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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It seemed like this day would never come, even though Desperate Housewives fans have had almost a year to prepare. After May 13's two-hour, two-part finale, the streetlights on Wisteria Lane will go dim and the housewives will roll up their welcome mats.
Stars Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, and Eva Longoria will finish out the series without the original “fifth Housewife” Nicollette Sheridan, whose character was killed off in Season 5 and whose beef with creator Marc Cherry and ABC continued to be the subject of a very public lawsuit until recently. The main four women have seen their careers blossom thanks to the show and new fifth housewife Vanessa Williams saw a notch added to already well established career when she joined the cast in 2010. But the big question is: What now? None of these ladies are in as high demand as when Housewives was a pop culture phenomenon, watched by over 20 million people a week. So are they suddenly jobless? Not quite. The lead actresses have shrewdly been lining up post-Housewives gigs for some time now. Well, at least some of them have…
Teri Hatcher (Susan Delfino, nee Mayer)
Aside from being name-dropped (as “the meanest woman in the world”) in the aforementioned Sheridan vs.Cherry/ABC lawsuit, Hatcher hasn’t really been in the headlines at all — even her love life, or lack thereof, hasn’t surfaced much. And then, just a couple weeks ago, wouldn’t you know it, she finally booked her first post-Housewives job: A four-episode arc on ABC Family’s fashion-y dramedy series Jane by Design, on which she’ll also make her directorial debut. The premiere is June 5, and the Hatcher episode airs June 19 — meaning fans will only be Hatcherless for about a month after Housewives ends. Although, such fans might be in for in for a lengthy period without the actress after that, as she hasn’t announced any further plans. Felicity Huffman (Lynette Scavo)
The only Oscar-nominated (for her amazing performance in 2005’s Transamerica) full-time resident of Wisteria Lane has just one concrete post-Housewives project currently lined up, but it’s quite a special one: her husband (and recent co-Hollywood Walk of Fame honoree) William H. Macy's feature directorial debut, Rudderless. Although the movie isn’t their first together — they both starred in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia — Rudderless does mark the couple’s debut as co-leads, which is a testament to just how far Huffman's star power has risen. Of course, she's always possessed great talent, no matter how much fame accompanied it. Aside from Rudderless, Huffman is said to be developing a TNT series and was once attached to David Mamet’s next big-screen adaptation, but both projects appear dormant at the moment. Marcia Cross (Bree Van De Kamp)
After her second TV megahit (the early ‘90s Fox soap Melrose Place being the first), Cross seems the most content to take some substantial time off and plot her next move — if there is one. And who could blame her? Cross has literally been on a TV show or in a movie every year since 1984! While we doubt she’ll completely put an end to that streak and take off all of 2013, it’ll likely be a while before we see Cross again. Eva Longoria (Gabrielle Solis)
The least-known Housewife pre-2004 is unquestionably the most famous of the bunch today (she was also the highest-paid TV actress last year) — and the one we’d have to vote Most Likely to Succeed After Desperate Housewives. While we’ll still be seeing plenty of Longoria on the covers of magazines, we’ll also see a lot of her in character on the big screen: In 2012 alone, she’ll appear in the drama Long Time Gone, the action comedy The Baytown Disco, and the thriller The Truth, alongside Forest Whitaker and Andy Garcia. Separately (i.e., without firm release dates), there’s the canine comedy Who Gets the Dog, the Brendan Fraser-starring historical drama Four Kings, and the animated Hulu series Child Support, on which she’ll voice the “female Peter Griffin”-like lead. So, forget Most Likely to Succeed; if showbiz is measured by the amount of projects you have at any given moment — which, by the way, it is! — then she’s already the most successful post-Housewives Housewife. Vanessa Williams (Renee Perry)
Williams joined the series fresh off a major gig on Ugly Betty, adding her established star power to Wisteria Lane when she became a regular last season. We could wager that Housewives needed her even more than she needed it. Regardless, Williams's career has benefited from her sufficiently catty, vixen-y performance, and no doubt served as a showcase to help score a pair of major upcoming projects: Another potential TV hit in the adaptation 666 Park Ave. on ABC and a prime spot in Tyler Perry's next box office sure thing, 2013's The Marriage Counselor. [Image: ABC] More: 'Desperate Housewives' Shocking Death: Other surprises in Store for Finale? 'Desperate Housewives' Cast Signs On for Season 8 Eva Longoria Lines Up Three Projects
The ladies of Wisteria Lane are prepared to stay another year, maybe two. Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria, and Marcia Cross all signed their names to contracts promising a base salary of $325,000 an episode. With all the extras and forms of additional compensation, that could add up to almost $18 million a season, each. Can I please play a bored housewife on TV? Please? I could be a nosy neighbor in high heels for that kind of cash, any day.
