In the tradition of Batman Begins and Casino Royale the clock is rolled back on the legendary icons the D—the self-proclaimed greatest band in the world—as the curtain is pulled back on their secret origins and the demons that drive them are unveiled… OK so it’s not really that deep. Though the heavy metal/comedy combo of Jack/JB/”Jabeles” (Jack Black) and Kyle/KB/”Kage” (Kyle Gass) have long played hip clubs cut an album starred in their own short-lived HBO series and amassed a devoted cult of fans their first feature film reveals how the pudgy duo first meet form the band meet their first fan (Jason Reed as TV holdover Lee) go questing the fabled Pick of Destiny—a shard of Satan’s tooth turned into a guitar pick passed among rock’s most accomplished shredders—and ultimately smack down with the devil himself. Believe it or not it’s a love story. Thanks to their long professional partnership Black and Gass comprise two perfectly crafted sides of a very polished comedy coin: Black is the wild-eyed uncontrolled id Gass is the low-energy manipulative slacker and they meet in the middle with an equal amount of unchecked delusion about their musical ability and potential. They both deftly pull off the trickiest types of comedy: smart jokes in the guise of dumb characters and it’s nice to see Black—obviously the bigger film star of the two—share the funniest bits equally with Gass. Of course all of this hinges on the audience’s tolerance for the ambitiously clueless ego-cases (and moviegoers who only love Black for his tamer version of the same persona in School of Rock should be warned—this is the cruder ruder and more profane incarnation) but we admit we’ve long had a taste for the D. They boys carry they movie squarely on their shoulders though longtime D supporters Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller stand out in cameos—the first Stiller cameo in ages that’s both amusing and non-gratuitous! Also appearing in small bits: SNL’s Fred Armisen and Amy Poehler Oscar-nominee Amy Adams Colin Hanks hard rock hero Ronnie James Dio Foo Fighter Dave Grohl as Satan and an uncredited John C. Reilly though you’ll never ever recognize him when he’s onscreen. And kudos to whoever had the inspired notion to cast Meat Loaf as JB’s pious father and Troy Gentile as the young rockin’ JB (Gentile also played a junior version of Black in Nacho Libre). Helmer Liam Lynch who also collaborated on the screenplay with Black and Gass and directed their music video “Tribute ” understands the absurd world of the D completely and demonstrates a clever assured sense of straight-faced silliness. Indeed the first ten minutes of the film alone—a mini-rock opera in itself—announce him as a comedy director to watch. Although we’re sure the bandmates themselves would take full credit for the film’s success. After all they may not have made the greatest movie in the world but in D-speak they came up with a pretty rockin’ tribute version.
Paris Hilton named most fascinating person of the year
Paris Hilton's declaration that she doesn't sit around all day saying "That's hot" has apparently scored her points with Barbara Walters, who named the hotel heiress the most intriguing person of the year, The Associated Press reports. Walters, whose Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2004 airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST on ABC, chats with the socialite about her illustrious catch phrase as well as the infamous sex tape Hilton made with her then-boyfriend Rick Salomon. "I was in love with him and people, I think, do that sometimes. I never thought that it would get out and that I'd be hurt like that," Hilton tells Walters. "It was (very painful). I thought it was the end. I thought, I was so embarrassed for all my teenage fans and my younger fans. I thought it was over." Hilton also reveals she reads books, the most recent one being Maneater, a novel about an uninhibited L.A. woman's search for a man. On Walters "most fascinating people" list, Hilton, who just wrapped the third season of her Fox reality series The Simple Life, beat out filmmaker Michael Moore, Jeopardy! whiz Ken Jennings and Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
Chong returns with fresh crop of pot jokes
Comedian Tommy Chong, who spent nine months in jail for conspiring to sell bongs on the Internet, premieres The Marijuana-Logues at New York's Actors Playhouse on Tuesday with his former collaborator Cheech Marin, AP reports. Chong, 66, gained notoriety for the Cheech & Chong characters he created with partner Marin in films such as Up in Smoke and Still Smokin'. He told AP radio he still hasn't recovered from breaking up his act with Marin. "I never really got over it. There was always an emptiness in my heart," he said. "I had a 60th birthday and Cheech came to it. And it was the first time we'd seen each other in years, and he said, "I think of you every day.'"
Michael Moore embraces Hollywood
Fahrenheit 9/11 director Michael Moore denied Monday Hollywood had hurt John Kerry's presidential bid, citing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former President Ronald Reagan as examples. "America loves Hollywood. America loves the people in the movies and on TV. And the thing that the Republicans have already figured out is that America likes to vote for Hollywood," Moore told reporters before addressing the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on the impact of filmmaking on politics. "And I think we need to turn to Hollywood, because who wouldn't vote for Tom Hanks or Paul Newman or Robert Redford or Oprah?" Moore added President Bush won because he "had a more compelling story to tell and the Democrats didn't," the AP reports.
