Not content to simply be the highest-paid actress on television right now, Sofia Vergara will reportedly give producing a try. The Modern Family star is in talks to produce a half-hour comedy for ABC called Raising Mom, which will be based on her experiences as a single mother. Vergara's longtime business partner Luis Balaguer supposedly concieved the idea after watching the actress raise and interact with her son Manolo.
The comedy will follow a young single mother and her 21-year old son, whose co-dependent relationship gets in the way of their love lives and desire for independence. Gail Mancuso, who has previously worked with Vergara on Modern Family, is signed on to direct, while Raising Hope's Christine Zander will write it. Since the show is still in the early development stage, there is no word yet who will take on the "Sofia" and "Manolo" roles. Regardless, Raising Mom is sure to benefit from Vergara's fame and will probably draw a large portion of its audience from Modern Family fans.
Vergara's sitcom will join a recent trend of comedies about young parents and their children "raising" each other. Raising Hope centers around a young parent and his mother and father, who had him when they were teenagers, attempting to raise a baby together, while CBS's Mom focuses on a young mother and her mother, both of whom are recently sober. That's not to mention the influx of new comedies this season which touch on parents moving in with their adult children in middle age — including The Millers, starring Will Arnett and Margo Martindale, and the universally panned Dads. Even The Crazy Ones has Sarah Michelle Gellar attempting to wrangle her father and business partner, played by Robin Williams.
Raising Mom has the difficult task of distinguishing itself not only from the list of co-dependent-parent-and-children comedies, but also from Vergara's other show, Modern Family. Hopefully, it will develop enough interesting elements to make itself stand out, as there really is only so much material that can be mined from a traditional family-centered comedy. The show has the advantage of a recognizable name that will draw in a sizable audience, but it may be difficult for them to hold onto that audience or even gain new viewers if the show relies soley on the Modern Family connection. Although, as long as nobody takes inspiration from Bob Saget's quickly-cancelled 2001 series Raising Dad, everything should be fine.
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In the 2006 animated blockbuster Happy Feet an alienated emperor penguin named Mumbles found empowerment through tap-dancing and in so doing managed to both attract a mate and stop the overfishing that imperiled his Antarctic habitat. Directed by George Mitchell – the same George Mitchell who gave us the post-apocalyptic Mad Max trilogy and the almost despairingly bleak Babe: Pig in the City – Happy Feet paired its broadly conventional narrative with a darker sensibility not often seen in talking-animal fare.
The film’s sequel Happy Feet Two finds Mitchell (co-directing with Gary Eck) both more jovial and more easily distracted. The story begins straightforwardly enough with Mumbles (Elijah Wood) now grown-up and by all appearances well-adjusted ceding the mantle of self-discovery to his son Erik (Ava Acres). Boogie fever has swept the once dance-averse penguin nation but in a cruelly ironic twist Erik has inherited none of his father’s nifty moves. But just as Happy Feet Two appears intent on recycling its predecessor’s basic storyline the film abruptly changes course and embarks on a series of detours that seemed geared more as fodder for throwaway gags and showy set pieces than anything else. The disparate narrative elements while enjoyable in isolation never quite coalesce into a meaningful whole leaving us entertained but unfulfilled.
As before Happy Feet Two features a variety of buoyant song-and-dance numbers with Alecia Moore (aka P!nk) lending her formidable pipes to spirited re-workings of “Rhythm Nation” and “Under Pressure ” among others. Robin Williams returns for double duty as both Ramon a diminutive oversexed Latin lover and Lovelace a fiery Southern-preacher type. (Lovelace later adopts a Rastafarian dialect allowing Williams to achieve the rare culture-caricature trifecta.) His voracious scenery-devouring is all the more impressive given the grandeur of the scenery. Not to be left out of the quasi-Vaudevillian comic shenanigans Hank Azaria lays on a thick Scandinavian shtick as Sven a charismatic Arctic émigré who presents himself as the only penguin in the world who can fly. Azaria is a hoot but the film’s best moments come courtesy of the cast’s highest-profile additions Matt Damon and Brad Pitt voicing Bill and Will (respectively) two tiny krill in search of meaning at the bottom of the food chain.