If there is one movie you wish you could have been a fly on the wall on, it’s Tyler Perry Presents peeples, which premieres on May 10. In his first starring role, The Office’s Craig Robinson plays the boyfriend of Kerry Washington (Scandal) in a Meet the Parents-esque comedy about a regular guy trying to live up to his girlfriend’s father’s unreasonable expectations.
Wade (Robinson) is a children’s entertainer in New York who lives with his girlfriend Grace (Washington), a type-A United Nations attorney. Wade is getting ready to pop the question, but first he has to meet and impress her perfect family in the Hamptons — “the chocolate Kennedys,” as they’re referred to — and hilarity ensues.
While the movie itself if full of laugh out loud moments, it became clear when sitting down with the cast of Peeples that they’d been having just as much fun, if not more so, behind the scenes. “We instantly gelled, and there was a lot of laughing and singing — we only stopped laughing to sing,” says Robinson, who frequently led the cast through Wade’s hit “Say It, Don’t Spray It,” which teaches kids not to wet their beds.
For Washington, who just spent awards season plugging the intense Django Unchained, only to go right back into her walk-and-talk role as Olivia Pope on Scandal, doing a lighter piece was a welcome change. “It’s so exciting to have a project out there that’s just going to make people laugh, at a time when I feel that people need to laugh,” she told us. “You just walk away feeling good about life and love!”
In our interview, find out who was the inspiration for Robinson’s character, Washington’s take on her costar’s kissing skills (Robinson vs. Tony Goldwyn, Scandal’s POTUS), and which actor was the loudest on set. We dare you not to fall in love with all of them.
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In contrast to the majority of men and women who have achieved his degree of celebrity, Roger Ebert spent far more time in the audience with the rest of us than he did onscreen. Sure, he had his own television series At the Movies, with partners Gene Siskel and later Richard Roeper, not to mention a revolving door of late night talk show appearances, but otherwise, catching a glimpse of Ebert in a movie or TV show was a rare treat... and one that took a variety of forms.
The pop culture zeitgeist has made a tradition of parodying its most formidable critic, Mr. Ebert — savvy shows and films have taken many a loving jab at the wielder of the mighty "thumbs down," channeling his well-known catchphrase and penchant for scathing reviews to send up the Hollywood industry altogether. And in light of the tragic news of Ebert's passing, we say goodbye to the iconic character with a roundup of biting, affectionate homages.
RELATED: Roger Ebert, Beloved Film Critic, Dies at 70
Of course, there was no program where a Siskel and Ebert parody made more sense than Fox's mid-'90s animated sitcom The Critic, which pit the superhuman film reviewers against one another in a heated, long-gestating rivalry... only to land them right back together in the end:
But it wasn't only niche series that paid tribute to the bickering duo: Roger and Ebert found a home in this early Simpsons episode, arguing tirelessly over the quality of in-universe blockbuster McBain.
The demographic-spanning familiarity of Siskel and Ebert are evident in his presence in children's programming as well. The pair took form in the Summer 1998 issue of Muppet Magazine, as depicted below — equipped with Rizzo the Rat, a cavalcade of movie snacks, and dueling thumb ratings. Additionally, Ebert appeared in a 1991 Sesame Street special,"Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake."
And again speaking to younger audiences is the pair's wacky, slapstick-heavy appearance in the Slappy the Squirrel segment of an episode of Animaniacs titled "Critical Condition." Portrayed as two harsh critics of the titular actress' work, Siskel and Ebert substitutes Lene Hisskill and Codger Eggbert get their comeuppance at the hands of the vengeful rodent... they eventually come around.
RELATED: Steve Carell, Jimmy Kimmel and More Pay Tribute to Rogert Ebert
The 2003 indie film Abby Singer employed Ebert to cameo as himself, playing a romantic rival of sorts to aspiring filmmaker Curtis Clemins. The trailer below features a parcel of Ebert's performance, which includes an extended homage to the classic film Citizen Kane.
Finally, we have Godzilla, which melded the persona, appearance, and reputation of Ebert with Michael Lerner's bespectacled mayor character, who, incidentally, had a sidekick named Gene — another affectionate jab by the movie makers of the world at the two men both feared and respected by an entire industry.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television, Children's Television Workshop, TriStar Pictures]
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After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
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.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.