Imagine a world where wizards, aliens, Bigfoot, zombies, and demons are real. Now…imagine they all live in New York City and are governed by a bureaucratic department of the government. Ugly Americans takes an addictively offensive look at immigration, politics, and pop culture in an animated series that brings a million fictional worlds to reality.
Mark Lilly has a typical New York story. He moves into town and becomes a social worker. He has a gross roommate and a sexy girlfriend. The difference is he’s a social worker for Social Services Division of the Department of Integration. His roommate Randall is a zombie who likes interspecies sex and leaves his limbs lying around. His girlfriend Callie Maggotbone (Natasha Leggerro) is a succubus destined to bring about the end of the world if she mates with their boss, Twayne Boneraper. Each episode, Mark must contend with some sort of political issue and is often stressed by violent tantrums on the part of Callie or some sort of life threatening issue via Randall or his co-worker, Leonard Powers, an alcoholic wizard.
The series is hilarious. It uses bizarre creatures to comment on the culture clash of different people and personalities in a large urban area. The dialogue is also very snarky and quote-worthy. Leggerro somehow manages to keep the sarcastic and sexy tone that has gotten her in trouble with veterans on New Years Eve 2013 and has made her a household name in comedy. The series has the right level of irreverence for an adult animated series while still having some of the fun and whimsy of a cartoon. With the large number of cartoons about families with bizarre cutaways and outlandish scenarios, it’s fun to see a series that takes advantage of the fantastical possibilities afforded by animation. The series can bend reality, have a character turn into a demon, or have a city filled with thousands of different species each with a new potential for jokes.
The oddly addictive show has all the fun of a series like Futurama and the offensive yet political bent of a show like South Park. Luckily, all 31 episodes and two seasons are available on Hulu Plus.
The powers that be on Arrow have snagged Once Upon a Time’s Dr. Frankenstein — aka David Anders — to play a truly monstrous villain on the freshman CW hit. The Alias alum will cause trouble in Starling City (beginning with episode 13) as Cyrus Vanch, a ruthless criminal who is released from prison but clearly has not learned his lesson. Vanch will be the biggest bad our hooded hero has ever faced. Dun dun duuun! [Zap2it]
AMC Gets Dramatic: AMC has ordered two new drama pilots from the producers of two successful shows. First up is Halt & Catch Fire from Breaking Bad EP Mark Johnson, which centers on "The personal computing boom in the 1980s." But instead of being set in the all-too-familiar Silicon Valley, the setting is Texas’ "Silicon Prairie," located just north of Dallas. Next is Turn, from Nikita creator/executive producer Craig Silverstein and Barry Josephson. Turn is a revolutionary war drama set in 1778, that tells the story of a New York farmer who rallies his childhood friends into a unlikely group of spies in the fight for America’s independence. [EW]
More Roughness to Come: USA Network is ready to tackle a third season of Necessary Roughness — the drama, which stars Callie Thorne as New York sports psychologist Dr. Dani Santino, is just about to be picked up for a third season. The new order will likely be for just ten episodes, however — a shorter stint than either of the drama's previous two seasons. [Deadline]
Comedy Central Orders More Laughs: Looks like there's something in the water — Key & Peele has also been renewed for a third season. The 13-episode third cycle of the show — starring Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele — will premiere next fall. The sketch comedy series was an insta-hit in its January debut, winning audiences over with its unique sketches (including President Obama's "anger translator"). "Since Obama won re-election, it only seems fair that we would give Key & Peele another season," said Comedy Central’s head of original programming, Kent Alterman.
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
The spy games continue as yet more CIA operatives attempt to keep a nuclear bomb out of the hands of Uncle Sam-hating international terrorists.
Whereas last week's The Sum of All Fears depicted the threat of nuclear annihilation with grave solemnity, producer Jerry Bruckheimer's Bad Company plays it for laughs. Sort of.
Ticket scalper Chris Rock finds himself dodging bullets when his twin brother, a CIA agent, is killed in the line of duty. With Anthony Hopkins by his side, Rock assumes his twin brother's cover in order to retrieve a stolen nuclear bomb.
