Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan reunited at the Lincoln Center in New York City on Monday (28Apr14) to honour their When Harry Met Sally... director Rob Reiner. The prolific filmmaker, whose hits include This is Spinal Tap and A Few Good Men, was the recipient of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Chaplin Award in recognition of his hugely successful career.
Stars and former colleagues lined up to pay tribute the Reiner, including Michael Douglas - who arrived hand-in-hand with estranged wife Catherine Zeta-Jones - Martin Scorsese and James Caan, but the big moment of the night was when Crystal introduced surprise guest Ryan to the stage.
The pair reminisced about Ryan's iconic orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally..., revealing that Reiner himself showed her how to act out the moment.
Crystal also explained how his personal relationship with the director was very similar to the film's leading couple: "That was so personal to us because many of the things that Harry and Sally did in the movie, Rob and I did as friends, which we just talked about and (writer) Nora (Ephron) was able to work into the script. That bonding was very much Rob and I."
Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and Mandy Patinkin also shared their memories of working with Reiner via video messages.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Charlie Sheen has reached out to Robert De Niro for a picture opportunity after purchasing a photo booth that featured in his movie Last Vegas. The newly-engaged actor has taken to Twitter.com to urge De Niro to "come by the house" and pose with his fiancee, adult film star Brett Rossi.
He writes, "Dear Mr. DeNiro (sic); my AWESOME fiance (sic) is your biggest fan. (as she should be!) I recently purchased the
photo booth from 'Last Vegas'! we'd both be beyond honored if you'd come by the house and take a photo with us in this amazing contraption!! Grazza in advance!!"
Sheen has also extended the invitation to De Niro's Last Vegas co-stars, adding, "Mr Gekko (Michael Douglas), and The Morgan (Freeman) are welcome too! Oh! and of course 'Dave' (Kevin Kline)!"
Veteran actor Kevin Kline has vowed never to return to Las Vegas after spending two unhappy weeks there while filming his latest movie. The actor spent a fortnight in Sin City last year (12) filming scenes for Last Vegas with Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Morgan Freeman.
Kline had never been to the gambling Mecca before, and he tells Britain's The Guardian newspaper the trip marked his first "and my last" outing to Vegas, adding, "Everyone looked so miserable. I would see these couples pushing babies in strollers through the casinos like zombies. It was horrible... And I just couldn't bear the constant noise. I would step outside the hotel to get some fresh air and it would be 'boom, boom, boom'... disco music blaring on the kerb, by the pool, everywhere. That is not my idea of tranquillity."
Kline's co-stars De Niro, Douglas and Freeman were all handed keys to the city of Las Vegas in October (13).
Robert De Niro is certain his time as a leading actor is over, but is happy to play supporting roles so he can keep working. The GoodFellas star appears alongside fellow screen veterans Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas in new comedy Last Vegas, about a group of elderly friends visiting Sin City, and the 70 year old admits it is rare to land such a big role at his age.
He tells Britain's Metro newspaper, "That's just life. We can't play certain parts any more. We're playing the father or the grandfather or the great-grandfather and that can be written in a funny way, so it's fine. But you're not carrying the movie as the young romantic lead - those days are gone."
De Niro credits the baby-boomer generation, those born in the affluent period following the Second World War, with keeping him in work as older movie fans continue to visit cinemas.
He adds, "I don't go to see enough films. But I'm told that since baby-boomers will still actually go to see a movie in a theatre - because it's a communal experience that our generation is used to - there's now a trend towards making some movies that those people could possibly identify themselves in."
Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas' new movie Last Vegas has become CBS Films' highest-grossing release ever. The comedy, which also stars Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Mary Steenburgen, has grossed $54.8 million (GBP36.5 million) in North America alone. The tally puts the film ahead of Daniel Radcliffe's The Woman in Black, which took in $54.3 million (GBP36.2 million) for CBS Films executives in 2012.
Last Vegas opened to $16.3 million (GBP10.9) on 1 November (13). The film has made $62.9 million (GBP41.9 million) globally.
Thor: The Dark World has scored a hammer blow on the North American box office for the second week in a row. The superhero film took in $38.4 million (GBP25.6 million) over the weekend (15-17Nov13) to beat out new release The Best Man Holiday, which earned $30.6 million (GBP20.4 million) over the same period.
The Thor sequel also grossed $52.5 million (GBP35 million) overseas, bringing its global haul to $479.8 million (GBP319.9 million).
Last Vegas, which features Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas as aged pals enjoying a wild weekend in Sin City, comes in third with $8.85 million (GBP5.9 million) and animated film Free Birds takes fourth place with $8.3 million (GBP5.5 million).
Johnny Knoxville's comedy Bad Grandpa rounds out the top five.
Meanwhile, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are celebrating after learning their science fiction thriller Gravity has hit the $500 million (GBP333.3 million) mark at the worldwide box office.
