After Dark Films
It seems a bit odd to take on a movie review of Courtney Solomon's Getaway, as only in the loosest terms is Getaway actually a movie. We begin without questions — other than a vague and frustrating "What the hell is going on?" — and end without answers, watching Ethan Hawke drive his car into things (and people) for the hour and a half in between. We learn very little along the way, probed to engage in the mystery of the journey. But we don't, because there's no reason to.
There's not a single reason to wonder about any of the things that happen to Hawke's former racecar driver/reformed criminal — forced to carry out a series of felonious commands by a mysterious stranger who is holding his wife hostage — because there doesn't seem to be a single ounce of thought poured into him beyond what he see. We learn, via exposition delivered by him to gun-toting computer whiz Selena Gomez, that he "did some bad things" before meeting the love of his life and deciding to put that all behind him. Then, we stop learning. We stop thinking. We start crashing into police cars and Christmas trees and power plants.
Why is Selena Gomez along for the ride? Well, the beginnings of her involvement are defensible: Hawke is carrying out his slew of vehicular crimes in a stolen car. It's her car. And she's on a rampage to get it back. But unaware of what she's getting herself into, Gomez confronts an idling Hawke with a gun, is yanked into the automobile, and forced to sit shotgun while the rest of the driver's "assignments" are carried out. But her willingness to stick by Hawke after hearing his story is ludicrous. Their immediate bickering falls closer to catty sexual tension than it does to genuine derision and fear (you know, the sort of feelings you'd have for someone who held you up or forced you into accessorizing a buffet of life-threatening crimes).
After Dark Films
The "gradual" reversal of their relationship is treated like something we should root for. But with so little meat packed into either character, the interwoven scenes of Hawke and Gomez warming up to each other and becoming a team in the quest to save the former's wife serve more than anything else as a breather from all the grotesque, impatient, deliberately unappealing scenes of city wreckage.
And as far as consolidating the mystery, the film isn't interested in that either, as evidenced by its final moments. Instead of pressing focus on the answers to whatever questions we may have, the movie's ultimate reveal is so weak, unsubstantial, and entirely disconnected to the story entirely, that it seems almost offensive to whatever semblance of a film might exist here to go out on this note. Offensive to the idea of film and story in general, as a matter of fact. But Getaway isn't concerned with these notions. Not with story, character, logic, or humanity. It just wants to show us a bunch of car crashes and explosions. So you'd think it might have at least made those look a little better.
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Summer TV is going to get a lot stranger tonight, as Wilfred — the show that star Elijah Wood describes as "a guy and another guy in a dog suit sitting around, smoking pot," — makes its official return. Last week, the show aired a completely bonkers "preview episode" that featured Robin Williams (playing his Good Will Hunting character, natch) as Ryan's (Wood) dream-therapist, and answered the cliff-hanger that teased fans all summer. To sum it up, it's official: The basement that Wilfred (Jason Gann) and Ryan smoked pot in throughout season 1 is indeed real, and someone must have gone through great lengths to cover it all up. Someone who doesn't want Ryan to hang out with the all-knowing Wilfred, perhaps? Wood and Gann couldn't talk about the basement bandit when they caught up with Hollywood.com earlier this month, but they did doggy-dig some dirt on an increasingly bananas season 2.
Last year, guest star Dwight Yoakam (who will be returning this season) made a serious case for team "Wilfred is real," but Gann tells us that even he's not quite sure sometimes. "It's a constant arm wrestle in the writing room, whether Wilfred is real or not," Gann says. "[Producer David Zuckerman] and I debate as to whether he was conjured up by Ryan's madness. I come from the perspective that he's more like this magical creature. Then I started coming around and saying, 'I think it's in Ryan's head.' Then David said, 'I think I'm coming around to the magical creature thing.' So we don't know."
Real or not, Wilfred and Ryan's relationship is going to see some major changes in season 2. Ryan will have a love interest (recurring guest star Alison Mack) to finally distract him from Wilfred's owner Jenna, and Wilfred hasn't exactly been the best wingman in the past. Still, Gann thinks that Wilfred can definitely be considered man's best friend. "I definitely think he's a good influence on Ryan," he says. "He genuinely has his best interests at heart. But because he has been tricked so many times, Ryan doesn't trust him."
