A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
The Tribeca Film Festival starts in a couple of days -- and to say the least, we're pretty excited. The festival features premieres of numerous films, including Troll Hunter, Newlyweds, a Kings of Leon documentary, and quite a few others. Now, the festival has announced the 38 lucky folks -- including David O. Russell, Whoopi Goldberg, Rainn Wilson, and numerous others -- who will judge these fine films. For more details, see the official release below:
New York, NY – April 18, 2010 – The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), presented by American Express, the Founding Sponsor of the Festival, today announced its jurors – a diverse and talented group of 38 individuals, including award-winning filmmakers and screenwriters, celebrated actors, respected journalists and media pioneers. They will be divided among the six competitive Festival categories and will announce the winning films, filmmakers and actors in those categories at the TFF Awards Night ceremony on April 28 hosted by Gideon Yago, which will be streamed live on TribecaFilm.com. The 2011 Festival runs from April 20 – May 1.
“This year’s jury is made up of a range of accomplished individuals in their respective fields, bringing a fresh and well-rounded perspective,” said Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. “It’s an honor to have a jury of such caliber watching and discussing the films in competition this year.”
Following is a list of all 2011 Festival jurors and their respective categories.
World Competition Categories:
The jurors for the 2011 World Narrative Competition are:
Souleymane Cissé: Noted Malian director; films include the 1995 Cannes Palme d’Or nominee Waati, 1987 Cannes Jury Prize Winner Brightness and Tell Me Who You Are.
Scott Glenn: Actor; films include The Right Stuff, The Silence of the Lambs, The Virgin Suicides, Freedom Writers, The Bourne Ultimatum, W., Secretariat, Sucker Punch and TFF 2011 selection Magic Valley.
David Gordon Green: Independent Spirit Award nominated director/producer; films include George Washington, All the Real Girls, Great World of Sound, Pineapple Express, the recently released Your Highness and the upcoming film The Sitter.
Rula Jebreal: Journalist, author, screenwriter and actress: books include The Bride From Assuan, Rejected and Miral, which was adapted into a film of the same name.
Art Linson: Gotham award winning producer; films include Singles, Fight Club, Lords of Dogtown, Into the Wild, What Just Happened and The Runaways.
Jason Sudeikis: Actor. Best known for roles in Going the Distance, Hall Pass and 2011 TFF selection A Good Old Fashioned Orgy. Also a cast member on television’s Saturday Night Live.
Dianne Wiest: Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG award winning actress; films include Hannah and Her Sisters, Edward Scissorhands, Bullets Over Broadway, Synecdoche, New York and the upcoming The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
The jurors for the 2011 World Documentary Competition are:
Amir Bar-Lev: Documentary filmmaker and producer; films include Fighter, My Kid Could Paint That, The Tillman Story and the upcoming Garcia.
Michael Cera: BAFTA and SAG Award nominated actor; films include Superbad, Juno, Youth In Revolt, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Currently filming The Untitled Mark Webber Project.
RJ Cutler: Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winning director/producer; films include The War Room, Thin, and The September Issue.
Abigail Disney: Film producer and philanthropist; films include 2008 TFF Best Documentary Winner, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Children of Invention, Sons of Perdition and the upcoming narrative feature Return.
Whoopi Goldberg: Moderator on television’s The View, and actress, comedian, humanitarian with Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, Tony and Grammy wins. Recent films include Toy Story 3, For Colored Girls and the upcoming A Little Bit of Heaven.
Louie Psihoyos: Oscar and DGA winning director; films include The Cove and the upcoming The Singing Planet.
Peter Scarlet: Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, former Artistic Director of TFF and former Director of the Cinematheque Francaise.
Emerging Competition Categories:
The jurors for the 2011 Emerging Narrative Competition are:
Paul Dano: Independent Spirit and SAG award nominated actor; films include L.I.E., Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, the recently released Meek’s Cutoff and the upcoming Another Bulls--t Night in Suck City.
Atom Egoyan: Oscar, Golden Palm and Independent Spirit Award nominated director/producer; films include Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Felicia’s Journey, Where the Truth Lies, Adoration, and Chloe.
Zoe Kazan: TFF 2009 Best Actress winner for The Exploding Girl; other films include Me and Orson Welles, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, It’s Complicated and the recently released films Happythankyoumoreplease, and Meek’s Cutoff.