Ender's Game has blasted to the top of the U.S. box office in its opening weekend (01-03Nov13). The futuristic sci-fi film, which stars Harrison Ford, took in $28 million (£18.6 million), beating out Johnny Knoxville's Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which earned $20.5 million (£13.6 million), bringing its total to more than $62 million (£41.3 million) in two weeks.
Animated film Free Birds and Last Vegas, which stars Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline, tied at three, both debuting with $16 million (£10.6 million).
Meanwhile, Thor: The Dark World crushed the competition outside of the U.S., opening with a $109 million (£72.6 million) haul internationally ahead of its American release on Friday (08Nov13). The sequel is expected to power its way past the success of the original, which took in $450 million (£300 million) worldwide in 2011.
Walt Disney via Everett Collection
Last Vegas director Jon Turteltaub had a gargantuan task in front of him. One that was not for the faint of heart. He had to manage the likes of Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline, Michael Douglas, and Morgan Freeman in one single film, actors that are as close to royalty as hollywood gets. With such a huge task comes even bigger expectations. But even trickier that the star-filled waters he had to navigate, are the constant comparisons to The Hangover that his film will continually have to dodge in the small pool of Vegas comedies. John Turtletaub wants you to know about the joys and woes (mostly joys) in working with such a legendary cast, why he needs to makes movies for everyone, and why Last Vegas is definitely not "The Hangover for old people."
What first struck me about Last Vegas is that it looked like a ton of fun to film?You know what’s funny? As fun goes, movies aren't fun at all to make. But as work goes, they're fun to make, and it was really enjoyable to be in a room with all five of those actors, including Mary Steenburgen. Everyone was so good at their jobs. It was clear that the movie was going to be good. Usually you don’t know. In this case, we had a really good feeling just when we were filming. Just by how good these actors are and everyone was on their best behavior around these guys and everyone was nice and wonderful. It's funny, people always say when they do these interviews how fun it is or what a family everyone became and I always watch that stuff thinking 'Screw you, I want you to be miserable and work hard to entertain me. I don't want you to have fun.' But I'm sorry to say, in this case, we actually enjoyed ourselves.
It definitely came across on screen. There was this instant chemistry among the four leads. We're supposed to believe that they've been friends all their lives and it definitely feels that way.It's a combination of a few things, I think. One is that all these guys are faces that you've seen for 40 years and you just feel comfortable with them. It seems like they all must know each other anyway, even though no two of them have worked together before. That's one of the more surprising tidbits. It's a mixture of that, the ease they felt together onscreen, but also starting the movie with them as little kids really propels you into a sense that they really are a group that’s been together a long time.
Was it ever intimidating working with such huge actors?Terrifying! It was! I'm supposed to be a very cool director who doesn't get fazed by this stuff but I was really excited and nervous. You're not just nervous because you want them to love you, but you're aware also of the other directors they've worked with and how talented those men and women are. You know you're being compared to the greatest directors of all time. The key isn't to not be scared, the key is to not show it. That's what I told myself, at least.
The film did a great job of managing the huge personalities. Was it a challenge not letting one actor take over the whole film?That kind of balance is there in the script, but it's also something you work hard on in the editing room to make sure that it all feels like a movie about a group of guys, not two of them. And they couldn't have been easier to work with. They've earned the right to be sh**ty on set, and none of them were. I think they were all competing on who could be the nicest because they wanted to not only be the one to not make life difficult for me, but to not make life difficult for each other.
With a movie about a group of friends in Vegas, it's easy to make comparisons to The Hangover, but is it too simple to call this film The Hangover for old people?I think so. I hate the phrase that "It's The Hangover for older people." I hate less that it's "The Hangover with older people," but I still feel like, yeah, it is a bachelor party in Vegas and I totally get the comparisons to The Hangover and The Hangover 3. But it really is such a different movie. It has a different flavor to it, a different feel to it, and different intentions.
Last Vegas seems like a movie that a lot of people could enjoy, were you shooting for a wide audience?I always set out to make a movie for a general audience, that all people can enjoy. When I made National Treasure, the studio thought we were making an R-rated Jerry Bruckheimer action film, and I turned it into a PG-rated Disney adventure film. I can't help myself. I really believe that making a movie for the widest audience is a really difficult and really rewarding task. That's what I wanted to do with this. Humor should be universal and funny should be funny to everybody and emotions and heartbreak should feel tragic to everybody. If you're doing it right, then you're hitting these very universal ideas for a very broad audience.
Veteran actress Mary Steenburgen threw herself into vocal lessons in preparation for her role as a lounge singer in new movie Last Vegas, because she feared her voice wouldn't be up to scratch. The Help star, 60, admits she hadn't really put her voice to the test in more than two decades when she signed on to join Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline in the comedy, so she decided to seek a little professional help to perfect her part.
Ted Danson's wife says, "I play a lounge singer in a tiny, kind of pathetic little lounge with about two people in there listening to me and it was a fascinating experience because really, I don't consider myself a singer and I've done very little singing.
"I've sung once in a movie in the '80s and then I kind of forgot about it. I did write music, so I'm a little musical, but it was scary to start something new at my age so (I had) lots of singing lessons and all that."