Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • Review: 'The Expendables 3' Is Oddly Enjoyable Between Bouts of Mindlessness
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 14, 2014
    Lionsgate via Everett Collection Even if you haven’t seen The Expendables or The Expendables 2, you’ll feel pretty confident in what sort of film you’ve signed on to watch by the end of the very first scene in Stallone and co’s latest on-in-years ensemble. Expendables 3 opens with an action sequence that lacks any visual coherence, falls short of its intended adrenaline, and hangs its sense of humor on a single meta joke about one cast member’s life outside the franchise. But then, almost instantly, you’ll be thrown for a loop. A very weird loop, in fact. The second scene in the movie — a segue between the first high-intensity set piece and the next — is a long (and I mean long) silent shot of a helicopter landing outside of what, if memory serves, is Sylvester Stallone’s character’s HQ. It might not sound like a particularly big deal, but it takes form as a jarring, almost laughable dagger to the movie’s would-be momentum. Lionsgate It’s the first of many instances of peculiarity so obtrusive it’s emotionally rewarding, and often (intentionally or otherwise… I really have no idea in most of these cases) quite funny. Between the running theme of characters staring motionlessly and wordlessly into the camera, a sullen montage documenting the empty lives of the Expendables when they’re not expendabling, and the bizarre reoccurrence of the word “s**tstorm,” you’ll discover a rare, inimitable identity in The Expendables 3: one that amounts to a better time than you might anticipate, and certainly more interesting one. Of course, there are plenty of missed marks throughout the film. As established from minute one, the action is flagrantly uncoordinated, and a lot of the scripted comedy — the hypermasculine chiding and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s callback lines — will provoke hearty groans. But sweeping past the excess of the prerequisite bro jokes and ‘80s movie quotes, we get to the real fun. We get to the odd, often uncomfortable (and delightfully so) hiccups in pacing. We get to Mel Gibson spouting Biblical passages and tirades against big government. Best of all, we get to Antonio Banderas, prancing around the wide shot like a romantic bandit. Off to the side of the top-heavy bulk, these elements make up the real victory of Expendables 3: the fun is in the weird. 3/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 10 Famous Movie Directors Who Have Shot Episodes of 'The Office'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 14, 2014
    One of the rare gems we've seen hit the single-digit channels since the turn of the millennium, The Office, actually sported a ton of directors you've more than likely heard of. Some of them were already famous upon helming an episode or two of the NBC mockumentary, others were pinned at the starting line of what has proved to be a rocket-fueled race to stardom. Here are a few great film directors who, as you may or may not know, worked on The Office from time to time: AMY HECKERLING Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Hot Girl."But You Know Her for: The generation-defining Jane Austen adaptation Clueless, plus the Look Who's Talking movies and European Vacation. HAROLD RAMIS Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "A Benihana Christmas," "Safety Training," "Beach Games," and "The Delivery - Part 2."But You Know Him for: Some of the most iconic comedies from the past 35 years — Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation, and Groundhog Day among them. And as far as acting goes, we'll remember him always as Egon Spengler. JOSS WHEDON WENN/Nikki Nelson Episodes Directed: "Business School" and "Beach Wars."But You Know Him for: It's true that offbeat television work like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly is what got Whedon on the map, but he is now one of the most prominent voices in blockbuster cinema thanks to, if nothing else, The Avengers and the upcoming The Avengers: Age of Ultron. JON FAVREAU WENN Episodes Directed: "Moving On."But You Know Him for: Another member of the Marvel family, Favreau's biggest films are certainly Iron Man and Iron Man 2, though we celebrate his smaller fare: Made, Elf, and 2014's delightful Chef. MARC WEBB Fox Searchlight Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Manager and Salesman."But You Know Him for: Jumping over to the other side of the comic book game, we find Webb's Amazing Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man 2. But before partnering up with Peter Parker (or even joining forces with Michael Scott), Webb helmed the neo-rom com (500) Days of Summer. J.J. ABRAMS Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Cocktails."But You Know Him for: Whedon's only rival on this list in terms of blockbuster influence, Abrams is of course the man behind Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, as well as the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. REGINALD HUDLIN Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Koi Pond."But You Know Him for: Though Hudlin has spent most of his time directing television in recent years, the dawn of his career gave us two early '90s cult favorites: the Kid 'n Play comedy House Party and Eddie Murphy's Boomerang. JASON REITMAN Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: "Local Ad" and "Frame Toby."But You Know Him for: That irreverent fast-paced serio-comedic style we saw in Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and (the best of the lot) Young Adult. He also did Labor Day, but we don't have to talk about that one. BRYAN CRANSTON WENN/Joseph Marzullo Episodes Directed: "Work Bus."But You Know Him for: Not directing, but acting. Cranston became a household name thanks to his starring role as Walter White on the unforgettable Breaking Bad. PAUL FEIG 20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection Episodes Directed: And we have a winner! Feig directed 14 episodes of The Office, including "Office Olympics," "Halloween," "Performance Review," "E-Mail Surveillance," "Survivor Man," "Dinner Party," "Goodbye, Toby," "Weight Loss," "The Surplus," "Moroccan Christmas," "New Boss," "Dream Team," "Niagara," "Goodbye, Michael."But You Know Him for: Bridesmaids, of course, plus The Heat... and the legion of exciting projects he has in the works, like a spy comedy, a gay rom com, and (potentially) an all-female Ghostbusters III. And although we're focusing on movie credits here, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention his greatest contribution to pop culture of all: Freaks and Geeks. Follow @Michael Arbeiter |Follow @julesemm | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 12 Life Hacks from 'Arrested Development'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 13, 2014
    Life can be tough, whether you're dealing with a few "light treason" charges or getting used to your new hook hand. But no matter what your worries, there are little tricks you can use to make things run a little more smoothly. You can find some nifty tips most anywhere, but no family is more rich with life hacks than the Bluths. Yes, Arrested Development has plenty of lessons for dealing with your everyday qualms. Just check out a few below! 1) Have an embarrassing poster hanging up in your room? Worry not! Just cover it up with another, more socially acceptable piece of wall art! Sure, you can’t see the poster you really love, but at least you know it’s there! 2) Training for an exhausting physical competition and worried about your bodily functions! No reason to fret! Just pop a few Oxy-Incontinent pills and you’ll be fit as a fiddle for game day! 3) Constantly throwing parties to which nobody shows up? Forget about it! Just wrangle a few old dolls from the attic and have a pleasant — or invigoratingly contentious — group dinner! 4) Hoping to impress the apple of your eye but don’t have the time to get in shape? Don’t sweat it! Just stick a plush muscle suit beneath your knit polo shirts and you’ll convince everyone you’re truly buff! Netflix 5) It’s your kid’s birthday but you don’t have time to run to the toy store? Forget about it! A ball of foil will do in a pinch! Netflix 6) Have a big date tonight but don’t have anything planned? Put your fears to rest! A simple shopping cart race will impress anyone seeking a good time! Netflix 7) Attending a big business conference and afraid you’ll come off unimpressive? Come on! Just keep reminding everyone how expensive your new suit is! And don’t worry about being consistent with the price, just so long as it’s high! 8) No idea how to get your kids to stop fighting? You’re looking at this all wrong! People will pay big money for video recordings of ad hoc grappling matches! Netflix 9) Too many chores, too little time? Never you mind it! Just manipulate a needy, recently estranged family member or in-law into donning the role of a British nanny so he’ll be forced to do them all for you! 10) Has some pesky interloper stumbled upon a heap of financial felonies you may or may not (that’s for the jury to decide!) have commited? No biggie! Just knock him out at an elaborately staged bachelor party, make him believe he is guilty of murder, and you’re in the clear! Netflix 11) Can't afford lunch due to your criminal family's recent bankruptcy? No problem! Parmesan cheese and mustard makes for some satisfying cuisine! Netflix 12) For that matter, are you light on ingredients for a hearty dinner? Just grab a few old chicken bones or discarded meat chunks, throw ‘em in a pot with some broth and potato… baby, you’ve got a stew going... But you already knew that one.