Motley Crue reunites
Motley Crue, the heavy metal band that dominated the rock scene in1980s with hits including "Dr. Feelgood," "Kickstart My Heart" and "Girls Girls Girls," announced Monday they are reuniting for a world tour beginning next year. Reuters reports the first leg of the tour will begin Feb. 17 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. "For as much as it's like 'Wow! This is like the ultimate rollercoaster ride in life' it was kinda nice to get off that for a little while. But I'm jonesin' for the thrill now," vocalist Nikki Sixx told Reuters.
Ferguson may take over Late Late Show
Comedian/actor Craig Ferguson, former co-star of The Drew Carey Show, is in talks to replace Craig Kilborn as the host of the CBS' The Late Late Show, sources told Reuters. When Kilborn exited in August after five years of hosting the show to focus on writing and producing different television projects, more than 20 guest hosts appeared on the show until early last month. The network whittled the field of candidates to four: Ferguson, Damien Fahey, D.L. Hughley and Michael Ian Black. CBS declined comment Monday, Reuters reports.
Charges against Givens dismissed
A Miami court dismissed the case against actress Robin Givens, who was ticketed for hitting an elderly lady and running over her leg, because the officers who were present did not witness the accident and could not testify to the cause of the accident, AP reports. Givens, best known for starring in the TV comedy Head of the Class, struck Maria Antonia Alcover as she was about to step onto the sidewalk after crossing a busy Miami street Jan. 28, police said, with the back wheel of Givens' Mercedes-Benz SUV running over Alcover's right leg. The actress was ticketed for failing to use due care with a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Alcover has filed a civil suit against Givens in the case, and trial is set to begin Jan. 3.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
That's how Ali came out in his Christmas Day bout at the box office.
The Michael Mann-directed biography overcame mixed reviews to punch up $10.2 million on its first day in release. That was not enough to knock out reigning champ The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which earned $11.4 million at 1,000 more theaters, but Ali did break the record for a Dec. 25 opening.
The mawkish Patch Adams held the previous record, opening on Christmas Day in 1998 with $8 million, on its way to a healthy $135 million.
Ali, dropping to $5.8 million on Wednesday, now has $16 million.
The future of the $105 million-plus Ali rests predominately on the beefed-up shoulders of a former Fresh Prince of Bel Air and whether audiences accept him as Muhammad Ali. Critics failed to enthusiastically embrace Will Smith's portrayal of arguably one of the most famous of all sports icons, although he did receive a Golden Globe nomination for his noble but flawed attempt to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Still, Ali should serve as a strong springboard for Smith to free himself of kicking alien butt and explore other dramatic possibilities.
With the legendary fights against Sonny Liston and George Foreman serving as bookends, Ali tries to be more than the typical recount of a real-life athlete's path to glory. Mann employs Ali's life as a means to explore racial and religious tension in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, with the boxer's conversion to Islam given as much thought and detail as his efforts to gain and defend his heavyweight title.
Other recent race-driven sports biographies have gone the distance at the box office, including a pair of Denzel Washington offerings, The Hurricane ($50.6 million) and Remember the Titans ($115.6 million).
Ali, and the upcoming Men In Black 2, will allow Smith to regain his position as one of Hollywood's sure things. Smith became Mr. July Fourth when Independence Day and Men In Black opened huge in the summers of 1996 and 1997, respectively. Wild Wild West, another July Fourth holiday opening, tarnished Smith's reputation when the witless western failed to make more than $113.8 million.
Last year's The Legend of Bagger Vance, marking Smith's first dramatic endeavor since 1993's Six Degrees of Separation, could not muster more than $30.6 million.
Ali delivered a bruising blow to Kate & Leopold, pairing workaholic Meg Ryan with 19th-century blueblood Hugh Jackman. Miramax yanked the slow and corny time-traveling romantic comedy from Dec. 21 to avoid getting lost amid a slew of new releases. The ploy didn't work as well as expected, given that Kate & Leopold opened Dec. 25 with a quiet $2.5 million and has $5.1 million through Wednesday.
Kate & Leopold finds itself in the unique position of being the only mainstream offering for couples in the mood for love. Yet Ryan and Jackman face stiff competition for the adult audience in the form of Ali, the sturdy Ocean's Eleven, the waning Vanilla Sky, and such limited release offerings as A Beautiful Mind, The Royal Tenenbaums and Amelie.
Plus, even though she is very much in her element, Ryan looks extremely tired and bored with the notion of being wooed by a man from another time. Maybe she knew that hopping from one century to another didn't work not once, but twice, this year with Just Visiting and Black Knight. That's tough, because Ryan's not enjoyed a hit since 1998's You've Got Mail. Is it time for Ryan to call in a favor from Tom Hanks?
The jury is still out on Jackman, who shot to fame in 2000 as Wolverine in X-Men. He failed to sizzle opposite Ashley Judd in Someone Like You, which made just $27.3 million, and he got cuaght with his pants down in the repugnant cyberthriller Swordfish, which went offline at $69.7 million. Still, Jackman is Kate & Leopold's sole saving grace. The very personalization of charm and gallantry, Jackman could set many hearts on fires as the nobleman inadvertently removed from the New York City of his day.
