Thursday was a sad day in Hollywood and the world over as we had to say goodbye to highly revered film critic Roger Ebert. Ebert, who had been battling thyroid cancer since 2002, stepped down from his duties at the Chicago Sun-Times just yesterday. Given the statement he made on Wednesday that he would continue reviewing movies of his choice, it was shocking to learn that cancer took Ebert's life so soon.
RELATED: Roger Ebert Dies At 70
In the wake of Ebert's death, Hollywood is taking to Twitter to remember the amazing man who was the first film critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. See what the stars are saying about Ebert's death below.
Roger, I hope you're in an infinite movie palace, watching every film the great directors only dreamed of making. RIP, @ebertchicago
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 4, 2013
Roger Ebert R.I.P. See you at the movies.
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) April 4, 2013
I started watching/reading @ebertchicago in 1984. He was a good man & a fierce advocate for great film. #RIPEbert
— RainnWilson (@rainnwilson) April 4, 2013
Roger Ebert. Millions of thumbs up for you. RIP
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) April 4, 2013
Film critic Roger Ebert dies at 70 after battle with cancer - @suntimes bit.ly/13V3yIt via @breakingnews SO FAST! Praying 4 his fam
— Carson Daly (@CarsonDaly) April 4, 2013
Sad news today, Roger Ebert has passed away. bit.ly/10feETU #breaking #brking
— maria menounos (@mariamenounos) April 4, 2013
Hail hail, a moral genius of great depth and understanding has passed from this realm.
— Roseanne Barr (@TheRealRoseanne) April 4, 2013
RIP Roger Ebert
— David Katzenberg (@DavidKatzenberg) April 4, 2013
So sad to read passing of Roger Ebert. He will forever bewatching movies with Gene Siskel. Thumbs up to him!
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) April 4, 2013
Reading Roger Ebert's reviews as a kid was instrumental in determining what I did w my life. He will be sorely missed.
— Justin Long (@justinlong) April 4, 2013
Roger Ebert was an excellent writer, a gifted artist, and as nice a guy as you'll ever meet.Sad he's gone.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) April 4, 2013
Thanks Mr. Ebert.
— Steve Carell (@SteveCarell) April 4, 2013
Dear Roger- you were a true friend to my me and my family. Thank you. Your voice will never be silenced. #rogerebert
— virginia madsen (@madlyv) April 4, 2013
we lost a thoughtful writer, i remember my first review from him, pi (i got his and siskel's thumbs) it was a career highlight. #rogerebert
— darren aronofsky (@DarrenAronofsky) April 4, 2013
Shocked and truly, deeply saddened at the loss of the great Roger Ebert. A legend. His voice will be missed.
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) April 4, 2013
RIP and goodbye Roger Ebert. You sent me such nice emails over the years. I loved your twitter feed, enjoyed your reviews. Thank you.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) April 4, 2013
My thoughts & prayers go out to my friends & colleague Roger Ebert & his phenomenal wife Chaz. Love and strength to you both @ebertchicago
— Leonard Maltin (@leonardmaltin) April 3, 2013
Sad to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert, he was a grand man & in my opinion the dean of American film critics-he will be sorely missed
— Larry King(@kingsthings) April 4, 2013
RIP the inspiring Roger Ebert. One of the greats.
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) April 4, 2013
Just heard about the death of Roger Ebert. He was a nice, nice man. I truly liked him - I'm very sad.
— Joan Rivers (@Joan_Rivers) April 4, 2013
I Miss My Dear Friend Roger Ebert.Roger Was One Of The 1st Major Movie Critics To Support My Joints,Especially Malcolm X And DTRT.-R.I.P.
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) April 4, 2013
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
[Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]
From Our PartnersHayden Panetierre Bikinis in Miami (Celebuzz)Every Jurassic Park Dinosaur Ranked From Best to Worst (Vulture)
All right Gleeks, we need to talk. Let’s reminisce together for a moment.
Remember way back when in season two when we got our first glimpse of the Dalton Academy Warblers? We saw a sea of navy blue and crimson suits swaying back and forth while Darren Criss, adorable smile and all, sang a beautiful musically-stripped down version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” Every girl and their gay best friend flooded the Internet with their “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” of admiration for this thing called a cappella and we’ll admit we too were thrilled by its resurgence as the new cool trend.