  • Hollywood Legend Lauren Bacall Dead at 89
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 12, 2014 Staff/Syndicated by: Warner Bros. Lauren Bacall, an icon of Hollywood past and present, was reported dead at Tuesday evening (via TMZ), with a stroke being labeled the cause of her passing. At 89 years old, Bacall remained an active presence on the big screen; the actress had one project in development upon her death: debut director Tom Konkle's Trouble Is My Business. Although Bacall's recent slate has included triumphs like Lars von Trier's Dogtooth and Manderlay, as well as Jonathan Glazer's Birth, she will always be best known and most celebrated for her early endeavors. We look foremost to The Big Sleep, the noir thriller that pit Bacall against Humphrey Bogart, one of the few talents who could match her sheer cinematic power. Through the decades to follow, Bacall starred in noteworthy entries like How to Marry a Millionaire, Written on the Wind, and Murder on the Orient Express, and later The Mirror Has Two Faces. In every picture, Bacall proved herself a dynamite purveyor of thrills, drama, comedy, and romance. From the dawn of her career on through the recent years, Bacall was a venerated force in show business, and one without whom we'd never have some of the greatest pieces of film.
  • How Robin Williams and 'Good Will Hunting' Got Two Fools Through Their College Breakups
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 12, 2014
    Miramax via Everett Collection Between the two of us, my friend Jay and I had probably watched Good Will Hunting more than 50 times through. Like many, we had attached with sincerity to the story of a practically prepubescent Matt Damon, a genius of the Boston slums. As such, the familiar embrace of this particular movie seemed like a good choice when he showed up at my apartment — unanounced, as per usual — with the news that he and his girlfriend had just broken up. As we sat in my living room on what I remember to be a bizarrely humid afternoon for upstate New York's autumn, trying our best to invest in the rise and fall of the prodigious Will Hunting, we both experienced something new. We weren't watching the very same movie that we had time and time over; we weren't adhered with irreverent empathy to the misunderstood bad boy that we both so vapidly wanted to be (and oh, that hair). Instead, our attentions turned with unprecedented domination to his screen partner: not the cackling Ben Affleck, but Robin Williams. As Sean Maguire, Williams always seemed more like a background player, a vehicle for Will's transport through his troubles. That is until this unusually muggy Sunday when Sean's charms and strengths seemed to rear themselves in a new way altogether. We noticed, sharing our discovery tacitly, that in even the heaviest scenes, Williams was able to command a sharp, hearty laugh. Mere syllables uttered by the master of performance, portraying a man who embodied the idea of disgruntlement, sent Jay and I into delirious cackling fits. Williams was doing more with this role — the would-be square straight man part to the effortlessly cool Damon's young, debonair rebel — than we had ever understood. He was playing anger, judgment, and frustration in a very special way. A way that conveyed colossal pain and tremendous humor all at once. After so many views of Good Will Hunting, we had discovered anew just how funny it was. And from this was born our mission: we decided to dub over it. A project pioneered in the interest of emancipating Jay from concentration on his heartbreak, we leapt into intense study of the film — of Damon's swagger, of Ben Affleck's buffoonery, and most of all, of one Robin Williams' freshly realized exhilirating display of dry humor. Jay, whose timber was more conducive to the leading man position, played Will. I happily nabbed Affleck's Chuckie. We traded off the Stellan Skarsgaard and Cole Hauser roles, and left all of Casey Affleck's original dialogue in the finished product... for good measure. And I, the significantly faster speaker, was lucky enough to play the coveted role: Robin Williams. To everyone else our project seemed like a bout of idiocy. Occasionally, we submitted to this designation. But we weren't in this to waste our junior year, or even (as so many seemed to think) to mock or parody a movie that we had seen one too many times. No, we were in it because we saw something in Williams and his role that spoke to us at that time. In the dark hours that met with Sean Maguire, he — or maybe Williams — made us laugh. Hardly at the expense of empathy or sincerity; in fact, Williams/Maguire's ability to incite a chuckle in the very interest of some of the most emotionally substantial scenes in Gus Van Sant's film is what stirred and provoked us so. That's exactly what Jay needed at this time — to find laughter when flat drama was more readily available. And it's what I came to need, several months later — our project having fallen by the wayside, what with plenty of other understandable distractions getting