In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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S3E12:Thank God for the Sam and Mercedes storyline. It’s not novel or unique by any means, but at least it’s something. Despite the fact that this storyline is a result of personnel issues in the real world (Chord Overstreet quitting and then coming back), it’s the most viable of the various stories on Glee. This week saw stories pop out of thin air: Emma’s ambition, Schue’s sudden incompetency, Sue’s need to procreate, unnecessary bitchiness from a Real Housewife of Atlanta posing as a swim coach. Plus, that whole Finn and Rachel nonsense gets an extra layer of obnoxious when she compares her love to that of Twilight’s Edward and Bella. And if all that wasn’t enough, Schue decides to have the kids sing songs in Spanish, which means the songs don’t replace nearly as much dialog as they usually do. But it wasn’t all bad – Emma keeps the humor in the episode afloat with her ridiculous pamphlet titles like “So you’re a cheating ho.” They’re annoying at first, but by the time she slips one into Schue’s Spanish dictionary, we’re onboard.
“I’m sorry, can you speak slower? Maybe your accent is throwing me off. Where are you from?” –Will
“Ohio” –David Martinez
A history teacher loses her mind and subsequently loses her job, so Will is naturally after the tenure position. There's just one giant problem that didn’t exist until the third season of the show: he’s terrible at Spanish. He starts taking Spanish from the night school teacher, David Martinez (guest star Ricky Martin) whose generic Spanish name has to have been pulled out of a Spanish teacher name-generator. After some overdrawn story about being a tooth model – is that why we were all so mesmerized by “Living La Vida Loca?” I always thought it was in the hips – David says he’s tired of modeling and that he wants to teach Spanish and help kids. Then he gives Will his only great Spanish class idea (but one that will only benefit the glee club, who cares about the other kids?): learning languages more easily through music. Will thinks if he can teach the whole club to sing in Spanish, he’ll get the tenure spot – but would he really deserve it if he got it by stealing another teacher’s idea?
Schue introduces the “Latin” songs week and Santana points out that he doesn’t know anything about Latin culture and questions his reasons for starting it in the first place. (Because she should. It’s suspicious!) Schue brings in David with the flimsy explanation that he wants to start a night school choir – but really because he’s Ricky Martin and he needs to perform. Everyone falls in love with David – I want a GIF of Sugar’s face when he first walks in. Please, someone get on that. Schue keeps overusing David’s term “Duende” which they won’t define simply, but it’s basically “passion.” So, David sings LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” – and there are already so many things wrong with that sentence. The song literally says, “passion in my pants” and that “wiggle” section is not referring to shaking one’s arms. What is with the teachers on this show singing inappropriate songs? This is not a song for high school! Why is this never an issue? But, I suppose dealing with the fact that Schue can’t speak Spanish is probably important too.
“Same goes for you, Porcelain. The weirdness ends with you.” –Sue
We learn that Sue is looking for sperm donors because she has the glee club men lined up while she lectures them about their masturbation habits. What is going on? There’s a difference between being open about sexuality and using it for shock and awe - Glee has started using sexuality in the latter sense. Sue wants a kid because she says she did a good job with her sister and with Becky, and she uses this as a segway into her bid for the open tenure position while asking Will offhand for his sample. This should be a joke, but the sad thing is that it turns out to be a piece of the actual story.
How? It starts when Figgins gets a complaint about Sue’s ability to coach the Cheerios and he appoints synchronized swimming coach Roz Washington (Nene Leakes) to help choreograph the team. Besides the fact that she has the Cheerios practice in their letterman jackets (dear costume designer, this makes zero sense) having Leakes as a real character on this show is the joke of jokes. Ricky Martin’s not a great actor, but her inadequacy puts his to shame. It’s an insult to Jane Lynch to have her to go tete a tete with the Real Housewife. Plus, she’s just plain nasty, telling Sue she’s too old to be a coach, too old to have kids, even going as far as saying all that will ever come out of her “old wrinkly boobs” is sand. I’m sorry, but since when does this string of insults pass for dialog on this show? Glee, you’ve been better than this before. Come back to us.
