For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
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Who runs the world? If you're looking at last night's Super Bowl XLVII, than the answer seems to be girls, or more rightly, women.
From Beyoncé to Budweiser, the non-football elements of the biggest television event of the year were greatly driven by women and women's interests, making this year one for the ladies. A quick look at Monday's top Google searches, and it's clear that ladies are the ones dictating the discussion. Beyoncé, Super Bowl Commercials (many of which were clearly aimed at women), and the Puppy Bowl are all ranked higher than the game itself and retiring linebacker Ray Lewis. During the broadcast, Bey's halftime show generated 5.5 million tweets and the tweets-per-minute rate was almost double that of the game-making 49ers touchdown after the blackout and the final seconds of the game in which the Baltimore Ravens took the title. Even FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, got in on the action, tweeting, "Watching the #SuperBowl with family & friends. @Beyonce was phenomenal! I am so proud of her!" and signing it affectionately, "-mo." If you're looking at social media, it appears that the girl power-heavy halftime show was a bigger draw than the game itself.
RELATED: 47 Reasons Beyonce's Halftime Show Was Better Than the Game
But it wasn't just about Beyoncé. The game also opened with two other strong, talented women. Beyoncé's Dreamgirls co-star and vocal powerhouse Jennifer Hudson began the pre-game festivities with "America the Beautiul" and girl power figure Alicia Keys followed with a near-perfect "Star-Spangled Banner." It was clear that this year, more than ever before, the producers behind the Super Bowl were conscious of catering to both the usual beer-slinging, Taco-Bell-loving, he-men most ads and programming have catered to in years past and women. But why wouldn't they? According to most recent market research, women are the ones to aim for when it comes to marketing and social media.
According to Comscore, women account for the majority of social media users and are generally more engaged. Pontiflex adds that women on social media tend to be more influential than men. And when it comes to spending, Pontiflex also reports that women are responsible for 85 percent of household spending, and hold the majority of spending decisions in big Super Bowl advertising categories such as food, new cars, and personal computers.
With data like that, it should come as no surprise that some of the more beloved Super Bowl commercials are clearly marketed toward society's big spenders. Best Buy — a company that generally takes aim at men — enlisted lady hero Amy Poehler and her supposed love of Fifty Shades of Grey to sell its wares. Jeep sought the help of womankind's favorite lifestyle guru, Oprah Winfrey, as the voiceover for its emotional Super Bowl spot this year and Kia went for the cute, ooh-and-awww-inspiring story of Babylandia to entice its potential buyers. Where Budweiser usually goes for the rugged, All-American feel — showing us amber waves of grain and the strength of plodding Clydesdales — 2013 showed us the kinder, gentler side of America's favorite beer, giving us a love story between a man and the horse he raises from pony to steed, set appropriately to "Landslide." Even commercials that appeared to skew towards men, like Time Warner's Walking Dead-invades-your-home spot and Tide's miracle stain ad, end with the twist: Sorry, dudes, but women are the ones holding the reins. (Miracle stain guy is bested by his wife, who's rooting against his Ravens, and even Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead isn't too badass to heed mom's requests.) And that Calvin Klein ad, with a shiny, unbelievably buff model was definitely a little something for the ladies. While gross-out spots like Go Daddy's Bar Refaeli ad (which was offensive to nerds, people with ears, and living, breathing humans everywhere) and the borderline-rapey commercial for Gildan activewear, which featured a sneaky guy escaping after a one-night-stand, but not without trying to rip his t-shirt off his conquest first, the winning ads of the night were the feel-good, non-gender specific spots, and a few very-obviously female-skewing spots.
