Japanese actor Ken Watanabe is set to make his Broadway debut in a revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's The King And I. The Inception star will team up with Broadway favourite Kelli O'Hara in the musical about the relationship between the King of Siam and a British schoolteacher, who he enlists to tutor his wives and children.
The play will be directed by Bartlett Sher and will begin previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York in March, 2015.
The original stage show was adapted in 1951 from Margaret Landon's novel Anna and the King of Siam and featured Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence.
It won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actress and Best Featured Actor and spawned a 1956 film, for which Brynner reprised his role as the king and won an Academy Award.
When crafting a follow-up to the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time it’s understandable that one might be reticent to mess with a winning formula. But director Todd Phillips and writers Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong seem to have confused revisiting with recycling: The Hangover Part II so closely mirrors its blockbuster predecessor in every vital aspect that it can scarcely claim the right to call itself a sequel.
The only significant new wrinkle introduced in Part II is its setting: Bangkok Thailand a location that at least theoretically augurs well for a second helping of inspired lunacy. The story structure of the first film has been copied wholesale a game of Mad Libs played with its script. The action is again set around a bachelor party this time in honor of buttoned-down dentist Stu (Ed Helms). Again the boys (Stu Bradley Cooper’s boorish frat boy Phil and Zach Galifianakis’ moronic man-child Alan) awaken the next day in a hideously debauched hotel room with little memory of the previous night’s revelry. And again there is a missing companion: Teddy (Mason Lee son of Ang) the brother-in-law to be. (Poor Justin Bartha is once again relegated to the sidelines popping up now and then to push the plot forward via cell phone.)
The amnesiac/investigative angle of the first Hangover made for a refreshing twist on the contemporary men-behaving-badly comedy. Repeated here its effect is arguably the opposite: Too often the action feels rote and formulaic. Gone is any hint of surprise an aspect so crucial to good comedy and a huge part of the first film’s appeal. Key comic set pieces – a tussle with monks at a Buddhist temple a visit to a transsexual brothel a car chase involving a drug-dealing monkey – reveal themselves to be merely variations of memorable bits from the first film.
Tonally Part II is darker cruder and a bit nastier than its predecessor. Female characters never a priority in the first film are further marginalized in the sequel. (The only woman with significant dialogue a Bangkok prostitute also happens to have a penis. I’ll let you ponder the implications of that one.) The three leads Helms Cooper and Galifianakis still work well together and despite the inferior material enough of their chemistry remains to make the proceedings bearable – and occasionally funny. But their characters feel somehow degraded reduced to coarse caricatures of their former selves. Speaking of caricature Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) the fey faux-gangsta villain of the first film returns in an expanded capacity in the sequel his garbled hip-hop slang more gratuitous – and more grating – than before.
I can’t help but wonder what might have been if a planned cameo by Mel Gibson playing a tattoo artist hadn’t been scrapped reportedly due to objections by Galifianakis. Liam Neeson Gibson’s replacement apparently proved ineffectual in his first go-round and when he wasn't available for re-shoots his scene was eventually shot with Nick Cassavetes in the role. In its existing incarnation the scene is purely functional a chunk of forgettable exposition. The presence of Gibson an actor of not inconsiderable comic talent would have at least added an air of unpredictability something the scene – and indeed the movie – sorely lacks.
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.
Top Story: Kutcher Isn't Punk-ing Us, He Swears!
Ashton Kutcher promises he isn't pulling one of his trademark practical jokes--his MTV show Punk'd is really finished. "I've become the boy who cried wolf," he acknowledged to The Associated Press while offering some assurance that his decision to end the show after two seasons isn't just another hoax. "Let's put it this way," he said. "I'm getting ready to start shooting two movies, I'm still working on That '70s Show, I'm producing two other shows for MTV and creating a one-hour drama pilot for Fox ... I don't have the time." Fans, however, will be able to get their Punk'd fix Tuesday when the first season of the prank show comes out on DVD, AP reports.
