WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
This follow-up to the 2006 smash hit Night at the Museum picks up shortly after the events of the first film with one-time museum security guard Larry Daley now living the life of a famous inventor. One night he decides to pay a visit to his old haunt the Museum of Natural History where he discovers that some of his favorite exhibits (and old not-so-inanimate friends) have been labeled as “out of date” and are being shipped off to storage at the Smithsonian Institute archives. In no time he gets a distress call from miniature cowboy Jedediah who informs Larry that a group of history’s most notorious evil personalities including Ivan the Terrible Napoleon Bonaparte and Al Capone are hatching a conspiracy. Together with their ringleader the 3000-year-old Egyptian pharaoh Kahmunrah they plan to take over the Smithsonian and after that the world. Larry springs quickly into action teaming up with Amelia Earhart and tries to save his old friends — and perhaps the planet — from the insidious invaders who’ve awakened from their slumber.
WHO’S IN IT?
Ben Stiller returns as Larry playing straight man once again to a legion of historical figures including new and returning characters. Back from the original are Robin Williams as a spirited Teddy Roosevelt Owen Wilson as Jedediah Smith Steve Coogan as the Roman emperor Octavius Patrick Gallagher as Attila the Hun and Mizuo Peck as Sacajawea. Ricky Gervais again appears briefly at the start and finish as museum curator Dr. McPhee. Welcome additions include a lively Amy Adams as the famed female flyer Earhart and a very funny Bill Hader (TV's Saturday Night Live) as an insecure General Custer. Christopher Guest plays Ivan the Terrible while Alain Chabat has lots of fun as Napoleon. Jon Bernthal’s Al Capone meanwhile is cleverly shot and isolated in vivid black and white. Best of all by a mile — and the real reason to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian — is Hank Azaria who plays Kahmunrah with brilliant comic timing and an affected speech pattern that’s highly amusing. The multi-talented Azaria (The Simpsons) provides the voices for two new computer-enhanced characters: a towering Abraham Lincoln and Rodin’s sculpture of The Thinker. Jonah Hill also shows up in an early scene as a Smithsonian security guard who confronts Stiller — a subplot that goes nowhere.
Although this follow-up suffers from a severe case of “sequelitis ” director Shawn Levy knows what makes this formula work for kids. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian deserves props as the rare studio blockbuster intent on actually providing a little education by making these important historical personalities come to such vivid life. Use of photos and paintings from the adjacent museums is the most inventive new wrinkle serving as a clever interactive device for Stiller to use throughout the flick.
The screenplay (again by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon) rehashes a lot of what was fresh in the first film and the result feels roboticly recycled. Levy’s direction seems rushed at times as if the filmmakers are afraid anyone with an attention span beyond 30 seconds. Kids will eat this up but aside from Azaria there aren’t many laughs for Mom Dad and older siblings.
For pure visual-effects wizardry and wonder you can’t beat the gang’s arrival at the Air and Space Museum where the production actually shot for a week. It’s awe-inspiring. Amelia Earhart’s encounter there with the African-American Tuskegee Airmen is also a swell touch.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Multiplex but drop the kids off and go shopping instead.
Actor Shia LaBeouf has reportedly been arrested in Hollywood for driving under the influence (DUI) after he was involved in a car accident.
The Transformers star, 21, is alleged to have collided with another vehicle at around 3 a.m. on Sunday at the junction of La Brea and Fountain.
According to TMZ.com, when police attended to the incident, LaBeouf was reportedly arrested on suspicion of felony DUI after showing "outward signs" of intoxication.
Paramedics were called to the scene and the actor was taken to a local hospital.
LaBeouf is no stranger to the law--in November, he was accused of drunken trespassing after refusing to leave a Chicago convenience store at 4 a.m., but the misdemeanor charges were subsequently dropped.
Then in February, he was charged with smoking in a prohibited area in California--to which he pleaded guilty and was forced to pay a $500 fine for the offense.
His latest legal woe comes just three months after he vowed never to get arrested again--because he didn't want to hamper his promising film career.
In May, he said, "There's nothing cool about getting arrested for stupid stuff at my age. But it keeps happening to me. I could pretend that I find it all highly amusing, but I'd be lying.
"It's deeply embarrassing. I decided a long time ago to stop doing stupid things, so clearly I've still got some work to do on myself. I'm not anonymous any more.