RELATED: Super Bowl XLVII's Best and Worst Ads
Yes, when the confetti fell on the Super Dome in New Orleans, it was for a team of sweaty dudes, but the night, overall, was a win for the ladies. Looking at the overnight ratings, which have been deemed the highest in history, made Super Bowl XLVII the biggest television event in the U.S., ever. The broadcast pulled in a 48.1 rating, which is equivalent to 114.7 million homes and 71 percent of the nation's televisions, and with the incessant chatter surrounding Beyoncé before (and long after) the halftime performance, it's hard to believe that the women who foretold that girls would run the world isn't at least partially to thank for the boost in viewership. UPDATE: The early numbers don't always match actual numbers and Super Bowl ratings were actually slightly down from years past, but interaction, especially during the halftime show, was still rather high and still rather focused on the lady of the five (plus) hour telecast.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: AP Images (2)]
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The premiere episode of Vegas showcases its titular city at the dawn of its prosperity. The program is set in the early 1960s, finger on the trigger of the takeoff of Nevada’s lap of luxury. There are signs of what’s to come: Michael Chiklis plays Vincent Savino, a kingpin mobster and casino owner whose businesses (both the legitimate and the “otherwise”) are on the rise. Michael O’Neill, as good-guy Mayor Bennett, promotes the thriving tourist attraction that his city is bound to be. There are a lot of pieces in place — pieces that could independently promise a bright future to Las Vegas. But they’re not exactly working in harmony. The same can be said for the makeup of the show itself.
Vegas seems to shoot for a few different identities in its pilot. Headlining the series is Dennis Quaid, playing the gruff Ralph Lamb, a salt-of-the-earth ranch owner, renegade lawman, war veteran, widower and single father… just about every quality he’d need to have for us to be sure that he’s the hero, and then some. By his side are his more even-keeled younger brother Jack (Jason O’Mara) and his ne’er-do-well twentysomething son Dixon (Taylor Handley), and a herd of cattle who can’t stand the low-flying planes that the nearby airport attracts.
After a violent run-in with the airport proprietors over said issue, Ralph is called in by his old war buddy Mayor Bennett. In exchange for a drop of the assault and battery charges to which Ralph is due, the World War II vet and skilled detective is called upon to solve the murder of the governor’s niece — an employee at Savino’s casino who is found dead in a desert ditch.
Right up until this point, Vegas seemed to promise something — something you couldn’t help likening to Boardwalk Empire. All the factors seemed to scream period drama: crooks running a highly vivid town in a highly vivid decade. And as this, it would have the potential to outshine its HBO peer on premise alone. Las Vegas trumps Atlantic City; the ‘60s are far more a thrill than the ‘20s. All in all, it wouldn’t be such a long shot to think that Vegas might even live up to Boardwalk, all things considered. But CBS seems to stockpiles one too many concepts into its new program.
Intermittent scenes in the pilot are devoted to building this world, as would be the case in a period drama. We see Savino running things from the shadows, the runaway sheriff and begrudging district attorney revealing their stakes in some underhanded business, the budding of the magical town. But the vast majority of Vegas doesn’t remind one of Boardwalk Empire at all. It’s closer to Law & Order.
Such a large pulp of the episode is spent following the Lamb boys investigate and solve this crime of the murdered young woman. One-off suspects are interviewed, motives are collected, et al — you know the drill. The show seems bent on balancing its period drama with a bona fide crime procedural. And what’s more, it looks like it’s giving the bulk of its attention to the latter motif. So why even bother investing its setting in someplace and time so distinct as Vegas in the ‘60s?
You wouldn’t even be able to tell you were in the ‘60s (or in Vegas, for that matter), if you happened into the episode after the introduction of the setting. Minus the lack of cell phones, there’s nothing to separate the M.O. of Vegas’ Quaid scenes from the investigations of Justified (even the hats are the same).
The far more interesting and potentially innovative elements are sidelined, as they have less to do with the show’s leading man… at least for now. Chiklis and Quaid enjoy a few increasingly hostile encounters, foreshadowing a rivalry that’s bound to carry the pair through some pretty high-stakes crime.
This kept in mind, we might see Vegas break free from the procedure that formed the pilot and launch its stars into more plot-driving and less self-contained crime stories. And what’s more, hopefully we’ll learn a bit more about these characters, beyond mere expository information about the death of Ralph Lamb’s wife and about his skills as a crime solver. But if we’re meant to understand this episode’s formula — the run-of-the-mill Stabler and Benson routine — as the series’ M.O., then it might be fair to call Vegas’ attention misplaced.
