It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
A massive hit never ends at its own conclusion for better or worse. Lost Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland The Blair Witch Project and other pop culture milestones spawned plenty of imitators of wavering quality that trickled on to screens until the phenomena tapered off. Joyful Noise the new film starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton is one these auxiliary creative endeavors a direct descendant of the cheeky drama/comedy/musical hybrid Glee. But instead of teenage issues and pop covers Joyful Noise swaps in familial struggles gospel tunes and a sizable serving of Christian faith. The combination results in a movie that lacks the jazz hand energy of Glee but packs good-natured laughs to keep someone awake for its two hour duration. More "noise" than "joyful."
Mere minutes after the passing away of choir leader Bernie Vi Rose (Latifah) inherits the position—along with a serving of negative vibes from Bernie's wife G.G. (Parton) who was hoping to take the job herself. The new responsibility is only the beginning of Vi Rose's troubles as she attempts to balance her rebellious daughter Olivia's (Keke Palmer) raging hormones her son Walter's (Dexter Darden) Asperger's syndrome her husband's absence during a military stint and her own old school God-faring ways. Hardships are whipped into further chaos upon the arrival of Randy G.G.'s rambunctious horny grandson who shows up at rehearsal with an eye on Olivia and undeniable vocal skills. Randy's rock and roll edge is readily embraced by the group but even with the national gospel championship on the line Vi Rose isn't ready to toss tradition aside.
Joyful Noise is a mixed bag sporadically entertaining when director Todd Graff (Camp Bandslam) lets his two commanding stars flex their comedic muscles or belt soulful tunes. Latifah and Parton can do both with ease—Latifah has a natural charm while Parton essentially fills the "kooky Betty White" here—but instead of letting the two fly Graff breaks up the action with overwrought drama and bizarre side character stories. The script injects a lot of ideas into the picture—loss of faith modernizing ideologies coping with tragedy sexuality under the eye of God—but every tender moment is fumbled. A gut-wrenching conversation between Vi Rose and her autistic son should have weight and the actors do their best but the material doesn't service the emotional complexity of the scenario. Instead it opts to cut to a musical number. Another sequence involving the overnight demise of another character is even played for comedy even when it causes one woman to question her beliefs.
Thank God for the musical numbers which have enough energy to brush the flimsier moments under the rug. The Glee-inspired pop tune covers (Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror " Usher's "Yeah"—both tailored with religious modifications) aren't nearly as interesting or powerful as the straight-up gospel songs. But unlike the tunes Joyful Noise doesn't have rhyme or reason. A mishmash of played out character stereotypes narrative cliches and enjoyable but erratic music the movie feels more like a cash-in than it should. Latifah and Parton are a sizzling duo but the vehicle built for them is a clunker. As Vi Rose might say the only way to have a great time at Joyful Noise is to believe. Really really hard.
S4:E7 Who’s ready for some more miscommunications between young people!? I am! Because telling my banker I wanted to enroll in direct deposit and then still waiting to receive my paychecks in the mail wasn’t enough for me, so I can’t imagine it was enough for you!
We pick up with Serena getting to know Professor Colin more over coffee and those brown chairs people put in their offices that never get comfortable, no matter how many people sit in them. They are still continuing to wait until the semester is over before they date or have sex, and it was clear their academic brains were slowly becoming more and more vulnerable to their human instincts.
Serena and Nate hired a stenographer and brought Chuck and Blair together in hopes of ending the Waldorf/Bass war. Pupils of private schools, everyone: unafraid to pool their resources and deprive some appointed official their trusted stenographer for an hour to create a treaty for their quarrelsome friends that results in an “excommunication” (or loss of the entire group’s friendship) if broken.
While Blair was preparing for her birthday party that night, Dan and Eric started planning a gathering in honor of Lily and Rufus’ special occasion because the newlyweds decided they didn’t want to celebrate without Jenny in town, who was apparently back in Hudson and studying for a test she was to take on a Saturday. Dan and Eric decided to ask Chuck to help in getting Jenny back in the city so the happy couple could celebrate their first anniversary properly, and with everyone in attendance. They were going to give Chuck a reason to be angry and break the treaty so he'd want to get revenge on Blair by bringing Jenny back to New York to drive Blair insane AND help Lily and Rufus celebrate their anniversary.
