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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Have you ever anticipated something to be a bounty of unbridled drama and escapism, only to find yourself exhausted by the mere act of paying attention?
Welcome to Monday's episode of The Bachelor. Tonight, abdominal warrior Sean Lowe went home with each of his top four ladies (Desiree, A$hLeE, Catherine, and whatsername) to meet the families and get to know a bit more about the broads he's hoping to bed (but only after marriage, at least, that's what I've heard, allegedly). Now I get why they kept Tierrable on so long: she was a distraction for how boring the show. Whatever. Different strokes —or rather no strokes at all! Zing! — For different folks. Let's get down to business.
AshLee's Hometown Date
You know, I really felt like by seeing AshLee at home in her element, it was helping me let go of my abandonment issues. Ha! Just kidding! AshLee sure did seem to take metaphorical leaps towards overcoming her perma-discussed issues with every word. Which, of course means that AshLee is probably going to get hurt. Not today, but soon. Either next week or at the altar, for sure. She IS Sean Lowe in female form, but with a sob story. So it seems like she's everything ABC could ever want, right?
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Which! You know, seems very convenient for AshLee. The whole date felt like ABC was trying to force-feed us AshLee so to see if we, the viewing audience, would approve of her as the next Bachelorette. Now let me stop you right here, ABC: NO. STOP. DO NOT WANT. We do not want AshLee The Bachelorette. America is tired of these perfection monsters — some of us want a normal f**king human whose sense of self and values weren't written by a burning bush before everyone realized that the world wasn't flat. We've had enough of these perfect, blonde all-American, über-religious types looking for love. This is not Christian Mingle the TV Show (though at this point it might as well be)! This is The Bachelor! We want someone who's willing to make mistakes and risk looking like an idiot for the public's enjoyment (and also because "the process works!" or love or something). I don't know, maybe someone who isn't some chaste humanoid parroting the ways of dating like a grandparent. This is 2013, not 1913. Please don't give us AshLee the Bachelorette, ABC. Please. I don't ask for much, just give me this. Besides, I bet if you ask Chris Harrison, he wouldn't like it either.
Anys**t, we're in Dallas and AshLee's parents are Texans! Her dad is a pastor! With strong family values! Gee willikers this doesn't sound like…so many of the other people that have been on this show before, huh? I'm starting to feel like NZK Productions might be a secret propaganda machine for the homogenization of America. Yawn. Anyway AshLee talks about her abandonment issues and how Sean Lowe is The Only Man [Of This Earth] For Her. She truly believes "he's going to be the man to protect my heart." Which, if she's looking for someone to guard and protect her heart she should've just looked up Kasey on Facebook or something. He's into that sort of thing. Anyway, her parents seem very sweet and obviously care a lot about her in a sort of smothering way, but it seems like that's exactly the sort of thing that girl needed. Abandon ship! Abandon ship! (Just kidding, AshLee.)
Catherine's Hometown Date
Catherine is the only one of these girls I can stand even a little. She seems so far to be the normalest of the pack, and I think, just might end up winning the whole shebang. The two are pretty playful and fun together (catchin' fish in Seattle's fish market, sticking bubble gum on walls, taking silly pictures), but Catherine's sisters are quick to tell Sean that's her MO. You see, Catherine's family is one of those totally rare groups of people who believe that the process DOESN'T work (cue gasps of horror), and they're hella skeptical of the duo's relationship. To the point that, after meeting her family, Sean's suddenly unsure of Catherine.
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You see Catherine is a modern woman who has dreams and wants someone to support her dreams. (The horror! The horror! A woman with aspirations! Such an unattractive quality.) Apparently that freaks Sean out? He likes his ladies a bit more...domesticated? (Is that a nice enough way to say that Sean's stuck in the 19-f**king-50s right now? Yes/no/maybe?) Later when talking to Chris Harrison about her, Sean says Catherine is "very independent" which is Sean Code for "terrifying feminist demon vaginamonster" who won't put up with antiquated gender roles. And Sean? Well Sean seems to err on the side of wanting a wee housewifey and he's afraid she won't be obedient enough. I mean, sure, this is all just subtext from his ridiculous conversation with Harrison, but at this point I'm just assuming that it's in the notorious g.o.d.'s hands and this is what we're supposed to glean from it all. Right?
Anyway, Catherine's sisters don't think she wants kids right away, and she has "extreme mood swings" which may or may not mean that Catherine is secretly She-Hulk (though hopefully not this She-Hulk). Her mom won't give Sean her blessing to ask Catherine to marry him, either. So basically Sean's feelin' like the whole day was a wash. Time to go home and pray it out, my dude.