[Photo Credit: CBS]
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The trailers for Hope Springs might lead you to believe it's a romantic comedy about a couple trying to jumpstart their sexless marriage but it causes more empathetic cringing than chuckles. Audiences will be drawn to Hope Springs by its stars Meryl Streep Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and Streep's track record of pleasing summer movies like Julie & Julia and Mamma Mia! that offer a respite from the blockbusters flooding theaters. Despite what its marketing might have you believe Hope Springs isn't a rom-com. The film is a disarming mixture of deeply intimate confessions by a married couple in the sanctuary of a therapist's office awkwardly honest attempts by that couple to physically reconnect and incredibly sappy scenes underscored by intrusive music. Boldly addressing female desire especially in older women it's hard not to give the movie extra credit for what writer Vanessa Taylor's script is trying to convey and its rarity in mainstream film. The ebb and flow of intimacy and desire in a long-term relationship is what drives Hope Springs and while there are plenty contrived moments and unresolved issues it is frankly surprising and surprisingly frank. It's a summer release from a major studio with high caliber stars aimed squarely at the generally underserved 50+ audience addressing the even more taboo topic of that audience's sex life.
Streep plays Kay a suburban wife who's deeply unsatisfied emotionally and sexually by her marriage to Arnold. Arnold who is played by Tommy Lee Jones as his craggiest sleeps in a separate bedroom now that their kids have left the nest; he's like a stone cold robot emotionally and physically and Kay tiptoes around trying to make him happy even as he ignores her every gesture. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is at the very beginning when Kay primps and fusses over her modest sleepwear in the hopes of seducing her husband. Streep makes it obvious that this isn't an easy thing for Kay; it takes all her guts to try and wordlessly suggest sex to her husband and when she's shot down it hurts to watch. This isn't a one time disconnect between their libidos; this is an ongoing problem that leaves Kay feeling insecure and undesirable.
After a foray into the self-help section of her bookstore Kay finds a therapist who holds week-long intensive couples' therapy sessions in Good Hope Springs ME and in a seemingly unprecedented moment of decisiveness she books a trip for the couple. Arnold of course is having none of it but he eventually comes along for the ride. That doesn't mean he's up for answering any of Dr. Feld's questions though. To be fair Dr. Feld (Carell) is asking the couple deeply intimate questions so if Arnold is comfortable foisting his amorous wife off with the excuse he had pork for lunch it's not so far-fetched to believe he'd be angry when Feld asks him about his fantasy life or masturbation habits.
Although Arnold gets a pass on some of his issues Kay is forthright about why and how she's dissatisfied. When Dr. Feld asks her if she masturbates she says she doesn't because it makes her too sad. Kay offers similar revelations; she's willing to bare it all to revive her marriage while Arnold thinks the fact that they're married at all means they must be happy. Carell's Dr. Feld is soothing and kind (even a bit bland) but it's always a pleasure to see him play it straight.
It's subversive for a mega-watt star to play a character that talks about how sexually unsatisfied she is and how unsexy she feels with the man she loves most in the world. The added taboo of Kay and Arnold's age adds that much more to the conversation. Kay and Arnold's attempts at intimacy are emotionally raw and hard to watch. Even when things get funny they're mostly awkward funny not ha-ha funny.
The rest of the movie is a little uneven wrapped up tightly and happily by the end. Their time spent soul-searching alone is a little cheesy especially when Kay ends up in a local bar where she gets a little dizzy on white wine while dishing about her problems to the bartender (Elisabeth Shue). Somewhere along the line what probably started out as a character study ended up as a wobbly drama that pushes some boundaries but eventually lets everyone off the emotional hook in favor of a smoothed-over happy ending. Still its disarming moments and performances almost balance it out. Although its target audience might be dismayed to find it's not as light-hearted as it would seem Hope Springs offers up the opportunity for discussion about sexuality and aging at a time when books and films like 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike are perking up similar conversations. In the end that's a good thing.
