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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At the end of January, Michelle Obama will make an appearance as a guest on The Tonight Show. First Lady Obama will pay a visit to Jay Leno to speak about her "Let's Move" campaign for promoting exercise and activity in childhood, nutrition and her person life as the first lady of the United States of America. President Barack Obama made his most recent appearance on the program back in October. The first lady's upcoming appearance is set to air on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
We all remember Christian Camargo from Dexter—he has played the (spoilers if you're way, way behind) hero's long-lost biological brother who turns to serial killing as an outlet for some of the emotional problems that seem to run in his family. As Brian Moser (otherwise known as Rudy Cooper and The Ice Truck Killer), Camargo didn't need much help escaping the consequences of his killings. But the actor's new character on The Good Wife thinks it wise to seek legal counsel for a similar problem. Camargo will guest star on the CBS drama as a filmmaker under investigation after a documentary he created on suicide is assumed to have caused a girl to kill herself. Camargo follows former on-screen lover/would-be-victim Jennifer Carpenter (Deborah Morgan on Dexter), who guested on The Good Wife last month. Camargo's episode is set to air sometime in March. The Good Wife airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. -TVLine
The talented singer and vocalist Andrew Rannells has done a good deal of TV and film voice acting since the mid-'90s. But his most famous contribution to pop culture is actually in the form of a stage role: Rannells played one of the lead characters in the Broadway production of The Book of Mormon, the musical created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Now that he's gotten his face out there, Rannells has landed a starring role in a new NBC pilot written and produced by Glee's creator, Ryan Murphy, and writer, Allison Adler. The series, which had its synopsis publicized back in the fall, surrounds a gay couple and the woman they welcome into their family to become the surrogate mother to their child. -THR
On Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Courtney B. Vance played an attorney who practiced law in New York City. But now, he's branching out to Revenge, where he'll play an attorney who practices law on Long Island. Vance is joining the ABC drama with the role of Ben Barnett, the lawyer handling Victoria and Conrad Grayson's divorce. Barnett will be a no-nonsense, hard-boiled attorney who is all business. Vance will join the series sometime in March. Revenge returns to ABC on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. -TVLine
Let me be among the first to say: "Finally!" to the news that Showtime entertainment president David Nevins' proclamation that the network's series Dexter should be ending with its recently purchased eighth season. Now, this is coming from someone who was once an avid (and is still a pretty devoted) Dexter fan, so don't take my happiness over the series' conclusion as a statement of dislike for it. But Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) can't go along doing the same old routine, killing killers and hiding it from his coworkers and sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), forever. The secret must come out. Dexter's two lives must collide; his Dark Passenger must invade the space of his "secret identity." Otherwise, this has all been for naught. But luckily, that seems to be the plan.
In addition to Nevins' statement that the eighth season will likely be the last for Dexter, the Showtime entertainment prez also alluded to a long-running conclusive storyline, that should be set into motion very soon. And we mean very soon—as in, during the remaining episodes of the sixth season (for those not up to date on Dexter, I recommend avoiding the SPOILERS to come).
This season, we've seen Dex on his standard style of rogue mission, tracking down a pair of murders whose kills, meant to trigger the apocalypse, are inspired by passages from the Bible. While this has been the primary focus of Season 6—which, by the way, is a big step up from the very subpar Season 5, but is still not quite comparable to the glory days of Dexter—an intriguing subplot has surrounded two lab assistants hired by Dexter's dirty-minded coworker, Vince Masuka (C.S. Lee). Early on in the season, Masuka hired an amorous intern named Ryan (Brea Grant), who feigned an attraction for her boss in order to get ahold of the Ice Truck Killer's (Brian Moser, Dexter's biological brother) colorful prosthetic hand, which was kept in the evidence room. She claimed to have sold the hand on eBay for some quick cash, and was promptly fired. But in the most recent episode, we caught a glance of the very hand in the possession of Louis (Josh Cooke), Masuka's replacement intern, who seems to have taken a very strange curiosity in Dexter.
