I could probably come up with a better pan for Mr. Popper’s Penguins than “flightless and foul ” but that would entail expending more creative energy on the film than its makers did. Directed by Mark Waters (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past The Spiderwick Chronicles) and based on a 1938 children’s book by Richard and Florence Atwater it is so empty and artificial and formulaic that if I didn’t know better I would have pegged it as a very cynical parody or perhaps a film within a film about some desperate mafioso’s questionable money-laundering scheme.
Jim Carrey looking tired and perhaps a little embarrassed plays the title role of an arrogant self-absorbed businessman who is taught a variety of valuable life lessons by a sextet of penguins. The penguins bequeathed to Mr. Popper in his neglectful father’s last will and testament each exhibit a single personality trait which immediately makes them more emotionally complex than the film in which they appear.
They’re assigned names accordingly: there’s Captain the leader Loudy the screamer Lovey the hugger Bitey the biter Stinkey the farter and Nimrod the stumbler. I only wish this functional naming scheme were extended to the rest of the characters in the film – i.e. Clark Gregg is Nemesis Carla Gugino is Motivation Angela Lansbury is Conscience and so on. If anything it would have allowed the filmmakers to excise a healthy chunk of dialogue which in the case of Mr. Popper’s Penguins only exists to punish the brain.
The film boasts three credited screenwriters among its crew. Though I’m not privy to each writer’s specific contributions I imagine their duties were divided in roughly this fashion: 1) scrub the story of all imagination or wit; 2) remove any deviations from pat Hollywood formula; and 3) cram it with as much toilet humor as the MPAA will allow in a PG film. You’d think that a single writer could have mangled a beloved
children's book just as convincingly but you’d be wrong: This kind of
debacle requires a team effort.
Forget Black Swan – Natalie Portman’s real crowning performance is to be found in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached in which director Ivan Reitman asks her to convey sincere unqualified affection for Ashton Kutcher. Portman much to her credit gamely complies and though she may not have the emaciated figure bloody nails and bandaged ankles to tell of her labors the psychic scars must no doubt be just as severe.
Exhibiting strong chick-flick leanings and a rambunctious soft-R comic tone (i.e. lots of F-bombs some menstrual humor and a few shots of Kutcher’s naked ass) No Strings Attached is built around a basic relationship role-reversal: The dude Adam (Kutcher) longs for a deeper lasting commitment; the chick Emma (Portman) insists on keeping matters purely physical. Emma’s motive is a practical one: As a doctor-to-be her busy residency schedule with its 80-hour work weeks and intensive exam preparations precludes a serious relationship. But alas a woman has certain needs (foreplay apparently not being among them) and who better to fulfill them than Kutcher’s non-threatening boy-toy?
Thus a “friends with benefits” arrangement is cemented whereupon the ripcord is to be pulled on the occasion that either of them develops stronger feelings. This does not last long for soon Adam is cloyingly lobbying for escalation. Emma demurs – not out of disinterest we are told but because she’s intimacy-averse and afraid of a broken heart. Why else would she resist a more permanent attachment to someone like Adam?
Perhaps it’s because Adam as played by Kutcher is about as interesting as cabbage. And yet No Strings Attached would have us believe he’s some kind of floppy-haired Albert Schweitzer. This despite the fact that his greatest aspiration in life is to join the writing staff of a High School Musical-esque television series the shallow inanity of which is one of the film’s recurring jokes. In vain support of his cause the filmmakers decorate Adam’s apartment with various props – vintage posters books about 1920s movies a guitar that is occasionally picked up but never actually played – that hint at a depth that Kutcher himself never manifests.
Still Portman sells us on Adam and Emma’s inevitable union with every ounce of her not inconsiderable talent. (And her comic chops are legit – as those who’ve glimpsed her appearances on SNL and Funny or Die can attest.) But she asks too much. And Elizabeth Meriweather’s script while witty and stocked with some keen observations on the evolving nature of relationships in the modern age becomes weighed down by sentiment unbecoming an R-rated comedy not directed by Judd Apatow. In the end Kutcher seals the increasingly contrived deal with the climactic line “I’m warning you: Come one step closer and I’m never letting you go ” (I’m paraphrasing but not loosely) by which time the film's already lost its grip.
The pretty star, who played Lennon's girlfriend Marie in the film, admits she was upset when she realised the movie moment she'd told her family about was not in the final cut.
She says, "I only realised at the premiere when I was sitting there with my mum. She was gasping, 'Oh no, baby!'"
But her small part in the movie has led to much bigger roles in Hollywood films starring Jim Carrey and Ashton Kutcher - she'll play the Just Married star's English girlfriend in new movie No Strings.
Lovibond adds, "I thought it (Nowhere Boy) might get me other auditions; I never thought it would get me other parts."
Once news broke that Andrew Garfield will be the next Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Marc Webb’s reboot, the next big question was who will play the love interest? In the last three movies Kirsten Dunst played Mary Jane Watson, but Sony threw the nerds of the world a curve ball (sorry, a curve ball is a pitch in baseball which is particularly hard to hit because it suddenly curves. Baseball is... oh never mind) when they said Mary Jane Watson was not going to be the main love interest and there will in fact be two! Hold on to your pants nerds! Nerds still wear pants, right?
