At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
It might have been early in the morning, but that didn't stop everyone from Dido to Moby to Evanescence's Amy Lee from showing up at the announcement of the 46th annual Grammy Award nominations this morning at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
OutKast, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams are tied for the lead with six nominations apiece. Missy Elliott, 50 Cent, Eminem, the Neptunes' Chad Hugo, Justin Timberlake, Ricky Skaggs, Evanescence, Luther Vandross and the late Warren Zevon are close behind with five noms each.
The four big categories--album of the year, record of the year, song of the year and best new artist--reflect the dominance of rap, hip-hop and R&B artists in mainstream music as well as the renewed popularity of rock music.
Up for album of the year are Missy Elliott's Under Construction, Timberlake's Justified, Evanescence's Fallen, the White Stripes' Elephant and OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
Hip-hop duo's OutKast's single "Hey Ya!" will go head-to-head for record of the year against Black Eyed Peas' "Where is the Love?," Beyoncé and Jay-Z's "Crazy in Love," Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and Coldplay's "Clocks."
For song of the year, which goes to the songwriter as opposed to the recording artist, nominees are Linda Perry for Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," Eminem and Luis Resto for Eminem's "Lose Yourself," Richard Marx and Luther Vandross for Vandross' "Dance With My Father," Avril Lavigne and the Matrix for Lavigne's "I'm With You" and the late Warren Zevon and Jorge Calderon for Zevon's "Keep Me in Your Heart."
Sean Paul, 50 Cent, Evanescence, Fountains of Wayne and Heather Headley will compete for the best new artist award.
The Grammy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 8 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be telecast on CBS from 8-11:30 p.m. (EST/PST).
Here is a partial list of nominations (a full list of nominees is posted on Grammy.com):
Album of the Year
Under Construction, Missy Elliott
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, Outkast
Justified, Justin Timberlake
Elephant, The White Stripes
Record of the Year
"Crazy In Love," Beyoncé Featuring Jay-Z
"Where Is The Love?," Black Eyed Peas featuring Justin Timberlake
"Lose Yourself," Eminem
"Hey Ya," Outkast
Best New Artist
Fountains Of Wayne
Song of the Year
Linda Perry for "Beautiful" (performed by Christina Aguilera)
Richard Marx and Luther Vandross for "Dance With My Father"
Avril Lavigne and The Matrix (Lauren Christy, Graham Edwards and Scott Spock) for "I'm With You"
Jorge Calderón and Warren Zevon for "Keep Me In Your Heart"
Jeff Bass, Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) and Luis Resto for "Lose Yourself"
Best Rap Song (NEW!)
Calvin Broadus (aka Snoop Dogg), Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams for "Beautiful" (performed by Snoop Dogg Featuring Williams and Uncle Charlie Wilson)
Shawn Carter (aka Jay-Z), Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams for "Excuse Me Miss" (performed by Jay-Z Featuring Williams)
Mike Elizondo, Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent) and A. Young for "In Da Club" (performed by 50 Cent)
Jeff Bass, Marshall Mathers and Luis Resto for "Lose Yourself" (performed by Eminem)
Missy Elliott and Tim Mosley for "Work It" (performed by Elliott)
Best Rap Album
Missy Elliott, Under Construction
50 Cent, Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
Jay-Z, The Blueprint2 - The Gift & The Curse
Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Best R&B Album
Erykah Badu, Worldwide Underground
Blu Cantrell, Bittersweet
Aretha Franklin, So Damn Happy
Isley Brothers Featuring Ronald Isley aka Mr. Biggs, Body Kiss
Luther Vandross, Dance With My Father
Best Contemporary R&B Album
Ashanti, Chapter II
Beyoncé, Dangerously In Love
Mary J. Blige, Love and Life
Anthony Hamilton, Comin' From Where I'm From
R. Kelly, Chocolate Factory
Best Rock Album
Foo Fighters, One By One
matchbox twenty, More Than You Think You Are
Nickelback, The Long Road
Best Rock Song
Evanescence, "Bring Me To Life" (David Hodges, Amy Lee and Ben Moody)
Train, "Calling All Angels" (Charlie Colin, Pat Monahan, Jimmy Stafford and Scott Underwood)
Bruce Springsteen and Warren Zevon, "Disorder In The House" (Jorge Calderón and Warren Zevon)
The White Stripes, "Seven Nation Army" (Jack White)
Nickelback, "Someday" (Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake and Ryan Vikedal)
Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal
The White Stripes
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance
Christina Aguilera, "Beautiful"
Kelly Clarkson, "Miss Independent"
Dido, "White Flag"
Avril Lavigne, "I'm With You"
Sarah McLachlan, "Fallen"
Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals
Lil' Kim and Christina Aguilera, "Can't Hold Us Down"
Tony Bennett and k.d. lang for "La Vie En Rose"
Pink and William Orbit for "Feel Good Time"
Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples for "Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking"
Sting and Mary J. Blige for "Whenever I Say Your Name"
Best Pop Vocal Album
Christina Aguilera, Stripped
George Harrison, Brainwashed
Annie Lennox, Bare
Michael McDonald, Motown
Justin Timberlake, Justified
Best Pop Male Vocal Performance
George Harrison, "Any Road"
