August 07, 2009 9:04am EST
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Cliff and Cydney are happy newlyweds headed to Hawaii for a quiet honeymoon on a remote portion of the island of Kauai. Their marital bliss is abruptly interrupted however when they receive word that just a few days prior a pair of newlyweds not unlike themselves were murdered on Maui and that the killers believed to be a man and a woman were still at large.
Dismayed by the unsettling news Cliff and Cydney nonetheless resolve to move forward with their honeymoon but start to become anxious when they encounter not one but two exceedingly strange couples each of whom seemingly fit the profile of the killers. Miles away from civilization unable to get a decent cell phone signal and seemingly surrounded by possible murderers they begin to wonder if they might be the next victims.
WHO’S IN IT?
Playing the part of Cliff is Steve Zahn a prolific character actor best known for supporting roles in films like Rescue Dawn and Sunshine Cleaning. As a jittery Hollywood screenwriter who too often lets his overactive imagination get the best of him Zahn’s performance is the most credible aspect of the movie. In the role of his wife Cydney is Resident Evil series star Milla Jovovich demonstrating how truly unremarkable she can be when not cast opposite expressionless zombies.
Despite being saddled with most of the film’s worst lines Hitman star Timothy Olyphant proves convincing as Nick a wild-eyed survivalist who claims to have served as an army special forces operative in Iraq. Laying it on a little too thick with the fake Southern accent is Kiele Sanchez who plays Nick’s equally suspicious girlfriend.
Director David Twohy (Pitch Black The Chronicles of Riddick) makes an earnest attempt at crafting a modern-day murder mystery and for the most part he does a commendable job of messing with audience expectations setting the stage for a major second-act plot twist that proves every bit as surprising as advertised.
Twohy is one of the more likable Hollywood directors and it’s good to see him back from the dead after the Riddick disaster set fire to his career. Unfortunately he falls headlong into the M. Night Shyamalan trap with A Perfect Getaway focusing too much on pulling off the big twist and forsaking just about every other element of the movie. To be fair Twohy’s film isn’t nearly as dreadful as Shyamalan’s recent Razzie-amassing efforts like The Happening and Lady in the Water but its deficiencies are similarly multifaceted. Awkward dialogue mediocre performances by Jovovich and Sanchez and an excessively aimless pre-twist plotline are just a few of the problems that plague the movie.
But my biggest gripe with A Perfect Getaway is that Twohy fills the story with so many seemingly important plot devices which end up going nowhere that the film could very well be re-titled Red Herring: The Movie. At a certain point you throw up your hands and ask “Well then is any of this s--t real?” And the answer is: No probably not. But isn’t Kauai beautiful?
Admittedly the twist is pretty darn clever. Too bad we have to wait over an hour to see it.
The climax features an excruciating scene in which a key character’s cell phone previously assumed to be out of service receives a sales call from an Indian-accented telemarketer. Rather than simply hang up and dial 911 the character pleads with the befuddled phone company rep to alert the police with predictable lack of success. All this while a deranged killer stalks the vicinity. Characters that stupid deserve to die.
May 17, 2009 8:43am EST
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
After a chance encounter with Sue a businesswoman staying at the roadside motel owned by his parents night manager Mike becomes instantly smitten. But when he travels cross-country to reunite with her he soon discovers that their one-night stand meant little more than that to Sue who has returned to her nutty Yogurt kingpin ex-boyfriend upon the promise of heading his company’s charity operations. When Mike arrives on the scene Sue is now faced with an obsessive pursuer who’s convinced that his positive determination will win her over in the end. Can this hopeless dreamer overcome her practical ambition and make a match? Take a guess.
WHO’S IN IT?
