Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Seventeen years ago, Harrison Ford grumbled four simple words that defined a genre, a demographic, and a country: "Get off my plane." In a pre-9/11 world, there was no shortage of jingoistic glee in a movie like Air Force One, in which a man's man American president doled out justice to a militia of Russian loyalist terrorists who made the silly mistake of attempting to hijack his flight home from Moscow. In 2014, we don't have the luxury of facing a plotline like this with reckless merriment. There's a damp gravity to the premise behind movies like Non-Stop, which in another time would have been nothing more than Taken on a Plane. But rigidly conscious of the connotations that attach to a story about a hijacking of a civilian international flight into John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, Non-Stop doesn't play too fast and loose. It still plays, and has some good fun doing so, but carefully.
From the getgo, we're anchored into the grim narrative of Liam Neeson's U.S. Air Marshall Bill Marks, who settles his demons with a healthy spoonful of whiskey. A dutiful officer even when liquored up, Marks eyeballs every nameless face in London's Heathrow Airport, silently introducing the bevvy of characters who'll come into play later on. After takeoff, Marks finds himself on the unwitting prowl for the anonymous party who's attempting to take down the red-eye through a series of manipulative text messages, well-timed threats, and clandestine killings. Chatty passenger Julianne Moore and flight attendant Michelle Dockery join Marks in his efforts to identify the mysterious criminal before the entire aircraft falls to his or her whims. So less Taken, more Murder, She Wrote.
Our roundup of suspects challenges our (and their) preconceived notions, and quite laughably — most vocal among Neeson's fellow passengers are a white beta-male school teacher (Scoot McNairy), a black computer engineer with an attitude of entitlement (Nate Parker), a softspoken Middle Eastern surgeon whose headwear gets more than a few focal shots (Omar Metwally), a middle-aged white businessman whose latest account landed him more than your house is worth (Frank Deal), an irate black youngster draped in irreverence (Corey Hawkins), and a white, bald, machismo-howling New York cop who secretly accepts his gay brother (Corey Stoll). Just a few talking heads short of Do the Right Thing, Non-Stop manages to goof on each man's (notice that they're all men — Moore, Dockery, and a barely-in-the-movie Lupita Nyong’o are kept shy of the action for most of the film) distaste for and distrust of one another as they each try to sidle up to, or undermine the harried Marks.
Non-Stop plays an interesting game with its characters and its audience, simultaneously painting the ignorance of its characters with a thick coat of comedy while pointing its finger straight out at us with accusations that we, too, thought it was whoever we just learned it wasn't, and for all the wrong reasons. "Shame on you!" Non-Stop chides, adding, "But let's keep going, this is fun!"
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It is fun — that's the miraculous thing. Without any "Get off my plane"s or "Yippee ki yay"s, Non-Stop keeps its action genre silliness in check (okay, there is a moment involving an airborne gun that'll institute some serious laugh-cheers), investing all of its good time in the game of claustrophobic Clue that we can't help but enjoy. It sacrifices some of its charm in a heavy-handed third act, tipping to one side of what was a pretty impressive balancing act up until that point. But its falter is not one that drags down the movie entirely. Fun and excitement are restored, sincerity is maintained, and even a few moments of sensitivity creep their way through. We might not live in a world of President Harrison Fords any longer, but Air Marshall Liam Neesons could actually be a step up.
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It’s still uncertain whether or not there has been any child star that has come into adulthood unscathed, but what’s for sure is that stage parents are rarely ever as perfect as they make themselves out to be.
Here are 9 stage parents that will have you calling your mom tonight and telling her that you love her.
Dina & Michael Lohan A list about celeb parents gone wild would never be complete without the Lohans. Where to even start? In one side of the ring we have Dina Lohan, who has been blatantly freeloading off of Lindsay since she first shot to fame. Claims of being a Rockette (which she never was), a reality show, dodgy photos of her kinda-sorta making out with her own daughter (EW), showing up under the influence of WTF on Dr. Phil’s show, publicly sparring with her ex-husband, partying with Lindsay, and now a glorious DWI just weeks after Lindsay was released from rehab are some of the accomplishments Dina has under her belt. On the other side of the ring is Michael Lohan – over 6 years in jail, DUIs, random children with even randomer women, being violent towards his girlfriends, and talking to the press about how he’s not talking to the press anymore are some of Michael’s accomplishments. With parents like these, is it any wonder why Lindsay is the way she is?
Courtney Love Courtney Love is a hot mess and that title definitely passes over to her parenting skills. She was a shady parent from the start, admitting to Vanity Fair in 1992 that she took heroin while she was pregnant, though she stopped once she discovered she was with child. Love’s relationship with her daughter Frances has been plagued with drug overdoses, crazy Twitter rants, losing custody, restraining orders, and alleging that Dave Grohl hit on her daughter. It’s safe to assume that CPS was on speed dial for majority of Frances’ first eighteen years.