in the way — when my own blossoming romance came to a crashing halt. "We've got to finish that movie," I decided then, thinking back on the carnal laughter incited by our scholarly expedition of Williams' every meticulous nuance. We did. We stayed up 'til 3 throughout the week, watching, laughing, revising, remodeling... we'd turn away chances to go out with our friends — you know, like normal people — to stay in Jay's room and work on this masterpiece. We fell hard and fast in love with our take on Good Will Hunting. On Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's clunky but charming script, Gus Van Sant's occasionally schmaltzy direction. And Robin Williams' profoundly empathetic and hilarious performance. By the time we were finished, our respective heartaches had won new perspective. Call it an effective distraction, or maybe it was just therapeutic. But I don't think quite anything would have worked so well to inspire the greatest creative exploit that the two of us would ever bring to life, nor would just anything help to foster us through lost love with such efficiency. There was just something about that messy, cathartic, ultimately special little movie, and the bearded man who stole the show. It had to be Good Will Hunting. It had to be Robin Williams. Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Which Is Robin Williams' Funniest Role?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 12, 2014
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images Upon hearing of Robin Williams' death, I witnessed many a friend attempt to choose his or her favorite of the actors' many terrific films... most of these attempts dissolved into chaotic indecision. So let's make it easier — while Williams' dramatic genius is well documented in pictures like Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society, his penchant for the dark and twisted well chronicled in Insomnia and One Hour Photo, we'll always have a very special place in our hearts for his comedy. As such, we limit our expedition to this realm: which is Robin Williams' funniest role? There are a few candidates that leap out as frontrunners — Mrs. Doubtfire, for one. It's hard to top a film in which a grown man, disguised as a husky Scottish nanny, tosses a piece of fruit at Pierce Brosnan. But we'd be remiss to discount some of Williams' other laugh riots: He's delightful in the courageous and sharp Good Morning, Vietnam. He's outrageously kooky in the oddball dark comedy The Fisher King. And without even showing his face, he's a tour de force in Disney's Aladdin. Peruse the complete list of Williams laughers below, and then chime in with your feelings. MRS. DOUBTFIREWilliams plays a newly separated father of three who dresses up like a kindly housekeeper in order to spend time with his estranged kids.Funniest moment: An unexpected run-in with the legal representative charged with determining his aptitude as a parent (and human being) forces Williams to dash from room to room, donning and shedding his Mrs. Doubtfire disguise, juggling accents and sticking his face in pies. GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM Williams plays a 'Nam-based disc jockey keeps his Army base lively with his irreverent radio show.Funniest moment: Any one of Williams' rapid fire on-air bits (much to the chagrin of the stuffed shirts in charge). THE FISHER KINGWilliams plays a delusional derelict who entertains Medieval fantasies years after the death of his wife.Funniest moment: Williams' forceful escort of new friend Jack (Jeff Bridges) across the street, completely unfazed by oncoming traffic. POPEYEWilliams plays a live action version of the animated sailor on a perplexing and listless quest through the neighborhood of Sweethaven.Funniest moment: Williams' genius is in his sardonic murmurs; after every ridiculous affirmation by one of the lively Sweethaven residents, Williams will mutter something nearly unintelligible and certainly hilarious under his breath. THE BIRDCAGE Williams plays a gay nightclub owner who is married to his star performer (Nathan Lane) and father to a notably ungrateful young buck (Dan Futterman) who brings his girlfriend and her conservative parents over for dinner... prompting Lane to dress up as a woman. We're noticing a trend.Funniest moment: In truth, Williams is the straight man in this picture, letting Lane take most of the broad, wild comedy. But he does have plenty of good deadpan one-liners to enjoy. PATCH ADAMSWilliams plays a doctor who holds dear to the maxim that laugher is the best medicine when he makes it his mission to lift the spirits of his ailing patients.Funniset moment: That old lady squeezing noodles can't be beat. ALADDINWilliams plays an all powerful Genie, tasked with the wishes (and friendship) of dopey street rat Aladdin when the latter discovers his magical lamp.Funniest moments: It's gotta be his entrance. Williams puts on a veritable stand-up routine when he meets "Al" for the first time in the dank caves below the desert. Which is your favorite? Cast your vote!
