northern plains, which is known for its simple lyrics about village life, The Associated Press reports.
"Me and my people are very happy," Vives told AP through a translator. "This shows that traditional music and rhythms that come from the heart can have appeal no matter the language."
The third annual Latin Grammys ceremony will take place Sept. 18 at the new Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, airing live on CBS.
Here is a list of nominations in some of the top categories:
Record of the Year
La Negra Tiene Tumbao, Celia Cruz; Sergio George, producer; Jon Fausty, engineer/mixer
Mentira, La Ley; Humberto Gatica and Kenny O'Brien, producers; Humberto Gatica, Cristian Robles and Eric Schilling, engineers/mixers
Se Me Olvido, Gian Marco; Emilio Estefan Jr. and Archie Pena, producers; Javier Garza, engineer/mixer
Y Solo Se Me Ocurre Amarte, Alejandro Sanz; Humberto Gatica and Kenny O'Brien, producers; Chris Brooke, Humberto Gatica and Eric Schilling, engineers/mixers
Dejame Entrar, Carlos Vives; Andres Castro, Emilio Estefan Jr., Sebastian Krys and Carlos Vives, producers; Javier Garza, engineer/mixer
Album of the Year
Sereno, Miguel Bose; Peter Walsh, producer; Alessandro Benedetti and Peter Walsh, engineers/mixers
La Negra Tiene Tumbao, Celia Cruz; Sergio George, Isidro Infante and Johnny Pacheco, producers; Mario deJesus and Jon Fausty, engineers/mixers
Jobiniando, Ivan Lins; Roberto Menescal, producer; Guilherme Reis, engineer/mixer
MTV Unplugged, Alejandro Sanz; Humberto Gatica and Kenny O'Brien, producers; Humberto Gatica, engineer/mixer
Dejame Entrar, Carlos Vives; Andres Castro, Emilio Estefan Jr., Sebastian Krys and Carlos Vives, producers; Javier Garza and Sebastian Krys, engineers/mixers
Song of the Year
A Dios Le Pido, Juanes; Juanes, songwriter
Dejame Entrar, Carlos Vives; Andres Castro, Martin Madera and Carlos Vives, songwriters
La Negra Tiene Tumbao, Celia Cruz; Sergio George and Fernando Osorio, songwriters
Morenamia, Miguel Bose; Miguel Bose, Lanfranco Ferrario and Massimo Grilli, songwriters
Y Solo Se Me Ocurre Amarte, Alejandro Sanz; Alejandro Sanz, songwriter
Best New Artist
Best Female Pop Vocal Album
Peces De Ciudad, Ana Belen
Secreta Intimidad, Cecilia Echenique
Vuela, Monica Molina
Viaje Infinito, Nicole
Muchas Flores, Rosario
Best Male Pop Vocal Album
Sereno, Miguel Bose
Sea, Jorge Drexler
Lerner Vivo, Alejandro Lerner
A Tiempo, Gian Marco
Mas De Mi Alma, Marco Antonio Solis
Producer Of The Year
Geronimo Labrada Jr., X Alfonso
Ana Lourdes Martinez Nodarse
The Queen of Music has spoken and laid to rest the rumors. Madonna confirmed today that she and British filmmaker Guy Ritchie plan to marry next year and settle down in London, where the U.S. pop star recently purchased a home for $10 million, Reuters reports.
The couple has a 4-month-old son, Rocco. Madonna was also quoted as saying in Britain's Sun tabloid that the couple are very much in love and that marriage was the next natural step to take in their relationship.
The singer also said that she and Ritchie prefer her children to be educated in England, which is also why they want to settle in London. Madonna has a 3-year-old daughter, Lourdes, from a previous relationship.
MARTIN'S 'LOADED' COMES UP SHORT: Ricky Martin's second cross-over album, "Sound Loaded," failed to enter Billboard's 200 chart at the No. 1 spot as some had expected from last year's music phenomenon. The Latin singer had to settle for No. 4 with sales of 327,700 copies of the album, led by the hit single "She Bangs."
The No. 1 spot went to the Beatles' new album "1," a collection of the band's 27 No. 1 hits. The No. 2 spot was taken by Sony's compilation record "NOW5" with 444,400 copies sold its first week out. Sade's "Lovers Rock" debuted at No. 3.
THANK YOU, MP3.COM: Pop singer Alanis Morissette, who made a small fortune when she acquired a sizable amount of MP3.com stock, has decided to sell 70,000 options, Reuters reports. The sum is valued at $433,090.