Anna Kendrick: Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe , SAG, Independent Spirit and Tony award nominated actress; films include Rocket Science, the Twilight series, Up in the Air, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the upcoming Live With It.
Rainn Wilson: Emmy and SAG Award nominee for television’s The Office; films include Juno, The Rocker, Hesher and the just completed Few Options.
The jurors for the 2011 Emerging Documentary Competition are:
Margaret Bodde: Documentary producer and film preservationist; films include No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Time Piece, Public Speaking and the upcoming Living in the Material World: George Harrison.
Jared Cohen: Director of Google Ideas, Adjunct Fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations and Author of One Hundred Days of Silence: America and the Rwanda Genocide, and Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East
J.D. Heyman: Executive Editor of People and former editor at Us Weekly. Held editorial positions at Cosmopolitan and the New York Daily News. Author of books include Get a Life: A Guide to Jobs, Money and the Real World, and The Singled Out Guide to Dating.
Lauren Hutton: Fashion icon, actress, television host and beauty industry pioneer. Film roles include American Gigolo and, more recently, The Joneses. Guest star on television’s Nip/Tuck and host of several shows, including a late-night talk show.
Annie Sundberg: IFC and Sundance award nominated director; films include The Trials of Darryl Hunt, The Devil Came on Horseback and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.
Short Film Competition Categories:
The jurors for the 2011 Narrative Short Film Competition are:
David O. Russell: Oscar, Golden Globe nominee and Independent Spirit Award Winner: films include Spanking the Monkey, Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter and the upcoming Nailed.
Nora Ephron: Multiple Oscar, Golden Globe nominated and BAFTA winning writer-director; films include Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally …, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie and Julia.
Ceci Kurzman: Founder of Nexus Management Group, whose clients include Shakira, and consultant for the Global Philanthropy Group.
Denis Leary: Golden Globe and Emmy nominate actor/writer/producer; work includes Rescue Me, In Search of Ted Demme and the Ice Age films.
Fran Lebowitz: Author noted for her social commentary, recently the subject of the HBO documentary Public Speaking, directed by Martin Scorsese.
Paul Schneider: Actor and screenwriter; films include All the Real Girls, The Family Stone, Lars & the Real Girl, Bright Star, Away We Go & the upcoming Water for Elephants.
Jimmy Wales: Internet entrepreneur and Co-founder of Wkipedia.
The jurors for the 2011 Documentary and Student Short Film Competitions are:
Ahmed Ahmed: Comedian and director; noted for his directorial debut Just Like Us, an official selection of the 2010 Tribeca and Doha Tribeca film festivals. Other films include the UAE film City of Life and Iron Man.
Agnes Gund: President Emerita of MoMA, noted philanthropist, and collector of modern and contemporary art.
Zoe Kravitz: Actress; film roles include The Brave One, Birds of America, The Greatest and the upcoming Beware the Gonzo (a 2010 TFF selection and upcoming release by Tribeca Film), Yelling to the Sky and X:Men: First Class.
Nicole Lapin: Anchor of CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange, contributor to Today, Morning Joe, Daily Rundown, and Jansing & Co, as well as the Huffington Post. Former anchor at CNN.
Lisa Shields: VP of Communications and Marketing, Council on Foreign Relations.
Christine Vachon: Independent Spirit Award winning producer. Films and television projects include Mildred Pierce, Safe, I Shot Andy Warhol, Boys Don’t Cry, Far From Heaven, I’m Not There, and Cairo Time.
Patrick Wilson: Golden Globe nominated actor; best known for Little Children, Watchmen, Hard Candy and Angels in America; upcoming films include The Ledge, and Young Adult.
Together, the six TFF juries will award $175,000 in cash and prizes. Festival winners will also receive a piece of original art by an acclaimed artist as part of the Tribeca Film Festival Artists Awards program.
Louis Leterrier’s remake of Clash of the Titans the 1981 cult favorite that fused Greek mythology with sci-fi theatrics is a grand experiment in the ancient art of alchemy a big-budget attempt to spin fanboy nostalgia for a 30-year-old novelty into contemporary box-office gold. The main ingredients in this ambitious concoction are a potent arsenal of CGI weaponry and the star of the biggest movie ever Sam Worthington who inherits Harry Hamlin’s role as the heroic Perseus. But it’s what’s missing from the formula that ultimately dooms this remake.