  • Did We Know the Real Robin Williams?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 12, 2014
    Getty Images/Vera Anderson I was humming a tune from Robert Altman's Popeye, a terribly underrated feat of Robin Williams' comedy (and his first cinematic role), when I read the news of the actor's passing. Hastily, I diverted attention to the public sphere, rushing through the social media posts of friends, colleagues, and strangers, hoping for a taste of which Williams roles most touched the lives of each and every individual vocalizing grief. I knew there would be no shortage of reference to Williams' dramatic work — his Good Will Huntings and Dead Poets Societys — but of course my expectation was to find the principal focus on his comedy. More than an actor was Williams a comedian, whether he be playing on stage, on television, or on the big screen. So it was an especially jarring turn to discover, when I launched back from the tributes to ingest more information, just how Williams died: authorities had begun calling the incident a suicide. Only for a moment, though, was I so rattled in surprise. Williams' endeavors with rehab for drugs and alcohol, both this summer and earlier on in the 2000s, were no secret. But more significant than this is the fact that nobody is or isn't "the type" to take his own life; nobody should be a more surprising victim of suicide than anybody else. Stigmas to the contrary are a large part of why depression is such a treacherous epidemic in our world and country. Upon learning of Williams' death, some are bound to consider the dichotomy between the man we knew — the one who'd dress in drag and howl in a Scottish accent, who'd roar through the radio waves of the Pacific Rim — and the man in earnest. Some might doubt that the Williams we met as Mork, loved as Patch Adams, played with as Alan Parrish, and wished upon as the Genie, was anything whatsoever real. Anything more than "for the cameras." It certaintly was. It was a Williams for us. From him. Upon perusing Facebook and Twitter and speaking with friends, I found something you don't often see when a beloved actor dies: variety. Every other voice had a different Williams role to celebrate, ranging from the wacky Aladdin, the sweet and schmaltzy Hook, the stern and sincere The Birdcage, the dark and severe Insomnia, and the esoteric The Fisher King. The constants were affection and familiarity. More than a few folks who grew up in the '80s and '90s likened Williams to a distant family member, or even a surrogate father. Clearly, the man had fostered an incredibly, unprecedentedly intimate presence with a generation of film and television watchers. And each of those "types" of Williams is just as valid as the next. As such, the "type" of Williams we — the public — all collectively know is as valid, as palpable, as real as anything that he might be beyond the limelight. A friend of mine expressed consternation over the proper decorum in situations like these: is it tacky to expose your grief for a passing friend whom you've never met, who never knew you? It doesn't seem to be — although it would be tacky to presume that I know anything of what Williams might or could or should want, we can rest assured that he brought his talents, his hobbies, his self into the world in the way he did in the hopes of making us laugh. Few comedians, and even fewer actors, of our generation could be deemed so potently invested in the happiness and enjoyment of their audiences. In every one of his movies, Williams was giving us a very big, powerful, important part of him. That, and all the laughter that came with it, was for us. So it doesn't seem all that off base to think that we couldn't share every feeling of love and sorrow we might have about him. Finally, we return to the question of authenticity — what about the man behind the laughter? The man so stricken with pain? The "real" Williams? That's where the danger comes in: the thought that only the morose can be depressed, that anyone so capable of earning a laugh must be riding a permanent cloud nine. That Williams' humor was the result of a chemical reaction with celluloid, and would dissipate immediately upon production wrap. Williams, like many depressed men and women, was a man who liked to, maybe even lived to, joke. A man who could command any room, nail any impression, or knock out any punchline. Granted, Williams can probably do this a lot better than the vast majority of folks out there, depressed or otherwise. But he's not a unique breed. There is no discernible breed. Depression and the turmoils that come with it can inflict anyone: the funny, the mopey, the angry, the brawny, the silly, the sensitive. From your Sean Maguires to your Daniel Hillards.  