What a long, strange trip it's been, Internet. We've all grown so close, learned so much about each other, and really explored our feelings. Together. And now, finally, a chance to reminisce about things you forgot you remembered. For the low-attention span-havers in our midsts, a quick breakdown: The judges complained, old randos performed, and now there are four. But! Let's not get ahead of ourselves in recapping this week's most bloated results show. Instead, let us wistfully waltz together down the path of least persistence. Bring your fancy hat!
The judges forgot to put on their big kid pants today (well, everyone except Cee Lo, natch) and were somehow either a.) surprised, or b.) not happy that they had to numerically grade their performers this evening. Regardless, Carson kept our Petulant Baby Choir on task, but not without a few "this sucks," "everything is crappy," "I don't want to choose"-type rants thrown in for good measure. The judges know what America wants, and that is the slow, painful regurgitation of grievances while getting paid many pennies to make a few choices. “I'm very uncomfortable and it is very awkward,” says Cee Lo, and we have to agree.
Contractually obligated relevancy night has arrived! At long last! Because when you're waiting for the fate of these singers to be announced, a lot of song and dance featuring last year's top four is way more interesting. Who are these people again?
Even our darling, figurative Clarence St. Clair is fed up. When it came time to design the set for Dia Frampton's “Don't Kick the Chair” segment, he is enraged by the sheer inanity of it all and throws every chair in the studio onto the stage. “Brilliant!” the producers shouted. And it stayed. It's so subversive and counterintuitive, you see, because the song is about chairs. Oh yeah, Kid Cudi was there, too. Woo.
NEXT: Team Christina turns into an army of oneI know you guys don't know this about me, but my favorite part of this show is definitely when we talk to President of the World nominee Christina Milian, for sure. She really knows how to talk social media in her role of social media correspondent. Look at her interviewing the yearbook photos of old The Voice contestants and not once mentioning social media! She is nothing if not consistent.
We've entered the thunderdome, or at least Christina has, because girlfriend is channeling some serious Aunty Entity business right now. (I hope that means Carson is Mad Max.) Poor, dear, sweet, too-nice-for-her-own-good Lindsey let the blind woman do her make-up again and now she has purple eyebrows and streaks of pastel in her hairline. It looks like she got crayon'd by a four year old. We don't need another hero — we just need a real make-up artist, you guys! Christina doles out her points with an even 50/50 split for Chris and Lindsey, and let's just say it together, America: WHAT A COP OUT.
Chris Mann wins out with America's votes! Sorry, Lindsey. Moms: can't beat 'em!
NEXT: Cee Lo Green as Al CaponeAmerica: Cee Lo looks like a 1920s Chicago mobster hiding a family of four (kittens) in that suit. Talk about a zoo suit riot. As for the performance with Vicci Martinez: I think I just experienced a three-minute coma. Where am I? Who am I? What just happened on that stage that bored me into a coma? Why do I care about this again?
Up next is the complete nail-biter elimination: Team Adam. At this point I go get a snack because, duh, America. You are so easy to read, you are like a book. A picture book with one page, and the only image on that page is a giant sparkly heart with Tony Lucca's face in the middle. “It's not so much about winning The Voice,” explains Adam Levine, millionaire rock star who doesn't have to worry about heading back to a life of red staplers and obscurity. Right, because no one actually comes on these shows to win. Winning is for losers! Har har har. Adam's point split is 60/40 for Tony, explaining that while Blake is wearing is letterman's jacket, Tony is the bro he wouldn't mind copping a feel with out behind the bleachers at the middle school. Tee-hee! Adam is already consoling Katrina for her loss that hasn't been announced yet. You can't prevent the future; sorry Katrina.
...And then in the biggest upset in The Voice history... Katrina actually takes the crowd vote! Ha ha ha, sorry! Just kidding guys. You didn't believe that line did you? You didn't, and if Carson had said it, she wouldn't have believed it either. As shocking as when the sun comes up in the morning, Tony Lucca takes the rose America has grown, gilded in gold, and thrown at him to become Adam's finalist.
NEXT: A bunch of performances nobody cares aboutIn between leading UN discussions regarding malaria and world hunger, Christina Milian checks in to wish Erin Willett a birthday. And oh look! A cupcake.
Cyndi Lauper & Beverly McClellan are up next and this show is only halfway through. Cyndi Lauper is such a head queen goddess boss lady that Beverly doesn't even get the option of performing a song of her own. Burn, Bev. It's Cyndi's way or the highway, y'all. Too bad they both sounded like children trying to sing a song whilst jumping on a trampoline.