Chocolate and peanut butter. Baseball and hot dogs. Abraham Lincoln and vampires. Some things are just better when they're together. (Sorry, Snooki and JWOWW, this no longer applies to you.)
If the history lesson/pop culture phenomenon mashup Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, with Benjamin Walker as the titular history-bending, vampire-slaying POTUS, based on Seth Grahame-Smith's book of the same name, connects with audiences this weekend, don't be surprised if you see Hollywood turn out some more Presidential action hero treatments. In honor of the release of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the absurd re-imagining of a significant page in America's history, we wanted to come up with some other treatments of our own. - Millard Filmore: Party Animal: 13th President by day (played by Vince Vaughn) who, at the strike of midnight, turns into a party animal. A-woooooo! Tagline: "This summer: Whig out!" - Woodrow Wilson: Werewolf Wrangler: Geoffrey Rush sheds his accent to play the 28th President of the United States, who eventually decides to involve America in World War I. World War I, now, of course being the world against werewolves. Woodrow Wilson vs. World War Werewolves. So much alliteration! - Jimmy Carter: Zombie Crusher: Kindly Jimmy Carter, no more. Greg Kinnear's sweet face will turn deadly serious when he turns the 48th President into a full-on zombie crushing badass that would make The Walking Dead's Daryl Dixon look like a weakling. - Richard Nixon vs. the Mummies: The 46th President — played once again by Sir Anthony Hopkins, because why not? — is desperate to keep something under wraps....a legion of mummies, of course! - Seeing as former Vice President Al Gore already had his own action hero makeover with Al Gore: Global Warming Lecturer (An Inconvenient Truth, if you must) it seems only fair that other Veeps get their own treatment. I vote Dan Quayle: Farm Aide, in which George H.W. Bush's right hand man, played by Chris O'Donnell, fights off droughts and pesticides with a potato(e?) gun.
[Photo credit: 20th Century Fox]
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Even the most ardent fans of American Idol always have two criticisms of the reality series: It doesn’t showcase enough contemporary music — focusing on irrelevant disco hits over current songs that could actually help an artist share his or her personal style with audiences — and it favors insipid talk and lengthy ads over actual singing. (Heck, even the entire theater at CBS Television City is an advertisement.) But on Wednesday night, the series aimed to rectify its problems, offering up more music and a theme, Now and Then, that allowed contestants a wide variety of tunes to choose from.
Unfortunately, that turned out to be an idea more flawed than a season 9 judges’ panel. Though we were “treated” to a whopping 14 musical numbers, each performance would have fared better with 30 additional seconds to allow each singer to grow into their songs. And the contemporary offerings hardly helped our crop of contestants — though they had what I presume to be a much larger catalogue of music to choose from than normal, most opted to take on the past decade’s most overheard artists: Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, and (sigh) Adele. I’ve actually grown more tired of telling reality show contestants to leave Adele alone than I’ve gotten grown of hearing reality show contestants butcher “Rolling In the Deep.” Instead, I found myself zoning out during the course of the show, wondering how in the world Christina Ricci would ever grow up to be Rosie O’Donnell.
In fact, with the exception of two solid performers, the only highlight of the evening proved to be Ryan Seacrest, channeling his dearly departed American idol, Dick Clark, via a respectable sense of somber professionalism. Out of any tribute that hit the Web today following the American Bandstand host’s death, Ryan Seacrest’s was truly the most touching, and the most fitting for his rockin’ mentor. Said Seacrest at the top of the show: “I know that he’s in a better place, saying, hey, let’s get on with the show, okay? You got it, boss.”
So instead of teasing Idol for its increasingly ridiculous opening montages — I’m pretty sure I wrote “What we call the beginning is often the end” in a junior high school poetry paper — let’s too channel Clark and get on with the show. Who is facing Thursday night’s Judges’ Save-causing double elimination? And who has Idol decided must. Be. In. The. Final. Two? I’m not sure, but every time I see a Coke can, I get a little dizzy and find myself dialing for Joshua and Jessica. Onto the performances!