As with the satirical but equally unsatisfying Big Trouble, Bad Company was delayed last year in the wake of the tragic events of Sept. 11. Unlike Big Trouble, which bombed in April with a total $7.1 million, Bad Company should enjoy a strong debut on the strength of its unusual casting. Bruckheimer loves to launch his big, loud and vacuous action yarns in early June, with 1996's The Rock ($25.1 million opening, $134 million total), 1997's Con Air ($24.1 million opening; $101.1 million total) and 2000's Gone In 60 Seconds ($25.3 million opening, $101.6 million total) all becoming major summer draws.
Bad Company might open with $25 million, but it's unlikely reach the heights of The Rock, Con Air and Gone In 60 Seconds. Under Joel Schumacher's labored direction, Bad Company is neither exciting nor particularly witty. It's also a rather drab affair, which comes as a surprise considering Schumacher put the camp back into Batman. Hopkins looks bored and unenthusiastic about working with Rock. The comic throws out the occasional humorous remark, but he looks as uncomfortable holding a gun in Bad Company as he did in Lethal Weapon 4. Expect Bad Company to hit $60 million.
Accordingly, if bad word of mouth starts to spread, audiences might forsake Bad Company for the adrenaline rush of The Sum of All Fears or the out-and-out farce of Undercover Brother. It also doesn't help that next week sees the release of another spy-themed thriller, The Bourne Identity.
The Sum of All Fears should withstand Bad Company's arrival admirably. The Jack Ryan franchise clearly survived Ben Affleck replacing Harrison Ford as Tom Clancy's harried CIA analyst. The fourth Ryan film opened with a series-best $31.1 million. With $40.3 million through Wednesday, The Sum of All Fears will surpass the disappointing Patriot Games ($18.5 opening, $83.2 million total) with ease. It will likely fall short of Clear and Present Danger ($20.3 million opening, $122 million total) or The Hunt for Red October ($17.1 million opening, $120.7 million total) because of rivals Bad Company and The Bourne Identity.
Undercover Brother should continue to palate audiences eagerly awaiting Austin Powers in Goldmember. Eddie Griffin's spy spoof opened with a cool $12 million--better than Double Take ($11.7 million) and The New Guy ($9 million)--and has $15.2 million through Wednesday. Not even The Man can stop Undercover Brother from exceeding Double Take's $29.8 million total by at least $10 million.
To counterbalance the testosterone now overrunning movie theaters, Thelma & Louise screenwriter Callie Khouri unveils her directorial debut, the decidedly feminine Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
Based on the 1996 novel by Rebecca Wells, this tale of Southern belles stars Sandra Bullock as a playwright trying to cope with her eccentric mother (Ellen Burstyn), who is a key member of a circle of friends know as the Ya-Yas. Bullock's A Time to Kill co-star Ashley Judd plays the mother during flashbacks to the 1930s and 1940s.
Women apathetic to international espionage, superheroes and Jedi Knights should flock en masse to Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. So-called "chick flicks" tend to do well in the summer as an alternative to blockbusters bursting with shootouts, car chases and earthshaking explosions. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood should easily fall somewhere between the grosses of such similar summer offerings as Bullock's Hope Floats ($14.2 opening, $60.1 million total) and the Khouri-scripted Something to Talk About ($11.1 million opening, $50.8 million total).
Without the presence of a strong leading man to lure even so much as a marginal male audience, though, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood won't duplicate the success of other summer romances as Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer ($75.3 million) or Clint Eastwood's The Bridges of Madison County ($71.5 million).
Still, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood should see Judd and Bullock regain their box office luster following the recent disappointing performances of their respective thrillers, High Crimes ($40.9 million through Sunday) and Murder by Numbers ($31.2 million through Sunday).
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood also hits theaters at a time when Diane Lane's Unfaithful, Hugh Grant's About a Boy and Jennifer Lopez's Enough are falling out of favor.
