In just about every one of Kevin Hart's scenes in Ride Along, there's a joke that is just aching to find its way out of the diminutive, rascally comic actor. Hart is a small-scale physical comedian — of the same ilk as Jack Black — who puts nuclear-degree energy into his facial contortions, anatomical outbursts, and the delivery of every gag in general. If only he had material that was crafted with the same energy.
Unfortunately, nothing else about Ride Along seems at all "hard at work." Not the script, which pads a lifeless story with lazy comedy, and certainly not his screen partner Ice Cube, whose only stage direction seems to be "frown, and be taller than Kevin Hart." So lifeless is Ice Cube that even his machismo-obsessed straight man bit doesn't really work. Instead of the virile and intimidating "bad cop," he comes off as a disapproving middle aged dad without much to show for his own life.
But the script pairs the wily, overzealous high school security guard and video game junkie Ben (Hart) with no-nonsense lawman James (Ice Cube) on the titular ride along, with the scrappy cop-wannabe hoping to prove to the force veteran that he's good enough to marry the latter's younger sister. In earnest, he's not. Ben never puts any respectable effort into learning the tools of the trade, insisting on employing his amateur style and controlling the radio despite his proclamations that he wants, and deserves, James' trust. And James is no saint either — he's irresponsible on crime scenes, violent with perps, and disgruntled to the point of being unable to work with anybody else on the force. These are not good police officers... of course, you'll say, this is a comedy. But where are the laughs, then?
They're not absent entirely, you just have to look for them. In a movie so focused with big, broad humor, it's the smaller comedy that actually lands best. Hart's background mutterings and fumblings, his emoticon-laden texts to girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter, whose only stage direction seems to be "smile, and never wear a full outfit of clothing"), and a bizarre repetition of the word "weird" from supporting player John Leguizamo. All good for unexpected chuckles, while jokes like Hart facing off with a pre-teen or being blown backwards into a brick wall after firing a large gun are all lazy, familiar, and flat.
Structurally, the script is a mess. Ride Along spends far too much time on set up — we get it, Hart and his soon-to-be-brother-in-law Ice Cube don't get along — and far too much time on wrap-up — there's a gigantic, dramatic warehouse shootout that, in any other movie, would be the climax, but there's plenty more to go after that — without any cohesive middle to make the movie feel like... a movie.
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Hart, who leaps at every comic opportunity like a kangaroo (wallaby would be more appropriate), is suited just right for a buddy cop comedy, but he needs something fresh with which to work — a real character, an interesting story, actually funny jokes. Even just one of these would be fine!
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When you think of the gayest shows on TV you probably think of something like Glee that not only has a slew of openly-gay characters and actorsbut also has the added benefit of having used every single in the Katy Perry songbook at least once (and twice for "Teenage Dream"). That's gayer than Liza Minnelli's florist. You might also think of one of the new gay family dramas like The New Normal or Partners, where gay men are in committed relationships and trying to have children. You might even think about a reality show that every homosexual worth his rainbow-flag bumper sticker watches, like the Real Housewives of Every City or RuPaul's Drag Race. You wouldn't think of the real gayest show: The Good Wife.
Yes, honestly. This CBS procedural about a woman who stands by her politician husband after he is caught having sex with hookers (I know, sounds real gay) has stealthily become a queer haven on Sunday nights. And now it's adding Gay's...oh, I mean Grey's Anatomy vet T.R. Knight to the show for a guest spot. He's in good company. Alan Cumming, who has been openly gay for years, has been a series regular for the past couple seasons playing campaign strategist Eli Gold. Nathan Lane, who gayed up Broadway and The Birdcage, has been doing a multiple-episode arc this season as the bankrupt law firm's court-appointed custodian. John Benjamin Hickey also keeps popping up as the Mark Zuckerberg-esque owner of a website called ChumHum. And that's not even mentioning honorary gay Christine Baranski who will always be an icon for her gin-soaked turn on Cybill all those years ago.
What is going on over there? It's starting to look gayer than Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Tonys! And this is CBS – a network that's always getting in trouble for not having enough gay characters. Maybe that's because none of the gay actors who are on The Good Wife are playing people of their own sexual orientation. At least, that we know of. Cumming's Gold is straight, formerly married to Parker Posey, and had a liaison with Amy Sedaris (two of the only women gay men would think about sleeping with, anyway). Knight's character is still not defined, and Lane and Hickey's characters have never really talked about their personal lives on camera. No one can say that these guys are being typecast. There is a gay character, or at least a bisexual, on the show. Kalinda is a voracious omnisexual who will devour men as well as women and is played by the straight (in IRL) Archie Panjabi, who got herself an Emmy for her trouble.
Maybe this is what the future of television looks like. The Good Wife never shies away from a gay story line (see: Sunday night's episode, which turned a murder into a possible hate crime) and deals with themes and scenes of same-sex loving all the time thanks to Kalinda. It also has a whole stable of gay men, most of them playing heterosexuals or at least guys who are defined by their work rather than who they want to go home to after their jobs are done. This is integration. This is equality. This is what gay activists are fighting for. Who ever thought the future of gay rights would be seen first on a CBS procedural?
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The critically-acclaimed show, about two Mormon missionaries sent to Uganda, was nominated for 14 prizes at the New York ceremony, which celebrates the best of Broadway.
It triumphed in categories such as Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Book of a Musical, in addition to three technical awards for Best Sound Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Scenic Design of a Musical.
British play War Horse earned a total of five awards, while a revival of Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart landed three top accolades, including Hollywood star Ellen Barkin's very first Tony Award for her Broadway debut as a frustrated doctor in the fight against AIDS. She became the very first honouree of the night and hailed her win as the "proudest moment in my career".
