Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
This is it, people: after ten countries, more than 30,000 miles, and countless eyebrow raises from the host with the most magnificent brows in the biz, Phil Keoghan, one pair of globe-trekking reality show contestants took home the million dollar prize on The Amazing Race Season 22.
So, was it hockey-playing brothers Bates and Anthony? Newlyweds Max and Katie? How about roller derby moms Mona and Beth, or country singer blondes Caroline and Jen? In the end, Bates and Anthony pulled through for the win. But here's how they got there:
All four teams left Scotland and headed to Northern Ireland for the second-to-last leg of their race. Soon, they'd come into a million dollars just like they always dreamed! With good old fashioned hard work — snorkeling in murky bog water, running up and down stairs with lukewarm food, and spray painting graffiti at a skate park.
Aside from completely skipping over the first course on the menu, the thing about the food-serving detour that tripped up all the teams was the fact that none of them knew what color chartreuse was. Soon you'll be telling me that most people don't quote That Thing You Do! on a regular basis. Come on! Unfortunately, the blondes wasted too much time getting lost before they even made it to their spray-painting detour that they didn't make it to the return-to-America final leg.
Max and Katie beat out Bates and Anthony for first place, but the three teams made it on the same flight back to the States. Once in Washington, DC they took part in some delightful espionage-themed challenges, including exchanging briefcases with men in suits and aviators and a ridiculous code phrase.
But first, the derby moms totally sabotaged themselves by assuming 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. would be close enough to 1100, which is pretty insane even in a normal town but especially so in a big city — and one with crazy-tight security in front of the former address, too. Between that blunder and the fact that they didn't even realize that they should probably read the menu at the Titanic detour instead of just the seating chart, it's clear they were outclassed. There's no way they could've ever won this thing.
Bates and Anthony proved they are more than just athletes and not only made it to the final, knowledge-based challenge first, but also handily completed it before Max and Katie even got there. Barring the most horrific traffic jam in the world, there's no way they were going to lose — and they didn't.
While Katie and Max were formidable competitors (and Katie was the brains of the operation), Bates and Anthony made it to the finish line on George Washington's estate to take home the $1 million prize.
Did the best team win? Who did you think would come in first?
More:'The Amazing Race' Recap: Scotland Blows (Bagpipes)'The Amazing Race' Recap: Berlinsanity'The Amazing Race' Recap: One Swiss Mistake
Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean
From Our Partners:Nina Dobrev, Julianne Hough Bikini in Miami (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
WHAT IT'S ABOUT?
Two childhood buddies are forever changed by their first encounter with Playboy magazine. The story picks up 10 years later focusing on Tucker Cleigh a sex-obsessed moron who beds every girl he meets plus his conservative friend Eugene Bell who practices abstinence with his uptight girlfriend Cindi and joins her in teaching its virtues to younger students. But when Cindi decides she's ready to "do it" on prom night Eugene nervously complies but gets drunk falls down a flight of stairs and lands in a four-year coma. When he awakens he discovers Cindi has become a nude Playboy centerfold and joins Tucker on a chaotic cross-country trip to get to the Playboy mansion where he hopes to find Cindi — and Tucker gets to live out his wildest playmate fantasies.
WHO'S IN IT?
Miss March exists as a comic vehicle for its "stars " Zach Cregger and Trevor Moore members of a Brooklyn comedy group whose TV show The Whitest Kids U Know ran for several seasons on IFC. The team also co-directs and writes this witless hodgepodge of gross-out gags attempting to find humor in tasteless — not to mention sexist — setups. It makes last summer's The House Bunny look like Citizen Kane by comparison. Moore seems to be channeling early Jim Carrey as he plays a sex-crazed idiot who spends most of the movie trying to help his best friend (played by Cregger) lose his virginity despite an endless array of inanely conceived psychological and medical obstacles. With no one to rein them in these writer/director/stars overplay to the extreme and go for the cheapest laughs imaginable. Trying to mine physical humor out of situations dealing from epileptic sex to uncontrolled bowels this team throws it all at the wall but not much sticks. The rest of the cast including Raquel Alessi Molly Stanton 2007 Playmate of the Year Sara Jean Underwood and Craig Robinson — as an expletive-hurtling rapper named Horsedick.MPEG (in a gag repeated at least ten times) — are left twisting in the wind. Robinson however does get mileage out of a triple-X hardcore rap parody.
A scene where Eugene and Cindi try to teach sexual abstinence to a sparse audience of inattentive undergrads is amusing and well played. Unfortunately it occurs in the first 10 minutes. After that you're on your own.
Just about everything else including a dopey subplot involving a group of revenge-seeking firemen desperate stunt-laden gags egregiously over-the-top product placement for Playboy and one embarrassing scene after another designed to get the hardest R-rating possible.
MOST MEMORABLE LINE
Eighty-two-year-old Playboy founder Hugh Hefner gets to offer this bon mot in his one-scene cameo: "There's a bunny deep down inside every woman and if you see that bunny you're on to something."
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN …
The opening credits start. Then sneak into a better movie instead.