Not to be outdone, Javier Colon mediocritizes us to sleep with “A Drop in the Ocean,” which sounds like every single song the sensitive dudes in college used to sing out on the quad. They're actually forming a class-action lawsuit for stealing their collective identity. This guy won the show last year?
In another act of logistical wienerdom, Blake splits his votes 50/50 between Erin and Jermaine, which is probably the most pointless thing to do on this show. Happy birthday to you, Erin Willett, now get off the stage! Let's blame Christina Milian. It was probably her idea.
NEXT: The wondertwins severedNow it's time for Cee Lo's team. See, if Cee Lo was ever the one laying down all those whines about it being the worst to have to eliminate someone, I would believe him, because it is a scientific fact that his team is far superior to anyone else on this show. Cee Lo keeps it real, though, and gives America a serious dose of the Real Talk: He has the two strongest contestants on the show. (Also the cryingest.) Cee Lo, always the consummate professional, split his votes 60/40 to Juliet. He throws some light shade at Christina and Blake for their 50/50 business, and I suddenly feel overcome with an urge to act as if I'm in a Baptist church on Sunday. Preach it, Cee Lo!
Thankfully, my future BFF Juliet Simms is in the finals, which is perfect timing because our “Best Friends Forever” necklaces are nearly finished. She can wear it during the finale on Monday!
What do you think about America's decisions? Are you happy with the final four? Would you do anything different if you were a judge? Do you think Juliet Simms and my BFF necklaces should be chartreuse or cerulean? Internet, we need your opinions, and we need them now! Comment away below, my dudes.
Follow Alicia on Twitter: @alicialutes
[Image Credit: NBC]
The Voice Recap: Tears for Fears
The Voice Recap: The Hardest Part of Breaking Up
The Voice Recap: Hit Me Baby With One More Set Piece
Much like its Greek mythological source material Wrath of the Titans is light on dramatic characterization sticking to blunt moral lessons and fantastical battles to tell its epic tale. That's perfectly acceptable for its 100 minute run time in which director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) unleashes an eclectic hoard of monsters upon his gruff demigod hero Perseus. The creature design is jagged gnarly and exaggerated not unlike a twelve-year-old's sugar high-induced crayon creations — which is perfect as Wrath is tailor made to entertain and enamor that slice of the population.
Clash of the Titans star Sam Worthington once again slips on the sandals to take on a not-quite-based-on-a-myth adventure a mission that pits Perseus against the greatest force in the universe: Kronos formally-incarcerated father of the Gods. A few years after his last adventure Perseus is grieving for his deceased wife and caring for their lone son but a visit from Zeus (Liam Neeson) alerts the warrior to a task even more urgent than his current seabass fishing gig. Irked that the whole Kraken thing didn't work out Hades (Ralph Fiennes) with the help of Zeus' disaffected son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) is preparing to unleash Kronos — and only Perseus has the required machismo to stop him. But Perseus enjoys the simple life and brushes off Zeus forcing the head deity to take matters into his own hands…just as Hades and Ares planned. The diabolical duo capture Zeus and having no one else to turn to Perseus proceeds into battle.
The actual reasoning for all the goings on in Wrath of the Titans tend to drift into the mystical realm of convolution but the ensemble and Liebesman's visual visceral directing techniques keep the messy script speeding along. As soon as one starts wondering why Perseus would ever need to hook up with battle-ready Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) or Poseiden's navigator son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) Liebesman and writers Dan Mazeu and David Johnson throw in another bombastic set piece another three-headed four-armed 10 000-fanged monstrosity on screen. Perseus' journey pits him against a fire-breathing Chimera a set of Cyclopses a shifting labyrinth (complete with Minotaur) and all the dangers that come with Hell itself. The sequences have all the suspense of an action figure sandbox brawl but on a towering IMAX screen they're geeky fun. If only the filler material was a bit more logical and interesting the final product would be the slightest bit memorable.
Liebesman reaps the best performances he possibly can from Wrath's silly formula Worthington again proves himself a charismatic underrated leading man. As the main trio of Gods Neeson Fiennes and Ramirez completely acknowledge how goofy shooting lightning bolts out of their hands must look on screen but they own it with campy fun tones. But the film's overwhelming CG spectacle suffocates the glimmer of great acting opting for slice-and-dice battle scenes over ridiculous (and fun) epic speak nonsense. If a movie has Liam Neeson as the top God it shouldn't chain him up in molten lava shackles for a majority of the time.
