In just about every one of Kevin Hart's scenes in Ride Along, there's a joke that is just aching to find its way out of the diminutive, rascally comic actor. Hart is a small-scale physical comedian — of the same ilk as Jack Black — who puts nuclear-degree energy into his facial contortions, anatomical outbursts, and the delivery of every gag in general. If only he had material that was crafted with the same energy.
Unfortunately, nothing else about Ride Along seems at all "hard at work." Not the script, which pads a lifeless story with lazy comedy, and certainly not his screen partner Ice Cube, whose only stage direction seems to be "frown, and be taller than Kevin Hart." So lifeless is Ice Cube that even his machismo-obsessed straight man bit doesn't really work. Instead of the virile and intimidating "bad cop," he comes off as a disapproving middle aged dad without much to show for his own life.
But the script pairs the wily, overzealous high school security guard and video game junkie Ben (Hart) with no-nonsense lawman James (Ice Cube) on the titular ride along, with the scrappy cop-wannabe hoping to prove to the force veteran that he's good enough to marry the latter's younger sister. In earnest, he's not. Ben never puts any respectable effort into learning the tools of the trade, insisting on employing his amateur style and controlling the radio despite his proclamations that he wants, and deserves, James' trust. And James is no saint either — he's irresponsible on crime scenes, violent with perps, and disgruntled to the point of being unable to work with anybody else on the force. These are not good police officers... of course, you'll say, this is a comedy. But where are the laughs, then?
They're not absent entirely, you just have to look for them. In a movie so focused with big, broad humor, it's the smaller comedy that actually lands best. Hart's background mutterings and fumblings, his emoticon-laden texts to girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter, whose only stage direction seems to be "smile, and never wear a full outfit of clothing"), and a bizarre repetition of the word "weird" from supporting player John Leguizamo. All good for unexpected chuckles, while jokes like Hart facing off with a pre-teen or being blown backwards into a brick wall after firing a large gun are all lazy, familiar, and flat.
Structurally, the script is a mess. Ride Along spends far too much time on set up — we get it, Hart and his soon-to-be-brother-in-law Ice Cube don't get along — and far too much time on wrap-up — there's a gigantic, dramatic warehouse shootout that, in any other movie, would be the climax, but there's plenty more to go after that — without any cohesive middle to make the movie feel like... a movie.
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Hart, who leaps at every comic opportunity like a kangaroo (wallaby would be more appropriate), is suited just right for a buddy cop comedy, but he needs something fresh with which to work — a real character, an interesting story, actually funny jokes. Even just one of these would be fine!
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What’s in a name? Everything if you’re a rock star. Majority of people are born with boring, everyday names - unless, of course, you’re born to a 20th century celebrity, in which case your name is a fruit, Disney character, or another entry from the MeSoUnique dictionary. In order to be larger-than-life celebrities, these rockers opted for a larger-than-life name.
Here’s a rundown of rockers with some of the best names that their mamas don't call them by.
Marilyn Manson (Brian Hugh Warner) The artist formerly known as Brian Hugh Warner came up with his stage name by combing the names of 2 infamous icons from the 1960s: Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. He chose the 2 celebs because he wanted to have the “fakest stage name of all” to reflect the phoniness of show business. Well played, Brian.
Axl Rose (William Bruce Rose, Jr.) Before his name was synonymous with rock star douchebaggery, Axl Rose was called William Bruce Rose, Jr. The name we’ve all come to love and loathe him by came from the name of one of the first bands he was in when he first moved to Los Angeles: AXL. Of course, there is that whole anagram story…
Elvis Costello (Declan Patrick MacManus) Declan MacManus may sound like the name of a capo from the Westies, but it’s actually the birth name of post-punk rock god Elvis Costello. Costello took his name from his musician father’s stage name (Day Costello) and Elvis Presley.