Although a cappella, is far from being considered “new,” there is something awe-inspiring about music that requires no instruments or synthesizers, only the sounds that can be naturally created through our mouths. So imagine our genuine squeals of excitement when we learned that there is a new movie out that has linked the unique skills of a cappella singing with a group of highly relatable (and not to mention attractive) new characters.
Pitch Perfect combines the underdog essence of Glee, the high stakes spirit of Bring It On, the snarky yet quotable-ness of Mean Girls and the 80’s-loving nostalgia that Easy A was built upon. Basically the musical geniuses who created Pitch Perfect have grabbed bits and pieces from our favorite DVD-worthy movies and remixed them into a refreshingly harmonious new flick.
From the hilarious audition scene, the new staple in practically every teen movie, to Torrance Shipmans’s cheer-tastic inspired "aca"-isms, (i.e. Aca-cuse me? Hands in aca-bitches! Aca-awkward…) Pitch Perfect creates a flawless big-screen option for the millions of Glee lovers out there. This movie not only acknowledges our guilty pleasures, it encourages them! Case in point: When the Bellas, aka the musical heroines of the film, sing Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” you can't help but smile. We can thank the summer of 2009 for bringing forth the song that is so bad it almost hurts, yet every one knows it’s nearly impossible not to belt out those oh-so catchy lyrics when we’re driving alone in our cars.
For those of you that are still holding an aca-grudge and are worried that this movie is trying to steal Glee’s thunder, by all means please read on. This movie is not Glee. However, it does celebrate all the quirky and fun characteristics that have made the FOX show a mega-hit over the past three years. Pitch Perfect contains an entire season’s worth of the excitement surrounding sectionals, regionals and nationals, but neatly jam-packs the drama into 112 minutes. The soundtrack features a perfect blend of top 40 hits with a few well-placed gems from the 80’s and 90’s sprinkled throughout. In addition, the film showcases 7 brilliant mashups, a musical feat that all Glee fans can appreciate and enjoy.
Gleeks will come to the theaters for the concept but they’ll stay and smile because of the characters. But not to worry, there are no McKinley copy-cats in this cinematic adventure. We can assure you that you won’t be sitting in the theater thinking to yourself, “Oh there’s Kurt…I guess she’s the “New Rachel”… And seriously that girl is acting just like Brittany!” Instead you will find a healthy blend of grounded yet charismatic college students who have banded together in hopes of being the best. Yes, that does sound a little Glee-esque, but the characters are much more complicated then that.
The movie centers on Beca (Anna Kendrick) an edgy, and slightly snarky aspiring deejay who would much rather be scrumming it in Los Angeles than getting a free-ride to the college where her dad teaches. After being forced to partake in an extracurricular activity, Becca decides that joining the Barden Bellas, an all-girl a cappella group, is the lesser of many evils.
The Bellas feature a typical ragtag group of gals who, after a rough start, come together to be sensational. Gleeks, think The Troubletones but with a college twist. (Oh yeah, it’s that good!) Every one of the Bellas has their little something that makes her special. Chloe (Brittany Snow) is the keeper of the peace, Stacie (Alexis Napp) is the sex-crazed E! enthusiast, Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) is the soft-spoken psycho, Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) is the girl who likes girls, and leading the pack is the tyrannical Aubrey (Anna Camp) who should really take the phrase “say it, don’t spray it” more seriously. Oh and who could forget Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson)? The self-proclaimed best singer in Tasmania who enjoys mermaid dancing, bikini carwashes and stealing the spotlight.
Leading the Bella’s cross-campus rivals, The Treblemakers, is Bumper (Adam Devine) a highly sarcastic, self-obsessed, burrito thrower and Jesse (Sklar Astin) the swoon-worthy new addition to the group who is down to earth and oozes loveable yet dorky charm. Oh and in case you were ever wondering what happened to Superbad’s McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in his college years, this movie has the hilarious answer. When the two groups go head-to-head multiple times through-out the film, many Lima lovers will wish the New Directions would have more interaction with their rivals because the result is side-clutching, can’t catch your breath laughter. All in all, Pitch Perfect is a wonderful celebration of music and is pure movie-going pleasure. Curious viewers can consider this new insta-classic to be in the same key as Glee, but keep in mind Pitch Perfect is strumming on a completely separate, yet equally delightful chord.
Pitch Perfect opens in select theaters Friday, September 28 and everywhere else October 5.
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
[Photo Credit: Universal]
'Pitch Perfect': Meet Aubrey, the Militant Choir Leader — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
'Pitch Perfect' Trailer: The Big Screen Answer to 'Glee'?