Michael McDonald, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Sting, "Send Your Love"
Justin Timberlake, "Cry Me A River"
Warren Zevon, "Keep Me In Your Heart"
Best Pop Instrumental Performance
Ry Cooder and Manuel Galbán for "Patricia"
Dave Koz, "Honey-Dipped"
Randy Newman, "Seabiscuit"
The Brian Setzer Orchestra, "The Nutcracker Suite"
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Bette Midler Sings, Bette Midler
Rosemary Clooney Songbook, Rosemary Clooney
The A Wonderful World, Tony Bennett and k.d. lang
As Time Goes By…The Great American Songbook: Volume II, Rod Stewart
The Movie Album, Barbra Streisand
Best Spoken Word Album For Children
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Eric Idle
Harry Potter And The Order of the Phoenix, Jim Dale
Prokofiev: Peter And The Wolf/Beintus: Wolf Tracks, Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia Loren
Tell Me A Scary Story, Carl Reiner
Winnie-The-Pooh, Jim Broadbent
Best Spoken Word Album
Fear Itself, Don Cheadle
Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair And Balanced Look At The Right, Al Franken
Living History, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, Nikki Giovanni
When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden, Bill Maher
Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Patty Loveless, On Your Way Home
Martina McBride, This One's For The Girls
Dolly Parton, I'm Gone
Shania Twain, Forever And For Always
Best Country Collaboration With Vocals
Willie Nelson and Norah Jones, Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want To Get Over You)
Willie Nelson and Toby Keith, Beer For My Horses
June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash, Temptation
Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet, It's Five O'Clock Somewhere
James Taylor and Alison Krauss, How's The World Treating You
Best Country Album
Faith Hill, Cry
Lyle Lovett, My Baby Don't Tolerate
Willie Nelson and Ray Price, Run That One By Me One More Time
Willie Nelson, Live And Kickin'
Shania Twain, Up!
Compilation, Livin', Lovin', Losin' - Songs of the Louvin Brothers
Queen Latifah and Steve Martin's romantic jailbreak comedy Bringing Down the House remained undefeated at the box office for a third week in a row, locking up a hefty $16.2 million* despite the arrival of four new wide releases.
Bringing Down the House defended its No. 1 title against this week's most threatening competitor, the supernatural thriller Dreamcatcher. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, Dreamcatcher debuted in second place with a down-to-earth $15.3 million.
The 'tween spy pic Agent Cody Banks dropped a notch to third place with $9.3 million, while the new flight attendant comedy View From the Top premiered in fourth place with a turbulent $7.5 million. The actioner The Hunted rounded out the Top Five with $6.5 million.
The new animated feature Piglet's Big Movie failed to see big profits with a tiny $6.1 million take, landing it in seventh place. The week's other new release, the comedy Boat Trip, shipwrecked into tenth place with choppy $3.7 million.
THE TOP TEN
Buena Vista's PG-13 rated comedy Bringing Down the House won the box office crown for the third week in a row with an ESTIMATED $16.2 million at 2,871 theaters (+70 theaters). Its $5,643 per theater average was the highest of this week's top ten grossing films. Its cume is approximately $83.4 million, heading towards the $100 million mark.
Directed by Adam Shankman, it stars Steve Martin and Queen Latifah.
Warner Bros.' R-rated supernatural thriller Dreamcatcher debuted in second place with an ESTIMATED $15.3 million at 2,945 theaters with an impressive $5,197 per theater average.
The film, based on the Stephen King novel, revolves around four childhood friends bonded beyond friendship by telepathy--a power they must use stop an alien invasion.
Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, the film stars Morgan Freeman, Thomas Jane, Jason Lee, Damian Lewis and Donnie Wahlberg.
MGM's PG-rated Agent Cody Banks fell a notch to No. 3 in its second week with an ESTIMATED $9.3 million at 3,369 theaters (unchanged), with a $2,760 per theater average. Its cume is approximately $26.6 million.
Directed by Harald Zwart, it stars Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff and Angie Harmon.
Miramax's PG-13 rated airline comedy View From the Top opened in fourth place with an ESTIMATED $7.5 million at 2,508 theaters, with a $3,016 per theater average.
The film focuses on a girl from a Nevada trailer park who sets her sights on becoming a flight attendant.
Directed by Bruno Barreto, the film stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Kelly Preston and Christina Applegate.
Paramount Pictures' R-rated actioner The Hunted dropped two places to fifth in its second week with an ESTIMATED $6.5 million at 2,517 (+1 theater), with an $2,606 per theater average. Its cume is approximately $23.4 million.
Directed by William Friedkin, it stars Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro and Connie Nielsen.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
In its 13th week of release, Miramax's PG-13 rated musical Chicago continued its mainstay in the Top Ten, dropping from fifth to sixth place with an ESTIMATED $6.2 million (-12%) at 2,565 theaters (-35 theaters, $2.434 per theater). Its cume is approximately $134 million.
Directed by Rob Marshall, it stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.