The only issue now is that Desperate Housewives hasn't actually been renewed, though with this sort of commitment, it looks like the order for more episodes is imminent. Also, I lied. There's one more issue. The show's creator Marc Cherry has another fledgling project he needs to tend to (ABC's pilot, Hallelujah), so they may need to enlist fellow executive producer Bob Daily to step in as showrunner while Cherry sets up shop with the new show. Will that change things in the picturesque little neighborhood? Probably not too much, he's been subbing for Cherry as he's been pitching and setting up for Hallelujah anyway.
While Housewives isn't exactly the pop culture icon it was when it began, it's one of ABC's highest rated hour-long dramas, so it would seem that all that extra cash is worth it. As for the yet-to-be-issued renewal order, fans should breathe easy. They wouldn't be waving this kind of cash around if they didn't want to keep the show going. Plus, they likely wanted to make sure they had all the talent before they issued an order for more of the show with only half a cast.
Here's your complete list of the 63rd Annual Golden Globes nominations and winners.
Best Motion Picture--Drama
Brokeback Mountain Winner!
The Constant Gardener
Good Night, and Good Luck
A History of Violence
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture--Drama
Maria Bello, A History of Violence
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica Winner!
Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof
Charlize Theron, North Country
Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture--Drama
Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote Winner!
Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck
Best Motion Picture--Musical or Comedy
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride & Prejudice
The Squid and the Whale
Walk The Line Winner!
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture--Musical or Comedy
Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Laura Linney, The Squid and the Whale
Sarah Jessica Parker, The Family Stone
Reese Witherspoon, Walk The Line Winner!
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture--Musical or Comedy
Pierce Brosnan, The Matador
Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale
Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Nathan Lane, The Producers
Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk The Line Winner!
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Scarlett Johansson, Match Point
Shirley MacLaine, In Her Shoes
Frances McDormand, North Country
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener Winner!
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
George Clooney, Syriana Winner!
Matt Dillon, Crash
Will Ferrell, The Producers
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Bob Hoskins, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Best Director--Motion Picture
Woody Allen, Match Point
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Peter Jackson, King Kong
Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Winner!
Fernando Meirelles, The Constant Gardener
Steven Spielberg, Munich
Best Foreign Language Film
Kung Fu Hustle (China)
Master of the Crimson Armor aka The Promise (China)
Merry Christmas (Joyeux Noel) (France)
Paradise Now (Palestine) Winner!
Tsotsi (South Africa)
Best Screenplay--Motion Picture
Woody Allen, Match Point
George Clooney & Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck
Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, Crash
Tony Kushner & Eric Roth, Munich
Larry McMurty & Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain Winner!
Best Original Score--Motion Picture
Alexandre Desplat, Syriana
James Newton Howard, King Kong
Gustavo Santaolalla, Brokeback Mountain
Harry Gregson-Williams, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
John Williams, Memoirs of a Geisha Winner!
Best Original Song--Motion Picture
“A Love That Will Never Grow Old,” Brokeback Mountain Winner!
“Christmas in Love,” Christmas in Love
“There’s Nothing Like a Show on Broadway,” The Producers
“Travelin’ Thru,” Transamerica
“Wunderkind,” The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Best Television Series--Drama
Commander in Chief (ABC)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Lost (ABC) Winner!
Prison Break (Fox)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series--Drama
Patricia Arquette, Medium
Glenn Close, The Shield
Geena Davis, Commander in Chief Winner!
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Polly Walker, Rome
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series--Drama
Patrick Dempsey, Grey’s Anatomy
Matthew Fox, Lost
Hugh Laurie, House Winner!
Wentworth Miller, Prison Break
Kiefer Sutherland, 24
Best Television Series--Musical or Comedy
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Desperate Housewives (ABC) Winner!
Everybody Hates Chris (UPN)
My Name is Earl (NBC)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series--Musical or Comedy
Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
Teri Hatcher, Desperate Housewives
Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives
Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds Winner!
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series--Musical or Comedy
Zach Braff, Scrubs
Steve Carell, The Office Winner!
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jason Lee, My Name is Earl
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Empire Falls (HBO) Winner!
Into the West (TNT)
Lackawanna Blues (HBO)
Sleeper Cell (Showtime)
Viva Blackpool (BBC America)
Warm Springs (HBO)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Halle Berry, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Kelly MacDonald, The Girl in the Café
S. Epatha Merkerson, Lackawanna Blues Winner!
Cynthia Nixon, Warm Springs
Mira Sorvino, Human Trafficking
Best Performance by an Actor In a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Kenneth Branagh, Warm Springs
Ed Harris, Empire Falls
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Elvis Winner!
