To TV viewers and his Survivor-winning fiancée Bianca (Joy Bryant) Roscoe Jenkins (Martin Lawrence) is known as R.J. Stephens a self-help guru whose “Team of Me” philosophy has won him millions of adoring fans and faithful followers. Roscoe’s ginormous Southern family however doesn’t approve of how “Hollywood” he has become and isn’t afraid to tell him just that which explains why Roscoe hasn’t been home in eight years. But with his parents’ (James Earl Jones and Margaret Avery) 50th anniversary coming up Roscoe tentatively decides to come home with his son (Damani Roberts) Bianca and her dainty dog in tow. Upon arriving he is bombarded with the family annoyances that have kept him away for so long. Cousin Reggie (Mike Epps) is the first to welcome Roscoe by swiftly asking him to “borrow” hundreds of dollars to buy ice; Roscoe’s siblings (Michael Clarke Duncan and Mo'Nique) taunt both him and his size-zero domineering fiancée; and his old-fashioned dad is simply embarrassed by the sensationalism on which Roscoe has built a career. But once Roscoe’s cousin Clyde (Cedric the Entertainer) shows up the childhood memories really kick in. Roscoe resents Clyde for always winning at everything when they were kids. Clyde even brings the girl (Nicole Ari Parker) he stole from his cousin a long time ago which sends Roscoe into a life-assessment crisis. In damn near every Martin Lawrence movie if he isn’t the lead in stature he is the lead in boisterousness. But in Roscoe Jenkins he has some real competition in the latter department and even concedes the throne from time to time. He isn’t forced to carry the movie by himself which translates to a scaled-down version of his usual performance: diminished outbursts and pratfalls but not beyond recognition. Rising star Bryant (Get Rich or Die Tryin') actually has the funniest role as a celeb wannabe who still lives on Survivor terms but the humor might be lost on viewers eager to vilify her snooty character for clashing with the Jenkins family. Elsewhere Epps and Mo'Nique are in full-on stand-up mode with often funny results while Cedric is refreshingly not in stand-up mode and Duncan (Green Mile) is his usual more-than-meets-the-eye self. Acting legend James Earl Jones on the other hand is a somewhat tough sell in a slapstick-y comedy at this stage in his career as he delivers punch lines with the weight of a National Geographic voiceover. Still the other actors’ respect for him is palpable and it turns out fitting in this case. There’s something about the spirit of Roscoe Jenkins that renders the movie much looser and more genuine than what we’ve come to expect from similar formulaic comedies. Such surprising quality is thanks to the work of writer-director Malcolm D. Lee (Undercover Brother Roll Bounce) who throughout his career has crafted a different superior kind of “urban” movie to that of his peers. There is indisputably some throwaway material in Roscoe--bodily-function humor skunk-bodily-function humor dog-sex humor--which is always a shame to see and the premise is awfully cookie-cutter but Lee’s execution of it all makes for a mostly lighthearted family comedy that can actually be enjoyed by the whole family. And when the inevitable non-lighthearted moments do arrive Lee has a way of not making them so heavy-handed that we forget this movie is a comedy and that all will ultimately end well. Finally Lee has displays a knack for handling a large group of actors--could there be a larger group than Roscoe Jenkins'?!--and generating true chemistry loud and obnoxious like a real family.