After two major studio hits in a row Marley and Me and He’s Just Not That Into You Jennifer Aniston’s movie-star momentum comes crashing to a halt with Management an indie-flavored comedy in which she is miscast opposite a cloying Steve Zahn. In the role of Sue the normally fetching Aniston is just so bland and indifferent it’s hard to imagine what possesses Zahn’s Mike to give up everything and trail her across the country after just one day — and vice-versa. What could this ambitious careerist even find remotely appealing about a slacker son who works nights at his parents’ rundown motel? It’s necessary for the audience to believe these two could potentially develop an instant spark between them for Management to have a chance and unfortunately Aniston and Zahn exhibit zero chemistry. As Mike’s parents Fred Ward and Margo Martindale give it their all (especially Martindale who’s oddly touching) but they get minimal screen time. Once Woody Harrelson enters the picture as Jango the eccentric yogurt master all is completely lost as the tone shifts from low-key romance to over-the-top slapstick. (Harrelson needs a new agent by the way.)
The idea of a story about the need for a human connection between two such emotionally wounded and guarded people is a good one; it’s been addressed effectively in countless lonelyhearts films before. And it’s admirable that Aniston is trying to stretch by doing indie films like this and the far better Good Girl (her best indie outing to date) instead of just taking a paycheck.
Management is just a forgettable movie with no clear sense of what it wants to be. The Harrelson sequences are a train wreck and debuting director Stephen Belber (who also wrote the script) wears his inexperience on his sleeve as most of the other scenes come off as flat and derivative. He does his undernourished screenplay no favors by failing to establish even a semblance of visual style or purpose.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Do you have to ask?
May 11, 2009 2:20pm EST
Warner Bros.' highly anticipated sci-fi sequel The Matrix Reloaded crushed the competition at the box office with a mind-bending five-day take of $135.7 million*, making it the second best weekend opening of all time. The megahyped actioner also set a new record for the biggest consecutive four-day domestic box office gross in cinema history with $134.3 million, became the highest grossing R-rated film ever and broke the one-day box office record on its formal opening day, with $42.5 million. Reloaded premiered on about 2,750 screens across the country Wednesday night--two hours before its nationwide release Thursday in some 3,603 theaters with a record 8,517 prints. But its early release could also be why it failed to beat Sony Picture's Spider-Man's still-standing record as the best weekend opener of all time.Reloaded went on to gross $93.2 million Friday through Sunday, which was not enough to defeat Spider-Man's record three-day haul of $114.8 million. The previous No. 2 spot was held by Warner's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with $90.3 million.Still, Reloaded managed to sell out most evening showtimes despite its restrictive rating, which many industry insiders believed would lessen its chance to reach a broad audience. With the highest playdate count of any R-rated film, Reloaded blew away the previous record for the best opening for an R rated pic, held by Universal's horror sequel Hannibal, which raked in $58 million in its opening weekend in February 2001."This just shows that ratings matter to a point, but if people want to see the movie, they're going to see the movie," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co. told The Associated Press Sunday. "It was review proof and it was ratings proof." "You had a whole legion of fans under 17 whose parents were obviously willing to take them to see this movie," he added. "You can almost call this an R-rated family film."Other R-rated blockbusters opening this summer, including Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Bad Boys II and American Wedding--the third installment in the American Pie trilogy--will no doubt see Reloaded's weighty box office take as a positive sign. THE TOP TENWarner Bros.' R rated sci-fi sequel The Matrix Reloaded easily debuted at the top of the box office with an ESTIMATED three-day take $93.2 million at 3,603 theaters. The film's $25,884 per theater average was the highest of any film playing this weekend. Its cume is approximately $135.7 million.In the trilogy's second installment, Neo, Trinity and Morpheus continue their battle against the Machines both in and out of the Matrix as mankind has just 72 hours before the destruction of the human city of Zion. Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, it stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving.Sony Pictures' PG-rated Daddy Day Care remained in the No. 2 spot in its second week with an ESTIMATED $19.2 million (-30%) at 3,408 theaters (+38 theaters, $5,634 per theater). Its cume is approximately $51.3 million.Directed by Steve Carr, it stars Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Steve Zahn, Regina King and Anjelica Huston. Lats week's box office topper, 20th Century Fox's comic book sequel X2: X-Men United skipped second place and went straight to No. 3 in its third week of release with an ESTIMATED $17.1 million (-57%) at 3,489 theaters (-260 theaters, $4,910 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $174 million, heading towards the $200 million mark.Directed by Bryan Singer, it stars Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.In fourth place is 20th Century Fox's PG-13 romantic comedy Down With Love, which debuted in one New York theater last week and expanded into 2,123 theaters this week with an ESTIMATED $ 7.5 million, with a $3,573 per theater average. Its cume is approximately $7.6 million.The film, an homage to Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies, follows a feminist writer who knocks heads with a playboy journalist. Directed by Peyton Reed, it stars Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor and David Hyde Pierce.Buena Vista's PG rated The Lizzie McGuire Movie fell two notches to fifth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.5 million (-38%) at 2,825 theaters (-167 theaters, $1,693 per theater). Its cume is approximately $32.1 million.Directed by Jim Fall, it stars Hilary Duff, Adam Lamberg and Yani Gellman.*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated comedy Anger Management fell one rung to No. 6 in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $3.6 million (-37%) at 2,476 theaters (-343 theaters, $1,454 per theater). Its cume is approximately $128.3million.Directed by Peter Segal, it stars Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei and John Turturro.Sony Pictures' R-rated psychological thriller Identity dropped three places in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $3.4 million (-48%) at 2,196 theaters (-422, $1,548 per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.8 million.Directed by James Mangold, it stars John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Rebecca DeMornay and Alfred Molina. Buena Vista's PG rated teen comedy Holes fell from sixth to eighth place in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $3 million (-38%) at 2,232 theaters (-220 theaters, $1,344 per theater). Its cume is approximately $45 million.Directed by Andrew Davis, it stars Rick Fox, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson and Shia LeBeouf. Warner Bros. PG-13 A Mighty Wind, dropped from seventh to No. 9 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $1.7 million (-42%) at 770 theaters (+5 theaters; $2,253 per theater). Its cume is approximately $12.1 million. Directed by and starring Christopher Guest, it also stars Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Bob Balaban, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara and more. Rounding out the Top Ten is Fox Searchlight's PG-13 rated Bend It Like Beckham. The soccer comedy fell one notch in its tenth week of release stateside with an ESTIMATED $1.5 million (-13%) at 553 theaters (-2 theaters, $2,731 per theater). Its cume is approximately 15.1 million.Directed Gurinder Chadha, it stars Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.OTHERSMiramax Film's G rated animated sequel Pokémon Heroes opened with an ESTIMATED $225,000 at 196 theaters ($1,148 per theater).This is the fifth in the series of Japanese anime films including: Pokemon The First Movie (1999), Pokemon The Movie 2000 (2000), Pokemon 3 The Movie: Spell of the Unknown (2001) and Pokemon 4Ever (2002). Lion Gate's R rated prison drama Sweet Sixteen, meanwhile, debuted in three theaters with an ESTIMATED $30,000, with an impressive $10,000 per theater average.The film revolves around a young teen struggling to realize his dream in the gritty streets of Glasgow while waiting for his mother's release from prison.Directed by Ken Loach, it stars Martin Compston, William Ruane, Annmarie Fulton and Michelle Abercromby.WEEKEND COMPARISONThe Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $156 million, up a whopping 52.3 percent from last week when they totaled $102.4 million.The Top 12 were down about 4 percent from last year when they totaled $162.6 million.Last year, Fox's PG rated Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones premiered at the top of the box office with $80 million at 3,161 theaters ($25,317 per theater); Sony's PG-13 rated Spider-Man came in second in its third week with with $45 million at 3,615 theaters ($12,458 per theater); and Fox's R rated Unfaithful came in third in its second week with $10 million at 2,624 theaters ($3,816 per theater).
Go to our Box Office section for recent weekend movie analysis.