Unfaithful was always destined to lose steam once it faced the likes of Insomnia and Enough. With $46.7 million through Wednesday, the sexually charged thriller does represent Richard Gere's biggest hit--minus his Runaway Bride reunion with Pretty Woman co-star Julia Roberts--since 1997's The Jackal ($54.9 million). Unfaithful also may finally establish Lane as a viable box office prospect after such howlers as Hardball and The Glass House.
With $29.3 million through Wednesday, About a Boy looks set to become the least seen of such Grant-headlined, British-set comedies as Notting Hill ($116 million), Bridget Jones's Diary ($71.5 million) and Four Weddings and a Funeral ($52.7 million). Perhaps it has something to with the lack of an American female co-star?
Enough's quick fade--$29.3 million through Wednesday--suggests that the novelty of watching women kick butt in the movies, especially ones that rip off Julia Roberts' Sleeping with the Enemy, is wearing off fast. Lopez should have better luck when she returns at Christmas with the romantic comedy The Chambermaid.
The Force isn't quite with Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.
The fifth in George Lucas' space epic earned slightly better reviews than the maligned The Phantom Menace, but it's lagging behind its predecessor at the box office. Attack of the Clones dropped a worrying 56 percent in its third weekend, from $47.8 million to $21 million, vs. The Phantom Menace 36 percent drop, from $51.3 million to $32.8 million. Indeed, The Phantom Menace made $25.6 million in its fourth weekend.
Through Wednesday, its 21st day in release, Attack of the Clones has $238.9 million. The Phantom Menace amassed $263.6 million during the same period.
Attack of the Clones' troubling descent can be contributed to, among other factors, Spider-Man. The superhero supplanted Jurassic Park ($357 million) on Wednesday as the fifth highest-grossing film domestically by grossing a total $358.5 million. No film has made more money since, ironically, The Phantom Menace earned $431 million in 1999.
The Phantom Menace did not face similar competition early into its run. The anticipation surrounding the first Star Wars film in 16 years also enabled The Phantom Menace to overcome its overwhelmingly negative reviews.
At this rate, Attack of the Clones should wind up with a total somewhere between Return of the Jedi's $309.2 million and The Empire Strikes Back's $290.2 million. But barely breaking $300 million--and not earning more than the first installments in the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings sagas--must come as a disappointment for Lucas after The Phantom Menace's stellar showing.
Americanizing European thrillers rarely works. Something obviously got lost in the translation when it came to Point of No Return ($30 million), The Vanishing ($14.5 million) and Nightwatch ($1.1 million).
Not so with Insomnia, Memento director Christopher Nolan's chilling version of the clever Norwegian thriller of the same name. With $44.8 million through Wednesday, the Alaskan-set thriller is obviously benefiting from its intriguing cat-and-mouse game between fatigued cop Al Pacino and scheming killer Robin Williams. Pacino looks set to enjoy another moderate success on the scale of Devil's Advocate ($61 million). Williams could revive his flagging fortunes following such disappointments as Bicentennial Man ($58.2 million), Death to Smoochy ($8.3 million) and Jakob the Liar ($4.9 million).
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, which opened during the Memorial Day holiday, is further evidence that the days when traditional animation offerings ruled the box office are long gone. Spirit's $42.7 million total through Wednesday barely matches the opening weekend hauls of such CGI sensations as Ice Age ($46.3 million) and Shrek ($42.3 million). Spirit should gallop to about $60 million.
Indifferent reviews did not harm The Importance of Being Earnest. This star-studded adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play has made $1.4 million through Sunday at a maximum 147 theaters.
Also in limited release, My Big Fat Greek Wedding remains a well-attended affair. Now in its seventh week, the romantic comedy has $8.8 million. Y Tu Mama Tambien and Monsoon Wedding continue their extraordinary runs with, respectively, $11.5 million and $11.4 million through Sunday.
The code-breaking machinations of Enigma, though, isn't proving to be much of a thrill. The World War II drama starring Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet has a paltry $2 million after seven weeks. Coupled with the recent dismissal of Charlotte Gray, Enigma demonstrates that American audiences currently have little interest in World War II as seen through the eyes of the British.