So, whatever it is that is really going on with these two, it certainly has a great deal to do with the conclusive storyline to which Nevins is referring. Could they be a pair of agents who are onto Dexter? Maybe a pair of killers with some twisted motive in mind? Whatever they are, things aren't going to just wrap up so nicely this season, and I'm very excited to see what is in store for everyone's favorite serial killer.
Dexter airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. Its season finale airs on Dec. 18.
S6:E7 “Brian Moser, my dead brother. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him.” – Dexter
The morning after Dexter kills Nick, he’s on his boat throwing garage bags into the water with Brian, his brother who he killed in the show’s first season. Dexter says he feels relieved to see Brian, and Brian points out what I’ve been thinking all along – that Dexter is not…happy this season, and Dexter says he’s sad he wasn’t able to forgive Nick like Brother Sam told him to. But the bonding moment ends when Dexter gets a call from Deb, asking that he come to her office immediately. Once he arrives, Deb says the Trinity Killer killed his wife and his daughter. Dexter knows Trinity didn’t actually kill them because he killed Trinity, and Brian concludes that maybe Jonah, Trinity’s son, killed them and is now following in his father’s footsteps. But in order to find out what happened Dexter is asked to drive to Nebraska, where Trinity’s family moved to get away from him.
“I’m done.” – Travis
“Done?” – Gellar
“Done. With you.” – Travis
The morning after Travis spent the night at his sister’s, he finds Gellar hiding in the shrubbery outside. He goes to see what he wants, but he tells Gellar that he’s done with helping him execute his plan. Gellar explains it isn’t them who get to choose anything because only God can made decisions, and so they have no choice but to continue on with their assignment. Back at Dexter’s house, he’s going over the crime scene photos with Brian and learns Rebecca and Sally were killed how Trinity would have killed them. He’s extremely hesitant to go out to Nebraska to “take care” of Jonah, but Brian points out that he hates it when people get away with murder and when he killed Trinity, he gave Jonah an alibi to get away with any crime he wanted to commit. Brian also points out that Dexter’s life has become tremendously boring since he had a kid, and he could use some excitement. That was enough for Dexter and so he calls Deb and leaves a message that he’s going away for a few days to deal with Brother Sam’s murder – but doesn’t say he’s going to Nebraska. She calls him back and says he can go away for one day, but not for four. Dexter keeps driving anyway.
“Hello, Dexter Morgan.” – Jonah
Dexter comes across Jonah working in a hardware store, and he learns that once Rita died, the Mitchell family figured out he was Dexter Morgan and not Kyle Butler. Jonah says that they, as a family, decided not to rat him out to the authorities because they realized Dexter tried to help them when their father was beating them. Dexter asks why his mother and his sister were murdered, and Jonah says he thinks his mom called his dad asking for money and it made it easier for him to find them and come kill them. Dexter inquires if Jonah actually saw his father kill his mother and his sister, and Jonah says they were already dead from falling down the stairs and from being beaten with a hockey stick (these comments get Dexter’s attention because they are consistent with what seems to have happened in the crime scene photos). The conversation ends when Jonah tells Dexter to go back to Miami because everything’s over.
“Holly, you’re safe. What did they make you drink?”
Deb and Batista get a call from the hospital, saying a woman was there who said someone named “the Professor” held her captive. When they get to her bedside, they hear how two people captured her, but that the younger one decided to let her go. She describes that the younger guy called the older guy “Professor,” and that they called her “whore” and made her drink blood. She says she tried to befriend the younger guy because she could sense he was weaker, and that it worked because he ultimately was the one who took her in the car and dropped her off by the beach. Deb tries to call Dexter to see where he is, but only gets his voicemail again. She decides to go to his house and call from there because then it would look like his babysitter, Jamie, is calling him and he would be more likely to answer. Once she’s there and rings Dexter, he finally answers but is careful not to tell her where he is. This frustrates Deb, and it became immediately clear that this was supposed to be a moment in the season where Deb starts to suspect her brother of…something. Dexter quickly hangs up and tells Brian they don’t have much more time to kill Jonah so they’d better head off.