March 20, 2009 6:06am EST
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Although The Great Buck Howard is not the literal story of the once popular (in the '60s and '70s) entertainer known as the Amazing Kreskin the film makes it known this is a pretty thinly disguised tribute to the man who made 88 appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show before fading into obscurity on the dinner theater circuit. Writer/director Sean McGinly who worked briefly as Kreskin’s assistant has reinvented him essentially as Buck Howard a “mentalist extraordinaire ” who once strode in the limelight with numerous TV and Vegas appearances but now plays faded community centers and hasn’t filled a theater in decades. As his new assistant law-school dropout Troy Gable quickly learns it isn’t easy working for Buck who still sees himself as a big star but when a quirk of fate intervenes and he really does get a second chance at the national spotlight neither one is quite prepared for what comes next.
WHO’S IN IT?
John Malkovich is a fine actor but he isn’t exactly known for comedy. As Buck Howard however he has the role of a lifetime and he’s simply amazing wryly funny as the has-been mentalist who would never admit he isn’t still every bit the top celebrity he used to be. Although Malkovich plays him somewhat pompously he’s ultimately quite touching as a celeb who once commanded great attention and still craves it on his own terms. As his new unwitting assistant Colin Hanks drolly underplays most of his scenes with Buck and effortlessly shows the quiet desperation of a wannabe writer who’s not exactly sure what he should be doing with his life. Emily Blunt is lovely as a publicist who helps engineer Buck’s surprising comeback; and there are also small but fun bits with Steve Zahn Griffin Dunne and even Colin’s real-life dad Tom Hanks whose company bankrolled the movie.
In the same sweet but low-key vein of My Favorite Year McGinly paints a portrait of the less glamorous aspect of showbiz when an outsized personality starts traveling on the downside of the entertainment world. Clearly his days with Kreskin gave him an entree into this life and his film is nicely observant and respectful. But still very funny.
The film plays it all a little too safe. It doesn’t seem to want to be anything more than a snapshot of life after huge success has faded; adding a little more complexity might have offered an even richer role for Malkovich. It’s pleasant but there’s not a whole lot of depth.
Buck hypnotizes a large crowd of volunteers but gets sidetracked and neglects to snap them out of it. It’s pricelessly funny and captures the ego of the guy perfectly in the expert hands of Malkovich.
March 13, 2009 6:39am EST
WHAT IT'S ABOUT?
Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) once led a charmed life a high-school cheerleading captain in love with the team quarterback. Then life took a spiral downhill and now after 20 years Rose is a single mom working as a maid. Her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) is a slacker still living at home with their dad (Alan Arkin) a failed salesman who never met a get-rich-quick-scheme he didn’t like. When Rose needs to get her son into a good school she convinces her n’er do-well sister to go into business with her cleaning up after crime scenes. In finding success in doing these dirty jobs Rose and Norah not only turn their professional lives around they discover things about themselves and each other they never dreamed possible.
WHO'S IN IT?
This terrifically quirky and entertaining character comedy is led by two-time Oscar-nominee Adams. Here she etches a very recognizable character -- the small-time girl who achieved greatness in school only to make some bad personal choices and flame out after graduation. Mustering all the self-esteem she can find Adams’ Rose shines brightly despite all the obstacles standing in her way. She and Blunt as Norah are flat-out wonderful together. Blunt plays the lazy sister who recoils at the thought of her sibling’s new money-making plan but becomes fascinated by the things people leave behind after they die. It’s a keenly observed character and Blunt is subtle perfection. As their father Arkin is homespun understanding and endearing. Standouts also include Steve Zahn as Rose’s one-time high school boyfriend and now married lover and Clifton Collins Jr. as his rival for Rose’s affections.
As her first produced screenplay newbie writer Megan Holley gets it all right taking a quirky news item she heard about crime cleaning businesses and turning it into a rich and revealing character study revolving around two siblings with small-town hopes and dreams. Every character no matter how little screen time is beautifully written and acted.