Host Neil Patrick Harris opened the awards show at The Beacon Theatre with a comical song-and-dance number titled It's Not Just For Gays Anymore, and Hugh Jackman, a previous Tony Awards host, later joined the actor onstage and engaged in a little competitive banter for an entertaining rendition of Anything You Can Do.
U2's Bono and The Edge found themselves the butt of several jokes for their troubled Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark musical, which will finally open on Tuesday (14Jun11) after months of delays and setbacks. The Irish rockers took the jabs in their stride and applauded along with the rest of the audience.
They showed their good humour again when they introduced a performance from Spider-Man stars Reeve Carney and Jennifer Damiano, with Bono deadpanning, "We used to be famous for being in U2... When I first saw the Tony Awards on our schedule, I just kind of assumed that we'd been nominated", to which The Edge quipped, "It appears we missed the deadline..."
Other performances came from Daniel Radcliffe and Tony winner John Larroquette, who sang Brotherhood of Man from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, while the casts of each of the Best Musical nominees (The Book of Mormon, Catch Me If You Can, The Scottsboro Boys and Sister Act) also gave the crowd a taste of why they deserved to win.
The main list of winners at the 65th Annual Tony Awards is as follows:
Best Play - War Horse
Best Musical - The Book of Mormon
Best Revival of a Play - The Normal Heart
Best Revival of a Musical - Anything Goes
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play - John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play - Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical - John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical - Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play - Mark Rylance, Jerusalem
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play - Frances McDormand, Good People
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical - Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical - Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
Best Direction of a Play - Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse
Best Direction of a Musical - Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon
Best Original Score - Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon
Best Orchestrations - Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon
Best Choreography - Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Best Book of a Musical - Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, The Book of Mormon
Lifetime Achievement - Athol Fugard and Philip J. Smith.
Look in the sky. It’s a plane. It’s a bird. It’s a frog. No it’s just little old Underdog or as his young master so aptly calls him “Superman with a flea collar.” In Disney’s live-action version of the 1960s animated superhero parody the canine crimebuster (voiced by Jason Lee) returns to nip at the heels of arch nemesis Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage). Unlike the cartoon Underdog who took on human characteristics this pooch keeps all four paws on the ground Except of course when he’s zooming off to save the day. And it’s all thanks to the mad scientist Barsinister that Shoeshine—Underdog’s secret identity—runs as fast as a cheetah and flies like an eagle. Shoeshine turns into the Mutt of Steel after coming into contact with a serum created by Barsinister. His transformation from zero to superhero leaves Barsinister desperate to replicate the results of this lab accident for typically evil purposes. Assuming that is he can get his hands on Shoeshine who’s already found refuge in the Capitol City home of an ex-cop (Jim Belushi) and his son Jack (Alex Neuberger). With Jack’s help Shoeshine finds his true calling as man’s best super-powered friend. Oh and when he’s not thwarting jewelry heists he’s trying to win the heart of his very own Lois Lane “Sweet” Polly Purebred (voiced by Amy Adams). But Underdog must set aside his feelings for the King Charles spaniel when Barsinister and his dimwitted henchman Cad (Patrick Warburton) attempt to extort $1 billion from Capitol City. Let the dogfight begin! How wise of Disney not to unleash a computer-generated Underdog à la Garfield or Scooby-Doo. In or out of his formfitting superhero costume Leo the Lemon Beagle deserves a big juicy bone for his energy and resourcefulness. It certainly helps that director Frederik Du Chau knows how to work with animals having previously directed Racing Stripes. Beware though: Leo’s so darn cute that your kids will beg you for a Beagle for Christmas. Jason Lee who crosses over to the side of good after voicing The Incredibles’ malevolence Syndrome makes Underdog as humble and affable as his TV alter ego Earl Hickey from My Name is Earl. Still there are times that Lee’s so laidback with his narration you’ll swear you’re watching an episode of My Name is Underdog. Amy Adams delightfully kooky in Junebug makes for a surprisingly bland Polly. Brad Garrett though makes sure the bullying Rottweiler Riff Raff’s booming bark is worse than his bite. As for the humans K-9’s Jim Belushi is once again upstaged by a canine costar and Alex Neuberger does nothing to suggest he’s got what it takes to be the next tween heartthrob. Disheveled and disfigured Peter Dinklage is suitably hammy as the maniacal man of science. A bleach-blonde Patrick Warburton continues to exploit his Seinfeld fame by playing yet another Puddy-like himbo even though this act lost its novelty many dog years ago. Superheroed out? Then it’s certainly not enough for director Frederik Du Chau to make us believe a dog can fly. That said this Underdog is more for pups than parents. If your child’s never seen an episode of Underdog they’ll certainly get a kick out of the obvious efforts to spoof Superman from our hero’s phone-booth costume changes to his struggle to retain his secret identity. Du Chau doesn’t show much imagination when it comes to chronicling Underdog’s pursuit of truth justice and the American Kennel Club’s Way but at least he gives the predictable proceedings some oomph. He also keeps the poop jokes to a bare minimum and avoids making the kind of sexual innuendos that ruined The Cat in the Hat ensuring this four-legged superhero offers nothing but good clean fun for kids who have grown tired of Ratatouille. Parents though may find themselves wishing they were watching Spider-Man 3 again. Underdog makes no effort to appeal to anyone who isn’t suffering from a severe case of arrested development. Sure those weaned on the cartoon should come away mightily impressed with Underdog’s efforts to stay as true to its source material as possible. But there are only so many times you want to hear Underdog rhyme while he fights all who rob and plunder. Kids though will certainly walk out of the theater singing the beefed-up theme song and rooting for Underdog to save another day.