Using the formula so many unsuccessful romantic comedies have employed before it (looking at you Valentine's Day) What to Expect When You're Expecting wrangles a cast of big name stars but drops them in roles perfectly aligned with their sensibilities. Paired with a relatable central concept — one way or another we've all seen a side of pregnancy — director Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine) pulls off a comedy that's sweet poignant and most importantly funny. The experience of having a baby presented in the film isn't glorified or glamorized nor is it a one-person job resting on the women's shoulders making What to Expect a blockbuster comedy that delivers a little something for everyone.
Taking place primarily in Atlanta What to Expect bounces back and forth between a handful of couples with babies on the brain: Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) and Gary (Ben Falcone) are desperately trying to get pregnant while Gary's NASCAR legend father Ramsey (Dennis Quaid) is (frustratingly) having no problem with his trophy wife Skyler (Brooklyn Decker); Weight loss TV personality Jules (Cameron Diaz) takes home the top prize at a celeb dance-off at the same time she discovers she's carrying her dance partner Evan's (Matthew Morrison) child; Holly (Jennifer Lopez) and Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) are finally ready to take the plunge into the world of adoption but the actual process turns out to be an uphill battle; and Rosie (Anna Kendrick) a food truck owner has a wild night out with her competition (and former flame) Marco (Chace Crawford) that puts them both in a difficult situation. If you guessed she's pregnant you'd be correct.
What to Expect's DNA is a closer to match Woody Allen's Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask than anything out of the generic rom-com playbook. The screenplay from Heather Hach and Shauna Crossm is sharp with even the silliest and most expected gags landing thanks to the comedic talents of Banks Diaz Kendrick and the wicked rapport of the "Dude's Group " sporting Chris Rock Thomas Lennon Rob Huebel Amir Talai and Joe Manganiello. Even Decker who outshines her costars in Battleship holds her own taking the bubbly blonde to a whole other level
The movie makes a bold move to mix the less shiny moments of pregnancy in with the broad comedy and the results are mixed. Rosie and Marco's struggle with their accidental pregnancy takes a dramatic turn that doesn't feel earned in the grand scheme of things. Kendrick handles it with grace but pregnancy in its darkest moments require breathing room and with so many stories to juggle What to Expect can't afford it. Jennifer Lopez is the movie's biggest weakness a thread that never digs deep (or illicit laughs) from the roller coaster ride of adoption. The couple's predicament forces J.Lo to stick mostly to pouting and is completely overshadowed by the movie's highlights.
Thankfully those highlights are plentiful. Whether Diaz is spoofing Biggest Loser with her satirical take on TV personalities Banks is having a meltdown during her keynote at a baby expo or Rock is delivering a profanity-laden soliloquy on why dads need to man up What to Expect keeps laughs coming. Hollywood rarely gives birth to a comedy that's both hilarious and honest. What to Expect hits both chords defying expectations.
Part Mean Girls part Heathers—hell there’s even a little bit of Hilary Duff’s ridiculously stupid The Perfect Man thrown in there—John Tucker Must Die fits the genre nicely. But the word “die” is a little harsh. Actually when three high school girls—wannabe journalist Carrie (Arielle Kebbel) head cheerleader Heather (Ashanti) and vegan activist Beth (Sophia Bush)—find out they are all dating the delectable John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe) the school’s basketball star they decide to get even. After several embarrassing tactics backfire the girls come up with the perfect idea. They’ll recruit pretty but anonymous new kid Kate (Brittany Snow) doll her up and get Tuck to fall in love with her so she can ceremoniously dump him. Wow I can’t see anything going wrong with that plan. Not at all. Talk about some pretty people John Tucker has got them in spades starting off with the insanely handsome Metcalfe who literally had women weak in the knees as the hot gardener who woos Desperate Housewives’ Eva Longoria. It’s not a big stretch to see him as the sexy Tuck the most popular er player in school. Then there’s the trio of revengeful hotties: tall lean and blonde Kebbel (Aquamarine) as the “smart” girl; curvy singer/actress Ashanti (Coach Carter) as the bring-it-on “cheerleader”; and luscious and exotic Bush (TV’s One Tree Hill) as the “experienced” one. But really its the perky Snow’s (The Pacifier) show effectively playing the “invisible” girl no one knows or even cares to know who moves around a lot whenever her mother (Jenny McCarthy in a nice bit part) breaks up with a “John Tucker” herself. What’s wrong with these single moms dragging their daughters all over the place after their hearts get broken? Betty Thomas best known for her turn as Sgt. Lucy Bates on Hill Street Blues doesn’t have the best track record in town as a director (I Spy is hers for example). But she’s helmed enough passable comedies (The Brady Bunch Movie Dr. Dolittle) to grant her admittance into the club. Problem here is Thomas isn’t teamed up with a sharp writer like Saturday Night Live alum Tina Fey whose Mean Girls script simply zings. John Tucker is pretty standard fare taking bits and pieces from the already established high-school formula. Still the coveted teen market will more than likely enjoy all the antics in the film—especially the whole “thong” bit in which Tuck caught wearing a thong in one of the girls’ schemes makes it cool for guys everywhere to wear thongs. Yeah you get the picture.