Wrath of the Titans is a non-offensive superhero movie treatment of classic heroes that feels more like an exercise in 3D monster modeling than filmmaking. Its 3D makeover never helps the creatures or Perseus pop turning Wrath into an even muddier affair than the single-planed alternative (although unlike Clash of the Titans you won't have 3D shaky-cam blur burned directly into your retinas). The movie reaches for that child sense of wonderment but instead cranks out a picture that may not even hold a child's attention.
Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
In a blanketed statement Luke Greenfield’s Something Borrowed attempts to explore lifelong friendships and the circumstances responsible for their ends. It’s billed as a romantic comedy which would be true if one choreographed dance to Salt N Pepa’s “Push It” and one instance where someone breaks their nose during a game of backgammon were the genre’s qualifiers. But deeper than that lies a message along the lines of “never defer to others ” or even one that’s more like “never give other people the opportunity to take what’s yours because they will.” However those morals get so completely muddled along the way that ultimately the film is downgraded to a chronicle of two best friends in love with the same man.
The film is told from the point of view of Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin) who’s described as a successful lawyer at a top law firm (so “top ” in fact it’s never named). She is single mostly keeps to herself and is preoccupied with other people’s happiness but is lucky enough to have a very good friend in Darcy (Kate Hudson) who never misses a chance to talk about herself or steal the attention of an entire party by showing up in a pink boa. We learn Rachel and Darcy's friendship spans decades through a slide show that Darcy puts together for Rachel’s “surprise” 30th birthday party and during Darcy's toast to her best friend she talks about how excited she is to marry Dex (Colin Egglesfield) and how thankful she is to Rachel for introducing the two of them. However the truth is Rachel didn’t introduce them – what really happened was Darcy crashed Rachel and Dex’s date that was in honor of all the hard work they did together to prepare for a law school test. Rachel is saddened by the combination of turning 30 and listening to Darcy's excitement over her upcoming marriage to a man she doesn't deserve and after seeing the birthday girl's pout Dex suggests the fellow lawyers go get another drink together. Rachel casually admits to Dex that she’s had a crush on him since law school (which he claims to have never known) and during a shared cab ride to their separate apartments Dex kisses Rachel because it turns out he has had feelings for her all this time too. Thus begins the affair between Dex and Rachel even though Dex’s wedding to Darcy is only weeks away. Eventually Dex and Rachel both realize they love each other and Dex has to make a decision as to which woman is right for him.
Because the story is told from Rachel The Downtrodden's POV the filmmakers attempted to make Darcy the villain as she’s the opposite of Rachel and is someone who gets everything she wants without having to put forth any effort. In actuality Darcy is pretty easy to despise because she always talks about how she’s good-looking and the only obligations she has are towards partying and making incessant demands to Rachel about her wedding to a man she only halfheartedly loves. I suspect Greenfield decided to highlight the tremendous differences between Darcy and Rachel so as to emphasize the fervor and resilience of their bond (which would in turn make the affair between Rachel and Dex a bigger and more dangerous conflict). But it ends up being a disservice to the overall project because the characters themselves are so fundamentally flawed. The notion that one woman would WILLINGLY endure such bullying from someone who’s supposed to be her best friend is terribly unrealistic and so because the movie virtually revolves around this dysfunctional friendship between these two women means everything is painful to watch. There’s even a point where Rachel’s character becomes as unlikeable as Darcy in the way her utter obedience to Darcy makes her weak-minded a terrible heroine and essentially not worthy of our respect either. And what kind of a romantic comedy has us trying to figure out which woman we hate the most? (Exactly.)
John Krasinski saves the movie from being intolerable. He plays Ethan Rachel’s other best friend and (unlike Darcy) he genuinely cares about Rachel’s well-being. Rachel confides in him and he offers her advice and encouragement and Ethan does not like Darcy at all because he sees the way she treats Rachel and the way Rachel’s life halts every time Darcy has a demand. But his character is way more important than it appears to be because he’s the one who points out that both Rachel AND Darcy are flawed characters and he validates the audience’s disgust with both women. He does this by openly criticizing Darcy’s narcissism (which the audience notices within the first few minutes of the film) and also makes Rachel aware of how pathetic it is that she’s been at Darcy’s beck and call for 30 years. Ethan is arguably the only sane character in this movie and strategically he functions as its voice of reason. Even though Krasinski does not play a main character he’s so responsible for the humor that he is a true delight. Ginnifer Goodwin also does an excellent job playing the character who thinks she’s too ugly to ever get a handsome husband and Kate Hudson also deserves some recognition for embodying someone so self-righteous.
