In his new film Due Date director Todd Phillips (Old School The Hangover) stages a rather audacious cinematic experiment placing two enormously talented actors Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis on a mostly deserted island handing them an assortment of blunt and broken tools and charging them with constructing a free-standing fully-functioning Hollywood comedy.
To his credit Phillips was at least considerate enough to supply his comic Crusoes with a detailed blueprint. An odd-couple/road trip movie hybrid Due Date unapologetically mimics Planes Trains and Automobiles one of the John Hughes' rare “grown-up” comedies in which Steve Martin starred as a straightlaced family man forced to travel cross-country with a gratingly affable slob played by John Candy in order to make it home for Thanksgiving. (Surely there have been other such films before and since but Hughes’ work is the one Due Date most vividly recalls.)
The film’s script co-written by Phillips and Adam Sztykiel adds a handful of 21st-century twists to the formula: A baggage snafu while boarding an airplane leads Peter Highman (Downey) a type-A architect with a history of anger-management issues into a confrontation with a Federal Air Marshal that subsequently lands him on Homeland Security’s no-fly list. Stranded without reliable transport lacking the means by which to procure any (he left his wallet on the plane) and desperate to be reunited in L.A. with his pregnant wife (Michelle Monaghan) in time for her scheduled c-section he reluctantly agrees to hitch a ride with the same tubby schmuck Ethan (Galifianakis) who moments earlier was the catalyst of his security debacle.
The unlikely travel companions embark on a calamitous road trip from Atlanta to L.A. during which Ethan proves to be something of a disaster magnet with Peter bearing the brunt of the damage that occurs. Their navigator Phillips lazily guides them through an uneven obstacle course of comic scenarios some of which are embarrassingly predictable (Ethan stores his beloved father’s ashes in a coffee can and they’re later accidentally used to make coffee!) all of which are designed to showcase Downey’s caustic wit and Galifianakis’ sublime daffiness.
Few actors today deliver choice insults better than Downey and even fewer absorb them better than Galifianakis. They make for a truly marvelous collision of opposites and their interplay is what elevates Due Date above its often puzzlingly flat material. (That along with Galifianakis’ gift for physical comedy; no actor outside of the Jackass crew can better sell a collision with a car door.) The film's supporting cast meanwhile criminally underachieves. Conspicuous cameos from the likes of Danny McBride Juliette Lewis and Jamie Foxx are either unfunny unnecessary or both. On this road trip they’re little more than baggage. Thankfully Downey and Galifianakis are more than capable of shouldering the burden.
Last week, 20th Century Fox Television laid off most of the writing staff of Steven Spielberg's upcoming sci-fi Fox V series Terra Nova, The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. Insiders insisted, however, that the move doesn't mean Terra Nova is in trouble.
Rather, the network recently decided to unveil the series with a two-hour special in May and then continue in the regular fall 2011 lineup. Because that pushed the bulk of episode production back until next summer, Fox, says the paper, chose to do the cost-conscious thing and let go any writer it did not have an overall deal with. Meanwhile, Deadline today posted its own rundown of what's been going on with the project.
Brannon Braga remains in charge as showrunner with veteran showrunner Rene Echevarria brought in to oversee the two-hour pilot. Echevarria was already at 20th TV as the writer/showrunner of the series adaptation of James Cameron's True Lies for ABC.
As for the other writers, says Deadline, it is true that they were released on Friday as the show faces a 4-month hiatus for 2 months of filming the pilot and 2 months of post.
For lower-level writers, the move coincided with the end of their term as they had been contracted for a certain number of weeks.
Deadline refutes reports about extensive rewriters on the pilot by multiple big-name writers. In reality, says Deadline, it was one writer, Allan Loeb, who did an unaccredited polish.
Budget has also been an area of frequent speculation because of the show's significant upfront costs. With that factored in, the price tag on the 2-hour pilot is said to be $14 million.
“If Terra Nova doesn't go beyond the pilot, the cost would shoot well over $20 million but that is only a hypothetical scenario as the show has a series order from Fox as well as strong international pre-sales, making a pilot-only scenario extremely unlikely. As for Terra Nova's episodic budget, with upfront cost amortization factored in, it is said to be about $4 million an episode not including tax breaks from filming in Australia. That is certainly a high-end drama range (That was the budget for NBC's comic book drama Heroes, for example) but not exorbitant.”