The film follows the same tired action genre step by step. Ex-con and single dad O2 (Tyrese Gibson) is trying to go straight for the sake of his young son Junior. But when the kid is kidnapped in what seems to be a typical carjacking O2 has to pull out all the stops to get him back. Turns out O2 had some nefarious dealings with a gang overlord named Big Meat (The Game) who likes to hack off people’s body parts with a machete. And now Meat wants some payback taking for ransom the only thing O2 cares about in the entire world [sniffle]. So what’s a guy to do? Pit rival gang leaders against each other hook up with a beautiful street hustler (Meagan Good) rob safety deposit boxes and get caught in an extended car chase that’s what. "It's either all or nothing " realizes O2. Very prophetic. Waist Deep has got some great character names--Meat O2 Coco Lucky Junior. Too bad most of the performances can’t live up to them. Tyrese (Four Brothers) does try his best though as the hunky O2 making a convincing albeit a tad stiff attempt at playing a father who’s whole life is his son. Good (Roll Bounce) gets to wear tight sexy clothes and strut around as Coco O2’s accomplice and eventual love interest as they rob banks Bonnie and Clyde style. Larenz Tate (Crash) plays Lucky O2’s unreliable cousin who actually isn’t lucky at all caught between a rock and hard place. And then there’s Meat played by big-time rapper The Game in his feature debut. With a battered face and covered in tattoos The Game certainly looks like one mean badass wielding a mad machete. Thankfully he doesn’t have to do much more than that. Here’s a few words of advice to would-be actors who want to play effective bad guys: Less is more. It’s movies like these that really give South Central L.A. a bad rep—shoot-outs in the middle of the street in broad daylight the carjacks the depravity the sad stories of little kids getting shot. It’s not exactly a warm and fuzzy place. Of course actor-turned-director/co-writer Vondie Curtis-Hall (best known for his numerous TV guest spots) doesn’t want it to be showing the grit in all its glory and collecting a cast from the area who could lend some credibility to the surroundings. But Hall needs a few more lessons in how to craft a well-thought action movie. The script is hackneyed beyond the usual taking bits not only from Bonnie and Clyde but also Thelma and Louise Boyz N the Hood--and even a little Shawshank Redemption. Hall’s camerawork is also too frenetic at times almost dizzyingly so with unnecessary close ups and choppy sequences. That isn’t to say some of the gun play and car chases aren’t exciting enough. There just seems to be a lack of experience overall.
On the surface Stay seems to be a straightforward psychological drama about a psychiatrist Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) who is trying to keep a mysterious patient Henry (Ryan Gosling) from killing himself. But the deeper we get into it the decidedly weirder it gets. And not necessarily in a good way. Sam and Henry seemed to be inexplicably connected. While his girlfriend and former patient Lila (Naomi Watts) looks haplessly on Sam’s lightly held grip on the rational world begins to melt away. He can no longer figure out what is true and what is happening only in his head--all climaxing in a titular confrontation between life and death. Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling would have loved this one. Although he was surprisingly good as the romantic lead in The Notebook the usually somber Gosling is best known for playing quiet psychotics in such films as The United States of Leland and Murder By Numbers. In Stay he’s back to his old tricks as the suicidal Henry. Pale with mournful eyes and a perpetual cigarette in his mouth Henry is certainly a tortured soul looking for some relief. On the flip side Watts brightens the otherwise dismal surroundings as Lila but there’s also a tinge of sadness about her. The only weak link is McGregor. He can’t quite pull off playing the dedicated psychiatrist slowly losing his mind--but the Scottish actor sure has mastered the American accent (ditto for the Australian Watts). Director Marc Forster (Monsters Ball Finding Neverland) seems a bit out of his league with this jumbled-up hard-to-understand psychological fare. Granted the visuals are arresting. Forster strives to create a world which at first seems real but then little by little turns into a wildly shifting dreamscape in which scenes blend into one another seamlessly. The real problem here is the script by David Benioff (25th Hour). It tries to say “Look how clever!” by throwing you for loop after loop--except the loops don’t make much sense. You eventually stop saying “What the hell?” and start to get a pretty good idea how Stay is going to end up. And when the final twist is handed down it’s surprisingly not all that disappointing.
Just when we thought KISS took off their makeup and said goodbye to their fans on their farewell tour, KISS and Make-Up, the autobiography of KISS bassist Gene Simmons, will hit stores on Dec. 11.
"It's the weirdest thing in the world," Simmons told Rolling Stone of the anthology process. "Because when you're moving ahead in life and you take snapshots of where you've been and then someone turns around and says, 'Take the last thirty years and pick six hours of highlights,' the hardest thing is how to figure out what to put in and not what to leave out."
The book begins with Simmons' birth in Israel and details his emigration to America with his mother, as well as his former relationships with Cher, Diana Ross, and current wife, Shannon Tweed. The book will also talk about the formation of KISS and give details of the band's 30-year career.