Cat Power (Charlyn Marie Marshall) Cat Power sounds like the slogan of a felinist wanting to empower kitties everywhere, but really the indie rocker’s stage name came from a guy wearing a Caterpillar trucker cap. Power was part of a band that needed a name for their first show, and after seeing a man in a “Cat Diesel Power” hat, she knew she found the name. Though she ended up moving to New York a couple years after, the name stuck and she’s been Cat Power ever since.
Slash (Saul Hudson) Back in the 70s, when someone said “Better call Saul,” they were talking about Saul Hudson. Slash got his nickname from family friend and actor Seymour Cassel, who started calling him the name due to the fact that he was always in a hurry and never in one place for a long period of time.
Iggy Pop (James Newell Osterberg) Iggy Pop has long been called the Godfather of Punk, but his real name sounds like the name of an 80-year-old Russian history professor. After serving as the drummer for The Iguanas, Mr. Osterberg officially became Iggy. The “Pop” came after a friend of the Stooges, Jimmy Pop, lost all his hair, including his eyebrows, prompting Iggy to shave off his eyebrows in tribute and consequently being dubbed Iggy Pop.
Joe Strummer (John Graham Mellor) John Graham Mellor sure doesn’t sound like the name of the frontman of one of the original punk bands, so it’s no surprise that he changed his name. Before he was Joe Strummer, though, he went by Woody Mellor, in honor of folk legend Woody Guthrie. He used this moniker during his time with the 101’ers and a couple years before the Clash was born, changed his name to Joe Strummer. The “Joe” was to signify that he was nothing special, just a “regular joe,” and the “Strummer” pertained to his rather lackluster rhythm guitar skills.
The Cramps: Lux Interior (Erick Lee Purkhiser) & Poison Ivy (Kristy Marlana Wallace) “Hi, my name is Lux Interior and this is my wife, Poison Ivy.” Few people get to drop opening lines like that, but the 2 permanent members of psychobilly pioneers the Cramps were an exception. Interior not surprisingly took his name from an old car commercial, while Ivy (who also went by Ivy Rorschach) stated the name had come to her in a dream.
Brody Dalle (Bree Joanna Alice Robinson) With a name like Bree Joanna Alice Robinson, you’re either going to become a Type A debutante who looks up to Paris Hilton, or you’re going to drop every part of your name and become one of the most hardcore lead singers of a punk rock band. Luckily for the world, Bree Robinson opted for the latter and changed her name to Brody. Before she adopted her last name from crazy/badass French actress Beatrice Dalle, however, she was known as Brody Armstrong (aka Tim Armstrong’s wife). A Rolling Stone tongue-makeout session with Josh Homme later, Brody Armstrong officially became Brody Dalle.
Sid Vicious (John Simon Ritchie) Born John Simon Ritchie, Sid Vicious went on to personify the defining aspects of punk rock – rebellion, attitude, and safety pins. The story of the Sex Pistols is one of abrupt fame coupled with an even speedier decline, and Vicious’ scandalous life and tumultuous relationship with girlfriend Nancy Spungen made for a punk rock fairytale, where there’s no such thing as a happy ending. The best part of all this, though, is that the dude was named after a hamster. After being bit by Johnny Rotten’s fuzzy, lovable hamster Sid, the then-John Ritchie said, “Sid is really vicious!,” and Rotten decided that a star was born.
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Beyonce, Kings of Leon and Taylor Swift were the toast of the music world on Sunday night after taking home the 52nd annual Grammy Awards' biggest prizes.
Beyonce was the Los Angeles event's biggest winner, claiming six of the 10 honors for which she was nominated.
These included Song of the Year, Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance awards for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."
Swift took home her first four Grammys, including the coveted Album of the Year award, and Kings of Leon's anthem "Use Somebody" earned the rockers prizes for Record of the Year, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
The Black Eyed Peas and Jay-Z were also triple winners at the Grammys, as was the San Francisco Symphony, thanks to its album Mahler: Symphony No. 8; Adagio from Symphony No. 10.