NEXT: “No One” should sing “Let’s Get It On” but Marvin Gaye. They’re So Then
The struggling contestant broke two the two cardinal rules of American Idol: Never fight against judge criticism — especially if you’re already fighting an attitude reputation — and never, ever sing Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” unless you hilariously dedicate the performance to your parents for our creepy enjoyment. (Here’s looking at you, season six’s Jared Cotter.)
But broke the rules Elise did — and it’s likely she’ll pay dearly for it. Because, frankly, the contestant didn’t deserve the praise she’d hoped for when it came to her covers of “Let’s Get It On” and Alicia Keys’ “No One.” She was disconnected during the latter song, which was only made worse by a ridiculous fan that must have gotten lost on its way back from a Beyoncé photo shoot. And “Let’s Get It On” was hardly better — admittedly, Elise’s growl fit well with the most powerful verses of the tune, but the song delivered by anyone other than Gaye is so corny, it might as well get its own palace in Iowa. (Midwest represent!) Plus, as much as I can sympathize with Elise’s dog’s ailing health (and as much as I can think it’s despicable for J. Lo to essentially tell Elise to sing as if her dog died), it’s never a good idea to play the Gokey card on American Idol. So I suppose Elise broke three cardinal Idol rules.
If I may, however, pull a Paula: Elise, who typically looks like she fell into a 6-year-old’s macaroni picture, did look lovely tonight. And now, since Idol went multi-generational tonight, I give you my Idol superfan mother’s opinion of Elise’s performances.
Critiques from My Mom: [On “No One”]: “It was good, but it’s not a song you can do a lot with. Why can’t the judges say that about about Colton, that he sang his little tushy off? His tushy is smaller!”
It’s official: Idol isn’t taking any chances when it comes to Hollie. It’s clear the judges and producers want her gone faster than you can say “What did Hollie just say?” How will they accomplish her ouster? 1) By making sure she sealed the dreaded No. 1 performance slot, hoping that viewers will pull a Memento and only remember Jessica and Joshua Sammy Jenkins. And 2) By making sure the judges deliver thin praise of her performances so not to inspire any sympathy votes that might have kept her on the show this long.
Of course, in my eyes, Hollie was handed a suitcase the minute she announced she would be singing “Rolling in the Deep,” despite the fact that she probably delivered the most solid Adele cover on Idol since Elise sang “One and Only.” Because that’s Hollie’s main problem: She lacks even one single ounce of creativity. Just see her second song choice, Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,” a tune so obvious, even I sing karaoke versions of it at karaoke.
Still, though the eternally passionless Hollie has about as much soul as a communion wafer, the judges claimed they loved her. Steven called her, of course, “beautiful,” Randy said her “Rolling in the Deep” was “close to perfect,” Jennifer said simply, “I’m so happy,” and the Liverpool Football Club said something about tea and crumpets and cultural stereotypes. Of course, I might be too eager to see Hollie exit Idol — recent weeks have proved she has adoring fans, and I might just be getting impatient about not being able to use my “Hollie Go-Lightly-Away” headline. Thursday, friends. Thursday?
Critiques from (An Indecisive) Mom: I just don’t like her. I just don’t. Like. Her. It was her best performances. Karaoke.
NEXT: We “Got It Bad” for Phillip… and Creepy Violin Stalker. They’re So Now
Following his lackluster turn last week, I was fully expecting Phillip to begin going all Jason Castro on us. He appeared as though he was tired of the grind, tired of the senseless critiques, and tired of having to fight goddamn Tommy Hilfiger about his shades of gray. But Phillip is just like his kidney stones: He comes and goes, but when he is present, he tears up his music from the inside out. And it’s painful how good he really is. His performance last night of Usher’s “U Got It Bad” was the most creative and downloadable cover to hit Idol since Kris Allen’s “Heartless,” leading the crowd at CBS Television City to begin cheering before the song was even over. And it encouraged the judges to give a shocking non-Joshua standing ovation, a sight as rare as word of the day toilet paper in Randy Jackson’s house.