Further, says Deadline, there has been only one major over-budget item so far: a $660,000 charge for delaying the start of production because casting took longer than planned.
Source: Hollywood Wiretap
The poet moved to a house in Fordham, New York in 1846 after his wife Virginia fell ill with tuberculosis, hoping the country air would help cure her ailment. He wrote several famous works including The Cask of Amontillado and Annabel Lee during his three-year stay at the house, where Virginia sadly died in 1847.
The Poe Cottage is currently undergoing a $1 million (£666,667) restoration, and officials at the Bronx County Historical Society are campaigning to raise money to complete the project and keep the house open for fans and students in the future.
Kathy McAuley, director of the Poe Cottage, tells the New York Daily News, “In order to do our very best, we need to do this. There are so many things we are not able to do because of a small budget. It will let us expand our hours and our programming. And it will take some of the pressure off the historical society to pay the expenses."
Fact -- Robert Downey Jr. is a badass.
So, who better to play a lock-picking, plane-flying, government-defying survivalist? No one, that's who.
Sony Pictures Entertainment just optioned the book Emergency!: This Book Will Save Your Life by author Neil Strauss, and Deadline reports that Downey is eyeing the lead role. He'll also produce with his wife and Team Downey partner Susan Downey as well as Michael De Luca.
In the nonfiction New York Times bestseller, Strauss is frustrated with the state of the world so he moves his family offshore to the island of St. Kitts. There, he gains citizenship and learns how to shoot guns, track animals, and basically just kick nature's ass. He's surrounded by lawyers and cult leaders who also left civilization, and he slowly begins to realize the absurdity of it all.
Honestly, this sounds like the role Downey was made to play. Well, except for maybe Iron Man. But still, this sounds like a really fun and yet potentially darkly comic film. Current go-to scribe Allan Loeb (21, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) will pen the adaptation, but there's no director attached yet. No matter - Downey's interest will definitely bring some of the best in Hollywood forward. Be on the lookout for this one.
Allison Coss and Scott Sippola were arrested in December (09) after they allegedly threatened to release snaps of the actor with cocaine and strippers unless he handed over the money.
Coss claimed she met the actor when she was 17 before embarking on a romantic affair. Stamos denied the allegations but admitted to meeting Coss at a 2004 party in Orlando, Florida, shortly after separating from his wife, Rebecca Romijn.
Officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have confirmed the photos in question did not exist.
In July (10), Coss, 24, and Sippola, 31, were found guilty of conspiracy and using emails to threaten a person's reputation. U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar sentenced Coss and Sippola to serve four years in prison each at a hearing on Friday (08Oct10).
In a court document filed this week (begs04Oct10), Sippola apologised for his actions, stating, "I sought to exploit my knowledge of the personal weaknesses of a perfect stranger for my own undeserved financial gain. I would be angry and hurt if that had happened to me and I am certain that Mr. Stamos feels that way towards me."
Stamos was not in court for the sentencing.
The Wall Street star is battling stage four throat cancer and publicist Allan Burry confirms this is the actor's last week of radiation and chemotherapy.
He tells Entertainment Tonight that his famous client plans on taking at least six weeks to recover.
Doctors are reportedly pleased with how Douglas has responded and no further treatments have been scheduled.
In one of his most recent interviews, Douglas told reporters he was determined to win his cancer battle: "It's a fight. The treatment is brutal. It really knocks you out. But I'm going to beat this."
The Hollywood icon passed away on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest, just weeks before he was due to begin production on Morella, based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe.
But re-casting the role won't be an easy task - according to a movie representative, filmmakers are looking for an actor "on (Curtis') level".
However, Curtis' memory will live on in the film - producers plan to pay tribute to the Some Like It Hot actor with the finished product.
The rep tells Entertainment Weekly, "We are very saddened by the loss. Obviously, we will dedicate the film to his memory."
Curtis was laid to rest in a memorial service in Las Vegas on Monday (04Oct10).