Wood says that this lack of trust will lead to a power struggle, and that Ryan may actually come out on top this time around. "Ryan’s a little bit more aware of the ability of Wilfred to trick him," Wood says. "I think he is constantly trying to look ahead to any of the things that Wilfred is suggesting to possibly be a trick or a manipulation. There is a bit more of a fight between them; a struggle between the two of them this time around. Ryan is a little bit less passive. He’s a lot more active in trying to almost stay ahead of Wilfred. He’s not always successful, but he has his eye out. He’s keen on where Wilfred could potentially be taking him this time around."
When asked where Wilfred actually is taking Ryan this time around, Gann said that Wilfred's needs are a lot more basic than one might think. "Wilfred has got his own agenda," Gann explains. "He's still a dog, so he just has the basics— to populate, eat, and sleep on the bed. Things like that."
Still, Gann assured us that we'll be seeing a whole lot more than just sleeping on the bed. Gann, Wood, and the writing staff put a lot of thought into out-crazying their madcap season 1. "I thought, 'How do we top Wilfred pole-dancing, and getting molested at Doggy Day-Care?'" he says. "That's really deep out there. But we did. This season goes more out there. Also, it gets darker. I think it's funnier, actually."
One element that was particularly "out there" last season was Wilfred's relationship with Bear, Ryan's potentially imaginary friend's imaginary friend. Thankfully, Gann says that Bear will be back and better than ever. "We used Bear in a bunch of really good spots," he says. "I was shooting a scene with Bear, and it just turned into really violent sex. It just happened off the cuff, and it really worked. Definitely Bear is featured strongly in season 2, and plays a pivotal role in Ryan's life as well as Wilfred's."
Sex with a "pivotal" stuffed bear, weed smoking, and power struggles between man and beast — yep, sounds like Wilfred to us. We're glad this zany series is back, and Gann says that's all thanks to one thing — your dogs. "We call them dog-isms in the writer's room," he says. "We find particular dog behaviors that people can recognize, and articulate them in the human form. It's a regular thing that audiences really respond to with Wilfred. We're being conscious of finding more things this year. Just when I think, 'That's it. There's nothing else that dogs do. We've covered it.' There's always one more thing that dogs do. As long as dogs keep coming up with crazy s**t, then I've still got a show."
Wilfred airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX. Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna Hollywood.com [PHOTO CREDIT: FX] MORE: Elijah Wood on ‘Wilfred’: ‘It’s a Guy & Another Guy in a Dog Suit Sitting Around, Smoking Pot’ Jerry Seinfeld to Guest Star on 'Louie' This Season — EXCLUSIVE Ashley Tisdale Takes Racy Role on 'Sons of Anarchy'
S8:E9 “In four seconds my wife is coming in that door. I told her she was allowed to work here but under no circumstances is she allowed to work here.” – Robert California
The day begins with Robert California knocking ferociously at the windows of Andy’s office and shouting how his wife is about to come in looking for a job, but she is not to be given one. A few seconds later, Robert walks in with his arm around his wife, Susan (played by Maura Tierney), and Andy comes out to greet them in reception. Robert explains his wife is there looking for a job, and Andy is under strict orders to take her around the office, introduce her to all the departments, and give her a position somewhere. Andy is very confused, but obeys Dunder-Mifflin’s CEO and shows Susan around. However, he’s careful to encourage all the employees to tell Susan what they hate about the company so she won’t want to work there, and Andy won’t have to disobey Robert’s secret orders to not hire her by hiring her. The only problem is everyone is really nice to Susan, and she only ends up wanting a job more. So Andy takes Robert and his wife back into his office and again tries to tell the two of them the company is fully staffed. Robert makes this big speech about how he is demanding the regional manager to find SOMETHING for his wife to do and how it shouldn't be that hard, and Andy has no choice but to formally put Susan in accounting. Robert then exits the room and calls Andy on his phone and reprimands him for being unable to follow the simple instruction of not giving his wife a job. And since he’s been backed into a corner, Andy tells everyone in the office to be mean to Susan so she will quit and Robert California won’t be mad at him.