Juliet used Gossip Girl to find out what route Serena would be taking on her way to class so she could casually catch her bringing a first edition book to Colin’s office in hopes of getting Serena to talk about who it’s for. Per her routine, Juliet promised not to tell anyone of Serena’s crush, and per Serena’s routine, she idiotically blurted her plans to the person who is working day and night to make sure a future Law and Order: SVU episode is about her. Juliet “innocently” asked the question of if Colin was as willing as Serena was to put the physical stuff on hold for a few more weeks, which was meant to send Serena’s head spinning with worries that he’s not so inclined to hold off his urges. And just as Serena arrived at Colin’s house to give her gift to him, she saw him escorting some other woman out of a cab and up to his apartment. But it turned out to be his housekeeper who’s having some hard luck with her modeling career, so Colin always pays her cab fare when she comes to his house.
When Dan went over to Nate and Chuck’s apartment and tried to implement his plan of having Chuck bring Jenny back to the city, he found Chuck and Blair getting along after they added an amendment to the treaty that said it would never be broken or whatever. Blair then invited both Dan and Chuck to her birthday party that night, which apparently isn’t a violation of the treaty. I guess the section meant for event attendance went to like nut saltage, or something.
Serena called Juliet and told her that Colin was, in fact, waiting like he said he was, and that Juliet was wrong in insinuating that he wasn’t. Then she asked Juliet if she would be her “buffer” at Blair’s party because she didn’t trust herself alone with Colin, especially in front of the Dean (who has nothing better to do than attend a girl’s 20th birthday party, naturally). But later, Serena ran into Nate, who offered to be her “buffer” instead of Juliet because he didn’t want to run into her since they’d broken up.
Now that Juliet was no longer needed by Serena, she got Colin (Serena’s professor, you’ll recall) to get her in to Blair’s party. Nate saw the two of them just before they went their separate ways inside, and once Serena noticed Colin was finally present, she told Nate to help distract her. Once he passed off his duties to Lily and Rufus, Nate followed Blair into the kitchen for some good alcohol and the two of them saw Colin and Juliet talking about how Juliet had been going to see Ben in prison (that apparently was not part of the plan that they cheers-ed to over a check last episode). Nate thought Colin was Ben, the guy Juliet left him for, but Blair recognized him for who he really was – Serena’s boyfriend. Are you confused? Yeah. Someone explain to me the specifics of achieving the color scheme in the newest Rihanna video. I think it’d be easier.
Nate went up to Juliet and confronted her about who that guy was that she arrived with, she told him Colin was her cousin and they didn’t want anyone to know because he’s a professor and she’s a student. (But that’s not why! Even though Colin really is her cousin, they don’t want anyone to know about their relation because they are both plotting Serena’s downfall and stardom in the gutter of a waffle house somewhere!) Nate said he knew Colin was also Serena’s boyfriend. Juliet left in a tizzy and went out into the dining room to find some girl playing a video of Blair singing karaoke, drunk, in Stolkholm. Blair confronted the girl who showed the clip and she said some guy called her and asked her to bring something embarrassing Blair did because it was actually a roast, and not a birthday party. Blair assumed Chuck placed the call and went to yell at him. Chuck told Blair he had nothing to do with the video, but she didn’t believe him. Then Dan came up from behind them and said Chuck and Blair deserved what they got because they made Jenny so afraid of coming back into the city.
After everyone left Blair’s house, she found Chuck downstairs and he told her that he still hated her and that the treaty was off. Then they had sex on the piano. Which, incidentally, proves treaties are useless and it’s better to just have sex with your enemy if you really want to get anywhere. If anyone cared enough to read more about Thomas Jefferson's private life and less about his clear writing strengths, I'm sure we'd find he'd been a supporter of that tactic a long time ago. Jefferson could have told us that.
Top Story: Kutcher Loves Playing Dad
Ashton Kutcher, 25, loves being a surrogate father to three growing girls. The star of the TV hit That '70s Show told TV Guide he is really loving his life with girlfriend Demi Moore, 40, and her three girls with Bruce Willis: Rumer, 15; Scout, 12; and Tallulah Belle, 9. "Being a part of molding anyone's life is an incredible thing. It's an unbelievable addition to my life," Kutcher admits. "I feel like they've been shafted in the deal. I get four of them [including Moore], and all they get is me. They got the short end of the stick." And he doesn't make any apologies for the age difference between him and Moore. "She's everything to me," Kutcher says. "Funny, sweet, she's anything she wants to be." The TV Guide issues hits the stands Nov. 1.