The event's winners were overshadowed by a clutch of terrific performances from acts like Green Day, Pink, Dave Matthews Band, Beyonce and the Black Eyed Peas.
Elton John and Lady Gaga collaborated to open the show, and there were further mash-ups for Jamie Foxx, T-Pain and Slash, Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli, Eminem, Drake and Lil Wayne, and Taylor Swift and Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks.
But the event's highlight was a star-studded tribute to Michael Jackson; Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Smokey Robinson and Carrie Underwood teamed up to perform the King of Pop's "Earth Song."
The stunning collaboration was accompanied by a 3-D version of the "Earth Song" video Jackson planned to use as a backdrop during his This Is It concerts last summer.
Stars like Beyonce, Rihanna and will.i.am were among the audience members who donned special 3-D glasses to fully appreciate the spectacular musical moment.
They ended the song with their backs to the crowd, staring at images of Jackson, which were flashed onto the big screen behind them, as the audience rose to its feet to applaud the performance, which presenter Lionel Richie called "unbelievable."
Following the showstopper, Jackson's children Prince and Paris took the Staples Center stage to honor their father, a recipient of one of the night's Lifetime Achievement Awards.
In his first public speaking appearance, Prince thanked God for "watching over us these past seven months" and "our grandma and grandpa for their love and support."
Both Jackson children ended their brief acceptance speeches with the words "We love you daddy".
The big winners of the 2010 Grammys are:
Record Of The Year: Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
Song Of The Year: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Beyonce
Best New Artist: Zak Brown Band
Album Of The Year: Fearless - Taylor Swift
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: Halo - Beyonce
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance: Make It Mine - Jason Mraz
Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: I Gotta Feeling - The Black Eyed Peas
Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals: Lucky - Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
Best Pop Instrumental Performance: Throw Down Your Heart - Bela Fleck
Best Pop Instrumental Album: Potato Hole - Booker T. Jones
Best Pop Vocal Album: The E.N.D. - The Black Eyed Peas
Best Dance Recording: Poker Face - Lady Gaga
Best Electronic/Dance Album: The Fame - Lady Gaga
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Michael Buble Meets Madison Square Garden - Michael Buble
Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance: Working On A Dream - Bruce Springsteen
Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
Best Hard Rock Performance: War Machine - AC/DC
Best Metal Performance: Dissident Aggressor - Judas Priest
Best Rock Instrumental Performance: A Day In The Life - Jeff Beck
Best Rock Song: Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
Best Rock Album: 21st Century Breakdown - Green Day
Best Alternative Music Album: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - Phoenix
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Beyonce
Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: Pretty Wings - Maxwell
Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: Blame It - Jamie Foxx & T-Pain
Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance: At Last - Beyonce
Best Urban/Alternative Performance: Pearls - India.Arie & Dobet Gnahore
Best R&B Song: Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Beyonce
Best R&B Album: Blacksummers' Night - Maxwell
Best Contemporary R&B Album: I Am... Sasha Fierce - Beyonce
Best Rap Solo Performance: D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune) - Jay-Z
Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group: Crack A Bottle - Eminem, Dr. Dre & 50 Cent
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Run This Town - Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West
Best Rap Song: Run This Town - Jay-Z, Rihanna & Kanye West
Best Rap Album: Relapse - Eminem
Best Female Country Vocal Performance: White Horse - Taylor Swift
Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Sweet Thing - Keith Urban
Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: I Run To You - Lady Antebellum
Best Country Collaboration With Vocals: I Told You So - Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis
Best Country Instrumental Performance: Producer's Medley - Steve Wariner
Best Country Song: White Horse - Taylor Swift
Best Country Album: Fearless - Taylor Swift
Best Spoken Word Album: Always Looking Up - Michael J. Fox