Bill Nighy, The Girl in the Café
Donald Sutherland, Human Trafficking
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Candice Bergen, Boston Legal
Camryn Manheim, Elvis
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy Winner!
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Joanne Woodward, Empire Falls
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Naveen Andrews, Lost
Paul Newman, Empire Falls Winner!
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Randy Quaid, Elvis
Donald Sutherland, Commander in Chief
Billed as "a (mostly) true story," "Cradle Will Rock" is an interesting and vibrant look at American theater and art worlds facing adversity in 1930s New York played out as a cautionary tale against artistic censorship.
With an imaginative and informative original screenplay that seamlessly harmonizes true-life events and characters with fictionalized ones and acted with a labor-of-love energy by a cast of over a dozen well-respected actors from both film and stage, Tim Robbins' third directorial and writing effort employs a style that can be described as being both Altmanesque in scope and Sturgeslike in pacing and tone.
Although taking all this in can be a little too frantic and overpowering at times, "Cradle Will Rock" authentically re-creates the look and feel of the period admirably. With a highly charged theatricality that incorporates music and wit, viewing the film almost seems like experiencing live Broadway musical theater (that fact, combined with the subject matter at hand, should make the film a rare delight for theater aficionados yet a bit daunting for some mainstream moviegoers).
At the heart of the story is a production led by a young Orson Welles (Angus MacFadyen, a bit out of control). The production is a controversial musical piece about unionism by a little-known composer named Marc Blitzstein (an intense Hank Azaria). Under the auspices of the government's Works Progress Administration, Welles and his partner, John Houseman (captured with an amusing pretentiousness by Cary Elwes), lead a unit under the Federal Theatre Project (a Depression-era relief agency) headed by purposeful Hallie Flanagan (Tony winner Cherry Jones). Headed for trouble because of its supposedly inflammatory content, the play is eventually shut down by the federal government right before the first performance.
Also dealing with the concept of censorship is renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera (spiritedly played by Ruben Blades), whose freedom of expression is denied after being commissioned by a controlling 24-year-old Nelson Rockefeller (a capable John Cusack) to paint a mural for the new Rockefeller Center.
Other figures of both the elite class, and struggling ones, are effectively played by diverse actors such as Joan Cusack, John Turturro, Emily Watson, Susan Sarandon, Jack Black, Paul Giamatti, John Carpenter and Bob Balaban.
Especially noteworthy are featured side stories involving Bill Murray as an alcoholic has-been ventriloquist and a breezy Kay Thompsonish performance by a delightful Vanessa Redgrave as the bohemian-spirited socialite wife of a fictional industrialist portrayed by the prolific Philip Baker Hall.
The coming together of all these tales is the climax of the piece, where the troupe of the ill-fated "The Cradle Will Rock" rally behind Welles, Houseman and Blitzstein to persevere in a show-must-go-on fashion (reminiscent of a popular theme in many musicals of the same time period). Extremely well-staged, this rousing finale captures an exciting yet fairly obscure moment in American musical-theater history and revels in it as a symbol of free expression triumphing over small-minded artistic oppression.
Outstanding technical expertise includes the work of esteemed French cinematographer Jean Yves Escoffier, frequent Altman editor Geraldine Peroni and Robbins' regular production designer, 1999 Tony Award winner Richard Hoover. Production is greatly served by the detailed work of costume designer Ruth Meyers (whose period work in 'L.A. Confidential' also left an impressive mark) and the team of hair and makeup artists headed, respectively, by Kathe Swanson and Linda Grimes.
* MPAA rating: R, for some language and sexuality.
"Cradle Will Rock"
Hank Azaria: Marc Blitzstein Angus MacFadyen: Orson Welles John Cusack: Nelson Rockefeller Cary Elwes: John Houseman Susan Sarandon: Margherita Sarfatti Emily Watson: Olive Stanton Joan Cusack: Hazel Huffman John Turturro: Aldo Silvano
A Buena Vista presentation. Director Tim Robbins. Screenplay Tim Robbins. Producers Tim Robbins, Jon Kilik and Lydia Dean Pilcher. Director of photography Jean Yves Escoffier. Editor Geraldine Peroni. Music David Robbins. Production designer Richard Hoover. Costume designer Ruth Myers. Art directors Troy Sizemore and Peter Rogers. Set decorator Deborah Schutt. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.