FX knows its viewers well and gives them what they want: raunchy comedies that don’t apologize for being what they are. But if you’re expecting another of the same when the network’s newest comedy, Legit, premieres on Thursday, Jan. 17, you’ll be sorely disappointed… well actually, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Because if you look deep down inside every FX comedy, you'll find that secret ingredient that makes them all successful: heart.
The newest show to mix raunch with emotion stars Aussie stand-up comedian Jim Jefferies as an edgy, foul-mouthed guy in his mid-30s, living in LA, struggling to make his life and career more legit – She said the show title! Drink! – only to find a difficult uphill battle every step of the way. Jim's cheerleading team is made up of his best friend/neurotic roommate Steve Nugent, a cyber-law library salesman struggling to stay on his feet in the wake of his divorce, and Steve’s brother Billy Nugent, who suffers from advanced stage Muscular Dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair. Jim realizes the way to make his life more meaningful is to help Billy experience all the wild and crazy things his condition has prevented him from doing. In Jim’s mind, the way to help Billy is to take him to a whorehouse in Las Vegas to get him laid. Because, of course.
While this premise may sound like a Hangover-like debauchery-filled road trip (which it kind of is), Legit takes it a step beyond that and gives the story meaning. Jim really does care about his friend experiencing something everyone else may take for granted. There is compassion in the way Jim wants Billy to experience all the fun and happiness his condition prevents him from having, that normal life that seems so out of reach. These are real people, with real issues, albeit in hilarious situations most people don't find themselves in all too often. The balance of raunch to heart is perfect.
Before you watch the series premiere tonight, get acquainted with all the crazy people bringing Legit to life. Hollywood.com spoke with the cast at the show's red carpet premiere, so who better to tell you about the characters than the actors who play them?
Jim Jefferies as Jim: I’m playing a version of myself. It’s a slightly douchier version of myself. If I just played myself it would just be a whole episode of me sitting around eating cereal playing video games. It’s really me from about five years ago. It’s me when I was still taking drugs and sleeping around. As for this season, you’re going to be seeing a lot of development in Billy’s character, John Ratzenberger comes in to play Billy’s father, you’ll see a women thrown in a trunk, you’ll see an episode where we are in a disability home where we literally cast every disabled actor in Hollywood. We had them all there, there was chairs all over the place. It’s a mental show.
DJ Qualls as Billy Nugent: Well I turned [the role] down initially because I was afraid of it. And then I realized the reason I was afraid of it wasn’t the subject matter, which I thought it was. Out of all of the messed up stuff that I’ve done, this is the most messed up. But it wasn’t the material, it was the fact that I was afraid of being that vulnerable. I’m in a wheelchair and I can’t move except my fingers and my neck. It’s a scary place to be as an actor because you can’t use any of your bag of tricks. I can’t play with that physicality. I was really afraid of that. I’m more proud of this work than anything I’ve done in five years. And that feels good.
Dan Bakkedahl as Steve Nugent: Throughout the course of the season, you’re seeing Steve holding on [from his divorce]. For the first five or six episodes, I’m still wearing my wedding ring. I’m convinced that it’s just a separation. I’m not going to live a house with this guy smoking pot and my brother in a wheelchair peeing in a bottle. That’s not going to be my life. I’m going to go back to my regular life with my wife and kid, very soon. And we’re going to see that deteriorate. There’s a big event that makes it blow up for sure, right in my face. There’s a real finality to it where you just kind of go, Wow, that’s over. We see Steve go from a witless, hapless sidekick to kind of losing his mind to realizing the finality of the relationship with his wife to wanting to make his life his own.
Sonya Eddy as Ramona: Ramona is the caregiver in the house for Billy. She’s a little tough, she’s loving, she’s imposing, but she also likes to have fun and she gets in there with the guys. You know how sometimes the inmates are running the hospital? She sometimes gets in there with the inmates and causes some trouble. She is one of the most fully realized characters I’ve ever had the chance to play. You’ll see her laugh, you’ll see her cry, you’ll see her be sexy. You’ll get to see her in some sexy situations… heh heh heh! You’ll get to see her confront some issues from her past.
Mindy Sterling as Janice Nugent: I am a mother with flaws. With Steve, she thinks he’s a big fat loser. With Billy, the younger son who’s wheelchair bound, that’s her baby. She wants to take care of him and do for him but at the same time she’s annoyed by him. She does not like Jim. She finds him completely inappropriate, politically incorrect, foul mouthed, just wrong for her family. And later on in the season, there’s an intervention she has to go through… it’s pretty wild.