And Phillip proved he was on a streak with his second performance, a wonderfully chill version of Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour.” The number was so groove-worthy, you could forgive Phillip for his guitar-less turkey walk and pronunciation that made you wonder why someone would be inside a midnight owl, whatever that is. Phillip could easily make a living reminding girls of that cute, mysterious coffeehouse singer they fawned over in college but regretted not asking for his number. Girls, you know his number now — and I’m guessing your fingers killed after dialing for the dude.
Critiques From My Mom (a documented Cougar for Cook ): “I would go buy music by him because I think he’s got a different kind of voice. I want to listen to him. No cougars. I don’t look at him in that way.”
You guys, I’ll admit: I’ve been rushing through this recap in order to talk about Skylar. Why? Well, first off, the young country singer proved she could soon be a young country star with awesome — if a bit imperfect — covers of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” that made me wonder why I had made fun of my father’s country addiction all these years. (Dad, I finally get it.)
But mostly because Skylar wasn’t the only star of the evening. You know exactly who I’m talking about: CVS. That’s Creepy Violin Stalker. You saw him — lurking behind Skylar during both her performances, keeping enough distance so she wouldn’t feel his presence creeping up the back of her neck. Part of me wonders if we were simply watching Bill Hader performance art, but all of me is hoping someone makes a CVS GIF very, very soon. I know I’ve critiqued Idol for going overusing its gospel choirs, but, please, listen to me Idol: CVS needs to be as much a part of Idol as awkward group performances and terrible stage sets. Speaking of, if your AT&T service went down during Skylar’s performance of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” that’s because her backdrop stole all the telephone poles in a 100-mile radius.
Critiques From My Mom: Really good. I’m not pithy with my comments, but I thought she was really good. But it was hard to focus on how good she was because of that disturbing leprechaun guy.
NEXT: I “Believe” that gospel choir has GOT to be retired. We’ll Stick With Them For Now
Following her flirtation with going home, and following her “dramatic” judges’ save, you’d think Jessica would tear up the stage with as much aggression as Marc Anthony watching J. Lo’s latest music video. Instead, it seems Jessica was missing her patented passion. Perhaps she was exhausted after an emotional week. Or perhaps the Idol machine — remember, our contestants did have to perform two songs this week — simply has worn the young teenager out. But she failed to slam-dunk Alicia Keys “Fallin’” and Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” like she had “I Will Always Love You” and even last week’s sublime “Stuttering.”
First off: “Fallin’”? Really Jessica? Season one called — it wants its song back. And secondly, she attacked the intense “Try a Little Tenderness” with the tenderness of a (pitchy) kitten finding a string. Sure, it was adorable, but Redding takes you to church with his hit. We needed to see Jessica’s inner lion — or BeBe Chez, if you will. What we saw instead was a scared 16-year-old girl inexplicably wearing an Indiana Jones plotline around her neck.
Critiques From My Mom: “I’m not on the Jessica love train. That was the boring of nothing.”
It’s shocking how underwhelming Colton was Wednesday night, especially since he’s the only Idol contestant of the season that sounds completely radio-ready, with no need of vocal coaching or finessing. But for both his performances tonight, he was very much in need of a mentor — his low notes during Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” were as abysmal as his angsty vampire-meets-Basketball Diaries wardrobe. Though Randy felt the entire spectacle felt like a professional Colton Dixon concert, it’s a performance I could have seen for free in a terrible loft in Bushwick, cheap warm beer in hand.
His performance of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” was far more creative, but still failed to completely blow me over. And the judges were hardly impressed as well: Randy even asked Colton for the impossible by saying he had hoped he would flip a Lil Wayne song during a 1970s soul night. Still, Colton does deserve some bonus points for telling Ryan, “I plan on expanding my box every week.” Oh, Colton, don’t make Michael Scott say it.
Critiques From My Mom: [During “Bad Romance”] “The jury is still out. There were parts that were really good. The low notes you could throw in the garbage.”
