The Roommate directed by Christian E. Christiansen is ostensibly a remake of the 1992 film Single White Female a trashily effective thriller about a woman who gradually awakes to the realization that her Stepford roommate is a actually homicidal stalker. The Roommate’s twist on the concept is to shift the setting from Manhattan and the world of 20-something yuppies to a freshman dorm at the University of Los Angeles a fictional school whose enrollment is apparently limited strictly to models and other members of the genetic aristocracy. (Seriously they couldn’t have thrown in a few nebbish tutors or tubby teacher’s assistants?)
It’s not a half-bad idea truth be told. Dorms after all are places where emotionally undeveloped young adults are herded together and forced to live on very intimate terms with people they’ve never met where personality defects are exacerbated by chronic sleep deprivation and diets heavy on caffeine alcohol and junk food. This unfortunately is the only wrinkle of inspiration to be found in The Roommate’s otherwise rote succession of stalker-flick clichés assembled in a hasty bid to capitalize on the cresting popularity of its attractive young stars.
Former Friday Night Lights star and current Jeter conquest Minka Kelly plays Sara a perky aspiring fashion designer whose only discernable flaw is a fatal blindness to the warning signs of psycho-bitch disorder a plethora of which are exhibited by her dormmate Rebecca (Gossip Girl and Country Strong star Leighton Meester) a friendly but temperamental art student pursuing a double major in Applied Batshitry.
Sara adjusts to college life well making friends excelling at schoolwork and even finding a boyfriend an eighth-year senior named Stephen (Twilight alum Cam Gigandet looking every bit the 28-year-old). All of which proves vexing to Rebecca whose interests appear restricted to 1) Sara and 2) staring menacingly at anyone who gets near Sara.
As Sara’s social life thrives Rebecca’s jealousy and infatuation deepen and her behavior becomes increasingly disturbed. What begins with simple passive aggressiveness eventually escalates to include self-mutilation threats of violence actual violence spontaneous lesbianism (but not with Sara sadly) implied kitten torture and finally murder.
How director Christiansen manages to cycle through all of these titillating elements without producing any actual titillation is something of an accomplishment. He’s held back a bit by the film’s strict PG-13 sensibility which requires us more or less to imagine the blood that Rebecca spills but he also plays things much too straight. A film like The Roommate needs a healthy dose of wry humor to make the craziness palatable to acknowledge that yes this is pretty freaking far-fetched. Part of the appeal of Single White Female was that it knew that it was cheap and tawdry and ridiculous; The Roommate unfortunately is not quite so self-aware. No film featuring a beret-clad Billy Zane as a college professor should ever take itself so seriously.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action revisits an age-old Tunes question: Why does the affable Bugs reap all the fame and glory while the egocentric Daffy gets shafted again and again? Our duck friend quite frankly has had it up to his skinny neck playing second fiddle to the carrot muncher. All Daffy wants is a little recognition from the studio but the brothers Warner (actual twin brothers as we come to find out) decide instead to let Daffy out of his contract on the advice of their no-nonsense VP of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Bugs however knows they're making a mistake. Even though Daff bears the brunt of the abuse Looney Tunes would fail without him and Bugs convinces the powers that be they need the nutty mallard. If the plot had only followed this thread--perhaps showing Daffy on the skids--then maybe the film wouldn't have spiraled into Looneyville. Unfortunately Daffy ends up hooking up with the hunky D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) a studio security guard who finds out that his famous movie star father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) is really a secret agent hunting for a mysterious diamond known as the Blue Monkey a supernatural gem that can turn the planet's population into monkeys. The evil head of the Acme Corporation Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) wants the diamond for his own diabolical plans and he's kidnapped D.J.'s dad in an effort to get it. Now the gang has to get the diamond save D.J.'s dad and of course save the world.
It might be a little hard to act subtly around cartoon characters but these aren't your ordinary cutesy Mickey Mouse types. Bugs Daffy Porky Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are pros at comic timing able to spar with the best of them throw out zingers without a second thought and slay you with a droll glance at the camera. It isn't really necessary for the human actors to match their madcap-ness; just reacting would have sufficed. Fraser comes off the best of the human bunch; since he's had practice (Monkeybone) he easily interacts with his animated co-stars and deftly handles the doubletakes and jabs at pop culture. Elfman on the other hand sputters and goes bug-eyed every time she encounters silliness. She looks uncomfortable doing the green screen thing especially when she's trying to look natural when peeling a distraught duck from around her waist. Martin's highly anticipated turn as Mr. Chairman turns out to be the biggest disappointment. The over-the-top character is reminiscent of Martin's hysterically funny Rupert the Monkeyboy in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but Martin turns Mr. Chairman--an angry schoolboy with knee socks and matted-down hair who never grew up--into a caricature of ridiculous proportions and unlike Rupert who came in small hilarious doses Mr. Chairman gets very tiresome very quickly.