The men in the film are so appealing and offbeat you wish there was more time devoted to them particularly the character played by Collins Jr. whose one arm handicap is never explained.
Using every tip she ever learned from a self-help book Rose stares at herself in the mirror after taking a shower and gives herself a wonderfully optimistic bit of advice.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN …
The opening scene begins and the guy goes into a store to buy a gun. It’s a bit jolting and sets this warm and engaging human drama off on the wrong note. Don’t worry it gets a LOT better from there.
February 01, 2008 4:14am EST
This limp farce from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison productions stars Steve Zahn as the host of a wildlife television series that’s slipping in the ratings. In a desperate effort to save the show he and his production team embark on a journey to South America to find Bigfoot. There’s the usual quotient of drug references and sexual innuendo as well as the obligatory slapstick shenanigans. But everybody on both sides of the camera just seems to be going through the motions. The film’s low point and there are many to choose from may be when a turkey attaches itself to Zahn’s manhood. Even if the joke was funny--and it’s not--it is dragged out endlessly until all humor has been drained from the scene. It’s sometimes painful to see a comedy as unfunny as this especially when there are good people involved. The film also bears a 2006 copyright indicating that it’s been cooling its reels on a studio shelf somewhere for the last year. Too bad it didn’t stay there. For all of his comedic abilities Steve Zahn couldn’t save Daddy Day Care--and he can’t save Strange Wilderness. His team members include Allen Covert Justin Long Ashley Scott Jonah Hill Kevin Heffernan and Peter Dante all of whom have been funnier elsewhere. A few of the actors appear to lose interest midway through and the film flounders as a whole. Some of the more familiar faces in the cast including Joe Don Baker Harry Hamlin Robert Patrick and the indefatigable Ernest Borgnine have the good sense or the good luck to get on and off the screen as quickly as possible thereby saving themselves any further embarrassment. The actors deserve better and so does the audience. Fred Wolf a one-time stand-up comic best known as the head writer on Saturday Night Live during the 1990s makes his feature directorial debut here--and it’s nothing to boast about. Sandler must’ve liked it however since Wolf’s next film--I Know What Boys Like--was also produced under the auspices of Happy Madison and is due out later this year. Wolf also wrote the film along with Peter Gaulke which just happens to be the name of Zahn’s character. Pretty funny no? No it’s not. Not at all.
July 18, 2007 7:17am EST
Rescue Dawn is not a movie about war despite its Vietnam War setting or even so much a prisoner of war even though that’s what its hero is; rather it is a true story of a man’s will and ability to survive…anything. And with Werner Herzog behind the camera there couldn’t be a better marriage of director to subject matter. In 1966 German-born American Navy pilot Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale) was excited to be deployed on a top-secret mission but the mission and the excitement were short-lived as his plane was shot down around the jungles of Laos. Before long Dengler is captured and tortured by the Laotian equivalent of Viet Cong whose leaders eventually lock him up in a makeshift cell. There he meets other POWs including Americans Gene (Jeremy Davies) and Duane (Steve Zahn) who have been held for upwards of two years. His newfound friends are emaciated and understandably delusional but Duane has managed to sustain a faint sense of reality. And when Dieter tells the group of his escape plan Duane is the only one to not ask questions. The escape is unexpectedly moved up and not without a hitch—not everyone will make it. Furthermore once they’re free from Viet Cong the men are held captive by the jungle. But Dieter’s madness winds up his greatest ally whereas others’ fatally slows them down. How does a contemporary big-time Hollywood actor transition financially psychologically professionally and linguistically from Batman to Grizzly Man (with a pit stop en route as a 19th century English magician)? Only Christian Bale could ever answer that. His filmography may register all over the radar but Bale is one of the most consistently great actors of his generation. And although Dawn might not have the Oscar pedigree or campaign power of a studio movie