Legit airs Thursday nights on FX at 10:30 PM ET/PT.
[Photo Credit: Fox]
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“Review Proof” is a phrase that gets tossed around from time to time when a film in question is clearly made to be enjoyed on a basic level. It implies that the filmmakers behind it knew they were making a less-than-stellar movie but it didn’t matter because they also knew that they had a built-in audience that wouldn’t care about all the problems that emerge along the way. Basically “Review Proof” is code for “If you didn’t like it it wasn’t made for you.”
I however do not think that any film is “Review Proof.” It doesn’t matter if you’re making a feature adaptation of a fake trailer about a Mexican day laborer (Danny Trejo) out for head-chopping revenge against the man who framed him for murder (Jeff Fahey) and the man who killed his family (Steven Seagal) or a film about the liberation of a concentration camp. All films even the silly ones need to deliver on a fundamental set of criteria of dynamic characters involved in an interesting storyline that’s edited together coherently. If any of those elements are too far out of line it cripples the entire thing.
With Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis' grindhouse throwback film Machete there’s nothing wrong with the characters. Trejo was born to play the eponymous all-that-is-man stoic hero but the glue that holds the often messy film together are all of the supporting players particularly Fahey Jessica Alba Don Johnson and Seagal each of whom is having a ton of fun chewing into their extreme characters (no one can be just a federal agent or just a racist sheriff or just a drug lord; they have to be the most outlandish these-colors-don’t-run version possible). The film’s story isn’t exactly original but the “framed for an assassination” plot is a tried and true staple of the action genre for a reason so it hardly holds the film back. That pinpoints the weakest link in this rather simple chain as the film’s editing.
Unless one is curious as to how long a certain scene was one should never be motivated to look at their watch during a movie. But during Machete I couldn’t help but find myself constantly reaching for it as though it were some kind of lifeline wondering when the minute hand would discover the magic number that could rescue me from the increasingly grating affair. It’s disappointing that a film with as many decapitations and naked Lindsay Lohans as Machete can be boring but sadly that is the case here. Much of the film slogs through a swamp of story arcs that were seen coming from miles away completely forgetting that a movie of this nature needs to sustain its high (which essentially comes whenever Machete picks up well any object) without any dragging
distractions to kill the buzz.
It’s easy to admire Robert Rodriguez’s intended goal with Machete - to make the kind of offensive politically incorrect film that played in grindhouse theaters in the ‘70s and ‘80s - but good intentions only go so far. In a strange way Machete is almost too faithful to its ancestry. Sure the violence is awe inspiring (at one point Machete repels down the side of a building using someone’s intestines for crying out loud) and its adamant refusal to keep things comfy and PC is more than welcome but its pacing gives the film too much slack rope with which to hang itself.
Based on the bestseller by Nicolas Sparks the film begins with Duke (James Garner) and Allie (Gena Rowlands) an inseparable couple living in a nursing home. While Duke remembers their life together Allie who suffers from progressive dementia does not. Their only bond is a faded notebook from which Duke reads to Allie every day telling her the same story over and over. It's a sweeping tale of two South Carolina teens country boy Noah (Ryan Gosling) and city gal Allie (Rachel McAdams) who spend one glorious summer in the early 1940s falling madly in love. Unfortunately the couple is soon separated first by her disapproving parents and then by World War II but after seven years apart after taking different paths they are passionately reunited. There's a catch though; Allie is now faced to choose between the man she once loved and the successful businessman (James Marsden) she is engaged to. It's really no surprise who the young Allie chooses in the end--but for Duke the only thing that keeps him going is the fact that every day somehow through the power of this story the mentally impaired Allie miraculously remembers their love if only for a very brief moment before slipping back into oblivion. Tears being jerked from your eyes yet?
The talented cast certainly elevates The Notebook's romantic drudgery. McAdams takes a departure from all the Mean Girls she's played lately (including The Hot Chick) and easily wins you over as the spirited young Allie while the usually intense Gosling also tackles something lighter so to speak than his previous darker roles such as his Jewish-turned-American Nazi leader in The Believer. While infusing a certain sense of brooding and melancholy into Noah especially in the years he spends pining for Allie Gosling manages to exude Noah's genuine warmth and sensitivity as well. And between the two of them real sparks fly as the actors paint a fresh and inviting picture of young love that stands the test of time. Marsden is completely wasted however as Allie's fiancé Lon a upstanding Southern gentleman Allie's parents expect her to marry who offers little as to why Allie should stay with him. As the older contingency veterans Garner and Rowlands who take the sappiest material and turn it into something meaningful inspire some truly heart-ripping moments as the aging couple holding onto their love as tight as they can. In the supporting cast Joan Allen has some shining moments as Allie's uptight mother with a secret of her own.