It often takes a stride to learn that the depression living within any of these people can be real. And for those who suffer with the disease, it is just as difficult, if not more so, to understand that the rest of you — the funny, the sweet, the strong, the "Seize the day!", the "Beee yourself!", the "Hellooo!" — is, too, very much real. No matter which side of the equation you might be on, you have one more lesson here to learn from John Keating: We did know the real Williams. We just didn't know every part of the real Williams. We might not have known the real pains, the tragedies that too many people face alone and don't have to. But we knew something just as real: his ability and his drive — no, his insistence — to make the world laugh. And yes, he made the world cry plenty. When he battled for a soul in Bicentennial Man or delivered special peace to a hospital of sick children in Patch Adams or dragged Matt Damon out of his own carnivorous guilt in Good Will Hunting, he made us cry. But the Williams that made us laugh... the one who splashed his face with pie frosting, babbled around Sweethaven in a feverish stupor, and doled out life lessons to a wannabe prince via obscenely anachronistic pop culture references... well, that's my real Williams. And he's just as real as anybody else's. Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • How Michael Bay Can Make a Better 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Sequel
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 11, 2014
    Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection The sullen critical reaction to the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is unsurprising, but the box office intake for the Michael Bay-produced feature's opening weekend might warrant a double take: early numbers indicate that Turtles took in $65 million, a sum that allowed the flick to trounce expectations by 20 grand, top Guardians of the Galaxy by a similar figure, and — perhaps worst of all — spawn a sequel. Via the Los Angeles Times, Paramount is moving forward with a second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, already scheduled for 2016. Considering the fact that Turtles was hardly the worst thing we've seen this year (perhaps not even the worst thing to come from Michael Bay, in fact), we don't want to write off the newly developing follow-up just yet. There might be a way to save this '16-bound film, but it'll entail a few major changes to the process that brought us this year's Turtle movie: 1) Clean up the Turtles' lookThe choice to make the Turtle brothers look darker, grittier, and more "real" this time around is a particularly confusing one considering how broad and silly the film goes with its material. The grotesque appearance of the foursome doesn't mesh whatsoever with the tone of the movie, nor is it at all pleasant to look at. A dramatic redesign might not be necessary, but something smoother, cleaner, and altogether sillier would benefit future audiences. Splinter, on the other hand, could use a complete makeover. 2) Replace Jonathan Liebesman as directorLiebesman proved with Turtles that he is still developing his directorial skill set. A filmmaker with an established understanding of how to harmonize action and comedy would serve the second feature well. 3) More time on the shelled foursomeWith so much ground to cover in regards to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' nonsensical plot, too much time was spent away from the Turtles themselves. Although they might not be the work of comic genius, they were more or less endearing in the grand scheme of things. More Turtles, less everything else. Oh, and for that matter... 4) Simply, simplify, simplify!Whoever it was that demanded this movie's premise to be more tiered and complicated than A Most Wanted Man does not understand the appeal of the Ninja Turtles. Keep things light, simple, and straightforward. We don't need several dozen conspiracies, puppet regimes, and plot twists. Oh, and for THAT matter... 5) Enough with that one sci-fi contrivance that seems to be popping up in every big movie this year.If you don't know what I'm talking about (I'm being coy for fear of spoilers) check out Mike Ryan's excellent diatribe against the phenomenon. 6) Oust Will Arnett's characterWill Arnett is an adroit comic actor, but his character in Turtles is about as pointless as a pastel bandit mask on the face of a gigantic reptilian vigilante. If April O'Neil had her own car, Arnett's character's contribution would have been instantly nullified. 7) Encourage an actual performance out of Megan FoxWhile Turtles can get rid of Arnett without missing a beat, it's unlikely that Fox can be dismissed so easily (although there Bay-universe is precedent for such banishment). If we're stuck with her, then let's at least try to get her invested in the story and character this time; all she does in this latest Turtles entry is babble flat exposition and grimace in ambiguous dread. 8) Make Michelangelo less creepyAn innocent crush on April O'Neil would be fine, but Michelangelo's character was full on sexual deviant with his obsessive come-ons and offhand erection jokes. 9) Stop destroying New York CityWe've seen it. We're sick of it. It weighs hard on those of us who actually live here. Enough. 10) Krang!His big screen debut is long overdue. Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Matching Up the Ninja Turtles with Other Pop Culture Foursomes