Bale is nomination worthy. A dialect virtuoso the way Benicio Del Toro is considered to be Bale—who’s British—is spot-on with the subtle nuances and fluctuating enunciation one might expect from a German-American or any foreign-born American. But more amazing is his mental transformation into Dieter a survivor who won’t take death for an answer. If Bale gets an Oscar nod so should Zahn a journeyman actor always associated with the comedic-sidekick role. It’s dramatic sidekick for Zahn this time and he wears it well from the beyond-scruffy beard on his face to the transparent hope on his face. Rounding out the best ensemble cast of 2007 is Davies (Saving Private Ryan) whose chameleonic career reads like Bale’s—not to mention the fact that Davies’ startling weight loss for this role eerily resembles Bale’s for The Machinist. Davies’ Gene although a somewhat minor character is the bony face of spirit-battered POWs; it’s scary and occasionally perversely comedic to watch his hallucinations unfold. Forty-plus years into his career legendary German writer-director Werner Herzog is as enigmatic as ever—and yet so predictable. It’s as if he remains somehow unaware that he keeps tackling the same stories about males who like him are obsessed; or in some abstractly Freudian way his filmmaking is the ultimate exercise in narcissism for exploring versions of himself. Whatever the explanation Herzog continues along this unwavering path in Dawn and his obsession is our gain. Herzog’s latest finds him just as smitten with his protagonist Dieter as with his de facto antagonist the jungle. For Dieter the writer in Herzog crafted someone who takes on different forms: a sponge to his environment an oxymoronic superhero of a human an entity that is everything but scared. And it’s highly fascinating to watch—thanks to an adept Christian Bale—Dieter go from a brash young man to a man of the wild to briefly a madman—but again never a scared or desperate man. That sort of attention to detail to a character could only come from a filmmaker who doesn’t make a movie unless the story is close to his heart. As a director Herzog pays as much respect to the jungle here as he did the bears in his Oscar-nominated documentary Grizzly Man. For even at Dawn’s most harrowing the jungle is soothing. Which is probably Werner Herzog’s dictum on nature in general.
November 04, 2005 4:15am EST
Based on the classic tale Chicken Little follows the fable with a few creative freedoms. Chicken Little (voiced by Zach Braff) must clear his name as a chicken who cried “wolf” (or rather “The sky is falling…”). The town turns to chaos over Little’s claim. When he can’t prove the incident everyone thinks the chick’s lost it. A year later the stigma still follows him--leading Little to desperately seek acceptance particularly from his father Buck Cluck (voiced by Garry Marshall). In an effort to seek positive attention he joins the baseball team and wins the big game. It seems everything’s going Little’s way until another piece of the sky falls and mysteriously finds it’s way into Little’s home. This time friends Runt of the Litter (voiced by Steve Zahn) and Abby Mallard (voiced by Joan Cusack) bare witness to the incident which turns into a full-blown alien invasion. What follows is a battle between animals and the unknown. As a writer producer director and sometime actor Marshall can now add “animated character” to his list of accomplishments. Voicing Buck Cluck has to be one of Marshall’s easiest roles. With an always distinctive voice Marshall used his signature sound to carry the role. Braff’s familiar voice sounded slightly tweaked for the part but added to the character’s sincerity. As always Cusack and Zahn’s characters add the perfect blend of comic relief. Along with directing The Emperors New Groove director Mark Dindal also contributed to such classics as The Little Mermaid and Oliver & Company. Given his background it’s no surprise that this film delivers a lot of Disney’s essentials--comedy adventure and music. In terms of animation Dindal and his team’s attention to detail won’t go unnoticed particularly in the space invasion sequences. Still while visually gorgeous Chicken Little won’t likely go down in Disney history as a classic. It doesn’t have the great soundtrack Disney is usually known for. It features a few originals (Barenaked Ladies’ “One Little Slip”) but is jam packed with cover songs (Wannabe ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough) sung by the actual cast. Pure comedy but no real gems. But overall Dindal succeeds in delivering a fun film worth taking the family to.
