Since they were young girls growing up in the Midwest Connie (Nia Vardalos) and Carla (Toni Collette) have shared the same dream--to become the next biggest thing to hit musical theater but so far performing in an airport lounge is the closest they've come. Their lives change however when they witness a murder by some nefarious drug dealers and in an attempt to escape end up in Los Angeles which has "no dinner theater no musical theater no culture at all." It's the perfect place for them to hide out and all goes to plan until Connie and Carla happen upon a local drag club. Suddenly they see an excellent way to elude their pursuers--and fulfill their need to be on stage at the same time. Pretending to be men dressed as drag queens Connie and Carla are soon headlining at the club belting out the show tunes they love. They become a huge hit getting the fame and recognition they've always wanted--but as time wears on the whole charade turns out to be a real "drag" ("pun intended " as the gals like to say) especially when Connie falls for nice guy Jeff (David Duchovny). Still with the killers hot on their trail Connie and Carla have to stay incognito--at least until they can find a way to come out of the closet without getting killed or disappointing their growing legion of fans.
The very charismatic Vardalos wowed audiences with her first feature the smash hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding and is probably feeling more than a little pressure to follow up with something just as good especially since the Big Fat Greek spin-off TV series failed miserably. Luckily she succeeds with Connie and Carla due in large part to her co-star Collette who finally--after a string of dramatic movies such as The Sixth Sense and The Hours--gets to use the comedic skills she deftly showed in her feature film debut Muriel's Wedding. Together the actresses' natural rapport and infectious charm permeate the film and despite a sometimes hackneyed script they keep things lively and boy can they sing! Vardalos and Collette make the most of their musical theater backgrounds working the stage and making the film's musical numbers truly memorable. Vardalos also displays a fair amount of chemistry with Duchovny as the straight Jeff desperately struggles with his burgeoning feelings for someone he believes is a man. The last little plus is C and C's supporting cast including the bonafide drag queens the girls befriend at the club. Led by the Tony-winning Stephen Spinella (Angels in America) as Robert/"Peaches " who also happens to be Jeff's estranged brother the supporting guys/dolls add that certain La Cage joie de vivre.
As she did in My Big Fat Greek Wedding writer/actress Vardalos' script speaks from the heart with genuinely fresh funny and down to earth dialogue. Apparently she did loads of dinner theater in her early years so she's familiar with the subject. Unfortunately she relies on a contrived Some Like It Hot plot about vengeful drug dealers to get Connie and Carla to L.A. but once the film gets into drag it zings. Connie and Carla is also in capable hands with director-actor Michael Lembeck (The Santa Clause 2) a former song-and-dance man himself at the helm. The broad comedic style he picked up directing countless television sitcom episodes serves well here and he turns the musical numbers into mini show-stoppers each one topping the next. The last is the best of course when the girls launch into "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No" from Oklahoma capped by a special guest appearance from the musical theater goddess herself Debbie Reynolds. Classic.
August 05, 2003 11:42am EST
Top Story: Judge Orders Diaz Pics Sealed
On Monday, Judge Alan Haber ordered sealed photos and a videotape of Cameron Diaz taken at a private modeling session about a decade ago, saying the actress has a right to privacy of her own body. He set a Sept. 12 hearing in Superior Court on her request for an injunction against photographer John Rutter, The Associated Press reports. Rutter told the syndicated news show Inside Edition in mid-July that he'd contacted Diaz's lawyers to offer them the photos before he sold them to any media outlets. Rutter said it was a negotiation for a right of first refusal with Diaz's lawyers, but added that his place was raided a few hours after her lawyers offered to buy the pics. Diaz's publicist said the Charlie's Angels actress never signed a photo release and a signed release produced by Rutter was a forgery.
Leno Gets "Queer" Makeover
NBC thinks the host of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is in need of a makeover--a Queer makeover, that is. The network said Monday it will bring the Fab Five makeover team from Bravo's new hit reality sensation Queer Eye For the Straight Guy for a pair of special appearances on Tonight Show next week. Reuters reports the quintet will make their Tonight Show debut as guests Aug. 14 and return the following night for the makeover. Queer Eye features five gay men with expertise in good grooming, food, fashion, culture and interior design coming to the aid of a unfashionable heterosexual. The hour-long show has become a major ratings winner for NBC-owned Bravo. NBC, which aired the first half-hour repeat of the show last month, plans to telecast a second 30-minute primetime installment on Aug. 14, the same evening as the Fab Five's debut on the Tonight Show.