Because that request for Schue’s sample apparently wasn’t a joke, Emma confronts Sue about why she asked for it. Sue says she’s mean and that Schue has always been such a good person; if kindness is genetic, she wants to get it from Will. Emma gets all saintly and tells Sue she’s not okay with this request but that Sue will be a good mother – but honestly, if experience tells us anything she absolutely would not. This scene tries so hard to be sweet, but tender music and slowing of dialog combined with Roz’ unnecessarily mean commentary does not a gooey emotional center make! And then they take it a step further by having Santana respond with an insult about Sue’s vagina when Sue’s falsely accuses her of complaining to Figgins – how many times do we need to hear “boobs” and “vagina” in one episode of Glee of all things? They try to bring the "Sue as a mother" theme home when we find Becky issued the complaint, but it’s okay because she thinks Sue will make a good mother. Nope. It’s not working, writers. Sorry.
“Sam just tweeted that I smell good.” –Mercedes
“I won’t stop until it’s trending.” –Sam
Now, for the part that is working: the sweet romance between Trouty Mouth and Mercedes. Emma is counseling them because they kissed and they don’t know what to do. Tired references to our generation’s over-saturation of technology aside, Emma makes a decent point that they should cease communication for a week so they can make an informed decision. Their response to the need for showing the growing desire between the pair, while managing to not break Emma’s no talking rule, is for them to each sing songs in glee club that represent their feelings. Because that’s this show’s bread and butter, of course! Mercedes sings “Si Voy a Pederte” by Gloria Estefan which is more about loss than a reunion, but maybe that’s what they’re going for? (Or it sounds romantic, so they used it anyway.) Sam sings a mashup of “Bambolea” and “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias. This accomplishes about as much as it sounds like it did: cute looks and lots of musical flirting. By the end of the episode, they’re both watching the clock and waiting until their period of silence is over, rushing into the hall when it ends only to have Mercedes whisked away by her boyfriend. It seems they are deliberately stretching out the inevitable just so it can happen during the Valentine’s Day episode (and it had better – it’s a good story, but it’s not strong enough to be this drawn out).
“The proof’s in the pudding…my pudding sucks.” –Finn
See, Glee? You can still be funny. This borderline disgusting joke works because it’s innocent – remember when that’s what informed your comedy? (Hint: we really liked it that way.) Anyway, Rachel spills the beans about her engagement to Finn while watching Twilight with Kurt and Mercedes and they think both Finn and Rachel are nuts, despite Rachel’s assertion that she knows she and Finn will be together and that he’s part of her journey to stardom.
Kurt is angry that his stepbrother didn’t tell him about the proposal, but he’s more worried that Finn is selling himself short. He tries to show Finn the different colleges in and around New York and notes that if he has to keep the engagement a secret, it’s probably not a good idea. This turns into a discussion about how Finn thinks his future is bleak and that Rachel’s the only bright spot, but Kurt rightfully tells him that he’s special and he does have a future – though I don’t know if pushing him to pursue a career as “the football star who can sing and kind of dance” is really a viable career option. It is however, a good jumping off point for college. It appears that Finn will continue to wrestle with whether or not being engaged to Rachel is a way of giving up on himself or not. Now that Rachel’s on board, let’s all wait for Finn to pull the rug out from under her and crush her tiny, self-obsessed bird of a spirit.
“Mr. Schue, what’s with the shiny coat? I thought you were Kurt.” –Finn
“I’m an authentic Spanish matador.” –Schue
David is showing the glee club the ways of Latin culture, like wearing “Mexican hipster boots,” and Santana asks how Schue plans to defend his Spanish teacher honor. And considering that when he starts working on his challenge song, he has to look up “coversaciòn” in a Spanish dictionary, it’s not looking so great. To make matters worse, when Emma uses her pamphlet about male performance anxiety to try and cheer him up (single-handedly carrying the weight of comedy in this episode) Schue berates her and says he’s doing this to take care of her before saying her pamphlets are stupid. Luckily, Emma doesn’t roll over – she tells him she doesn’t need him to take care of her and storms out.