April 26, 2005 10:56am EST
Based on the novel by Clive Cussler we meet master explorer Dirk Pitt who is just itching to go on his next treasure hunt. He gets that chance when he finds a fabled coin linked to a historical legend and heads to some of the most dangerous regions of West Africa searching for what the locals call the "Ship of Death"--a long-lost Civil War battleship that harbors a secret cargo. But don't waste a second of time wondering how a Civil War battleship found its way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Sahara Desert; no one involved in the movie did either. Along for the ride is Dirk's wisecracking "sidekick" Al Giordino (Steve Zahn) who always knows just what to say in the most dire of situations. Not. The boys also meet Dr. Eva Rojas (Penelope Cruz) a beautiful doctor who believes that the hidden treasure may be connected to a larger problem that not only threatens the lives of the locals but possibly like the entire world. Whoa dude! Although the guys spend most of the movie blowing things up together you just know that somehow their paths are going to cross again with Eva's and when they do it's gonna be EXPLOSIVE! Like literally. Duuuuuude!
Who can act with all those explosions going off? And in the middle of the desert? McConaughey is so suntanned so blow-dried so lovingly filmed in this movie that I was half expecting the distinctive twang of the "porn guitar" every time he made an entrance. In every shot he's glistening bronzed with a megawatt smile and that laid-back inflection of his that makes it sound like he just rolled out of bed stretched scratched himself and then moseyed himself down to stand in front of the cameras. Similarly Zahn who is usually cast as the hyperactive frenetic best friend is cast as--big surprise--the frenetic hyperactive frenetic best friend. The only difference is that in Sahara he must have been allowed to use McConaughey's personal trainer because Zahn has never looked more studly. He too is all windswept and taut muscles matching McConaughey's frosted tips to frosted tips and squint for squint. Oh yeah Penelope Cruz is in the movie too walking around with horned rimmed glasses perched on her face to show that she's a Serious Doctor Person. Yep that just about does it for the acting.
Matthew McConaughey tells us "the word Sahara actually means 'desert'." If we take our English lesson one step further we can define desert as: "A region of permanent cold that is largely or entirely devoid of life." Yep that about sums the movie up. Although director Breck Eisner has done his best to assemble all the elements and set pieces of an action/adventure film we've seen them all before. Never throw one punch when you can throw 10; never drive in a straight line when you can zoom around in a long sweeping curve being sure to kick up as much dust as you can. And don't sweat the small details like finding a working pay phone or a gas station in the middle of a desert or locating live ammunition in a ship that's 150 years old. Never say "I'll be fine!"(because for sure you're going to die). Or "I'll be right back." (because again you're guaranteed not to). And of course the ever popular "How many times am I gonna have to save your ass?" (c'mon that was rhetorical). We already know that a train is going to be involved; someone is going to get tied to a truck and somewhere somehow there will be camels. It's the desert for heaven's sakes. There's nothing fresh here. Dialogue is just a mere convenience to move the actors from one band of bad guys to the next and none of the actors are really given much to do other than whoop and holler a whole lot. Oh yeah and blow things up. Don't ask how the 150 year old cannonball can still explode. Just leave well enough alone.
November 12, 2004 1:41pm EST
Moore announces Fahrenheit 9/11 sequel
It was bound to happen. Director Michael Moore is planning a sequel to his anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which will be set for release about the time of the next presidential campaign, a spokeswoman for distributor Lions Gate Entertainment said Thursday. Titled Fahrenheit 9/11 and ½, the sequel will revisit the same issues as Moore's original documentary, which the director hoped would sway the outcome of the presidential race against President Bush. The Republican incumbent won the election with 51 percent of the vote to Democratic Sen. John Kerry's 48 percent. "We want to get the cameras rolling now and have it ready in two (to) three years," Moore told Daily Variety's Army Archerd. "Fifty-one percent of the American people lacked information (in this election), and we want to educate and enlighten them. They weren't told the truth." Moore, whose documentary grossed nearly $120 million at the U.S. box office, added: "The official mourning period is over today and there is a silver lining--George W. Bush is prohibited by law from running again."