Mystikal Jailed for Sexual Battery
Grammy-nominated rapper Mystikal, aka Michael Tyler, was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for sexual battery, AP reports. The victim accused Tyler and two bodyguards of forcing her to perform oral sex after they accused her of stealing $80,000 worth of his checks. She denied stealing any money, AP reports. Tyler pleaded guilty to the charges.
Surf Flick Opens Sundance Film Festival
Typifying what founder Robert Redford says is the true spirit of independent filmmaking, the Sundance Film Festival opened Thursday night with the surf film Riding Giants, a documentary by filmmaker Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys). "This is a film about people who do what they do just for the thrill of it," Redford told a packed house at the debut, Reuters reports. "In a way, that's why we as filmmakers are all here tonight and this week. We're here because we love what we do, and it's the thrill of doing what we do that gives us such pleasure." The world-renowned indie film festival runs for 10 days, culminating with the awards ceremony Jan. 24.
PETA Ads Won't Air During Super Bowl
CBS has rejected advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' Super Bowl advertising proposal, which, Reuters reports, features two scantily clad vegetarians snuggling up to a meat-eating pizza delivery man with the message "Meat can cause impotence." In a letter, CBS told PETA that it would not run advertisements on "controversial issues of public importance." "We just want to be able to present our jiggly women," Lisa Lange, spokeswoman for PETA, told Reuters, asking to join advertisers like beer brewers who have boosted sales with similar images of scantily clad women.
McCartney Won't Be Questioned in Alleged Assault
A spokesman for the former Beatle Paul McCartney dismissed a newspaper report claiming police wanted to interview the singer about an alleged assault, AP reports. London's Evening Standard said police planned to speak to McCartney about a dispute that occurred when one of the newspaper's photographers tried to take the singer's picture last September while he was standing near the spot where illusionist David Blaine had been suspended in a box near the Thames river. The photographer claims he was punched in the face several times by one of McCartney's friends. AP reports McCartney's spokesman Geoff Baker, who was at the scene, denied any assault took place.
In More Ex-Beatle News…
In a lawsuit filed by the family of the former Beatle George Harrison against the doctor who treated the cancer-stricken musician before his death in November 2001, Dr. Gilbert Lederman, lawyers for both sides met Thursday with a judge to try to reach a settlement, AP reports. Harrison's family is suing Lederman, accusing him of holding Harrison's hand and forcing him to sign the physician's son's guitar. Harrison died at the age of 58.
Electra Gets Net Name Back
Former Baywatch star Carmen Electra has won control of the Internet address www.carmenelectra.com in a ruling by a United Nations panel, AP reports. WIPO spokeswoman Samar Shamoon explained to AP that an arbitrator for the World Intellectual Property Organization ordered the transfer of the domain name to the 31-year-old actress, who had complained that it was being used in bad faith to divert Internet traffic to a commercial site, Celebrity1000. The ruling upheld Electra's complaint against the company that registered the name--Network Operations Center of High Prairie, Canada, AP reports. The U.N. arbitration system allows those who believe they have the right to a domain to get it back without having to fight a costly legal battle or pay large sums of money.
Role Call: Preston Returns; Reeves, Ford Have New Projects
Kelly Preston, fresh off her stint in Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, has signed on to do the feature Return to Sender. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Preston will play a lawyer who fights to exonerate a woman on death row. As the case unfolds, she begins to question the motives of a man who has befriended her client…Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, the producing team behind the upcoming comedy Along Came Polly, are already looking ahead, developing separate projects with Keanu Reeves and Harrison Ford, respectively. Variety reports the Reeves project is a comedy based on an idea generated by the Matrix star, in which he'll play an American who becomes a success in London and has to deal with the cultural differences. The Ford project is based on the Geeta Anand book For His Sick Kid, a medical drama about a man who finances a cure for a rare disease that is killing two of his kids--then has to fight to get them access to the drug.