MTVDespite her obvious lack of vocal prowess and complete absence of charisma, Paris Hilton's first stab at becoming a pop star wasn't the total car crash everyone expected. Indeed, in the hands of somebody less obnoxious, the breezy reggae of "Stars Are Blind" and pulsing electro-pop of "Nothing In This World" would probably have been much bigger hits. However, her recently unveiled comeback single, "Good Time," a Lil Wayne-assisted slice of trash-pop even more vacuous than her reality TV persona, suggests that her 2006 effort may have been a fluke. But despite its sheer awfulness, it's not the worst track to emerge from an E! channel regular. Here's a look at five other pop disasters released by 'stars' who should have stuck to being famous for doing nothing.Kim Kardashian – "Jam (Turn It Up)"The most high-profile Kardashian shares next to nothing in common musically with Kanye West judging by this braindead attempt to jump aboard the EDM-pop bandwagon in 2011. Following its dismal reception, she hasn't stepped foot inside the studio again.Heidi Montag – "Higher"It's not clear what's worse here. The Hills' star’s wafer thin tones, the cheesy synth-pop production which sounds like it's escaped from an '80s exercise VHS or the tragically low-budget beach-themed video directed by her super-creepy other half Spencer Pratt.Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino – "The Situation"Drenching his vocals in so much AutoTune that he makes T-Pain sound organic, the virtually unrecognisable Jersey Shore regular added rapper to his list of non-talents with this terribly misguided venture into hip-hop.Tila Tequila – "Stripper Friends"Showcasing the same sense of elegance and class that made A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila such a tasteful watch, the 'jack of all trades but master of none' once again bypassed any notion of subtlety with this typically tacky cover of Aimee Allen's stripper anthem.Ali Lohan – "All The Way Around"Despite the overwhelming apathy towards her 2006 Christmas album, Living Lohan star Ali continued to persevere with her pop career. But this limp and hopelessly generic attempt at synth R&B was never going to help her step outside the shadow of her jailbird sister.
Jim Carrey publicly announced that he has withdrawn his support from his upcoming film Kick-Ass 2, and will not be involved with its promotion. The actor, who portrays Colonel Stars & Stripes, an ex-Mafia member turned masked vigilante, has decided that the violent nature of the superhero sequel conflicts with his standing sensitivity over tragedies like 2012's Sandy Hook shooting. Carrey tweeted over the weekend: "I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."
Although the storyline's inclusion of a violent 11-year-old (Chloë Grace Moretz) has been met with controversy in the past, the nature of the film hadn't prevented the actor from signing onto the project in the first place, nor have any events since inspired any previous vocalization of conflict about his involvement. In March, Carrey opened up to MTV News about the relationship between the film's super-violence and his beliefs about gun control in the aftermath of the devastation in Connecticut:
"...my character is a guy that came from a violent background who is trying to turn it around and he uses a gun with no bullets in it. These are things I am considering now because I just feel like we don't cause the problem, but we don't help it much either. So, I am becoming more conscious of that. And I made Kick-Ass before all the things, the unfortunate shootings happened and stuff happened, and so that's kind of a little interesting blast from the past almost. But it's just going to be a great movie but I'm being careful with choices."
Mark Millar, the writer and creator of the Kick-Ass comic book series as well as the executive producer for the two films, is inevitably astonished about the comedian's sudden transition from big fan to disapproving criticizer. In a statement posted on Millar World a few hours after Carrey's announcement, Millar replies:
"First off, I love Jim Carrey. When producer Matthew Vaughn and director Jeff Wadlow called me up and suggested we do a conference call with him to talk about the sequel to the 2010 original I was genuinely excited. Like you, I love Eternal Sunshine, Man on the Moon and The Truman Show. Carrey is an actor like no other, an unpredictable force of nature who brings a layered warmth and humanity to his work as well as that unstoppable energy he's always been renowned for. He had lunch with Matthew around the time of the first movie and dug it so much he appeared that night on Conan O'Brien DRESSED as Kick-Ass, singing a duet with Conan dressed as Superman. Vaughn and I made a mental note to work with this guy as soon as possible as we're both huge admirers.
Cut to almost three years later and I'm sitting in a screening room in London watching what I think is one of Carrey's best-ever performances. I'd seen Kick-Ass 2 in many forms, but this was the absolute final cut complete with opening titles, music and a terrific post-credit sequence you're all going to love. I couldn't be happier with this picture. It's as good as the original and in many ways BIGGER as it expands upon the universe and really takes things to the next level. There are a lot of stand-outs in the sequel, every actor really firing on full cylinders and an amazing script that moves like a rocket. But Carrey in particular is magnificent. He's never done anything like this before and even from the trailer, with his masked dog sidekick specially trained to munch criminal balls, you can see that something really fun and special is happening here. Colonel Stars and Stripes is so charismatic and all his scenes are up there with Nic Cage's amazing turn as Big Daddy in the original... which made it all the more surprising when Jim announced tonight that the gun-violence in Kick-Ass 2 has made him withdraw his support from the picture.
As you may know, Jim is a passionate advocate of gun-control and I respect both his politics and his opinion, but I'm baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn't in the screenplay eighteen months ago. Yes, the body-count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says on the tin. A sequel to the picture that gave us HIT-GIRL was always going to have some blood on the floor and this should have been no shock to a guy who enjoyed the first movie so much. My books are very hardcore, but the movies are adapted for a more mainstream audience and if you loved the tone of the first picture you're going to eat this up with a big, giant spoon. Like Jim, I'm horrified by real-life violence (even though I'm Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn't a documentary. No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction and like Tarantino and Peckinpah, Scorcese and Eastwood, John Boorman, Oliver Stone and Chan-Wook Park, Kick-Ass avoids the usual bloodless body-count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it's the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation. Ironically, Jim's character in Kick-Ass 2 is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place.
Ultimately, this is his decision, but I've never quite bought the notion that violence in fiction leads to violence in real-life any more than Harry Potter casting a spell creates more Boy Wizards in real-life. Our job as storytellers is to entertain and our toolbox can't be sabotaged by curtailing the use of guns in an action-movie. Imagine a John Wayne picture where he wasn't packing or a Rocky movie where Stallone wasn't punching someone repeatedly in the face. Our audience is smart enough to know they're all pretending and we should instead just sit back and enjoy the serotonin release of seeing bad guys meeting bad ends as much as we enjoyed seeing the Death Star exploding. The action in Kick-Ass 2 is like nothing you've ever seen before. The humour, the characters, the heart and the set-pieces are all things we're very proud of and the only warning I'd really include is that it's almost TOO EXCITING. Kick-Ass 2 is fictional fun so let's focus our ire instead of the real-life violence going on in the world like the war in Afghanistan, the alarming tension in Syria right now and the fact that Superman just snapped a guy's fucking neck.
Jim, I love ya and I hope you reconsider for all the above points. You're amazing in this insanely fun picture and I'm very proud of what Jeff, Matthew and all the team have done here."
It seems like Carrey's sudden change of heart is a reflection of his dual personalities in Me, Myself & Irene. Regardless of how he's feeling, Kick-Ass 2 will fire into theatres on August 16, with or without the star's support.
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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.
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.