Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection
When a movie opts to play inside baseball with a particular industry, it runs two risks: alienating the people outside looking in ("What the hell is all this mumbo jumbo?"), or alienating the people tightly connected to the underworld on display ("They got it all wrong!"). On special occasions, you have a film like Draft Day, which strikes out in both areas, somehow feigning expertise with such vigor as to befuddle strangers to behind-the-scenes football and frustrate those with an inborn knowledge of the underworld. As a member of the former community, I was bored stiff by the nonstop industry jabber. I was surprised to find, after our viewing of the movie, that a sports-savvy friend was even more aggravated with the film for everything they got so very, very wrong.
But really, neither of these is the true crime of Draft Day. Even on the promise of delivering a bona fide curtain pull on the NFL, all the film really owes us is a good story. Instead, Draft Day banks on the appeal of its would-be authenticity — this is how football people talk, act, eat, do business, grimace, throw laptops on draft day! — as a stand-in for any material we might otherwise be able to care about. The film slaps Kevin Costner's Sonny Weaver Jr., beleaguered general manager of the Cleveland Browns, with just about every go-to leading man conflict in the book (problems at work, problems with his girlfriend, problems with his family) in hopes that something will land in the neighborhood of emotional legitimacy... or, more plausibly, in hopes that it'll play enough like an attempt at a screenplay to warrant all the stats talk he's really there to spout.
His supporting cast has even less to do — Jennifer Garner is his all smiles romantic partner whose vehement love for football is supposed to make her interesting to us (What?! But she's a girl!). Ellen Burstyn is Sonny's disapproving mother, who has a penchant for wistful staring. Denis Leary is a coach who yells a lot.
Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection
The one vein of character work that stands out as a near success comes attached to the line of potential drafts. Josh Pence plays draft frontrunner Bo Callahan who Sonny has a bad feeling about. Chadwick Boseman is the underdog linebacker who we know we're supposed to like because he takes his nephews to gymnastics. In a post-Moneyball world, Sonny is accessing the humanity in the boys he's considering for a career on his field. Hell, he's even willing to overlook the troubled past of Arian Foster because he trusts the boy's dad (I think Terry Crews is contractually obligated to appear in any movie about football). It's thin material that amounts to a disjointed explosion, but it rings as the movie's most interesting stuff. Unfortunately, it's couriered through Sonny, a character who we're barely allowed to meet.
The tragedy of this conclusion is that most of the cast members, Costner included, are giving moreover enjoyable performances — accolades in particular to 25-year-old Griffin Newman as fish-out-of-water intern Rick, suffering through the worst first day of work imaginable. The small comedy offered by Newman and a few others (bullpen fixtures like Wade Williams and Veep's Timothy Simons) is treated like an occasional garnish, but amounts to much-craved sustenance when it pervades the tasteless and stale football blather.
Blather that will detract anybody just hoping to catch a fun sports movie, and blather that will turn off the most high-minded of football fans craving some degree of industrial accuracy. In either case, the blather exists in absence of much otherwise. Without any real characters operating in this dense, hectic, ostensibly colorful world of the NFL, it feels as vacant as Sun Life Stadium on opening weekend. (Right?)
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Ben Affleck is teaming up with poverty awareness group Live Below the Line to live on just $1.50 (94 pence) a day next week (beg29Apr13). The star and director of Argo will keep all his food and drink costs below the figure to raise money for The Global Poverty Project.
Actress Sophia Bush and singer Josh Groban have also accepted the challenge.
Those participating are expected to detail their experiences on Twitter.com.
Fun Size may be the only production from kid-centric studio Nickelodeon to also feature underage drinking (complete with red solo cups) and boob groping. The murky demographic for the movie ends up hurting the well-intentioned Halloween flick — it's not quite suitable for the young ones nor is it funny or wild enough for the Gossip Girl crowd which director Josh Schwartz (creator of the show) knows well. Instead we get a floundering trick or treat adventure that reduces the colorful twisted holiday to a meandering situational comedy.
Nick TV grad Victoria Justice (Victorious) stars as Wren a high school "geek" who finds herself unable to bag the guy of her dreams (who adores her) but finds a glimmer of hope in the big cool kids' Halloween party. Ready for a night out with her best friend April (Jane Levy) Wren thinks life is finally going her way until her Mom (Chelsea Handler) sticks her with her troublemaking little brother Albert (Jackson Nicoll) for the night. If chaperoning Albert wasn't already the worst thing in the world Wren finds herself in an even bigger dilemma when her brother wanders off into his own night of mischievous debauchery.