Shooting on Morella, in which Curtis was due to play oil tycoon Frank Phillips, is due to commence on 7 November (10).
The Rambo star recently revealed he'd given up hopes of playing Poe in the project - and now he fears he'll never complete work on the project because he fears the wrath of the writer and poet's fans.
Stallone has invested years on the script, writing multiple drafts, but he tells America's GQ magazine, "He (Poe) was like Rocky - he was just incredibly misunderstood... I don't know if I could ever live up to the hype.
"Poe fanatics - I mean in an intellectual sense - they would tear me to pieces. My take is very simple - he's a misunderstood artist."
The romantic action comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is like nothing — and if you’re a person between the age of approximately 18 to 35 everything — you’ve seen before. British director Edgar Wright’s (Shaun of the Dead Hot Fuzz) adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novel is so densely laden with pop-culture references it often times feels less like a movie than a mixtape. Those who share the tastes of the film’s 31-year-old writer and 35-year-old director will find the experience to be exhilarating; those who don’t however will likely be at a loss to comprehend what all the fuss is about.
The list of ‘80s and ‘90s video game nods in Pilgrim alone is daunting: Tekken Super Mario Bros. Tetris Zelda and even retro titles like Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man are represented just to name a few. To fit all of it in Wright must practically invent a brand-new kind of filmmaking. Using techniques and iconography culled from the holy fanboy triumvirate of comic books video games and anime/manga and armed with a clearly generous effects budget he splatters the screen with a dazzling array of CGI visual aids as the action unfolds: informational pop-ups supply key details on each character as they are introduced; words like “Boom!” and “Pow!” burst forth when blows are landed during fight sequences; a “Level Up!” graphic indicating increased levels of key character attributes appears after the film’s hero triumphs in battle. Even the old Universal Studios logo has been revamped by Wright rendered in the rudimentary graphics and sound of the old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Call it easter-egg filmmaking.
At the center of this digital maelstrom is Scott Pilgrim a 22-year-old Canadian hipster waif played by 22-year-old Canadian hipster waif Michael Cera. Unemployed and in no great rush to find work he splits his time evenly between jamming with his middling band Sex Bob-Omb (a Super Mario Bros. reference) combing thrift shops for new additions to his near-limitless collection of ironic t-shirts and pining for Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) a beguiling New York City emigre whose signature attribute is her constantly-changing hair color.
After a few abortive encounters Scott finally gets Ramona to reciprocate his affections. Thus begins the quest — or "campaign " as gamers call it — portion of the film as Scott soon discovers that in order to secure Ramona’s hand he must defeat each of her seven evil exes (six boys and one girl) in spontaneous death matches of decreasing novelty. (A few of them could easily have been excised without harming the narrative but that might invite the ire of comic book fans who typically demand nothing less than absolute adherence to the source text.) With a variety of found power-ups and an entirely implausible collection of fancy kung-fu moves he faces off against among others a pompous vegan straight-edge (Brandon Routh) a self-absorbed action star (Chris Evans) a spiteful lesbian (Mae Whitman) and a smarmy record producer (Jason Schwartzman).
I expect Scott Pilgrim vs. the World will polarize audiences and not just because of Wright’s distinctively dizzying directorial style. (Which I thoroughly enjoyed even though it occasionally overdoses on manufactured quirk and is a bit too proud of its cleverness.) The film glosses over Scott and Ramona’s wooing process in its rush to commence with its succession of comic-book battles which grow somewhat tedious toward the end. It’s simply assumed that Ramona would fall for our protagonist as it’s likewise assumed that we already have. But not everyone will embrace Scott’s castrati hipster affect which too often comes across as grating rather than charming. (The movie’s funniest moments come courtesy of Scott’s sassy gay roommate played by Kieran Culkin who is never without a clever barb for his lovelorn pal.) And beneath Cera’s self-effacing sheen exists an unmistakable whiff of pretentiousness that isn’t entirely justified — at least not yet. Far less debatable is the appeal of Winstead whose spunky Ramona appears every bit worth the hassle of fending off seven or more ex-lovers.
God knows what she sees in him.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.