Carly Simon To Reveal Who's "So Vain"
But we still may never know. Singer Carly Simon is about to reveal who she was talking about in her 1972 hit song "You're So Vain," but not to the public. Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC sports and NBC Olympics, won the prized information with a $50,000 bid in a charity auction and has vowed never to divulge the name Simon will tell to him after a private performance in about two weeks. Ebersol told NBC's Today show Tuesday that Simon gave him one clue about the man's identity that she said he could reveal: He has the letter "e" in his name. The usual suspects include: actor Warren Beatty, whom Simon dated; Mick Jagger, who sang backup on the song; and her ex-husband, James Taylor.
Flynt: "A Smut Peddler Who Cares"
Porn king Larry Flynt formally announced his bid for California governor Monday, Reuters reports, but Flynt, who made millions publishing raunchy sex magazines such as Hustler, recognized that voters might not be able to get past his background. "If the support is there, I am willing to go the distance. If not, I will fade into the sunset," he said. Flynt, who referred to himself a "smut peddler who cares," said that as governor he would launch a study into the legalization of prostitution, grant amnesty to all illegal immigrants currently in California before securing the state's borders, and expand the state's gaming industry and tax casino revenue to help wipe out the state budget deficit. The 61-year-old Flynt is one of some 200 people who have taken out initial paperwork to challenge Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in an election some analysts say is making California a laughingstock.
U.S. Authorities Investigating Modeling Agencies
U.S. authorities are looking into charges that several modeling agencies, including Elite Model Management and Ford Models Inc., conspired to cheat their clients by charging inflated commissions and expenses, Reuters reports. The civil class action lawsuit, filed in Manhattan, NYC, federal court, alleges the agencies fixed models' commission rates at 20 percent, twice the 10 percent allowed by state law for employment agencies. Elite models include actress Lara Flynn Boyle and Lauren Bush, niece of President Bush, while Ford represents supermodels like Christie Brinkley, Jerry Hall and Rachel Hunter.
Study: TV Media Hiring Less Minorities
Results from the latest Radio-Television News Directors Assn./Ball State University Annual Survey of TV and radio newsrooms were released last week, and many television executives are alarmed by its findings, reports The Hollywood Reporter. The annual study, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2002, shows the number of minorities in TV news dropped to 18.1 percent compared with 20.6 percent the previous year. In management, minority representation fell by 39 percent at non-Hispanic stations while blacks make up just 0.9 percent of news directors--a whopping 55 percent decline from last year's study. Smaller recruitment budgets, the recession and a lack of internal development and training programs could all be factors in stifling minority hiring, as well as the "old boy network," with people going with what they feel comfortable with.
Crowe's 30 Odd Foot of Grunts To Play Chicago
Australian actor Russell Crowe's band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, will headline Chicago's House of Blues for a five-night stand Aug. 17-19, 21 and 23, Billboard.com reports. According to the band's official Web site, "the band will be joined by some special guests for these shows." The 30 Odd Foot of Grunts' tour is to support their latest album, Other Ways of Speaking, which made its U.S. debut in April at No. 16 on Billboard's Top Internet Albums Sales chart and No. 34 on the Top Independent Albums tally. While in the windy city, the group also plans to tape an episode of PBS' Soundstage with Kris Kristofferson.
Role Call: Basinger and Zwick Team Up for Elvis Comedy
Kim Basinger is set to star as a cosmetic saleswoman whose life is strangely entangled with Elvis Presley in the romantic comedy Elvis Has Left the Building for director Joel Zwick. The film is Zwick's first feature since he hit the jackpot with My Big Fat Greek Wedding. According to Variety, Basinger's character accidentally kills a couple of Elvis impersonators
The premise to Old School sounds a bit cringe-worthy when you first hear it--visions of sexist frat house humor wild parties buxom babes and beer bongs dance through your head. OK maybe there's a little of that going on in Old School but the heart of the film is surprisingly more centered than your average balls-out comedy. A trio of twentysomething friends have found themselves at a crossroads in their lives. Mitch (Luke Wilson) a promising real estate lawyer unfortunately catches his girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) in a compromising position. Frank (Will Ferrell) a lovable doof marries the sweet Marissa (Perrey Reeves) before realizing he made a big mistake and Beanie (Vince Vaughn) the owner of a successful chain of stereo stores refuses to believe he is the only true family man of the three. When Mitch rents a house near their old alma mater Beanie sees it as a chance to recapture some of that fun-filled college exuberance and turns the house into a fraternity which accepts not just students but any guys out there who want to escape adulthood's travails. The film's antagonist comes in the form of an uptight university dean Pritchard (Jeremy Piven) who bears an old grudge against our intrepid trio and does everything he can to shut the house down. But true brotherhood prevails.