Add that to the $1.5 million she made over the past three months when she unloaded 189,328 shares. The singer's decision to sell is of note since Morissette has a consulting arrangement with the San Diego, Calif.-based company.
CHURCH SETTLES LAWSUIT: Teenage opera star Charlotte Church has settled a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against her parents by her former manager. Jonathan Shalit, who was fired by Church's parents in January, agreed to a $2.83 million settlement, Reuters reports.
Shalit filed the $7 million suit alleging that he was fired without cause. Church's parents say that he breached his contract after he became too strict and abusive toward the 14-year-old singer.
Outside the London court, Church was quoted as saying: ``I am very happy that this is over. I would like to thank my family -- my parents in particular for being strong and supporting me through everything. I am really happy to just get on with my singing which is what I do best.''
The "American Psycho" saga has taken another twist. After the movie ratings board made a final 11-4 ruling Wednesday upholding the film's NC-17 rating, Lions Gate Releasing announced that director Mary Harron will re-edit the film to achieve an R.
The film, which opens in April, stars Christian Bale as a young executive with a psychopathic taste for murder; it was given its rating for a scene depicting group sex among Bale and two prostitutes. But not to worry; we're sure the original cut will make its way onto DVD someday.
UN-MODEL BEHAVIOR: Supermodel Naomi Campbell apparently has worries deeper than which world runways to strut, as we reported Wednesday. The British diva pleaded guilty in a Canadian court to assaulting her former assistant and was given an absolute discharge, meaning she will not have a criminal record in Canada.
Campbell, 29, was accused by Georgina Galanis, who worked as her personal assistant while the model filmed a movie in Toronto, of grabbing her throat and hitting her on the head with a telephone Sept. 9, 1998. Three months later, Campbell surrendered to Canadian police.
British newspapers recently reported that Campbell spent nearly four weeks at a U.S. clinic to learn how to control her anger. She wasn't in the courtroom to plead guilty herself; the prosecutor explained that "she is a celebrity, she is a public figure, and there's all kinds of people under serious violent allegations wandering the courtrooms." Serious violent allegations. What was that old saying about people who live in glass houses?
HEALTHY HARVEY?: Miramax Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein left the hospital Wednesday and is now recuperating at home from a mysterious illness no one can figure out. His brother and Co-Chairman Bob Weinstein released a statement saying, "He thanks everyone for their support and good wishes and looks forward to returning to work during the next several weeks." Rumors have run rampant over the seriousness of his condition, which has been reported to be a bacterial infection. No other information was given.
MAMA MADONNA: When one child is a handful, have another? Madonna seems to think so. She told Jane magazine that she would like to have another child, because well, daughter Lourdes is becoming a brat. "I think Lola [Lourdes' nickname] should have a brother or sister," the Material Mom said. "I think she's incredibly spoiled. She needs a bit of competition." The 41-year-old singer also gushed to the Calgary Sun that 3-year-old Lourdes is "a great little singer and dancer and she has perfect pitch. ... She memorizes whole songs and then goes around the house singing them. Right now, she's into Mary J. Blige, the Spice Girls and me."
MUSIC BEAT: D'Angelo's latest, "Voodoo," finally bumped Santana's "Supernatural" from the top of the Billboard album charts this week. The R&B singer's album debuted at No. 1, while "Supernatural" fell to No. 2. Dr. Dre's "Dr. Dre 2001" held at No. 3. Celine Dion's "All the Way: A Decade of Song" and The Lox's "We are the Streets" round out the Top Five.
The Top Five singles in the country are: "I Knew I Loved You," Savage Garden; "Thank God I Found You," Mariah Carey featuring Joe and 98 Degrees; "What a Girl Wants," Christina Aguilera; "Get it on Tonite," Montell Jordan; and "Smooth," Santana featuring Rob Thomas.
QUICK TAKES: Jane Fonda and Haley Joel Osment have been tapped as presenters for the 72nd Annual Academy Awards on March 26 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Fonda, 62, a seven-time nominee and two-time Best Actress winner (for 1971's "Klute" and 1978's "Coming Home") will appear on the show for the first time since 1992. Eleven-year-old Osment is a likely supporting-actor nominee for his role in "The Sixth Sense," for which he has already won several critics' awards ...
... Ving Rhames has been named ShoWest 2000 supporting actor of the year by the National Association of Theater Owners. The 38-year-old actor appeared in two films this year, Martin Scorsese's "Bringing Out the Dead" and the Sean Connery hit "Entrapment." Rhames will receive his honor at the ShoWest convention March 9 in Las Vegas. Please refrain from jokes about giving the award to Jack Lemmon.