Clash of the Titans redux mimics the original film’s epic ethos and preference for spectacle over all else but its storyline differs dramatically. Perseus is still the half-breed product of a one-night stand between the god Zeus and a human hottie and he still must to defeat the monstrous Kraken in order to save the lovely Princess Andromeda. Almost everything in between however has been altered — and not necessarily for the better.
The new version casts the Greek city of Argos as the primary battleground in a proxy war fought by dueling Olympian superpowers Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Born of a god but raised by and partial to humans Worthington’s Perseus battles not for the hand of Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) — as Hamlin’s character did — but instead for the people of Argos who stand to perish along with their princess at the hands of the dreaded Kraken. The film’s love story if it can be called that consists of the briefest of flirtations between Perseus and Io (Gemma Arterton) his self-appointed spiritual guide. (Cursed with immortality by the gods Io’s been secretly watching him all his life — which ostensibly makes her a glorified stalker.)
This detail is a small but crucial one. Strong-willed Perseus braves an obstacle course of giant scorpions gorgons and other horrors laid out for him by the wheezy fiend Hades but it’s never quite clear why he bothers with it all since what’s at stake is a princess he isn’t particularly interested in and a community of people he doesn’t really know — and who frankly don’t seem all that worth saving. His deadbeat dad up on Mount Olympus certainly isn't worth dying for nor are the battlefield compatriots he met barely a week prior. And while I’m sure that a few inviting glances from Gemma Arterton are positively delightful I wouldn’t risk being doused in flesh-eating scorpion venom for them.
This narrative oversight triggers a drain in enthusiasm that persists throughout the film. For a movie so epic in scale Clash of the Titans makes for a disappointingly bland ride. Leterrier’s CGI set pieces are at times magnificent but they’re proffered in the service of weak story filled with characters whose motivations are either unclear or unconvincing. During the film’s climax when Neeson’s Zeus utters the portentous words “Release the Kraken ” what should be an emotional high point instead feels perfunctory and anticlimactic. The only excitement it spawns comes from the knowledge that the end is mercifully imminent.
September 27, 2002 10:25am EST
Ben and JoJo Floss' daughter Diana is gunned down only days before her wedding when she accidentally gets in the way of a violent husband-and-wife dispute at a Cape Anne Mass. restaurant. Her fiancé Joe soon becomes a surrogate member of the Floss family and the three cope with their grief in various ways. JoJo attempts to avoid all the attention that is being paid the family and Ben throws himself--and Joe--into a commercial real estate venture that needs big-time developer Mike's support to succeed. Joe meanwhile combs through big bins of undelivered mail with postmaster Bertie in an effort to retrieve the 75 wedding invitations that had been sent. Bertie who in addition to her postal work also helps out in the local bar owned by her missing-in-'Nam-action beau is also grieving and soon she and Ben are a couple. As writer-director Brad Silberling's gentle drama unfolds it becomes clear that the film is a "hundred-whys" effort. For a start why is the film titled Moonlight Mile a lesser-known Rolling Stones song? It's never explained. And why does the film take place in 1973 when only the film's rollicking soundtrack and a passing reference to the Vietnam War evoke the era? These questions--and the many many other whys in Moonlight Mile--remain unanswered resulting in a film that falls as flat as a bad souffle.
The actors in Moonlight Mile for example are among the choicest of ingredients--three Oscar winners a promising newcomer and an almost legendary comic talent. So why is young Jake Gyllenhaal so bland as the sweet hero-fiancé Joe so opaque and passive suggesting nothing of a background education or professional aspirations? Why did talented Oscar winners Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon agree to star as the parents except for the fact that each actor is given the chance to sink his or her teeth into an 11th hour set piece? Why do Oscar winner Holly Hunter (as the tough prosecuting attorney Mona who warns Joe Ben and JoJo that there's a good chance the perpetrator will get off lightly) and comic virtuoso Dabney Coleman (as gruff real estate developer Mike) squander their talents?
Part of the answer to all the whys Moonlight Mile raises can be found in Silberling's direction. He clearly knows the ingredients Hollywood seems to want these days: nice recognizable characters in emotionally wrenching situations; some resonance of a bygone period; a soundtrack that will help with the marketing; big-name leads and a compelling young star; a dash of unpredictability and feel-good ending. But as Silberling mixes up this all-too-familiar recipe his strokes create a thin watery batter that just refuses to rise above cliché. As a writer he knows the rules but he skirts wit irony humor and convincing raw emotion in favor of the formula raising more questions than he answers.