The first thing you notice about Jonah Hex is the fact that you can make a drinking game out of people saying the words "Jonah Hex." It happens so often I began to believe that this was simply how people used to greet one another in the Old West. You walk into a room: “Jonah Hex!” “Well Jonah Hex to you too buddy!” Take a bottle of whiskey with you into the movie* and take a shot every time someone says his name and you will have an incredible 74 minutes. You might also be dead at the end.
Why does it feel like I’m dedicating half the review to the use of the words "Jonah Hex?" Because half the movie is dedicated to uttering the words "Jonah Hex." Learn to love the sound of it. Josh Brolin sure did.
When our ‘hero’ (and I use that word in the loosest of possible terms) isn’t busy having people remind him of his name he is riding around killing people or being made fun of for his horribly scarred face. But when a villain from his past – and when I say "past " I mean from 10 minutes earlier in the film – turns out not to be as dead as we were led to believe in the opening monologue Hex sets out to get the revenge he really wish he could have gotten 15 minutes earlier. And that’s when the movie beings its plunge into logical implausibility. If you can find a single reason to give a rat's *** about anyone in this movie grip onto it with both hands brother and hold on tight – it’s the only way you’re going to care at all about this film.
It’s not the horse with side-mounted Gatling guns that got me or the silliness of dynamite crossbows; it was just how unlikable everyone was and how it leaned heavily upon cliché to tell a story without understanding how a story like this is supposed to be told. Revenge films are like romantic comedies: They rely entirely on a weak coincidence and delivering a series of emotional money shots that pay off for the audience in a big way. More importantly these money shots must be delivered in a very specific structure that allows people to forgive any thin or contrived story elements. Where a romantic comedy is "Boy Meets Girl Boy Loses Girl Boy gets Girl Back " revenge films are mostly comprised of "Guy Finds Simple Bliss Bad Guy Ruins Simple Bliss in a Cruel Manner Guy Left for Dead Guy Gets Revenge for All He’s Lost." Very simple stuff. Whether it’s Maximus in Gladitor or Eric Draven in The Crow or Charles Rane in Rolling Thunder the structure is the same. The key to a good revenge movie is a likable good guy a reason to care about his life truly despicable bad guys and a perfectly crafted ending for our hero in particular – often involving his death.
Right from the start Jonah Hex drops the ball. We open with him tied up and getting wailed on watching his family get murdered just out of frame and then get left for dead. But we haven’t found anything to care for yet and more importantly he immediately admits to having done everything he’s been accused of. This is revenge to begin with. Sure the movie eventually gets around to trying to explain why he didn’t really deserve it but only after 45 minutes of us pretty much disliking the guy. He’s mean unlikable murderous and his only friend in the world is a prostitute who tells us that she “Don’t play house ” just before begging Jonah to settle down with her. He’s got a great horse and a dog but doesn’t like them enough to have ever given them a name and every time someone finally gets around to killing him magical Native Americans show up to save his bacon AGAIN for no apparent reason other than his wife was Native American.
The only reason to root for Jonah at all is because he’s the protagonist and his antagonist (played comically by John Malkovich) is on a mission to I kid you not destroy America with a semi-magical nation-destroying weapon. Oh yes and we’re told the Mexicans call him “Terrorista.” A Terrorist hellbent on destroying America? In the Old West? You’d be hard pressed to find anyone you wouldn’t root for fighting that guy. This had all the hallmarks of being a WWE movie without the cool logo. If you’re 13 years old and you still believe wrestling is real this might be the movie for you. Otherwise it is an exercise in silliness designed to rob you of $10.
*Hollywood.com accepts no responsibility to cirrhosis of the liver or any sudden death caused by ingestion of alcohol occurring during the course of this game.