Crowe Readies for Fatherhood
Russell Crowe is really looking forward to being a dad. "Like, whoa, this is gonna be fun," Crowe told Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart on Saturday. Crowe, who along with his wife, Danielle Spencer, are expecting their first child in January, said he plans on taking the child with him when he goes on movie sets. "I mean that's the plan at this point in time. I think prior to him going to school I think the best thing to do is to make sure that he is wherever I am," Crowe said. "Once he goes to school things are really going to have to change at supposedly that point. 'Cause I don't think I'd like to do anything, you know, more than pick him up from the school gate every day."
Ross' Lawyer Wants Breath Tests Tossed Out
A lawyer representing Diana Ross is asking that a new judge hear his request to throw out breath test results as evidence in the pop diva's drunken driving trial, The Associated Press reports. Ross was stopped Dec. 30 outside a convenience store in Tucson, Ariz., on suspicion of drunk driving and claims she was intimidated and coerced into taking the breath tests. The singer faces three DUI-related charges but has pleaded innocent. One judge has already dismissed the motion filed by Ross' lawyer and will allow the results to be used during the trial, which is now scheduled for January.
Chanel No. 5's New Face is…
Nicole Kidman. The popular French luxury company announced Friday it has signed a deal with the Oscar-winning Australian actress to represent its top selling fragrance, AP reports. "Ms. Kidman was chosen because she represents a unique standard of elegance and embodies the spirit and modernity of Chanel," the company said in a statement. Baz Luhrmann, who directed the 36-year-old actress in the musical Moulin Rouge, is creating, directing and producing the ad campaign, which will be ready in the fall of 2004, AP reports.
The Hobbits Save the Trees
Dominic Monaghan, who stars as the Hobbit Merry Brandybuck in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has banded together with his fellow castmates, including Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom, to save trees. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Monaghan is creating a program that would give Rings fans and environmentally conscious consumers the chance to adopt a tree in a forest that Monaghan hopes will be in New Zealand, where all three films were shot. "It's a way for us to keep our bond together but at the same time do something useful for the planet," Monaghan told The Reporter.
The Shining Scene Voted Scariest Ever
In an online poll for Britain Channel 4, viewers voted the scene from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining in which actor Jack Nicholson axes his way through the bathroom door and announces "Here's Johnny," is the scariest big-screen moment ever, Reuters reports. "The 100 Greatest Scary Moments," which was broadcast over the weekend, had Linda Blair's rotating head and projectile vomiting in William Friedkin's 1973 The Exorcist come in second place, while the severed head popping out of the bottom of an abandoned boat in Steven Spielberg's 1975 shark thriller Jaws was third.
Two Indie Distributors Merge
Independent distributor Lions Gate Entertainment is expected to buy its competitor Artisan Entertainment for $160 million, as well as assume $60 million of debt, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Considered archrivals, the deal between the two ends months of speculation and includes box office bonuses for the Artisan shareholders should the domestic grosses for Artisan's upcoming releases--Havana Nights: Dirty Dancing 2, due out in February, and The Punisher, set to bow in April--make some decent coin. Lions Gate recently released Wonderland, starring Val Kilmer.
Surreal Gets Real…Again
Imagine watching Tammy Faye Messner, the former mascara-ringed wife of dethroned evangelist Jim Bakker, and porn legend Ron Jeremy duke it out over who's suppose to clean the kitchen. Well, you'll get the chance with the second installment of the reality television spoof Surreal Life, in which yesterday's celebrities bunk together and have their lives taped. According to AP, the other "house" mates will include rapper Vanilla Ice, ChiPs actor Erik Estrada, former Baywatch actress Traci Bingham and Real World: Las Vegas cast member Trishelle. They will also have a celebrity guest move in each week.
Presley Tops Highest-Earning Dead Celebrities
Forbes.com released its third annual list of top earning celebrities who happen to be deceased. The top five include Elvis Presley, who made $40 million followed by Peanuts creator Charles Schultz ($32 million); Lord of the Rings