Charlie Sheen Charlie Sheen, Father. If those 3 words don’t strike fear in your heart, then little else will. Sheen may be winning life with his warlock tiger blood, but he sure isn’t winning any fatherhood acclaim. After he split up with Denise Richards in 2005, the couple had no problem airing out their dirty laundry for the world to see, which included the earth-shattering surprise that Sheen visited prostitutes and Sheen, the ever-romantic, threatening to kill Richards. The situation was replayed when Sheen and Brooke Mueller divorced in 2010, with Mueller getting a restraining order against Sheen for making “descriptive” threats to her. If that’s “winning,” being a loser sounds pretty awesome right now.
Jaid Barrymore Drew Barrymore comes from a long line of esteemed and troubled actors, but it’s her mom that gets most of the slack when it comes to her. Drew is a paradigm for reformed wild child, and majority of her problems stemmed from her own mother teaching her how to party. Jaid allegedly took Drew to Studio 54 before Drew could even walk. Drew was smoking and drinking by 9, doing cocaine by 13, and had gone to rehab twice by the time she was 14. Luckily, Drew divorced her parents when she was 15 and ended up turning out better than ok.
Joe Jackson It’s no secret that Joe Jackson always had a bad relationship with his children, namely Michael, but he reminded us all exactly how low he’d go after Michael’s death in 2009. Joe used Michael’s death as a publicity vehicle, using events commemorating MJ’s career to promote his own business ventures. He also blamed Katherine Jackson for Michael’s death, because that’s just the kind of stand-up guy he is. Joe complained about the fact that Katherine couldn’t stop crying after losing her son, admitting, “I didn’t give her a hug because I was mad at her crying.” Sociopathic much?
Kris Jenner We can all thank Kris Jenner for unleashing the Krazy Kardashian Klan upon us. Though they claim to love each other dearly and be a close family unit, it’s pretty easy to see that Kris Jenner has the entire family by the proverbial balls. Kris all but admitted to brokering Kim’s sex tape, saying on an early episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, “As a mother, I wanted to kill her. But as a manager, I knew I had a job to do.” Kris also encouraged Kim to pose for Playboy in 2007, even though Kim was uncomfortable with the prospect. There’s also the fact that she had no qualms about her barely teenaged daughters dancing on a stripper pole (in her own house, no less).
Linda & Hulk Hogan The Hogan Family is basically Days of Our Lives with more peroxide and less Stefano, and at the center of it all is poor Brooke Hogan. First, Hulk Hogan cheated on Linda Hogan with one of Brooke’s female friends. Then, in a totally non-attempt to get back at Hulk, Linda ran off with one of Brooke’s male friends. If all that wasn’t bad enough, a sex tape of Hulk and Heather Clem, the estranged wife of Bubba the Love Sponge (yes, that’s what someone chooses to call themself) was suspiciously leaked onto the interwebs. Hulk may be a WWE superstar, but nobody wanted to see that. It’s one thing when celebs leak sex tapes, but celeb parents leaking sex tapes is a whole other shade of embarrassing.
Ryan O’Neal If there’s a perfect example of why people should have to be tested for competency before they become parents, Ryan O’Neal is it. Ryan is the reason why his son, Redmond, is also a drug addict, with the 2 of them sharing a touching father-son arrest for felony meth possession in 2008. His daughter, Tatum, also alleged claims of physical and emotional abuse on his part in her memoir and she’s no stranger to drug arrests either. Making things worse is the fact that Ryan admitted to hitting on Tatum at Farrah Fawcett’s funeral, stating, “I was just trying to be funny with a strange Swedish woman, and it's my daughter. It's so sick." At least we all agree on one thing, Ryan.
Chrisoula Workman The latest recruit in the Crazy Stage Parents Club is Chrisoula Workman, mother of Modern Family star Ariel Winter. In 2012, reports emerged that Ariel had been removed from her home due to her mother abusing her physically and emotionally. Ariel lived with her older sister Shannelle, who was also removed from the house by the Department of Children and Family Services and even lived in foster care for a while. Some of the things Chrisoula was accused of include name-calling, insults about weight, trying to ‘sexualize’ the then-14 year old, and even depriving Ariel of food. Instead of trying to solve her family’s problems, Chrisoula went all out on the offensive, spreading rumors about her daughter wanting to shack up with an 18-year-old and telling a judge not to believe Ariel, saying, “She’s an actress so I’m sure she can cry at the drop of a hat.” Wow. Hey Chrisoula, there’s this great guy that’s just perfect for you named Joe Jackson...
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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.