"Now, I light up a cigarette in the wrong place and overnight I'm the Al Capone of misdemeanors. What I've got in terms of acting is too important for me to jeopardize."
COPYRIGHT 2008 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
Actor Nicolas Cage has signed up to star as Al Capone in filmmaker Brian De Palma's prequel to The Untouchables.
Cage, reuniting with his Snake Eyes director, will play the real-life crime boss in The Untouchables: Capone Rising, which is set to start shooting in October.
Robert De Niro played Capone in the original 1987 movie, also directed by De Palma.
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
Media and political analysts are expressing skepticism that Connie Chung's interview with Congressman Gary Condit, set for ABC's PrimeTime Thursday this week, will produce anything more substantial than what Geraldo Rivera turned up when he opened Al Capone's safe. Most agreed, however, that Chung has a lot riding on it. Alex Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, told today's (Wednesday) New York Daily News. "She'll either distinguish herself or embarrass herself with this prime-time opportunity." Today's Boston Globe, in a report about the interview, observed: "For Chung, the coup she pulled off in winning the derby to interrogate the elusive Condit may resurrect a flagging career that never recovered from her removal as Dan Rather's coanchor on the CBS Evening News in 1995." The Globe article quoted media analyst Ellen Hume as saying, "I would be shocked if this interview produced anything." But Jon Keller, the longtime host of a local political talk show on Boston's WLVI, a WB affiliate, had this advice for Condit: "Blubber and beg forgiveness. ... And save something for Oprah. Don't give it all to Connie Chung."
"Just because we are Italian, it doesn't mean you have to be a Mafioso."
So said Manny Alfano, anti-violence chairman of UNICO National Inc., an Italian-American service organization, on Friday.
He shares a common concern with some Italian-Americans who say they believe that Hollywood has exploited and misrepresented their culture for years.
The worst offender, at present: The Sopranos.
The American Italian Defense Association filed a lawsuit on Thursday in Chicago against the makers of the HBO television series, alleging that the program wrongly portrays most Italian-Americans as mobsters.
The series "suggests that criminality is in the blood or in the genes of Italian-Americans and that Italians as early immigrants to this country had little opportunity other than to turn to crime," the association said in a statement.
Time Warner Entertainment said it is "very proud" of its critically acclaimed show.
"We are hardly alone in our assessment that the show is an extraordinary artistic achievement," according to a Time Warner Entertainment statement said.
Alfano's group is working with the American Italian Defense Association to combat stereotypes that they consider an affront to their community. He said the film and television industry began its misguided portrayal of the Italian-American community in the early 1960s, when the series The Untouchables first aired.
The series depicted the U.S. government's war against mobster Al Capone, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y, to an immigrant Italian family.
When The Untouchables first began airing, Italian-American organizations worked independently of each other, but now they are coming together and speak as one united voice, Alfano said.
The Italian-American group is not looking to gain any profit from this lawsuit, but hope to gain back their "individual dignity" under Illinois law, the clause in which Time Warner Entertainment Co. is being sued under.
The group wants a moral victory by having a jury declare that the series offends the dignity of Italian-Americans, attorney Enrico Mirabelli told Reuters on Friday.
"There is so much emphasis placed on The Sopranos because of its stands," Alfano said. "We are for the First Amendment and against censorship. I don't expect the series to be taken off the air."
If a jury finds for the plaintiff, the group said it hopes that Hollywood will begin to look for positive traits in their community.
"We can dilute that image if the media has more positive programming and roles," Alfano said. "But that is someone no one wants to address because that's what sells."
He sees the portrayal of Italian-Americans in the media as offensive. The Sopranos, he said, is a "soap opera at its worst," where most of the characters act violently and cheat on their spouses.
"It goes beyond The Sopranos," he said. He cited Matt LeBlanc's character, Joey, on Friends and the Barone family from Everyone Loves Raymond as terrible Italian-American stereotypes.
"The image we see is that we are buffoons, Mafioso and bimbos, which we are not," he said.
We don't know what's stranger: Adam Sandler doing a P.T. Anderson-type movie, or P.T. Anderson doing an Adam Sandler-type film.
Either way, the synergy might just happen. Daily Variety says today that the "Little Nicky" supercomic is fielding opportunities for his next project, and one of them is a script which "Magnolia" helmer Anderson specifically wrote with Sandler and actress Emily Watson in mind.