In the future London won’t be quite as jolly good as its present version according to V for Vendetta. That’s where V (Hugo Weaving) comes in. Equal parts Batman Jack the Ripper Phantom of the Opera and Michael Moore V is out to sabotage the totalitarian British regime that oppresses its citizens and that turned him into the masked monster he is. Along the way he saves a young girl named Evey (Natalie Portman) and tries to turn her on to his cause. She’s not quite keen on V’s terrorist tactics but something inside endears her to the man behind the mask--a man only she can truly reach. V’s mission is one of more than mere terrorism though: he hopes to unite all civilians and make the government fear its people instead of vice versa. As Nov. 5 looms Evey uncovers V’s secrets while V does the same to the government making it a fifth of November they’re sure to remember. Bravery as applied to a Hollywood performance is bandied about much too often when used in earnest. But if used somewhat superficially it aptly describes Portman’s head-shaving scene--about the “bravest” thing a beautiful actress can do in the context of a movie--especially since it was captured in a single take! G.I. Jane aside the greatest classiest actress of her generation again shows why in a dazzling performance. Forget the faux accent it’s the raw emotion she displays especially in the film’s latter stages that’s positively Streep-like and most captivating. And did we mention that even sans her flowing locks she’s not too rough on the eyes? Weaving’s in equally precarious territory hiding behind a mask. But it adds a perfect mystique to that impeccable eloquence and enunciation of his evoking that of his Agent Smith in the Matrix flicks. The European Stephens (Fry and Rea) too provide acting muscle and will hopefully and deservedly gain some American exposure. Larry and Andy Wachowski are the main story here even though V is directed by their assistant director on the Matrix trilogy James McTeigue. He’s responsible for the film’s look and what an eye-catching look it is but the Wachowskis who wrote and produced no doubt watched over his shoulder and might be more responsible for its feel. The feel is like the brothers themselves very complex. Much as they may not like it they’re a veritable Hollywood brand and that means if they set out to make a message piece it’s going to be big-budgeted. Such contradictory goals make for occasional incoherence. There’s also some indulging: referencing “America’s War” in a film set in the not-so-distant future for example seems cheap propaganda. Yet many issues remain compelling and McTeigue sets the right mood for them with the help of great music choices (Cat Power Antony & the Johnsons et al).
Looks like people were ready for more Middle-earth action.
As if anyone is truly surprised, the second installment of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy dominated the box office this weekend with its continuing tale about some good-hearted Hobbits who want to destroy an evil Ring, while a bunch of nasty Middle-earth denizens try and stop them.
Over the three-day weekend, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers took in a whopping $61.5 million*, towering over the number two spot captured by the new Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant film Two Weeks Notice. The romantic comedy only managed to take in about a quarter of The Two Towers' haul at $14.4 million.
Other openers this week included another epic saga, Gangs of New York, which came in fourth with $9.1 million and the animated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened strong at number six with a respectable $6.1 million.
THE TOP TEN
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers opened with an amazing three-day weekend total, ESTIMATED at $61.5 million at 3,6 22 theaters ($16, 980 per theater) and also taking in almost half of the weekend's box office (46.4 percent). Since its Wednesday, Dec. 18, opening, the film has brought in an ESTIMATED $101.5 million in total over five days.
Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler.
The middle part to J.R.R. Tolkien's literary fantasy epic clearly surpassed its predecessor by nearly 25 percent. On the same weekend last year, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which also opened on the Wednesday before Christmas, took in $47.2 million in three days. The film went on to pull in $94 million after its first five days, eventually grossing $313 million in North America and about $550 million overseas, according to Variety.
The Two Towers also posted the second highest domestic Wednesday opening ever, with a healthy $26 million, behind 1999's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace at $28.5 million, according to New Line. Fellowship of the Ring was the previous holder of the December one-day record, opening with $18.2 million.
"We are pleased and astounded," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman told Variety of The Two Towers performance.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice opened in second place with an ESTIMATED $14.4 million at 2,755 theaters ($5, 229 per theater).
Directed by Marc Lawrence, it stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
This romantic comedy about a corporate lawyer's love/hate relationship with her boss is Bullock's second best opening in the last five films she has made. Her best opening was this summer's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which opened with a strong $16.1 million and went on to gross $69.5 million domestically. Bullock's top film Miss Congeniality opened to the smaller tune of $10 million in December 2000 but grossed $106.8 million domestically, proving the comedic actress has the star power to open films strong--and keep them that way.
The third spot belonged to Sony Pictures' Maid in Manhattan, this season's other romantic comedy, which opened last weekend at number one. Falling 41 percent, it still managed to rake in an ESTIMATED $11 million at 2,866 theaters (+28 theaters; $3,838 per theater). It's cume to date is approximately $35.5 million.
Directed by Wayne Wang, it stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes.
Guess a historical period piece about 1860s New York can't beat Hobbits or romance. Miramax's highly anticipated R-rated Gangs of New York opened with a less-than-exciting ESTIMATED $9.1 million at 1,504 theaters ($6,064 per theater). Still, with the film's recent slate of Golden Globe nominations, the momentum should give Gangs a fair amount of shelf life.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz.
