Randolph Smiley (Robin Williams) is on top of his game--he's the eponymous star of the highest rated kid's TV show Rainbow Randolph has his own Times Square billboard and makes lots of money. Until that is he gets caught taking bribes from stage parents. Suddenly he becomes the social pariah of the millennium and of course gets canned. Losing Rainbow Randolph however leaves the network in a bind. Now they have to find a squeaky-clean replacement pronto. Enter Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton) and his alter-ego Smoochy an abnormally large fuschia rhino who sings children's songs about kicking drug habits and stepdads who aren't mean but simply adjusting. With his naivete unwavering ethics and unflagging ambition to make the world a better place he becomes the new number one show. Sheldon soon learns however how cutthroat children's entertainment can be as the powers that be try to corrupt his ideals. Meanwhile a homeless Randolph makes it his number-one priority to destroy the bastard who stole his life. Who's going to get Smoochy first the corrupt businessmen or crazy Rainbow Randy? Stay tuned...
When you hear the Smoochy cast list--Williams Danny DeVito Jon Stewart Catherine Keener--you automatically think mondo laughs. Added to the list is Norton who may not be known for his comedic talents but certainly adds credibility to the movie especially given that he rarely picks bad scripts. Luckily no one disappoints. Norton plays the straight guy with aplomb and shines brilliantly when singing his sappy yet lesson-filled songs. Keener whom we haven't seen since her Oscar-nominated turn in Being John Malkovich is also a standout as the jaded development VP who falls for Sheldon's sweet manner. She has an uncanny way of delivering lines that bite to the bone. And then there's Williams--as always he has extraordinary moments of sheer hilarity in the film. This isn't one of those films where the comedian has to attempt to act or simply be reined in by the director (as some have done) to give a good performance. Director DeVito (who also plays the greedy agent) is wise enough to simply turn the camera on the comedian and let him go. Just wish we could have seen more of him.
Ever wonder what it would be like to kill Barney? We're betting DeVito thought about it quite often--and things never turn out good for that purple dinosaur. The premise of Smoochy is one of the funnier ones in recent memory and seems to follow the dark comedic path DeVito has chosen in his other directorial efforts including War of the Roses and Throw Momma From the Train. Unfortunately Smoochy doesn't quite hold up to its hype (or its trailers) because basically it focuses on the wrong character. It's got some great moments granted especially when Smoochy is on his show. But instead of being about Randy's obsession to do away with his replacement the film chooses to follow Mopes and deal with the dirty business of making a kid's show which appears to involve the Mob (whatever). Smoochy would have been a lot funnier if Randolph could have finally succeeded in his quest instead of getting all sappy.
December 06, 2001 12:04pm EST
Comedian Paula Poundstone, who entered an alcohol treatment program in June, was freed by a superior court judge's order on Wednesday, Reuters reports. Poundstone pleaded no contest to child endangerment charges in October and was sentenced to a mandatory 180-day stay at the Malibu-based rehab facility Promises. She was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, attend a counseling program on child abuse and undergo psychiatric counseling. As part of her plea agreement with prosecutors, Poundstone, who has two adopted children and cared for three foster children, was barred from acting as a foster parent in the future. Superior Court Judge Bernard Kamins told the 41-year-old comedian she had served her time. "Today is really a day for commendation rather than to bite you," he said.
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Kim Porter, the mother of the rapper's youngest child, reached an agreement Wednesday on child support for their 3-year-old son, The Associated Press reports. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court documents. Combs, who earns several million dollars a year, had been giving Porter a court-ordered $11,000 each month. The settlement will provide for the child until he reaches age 21.
A security guard is suing Marilyn Manson for battery and emotional distress following an incident at a concert at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, the AP reports. David M. Diaz claims that Manson grabbed his head, held it against his hips and proceeded to gyrate said hips at an Oct. 27, 2000 concert. Diaz alleges he was humiliated, degraded, ridiculed and shamed, and is seeking $75,000 for emotional distress and other injuries.
The battle over Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia's four guitars went back to court Wednesday after guitar maker Doug Irwin rejected a proposed legal settlement with the former band members. As part of the settlement, Irwin would have to participate in a news conference to express "complete satisfaction" with the deal, Reuters reports. Irwin said in a statement, "I think they wanted to bribe me into publicly going along with their amoral attempt to rob Jerry's grave."