The "one crazy night" formula fits perfectly with Halloween but Fun Size struggles to find interesting material for its eclectic ensemble. Unlike many of the young actresses who have previously collaborated with Schwartz Justice seems unable to crack his voice and comedic style. She's too hip to too aware to play someone struggling with high school. The material doesn't serve her or Levy either; off-color jokes and a bizarre sense of entitlement turn them into two people you don't want to see succeed. Luckily for the audience during their sweeping search for Albert Wren and April cross paths with two true nerd-looking boys: Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau) who along with feeling like real teenagers actually land a joke or two.
Interwoven into this speedy adventure — Fun Size clocks in at a little over 75 minutes giving little time to flesh out our teenage heroes — is Albert's encounter with a convenience store clerk named Fuzzy. The adults of Fun Size see the ten-year-old Albert as a parter-in-crime rather than a lost little boy. Fuzzy recruits him for a raid on his ex-girlfriend's house; after running away he meets a lady who brings him to a nightclub. At one point a sleazebag kidnaps Albert and locks him in his bedroom. If Fun Size were madcap it may all make sense. Instead things just happen — and it's not hilarious scary or even deranged.
Nick's '90s sitcom Pete & Pete created an amazing sense of weirdness and heart in its exploits of two teenage brothers. Anyone could watch and enjoy it. Fun Size has a beautiful look (the colors of Halloween are mesmerizing) and Schwartz as always has impeccable soundtrack tastes but when it comes to telling a story that feels both relatable and wonderfully weird — what Pete & Pete did so well — the movie falls flat. It's stereotype humor (the movie packs many a fat and gay joke) doesn't cut it — when paired to Nick's best efforts the movie lives up to the title: a bite-size portion of a bigger better cinematic sweet.
"What do you know about him?"
"You should as afraid of him as I am."
Cue: menacing shot of bad guy Bane.
There's been no shortage of footage from the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises in the past few weeks, but that doesn't mean the whole movie has been laid out. Far from it. Every passing trailer and TV spot for the latest installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise has been about mood, a sense of dread that builds in anticipation of a hero confronting his ultimate adversary. For Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises, that opponent is the muscled hellbeast Bane, a muffled terrorist who strikes fear into the hearts of those who cross his path — even a crafty criminal like Catwoman.
In a new clip that played exclusively on Sunday night's MTV Movie Awards, Bane's full power is on display, from large scale attacks to raw, powerhouse beatings. In the epic montage, Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) tells cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) that she may be on the run, but the police aren't exactly her biggest threat. The footage cuts to Bane (Tom Hardy) in his underground lair, where Catwoman says, "Don't be shy." Oh, he won't be. From there, it's a mishmash of shots from the film: an exploding stock trading floor, a pile of beat-up old cars, pillars of smoking rising from Gotham City, an exploding bridge, Batman swooping into action with his Batplane and, eventually, Bats and Bane duking it out.
Who knows what the heck it all means. As much of the movie that we've seen in released, action-filled sequences, there's plenty still shrouded in secrecy. We've seen little of Marion Cotillard's Miranda Tate (who may be more than meets the eye), none of Josh Pence's Young Ra's Al Ghul, none of Juno Temple's Holly Robinson. How do all these characters fit into the grand scheme of things? Don't expect too many hints — there has to be a reason to see the movie in theaters, after all.
The MTV Movie Awards footage isn't available online, but keep your eyes pealed on this page for updates. The Dark Knight Rises crescendos on July 20.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures ]
Now that Christopher Nolan has fried all the big fish (not sure how that works when "fried" actually means hired, but whatever), he's taking care of the smaller ones. He's got Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt slotted for The Dark Knight Rises, and more recently he's added Juno Temple and Josh Pence. We've got a pretty good idea of who their characters will be, but of course, since it's a Nolan film, no one can really say for sure. Now, he's filled another smaller, but "important" role with the help of Grey's Anatomy's Daniel Sunjata. You may also recognize him from FX's Rescue Me. Soon you'll recognize him from the last Nolan Batman movie, but we don't know for what. Like we said, all we know is that he's important to the story. Right, because Nolan always introduces extraneous characters, thanks for that newsflash, sources.
It looks like Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy will come full circle after all as actor Josh Pence has been set to play a younger version of Liam Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul character from Batman Begins in The Dark Knight Rises. The Hollywood Reporter says that Pence will appear as Al Ghul in a key flashback sequence in the hugely-anticipated 2012 release.
He joins Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard, who will likely take on the role of Talia Al Ghul now that we know that villainous family will have a part in the story. Talia is one of the Caped Crusaders greatest loves and greatest enemies, as she can challenge his heart and his biceps in almost equal measure. She's a perfect physical match for the role, and Pence looks like he can pass for a young Neeson as well. Filming is set to begin soon for its July 20th bow next year and we can't wait to find out more about where this amazing franchise is going next.
Pence is a relative newcomer who sort of appeared in The Social Network (he was the body double for Armie Hammer's characters, the Harvard heartthrob Winklevoss twins) and recently wrapped his role in Universal's Battleship, a film which Neeson will also star in.