In bringing the popular novel about enduring love to life director Nick Cassavetes (Unhook the Stars) may have used his own experiences having seen his parents--the late John Cassavetes and his lady love and muse Gena Rowlands--play out their own real-life love affair. Cassavettes gets to the heart of the material right away and permeates the screen with the beautiful surroundings of South Carolina where The Notebook was filmed. We glide through lush moss-filled swamps and sleepy Southern towns marvel at languid shots of the South Carolina coastline. It's very clear Cassavetes has a way with actors much like his father did gently coaxing realistic performances from his young somewhat untested leads while allowing old guards like Garner and Rowlands to simply work their magic (imagine telling your Oscar-nominated mother how to act. Right). The problem is the story itself which not only offers nothing new to the romance genre but also isn't very compelling. There are no great tragedies (save perhaps for the whole dementia thing) no real villainous presence to keep the lovers apart no peril at all. It's boy-meets-girl boy-loses-girl boy-wins-girl-back--ho-hum. Where's the sudsy soap opera when you need it?
Cold Creek Manor starts out setting the mood for an eerie thriller. Having had enough of the hustle-bustle of New York life the Tilsons-- a documentary filmmaker Cooper (Dennis Quaid) his corporate exec wife Leah (Sharon Stone) and their two kids--seek the quiet serenity of the countryside and buy a repossessed dilapidated manor with intentions of fixing it up. They also inherit the previous owner's personal things which include pornographic photos ominous press clippings and some nasty looking farming tools hanging on the wall. You'd think that would be the first clue things aren't quite right but Cooper finds the stuff fascinating and decides to make a documentary about the place--not realizing the danger which lurks around the corner. Up pops Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff) a mean-as-a-snake redneck just out of prison whose looking to come home to the house that's been in his family for generations except the house has strangers living in it. He doesn't take too kindly to that fact and nor do the rest of the townsfolk who rally around him. The volatile ex-con tries everything possible to get the Tilsons out--as well as keep them from finding out the grisly truth about what happened in the manor--but instead of getting scarier the film falls apart. Ultimately what could potentially been a real frightfest simply denigrates into another typical good guy-bad guy showdown.
Cold Creek Manor's cast do what they can with formulaic characters. Quaid hot off a career jump with last year's gems The Rookie and Far from Heaven handles Cooper with the requisite amount of citified savvy an urban hipster adjusting to country living who is saddled with protecting his family from a raging lunatic while as his wife Stone basically sleepwalks through most of the movie with phoned-in screams and scared looks. It's a shame the talented actress decided to get back into the swing of moviemaking with such a dull part (her last movie was 2000's Beautiful Joe). Dorff (feardotcom) on the other hand gets to chew his way through the film as the over-the-top Dale. There's really no question of who the villain is when Dale comes on the screen all sweaty and menacing flexing his pecs with a wild look in his eyes and Dorff plays it full-tilt with not a subtle bone in his body. Juliette Lewis makes an appearance as Dale's trailer-trash girlfriend who sticks up for him even after he gives her a bloody nose in public (why you never really know). Yet the only genuine standout worth mentioning is Kristen Stewart who did such a great job as Jodie Foster's daughter in Panic Room. Stewart plays Tilson's sullen teenage daughter Kristen able to convey to Dale with just a scowl that she knows he's trouble. The young actress could be one to look out for.
With such a promising start Cold Creek Manor could have been a real nail-biter; instead the film is rife with missed opportunities. Screenwriter Richard Jefferies and director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) choose to go the typical thriller route rather than build the suspense on the more intriguing aspects of the story namely the house and the secrets it hides. Instead Figgis first concentrates on Cooper and how he has to prove to everyone including his wife why he doesn't trust the seemingly helpful Dale. Then Figgis turns to Dale who is so obviously a psychopath it's hard to understand why anyone would buy him as a normal guy. Cold Creek is reminiscent of the 1990 thriller Pacific Heights about a couple who rents out part of their dream house to a sociopath who ruins their lives. Far from a classic Heights still holds up as a scary thriller--although you always know who the villain is you are nonetheless terrified wondering when and how his clever deadly tactics will strike next. In Cold Creek the enemy is too visible too recognizable and has little method to his madness. The final confrontation is so overdone--Dale chasing Cooper and Leah around the house one of those menacing farm tools in hand while a storm rages outside-- that you feel cheated.