Former Sotheby's chairman A. Alfred Taubman was found guilty on Wednesday of hatching an international price fixing conspiracy in the 1990s with the former head of rival auction house Christie's, Reuters reports. Taubman, 72, will be sentenced on April 2, 2002, and could three years in prison as well as heavy fines. Between 1993 and 1999, the two house charged sellers in the United States at least $400 million in commissions.
A loading dockworker was sentenced to three years of probation on Wednesday in connection with the theft of 55 Oscar statuettes before the 2000 Academy Awards, the AP reports. Anthony Hart, who worked at Roadway Express in Bell, was one of three men who pleaded no contest to criminal charges in the case. He was also ordered to pay $200 in restitution.
Kate Burton and Larry Pine received this year's Joe A. Callaway awards, Variety reports. The awards are presented by Actors' Equity Foundation for the best performance by a male and female actor in a classic play in the Gotham area. Burton appears in the current Broadway production of Hedda Gabler; Pine appeared in The Seagull in Central Park last summer.
ABC and NBC lead the NAACP's Image Awards on Wednesday with 13 nominations each, the AP reports. Only four months ago, the two networks were criticized for lacking diversity in coverage. Three hundred show-business professionals and NAACP officials, who select five nominees for each of the 41 categories, determine the nominations.
Wilford Brimley cancelled upcoming performances with the community symphony and choir in Great Falls, Mont., because he suffering from pneumonia, AP reports. Brimley, 67, was to have been a singer and a narrator at the holiday concerts scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Destiny's Child are parting ways to pursue solo projects for the near the future, the R&B trio announced Wednesday. Bandmember Kelly Rowland said she did not know when they would regroup. Destiny's Child had become a dominant force since the spring of 2000 and had a string of multi-platinum albums and hit singles, Reuters reports.
Neil Young has written and recorded a song about the passengers who fought back against the Sept. 11 hijackers, Reuters reports. Young wrote the song after reading a newspaper article about passenger Todd Beamer and recorded it two weeks ago. Beamer was on flight 93 that crashed into a Pennsylvania field and was heard on an onboard telephone telling fellow passengers "Let's Roll."
The Discovery Channel will air a five-part series about J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and the upcoming film based on the classic trilogy from Dec. 31 to 19, the day the film opens in theaters. According to the Toronto Star, the shows will document different aspects of Tolkien's creation and examine many hand-drawn maps of the mythical Middle Earth.
The History Channel is producing its first live programming on Friday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. The network will cover the memorial service on the USS Arizona in Hawaii starting at 12:30 p.m. ET, AP reports.
Most end-of-the-year "best of" lists from critics deplore the current state of movies before telling you about the few nuggets that came out that were actually (according to them) worth your time. The year 1999 was different. The critics didn't complain, and rightfully so.
The last of the 1900s marked a groundbreaking revolution in cinema. Films like "Three Kings," "American Beauty," "The Sixth Sense" and "The Blair Witch Project" expanded the boundaries of what traditional generic films could become. True oddballs like "Being John Malkovich" were made and even turned a profit. Sequels like "Toy Story 2" didn't suck.
Overall, going to the movies was about as dreadful as living through Y2K. Instead of suffering through a bunch of bummers, audiences were treated to a diverse, colorful celebration of life as we live it, and where it's headed.
Here is our list of the Top 10 films that quickened the pulses, stimulated our minds and sent us soaring. In an era of yuppie-fied java-pushing theater concessions, these babies required absolutely no additives to achieve maximum effect.
THE HOLLYWOOD.COM TOP 10
1. "The Insider": Who would have guessed that a story based on the cigarette industry could be so excellent, let alone interesting? Arguments could be made that director Michael Mann's absorbing and powerful tale about a "60 Minutes" producer and a tobacco-industry whistleblower is even more thrilling and consistently involving than his crime epic masterpiece, "Heat." No explosions or gun battles needed here. Believable human drama, real relationships and a time-tested theme about a thing called truth are all that's needed, plus some of the best performances of the year.
