Casting TIdbits: Looks like June from ABC’s Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23 (Dreama Walker) has some competition — and no, it's not her roommate Chloe (Krysten Ritter). Angelique Cabral has nabbed the recurring role of Fox Paris, a junior analyst who works with June at her new firm. Meanwhile, Steven Culp will go to Grey's Anatomy, Maureen Sebastian heads to NBC's Revolution, Wendy Crewson will stir the pot on Revenge, and Tara Summers will work with a fictional Tara (Maggie Siff) on Sons of Anarchy. [Deadline]
Happy Endings: Looks like this year might be the actual year of Penny (Casey Wilson). The perennial singleton is about to gain a long-term (at least six episodes) beau. Nick Zano, who recently starred in 2 Broke Girls, will play Pete — the brave man willing to take on the challenge. [THR]
American Horror Story: Finally, AHS has given us something to scream about. After several 15-second bits of creepy nuns and old bathtubs, FX released a trailer that shows the new cast (including Adam Levine, Chloe Sevigny, Joseph Fiennes, and James Cromwell) and the old (Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto, Lily Rabe, and Sarah Paulson) in costume, as a creepy take on "Que Sera Sera" plays in the background. Can it be October 5 now? [TVLine]
30 Rock: 30 Rock is known for its great guest stars, but this year they're about to get bad — Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston will appear alongside comedy great Catherine O'Hara. O'Hara will play the mysterious hillbilly Kenneth's (Jack McBrayer) mom, while Cranston will play her special "friend." [EW]
[PHOTO CREDIT: David Edwards]
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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.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
After witnessing a sociopathic older bully named Mick beat up two high-school jocks straight-arrow Charlie secretly tells the cops what happened but then rescinds his testimony thinking Mick never knew. Three years later the two are reunited when Mick unexpectedly turns up in Charlie’s college dorm and starts dangerously weaving himself back into Charlie’s life.
WHO’S IN IT?
As Charlie Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale the upcoming Adventureland) gets the well-intentioned if weak-kneed nature of a kid who is alternately concerned confused and intimidated by a charismatic but creepy guy he can’t seem to shake. The real revelation is John Ritter’s son Jason Ritter playing a classic bully personality but giving it an intriguing cutting edge. His Mick is a guy who seems to be a combination of a potentially dynamic individual and a walking time bomb a dude who can’t control himself but tries to manipulate others. The object of Charlie’s desire and Mick’s sudden attention is also well-played by Eva Amurri (daughter of Susan Sarandon).
A rare college story that isn’t about boobs and beer parties The Education of Charlie Banks tries hard to be a character-driven drama about the divergent social paths of young people who are clearly the products of the environment in which they grew up.
Director/rock star Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) makes an uneven directorial debut and seems to fall victim to the inconsistencies in the sketchy screenplay by Peter Elkoff. Exactly what point are they trying to make here? Never rat on a bully or he’ll come back to haunt you? Everyone’s had experience with this kind of person but the frequent lack of credibility in the treatment probably won’t have many in the audience relating.
A two-year wait for distribution after its 2007 Tribeca Film Festival debut doesn’t bode well for a nicely performed but ultimately indifferent independently produced movie.
Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) is a big-spending but cash-poor shopaholic who has dreams of working for her favorite fashion magazine but ironically is given a job as a columnist for a financial magazine from the same publisher. Of course not being the perfect candidate to dole out advice on managing money she butts heads with her good-looking but work-obsessed editor (Hugh Dancy) until this being a romantic comedy the sparks start flying between them. Her efforts to conquer her addictions hit her fashion career goals and find love and contentment carry this lightweight concoction. Confessions is worth the ride if only to establish Fisher as a comic star in her own right. So good in supporting roles in movies like Wedding Crashers she gets to shine showing humor heart and chutzpah as a girl who never met a credit card she didn’t like. She turns a character who could have been gratingly annoying into someone even the non-shopaholics in the audience can easily identify with and root for. Dancy is a great foil and perfect opposite in the great tradition of romantic comedies going back to the ‘30s and ‘40s. A raft of familiar faces also turn up amusingly including John Lithgow as the magazine magnate John Goodman and Joan Cusack as Rebecca’s loopy parents and the wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas as a somewhat clueless French fashion editor. But pay special attention to newcomer Krysten Ritter as Fisher’s moneybags roommate. Australian P.J. Hogan certainly has shown a penchant for this kind of comedy first with the sleeper hit Muriel's Wedding and then the Julia Roberts smash My Best Friend's Wedding. He knows when to tone it down and go for heart which is key to making a broad comedy like this work overall. The film also makes New York terrific Technicolored bright and inviting. It helps that the bestselling books by Sophie Kinsella on which the script is based provide such smart core material. Whether timing in the current economic crisis is right for a movie about an upscale shopaholic is beside the point. Clearly this is more fantasy now than ever and that’s probably all good.