Hugh Grant tired of acting
Hugh Grant, who plays heartthrob Daniel Cleaver in the new sequel Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason, told London's Evening Standard's Metro magazine Thursday he considers film acting a miserable experience. "It's so long and boring and so difficult to get right," the 44-year-old actor said. "I am sort of semi-retired. I keep thinking I'm going to write a brilliant script." Grant showed up to this week's London premiere of the film with his new girlfriend, heiress Jemima Khan, but told the magazine he didn't feel pressure to settle down.The Four Weddings and a Funeral star gained international notoriety when he was caught in a car with Hollywood prostitute Divine Brown in 1995. He was dating actress Elizabeth Hurley at the time.
Fans line up for Madonna book signing
Hundreds of Madonna fans lined up for 24 hours outside a central London bookstore Thursday, hoping to get a signed copy of the pop icon's new children's book, The Adventures of Abdi. But according to the AP, only the first 250 hopefuls were allowed into Selfridges on Oxford St. to for Madonna's book reading. The Adventures of Abdi is the fourth book in Madonna's five-book children's series for Callaway Editions. The company has already published The English Roses, Mr. Peabody's Apples and Yakov and the Seven Thieves, while the fifth book, Lotsa de Casha, is due for release next summer. Madonna later gave 10-minute reading to a group of 30 school children from St. Winifred's Catholic Junior School in south London.
Bill Cosby talks race on CNN
Bill Cosby, who has publicly criticized some black children for not knowing how to read or write, told CNN's Paula Zahn in an interview that aired Thursday night his opinions are consistent with what he's done as an entertainer for more than 40 years. Cosby, 67, said that as a young comic in the 1960s, he didn't want to be like other black comedians and talk about race issues. "I don't play that. You're not going to laugh at the color of my skin. You're going to laugh with me at our similarities, and some of our differences," he said. "But I'm not going to have you, because this is not the time in this United States of America, where you're going to laugh at what my people are suffering with."
The life of Blake's slain wife to be Movie of the Week
There's a made-for-television movie in the works on Robert Blake's murdered wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. As the murder trial against Blake proceeds, Dying for Stardom: The Absolutely Unbelievable True Story of Bonny Lee Bakley will tell the story of the woman's turbulent life--but it does not attempt to answer the question of who killed her. "Whether Robert Blake pulled the trigger or whether he had someone pull the trigger ... we leave that up to one's own determination," producer Larry Thompson, who managed Blake in the early 1980s, told the AP. Actor Steve Railsback, who played Charles Manson in the 1976 television drama Helter Skelter, will play Blake. Bakley's role hasn't been cast as yet, nor has an airdate been set.
Eric B. & Rakim album tapped as the best
Eric B. & Rakim's album Paid in Full tops Entertainment Weekly's list of the greatest all-time rap albums, Reuters reports. "Paid in Full made hip-hop a true art form, doing for rap what Bob Dylan did for rock in the mid-'60s," the magazine said of the 1987 album, which it praised for its technical intricacy and poetic metaphors. Coming in second was the 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul, followed by Ready to Die by Notorious B.I.G. from 1994. Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C. make up the rest of the Top Five.
Jeunet fights for film's French credentials
Despite being set and filmed in France as well as employing French actors, extras and technicians, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is in court to prove his latest film, A Very Long Engagement, is indeed French. Reuters reports Jeunet is battling a group of by rival producers who want to block his new film from French government subsidies because they say it received U.S. funding. "The producers are obsessed because there's a new studio and they don't want to share the cake," Jeunet said. "It's very cynical, very hypocritical." The film, which stars Amelie's Audrey Tautou, follows a woman who refuses to believe her fiancé was killed in World War I and embarks on a search to find him.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.