Anyway, a few casting rumors. Sudden (but not surprising) it-girl Emma Stone has read for a role in the 3D project. After the strong showing and great critical response of Stone’s Easy A, the next logical next step would be a blockbuster super hero flick for the lovable and raspy voiced red head. The thing that is surprising about this is how people are shocked that Stone is funny and can carry a movie herself. Of course she can! She’s hilarious and gorgeous and has red hair. Seems like the most obvious thing in the world.
Next up is indie-darling Mia Wasikowska who recently starred in the better-than-you-would-think The Kids Are All Right and the low budget, art house flick Alice in Wonderland from up and coming, super normal guy Tim Burton. Wasikowska is being toted to play Gwen Stacy, a part played by Bryce Dallas Howard in Spider-Man 3 (and if you forgot about that, don’t worry, most people have too). Super nerd (and my editor) Danny told me that Stacy was mainly the love interest of Peter Parker during his high school years (which is the setting of this reboot) while Watson was his next door neighbor. And since he has threatened to beat me up if I dare think he is wrong by looking it up to verify, I’ll just go with it (read his take on the potential casting picks here.) Yes, my dignity is just fine, thank you very much. Other ladies looking to join the franchise in one of the many female roles (like Felicia Hardy, Liz Allen and Betty Brant) possibly up for grabs include Ophelia Lovibond, Teresa Palmer and Imogen Poots.
Sources: Variety and Hollywood Insider
When Andrew Garfield was confirmed as the new Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Marc Webb's 3D reboot of the iconic superhero, a lengthy and highly competitive casting campaign came to a close. But the end of one search inevitably leads to another and speculation began running rampant over who would play Parker's red-haired love interest Mary Jane Watson. After today's report from Heat Vision, though, many will undoubtedly wonder if Mary Jane will even be the leading lady in the new film.
The source claims to have found out who is in the running, or at least who is being considered, for the unnamed character who will steal Spidey's heart in the highly-anticipated redo, which is aiming for a July 3rd, 2012 release. Emma Roberts, Imogen Poots, Ophelia Lovibond, Teresa Palmer and Lily Collins will meet with director Webb and star Garfield throughout the weekend to read for the role. Most believe that the new film will follow the story of the Marvel Comics source material closely and that the love interest this time around will be Gwen Stacy (played by Bryce Dallas Howard in 2007's Spider-Man 3), but the possibility of a brand new character, written specifically for the movie, hasn't been ruled out. If it's accuracy that the writers/director/studio wants, these lucky actresses should be reading for Betty Brant, the Daily Bugle secretary played by Elizabeth Banks in the original trilogy who was actually Peter Parker's very first girlfriend, but I digress.
The ladies all have something different to offer, but share one thing in common. Like Garfield, they are all considered "up-and-coming" performers who will likely make waves in the industry whether they nab this part or not. Some are already moving up the ranks of the Hollywood hierarchy, like Emma Roberts, who comes from a very successful filmmaking family, appears in seven films this year (including the $110 million hit Valentine's Day and the upcoming It's Kind Of A Funny Story) and will topline next Spring's sure-to-be-big Scream 4. Teresa Palmer would also be a good choice as she's got the right look for the gig and experience working on big-budget productions like The Sorcerer's Apprentice and next year's I Am Number Four. Of course, keeping in line with the cost-effective strategy and edgier tone that Webb is aiming for, Poots (who can be seen in next week's Centurion), Lovibond (who recently wrapped William Monahan's London Boulevard) and Collins (who appeared in The Blind Side and will be seen next in 2011's Preist) could also steal the role.
Heat Vision also claims that no one is a favorite and that these girls will not be screen testing this weekend. This is more like a first round of meetings and it should be noted that there will likely be many more candidates that will be considered. I liken the search to the hunt for Paramount's Captain America, where the initial set of actors to read for the role (including John Krasinski and Garrett Hedlund) were nowhere near the finish line when director Joe Johnston chose Chris Evans to play the patriot. Since the reboot was first announced, I said that Roberts should play Mary Jane and though I would love to see her in the film, I don't think she's right for Gwen Stacy. If the innocent blond is in fact the leading lady, I would go with Poots or Palmer as I've seen them both give reserved and vulnerable performances in the past that would work well with the character. Only time will tell who will get the gig, but now is your chance to sound off: who do you think should get to play the female lead in Spider-Man 3D? Click on the photos below to see more of these stunning actresses and let us know!
Source: Heat Vision
Source: The Wrap
She's already worked with son Jason, now The Wrap reports that Olivia Thirlby (Juno, upcoming The Darkest Hour) is in talks to join Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in father Ivan Reitman's untitled comedy at Paramount Pictures.
In the film, previously known as "Friends With Benefits," a guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical, but it's not long before they learn that they want something more.
Thirlby would play Portman's sister in the film. Greta Gerwig, Kevin Kline, Ophelia Lovibond and Ben Lawson also co-star.
The script was written by Elizabeth Meriwether. The studio is planning a January 7, 2011 release.