Finally a brilliantly told fractured fairy tale for children and adults alike that does not feature a grouchy green orge anywhere. Once upon a time a young man sneaks into the mysterious magic kingdom of Stormhold that’s walled off from his quiet English village. He soon meets a lovely young lady who just so happens to be a princess enslaved by a not-so-wicked witch. Nine months later a basket is dropped on his doorstep. Yes this baby boy is the unexpected result of his one-night liasion with the royal lass. The boy grows up blissfully unaware of his regal roots so when he reaches manhood Tristan (Charlie Cox) doesn’t understand why he so drawn to the land on the other side of the Wall. He finally hops over the Wall when a star falls out of the sky and lands deep in the heart of Stormhold. His goal: to bring back the star as proof of his love for Victoria (Sienna Miller). Too bad this scheming temptress doesn’t think too much of the penniless and mild-mannered workingclass stiff. This being a fairy tale the star isn’t just a star. The star’s actually a beautiful celestial being named Yvaine (Claire Danes). And she fell to earth as part of a devious plan by Stormhold’s dying king (Peter O'Toole) to determine his successor. But the king’s scheming sons (Jason Flemying and Mark Strong) are not the only ones seeking Yvaine. The oh-so-wicked witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) needs Yvaine to help her restore her youth. So that means Tristan must become the hero he’s destined to become—and take on witches princes airbourne pirates (Robert De Niro’s Capt. Shakespeare) and shady black marketeers (The Office’s Ricky Gervais)—so he can return home to Victoria. But Cupid has other plans for Tristran and it’s not hard to guess what those are. If all stars took on the human form of Claire Danes many more of us would probably pursue a career in astronomy. But it doesn’t take a working knowledge of the Hubble telescope to see how relaxed and luminous Danes is when she’s not carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. And sparks definitely fly between Danes and Charlie Cox even when they’re at hurling hilarious insults at each other. Newcomer Cox makes a smooth transition from ill-at-ease lovesick puppy to swashbuckling hero. He also doesn’t seem to be intimidated at the prospect of staring down Robert De Niro. There’s always concern whenever De Niro takes on a comedic role for a big paycheck. He usually gets by with pure talent and nothing more. And when De Niro’s pirate crosses paths with Cox and Danes you immediately fear that he’s going to offer yet another variation on his tough gruff Alpha males from Analyze This and Meet the Parents. But he blindsides us by instead going all Jack Sparrow on us—that is if the old sea dog had no interest in the ladies—to deliriously campy effect. What with Hairspray and now Stardust Michelle Pfeiffer’s comeback seems to be predicated on getting in touch with her inner bitch. She’s splendidly nasty and scary as Lamia. And the uglier and older she gets the meaner and funnier she gets. Equally cruel—though more cheerfully so—is Sienna Miller. Providing small but amusing cameos are Gervais once again revealing an unparallel mastery of toadying and Peter O'Toole who kicks the bucket quicker than John Cleese’s King Harold does in Shrek the Third. There’s legitimate reason to question whether Layer Cake director Matthew Vaughn has what it takes to direct a big-budget effects-driven summer blockbuster. Remember after making his name producing or directing relatively inexpensive British crime capers Vaughn walked away from X-Men: The Last Stand. Judging by Stardust though Vaughn would have done a masterful job leading those misunderstood mutants into battle. Then again he couldn’t have done worse than Brett Ratner. Based on the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess Stardust possesses both a big heart and an uncommon adventurous streak. Unlike the recent Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End which was too long and too cumbersome for its own good Stardust moves nimbly and confidently through a strange and wonderful land populated with noble heroes to cheer for fiendish villains to boo at and gorgeous damsels in distress to sigh over. Vaughn keeps us on the edge of our seats whenever Tristan must think or fight his way out of danger. But he invests as much time in making believe that Tristan and Yvaine are made for each other. He also strikes a fine balance between honoring the sword-and-sorcery genre while playfully sending up its many cliches. The humor’s a lot more risqué than the bedtime story that was The Princess Bride but most of the sexual innuendoes will zoom over the heads of those still too young to pick up on many of Shrek’s pop-cultural references. Clearly Stardust cannot escape all other comparisons to The Princess Bride but Stardust boasts more than enough magic and daring-do to win over those who remained enthralled to this day by Cary Elwes’ brave efforts to rescue a kidnapped Robin Wright Penn. So this is one fairy tale that richly deserves its happily ever after--and for that matter so does Vaughn.