But competing for Sandler's attention right now is another comedy penned by his writing partner, Tim Herlihy. And the funnyman's involvement with either project is likely contingent upon the anticipated actors and writers strike next summer.
But in the meantime, Sandler's latest comedy, "Little Nicky," opens this Friday.
BACK TO 'BASIC': Maybe he is just trying desperately to expand his oeuvre, but sci-fi director David Cronenberg, who has brought us head-scratching tales such as "Naked Lunch," "Videodrome" and "eXistenZ," is apparently eyeing to direct "Basic Instinct 2," Variety reports. Most known for the interrogation scene wherein actress Sharon Stone crosses her legs, the first "Basic Instinct" was directed by Paul Verhoeven in 1992. And as reported earlier in the year, Stone will reprise her role as ice pick killer Catherine Trammell in the sequel.
SIZING UP: Smells like high testosterone. The Hollywood Reporter says that Tom Sizemore might star in "Black Hawk Down" to be directed by Ridley Scott and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Variety says that the war flick is about a group of U.S. soldiers dispatched to Somalia for a mission.
MORE SIZEMORE: Variety also says that Sizemore is concurrently in talks to play gangster Al Capone in "The Road to Perdition" for Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes ("American Beauty").
PLAYING WITH THE BIG KIDS: "Roseanne" alum Johnny Galecki will join big guns Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz and Jason Lee in the thriller "Vanilla Sky," Variety says. The film will be helmer Cameron Crowe's follow-up to his critically fave "Almost Famous."
X MAN: Denzel Washington did it once for Spike Lee, and now Mario Van Peebles will do it again for Michael Mann. According to Variety, Van Peebles will come on board the "Ali" biopic as black leader Malcolm X.
Coming into the home stretch of the final week of the final sweeps period before summer, we've got tearful farewells, wacky guest stars, tantalizing cliffhangers and best of all … sexy stories about Florence Henderson!
ABC's "Spin City" (9 p.m. EDT/PDT Wednesday) will be back next season with Charlie Sheen as its new star. But the bigger news is that Michael J. Fox will make his network TV farewell (hopefully only temporarily) in the series' hourlong season finale. Fox will be taking a break from acting to use his considerable charm and energy to help the fight against Parkinson's disease. Michael Gross, who played Fox's TV dad in "Family Ties," the series that made him a star so long ago, makes a guest appearance in this episode. Expect lots of hugs all around.
The season finale of "3rd Rock from the Sun" (8 p.m. EDT/PDT Tuesday, NBC) is a special one-hour episode featuring William Shatner and giant babe/WWF superstar Chyna in return guest appearances. Last year, the two were used in separate ratings stunts that were only moderately successful. Currently, Shatner's hilariously self-deprecating series of ads for Priceline.com is causing a resurgence in the former Captain's popularity. And Chyna, for whatever it's worth, can kick your ass. Add in the shocking revelation that Dick (John Lithgow) is really the son of the Big Giant Head (Shatner), and this might be an interesting hour.
Also on Tuesday, Fox promises "the greatest find since King Tut," as Hugh Downs hosts "Opening the Tombs of the Golden Mummies: Live!" (8 p.m. EDT/PDT). We don't want to pick on the decision-makers at Fox, who are still trying to live down "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" and perhaps don't have the time to look more deeply into the genre of "opening things," but shouldn't Downs know better than this? After all, he used to work with Geraldo Rivera on "20/20" just before Geraldo decided it would be a good idea to open Al Capone's "vault" on live TV.
Sunday night, meanwhile, (sort-of) brought us the goods on two famous couples: Greg and Marcia Brady, and Paul and Linda McCartney. So, just what really went on between Greg and Marcia? NBC's "Growing Up Brady" dug up the dirt you wanted on the famed "Brady Bunch" duo. Barry Williams, who played Greg on the 1969-74 sitcom, executive-produced this TV movie (based on his autobiographical book of the same name) which promised "the affairs, the secrets and the scandals!" Cool! How does Florence Henderson fit into all of this? (Barely a peck.)
CBS, meanwhile, served up a much more sanitized brand of nostalgia in its biopic "The Linda McCartney Story," about the 30-year romance between Paul McCartney (Gary Bakewell) (that rare, one-woman rock star) and photographer/activist Linda (Elizabeth Mitchell), who died in 1997 of cancer. If you are a fan of Paul, or the Beatles, this movie played sweet and sad, entertaining without offending. But it was also pretty bland.