Little doubt lingers now about the risk New Line took in sending director Peter Jackson off to New Zealand in 1999 with $270 million to film all three of The Lord of the Rings books back to back. Jackson's masterful adaptation of the first book, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, won over J.R.R. Tolkien fans and those completely unfamiliar with the quest to save for Middle-earth.
After debuting Wednesday, Dec. 18, with $18.1 million, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring seized the mantle as the biggest December weekend opening with its $47.2 million haul. The film broke the $100 million on Wednesday, and stands tall with $107.9 million in company coffers.
Jackson's epic looks set to dominate the box office for weeks to come, with $150 a certainty by the end of the year. Unlike Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring can count on the awards season to keep audiences spellbound by the adventures of Frodo Baggins.
Not that a certain apprentice wizard should worry. Harry Potter lost much of its magic this Christmas weekend--conjuring up an OK $10.7 million from Friday through Tuesday--but it now ranks as the year's top earner. Harry Potter's $271.1 million puts it slightly ahead of Shrek's $267.6 million, with $300 million a strong possibility.
Monsters, Inc. continues to close in on Shrek. The Disney/Pixar animated yarn scared up $5.6 million from Friday through Tuesday, with its total now at $227.9 million through Wednesday. Toy Story 2, released in 1999, remains the best grosser of all Disney/Pixar collaborations at $245.8 million.
Harry Potter and Monsters, Inc. no doubt lost some plenty of toddlers--and their parents--to the animated Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Based on its name recognition, the Nickelodeon TV spin-off rocketed to a $13.8 million opening and has $22.5 million through Wednesday. That's well below the $27.3 million and $22.7 million openings of, respectively, The Rugrats Movie and Rugrats in Paris. But the boy genius looks like he has the smarts to zoom off with some serious cash.
Director Steven Soderbergh enjoyed his third consecutive $100 million smash Tuesday when Ocean's Eleven shot past $102 million in swag. The cool remake of the Rat Pack comic crime caper cashed in $106.6 million through Wednesday. Ocean's Eleven looks to head into 2002 and surpass Soderbergh's Erin Brockovich ($125.5 million) and Traffic ($124.1 million) at the box office.
Tom Cruise can't look forward to a good start to the New Year. As expected, Cruise's Vanilla Sky lost more than half its audience in its second weekend, dropping from $25 million to $12 million. Director Cameron Crowe's remake of the Spanish psychological thriller Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) has $52.5 million through Wednesday, almost equal to what Cruise's Eyes Wide Shut made in 1999. Lousy reviews and word of mouth will likely to thwart any chance of Vanilla Sky becoming Cruise's ninth film to top $100 million.
How High, with rappers Redman and Method Man as the 21st-century answer to Cheech & Chong, swiped away much of the audience from the spoof Not Another Teen Movie. How High, playing at a modest 1,266 theaters, smoked up $7.1 million in its opening weekend and has $11.2 million through Wednesday.
Not Another Teen Movie collapsed in its second weekend, dropping from $12.6 million to $5.2 million. Its total through Tuesday is $23.3 million.
The Majestic marked Jim Carrey's second consecutive dramatic flop, following 1999's Man on the Moon. Perhaps, post-Sept. 11, audiences are more interested in America engaging the enemy--hence the jingoistic Behind Enemy Lines' $45.1 million through Tuesday--than watching a community come to terms with the sacrifices required to win a war.
The Majestic opened with $4.9 million, and has $7.3 million through Tuesday, a low for Carrey since making a splash with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Man on the Moon, with Carrey as the late comedian Andy Kaufman, opened with $7.5 million on its way to $34.5 million.
Nobody put Joe Somebody on their must-see list. The workplace comedy, with Tim Allen battling bullying colleague Patrick Warburton, managed a terrible $3.5 million opening and has $5.3 million through Tuesday. That ranks as Allen's worst opening, well behind the $6 million opening that For Richer or Poorer cobbled together in December 1997. Little wonder Allen is suiting up for The Santa Clause 2.
In limited release, director Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind has $4.2 million through Wednesday. Excellent reviews, and a slew of Golden Globe nominations, will help this biography of mathematical genius John Forbes Nash Jr. to place high in the Top 10 when it expands Jan. 4. The same should apply to The Royal Tenenbaums when it goes wider this weekend. Director Wes Anderson's third quirky comedy, with Gene Hackman, amassed a regal $1.9 million from Friday through Tuesday at just 40 theaters, with its total at $2.4 million.
Director Lasse Hallstrom's bleak adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Shipping News opened to a so-so $318,000 at 186 theaters. Perhaps this is a sign that few may want a dose of the News when it expands Jan. 4.
The final spate of Oscar contenders arrive in a limited number of theaters this week, including Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down; Robert Altman's Gosford Park; I Am Sam, with Sean Penn; Monster's Ball, with Billy Bob Thornton; and Charlotte Gray, starring the hardest working new mother in Hollywood, Cate Blanchett.