Nanny McPhee captures a lot of the same magic as Poppins --but without songs about spoonfuls of sugar and flying kites. McPhee starts with some very naughty children--seven of them in fact who led by the oldest boy Simon (Thomas Sangster) have managed to drive away 17 previous nannies You see the children recently lost their beloved mother so they take great offense to being looked after by a nanny. Their father Mr. Brown (Colin Firth) a nice enough fellow is at wits end coupled by the fact his rich Aunt Adelaide (Angela Lansbury) is pressuring him to marry again--or she’ll cut him off. If there was ever a need for Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) this is it. She arrives warts and all and the children soon notice that their vile behavior now leads swiftly and magically to rather startling consequences. Leave it to Emma Thompson to throw vanity to the wind and give one of her more appealing performances in a long while. Nanny McPhee is a woman of few words conveying her point by either staring one directly in the eye or planting her magical cane squarely on the ground. And boy is she ugly--unless of course you start obeying her five simple rules. Then her appearance mysteriously changes. What fun for Thompson. The kids are also entirely adorable even when they are throwing food around or calling each other “bum!” The standout is Sangster (Love Actually) as the ringleader. Lansbury who makes her first feature film appearance in two decades is deliciously over the top as the domineering Adelaide while Firth as the hapless widower and Kelly MacDonald (HBO’s The Girl in the Café) as the Brown’s sweet scullery maid add that loving touch. Not only is Thompson brilliant on screen she has lent her significant talents behind the scenes as well by writing Nanny McPhee. She hasn’t written anything since she won her Academy Award for her stellar adaptation of Sense and Sensibility but it’s very clear Thompson still has a keen story sense. Based on the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand the actress crafts an engaging witty and yes even a little dark fable which is only enhanced by solid direction from Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine). This isn’t your ordinary Mary Poppins but more a magical nanny story for the Harry Potter generation. There are times the film lapses into silliness--usually when dealing with tricking the adults--but there are more moments of pure imagination and touching sentiments. Nanny McPhee is just a lot of fun for the whole family.
Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) Duke are cousins--two hell-raisers who drive fast sell moonshine and bed sexy farm girls all across Georgia's Hazzard County. They've got another cousin Daisy Duke (Jessica Simpson) a drop-dead hottie who waits tables at the local watering hole. If someone gets a little too friendly with the gal she's knocks 'em on their ass--and if her cousins get into trouble she shakes hers to get them out of it. Then there's Uncle Jesse Duke (Willie Nelson) who makes the moonshine on his farm tells bad jokes and sings country-western songs. I can't quit thinking about how the Duke family dynamics work. They're all tight-knit cousins right? But Uncle Jesse isn't the father to any of them. So like where's the rest of the Dukes? There's gotta be other siblings parents maybe. It perplexes me. But I digress. Suffice to say the Dukes are always outrunning--and out-jumping--the local law enforcement in their souped-up Dodge Charger the General Lee. The boys are also constantly doing battle with the crooked county commissioner Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) who cooks up one nefarious plan after another to make Hazzard County his own personal cash cow only to be thwarted by those darn Dukes. Dagnabbit.
Although some diehard fans of the TV show may disagree the casting for this feature film redo is pretty spot on. Knoxville and Scott do just fine as the rip-roarin' Duke cousins bantering about one upping each other--you know boys stuff. Nelson's still got the whole pigtail thing going for him but he looks like he's having a good time. Reynolds does too but he's definitely a lot slicker--and a lot better looking--than the show's original Boss Hogg Sorrell Booke. As the bumbling police veteran character actor M.C. Gainey who always plays bad guys at least gets to show off some comedy chops as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane. Michael Weston (Garden State) as the wimpy Deputy Enos Strate is sufficiently reduced to a puddle whenever Daisy is around. And then there's Simpson. My my my. It's obvious the camera (and whose ever behind it) loves every inch of her and she tends to light up the screen whenever she's on it. Of course playing Daisy in her acting debut isn't much of a stretch but Simpson still shows a comic flair. The singer-turned-actress could actually become a fairly serviceable comedic actress if she plays her cards right.