2. "Anna and the King": That's right. We'll chalk this one up as being the most unrecognized, unheralded classic in the making. Some would say the story's been done before -- but so what? This one, sans music, gets to the basics of the inherent poignancy of the relationship between the King of Siam and British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens. As portrayed by Chow Yun-Fat (our vote for best leading man of the '90s) and reliable Jodie Foster, the couple is a doozy. Add in some amazing cinematography, and this affecting period piece's built to last for future generations.
3. "Toy Story 2": As with its predecessor, "Toy Story 2" proves that the best cartoons are those made for kids and adults. Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang made it back for another amazing, hilarious adventure. The pop-culture in-jokes were a bonus. The most surprising thing here was how much the people at Pixar and the voice talent (led by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen) could make you care about a toy's feelings. With a thing this good, another manufactured product doesn't sound half-bad.
4. "American Beauty": Praised for its blunt appraisal of suburban dystopia, this feature debut from theater director Sam Mendes burned with creative fervor, not to mention a cast working at the top of its collective talent. Kevin Spacey continued to show why he's America's favorite satirical Everyman, and newcomer Wes Bentley shone as the odd, mysterious peeping Tom next door. Every shot was a marvel to behold, and the movie itself was unlike any middle-American drama ever released. It's the Cleavers gone to hell -- and then some.
5. "The Winslow Boy": David Mamet fans had a hard time believing he could be responsible for this G-rated period piece set in proper Britain circa World War I. But the street poet is one smart cookie who realizes great drama and tension when he sees it. This tale of a court case to redeem a boy and his family's honor made perfect sense as a Mamet tale. It was also highly entertaining and enthralling, using the powers of subtlety and things left unsaid to sell its boiling dynamics. Combined with a command performance from Jeremy Northam, the film and its accompanying love story made for powerful, memorable stuff.
6. "Liberty Heights": Barry Levinson complimented his Baltimore trilogy ("Diner," "Tin Men," "Avalon") with another personal bit of filmmaking set in his hometown. Dealing directly with issues of racial separation in the 1950s, the director and his cast of fresh-faced talents provided painful, funny truth-telling. The look and feel was right, and Joe Mantegna gave the production the right air of fallible humanity as the patriarch of a Jewish family dealing with issues in an imperfect America.
7. "Bowfinger": Overlooked by the Golden Globes nominating committee was Steve Martin's dead-on, affectionate lambasting of the Hollywood industry and all its assorted characters. Martin's smart screenplay and Frank Oz's good direction were simply the trimmings. Eddie Murphy provided the final coup, playing both a lovable, earnest dummy and an egotistical action movie star. The scenes between Martin and Murphy were worth the price of admission alone. Same goes for the scenes with just Murphy.
8. "Last Night": Never seen or heard of it? Stay tuned to your local independent movie house, which could be showing this amazing gem from Canada, the winner of the country's equivalent of the Oscar for best picture and several other awards. Forget "Armageddon," "Deep Impact" or any other Hollywood-derived disaster flick. This movie's the real deal about what people would say or do to each other if the world were really going to end in six hours. Expect the unexpected from this defiantly independent and haunting film.
9. "The Hurricane": Denzel Washington's performance as real-life boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, imprisoned for 19 years for murders he didn't commit, was a true phenomenon. Norman Jewison told the story in expert fashion, and the supporting cast was excellent, especially Vicellous Shannon as a boy who sets out to help free Carter. But Washington rose above his (lofty) surroundings with a charismatic portrayal that is the embodiment of dignity and integrity. It's a landmark performance that ranks on par with his work in "Malcolm X" and his Academy Award-winning part in "Glory."
10. "Go": Largely overlooked by youth audiences and twentysomethings, this second effort from "Swingers" director Doug Liman was the perfect follow-up to "Pulp Fiction," and blew away all the hack, "Pulp" wannabes. Instead of copping Tarantino entirely, Liman cast a talented group of young actors including Sarah Polley and Taye Diggs, and threw them into a believable world of wild all-night raves and quick trips to Vegas. The end result was colorful, decadent, energetic and wonderfully cinematic. "Go," more than any other film of '99, captured the millennial spirit of the party in all its gross, absurd and youthful glory.