"Your path from obesity begins right here." - Dwight
Dwight is on a major health kick, and he starts of his efforts to get healthier by making the decision to never ever sit down. But once he realizes how hard that is, he builds a gym in the office so he can charge money while everyone gets in shape with him. However, it's filled with exercises you'd do on a farm, like splitting wood, hammering at a tire swing, and pulling on a lever to make a large gear shift. Once Daryl sees what Dwight put together, he says it's no good and that it must be filled with REAL equipment if he's going to charge any money for people to use it. So then he revamps it and buys all this new equipment, but only Daryl is interested in joining because Dwight promises to make him look like LeBron James.
“Your employees don’t seem to be taking to me.” – Susan
Per Andy’s instructions, the entire office is rude to Susan. So much so, in fact, that she goes and tells Robert California that the group isn’t making her feel welcome. Robert is disappointed with what his wife tells him, and he calls Andy into the room and informs him that the crew isn’t treating his wife with as much respect as they should. Susan chimes in and tries to be understanding, and says if she had to work with her boss’s wife, she wouldn’t really appreciate it either and says perhaps it’s best she not work at Dunder-Mifflin. Robert says that’s nonsense, and then abruptly leaves because he wants to get cash from a nearby ATM (but really because he doesn’t want to deal with Susan, who is very sweet and nice!). So it’s just Susan and Andy alone in the conference room, and she asks him if Robert did anything to make him uncomfortable about hiring her, and Andy subtly answers in the affirmative. Susan says she understands how her husband can be quite difficult, and calls Robert back into the conference room and asks him point blank if he told Andy not to hire her. Robert adamantly denies doing anything of the sort. Susan asks Andy to tell his side of the story, and because Robert agrees Andy should be honest about the exchanges they’ve had the day, Andy says to Susan, yes, Robert came in the morning and said you’d be coming in looking for a job but that I was not to hire you. Robert screams that Andy is a liar, and so to save himself Andy calls for Jim, because he witnessed Robert telling Andy he didn’t want Susan to work there. Not wanting to get involved, Jim runs out into the hallway and then up onto the roof. But Robert eventually catches up with him and drags him back down into the conference room, so he can tell his side of the story. Jim feels pressure to choose between Andy and Robert California, but because he works with his wife and absolutely loves it, he says Robert would be lucky to work with Susan. The episode ends with everyone leaving for the day, and Robert gritting his teeth in Andy’s direction, and Andy inadvertently agreeing to going on a date with Susan.
This episode was a vast improvement over Gettysburg. In fact, it might be my favorite episode of the season so far because it capitalized on the very real problem that arises when your boss gives you instructions but then makes it very hard for you to follow them. Maura Tierney was completely delightful, and perfectly cast. The Dwight/Daryl storyline wasn’t as enjoyable, in part because the Robert/Susan/Andy storyline was so dramatic and extensive and good that it really didn’t leave room for much else to happen. But all in all, I really can’t complain about anything.
In the final days of the Iraq War members of an elite commando unit were sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from four maximum security prisons to take revenge on the man who framed them. If you are having a boring summer at the movies if Sex and the City 2 left a bad taste in your mouth and if you can find a theater playing it you need to see The A-Team.
It’s no overstatement to declare that The A-Team is the first great action film of the summer. Say what you will about Iron Man 2 but the degree and multitude of insane sequences in The A-Team trump the more narcissistic Marvel sequel -- at least in that particular category. It is no innovation that a summer blockbuster would employ action as its primary tool for separating you from your cash but The A-Team does so with an entirely different mindset than most brain-dead popcorn fare.
Instead of assaulting us with nonstop action and then having the audacity to mask itself as being high art The A-Team embraces just how ludicrous the action sequences are and makes absolutely no apologies for it. That’s not to say though the movie has nothing to offer beyond the explosions and midair collisions. In fact what makes The A-Team such a damn good film is the clever underscore that complements every moment of mesmerizing destruction. Joe Carnahan along with the other writers gives us moments that subtly poke fun at the outlandishness of what we’re seeing that not only makes the absurd action forgivable but immediately elevates the material above the typical summer fodder.