This is what director Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers) had to say about making The Dukes of Hazzard: "I had a poster of Daisy Duke [played in the original show by Catherine Bach] on my wall when I was nine that was very inspiring and when you combine the prospect of a new Daisy Duke with the opportunity to send the General Lee flying through the air again it was impossible for me to say no." Well Jay actually you could have said no and maybe the whole Hazzard as a feature idea would have gone away. It's perfectly suitable to have a television show be about nothing but cars flying through the air hot women in skimpy clothes and idiotic behavior. We'll always accept brain-friendly crap on TV. But to be subjected to an entire feature-length film of mindless stupidity is just too much at least in Hazzard's case. Sure watching the General Lee perform seemingly impossible stunts is fun. Apparently 28 Dodge Chargers had to be converted into the multiple General Lees needed for the film and the parts had to be hunted down on the Internet in junkyards or by word of mouth. Still after about the 100th time the car jumps over something you've had quite enough.
Nothing heats up a dull January moviegoing season like an action-packed heist film and The Big Bounce has the right recipe: Take one tropical location one craggy criminal (he's the good guy) one very hot girl and a heist scheme then add a platitude-spouting judge a backstabbing pal and somebody's angry ex-wife. Mix things up for an hour and a half and serve with a paper umbrella. Voila--instant winter hit. But not so fast. Even though it has all the right ingredients The Big Bounce is missing a few key flavors. The heist is all about a whopping $200 000 for one thing which is a lot to you and me but in movie terms is somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Evil's simpering request for one meelion dollars in Austin Powers. The bad boy apparent one very wealthy "Mr. Ritchie " played by a pasty Gary Sinise (aka this decade's box office kiss of death…think Impostor The Human Stain Reindeer Games…) has about two scenes--obviously setting the audience up for the so-called twist at the end.
A sun-kissed Owen Wilson as handsome petty thief Jack makes the surface of The Big Bounce borderline palatable and Sara Foster as Nancy Jack's love interest and Mr. Ritchie's gal pal is no slouch in the looks department either. Her character has more bikini changes than Annette Funicello and she's got a zest for life on the edge that's moderately charming even if she keeps asking "Where's the bounce?" when anyone with eyes can see exactly where the bounce is. Foster's version of beach blanket bingo is more the car stealing breaking and entering variety and she's the mastermind behind the plot to steal Ritchie's paltry $200K--for the thrill of it of course. To get at the money she uses--you guessed it--her sex appeal to manipulate Bob Rogers played by perennial hack Charlie Sheen whose most successful characters these days all seem to be pathetic weenies like poor ol' sap Bob. But the burning and still-unanswered question is: What in the name of all that's sacred is Morgan Freeman doing in this slapdash piece of celluloid? We may never ever know.
The Big Bounce is based on an Elmore Leonard novel which as movie patrons already know can be a good thing (Get Shorty). Director George Armitage (Grosse Point Blank) shows us with his rendition of Leonard's work that it can in fact also be a very bad thing. Aside from the fact that the beautiful Hawaiian landscape looks like it was shot with a slightly fogged up disposable camera and the surf scenes can't even hold a candle to Blue Crush the blatant editing gaffes are the worst of it. Characters ask the same questions repeatedly when they and the audience already know the answers and the actors stand unnaturally still as the camera lingers on them while they converse in voiceover. But the dialogue may actually be worse than the editing. Rather than take the best Leonard has to offer--quirky characters and twisting plotlines--Armitage took the worst--cheesy noirish dialogue and campy one-liners reminiscent of the pulp Westerns Leonard was writing just before turning to crime novel writing with The Big Bounce his first in that genre.