20th Century Fox's drum showstopper PG-13 rated Drumline continued to boom at number five with an ESTIMATED $7.6 million (-40%) at 1,837 theaters ($4,137 per theater). The little-film-that-could about an underdog high school band opened at No. 3 last week and has so far gained a respectable $22.8 million.
Directed by Charles Stone, it stars Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones.
Another new flick on the block this weekend was Paramount Pictures' PG-rated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened in sixth place with an ESTIMATED $6.1 million at 3,012 theaters ($2,025 per theater).
Based on the hit Nickelodeon TV show, the animated film about a family of wildlife documentary filmmakers, is directed by Cathy Malkasian and Jeff McGrath and includes the vocal talents of Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Rupert Everett, Lynn Redgrave and Marisa Tomei.
Chortling in at number seven is Disney's PG-13 rated The Hot Chick, taking in an ESTIMATED $4.5 million at 2,217 theaters ($2,030 per theater). Dropping 39 percent, the body-switching comedy bowed last week in fifth place and has made approximately $13.7 million thus far.
Directed by Tom Brady, it stars Rob Schneider, Anna Faris and Rachel McAdams.
Warner Bros. PG-rated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets dropped a couple of notches to No. 8 with an ESTIMATED $4.45 million (-30%) at 2,750 theaters (-275 theaters; $1,620 per theater). The second movie about our fab boy wizard and his adventures at Hogwarts has managed to eke out approximately $228.9 million in its six weeks at the box office. Not too shabby.
Directed by Chris Columbus, the film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Kenneth Branagh, Jason Isaacs, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane and Maggie Smith.
The once-popular franchise seems to have lost its steam. Paramount Pictures PG-13 rated Star Trek: Nemesis continued its disappointing run, slipping from its bow at second place last weekend to ninth with an ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-76%) at 2,711 theaters ($1,623 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.4 million.
Directed by Stuart Baird, it stars Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Marina Sirtis.
Tenth place belongs to Bond, James Bond. MGM's megahit, PG-13 rated Die Another Day, continued reaping the rewards with an ESTIMATED $4 million, dropping 49 percent at 2,075 theaters (-1,302 theaters; $1,928 per theater). One of the highest-grossing Bond films ever, its taken in approximately $138.4 million so far.
Directed by Lee Tamahori, it stars Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens and Rick Yune.
Three of the higher-profile independent films of the season opened in limited theaters this weekend, including Denzel Washington's Antwone Fisher, Spike Lee's 25th Hour and Narc starring Ray Liotta.
Fox Searchlight's PG-13 rated Antwone Fisher opened Thursday in 15 theaters at an ESTIMATED $217,500 ($14,500 per theater). The film, about a man struggles to come to terms with his abusive childhood, is directed by the Oscar-winning Washington, who also stars along with newcomer Derek Luke. Fisher will open wide Jan. 1.
Buena Vista's R-rated 25th Hour also opened Thursday in 5 theaters and took in an ESTIMATED $109,811 ($21, 962 per theater). The intense drama focuses on a drug dealer's last 24 hours before he goes to prison and how he chooses to spend it. Directed by Spike Lee, it stars Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson and Brian Cox. The film opens wide Jan. 10.
Paramount's Narc opened in 6 theaters Friday, making an ESTIMATED $66,000 ($11,000 per theater). The gritty drama stars Ray Liotta and Jason Patric as two undercover narcotics detectives after a cop killer.
The top 12 films this weekend earned $132 million, up 46.4 percent from last weekend.
This time last year, New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was number one at the box office with $47.2 million, while Warner Bros. Ocean's Eleven came in second with $14.7 million and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius third with $13.8 million.
*All estimates as reported by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
The key ingredient to any Bond flick is the quasi-plausible globe-trotting plots where on more than one occasion you are asked to suspend your disbelief. This is particularly true for Die Another Day where reality assuredly takes a back seat--almost too much. The action starts in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is on an undercover mission to stop a war-loving North Korean colonel--but is found out. Cut to a high-speed hovercraft chase (is there anything James can't drive?) where Bond seemingly dispatches the colonel but ends up being captured and tortured. Agent 007 gets out and soon finds himself on a quest to find the person who set him up. All points--including some rare diamonds and a tie to genetic engineering (Note: This is one of the many moments where you say "Oh come on!")--lead to millionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and his ruthless right-hand man Zao (Rick Yune). They eventually show him firsthand an ultimate high-tech global-warming device capable of starting WWIII if used properly. But let's not forget about the Bond girls. James hooks up with Jinx (Halle Berry) a beautiful but deadly American agent and Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) Graves' personal assistant who is much more than just someone's flunky. It all culminates to an explosive showdown.