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 08, 2014
    Nickelodeon Assuming you were born around 1983 and that your social circle in the early grammar school years consisted of a rigidly impermeable foursome, we can conclude indisputably that you spent a good deal of your time playing Ninja Turtles. Unlike other pop culture-inspired imagination games, Ninja Turtles never allowed for turn taking as far as the central roles were concerned. Maybe you’d alternate occupancy of Luke, Han, and Chewy when playing Star Wars, or switch off between Margaret and Jimmy for games of Liquid Sky. But when it came to Ninja Turtles, the margins were set before recess even began: you were either the leader, the tough one, the smart one, or the goofball. Without exception. But are such stark roles present in any other pop culture phenomena? We’d have to imagine so. As such, we sought to our favorite foursomes from the entertainment world and took a stab at assigning them their respective Ninja Turtles. SEINFELD LeonardoJerry, the leader (who, incidentally, derives all of his moral fiber from the noble Superman) RaphaelGeorge, the truly "dark and disturbed" member of the group DonatelloElaine, the intellectual — she did graduate from Tufts (her safety school), and she scored a 151 on an I.Q. test MichelangeloKramer, the hipster dufus THE HOGWARTS HOUSES LeonardoGryffindor, house of the daring and noble RaphaelSlytherin, house of the severe and ambitious DonatelloRavenclaw, house of the wry and intellectual MichelangeloHufflepuff, house of the spirited and kind SEX AND THE CITY LeonardoCarrie, the glue, the narrator and the center of everyone's attention  RaphaelMiranda, stubborn and cynical enough to walk away from the love of her life (twice!)  DonatelloCharlotte, the conservative, overachieving Ivy League grad obsessed with everything appearing perfect MichelangeloSamantha, who has never passed up a chance to see and be seen United Artist via Everett Collection THE BEATLES LeonardoPaul: "Think globally, act locally." RaphaelJohn: "Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground." DonatelloGeorge: "When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there." MichelangeloRingo: "Peace and love. Peace and love." THE AVENGERS LeonardoCaptain America, the wholesome, morally didactic good guy RaphaelThe Hulk, the "muscle" who is tortured by his own demons DonatelloIron Man, the tech genius who never hesitates to let his teammates know how much smarter he is than they are MichelangeloThor, who's just kind of an idiot DAWSON'S CREEK LeonardoDawson, proving that having your name in the title doesn't save you from being the biggest buzzkill  RaphaelPacey, the rebellious, wise-cracking screw up of your teenage dreams  DonatelloJoey, smart - she went to Worthington! - sweet, and innocent, and always likely to end up in a bad situation MichelangeloJen, the reformed party girl with a heart of gold and a chip on her shoulder LITTLE WOMEN LeonardoMeg, the oldest sister and de facto head of the household RaphaelJo, strong-willed and at odds with her siblings (and herself) DonatelloBeth, who is shy, wise, and musically adept MichelangeloAmy, the li'l one with the penchant for art Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection THE GHOSTBUSTERS LeonardoRay, the heart and soul of the group RaphaelPeter Venkman, the rebel who plays by his own rules (and forces everyone else to accommodate) DonatelloEgon Spengler, the smartest in a team of scientists MichelangeloWinston, who is also there THE MT. RUSHMORE PRESIDENTS LeonardoGeorge Washington, the diplomat who kicked off American democracy RaphaelAbraham Lincoln, the agonizingly depressed hero who took to the front lines DonatelloThomas Jefferson, the braniac wordsmith who wrote the Declaration of Independence MichelangeloTheodore Roosevelt, the loon who used to fight bears and whatnot GOLDEN GIRLS LeonardoBlanche, the open-minded, creative sort RaphaelSophia, a master of caustic wit DonatelloDorothy, the smartest of the lot MichelangeloRose, the ditz THE FACTS OF LIFE LeonardoBlair, who was rich and blond, so she was the natural choice for the central role in an '80s sitcom RaphaelJo, who wears a leather jacket DonatelloNatalie, who basically