But before we get a solution, Schue’s manhood takes another hit. Santana sings “La Isla Bonita” with David. How is this not being declared inappropriate? Their dance is far too sexy for a student-teacher-from-night-school relationship. At least David and Schue admit it makes so sense for David to still be at McKinley during the day. But then, it’s time for the train wreck, but to be fair, it’s a deliberate train wreck. Schue sings “A Little Less Conversation” translated into Spanglish with Mike Chang and Brittany dressed as bulls charging around the stage. It’s pretty much the WORST thing ever, but like I said, it was intentional. (And boy, did they hit the mark.) Santana admits she complained to Figgins about Schue; she says that he’s making a joke out of Spanish culture – because he is. And that no one seems to notice because they don’t know any better, and this would be great except that they created this storyline out of thin air to suddenly make Schue bad at his job. He admits he took the job because it was the only open teaching position and Santana makes sure to cap off the conversation by saying he’s a great music teacher. Too bad that doesn’t seem to be an actual job at this school.
Life gets even harder for Schue when Emma’s pamphlet “Taint Misbehavin’” (seriously, how are they getting away with this at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday?) is sold to Ohio State and all the Big 10 football teams. Will’s just had his huevos crushed by Santana, so he has trouble dealing with Emma’s swelling pride. But, because he’s Schue and is incapable of being wrong for very long, he tells Figgins to hire David to teach Spanish and Schue will teach History, a subject he also doesn’t know all that well. (But he can sing, so who cares?) We end the episode with Will handing Emma apology pamphlets and making her a celebratory dinner because she nabbed the tenure position. While I love seeing Emma finally gain a little strength, this ending didn’t feel significant. It was just an event in a string of other events. Maybe the Valentine’s Day theme will help the writers deliver an episode that feels like, well, an episode next week.
Are you getting annoyed with Glee? Are you clamoring for the days when the storylines really grabbed us? Or do you think the show it just as compelling as it ever was? Let me know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler
The funnyman is bringing the family-friendly franchise created by Jim Henson back to life in the 2011 project, the first since 1999's Muppets From Space.
But he admits he couldn't control his excitement when he met Kermit and had to halt the reading to compose himself.
He says, "I've been writing this for three years now, and when we did our first table reading they brought the actual puppets, and they brought out Kermit and they had to stop because I started crying hysterically. It was so beautiful! All he said was, 'Hi ho!' I just turned around and he goes, 'Hi ho!' and I looked at him and was like, 'We gotta stop!' I was freaking out."
Jack Black, Amy Adams, Zach Galifianakis, Emily Blunt and Ricky Gervais will all make appearances in the film, which is due for release next November (11).
Shanté has everything going for her: she's smart successful and sexy an advertising exec who is so well versed in the field of romance that her girlfriends rely on her to dispense relationship advice on a regular basis hanging on her every word. Shanté however is in for a big surprise when she finds out her equally successful lawyer boyfriend Keith (Morris Chestnut) is cheating on her with her archrival Conny (Gabrielle Union). Rather than confront him about his two-timing ways she decides to put into effect her "Ten Day Plan" (an even dumber variation of "The Rules") intent on getting her man back at her side where she thinks he belongs. The plan involves childish games like not returning his phone calls and dating other men in plain view. She painfully explains these steps one by one looking directly into the camera. Keith on the other hand takes advice from his best friend Tony (Anthony Anderson) and plays the game right back. With scheming like this their relationship just has to work out.
The ensemble in this film is not a bad one; the members are simply victims of their own bad judgement for choosing to star in this stereotypical monstrosity. As Shanté Fox (Kingdom Come Set It Off) is reduced to playing a character who is supposed to be well educated but constantly spews out words like "ho'" and "hoochie." Let's hope there are better roles ahead for her--perhaps in her next project the basketball comedy Juwana Man? As sidekicks Anderson (Romeo Must Die) and Mo'nique (UPN's The Parkers) actually provide a lot more laughs and entertainment than do Fox and Chestnut (The Brothers). As Keith Chestnut comes across as a superficial player devoid of any meaningful qualities. He's too slick and sleazy. It's sad to see Chestnut fall so far from his role as Ricky Baker in John Singleton's Boyz 'N the Hood to this. Surprisingly Bobby Brown makes a funny cameo appearance as a buck-toothed makeover candidate.