Buena Vista's G rated animated feature Piglet's Big Movie premiered in seventh place with an ESTIMATED $6.1 million at 2,084 theaters, with a $2,927 per theater average.
In the film, young Piglet is told he is too small to help the gang from the Hundred Acre Wood begin a honey harvest. When he disappears, his pals Eeyore, Rabbit, Tigger, Roo and Winnie the Pooh must use Piglet's scrapbook as a map to find him.
Directed by Francis Glebas, it features the voices of John Fiedler, James Cummings and Andre Stojka.
Warner Bros.' R rated war actioner Tears of the Sun fell from fourth to eighth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.5 million (-48%) at 2810 theaters (-163 theaters) with a $5,785 per theater average. Its cume is approximately $37.9 million.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, it stars Bruce Willis and Monica Bellucci.
DreamWork's R rated buddy comedy Old School dropped from sixth place to No. 8 in its fifth week of release with an ESTIMATED $4 million (-40%) at 2,033 theaters (-419 theaters) with a $1,968 per theater average. Its cume is approximately 50.8 million.
Directed by Todd Phillips, it stars Luke Wilson, Will Farrell and Vince Vaughn.
Rounding out the Top Ten is Artisan Entertainment's R-rated comedy Boat Trip, which debuted with an ESTIMATED $3.7 million at 1,714 theaters, with a $2,159 per theater average.
The film follows two dimwitted straight guys who set sail on a Caribbean cruise looking for love--but find out too late that they have been booked on a gay cruise.
Directed by Mort Nathan, the film stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Horatio Sanz.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $83.9 million, down 7.62 percent from last week when they totaled $90.8 million.
The Top 12 were also down 29.01 percent from last year when they totaled $118.2 million.
Last year, New Line's R rated Blade II debuted at the top of the box office with $32.5 million at 2,707 theaters ($12,016 per theater); Fox's PG rated Ice Age came in second with $30 million at 3,345 theaters ($8,986 per theater); and Universal's PG rated special edition re-release of E.T. The Extraterrestrial debuted in third with $14.2 million at 3,007 theaters ($4,730 per theater).
People magazine is poised to announce their Sexiest Man Alive in next week's issue--and women everywhere are all a-quiver about it.
Well, of course, they are. Why wouldn't they be? A whole magazine full of handsome young men who titillate women simply by gazing at them from the page. Yummy.
One point, though, I feel I should mention. Sure, it's fun to ogle the glamour boys in all their splendor, but if you think about it too long and analyze the situation, doesn't it seem sort of redundant? You take a movie star who is clearly already a sexy guy and give him the label just because it sells.
But, in my true blonde style, who wants to think about such things? Who wants to think AT ALL? Just go with it.
Here are my guesses on who might get the cover; they may be a little biased towards movie stars because, well, that's my true obsession. So sue me.
Affleck could be a long shot since Pearl Harbor was a semi-dud at the theaters, and he doesn't seem to have much of a career going. But he's still a bona fide cutie and troubled as well--you remember, the drinking problem. Maybe being the sexiest man alive will do the trick to get him out of his rut.
The entire cast of Ocean's Eleven
Good lord, could a cast get any sexier? So, as a collective, I think People magazine should consider the following: George Clooney. Brad Pitt. Matt Damon. Andy Garcia. Heck, I'll even throw in director Steven Soderbergh for good measure. True, he is a little goofy looking but standing next to the other guys, who'll notice?
Crowe's definitely earned the surliest man alive title, but that's OK; he still looks really good even if he never cracks a smile. Crowe was the "It" guy last year, especially after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his manly Maximus in Gladiator, and he's got another Oscar caliber role coming up, playing a sexy schizophrenic in A Beautiful Mind. Hey, I like the sound of that one.
Oh, come on! Why not? Sure, he's channeling the all-American nice guy Jimmy Stewart, but Hanks could be sexy. He may not be drop-dead gorgeous, but he possesses all the great qualities women love--he's kind, funny, has a great smile. And he pined for his woman for many long years, deserted on a tropical island in Cast Away, talking to a volleyball, for the love of Pete. That should account for something. Look, even Stewart was considered a real ladies' man in his day.
I can see you nodding your heads…yes, he makes an incredibly sexy president of the United States. And he's smart, hard-headed, fair, vulnerable and loyal. Just the kind of president I believe this country desperately wishes for. As well, Martin Sheen, along with his show The West Wing, has turned television on its ear.
OK, Willis is one of my personal favorites. I'm not sure if he's ever been considered by those guys at People, but he is simply one of the tastier actors out there. I think it's his sense of humor that crinkles out of his eyes when he looks at you. Or maybe that crooked grin. Or how about you just know he's a good kisser. Hmmm, it's all good. Go see Bandits if you don't believe me.
The international young 'uns
Here's a short list: Heath Ledger--the Australian hunk who melts you completely in A Knight's Tale; Colin Farrell--the Irish honey who is devastatingly gorgeous in the otherwise bad film American Outlaws; Jude Law--the British beauty who couldn't have looked better with a tan in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
OK, OK, that's enough already! Geez, I'm having a heart attack over here.