Back in Action's animation is well done more engaging and ambitious than its 1996 predecessor Space Jam in which the action mostly took place in Looney Tunes land; here animated characters go the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? route and Bugs Daffy and the rest coexist harmoniously with humans in the real world. But despite its aspirations Back in Action leaves out vital elements that made Space Jam appealing. While the earlier film stuck to a simple plot Back in Action guided by director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers The 'Burbs) tries too hard to keep things wild and wacky while incorporating elements of '60s heist pics and action-adventure scenes and in the process loses sight of the most important ingredient in any kids movie: the story. Tykes may have limited attention spans but if the story's good they will watch. Granted some individual bits are laugh-out-loud funny particularly the scene in the Warner Bros. commissary where a stuttering Porky Pig complains about being politically incorrect with Speedy Gonzales while an animated Shaggy and Scooby-Doo berate actor Matthew Lillard for playing Shaggy as such a bonehead in the live-action Scooby-Doo. These scenes prove that if any cartoon characters could pass themselves off as real celebrities in the entertainment industry the gang from Looney Tunes could but moments like these simply can't overcome a contrived plot and juvenile antics.
Top Story: Sony Eyes Sandler for High-Concept Script
Sony Pictures has paid a whopping $1.75 million for Click, a spec script by Bruce Almighty scribes Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe, as a possible starring vehicle for Adam Sandler. According to Variety, the film is about an overworked advertising executive who neglects his family in favor of his career and whose life changes when he comes across a universal remote that allows him to rewind, pause and fast-forward his life. Veteran producer Neal Moritz, the man behind such actioners as 2 Fast 2 Furious and xXx, will produce through his Sony-based Original Film with Revolution Studios co-producing and co-financing the project. Click would reunite Koren with Sandler, who worked together on Saturday Night Live. Moritz, who hopes to begin production in 2004, told Variety, "I would love for Adam to do this."
Charleton Heston Gets Medal of Freedom
Academy Award winner Charlton Heston, best known for his roles in The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur and Planet of the Apes, was awarded the Medal of Freedom Wednesday by President Bush, Reuters reports. The 79-year-old actor and voice of the pro-gun National Rifle Association made public last year that he had symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, a degenerative brain ailment. Master chef Julia Child and the late Dave Thomas, Wendy's hamburger mogul and philanthropist, also received Medals of Freedom--the nation's highest civilian award.
Ice Cube Gets Apology
The Chicago Police Department has apologized for issuing a community alert last Sunday describing a man suspected in a series of sexual assaults as a dead ringer for hip-hop artist and actor Ice Cube. According to The Associated Press, a local Chicago TV station broadcast one of Ice Cube's videos when it reported the story Monday night. Police spokesman David Bayless said Tuesday, "We acknowledged the information should not have been on the alert. We took immediate corrective action. We apologize to Ice Cube for what was an honest mistake and came with no ill intent." The community alert was reissued without the Ice Cube reference.
McCartney Joins PETA's Efforts Against KFC
Paul McCartney wrote an open letter advertisement to KFC's Louisville-based parent company, Yum! Brands Inc., calling for an improvement in the treatment of 750 million chickens raised annually for KFC restaurants. The ad, the latest action by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to force KFC to implement new standards for the treatment of chickens after security cameras revealed workers torturing the animals, appears in a full-page advertisement in Thursday's edition of the Louisville The Courier-Journal. Jonathan Blum, senior vice president for public affairs for Yum! Brands, responsed: "While PETA would prefer a world of vegetarians, most people disagree, so we think PETA should follow one of Sir Paul's songs and just 'Let It Be.'"
FX's Nip/Tuck a Cut Above the Rest
FX's premiere of the plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck got a nice slice of the Nielsen pie Tuesday, beating MTV's The Real World and Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in the 10 p.m. time slot night to become the highest-rated new cable series premiere of the year with an impressive 3.7 million viewers. According to Reuters, Nip cut FX's recent losing streak on the original-series front after the half-hour comedy Lucky and late-night series The Orlando Jones Show both flopped. The premiere, however, failed to top the series debut of FX's cop show The Shield and the second-season premiere of USA Network's Monk.
Diana's Love Letters Read in TV Doc
Love letters sent by the late Princess Diana to her former lover James Hewitt will be read out in a British television documentary Thursday night, Reuters reports. In Confessions of a Cad, Hewitt's lawyer and friend Michael Coleman reads extracts from the love letters Diana sent Hewitt during their affair, which began in the late 1980s. "Boy oh boy, does the earth shake when I get a letter from my desert friend, screams of delight, tears, you name it. Demented female on the loose, that's for sure," she wrote in one letter while Hewitt was serving in the 1991 Gulf War. Diana is believed to have sent Hewitt more than 60 letters between 1989 and 1991.
Serena Williams Swings Into Acting
Tennis pro Serena Williams is set to play a reformed gang member on parole in an Oct. 1 episode of Showtime's Street Time, the AP reports. The show, starring Rob Morrow, begins its second season Aug. 6. "As a fan of 'Street Time,' I told myself that if given the opportunity, I'd love to be on the show," Williams said Wednesday. "I am taking this role very seriously, because I want to excel and because I have respect for the series."
Role Call: Downey and Ryder Join Woody Allen Pic, Madonna Rocks with Peet
Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder are in talks to join the cast of Woody Allen's next pic for Fox Searchlight. Like all Allen films, the title, script and plot are being kept under wraps ... Ethan Hawke will direct a big-screen adaptation of his best-selling novel The Hottest State for IFC Films. The story follows two young adults as they discover intense love and grapple to define their passion for one another. No cast is attached yet ... Maverick Films has optioned the romantic comedy script She Rocks from filmmaker Amie Steir as a starring vehicle for Amanda Peet with Madonna serving as the film's executive producer. The project is described as Working Girl set in the music industry and revolves around a female music journalist who writes a career-making story about a rock star.