Written and directed by Mark Brown (screenwriter How to be a Player HBO's Quincy's Jook Joint) Two Can Play That Game offers nothing fresh or new to the whiny relationship genre. In fact this film seems more like a lesser version of Waiting to Exhale or a really long episode of UPN's Girlfriends. For someone who supposedly has it so together Shanté's character comes across as dependent and desperate. Why doesn't she just dump her suave dallying beau? While right-at-the-camera monologues may work for Frankie Muniz in Malcolm in the Middle they are just plain irritating here. Not helping is the entire unoriginal girls vs. boys bantering or battle-of-the-sexes theme. To make matters worse the film is also perversely riddled with product placements like Coca-Cola and Miller Genuine Draft. The moral of the film seems to be that getting an unfaithful man to the later is some sort of just reward.
It's not enough that she's one half of country music's biggest couple or a Cover Girl model on the side.
But Faith Hill had to go and steal the thunder from the teenybopper world, grabbing a field-best four nominations for the 28th Annual American Music Awards, announced this morning at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., by executive producer Dick Clark and country group SHeDAISY.
Toppling double nominees 'N Sync and Britney Spears (who will serve as host of the awards show), Hill won her kudos by scoring crossover nods in the Pop/Rock, Country and Adult Contemporary fields. Rock group Creed and salsa king Marc Anthony tied at three nominations apiece by also being eligible in other categories.
Hill, whose album "Breathe" has sold 4 million copies to date, will also be cheering on husband Tim McGraw, who was nominated for Favorite Country Male Artist.
Winners for the American Music Awards, which are selected by the public, will be announced during the telecast Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. on ABC. Scheduled performers include Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Toni Braxton and SHeDAISY; confirmed presenters include 'N Sync and Brian McKnight.
Here's a list of the nominees:
POP/ROCK Favorite Male Artist: Marc Anthony; Eminem; Kid Rock Favorite Female Artist: Christina Aguilera; Celine Dion; Faith Hill; Britney Spears
Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Backstreet Boys; Creed; 'N Sync
Favorite Album: "Human Clay," Creed; "No Strings Attached," 'N Sync; "Oops!...I Did it Again," Britney Spears
Favorite New Artist: Macy Gray; Jessica Simpson; 3 Doors Down
SOUL/R & B Favorite Male Artist: D'Angelo; Brian McKnight; Sisqo Favorite Female Artist: Toni Braxton; Whitney Houston; Kelly Price
Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Destiny's Child; Jagged Edge; Lucy Pearl
Favorite Album: "The Heat," Toni Braxton; "The Writing's on the Wall," Destiny's Child; "Unleash the Dragon," Sisqo
Favorite New Artist: Donnell Jones; Mary Mary; Pink
COUNTRY Favorite Male Artist: Alan Jackson; Tim McGraw; George Strait Favorite Female Artist: Faith Hill; Martina McBride; Reba McEntire
Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Brooks & Dunn; Dixie Chicks; Lonestar
Favorite Album: "Breathe," Faith Hill; "Under the Influence," Alan Jackson; "How Do You Like Me Now," Toby Keith
Favorite New Artist: Alecia Elliott; Billy Gilman; Keith Urban
OTHER CATEGORIES Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist: Marc Anthony; Celine Dion; Faith Hill Favorite Latin Music Artist: Marc Anthony; Enrique Iglesias; Shakira Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist: DMX; Dr. Dre; Eminem
Favorite Alternative Music Artist: Creed; Limp Bizkit; Red Hot Chili Peppers
Favorite Soundtrack: "Coyote Ugly"; "Mission: Impossible 2"; "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps"