Leave it to Hollywood to try to fool audiences into thinking that Walter Matthau and any woman could produce offspring in the form of Diane Keaton, Lisa Kudrow and Meg Ryan.
The three actresses, who, uh, aside from their gender have nothing but blond hair in common, co-star in Columbia Pictures' "Hanging Up" (opening today) as sisters dealing with an aging father (Matthau).
"Hanging Up" The Pointer Sisters they are not. How do three kids -- who in flashbacks appear close in age -- grow up into a mismatched trio wherein Keaton suddenly looks (at least) 15 years older than Ryan and Kudrow? Welcome to Hollywood-style gene splicing.
"Hanging Up" is just the latest example of mismatched sibling combos. Consider:
-- "Little Women": The lack of family genes is very obvious in Gillian Armstrong's 1994 remake featuring an Oscar-nominated turn by Winona Ryder. Ryder is but one of the four sisters; cast as her siblings are Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst and Trini Alvarado. At least Ryder and Alvarado have the same hair color, but the fair red-headed Danes and dirty blond Dunst are off in left field, and on opposite ends at that.
-- "The Brothers McMullen": Actor-writer-director Edward Burns, Jack Mulcahy and Mike McGlone could never pass as brothers. In fact, Burns and McGlone, who reunite in the "Brothers McMullen" follow-up "She's the One," look absolutely nothing alike. Well, unless they had different fathers and mothers.
-- "Family Business": In this little-seen 1989 Sidney Lumet bomb, a son (Matthew Broderick) estranged from his father (Dustin Hoffman) enlists the help of his career-criminal grandfather (portrayed by a very Scottish Sean Connery) to pull off a heist. Broderick, Hoffman and Connery are never believable as family -- of this Earth, anyway. Connery begat Hoffman begat Broderick? Forget genetics, this is perhaps the most egregious example yet of star packaging gone awry. Speaking of Connery, witness the familial casting insanity in 1998's "Playing by Heart." Connery is married to Gena Rowlands, and their daughters are Gillian Anderson, Madeleine Stowe and Angelina Jolie. Uh, OK.
The problem also affects TV shows. Consider:
-- "Sisters": In this touchy-feely 1991-96 series, Sela Ward, Swoosie Kurtz and Julianne Phillips (Bruce Springsteen's ex-wife, the one with really full lips) are about the funniest mismatched trio on television since "The Three Stooges." The dark-haired Ward, who in her small cameo role at the beginning of the Harrison Ford starrer "The Fugitive" looks oddly like ice skater Nancy Kerrigan, would never be mistaken for the redhead Kurtz. Actually, does anyone in Hollywood resemble Kurtz?
"Eight Is Enough" -- "Eight Is Enough": Poor Adam Rich. He looked nothing like his non-mop-topped siblings on this 1970s show, and they looked nothing like him. (Which, at least, was consistent. The other faux siblings -- particularly the five actresses cast as the five Bradford sisters -- looked nothing like each other, either.) Apparently eight was not enough. "The Cosby Show" and even "The Brady Bunch" did it better.
-- "Family Ties": "I bet we've been together for a million years." So says the theme song from this 1982-89 sitcom, but take a look at the original Keaton siblings (Michael J. Fox, Justine Bateman and Tina Yothers) and you know that "Family Ties" even a million years couldn't make these three (later, four -- when Brian Bonsall joined the cast) look like family. Fox and the little Bonsall could pass as brothers. Heck, even Fox and Bateman could pass as siblings with a little stretch of the imagination, but where did Tina Yothers' Jennifer Keaton come from, with her big '80s blond hair? The adoption agency?
But fear not, for all is not lost. Casting directors have made some uncannily good decisions for siblings. Julia Roberts and Kyra Sedgwick work as sisters in "Something to Talk About." So the potential is out there.
And those Baldwin brothers sure do look a lot alike.
If the Gallup pollsters of America had their way, "The Sixth Sense" and "Big Daddy" would sweep the Academy Awards. The two films dominated the film categories at the 26th Annual People's Choice Awards on Sunday night at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
"The Sixth Sense," which also stands a strong chance of Oscar nomination, won awards for Favorite Motion Picture and Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture; its star, its star, Bruce Willis, picked up the award for Favorite Motion Picture Star in a Drama.
"Big Daddy," which stands virtually no chance at an Oscar nomination (unless voters suddenly concoct a Best Achievement in Spitballs category), won for Favorite Comedy Motion Picture; Adam Sandler won Favorite Motion Picture Star in a Comedy.
Julia Roberts, who scored a double box-office whammy last summer with "Notting Hill" and "Runaway Bride," bested Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock for Favorite Motion Picture Actress, while Calista Flockhart and Jennifer Love Hewitt tearfully accepted their awards for Favorite Female Television Performer and Favorite Female Television Performer in a New Series, respectively.
"I don't know why I'm so shaky right now," Flockhart said backstage. "I think that one of the reasons I became an actress is to have a night like this."
During the telecast, winners such as Flockhart were taken behind the scenes to meet the media hounds -- reporters hungry for good sound bites, not to mention the tasty little sandwiches that seemed to keep disappearing. Some backstage highlights:
TRUE CONFESSIONS? Sandler, upon accepting his awards for "Big Daddy," declared that he had "slept with 6,000 women," a revelation that caused the cast of "Stark Raving Mad" to pause in their press conference to watch on the monitor. Ford countered by humbly noting in his acceptance speech, "I made love to the two women Adam hasn't made love to."
SOMEONE'S BITTER: Matthew Perry, presenting the favorite dramatic-film actor category, lamented that he wasn't nominated for his film turn in "Three to Tango" (which wasn't even a drama, but whatever works for a joke). When members of the crowd screamed back, "We love you, Matthew!" He retorted, "Evidently, not enough."
WHAT NOT TO ASK: Jennifer Aniston thought she had escaped The Brad Question (as in, "When are you marring Mr. Pitt?") backstage after the "Friends'" win. But one reporter managed to call it out to her as she was leaving. The good-natured Aniston just patted her arm and said, "Oh, come now," before she disappeared.
BUT WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO IS ACT: Haley Joel Osment, the 11-year-old co-star of "The Sixth Sense," is on top of the world, or so it seems to Bruce Willis. Said Willis of Osment's recent Golden Globe nomination: "I expected it. I also expect him to get an Oscar nomination, too ... I never felt like I was working with a kid. People would ask me how it was working with 'the kid,' and I would have to correct them." Osment, meanwhile, is looking to other things. "I actually really want to do stage work," he said. "I know a lot of people went the other way, starting in theater and moving to film, but I'd really like the experience." (Maybe he could play Hamlet, since that guy saw dead people, too.)
WHAT'S HIS NAME AGAIN? The bleacher crowd outside the Pasadena Civic served as a cheering section for any star walking down the red carpet. But despite the likes of Julia Roberts and Calista Flockhart waving and smiling, the biggest cheers went to Betty White ("Ladies' Man"), who was delighted when the audience shouted her name, and Neil Patrick Harris of NBC's "Stark Raving Mad." However, Harris soon found it would be long before he escaped his 1980s television role when the mostly Gen-X crowd chanted, "DOOGIE! DOOGIE!"
SPOTTED: At least one (male) journalist bopping up and down when a video clip of the Backstreet Boys' bubble-gum pop anthem "I Want it That Way" was aired.
Here's a complete rundown of the winners at the 26th Annual People's Choice Awards:
Favorite Motion Picture: "The Sixth Sense" Favorite Motion Picture Actor: Harrison Ford Favorite Motion Picture Actress: Julia Roberts Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture: "The Sixth Sense" Favorite Comedy Motion Picture: "Big Daddy" Favorite Motion Picture Star in a Drama: Bruce Willis, "The Sixth Sense" Favorite Motion Picture Star in a Comedy: Adam Sandler, "Big Daddy" Favorite Television Dramatic Series: "ER," NBC Favorite Television Comedy Series: "Friends," NBC Favorite Male Television Performer: Drew Carey, "The Drew Carey Show" Favorite Female Television Performer: Calista Flockhart, "Ally McBeal" Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Series: Billy Campbell, "Once and Again" Favorite Female Performer in a New Television Series: Jennifer Love Hewitt, "Time of Your Life" Favorite New Comedy Series: (voted online) "Stark Raving Mad," NBC Favorite New Dramatic Series: (voted online) "Providence," NBC Favorite Musical Group: Backstreet Boys Favorite Male Artist: Ricky Martin Favorite Female Artist: Shania Twain
Kindly chemistry whiz Sherman (Eddie Murphy) has found the love of his life in cutie colleague Denise (Janet Jackson) who appreciates the heart of gold beneath his extra-large exterior. But the hero's happiness is threatened when his irrepressible alter-ego Buddy Love (Murphy) reappears with a scheme to wreak havoc with Sherman's newly discovered youth potion.
"The Klumps" displays Murphy's remarkable talent for submerging himself in diverse characters even more prominently than the original did. He impressively expands upon the four Klump family members he plays with the aid of Rick Baker's Oscar-winning prosthetic makeup effects -- especially his hilarious turn as sex-crazed Granny Klump. Larry Miller is amusingly caustic as the dean of Sherman's college while pop diva Jackson deserves credit simply for keeping a straight face opposite Murphy's various incarnations.
Peter Segal ("Tommy Boy") hands in a polished if not particularly inspired piece of broad comedy that achieves its primary purpose -- staying out of Murphy's way as he works his special magic. The filmmakers pay little attention to the brainless shamelessly mechanical plotline devoting nearly all their energy to fart and sex gags that if anything aim lower than the original film's. We're talking about a flick draws one of its biggest laughs from a character getting sodomized by a giant hamster. Baby that's nasty!