acts like she's 40 at age 15 MichelangeloTootie, who wears rollerskates all the time 20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection THE FANTASTIC FOUR LeonardoSue Storm, the levelheaded voice of reason RaphaelThe Thing, who is, as one might expect, pretty pissed about being a giant rock DonatelloMr. Fantastic, the hyper-intellectual MichelangeloJohnny Storm, the jag who's always jumping around and lighting stuff on fire, because he thinks it's cool STAND BY ME LeonardoGordie, the courageous leader RaphaelChris, the young punk who has stolen his share of milk money DonatelloVern, the timid perpetual bullying victim MichelangeloTeddy, the kooky thrill-seeker GIRLS LeonardoHannah, who at the very least sees herself as a well-adjusted leader of mankind RaphaelJessa, the alleged loose cannon who is riddled with dark passengers DonatelloMarnie, the uptight would-be sophisticate who tries to manufacture life experience by the book MichelangeloShoshanna, the young nutter butter who garners the least respect ROCKET POWER LeonardoReggie Rocket, the smart, even-tempered overachiever RaphaelOtto Rocket, the troublesome bad boy DonatelloSam Dullard, the awkward intellectual MichelangeloTwister Rodriguez, the idiot comic relief Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection MEAN GIRLS LeonardoCady Heron, the acceptable human being RaphaelRegina George, the villainous upstart DonatelloGretchen Wieners, kind of just by default MichelangeloKaren Smith... see "Thor" THE SWEATHOGS LeonardoVinnie Barbarino, the boring (albeit charming) leader RaphaelJuan Epstein, the tough guy with whom everybody knows not to mess DonatelloArnold Horshach, the dorky dweeb MichelangeloBoom Boom Washington, the loudmouthed goofball A special thanks to writers Angie Han (an easygoing Michelangelo type) and Rudie Obias (a total Raphael, with respect) for helping to mastermind this piece, and to everyone else who contributed their varied expertise to the cause. 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  • Review: 'What If' Is a Wonderfully Funny Old Fashioned Rom-Com
    By: Michael Arbeiter Aug 07, 2014
    CBS Films/Entertainment One What If is a rare breed these days — a romantic comedy that works without any of the requisite add-ons. The Michael Dowse movie is not a send-up, nor a deconstruction, hardly a reinvention, and packs no particular “twist” other than its above average attention to the nature of bustling romantic feelings beneath the sheen of platonic relationships. In earnest, What If is as traditional a rom-com as you’ll see come out in theaters these days. The unusual thing: it’s just really, really good. The reasons why are incredibly simple. First, it’s sweet. Daniel Radcliffe’s unfortunately named Wallace might not fall too far from the typical genre hero that we’re miraculously still able to stomach: the mopey, hapless, self-absorbed good guy who just wants the gal to notice how nice he is. But what separates Wallace is his empathy. What If gives him value, intellect, character, and, most importantly, a genuine interest in the even more unfortunately named Chantry (Zoe Kazan), the spoken-for young lady who wins his heart soon after the inception of their friendship. Wallace isn’t pining meaninglessly for the nearest unavailable hot chick; he and Chantry have chemistry. They’re compatibly cynical (but not curmudgeonly) and idealistic (but not idiotic), equal doses awkward, and palpably conducive to one another’s comfort. We can feel true friendship between Wallace and Chantry, which is what makes us root all the more for the hidden feelings to peer through. CBS Films/Entertainment One The second reason: it’s smart. Yes, What If takes some goofy missteps: Your usual rom-com contrivances — ad hoc plane trips, disastrous dinners, and third party romantic candidates in desperate need of psychological evaluation — are hot on display here, though seldom does the film sink to levels of abject ridiculousness. But on the whole, Wallace and Chantry’s trip celebrates its characters’ and viewers’ intellect. It overthinks love, romance, friendship, and relationships, happily committing to that old Socrates gem. Which brings us to the final and most important reason this movie is such a treat: it is really, really funny. Most of this is owed to Radcliffe, so swift with a joke that he even sells the clunkers. But Kazan herself is no slouch, nor are supporting players Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis, in the delivery of the script’s musical wit. Of all the great things that What If introduces us to — its ideas about friendship and love, the comic prowess of Daniel Radcliffe, and the glory of fridge magnets — the notion that good ol’ fashioned rom-coms can still be downright terrific has got to be the most valuable. Thanks for reminding us! 4/5