Top Story: Lanes, Ya-Ya Sisterhood Get Nods for PRISM Awards
Changing Lanes and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood were among the films nominated on Tuesday for PRISM awards, which honor the accurate depiction of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and addiction, Reuters reports. Other film nominees included Narc, The Salton Sea and Skins. Samuel L. Jackson (Changing Lanes), Ashley Judd (Divine Secrets), Jason Patric (Narc), and Val Kilmer (The Salton Sea) were also some of the actors nominated for their performances. Under the television category, Jeremy Irons and Neve Campbell were both nominated for their work in the Showtime movie Last Call about the final days of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, while Bernie Mac got a nod for his show The Bernie Mac Show.
Osbourne Gets a Clean Bill of Health
Sharon Osbourne, the matriarch of television's first family of dysfunction, appears to be free of the colon cancer she's been battling since last year. "Ozzy says Sharon has completed her treatment and has no signs of cancer," a spokesman for the rocker told Reuters on Wednesday.
Singer Braxton Has Baby No. 2
Toni Braxton and her husband, Keri Lewis, welcomed their second child, a son, Diezel Ky Braxton Lewis on Sunday, The Associated Press reports. The couple also has a 1-year-old son, Denim.
Actor Conrad Arrested
Robert Conrad, star of the 1960s TV show Wild, Wild West, was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence when his car collided with another Monday night in Northern Calif., injuring himself and the other driver. According to Reuters, the actor was rushed to a hospital in Modesto, Calif., where he was listed in stable condition.
Actor Jason Mewes Ordered Into Rehab
Jason Mewes, known as stoner Jay in the Kevin Smith films Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks, has been ordered by a judge to complete a drug rehabilitation program or face jail time, AP reports. Mewes, 28, who failed to report for a court hearing stemming from a 1999 heroin conviction, had a warrant issued for his arrest in December 2001. According to AP, the actor surrendered Tuesday and pleaded guilty to probation violation charges, failing to report to his probation officer, take drug tests or undergo counseling.
Wanna Be a Superhero?
Here's your chance. The WB network has ordered six episodes of a new reality TV show Who Wants To Be a Superhero?, a fantasy-oriented contest from comic book icon Stan Lee. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show revolves around real people who come up with ideas for original superheroes and perform in character before a panel of celebrity judges who have played onscreen superheroes. Semifinalists will undergo a "superhero makeover" overseen by Spider-Man creator Lee and compete in various stunts and challenges that mimic comic book derring-do. The winner will then be eligible to have his or her idea developed and expanded by Lee's team, possibly for a comic book spinoff.
Wanna Work with Donald Trump?
Here's your chance. NBC is developing a new reality series with Survivor producer Mark Burnett called The Apprentice. AP reports the show will gather 20 people who will compete in a fun, entertaining and still cutthroat way for a job with Donald Trump and his company and will feature the business tycoon firing contestants each week. The winner will receive a six-figure salary.
Rivera Taken Out of Iraq
Following on the heels of NBC's firing of reporter Peter Arnett, Fox News Channel has reassigned field correspondent Geraldo Rivera from Iraq to Kuwait after U.S. military officials complained the reporter disclosed unauthorized information about military movements. AP reports that when Rivera, who had been traveling with the 101st Airbourne unit in Iraq, did his report Monday, he was squatting in the desert and outlining the details in the dirt. Rivera, on the other hand, told KSTP-TV in "I feel like I have been scolded," and said he hoped to stay in Kuwait for a week and then arrange to rejoin the 101st Airborne as an embedded reporter. Fat chance.
Role Call: Queen Latifah's Beauty Shop
Hot off her Oscar nomination, Queen Latifah has signed on to star in Beauty Shop, a female version to the hit film Barbershop. Variety quotes sources as saying the rapper-turned-actress will receive a paycheck of at least $10 million for the film. She'll also have a cameo in the sequel to Barbershop, setting up a spinoff movie with her as the owner of a beauty shop next door to the original barbershop locale.