Carnahan recognized that given the tone of both the series and his last film (Smokin' Aces) the action scenes needed to flow uninterrupted and here it's very streamlined only pausing briefly to give us hilarious interactions between the larger-than-life characters before diving head-first back into the explosive fray. Until the very end of the film each plan is carried out before our eyes as it is being hashed out to neutralize any lacking in the pace. It would be easy to then accuse The A-Team of being front-loaded given the slow build to the final sequence but I would argue that is merely a nod to the evolution of Face’s character as a leader and that it never really loses steam.
What really sells this film however is its cast. Like the original quartet of chaos each actor brings something fantastic to the table. Bradley Cooper as Face has that inescapably charming swagger and confidence we’ve come to expect from him; Liam Neeson unsurprisingly is the perfect blend of in-the-trenches badass and cool-as-ice leader. Even Rampage Jackson in the role made famous by a guy donning the entire payload of Ft. Knox around his neck (that'd be Mr. T) turns in a respectably tough performance with a few moments of decent hubris. But it’s Sharlto Copley who really steals the show as Howlin’ Mad Murdock. True to his character's moniker Copley cranks up the lunacy and plays Murdock with a hilariously reckless abandon that mirrors the tone of the entire film.
Though not without fault (the less-than-thrilling CG near the end of the film is amateurish at best and many will find the over-the-top action too silly to appreciate) all in all this movie rocks hard. The interplay between our heroes is at the heart of the film's entertainment value and is what you will probably like the most about it. Personally I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun at the movies. The A-Team is far better than it has any right to be mainly because it is as much a four-sided character piece as it is a balls-out actioner.
Charlie (Michael Douglas) has been a mess for quite a while. A jazz musician who has battled schizophrenia and manic depression for years has spent the last couple living in a mental hospital. His 16-year-old daughter Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood) has been living on her own in the family home (mom is long gone) having quit school and gone to work at McDonald’s to make ends meet. When Charlie is released and comes home the pair begins to tentatively rebuild their relationship. The good news is that Charlie is taking his meds and handling the real world reasonably well; the bad is that he’s developed an obsession with a legendary cache of Spanish gold doubloons reportedly buried near their dusty California home. When Charlie begins to convince Miranda that he really isn’t crazy--at least when it comes to the treasure--together they begin a Don Quixote-like journey that cements their fractured relationship back together. Forget Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko the ultra-smooth Wall Street guy or as dashing Jack Colton of Romancing the Stone fame. These days Douglas now 62 has said he needs a really good reason to leave his family so this role where he can play a scraggly bearded wild-eyed edge-of-nuts guy is just the ticket. Douglas gives one of his best performances ever as Charlie striking just the right balance of intellect insanity and inherent love for his no-longer-little girl. Plus the man whose on-screen persona has often been all about male vanity is anything but that in King of California. He’s a scrawny whippet of a guy rather than a hunky leading man and it’s a transformation that just may get him another Academy Award nomination. Meanwhile 20-year-old Evan Rachel Wood proves that she really is an acting force to be reckoned with giving a gently nuanced performance as a girl who has had to grow up way too soon yet still completely loves the father who has struggled to care for her as he struggles with his personal demons. First-time writer/director Mike Cahill has done a first-rate job of bringing this quirky funny and slightly poignant story to the screen. Perhaps the reason he’s been so successful is in the company he keeps. A film-school friend of Oscar-winner Alexander Payne (Sideways About Schmidt) Cahill enlisted his producing help for his film along with Payne’s Sideways partner Michael London. King of California bears Cahill’s own stamp however--a combination of terrific visuals that often make wry satiric statements deftly melded with an assortment of memorable characters and situations. Perhaps his biggest strength is in the casting of the film in his choice of the two talented actors who bring a believability and sense of real family ties to their roles. With King of California Cahill begins what looks to be a long and beautiful friendship with moviegoers who love to be transported to interesting and funny places.