Old School works far better than it should thanks to the chemistry of the three leads. Each has his own particular brand of comedy and the combination keeps you rolling in the aisles. Providing physical comedy Ferrell's Frank a goofy college wild man tamed by matrimony is wonderfully outrageous (but someone should tell him to keep his clothes on). Ferrell also shows a dramatic flair especially when dealing with his troubled marriage. Who would have thought this Saturday Night Live alum could act? Vaughn shows his infinite skill at zingin' out quick-witted one-liners (as he does so well in Swingers). Yet his smarmy Beanie also hints that he loves his life as a stable dad more than he cares to admit. Then there's the likable straight man Mitch a character the easygoing Wilson has perfected to a tee ever since his debut in Bottle Rocket opposite wacky brother Owen. Piven who usually plays wild men in films such as PCU and Very Bad Things gets to try on a different hat as Pritchard the nerd who grew up to be the dean of the school--and it looks like he had fun.
Writer/director Todd Phillips obviously enjoyed his college years. His first studio-released film the 2000 Road Trip offered a raucous yet refreshing look at college life that didn't necessarily go for the gross-out humor at every turn (although some turns were certainly made especially given star Tom Green). With Old School Phillips has matured--a little. Thankfully the film doesn't go for the joke for the joke's sake but remains rooted in how these three men are dealing with the pressures of adult responsibilities coming up with their somewhat misguided remedy to those pressures. But it's still a comedy about aging frat boys. You know going in there's going to be a wild party or two some contemptible drunken behavior perhaps even a hazing scene where new recruits have cinder blocks tied to their nether regions. It happens. Phillips also feels the need to incorporate a clichéd romantic twist around Mitch and a girl he had a crush on in high school. A sweet gesture but not nearly as entertaining as watching three grown men slosh around in K-Y jelly in a female wrestling match.
Now that word is out of Dr. Dolittle's ability to talk to animals his business is booming. Distraught pet owners ambush him outside his home and furry critters tap on his window during dinner all wanting some sort of advice. Joey the Raccoon has a special request: he has been sent by the God Beaver to solicit the doctor's help in saving their forest from developers. Dolittle reluctantly agrees to look for endangered species living in the forest so that the law can be invoked to protect it. He discovers Ava a lone Pacific Western Bear living in the soon-to-be-demolished forest and sets out to find her a mate. Enter Archie a performing circus bear. Dolittle convinces Archie that he would be happier living in the wild and to help the bear adjust to the wilderness the doc relocates his own city-dwelling family to the forest much to his teenage daughter Charisse's (Raven-Symoné) dismay. But the match between the two bears is not exactly made in heaven and when the plan backfires the animals organize and plot a worldwide strike.
Murphy seems lately to have traded in his adult-oriented comedy of the past (Beverly Hills Cop 48 Hours) for one that appeals to a younger audience (Dr. Dolittle Shrek). In Dr. Dolittle 2 Murphy is funny and comfortable enough in his role as the doc who can talk to creatures big and small but it is the animals that generate the biggest laughs. Smooth-talking Joey the Raccoon voiced by Michael Rapaport ( Men of Honor) positively steals the show with lines like "Mafia? We don't know anything about no Mafia do we boys?" The flighty voice of Lisa Kudrow who plays the endangered bear Ava is appropriate enough for the part but you can't help but wonder if it's Phoebe Buffay wrapped in a bear pelt. Norm Macdonald narrates the entire film as Lucky the Dog but the lines are surprisingly vacuous and Lucky spends most of his on-screen time peeing on things and making passes at wolves. A grown-up Raven-Simoné (The Cosby Show) returns to her role as Charisse Dolittle and is convincing enough as the brooding rebellious teenager fed up with animals clambering up her balcony and vying for her father's attention.
As with the acting the animals easily steal the show. The filmmakers use different methods to achieve realistic animal interaction including motion-control cameras that filmed the animals separately and later created a composite shot. Digital animation techniques animate some of the animal's mouths and facial features while others like Joey the Raccoon are completely animatronic and required several people to operate them during filming. These special effects must have burnt up most of the budget however because the outdoor sets with their moss-covered Styrofoam rocks look totally fabricated. The animals were amusing to watch and delivered good one-liners but they were mostly about defecating and bestial libido. Sadly not even the animal kingdom is able to transcend social stereotypes like Pepito the Mexican chameleon who gets excited at the mention of tacos or the French beret-clad monkey who is perpetually drunk. The film also portrays the life of a circus bear in a curiously positive light--unless they really do take bubble baths in swank accommodations--that clashes with the whole animal rights theme.