KISS plans to plug their upcoming release KISS: The Box Set with an in-store appearance at Tower Records from 7 to 9 p.m on Nov. 20 in Hollywood, where guitarist Paul Stanley and Simmons will greet and give autographs to fans. Simmons will also host the Court TV documentary The Secret of Rock 'n' Roll on Dec. 4.
Fleetwood Mac: in the studio without McVie
Fleetwood Mac is back in the studio recording its first album since their tremendous 1997 comeback The Dance. But it wouldn't be Fleetwood Mac without some kind of catch--they'll be without singer/keyboardist Christine McVie, who has retired from the group, Reuters reports. She currently lives in an English castle and prefers to indulge in her passion for cooking. "We're happily a four-piece and are creatively, artistically, handling a new chapter of Fleetwood Mac without Christine, and it's going extremely well," co-founder and drummer Mick Fleetwood told Reuters. The band hopes to tour the U.S. next summer.
New York street corner may be renamed 'Joey Ramone Way'
Six months after punk rocker Joey Ramone died from lymphatic cancer, Manhattan's Lower East Side residents are anxiously waiting for the city's Community Board 3 to approve a proposal to change one of their street names after the former Ramones' front man. Residents have asked to change the corner of East Second Street and Bowery in Manhattan to Joey Ramone Way, Rolling Stone magazine reports. The board will
review the proposal at their next meeting on Nov. 15. "I think he's very important as an example of people who come from the East Village, but he's a New Yorker -- lived there, prospered and developed," CBGB's club owner, Hilly Kristal, told the magazine. "I think he would have been kind of embarrassingly pleased."
Guns N' Roses cancels European tour again
European fans will be upset to know that Guns 'N Roses have canceled their European tour for the second time this year. According to SonicNet.com, a press release by their manager, Doug Goldstein, reported that the group's 14-city tour in June has been put off until December because guitarist Buckethead has internal hemorrhaging in the stomach. The band also claims to want to finish recording their new album, Chinese Democracy. "Following the euphoria of Rock in Rio, I jumped the gun and arranged an European tour as our plan was to have the new album out this year," Goldstein said on a statement. "I am sorry to disappoint fans, but I can assure them that this is not what Axl [Rose] wanted. I made a plan, and unfortunately it did not work out." Goldstein also added that Rose has spent "every waking minute of every day during the last five years writing, recording and producing the record." If the new album ever comes out, it will be G N' R's first original material since 1991.
Ozzy breaks a leg, cancels shows
For years he's called himself a "madman" and acted the part onstage, but age might be starting to catch up with hard-living heavy metal pioneer Ozzy Osbourne. The rocker broke his leg last week when he slipped in the shower before a show in Tucson, Ariz. According to his official Web site, www.ozzy.com, he still performed despite the broken leg for a few dates until his doctor ordered him to rest at home. As a result, 10 dates of his Merry Mayhem tour, with opening act Rob Zombie, have been canceled. The tour will resume on Nov. 29 in Grand Fork, N.D., and end Dec. 29 in San Diego. There is no word yet when the missed dates might be rescheduled.
Jagger to play small party in Los Angeles
Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger performed Nov. 15 at a small party at Los Angeles's El Rey Theatre to celebrate the release of his new solo album Goddess in the Doorway. Jagger performed his upcoming single, "God Gave Me Everything," which he co-wrote with rocker Lenny Kravitz. The performance was taped for ABC's Nov. 22 broadcast, Being Mick, a one-hour documentary directed by Kevin Macdonald. Jagger's latest solo album will hit stores on Nov. 20.
Cure's Robert Smith to release first solo album
Although Robert Smith has been busy promoting the Cure's Greatest Hits album, which went on sale Nov. 13, he hopes to begin recording his first solo album in January or February. "I was just at the point of coordinating it all earlier this year when the Greatest Hits project was suggested, and I went along with it," Smith told SonicNet.com. "And so that took the Cure back into the studio to do all the new songs and the acoustic stuff. And that's followed by promotion, so I had to shelve my album again for another few months." In addition, Smith said that he started coming up for ideas after finishing the Cure's last studio album, Bloodflowers, in 2000. The Cure will also release a Greatest Hits home video on Nov. 27.
Third Eye Blind to headline Los Angeles' free clinic show
Third Eye Blind will headline the third of three benefit concerts for the Silver Lining Silver Lake project benefiting a Los Angeles free health clinic, Launch.com reports. The show, to be held on Nov. 15 at the Hollywood Palladium, will also include Jaguares, Becky, and appearances by Benicio Del Toro and Lucy Liu. The other two concerts will take place on Nov. 13 and 14 at the same venue, and will include performances by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Elton John and Sting. Among the hosts present at the event will be Robert Downey Jr., Christina Ricci, Tony Hawk, and Adam Carolla.
Tickets for the first two nights are currently on sale for $250, $500 and $1000 through Ticketmaster. Tickets for the Nov. 15 show will go on sale on Nov. 17 for $100 a piece. All proceeds will benefit the Hollywood-Sunset Free Clinic, which has offered health care for Los Angeles residents since 1968 and has recently lost its civic funding.