The dashing and good-looking Brosnan embodies the true spirit of the suave British super agent--except this time around he is finally showing a little wear and tear. Don't get me wrong Brosnan still looks great doing the stunts and wooing the women but he's getting a little long in the tooth for all this spy stuff--and it slightly detracts from the movie. Interestingly Die Another Day is one of the first times you get to see Bond tortured and beaten. It is perhaps one of the more real moments Brosnan has ever had as Bond and the 49-year-old actor handles the chores well. But it may be time for him to hang it up and move on (and the actor admits this). Berry plays the buff Jinx with relish. This Oscar-winning beauty takes your breath away from the first time you see her coming out of the water Ursula Andress-style but she manages to kick some major butt throughout the rest of the movie and loves every minute of it. Pike as Miranda Frost is another rough and tumble beauty who can spar with the best of them. It's nice to see the Bond girls getting tougher and tougher. The villains are adequately over-the-top. Stephens (who is British thesp Maggie Smith's real-life son) as Gustav Graves has a truly menacing snarl which he uses to full advantage while Yune (The Fast and the Furious) as sidekick Zao makes Goldfinger's Oddjob look like a pussycat. Judi Dench as M and John Cleese as Q always add a nice element.
Along with grandiose plots the other key factor to a good Bond movie are the action sequences. They must be fast-paced highly implausible but nevertheless spectacular. Die Another Day doesn't disappoint. Even the opening credits have a unique feel. As Bond is being tortured women dance seductively around him while Madonna belts out the theme song--it's well done. New Zealand director Lee Tamahori (Along Came a Spider) starts the film off with a pretty exciting surfing sequence (is there anything Bond can't do?) and continues the trend with the hovercraft chase scene.The best part of the movie however takes place in Graves's lair an ice palace in Iceland where Bond has to do some fancy driving on ice to escape the bad guys and rescue the damsel in distress. The entire chain of events looks amazing (save a scene with Bond parachute-surfing around--icebergs? Come on!) Day also pays homage to several early Bond films including Dr. No Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. It's the lag time between the action where the film falters. There is far too much pontificating in this Bond film. Better to just keep to the business at hand. Only the last action sequence seems too far off-base from reality even for a Bond movie. I say that intellectually but it still keeps you on the edge of your seat watching. You can't help it.
Amidst fears that the 20th James Bond installment would be his last, Pierce Brosnan has agreed to extend his contract to complete one more film as 007.
"I will do another one. I am very pleased to be sitting here today," he said at a press conference at Pinewood Studios on Friday. "Time has gone by quickly. It seems like only yesterday I was sitting here for GoldenEye."
But while the 48-year-old actor still wants to carry on for one more adventure, he fears he may be getting to old.
"It takes stamina to play this role. I would like to get off stage with grace."
The cast and crew of the 20th James Bond installment assembled at Pinewood Studios, the film's production company in Buckinghamshire, to begin preparations for latest film.
Brosnan is set to continue his record-breaking run as secret agent 007. Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike will take on the coveted roles of Bond girls.
The film, currently untitled, will also star Judi Dench as M, Samantha Bond as Miss Moneypenny and John Cleese in the role of Q, following the death of Desmond Llewelyn.
Toby Stephens joins the ranks of nefarious bad guys.
Bond's infamous Astin Martin will reportedly be revamped in the form of the new V12 Vanquish.
The story will begin in Korea with a spectacular high-speed hovercraft chase and continue by way of Hong Kong, Cuba and London. Bond will reportedly have to unmask a traitor in order to prevent a war of catastrophic consequences.
Pinewood Studios said production on the latest Bond epic would begin Monday.
"We're thrilled to start filming on what promises to be one of the greatest Bond films ever," producer Barbara Broccoli said in a statement. "We're extremely proud to be continuing the Bond tradition."
The film is slated for a November 22, 2002, release.