August 18, 2003 11:47am EST
Top Story: Rob Lowe Joins Schwarzenegger Campaign
Action star-turned-gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger has tapped former The West Wing co-star Rob Lowe to join his campaign. According to Variety, the Schwarzenegger campaign said Lowe will coordinate a coalition of artists and entertainers in endorsing the candidate. "Arnold is exciting and dynamic to the Hollywood community and we're thrilled Rob has decided to bring on as many artists and entertainers to the campaign as possible," Schwarzenegger spokesperson Sean Walsh said. Plans to officially announce Lowe and other coordinators will be announced later this week. But how much does Lowe, who portrayed a White House political adviser on NBC's The West Wing, really know about real life affairs of state? The actor teamed with Jane Fonda to support a California clean water initiative in 1986 and supported then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis's failed 1988 presidential bid. In fact, it was in a hotel room during the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta that year that Lowe videotaped himself in a sexual tryst with two women--one of them underage. Lowe, a longtime Democrat, joins billionaire investor Warren Buffett and Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State George Schultz on Schwarzenegger's team.
Coleman, Carey To Enter "Debating Game"
Actor Gary Coleman and adult film star Mary Carey will take part in a gubernatorial candidate debate to be broadcast Oct. 1 on The Game Show Network, The Associated Press reports. The diminutive star and the porn actress are among 135 candidates seeking to replace Gov. Gray Davis if he's recalled in the Oct. 7 election. They will be among a panel of five who will appear on the show titled Who Wants To Be Governor of California? The Debating Game. According to the network, the contestant receiving the most votes in the election will receive $21,200, the maximum corporate campaign contribution allowed by California law. Three more contestants will be announced over the next two weeks, the network said.
Seabiscuit Star Thrown From Horse
Top American jockey Gary Stevens, who portrays jockey great George Woolf in the biopic Seabiscuit, was hospitalized after being thrown off his horse, Storming Home, just a few strides past the finish line in the Arlington Million in Illinois Saturday. A hospital spokesperson says Stevens's left shoulder was stepped on when he fell off of his mount but he is listed in fair condition. According to Reuters, Stevens didn't move for five minutes after the fall, but eventually sat up and moved his legs before he was carried on a stretcher and later taken to Northwest Community Hospital. Storming Home placed fourth in the race.
Ziering's Former Housekeeper Convicted of Grand Theft
Actor Ian Ziering's former housekeeper, Gloria Lopez, was convicted Friday of grand theft for stealing a pendant and other items from the former Beverly Hills, 90210 actor that had belonged to his late mother. Lopez, 48, also was also convicted of petty theft for stealing a cell phone from Ziering's friend, actor David Sheinkopf of the cable television show Design on a Dime. In testimony, Ziering said after the items disappeared he went to a friend's house where he knew Lopez also worked and found "a treasure trove" in Lopez's car. Lopez's attorney told jurors the housekeeper found the items in the trash. According to the AP, Lopez was ordered jailed without bail and faces a maximum of three years and six months in prison when she is sentenced Sept. 11.
Disney and DreamWorks Settle Release Date Scuffle
Disney and DreamWorks's battle for the Nov. 5, 2004, weekend is over, Variety reports. DreamWorks had chosen that release date for its animated shark feature Sharkslayer but when Disney and Pixar announced the release of The Incredibles that same weekend, DreamWorks backed off from the date to avoid going up against a Pixar juggernaut. Instead the studio will release Sharkslayer on Oct. 1, 2004. Next November is proving to be a busy month for animated fare: Warner Bros. will release its all-CGI pic Polar Express from Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis, while Paramount is set to bow its Spongebob SquarePants feature.
Fox Sends Out Web Coupons for DVDs
Sales of 20th Century Fox's Daredevil DVD are benefiting from a fairly new technology: the printable online coupon. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox's latest monthly e-mail newsletter, which is sent out to 1 million subscribers, featured a $5 off coupon for the Ben Affleck superhero pic. Although it will be months before the studio can determine the effectiveness of the campaign, Richard Ashton, director of database marketing at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, said the coupons at least leave a paper trail showing how their customers are shopping. Fox limited the number of online coupons to 50,000 and prevented exact copies of them from being made by using bar codes.