It's hard to criticize producers or a studio about what's wrong with a movie that was originally a book because neither the producers nor the studio are responsible for the story's fundamentals -- the author is. At the same time it’s impossible to hold an author responsible for how well his or her book was adapted into a film. That means both the filmmaker and the author must share credit for Something Borrowed but I have a feeling that in a few years neither party will want any.
Dave Chappelle is a Hollywood anomaly. Not only because the comedian felt his soul was worth more than $50 million (the reported amount he walked away from when he left his Chappelle's Show) but also because he lives worlds apart from the place--literally and figuratively. In Block Party not a moment is spent trying to go deep inside the man behind the comedy yet that much is ascertainable. The documentary tells instead of his September 2004 mission to organize a rap/R&B block party/concert in Brooklyn and hand out the event’s "golden tickets" at random to people in his Dayton Ohio community. It cuts back and forth between concert footage with his standup and the often-funny events that precipitated it. Those hoping for some sort of mea culpa will be disappointed (and should be ashamed); rather it's Chappelle's show seemingly the way he wanted Chappelle's Show. While Block Party obviously contains no acting there is a bevy of performers. The catalyst of course is Chappelle and as he did so well on his show he turns mundane observations into knee-slapping hilarity—thanks in no small part to his infectious laugh that follows everything he says. He also plays the part of hip-hop goodwill ambassador both reuniting groups and diversifying the lineup. His tastes and schoolboy enthusiasm might even be enough to endear the hip-hop naysayer. See he prefers artists who are progressive--artists who say something punctuated by actual live music! Acts like The Roots Kanye West Common Erykah Badu Jill Scott Mos Def Talib Kweli Dead Prez and a reunited Fugees--the film’s climax if you will--make theater dancing all but unavoidable and massacre stereotypes. And they're all Chappelle-approved for an extra layer of authenticity. Block Party perfectly pairs subject with director. Michel Gondry--best known as director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind--has a voyeur’s curiosity an artist’s eye for aesthetics and an ear for left-of-center music (he is also an acclaimed music-video director). He is not interested in somehow exposing Chappelle to his legions of fans and few detractors but he does touch on something that might surprise: Chappelle with his genuine benevolence seems just as content to get a smile as he does a laugh. Such is the case when he invites an entire college band to come play at his block party and pays their way; or when he pleases the crowd by assembling the aforementioned eclectic mix of musical acts groups which might’ve gone their careers without appearing together. But what Gondry captures best is this freak of nature who’s so maddeningly candid in front of a camera.
We don't know what's stranger: Adam Sandler doing a P.T. Anderson-type movie, or P.T. Anderson doing an Adam Sandler-type film.
Either way, the synergy might just happen. Daily Variety says today that the "Little Nicky" supercomic is fielding opportunities for his next project, and one of them is a script which "Magnolia" helmer Anderson specifically wrote with Sandler and actress Emily Watson in mind.
But competing for Sandler's attention right now is another comedy penned by his writing partner, Tim Herlihy. And the funnyman's involvement with either project is likely contingent upon the anticipated actors and writers strike next summer.
But in the meantime, Sandler's latest comedy, "Little Nicky," opens this Friday.
BACK TO 'BASIC': Maybe he is just trying desperately to expand his oeuvre, but sci-fi director David Cronenberg, who has brought us head-scratching tales such as "Naked Lunch," "Videodrome" and "eXistenZ," is apparently eyeing to direct "Basic Instinct 2," Variety reports. Most known for the interrogation scene wherein actress Sharon Stone crosses her legs, the first "Basic Instinct" was directed by Paul Verhoeven in 1992. And as reported earlier in the year, Stone will reprise her role as ice pick killer Catherine Trammell in the sequel.
SIZING UP: Smells like high testosterone. The Hollywood Reporter says that Tom Sizemore might star in "Black Hawk Down" to be directed by Ridley Scott and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Variety says that the war flick is about a group of U.S. soldiers dispatched to Somalia for a mission.
MORE SIZEMORE: Variety also says that Sizemore is concurrently in talks to play gangster Al Capone in "The Road to Perdition" for Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes ("American Beauty").
PLAYING WITH THE BIG KIDS: "Roseanne" alum Johnny Galecki will join big guns Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Jason Lee in the thriller "Vanilla Sky," Variety says. The film will be helmer Cameron Crowe's follow-up to his critically fave "Almost Famous."
X MAN: Denzel Washington did it once for Spike Lee, and now Mario Van Peebles will do it again for Michael Mann. According to Variety, Van Peebles will come on board the "Ali" biopic as black leader Malcolm X.