Remember what I said about Idol’s cardinal rules? There is, in fact, a fourth one to not break: Do not sing any crowning Idol song. Of course, this is obvious advice when it comes to tortuous tunes like “No Boundaries.” But it also applies to charmingly inspiring — but unavoidably cheesy — songs like Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” and Fantasia’s “I Believe.” And it’s especially difficult to recreate the magic of the latter, which probably has the distinction of being the best Idol crowning song in 11 seasons. Not only because it’s quite simply the most listenable tune, but because Fantasia owned that song.
So as much as Lakisha Jones and Syesha Mercado might have tried in season six and season seven, respectively, their covers of “I Believe” were about as magical as Harry Potter with a broken wand. As was Joshua’s version Wednesday night. Yes, it was vocal perfection, but Joshua’s tired eyes — not to mention that tired choir — couldn’t quite sell his beliefs. Instead, the contestant appeared exhausted, unpolished, and bored. Not that the judges cared — once again, Joshua received a standing ovation, proving that he could simply grace the stage, sing Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” remind Steven he cast his daughter in a music video about strippers, and request a group screening of Gigli, and still get a standing ovation.
He got one again for the just-as-lackluster “A Change Is Gonna Come,” a song that graces the Idol stage more often than a maintenance man cleaning the judges’ slobber off Joshua’s shoes. (The song has been performed by Adam Lambert, Lily Scott, and, even this year, Johnny Keyser.) But the show isn’t only putting Joshua on a pedestal via standing ovations — the beginning of “A Change Is Gonna Come” saw Joshua figuratively walking on water, thanks to a trickily placed backdrop behind him. Look, I respect Joshua’s vocal talents, and think he’s perhaps one of the best gospel contestants to ever appear on Idol. But criticism is constructive — if the judges ever want to see him grow, they’ll need to begin offering him some sound advice. (Why not switch things up, Joshua? Show us how contemporary you can truly be by ditching the gospel choir !) They should at least have told him to leave the vest in Pulp Fiction’s wardrobe closet where it belonged.
Critiques From My Mom: [Shrug. Sigh.]
Now I’d like to hear from you, readers: Did you find Now and Then to be as unimpressive as I did? Are you surprised Randy could confuse Marvin Gaye and Al Green? Has the show simply raided the Fox prop closet for all its stage sets? (Floating umbrellas?) Are you too impressed with Ryan Seacrest’s classiness? And are we poised for a shocking double elimination Thursday?
Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard
Image Credit: Fox
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Jason Statham has signed on to star in a Brian De Palma-directed remake of Heat, Variety reports. Not to be confused with Michael Mann's 1995 thriller, one of the last to feature Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in fully-invested performances, this Heat came out in 1986 and starred Burt Reynolds as an ex-gambler turned mob heavy. William Goldman, writer of the original film, will script the update as well. His first task will be to strip the lead character of any charm or nuance, thus making it safe for Statham to take on.
Jason Statham can next be seen battling Chinese Triads, Russian Mafiosos, and dirty New York cops in the action thriller Safe, opening April 27. Check out the trailer below:
Well, Today fans, the good news is that unlike his costar, Meredith Vieira, who could leave the morning show as early as September, Matt Lauer's contract won't be up until 2012. The bad news is that he's planning to chart a new path once his contract hits its expiration date in December 2012. The LA Times speculates that he might be hoping to reunite with former Today co-host Katie Couric on her new venture, but nothing's really certain at this point. With all this shuffling around, it looks like we may (MAY) still have Anne Curry, though her contract is coming up for negotiation as well, and good ol' Al "Here's what's happening in your neck of the woods" Roker will stick around. I'm guessing that strange guy who does the Smuckers Birthday announcements will continue to read those from various sunny locations in Florida, the lucky bastard. (Seriously, his job is to stand somewhere sunny and say happy birthday to adorable old people. Best gig ever.)
Now, don't panic. It will be okay. Remember when Couric left and everyone thought they'd never enjoy morning news again? Well, Today is the number one morning show, so I think we're okay.
Source: LA Times