Never-Before-Released Elvis Song To Be Issued
This fall, RCA Records is putting out a never-before-released song recorded by Elvis Presley nearly 40 years ago, Reuters reports. The recently unearthed single, "I'm a Roustabout," will be issued as part of a new collection of favorites from the King of Rock 'n' Roll. The song was originally written for the 1964 Presley film Roustabout and was even recorded by Presley, but the song was rejected by producers and never used. A completely different song eventually became the title song for both the movie and the No. 1 album of the same name. Presley died Aug. 16, 1977, at age 42.
R&B Songwriter Ed Townsend Dead at 74
Ed Townsend, the rhythm-and-blues songsmith who wrote the 1958 hit "For Your Love," died of a heart attack Wednesday in Sun City, Calif., at the age of 74, Reuters reports. During a career that spanned five decades, Townsend, known as ""Big Papa" by friends, penned over 200 songs. He is credited with helping to shape a string of R&B hits recorded by
Ben Affleck ("Dogma") wasn't cruisin' in a Batmobile, but the rumored Caped Crusader contender got cozy anyway with the Massachusetts justice system.
On Christmas Eve, Affleck, with ex-girlfriend-turned-just-friend Gwyneth Paltrow ("The Talented Mr. Ripley") in tow, showed up at Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington, Mass., to pay a $135 fine for driving with a suspended license. Affleck was ticketed for speeding in Lee, Mass., on Aug. 11. The 27-year-old actor was reportedly on his way to visit Paltrow, who was acting in a play at the nearby Williamstown Theater Festival.
In their joint courthouse appearance, Affleck and Paltrow posed for pictures and signed autographs, according to the New York Daily News. Affleck's lawyer, David Hoose, said yesterday that the actor had a valid California license but was unaware his license was suspended in Massachusetts, apparently because of unpaid traffic violations.
GONE A' COURTING - Rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs is free on $10,000 bail after being formally charged Monday with criminal possession of a weapon and possession of stolen property in the wake of a New York nightclub shooting that left three injured.
All potential charges, meanwhile, against Combs' girlfriend, actress/singer Jennifer Lopez ("Out of Sight"), also in hot water after the shooting, have been dropped.
A court hearing for Combs is set for Feb. 14.
Combs declared his innocence to reporters outside Manhattan Criminal Court. "I do not own a gun," he said. "I do not carry a gun. The charges and allegations against me are 100 percent false, I feel confident that in the next couple of days, I will be vindicated and everything will be all right."
Prosecutors said Combs, 30, got into an argument with other patrons at Club New York in Manhattan shortly before 3 a.m. (EST) Monday. After one patron threw money at him, Combs and Jamal Barrow, a member of his entourage, reportedly pulled out weapons, with Barrow allegedly firing. A woman was shot in the face and two men were wounded in the shoulder; all three were listed in stable condition.
Authorities say Combs sped away from the club with Lopez ("Out of Sight") -- their Jeep chased by police until it was forced off the street. The celebrity couple, Barrow and one other person were taken in for questioning.
Barrow, 21, faces charges of attempted murder and reckless endangerment.
GONE A' PLANTIN' - Sylvester Stallone has a new hobby while waiting for those "Rambo" sequels to take form: gardening.
Stallone has agreed to replant the hundreds of trees and bushes unlawfully cut down on his Miami property by staff members. (Apparently city officials there need to pre-approve trimming plans.)
The action-star's lawyer said Stallone "had no knowledge that the trees had been taken down," according to the Hollywood Reporter. The cost to replace the scrubbed shrubbery has been estimated at between $200,000-$500,000 by nursery owners.
JUST GONE - Singer Dave Matthews ("Crash") will have to wait a while longer to make his feature film debut. Production on a remake of the nature drama "Where the Red Fern Grows," featuring the rocker, has been halted until next month due to financial difficulties.
The $3-$3.5 million film, co-starring Ned Beatty, Dabney Coleman and Mac Davis, ran up debts of almost $700,000, according to the Hollywood Reporter, leaving producers unable to finish the project.
Matthews, who fronts the Dave Matthews Band, recently released "Listener Supported," a double-CD live album.