HOLLYWOOD, July 11, 2000 Finally, the truth is out there: The android-hunting antihero Rick Deckard Harrison Ford played in 1982’s "Blade Runner" was - unbeknownst even to himself - actually a "replicant," a catchy name for a genetically engineered humanoid android. But this revelation - straight from the mouth of Ridley Scott, and divulged in a recent British TV documentary - is hardly as Earth shattering as the director may have expected. As it just so happens, a lot of people figured it out for themselves during the past 18 years.
Like, all the actors.
"We knew about [Deckard being a replicant] all along. That was supposed to be the original idea, but they didn’t cut it that way because the studio said that we couldn’t have the hero not being human," actress Sean Young, who played Rachael, the lovely android femme fatale, tells Hollywood.com in an exclusive interview.
"[Ridley Scott] wanted Deckard to be a replicant that didn’t know he was a replicant, but it got nixed cause the studio guys said the hero’s got to be human."
Sean Young as Rachael "The Director's Cut [re-released in 1992 with additional footage] was [Ridley Scott’s] original vision, but there were things that prevented him from releasing that version [in 1982]."
For the uninitiated, the sci-fi classic - with Young, Edward James Olmos and a pre-Indiana Jones Harrison Ford - was liberally based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." The flick takes place in a dystopian future and follows Ford, a "blade runner" (a cool-sounding term meaning "bounty hunter") as he attempts to track down and "retire" (translation: terminate) six renegade replicants.
So, if she knew all along, how come Young never piped up and settled the "is-he-or-isn't-he?" debate for die-hard "Blade Runner" fans?
Young tells us she didn't because 1) viewers should be able to infer from the 1992 Director's Cut that Deckard was a replicant, and 2) in her words, "Well, it’s show business. You have 50 people and they all have their own opinions."
And like, the film experts
Ask practically anyone who knows "Blade Runner" backward and forward and they'll tell you: If you're a die-hard fan of the film, you should already know Deckard was a replicant.
"People have problem [figuring it out] because it’s presented as an allusion, and it’s very subtle," Paul Sammon, author of "Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner" (HarperCollins), tells Hollywood.com. "Ridley wanted to do it this way than to come right out and say it. But in Ridley’s mind, there was no doubt that Deckard was not human."
Sammon says the Deckard debate probably began around in 1982, immediately after the original theatrical release. In the original cut, there was but one small hint pointing to the Deckard’s genetic identity at the time of its original theatrical release - a scene wherein Deckard’s eyes were glowing (the film has established that replicants have glowing eyes).
But the debate became full-blown after the Director's Cut of "Blade Runner" was released in 1992. Deleted scenes, most importantly the "unicorn reverie" that suggests Deckard has an implanted memory, were restored; the (often derided) monotone voice-over also was nixed. All these new elements threw open the whole question of Deckard’s identity.
Still, the question remains: Why did Scott feel it necessary to settle the debate now, after all this time? Sammon thinks it's partly because the 20th anniversary of "Blade Runer" is only 18 months away and the director is finally reflecting on the film.
"I think ... it’s only recently that (Scott) has become aware of the cult response surrounding the film. I think it’s slowly dawning on him to look backward and comment on his legacy. The documentary [where he revealed the secret] is the first ever professional, sustained documentary done on the film, I think Ridley just thought that he finally has an opportunity to talk about it and he did."
And then there’re the fans
Most of them claim they've always known. No surprise there.
"I knew it all along ... I thought it was pretty obvious he was a replicant," says Shirley LeVasseur, staff writer for The BladeZone (www.bladezone.com).
LeVasseur adds, "I'm [more] surprised that [Ridley Scott] came out and said definitely one way or the other whether he intended Deckard to be a replicant."
So, 18 years after "Blade Runner" first came out, and eight years since the Director's Cut fueled the debate, it looks like Ridley Scott's Deckard declaration won't end the debate.
"I think the dialogues and different interpretations will continue anyways ... That's one of the things about fandoms," says LeVasseur.
And Sean Young, who's getting ready to make her next movie, "Random Acts," doesn't think Scott's revelation news will change the way "Blade Runner" still resonates with its audience.
"When it came out in the early 80s, there were people who sent me theses and dissertations they wrote on the film. It was a vision of the future that’s very bleak, and I think the realistic generation was responding to that vision. It taps into people’s anxiety about the future of society."
"It’s still my favorite film after all these years."
Now we know why.