Best Comedy Album: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All! - Stephen Colbert
Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: Slumdog Millionaire - Various Artists
Best Score Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: Up - Michael Giacchino
Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: Jai Ho (From Slumdog Millionaire) - Gulzar, A.R. Rahman & Tanvi Shah, songwriters
Lifetime Achievement Award: Leonard Cohen
Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael Jackson
Lifetime Achievement Award: Loretta Lynn
Lifetime Achievement Award: Bobby Darin
Lifetime Achievement Award: Clark Terry
Lifetime Achievement Award: David 'Honeyboy' Edwards
Lifetime Achievement Award: Andre Previn
Trustees Award: Walter C. Miller
Trustees Award: Florence Greenberg
Trustees Award: Harold Bradley
Presidents Merit Award: Doug Morris
Presidents Merit Award: Placido Domingo
Presidents Merit Award: Ken Ehrlich
MusiCares Person of the Year: Neil Young
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Sidney Poitier has certainly been pushed back into the limelight after receiving an honorary Oscar Sunday night--and so have his movies. Warner Bros. has optioned the rights to remake the 1970s trio of Poitier/Bill Cosby films (also directed by Poitier): Uptown Saturday Night, Let's Do It Again and A Piece of the Action, with Oscar nominee Will Smith attached to star in at least the first feature, Uptown. The comedy centers on two husbands trying to recover stolen money and a winning lottery ticket before their wives find out they are missing.
Smith and his business partner James Lassiter plan to produce all three films under their Overbrook Entertainment banner. "For eight years, Will and I have been trying to track down the rights to this project because Uptown Saturday Night is one of our favorite movies," Lassiter told The Hollywood Reporter.
Blade scribe David Goyer has a thing for bloodsuckers. He will be directing a new tale about vampires called Darksiders, in which a band of vampires turn into special operatives for the FBI. The film for New Line will start production sometime in the fall.
The cast list for Woody Allen's next film project continues to grow. Glenn Close and Danny DeVito will be coming on board the untitled production, joining the already cast Christina Ricci and Jason Biggs. Typical of Allen's style, the film is being kept closely under wraps, but The Hollywood Reporter reports the story revolves around three young adults. Close is believed to be playing Ricci's mother.
As if anyone in their right mind would care about such a movie, apparently it has been decided to turn Anne Robinson's autobiography, Memoirs of an Unfit Mother, into a feature film. Yes, we are talking about the host of the game show The Weakest Link. The film Anne Robinson: The Movie is going after such actresses as Renee Zellweger and Anna Friel to play Robinson as a young woman. Good luck with that.
ABC News and its coverage of Sept. 11, and Fox's The Bernie Mac Show were two of the Peabody Award winners announced Wednesday, honoring those who have exhibited broadcast excellence. Other winners included HBO's Band of Brothers and ABC's Nightline.
A man was hospitalized while performing a stunt on the new NBC game show Dog Eat Dog, where contestants combine stunts with trivia questions to compete for $25,000. The Associated Press reported the man was suspended by his ankles in water, where he held his breath for two minutes. Paramedics were called when the man appeared unconscious after being pulled out, but Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey told AP when they arrived that the man was "conscious, alert, breathing on his own and talkative." The show has not aired yet.
British actress Jane Seymour, otherwise known as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, has come out with her own line of contemporary clothing, inspired by her floral paintings. The clothes, which range from size 6 to size 22, are intended for all women. "This isn't necessarily runway-friendly clothes; they're real-woman-friendly," Seymour told AP.
Shaolin fighter monks have taken their act on the road. What are Shaolin fighter monks, you may ask? They are ordained Buddhist "soldier monks" of the Shaolin temple, the apparent birthplace of Chinese martial arts or "kung fu"--and 25 monks have put together a spectacular stage show called Shaolin--Wheel of Life. Since it premiered in London two and a half years ago, the fast-paced martial arts show has been playing to packed audiences across the world.
Rock legend David Bowie signed a multirecord deal Wednesday with Columbia Records and will be releasing the album Heathen on June 11, his first album in three years.