Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
Allegra, the late star's daughter from his second marriage to Christine Kaufmann, is upset that the actor's sixth wife Jill failed to inform his kin about her plans to sell off paintings, memorabilia and keepsakes - and then reportedly refused to let his children grab sentimental items.
Allegra tells The Hollywood Reporter, "Jill Curtis is the only beneficiary of this auction. She did not consult us. This is not what my dad would have wanted.
"Jill's even selling off credit cards and driver licenses. She's also selling my dad's letters to Cary Grant, Jerry Lewis, Picasso - these belong in a museum.
"It's the dissemination of the estate of Tony Curtis. He deserves better."
But Julien's Auctions boss Darren Julien, who will oversee the Curtis estate sale, begs to differ.
He says, "Tony came to many of our auctions with Jill and said he wanted Julien's to handle his auction after he died. I know this is exactly what he wanted."
Curtis died last September (10).
Jamie Lee Curtis' actor father passed away on Wednesday (29Sep10). No further details were available as WENN went to press.
Born Bernard Schwartz to Jewish immigrants from Hungary, the star endured a tough upbringing in the Bronx borough of New York, which saw him spend a year in an orphanage with his younger brother Julius because his parents were too poor to feed them.
He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II before deciding to pursue his love of acting and enrolling in the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with German director Erwin Piscator.
He moved to Hollywood in 1948 when he was 23 and landed a contract with Universal Pictures. It was then that Schwartz changed his name to Tony Curtis, adopting his first name from the book Anthony Adverse and his last name from Kurtz, from his mother's family.
Curtis made his film debut with an uncredited appearance in 1949's Criss Cross, but it was only in the mid-1950s that he emerged as a breakout star with roles in movies including 1957's Sweet Smell of Success and alongside Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones (1958), a performance which landed him a Best Actor Oscar nomination.
He also starred in dramas The Outsider and The Boston Strangler, but he will perhaps be best remembered for his performance in Some Like It Hot (1959) with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon. In 2000, the American Film Institute named the movie classic the greatest American comedy film of all time.
Curtis also embarked on a variety of TV projects and was immortalised as 'Stony Curtis' on popular cartoon The Flintstones in the early 1960s. In the '70s, he co-starred with former James Bond actor Roger Moore in The Persuaders! series, and went on to land roles in U.S. TV shows McCoy and Vega$.
The actor scaled down the number of films he made in the 1980s and embarked on a career as a surrealist painter. His works became such a hit in the art world, he was able to command more than $25,000 (£16,700) a piece and his painting The Red Table went on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2007.
Curtis was later awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was presented with the prestigious French honour, the Order of Arts and Letters, in 1995. He was also an Emmy nominated star and collected two Golden Globes, in 1958 and 1961.
His final role as an actor was in 2008 romantic war drama David & Fatima, in which he starred with Oscar winner Martin Landau, although he expressed a desire to return to the screen earlier this year (10).
Outside Hollywood, Curtis was also known for his high-profile personal life - he was married to actress Janet Leigh for 11 years and they had two children together, Jamie Lee and Kelly Curtis, who both followed their parents into showbusiness.
He openly admitted to cheating on Leigh during their union and divorced her in 1962 to wed Christine Kaufmann, his then-17-year-old German co-star in Taras Bulba. He fathered two kids with her but his second marriage lasted just four years.
He was married a further three times and had two more children with third wife Leslie Allen, although their son Nicholas died from a heroin overdose in 1994, aged 23.
Renowned womaniser Curtis later revealed he had had a brief fling with Marilyn Monroe in 1949, and detailed their love affair in his autobiography American Prince: A Memoir.
Curtis was dogged by ill health in his later years and came close to death when he was struck down by pneumonia and fell into a coma in December 2006. He regained consciousness several days later but the virus left him weak and he was resigned to using a wheelchair to get around as he could only walk short distances.
He was hospitalised in August last year (09) when he suffered an asthma-like attack and was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition which sent him to seek medical attention again in New York in early 2010.
In July (10), Curtis was admitted to hospital in Las Vegas after another COPD attack after being taken ill at an exhibition of his artwork.
He is survived by his fifth wife Jill Vandenberg Curtis, who he wed in 1998 despite their 42-year age difference, and his five children.
The romantic action comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is like nothing — and if you’re a person between the age of approximately 18 to 35 everything — you’ve seen before. British director Edgar Wright’s (Shaun of the Dead Hot Fuzz) adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novel is so densely laden with pop-culture references it often times feels less like a movie than a mixtape. Those who share the tastes of the film’s 31-year-old writer and 35-year-old director will find the experience to be exhilarating; those who don’t however will likely be at a loss to comprehend what all the fuss is about.
The list of ‘80s and ‘90s video game nods in Pilgrim alone is daunting: Tekken Super Mario Bros. Tetris Zelda and even retro titles like Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man are represented just to name a few. To fit all of it in Wright must practically invent a brand-new kind of filmmaking. Using techniques and iconography culled from the holy fanboy triumvirate of comic books video games and anime/manga and armed with a clearly generous effects budget he splatters the screen with a dazzling array of CGI visual aids as the action unfolds: informational pop-ups supply key details on each character as they are introduced; words like “Boom!” and “Pow!” burst forth when blows are landed during fight sequences; a “Level Up!” graphic indicating increased levels of key character attributes appears after the film’s hero triumphs in battle. Even the old Universal Studios logo has been revamped by Wright rendered in the rudimentary graphics and sound of the old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Call it easter-egg filmmaking.
At the center of this digital maelstrom is Scott Pilgrim a 22-year-old Canadian hipster waif played by 22-year-old Canadian hipster waif Michael Cera. Unemployed and in no great rush to find work he splits his time evenly between jamming with his middling band Sex Bob-Omb (a Super Mario Bros. reference) combing thrift shops for new additions to his near-limitless collection of ironic t-shirts and pining for Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) a beguiling New York City emigre whose signature attribute is her constantly-changing hair color.
After a few abortive encounters Scott finally gets Ramona to reciprocate his affections. Thus begins the quest — or "campaign " as gamers call it — portion of the film as Scott soon discovers that in order to secure Ramona’s hand he must defeat each of her seven evil exes (six boys and one girl) in spontaneous death matches of decreasing novelty. (A few of them could easily have been excised without harming the narrative but that might invite the ire of comic book fans who typically demand nothing less than absolute adherence to the source text.) With a variety of found power-ups and an entirely implausible collection of fancy kung-fu moves he faces off against among others a pompous vegan straight-edge (Brandon Routh) a self-absorbed action star (Chris Evans) a spiteful lesbian (Mae Whitman) and a smarmy record producer (Jason Schwartzman).
I expect Scott Pilgrim vs. the World will polarize audiences and not just because of Wright’s distinctively dizzying directorial style. (Which I thoroughly enjoyed even though it occasionally overdoses on manufactured quirk and is a bit too proud of its cleverness.) The film glosses over Scott and Ramona’s wooing process in its rush to commence with its succession of comic-book battles which grow somewhat tedious toward the end. It’s simply assumed that Ramona would fall for our protagonist as it’s likewise assumed that we already have. But not everyone will embrace Scott’s castrati hipster affect which too often comes across as grating rather than charming. (The movie’s funniest moments come courtesy of Scott’s sassy gay roommate played by Kieran Culkin who is never without a clever barb for his lovelorn pal.) And beneath Cera’s self-effacing sheen exists an unmistakable whiff of pretentiousness that isn’t entirely justified — at least not yet. Far less debatable is the appeal of Winstead whose spunky Ramona appears every bit worth the hassle of fending off seven or more ex-lovers.
God knows what she sees in him.