CBS Broadcasting Inc.
Friends With Better Lives, former Friends producer Dana Klein's show about people who think their pals have it better than they do, took a circuitous path into CBS' schedule. The show was originally ordered last pilot season but never showed up on the schedule. Now, the sitcom will get its premiere after the How I Met Your Mother finale on March 31.
Spring is not traditionally when successful network shows are launched, but FWBL does have a few things going for it. First off, Klein's experience with juggling multiple characters. Another is the built in audience that series star James Van Der Beek brings with him. Plus, there's a swimsuit model in the cast, which probably doesn't hurt anything. Still, for the show to succeed, there are some questions that it will have to answer.
What did Van Der Beek learn from Don't Trust the B—?
Van Der Beek finally broke free from his teen idol image by playing a version of himself on the now canceled ABC comedy Don't Trust the B— in Apartment 23. With Friends with Better Lives, Van Der Beek gets another chance at sitcom success. The former Dawson's Creek star hopefully remembers that audiences enjoyed seeing him play against type as a self-involved dim bulb and maintains the same level of fun now that he had on Don’t Trust the B— and during his HIMYM appearances (as Robin's ex-boyfriend). On FWBL, he plays the divorced group member still in love with his ex-wife. Hopefully, Van Der Beek won't just be a better looking version of Friends' Ross, or worse, stare off longingly across the water and call his ex "Joey."
Do they have a plan for Brooklyn Decker?
Swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker has experience with comedy after starring with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in Just Go With It, but chances are FWBL won't be able to keep finding excuses for her to be in a bikini or in the shower the way that Sandler did. She's going to need to be funny on her own. Decker is playing the friend that just got engaged, so expect to see her playing off of the bubbly bride-to-be stereotypes… and if ratings sag, to see her trying on low-cut wedding gowns.
What's with the single?
Zoe Lister-Jones plays the single woman in the group, and that's tricky. She's supposed to be a successful business executive who isn't good at dating and is jealous of her newly engaged friend. Play that one wrong and she risks becoming a dangerously regressive character. Lister-Jones has to be funny, confident, and insecure all at once, and convincingly. Good luck with that.
Can you ignore the baby?
Friends was deft at having the characters experience parenthood without having that become the sole focus of their lives. In FWBL, Kevin Connolly and Majandra Delfino are the married couple that has kids and are envious of their childless friends more freewheeling lifestyle. Keeping the focus on the couple's relationship with their friends and not on their relationship with their kids is a must if the show is to keep from sliding into According to Jim territory.
Hug it out, bitch. Whatever your gripes with the mind-boggling, whirlwind series finale of Entourage, it's time to set them aside because there's more on the way. That's right, the Entourage movie actually has a finished script. And it involves a time jump. According to a report from Deadline, creator Doug Ellin has finished writing the movie, or rather, he will have finished it by Sunday, barring the release of a band of homework-eating dogs, and it takes place six months after the series finale. Still, the movie itself has yet to get the greenlight, though Ellin posits that executive producers Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson are just as determined to get the film going at HBO. That means we're going to be waiting at least a little while longer to see this extension of the boys' legacy come to fruition. We're going to need a refresher course. In case you didn't commit those final 30 minutes of HBO to memory, here's where we left off with the Entourage boys: Vince (Adrian Grenier): We assume Vinny will probably make another movie someday, but for now, we know he's bested his sudden drug problem and decided he wants a family in New York. He meets a Vanity Fair reporter, Sophie (who's wildly out of his league), and proceeds to not only woo her, but make her the future mother of his little New York tykes after knowing her for a few weeks. They fly to Paris with the titular entourage in tow to start their completely implausible fairy tale life with a fairy tale wedding.Prediction for Six Months Later: This wedding did not take place. Sophie ran off with a French political writer. E (Kevin Connolly): While the rest of the guys flew to Paris for Vince's wedding, E finally got what he never deserved: Sloane. After knocking her up and sustaining death threats from her powerful father, E is given a leg up by his besties. They all sing his praises to Sloane and she changes her mind at the last minute — just in time for her to meet E on a private plane chartered by Vince to take them "wherever they want to go." (Um, side note: she's pregnant and he wants to start a family with her, shouldn't they be going to New York?)Prediction for Six Months Later: Sloane and E are nesting and preparing for the arrival of their little one in a West Village town house, but Sloane is depressed and missing her awful, awful family. E will take it upon himself to fix this. Drama (Kevin Dillon): He still can't get laid and Vince is still cleaning up his messes. Though the Johnny's Bananas strike worked, Drama managed to piss off the most powerful man at CBS. Luckily, Vince threw money at the problem, buying Phil Yagoda's forgiveness and support for Drama's passion project: a movie about miners or some other "gritty," sad story.Prediction for Six Months Later: Drama still can't get laid, but has high hopes for his Comic-Con panel for Johnny's Bananas. His miner movie is happening, but the studio doesn't want him in it. He considers bicep implants as a result. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara): Like Drama, he hasn't changed much. He's still a mush who cries as Vince and his future wife head into wedded bliss. He is, however, better off than he was when the series started despite losing everything because he's still not great at running a business. Again, Vince rescues his buddy by revealing he kept Turtle's share in the liquor company that he gave up on. He didn't actually miss out on the payout because Vince totally mommed him and is going to let him have his $4 million dollar payout back! Prediction for Six Months Later: Turtle has used all of his money on another risky investment. This time he'll stick it out simply out of fear of Murphy's Law. It will strike in the reverse and the investment will go belly up. But don't worry. Vince has money. Ari (Jeremy Piven): After the dastardly wife-stealing Bobby Flay let Mrs. Ari go because she "wasn't ready to date," Ari quit his job in a wave of Italian opera music and whisked his smoking hot wife off to Italy. Where are the kids? Why are you asking these questions? Pipe down and enjoy the view. Just as Ari is taking in the view from his Amalfi Coast villa, the head of Warner Bros. calls and offers him his job. Naturally, we're left on that unanswered question as Ari's forehead turns eight different shades of red. Prediction for Six Months Later: Ari went ahead and took the job. His wife kept the Italian villa and what's this? Bobby Flay is single again... Are you excited for an Entourage movie? Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: HBO (2)] More: Doug Ellin Promises to Make an 'Entourage' Movie Five Ways 'Entourage' Keeps Us Hanging On 'Entourage' Series Finale Recap: The End From Our Partners:Bill and Giuliana Rancic Share First Photo of Baby Edward Duke — PHOTO(Celebuzz) Exposed: The Vicious Tweets Which Sent LeAnn Rimes Over the Edge — EXCLUSIVE(Celebuzz)
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.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.