“Death and taxes” — the cynic’s answer to the question of worldly certainty. Sure, there are things we’d like to believe we can count on. We never assumed we’d have to say goodbye to Law & Order. Nobody could have foreseen that our solar system would lose a planet — a moon or two, sure, but never an entire planet. And what sage soothsayer could have predicted the latest loss to hit American society: the bankruptcy of Hostess Twinkies?
The Huffington Post has announced that the dessert corporation is in the process of seeking liquidation, rendering the world’s future sans the one thing we thought would be around forever… quite literally.
One of the proudest achievements of the cream-filled sponge substitute was its ability to persevere through any sort of environmental trauma. The roaches of snack foods, Twinkies were thought to long outlast the human race, providing a sustained source of nourishment (in the loosest sense of the word) long after our society would be forced to face a treacherous apocalyptic nightmare.
Popular culture has branded Twinkies with this attribute time and time over. The 1999 episode of Family Guy, parodying the timely fears of an imminent global destruction at the hands of whatever Y2K was (a robot attack? It’s hard to remember, I pretty much ignored anything that didn’t have to do with Pokémon back then), placed its starring family amid a desolate United States, seeking salvation on the open road. Eventually, the Griffins happened upon a Massachusetts Twinkie factory, which provided their ultimate salvation.
A more recent example to depict with reverence human salvation at the hand of the Twinkies is the 2010 horror-comedy Zombieland. Long after an outbreak leaves America ravaged by flesh-eating monsters, an unnamed renegade gunslinger (Woody Harrelson) roams the highways, perpetually seeking out his favorite mass-produced pastry, reveling ecstatically when he happens upon a whole store full of ‘em towards the end of the movie.
But now that Twinkies will be no more, our society seems especially doomed. The projected end of the world as we know it (stop humming) is scheduled for next month — exactly five weeks away, at this point — meaning we don't even have time to adequately prepare for this devastating news. Most of us have approached this oncoming armageddon with a cavalier attitude, shrugging off any fates that might befall us. "How bad can it be?" we'd smirk. "We'll have Twinkies!" But our fears are hiked. Superstorms, Snooki babies, Scary Movie 5s... doom is inescapable. And now, one more thing we thought we could count on has betrayed us.
So in what worthy phenomenon can we invest our faiths now? What, in the face of a nuclear winter, deadly pandemic, or alien invasion, do we know for sure won't leave us hanging? Here are a few possibilities:Tyler Perry movies
Stephen King books
Donald Trump public embarrassments
Amanda Bynes traffic violations
James Franco outsider art projects that nobody's asking for
People accidentally spoiling Homeland for you
Ryan Gosling memes
Justin Timberlake's refusal to get back into music
Episodes of Modern Family wherein Cam and Mitchell are fighting the whole time over something like who's the better driver, or whatever
Party Down movie rumors
Shows attempting to be "the new Lost"So, we've got a few things to hang our hat on. But is it enough? Does this Twinkie news shake you to the core to the point of robbing you of any sort of faith? Can we, as a society, go on without the cream-filled treat that has partnered with us through thick and thin? We have five weeks to find out.
[Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]
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We were sold with that very first scene of Wedding Crashers — amid all the clamor over divorce proceedings, exclamations of "Hillbilly!", an ad-hoc rendition of the Isley Brothers' "Shout," and an unbridled celebration of the glory of crabcakes, we realized something: Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn were a perfect comic duo. Since the 2005 comedy hit, however, we haven't seen this pair join forces to headline a movie. Seven years! Seven years without Wilson's cavalier drawl complimenting Vaughn's rapid-fire explosion of neuroses. But this joyless hiatus is coming to a close with the duo's next feature film, The Internship.
Here, we see Wilson and Vaughn take up together on the set of the new movie, which will center around a pair of middle aged career men who lose their jobs and need to start back at the bottom of the corporate ladder with internship positions. It's the sort of loose-fitting plot that will allow the dynamic comedy borne organically between these men to flow free, producing all the laughs Wedding Crashers gave us back in '05.
So now that Wilson and Vaughn are slated for this reunion, what other pairs are we still waiting to see get back together on screen? And how would we most like to see them reunite?
Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd
Imagine a 2015 without flying cars or hover boards... in other words, a time when we would, in fact, need roads. You know, the 2015 that we're actually going to get. Now, take a 54-year-old Michael J. Fox and a 77-year-old Christopher Lloyd and pair 'em up for the first time since the Back to the Future series for a tender dramedy about the misunderstood friendship between a joyless businessman and his aging former mentor. Great Scott, this would be heavy (sorry, that wasn't even clever... it just had to be said).
Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington
While they weren't exactly laugh riots in Philadelphia, we think this pair has the potential to dole out an outrageous buddy comedy. Maybe a down-on-his-luck gambling addict (Hanks) gets in bad with some dangerous characters and turns to his recovering rage-aholic brother-in-law (Washington) to get him out of this jam.This duo sets off on a journey, heading right into a series of risky adventures in an effort to escape their pursuers... and each other.
Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck
Almost three decades after Ferris Bueller's Day Off, it'd be nice to see if Ferris and Cameron have kept in touch. Perhaps a slice of life comedy about two doting dads and lifelong pals who take their kids on a camping trip, only to inadvertently thrust their unwilling children into an onslaught of family friendly hijinks. Or maybe a hard R about two desperate over-the-hill saps who head out past the confines of their New Mexico suburb, treading into the seediest clubs in the crime-laden desert. Just a couple of ideas.
Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg
I know Zombieland is hardly the time-tested classic that Back to the Future, Philadelphia, and Ferris Bueller are, but it was a damn good movie, and I really want to see Woody and Jesse again! Sorry, I was expecting a lot of "Are you kidding me?"s for this one. I'd believe them as a pair of estranged brothers who find out about one another at their elderly father's funeral, or two innocent passengers stuck amid a train heist, who must band together to save the day (with the former's brawn and the latter's brains). On board? (Hey, that could be the name of the movie!)
Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro
Here's the kicker. Will Smith is known for protecting New York City against supernatural baddies, right? And he always has a partner, right? (Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jeff Goldblum, a robot, a dog, Kevin James... what? Heartbreak is a supernatural villain!) Well, how about vampires? Or ghosts? Mummies? It really doesn't matter. All that matters is his sidekick: his Fresh Prince of Bel Air cousin Alfonso Ribeiro. Now that's something we'd all see.
[Photo Credit: PacificCoastNews.com]
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.