Anna Kendrick's Set for 'Glee'-ish Rom-Com 'Pitch Perfect'
Dreamer is another one of those family films--based on a true story no less--that makes you feel guilty for not liking it because it means so well. The film revolves around the Cranes who have worked on their Kentucky horse farm for generations. But gifted horseman Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) loses his love for the job when the farm hits hard times. His estranged father Pop (Kris Kristofferson) feels like his son has given up unnecessarily. Even Ben’s young daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning) can’t get through to her dad. The only way this family can heal is by helping an injured horse named Sonya get ready for a seemingly impossible goal: to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. Say it together: “Awww!” At least the film gets it half right in its casting. Russell is perfect as the beleaguered Ben a man who needs a little inspiration to get back on track and he thankfully never takes it over the top. Same goes for Kristofferson who is aptly crusty and unwilling to give his son an inch--that is until his granddaughter and that darned horse melt his heart. And the family resemblance is uncanny; apparently the two actors have been told quite often how much they look like each other. The one misstep here is Fanning. Yes she is an extraordinarily gifted actress for her age but Cale should have been played by a happy sunny child. The oh-so-serious Fanning doesn’t really qualify. Also Elisabeth Shue as the mom is all wrong. A horse farmer’s wife? Please. Writer-director John Gatins takes a big gamble making his directorial debut with a movie about an underdog horse. First there’s the underdog part. This year seems a bit saturated with the plot device what with films like Cinderella Man and most recently Greatest Game Ever Played. Second there’s the whole horse thing. It’s just going to be hard to top the Oscar-nominated Seabiscuit--the quintessential true horse-racing movie to beat them all. True Dreamer is based on a true story and is nicely--albeit conventionally--framed. But the film isn’t unique in any way. It’s the same feel-good family stuff we’ve been swallowing all year. See? I told you I’d feel guilty for knocking it.
Based on H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger's bestselling book of the same name Friday Night Lights tells the true story of the dusty West Texas town of Odessa where nothing much happens until September rolls around. That's when the town's 20 000 or so denizens pour into Ratliff Stadium the country's biggest high school football field every Friday night to watch the Permian Panthers Odessa's "boys in black " take to the field. All the town's hope and dreams are pinned on the padded shoulders of these young gridiron heroes--including insecure quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black); cocky self-assured running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke); headstrong self-destructive tailback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund) who must contend with an overbearing abusive dad (Tim McGraw--yes that Tim McGraw the country singer); and the team's spiritual leader middle linebacker Ivory Christian (newcomer Lee Jackson). The Panthers begin their season with one thing on their minds--winning their fifth straight championship for the first time in the team's 30-year history--but for their coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) it also means instilling a love and joy of the game in the boys' hearts amidst tremendous pressures and expectations. Easier said than done.
There isn't a false note in any of the performances and no one falls back on clichéd versions of their characters as is so easy to do in rah-rah sports movies. Thornton does a particularly good job as Gaines keeping you guessing whether he's going to be a hardass insensitive to his players' emotional needs (like so many movie football coaches before him) or if he truly means to coach his boys in a fair and decent way. Gaines too has to deal with his own pressures especially from the townsfolk who are likely to string him up if the team loses the championship. As for Gaines' players Black (the oh-so-serious kid from Thornton's Sling Blade) is all grown up and buffed out and still very serious. It works for the young actor though as the beleaguered Winchell struggles with the love-hate relationship he has with his chosen sport. Other standouts include Luke (Antwone Fisher) as the star player Boobie whose cocksureness leads him to an injury; Hedlund as the volatile Billingsley trying desperately to please his father; and McGraw making his film debut as the father a former Permian Panther champion who sure hasn't given up his competitive spirit basically beating it into his son. First Faith Hill (McGraw's real-life wife) in The Stepford Wives and now McGraw--who knew country singers could act?
From All the Right Moves to Varsity Blues to Remember the Titans Friday Night Lights unfortunately doesn't completely distinguish itself from the pack of football movies before it--like those this is all about how the young players--be they underdogs second-string nobodies or stars--rising above the mounting pressure and playing the best they can bless their hearts. Still there's no question the sports genre--particularly football--always gets the juices pumping with FNL being no exception. It might have something to do with our sick fascination with watching bone-crunching hits and body-punishing tackles. It's dangerous out there for these guys; no other sport (besides maybe hockey) can elicit such wince-inducing emotion and actor/director Peter Berg (The Rundown) exploits that. Obviously influenced by Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday Berg effectively paints his own gritty documentary-style picture of the competitive sport without relying on too many trite gushy over-the-top moments. And to give it credit the film does not necessarily have a feel-good "let's win one for the Gipper" ending; it is based on a true story after all and as we know real life isn't all sunshine and roses especially in the bloodthirsty world of Texas high school football.