“What are we doing here?” – Brian
“I don’t know for sure that he’s guilty.” – Dexter
Dexter and Brian drive to the Mitchells’ house, but don’t get out of the car. Brian asks what is going on because they need to go inside to kill anyone, but Dexter says they can’t yet because he’s not sure if Jonah is guilty. Brian goes on a long tirade on how stupid Harry’s Code is, but Dexter remains grateful for it because not only is it part of the ritual, but it keeps him from getting caught. Brian maintains that Dexter doesn’t need a rulebook to figure out if he can kill someone, and the repeated bullying eventually makes Dexter get out of the car to go get his knives out from the trunk – only to realize the “gimp from the hotel” took them. Dexter and Brian go inside the house anyway, and immediately smell bleach. They also find some blood on the stairs…and also a surprise visit from Jonah. Dexter asks Jonah to take him through how his father killed his mother and his sister and to point out to him where the blood landed on the walls, and show where he applied the bleach when he was cleaning up. Dexter sprays some makeshift substance that glows when it comes into contact with bleach on the areas of the house Jonah says he cleaned up, and concludes that Jonah’s his father did not kill his mother and his sister. Jonah says obviously his father didn’t kill anyone because Dexter killed him, and then he runs off.
“This guy is leaving you no choice. Kill him before he kills you.” – Brian
Dexter and Brian drive back to the hotel in search of the desk clerk who they suspect took their knives, and they find him in the garage. He says he wants $10,000 before he can give Dexter back his things, and Brian is off in the corner encouraging Dexter to kill him. When the clerk pulls a gun, Dexter has no choice and reaches for a pitchfork on the wall and lobs it into the guy’s stomach. Brian is very pleased because this time, Dexter didn’t evaluate the situation according to Harry’s code before killing someone and instead, just went with what he felt. Over at the Professor’s barn, Travis stops by and after the Professor gives him more crap about them obeying God’s orders, he takes a fireplace utensil and points it in the direction of his superior. The Professor asks him what he’s going to do, and Travis says he wants to be free. Gellar says he’ll ask God about it.
“You shouldn’t have come to Nebraska.” – Jonah
Dexter meets up with Jonah again in a warehouse somewhere, and Jonah tells him he shouldn’t have come to Nebraska. He then says he’s angry at him for killing his dad because he wanted to do it after he abused him and his mother and sister for so long. Naturally a physical altercation ensues and once Dexter becomes the dominant fighter, Jonah tells him he wants Dexter to kill him for what he did, and that his sister actually killed herself because of how their mother blamed her and Jonah for their father leaving. And then Jonah confesses to killing his mother after he found his sister. Dexter realizes that Jonah lured him there to kill him and be punished for what he did. Then Brian steps in and tries to remind Dexter how good killing someone feels, but Dexter isn’t interested in Jonah anymore because he has a conscience and regrets ending his mother’s life – and so he gets in his car and drives back to Miami without Brian. Along the way, he stops and picks up Harry, and smiles at his new passenger.
I thought I would be upset with Brian’s return because it didn’t seem particularly original to me, but the dynamic that played out between Brian and Dexter was pretty enjoyable. It seemed like Dexter was a little bit more animated and on his toes and witty! That’s the Dexter I miss! I don’t really understand the reason for Dexter being so down in the dumps this season, and I’d really appreciate it if he’d get a grip on things and lighten up a bit. In that way, Brian was right all along.
Singer Bonnie Raitt was among the 20 peaceful protesters arrested Wednesday by police in the Chicago suburb of Itasca, Reuters reports.
The Rainforest Action Network organized the sit-in to demonstrate against the logging practices of paper and manufacturing conglomerate Boise Cascade Corporation.
Other protesters included former Doors drummer John Densmore and activist and author Julia "Butterfly" Hill. The peaceful sit-in was staged outside of the headquarters of the office products company.
RAN's founder Randall Hayes called the company's operations barbaric and their anti-environment campaigns a disgrace to America.
The protesters were taken away in handcuffs and charged with disorderly conduct. They were later released from the city jail and could be ordered to pay a small fine.
Michael Moser, a spokesman for the company, called RAN's accusation incorrect. The company has hired a third party auditor to review their logging practices.
Boise Cascade Corporation and RAN have met three times and are willing to meet again.