Lindsay's Hometown Date
That's her name, you guys! Did you forget, too? Because I forget every time. I forget she's still even on this damn show, and when she shows up I'm very Bluth-ian in my "...her?" She seems like a really nice 17-year-old. Someone I would definitely let babysit my hypothetical and not-at-all-real children (don't worry, gram! I'd let you know if I was with-child before I told the Internet), knowing she's take care of them and also maybe give them a treat before bed that was "our little secret." I'd probably even pay her a little extra, because the kids, man, they just love her! Can't get enough. Perhaps the most hilarious moment came when Lindsay's mom, during her on-camera interview said "I just did not expect Lindsay and Sean to be where they're at now." Which, HA! Neither did we, Mom. Neither did we. Anyway this date was especially slow (there was a lot of cutesy army stuff because her dad's a four-star general in the army), plus there's just no way Sean's going to end up with this girl. Right? She'll make it to the top two, I'm sure, but I don't believe she'll win. She's like a mainstream Zooey Deschanel, and nobody wants that.
Desiree's Hometown Date
Desiree. Oh Desiree. Homegirl was totally in my top two there up until we saw previews for this episode. Then I knew it was over. But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet. First, Desiree and Sean go on a hike — because in the 10 months I've lived in Los Angeles, this much I can tell you: 90% of its inhabitants spend 45% of their time hiking. It's science. LA motherf**kers love a hike. Hiking is actually the only time most Angelenos actually walk anywhere, since, you know, walking city streets is the worst. People in LA don't understand walking unless it's on a big dusty hill. Otherwise it's all just nonsense to them.
Her brother, who says things like "can I holla at you," and "you just a playboy" because he believes this is actually an audition for Entourage: The Movie, doesn't think Sean is reciprocating the romance. And in the most hilarious un-emotional way ever, Sean discusses a desire to fight Turtle Jr. He can't, though — not because he wants to be the bigger person or anything lame like that. No, it's probably just because his Kissing Coach Arie is also is Fighting Coach and Arie's out putting his mouth all over Selma. A bit preoccupied that one is, huh? Don't worry, Desiree, maybe he'll take you out next week.
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But where was the drama from this episode? Sure there was the fake-boyfriend prank (which, dude? This isn't the way to get your SAG card. C'mon!) which was oh-so-painful and obviously staged that I was pretty offended ABC would smash-cut away to commercial so quickly during that confrontation. As if we were stupid enough to believe it was anything but? It was all a bit much.
...and then Desiree got sent home! Spoiler alert! After a lot of hand-wringing, back-and-forthing, a mid-ceremony apology, and a second moment of pause, Sean ultimately sent Des packing. But not before some terribly penned, tweenage version of an unrequited romance novel posturing: "I always give so much because people take me for granted!" "It's not right!" "Then don't let me go!" Good lord, pump the breaks sweetheart, you've known this dude for...weeks. "I don't even know what I'm going to do now with my life." OK, she's either lost it, OR she's campaigning HARD to try and beat out AshLee for that Bachelorette crown. Jury's still out. (Hey ABC, don't pick her, either.)
And that's our show! But we'll be back Tuesday night because Tierrable is back! OK not really, but TALK of her is back because — at last! — Sean will tell all. And by "all" we imagine there will be a lot of teasers for the finale and the Women Tell All special, but hopefully the hour will mostly just consist of discussing Tierrable. Lord, I never thought I'd miss her.
What did you think of tonight's episode? Did the right girl go home? Who do you think should win? Sound off in the comments!
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Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
The Four Weddings & A Funeral star is so beloved among film fans, he's mostly forgiven for his liaison with prostitute Divine Brown 13 years ago - a scandal that would have ruined many men.
Instead, Grant bounced back with a string of hit movies like Notting Hill, Two Weeks Notice and Bridget Jones's Diary, in which he played the perfect cad.
Away from Hollywood, he has dated two of the world's great English beauties in Elizabeth Hurley and Jemima Khan and he's a huge fan of golf, soccer and cricket.
To many, he's an example of all that is good - and bad - about the upper-crust British bloke, and we salute Hugh!
To mark his 50th, we dug through his archive for 10 things you might not have known about Hugh John Mungo Grant:
- he won a scholarship to England's prestigious Oxford University.
- the editors of British film bible Empire picked him 43rd in their 100 Sexiest Stars in movie history list in 1995.
- ex-girlfriend and business partner Elizabeth Hurley called their production company Simian Films, because she thought Grant looked like an ape.
- top star Vincent Cassell used to dub Grant's voice for the French release of his films - even though Grant is fluent in French.
- he is working on a script about his grandfather's real-life escape from a prisoner of war camp during World War Two.
- like Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, he's a big fan of London soccer club Fulham.
- he was originally cast as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber's mother taught the young Hugh how to play the piano.
- he pleaded no contest to lewd behaviour after police officers found him and hooker Divine Brown in a car on Los Angeles' Sunset Boulevard and was fined $1,180 (£787).
- Hugh shares his birthday with Leo Tolstoy, Otis Redding, infamous rock groupie Pamela Des Barres, Adam Sandler, model Rachel Hunter and U.S. drug kingpin Frank Lucas, who was portrayed on film by Denzel Washington in American Gangster.