The original Seuss story is a wonderful--albeit simple
--children's tale about two bored kids left alone in their house on a cold wet day. They're visited by a six-foot-tall talking adventure-seeking feline who's looking for a little fun (OK maybe a lot of fun). Against the warnings of the children's seriously repressed pet goldfish the Cat (with the help of a couple of troll doll look-a-likes called Thing One and Thing Two) turns the house upside down then puts it all right-side-up again before the kids' mother gets home. The question for Hollywood is how to turn a story like this one that's left an indelible impression on millions of readers young and old since 1957 into a major motion picture? While the film thankfully keeps to this original's plot talking fish and all it obviously tries to flesh things out adding some new characters and tacking on a few life lessons. The kids now have very distinct personalities: Wild older brother Conrad (Spencer Breslin) plays fast and loose with the rules while sister Sally (Dakota Fanning) an uptight control freak has driven all her friends away with her rigidity. Their mother Joan (Kelly Preston) works at the town's real estate office run by the anal retentive Mr. Humberfloob (Sean Hayes) and she's dating the guy next door Quinn (Alec Baldwin) a superficial scumbag who wants to send Conrad to military school. On the particular cold wet day in question Joan leaves instructions not to mess up the house since she's having an important business meet-and-greet there later that night. When the Cat (Mike Myers) arrives he quickly assures Sally and Conrad they can have all the fun they want and nothing bad will happen. Ignoring vocal opposition from the Fish (voiced by Hayes) the Cat quickly puts into motion a series of events that will a) prove his point b) destroy the house and c) teach the kids a sugary-sweet but valuable lesson about being responsible while living life to the fullest.
Just as Jim Carrey immortalized the Grinch Mike Myers seems born to play the Cat in the oversized red-and-white striped hat--he has the sly slightly sarcastic wholly anarchistic thing down cold. Myers' impersonations of a redneck Cat mechanic (with requisite visible butt crack) an infomercial Cat host and a zany British Cat chef are outrageous as are the hilarious little asides he spouts although they'll probably go over kids' heads: "Well sure [the Fish] can talk but is he really saying anything? No not really." But even though Myers has some fun moments he just isn't the Barney type and when he turns on the come-on-kids-let's-have-fun charm and adopts a dopey laugh he seems uncomfortable. As for the kids Fanning and Breslin (Disney's The Kid) do a fine job reacting to the wackiness the Cat surrounds them with although Fanning basically plays the same uptight character she created in the recent Uptown Girls. Of the supporting players Baldwin has the most fun as the villainous Quinn a bad-guy role that while a little superfluous gives Baldwin plenty of opportunities to chew the scenery. Hayes is also good in his dual role; he stamps Humberfloob indelibly on our brains then kicks butt as the voice of the beleaguered Fish.
It must have been a no-brainer for producer Brian Grazer to do another Dr. Seuss adaptation after all the fun magic and profits the 2000 hit How the Grinch Stole Christmas generated. With Cat in the Hat however he didn't collaborate with his usual directing partner the Grinch's Ron Howard. Instead Grazer took a chance on first-time director Bo Welch who previously served as production designer on Tim Burton's Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands and has three Oscar nods to his credit for production design on other films. Welch certainly takes his quirky cue from Burton when it comes to the look of Cat in the Hat especially Sally and Conrad's suburban Southern California neighborhood with its lilac frames and blue roofs. The gadgets are cool too from the Cat's Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Whatchamajigger or S.L.O.W vehicle to the Dynamic Industrial Renovating Tractormajigger or D.I.R.T. mobile for cleaning up the house. When we enter the Cat's bizarre world though the film's Seussian look starts to have problems possibly because there's nothing of this place in the original book. Hidden within the feline's magical crate the Cat's world can produce "the mother of all messes " and in keeping with that purpose there's some effort at making it look like a fragmented Cubist painting. But it's more plastic than Picasso and in the end it's about as interesting as a Universal Theme Park ride (a fact the movie actually mentions).