Walt Disney Pictures via Everett Collection
Tonto in The Lone Ranger could have worked. Instead, the movie bombed. This used to be the kind of role Johnny Depp could play the hell out of.
One bad movie doesn't doom an actor’s career, especially someone as high up as Depp. But Depp's appeal is definitely losing steam.
He has developed two major crutches during the last decade: Pirates of the Caribbean films and Tim Burton movies. As Jack Sparrow, Depp always delivers a convincing, hilarious performance. Without him, the franchise is a bust. The franchise wouldn't even exist. In the Burton films, Depp plays the same brooding character we've known him to portray since the Edward Scissorhands days.
But tht's the problem with crutches. Jack Sparrow can only appear on the big screen so many times. And Burton's dark themes are nice, but Depp has attached himself way too often to that morose content. Like Sparrow, he's playing the same character in Burton's movies.
If Depp still had the same appeal, then everybody (not just critics) would be praising his effort in The Lone Ranger. Look at the underwhelming Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Too many stars, not enough coherence.
But who was the brightest spot in that film? Depp.
It's not like Depp isn’t still a star. He just needs to choose better roles. He has his pick. As for The Lone Ranger, what happened there — who thought Armie Hammer, both of the Winklevoss twins from The Social Network,was a good idea to be the lead of a major movie?
That's OK, Johnny, you’ll do fine in your next crutch (a new Pirates of the Caribbean is scheduled for 2016).
FX's Justified is filled with a world of tough guys ready to gut you for drugs, territory, money, or in some cases, just for fun. Only Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and his U.S. marshal associates have enough know how and muscle to keep these bad guys in check.
But there is one bottom feeder who somehow rises to the top of the evil food chain: Wynn Duffy. Played by Jere Burns, Duffy is a treacherous man who consistently snakes his way through life.
Many foes have fallen victim to Raylan's quick-draw, shoot-em-up tactics. Raylan doesn't miss. Naturally, the sneaky Duffy has never seriously tried to step to Raylan. Duffy has backup to do that.
And that backup is always there. Duffy may talk tough, but he himself is harmless. It's always his thugs that do all the roughhousing.
In the world of criminals, Duffy is the least likely to flex actual muscle. He's a businessman who happens to work on the wrong side of the law. His goons deal with law enforcement and baddies while he keeps his hands clean.
Next time Duffy waves his gun around and threatens anybody, you know that he won't throw the first punch. And that is the key to his survival. He's alive because he doesn't puff up his chest and get ready.
Duffy is a calculating fiend who has somehow teamed up with Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) to control heroin distribution in Kentucky. Boyd isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Wynn Duffy hasn't proven that he can. Not yet.
Just because something's animated doesn't always make it kid friendly, even if it's a Christmas theme. In fact, some animated characters are frightening. Beware of these Christmas characters.
The Ghost of Christmas Future
Lurking in the shadows in Mickey's Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Future only has bad news for Scrooge McDuck. He's not just an evil shadow — Mickey’s rival Pete is the Disney character here.
But most of the time the gigantic shadow intimidates, especially when it's pointing to Scrooge's grave. Very scary for a kid's film.
Based on a folklore creature, Krampus punishes the naughty, undeserving children during Christmas. This version terrorizes on Fox's American Dad. Krampus looks demonic and his demeanor of hitting kids doesn't help his image.
The folk tales and people who dress up as Krampus in real life are alarming. Another version of Krampus can be seen on Cartoon Network's The Venture Bros. This demon is also terrifying.
Robot Santa Claus
The Futurama Santa Claus dispenses justice in a very cruel way. Like Krampus, the futuristic St. Nick will punish the naughty. Except this robot has a serious flaw: everybody's naughty and a price must be paid.
That price is unusually high — death. Every Christmas, Santa comes to town with robot reindeer to chop people’s heads off and stuff toys down their necks. His sharp teeth, menacing eyes and spiked ball at the tip of his Santa hat prove that this threatening SOB means business. He has a variety of weapons and murder tactics to give the naughty what they deserve. Whatever you do, don't sit on this Santa’s lap.
20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection
Imagine having to spend Christmas morning with Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) from Fight Club. Yes, your stomach must be churning, quick, find a wastebasket.
The holidays can be tough for movie characters that can only be described as misfits. Here are five such characters guaranteed to mess up your holiday cheer.
What were you thinking? Only the truly crazy hang out with this woman. (See also Tyler Durden.) Will she run outside barefoot on Christmas morning? Maybe your face will get punched in. Or you could get a random call from a hospital because of her attempted suicide. Way to spend Christmas.
Clint Eastwood plays this old fart perfectly in Gran Torino. Spending any holiday with this man will result in arguments, racial slurs and, possibly, gunshots. Limit your interaction to phone calls, at least you won't get physically hurt. Your feelings, on the other hand ...
The Incredible Hulk
If Dr. Bruce Banner gets the wrong gift, it's all over, your life is in immediate danger. It doesn't matter which actor portrays him, play it safe and give a gift card. Preferably one of those Visa ones in which you can spend money wherever. Don't make him angry.
Doesn't this guy ever stop eating? Played by Brad Pitt, the Ocean's Eleven smooth guy feels suicidal only in the morning and will steal from you if your bank account entices him. Perhaps giving him baked goods will keep him away from whatever fortune you have.
Dr. Emmett Brown
Easily the craziest of this group, the Doc (Christopher Lloyd) from Back to the Future will get you into trouble any day of the week. Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean history can't be altered or plutonium can't be swindled. Don't be surprised if somebody has this man committed as you're opening presents at home.
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
Gathering with family and friends during the holidays often involves watching TV. But what you watch can vary and changes quickly so here's a game to try during the holiday season. This game is valid during the week before Thanksgiving all the way until New Year's. Follow the guide for a fun time.
Bring out the good stuff — it doesn't matter as long as it's high quality — if Home Alone is on. Savor that alcohol the same way Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) enjoys his cheese pizza and awful Christmas dinner. (You are allowed to get drunk off fine liquor if The Good Son, starring young Culkin, is on and you see the scene in which the boy says, "don't f—k with me.") Why get drunk? Just 'cause, it's the holidays.
Crack one open if you're watching a commercial and a celebrity endorses a product. Peyton Manning could get you in a lot of trouble.
If you're flipping through the channels and an animated holiday movie is on, knock one back. Yes, The Nightmare Before Christmas counts.
Any time you see a black and white film playing, pour a glass. It's A Wonderful Life is guaranteed to be on during the holidays.
Spiked egg nog
Here comes another guarantee: indulge in this festive treat whenever a football game is on. Between the NFL and college football, there are games every night (and day) of the week.
If you happen to be watching a movie or TV show in which scenes take place in cold weather, pop a bottle. It must be cold, a simple nighttime scene won't do. Example, in True Lies, outside the snowy castle at the beginning when the security guard asks Arnold Schwarzenegger to see his invitation. And Arnold responds, "Sure, here’s my invitation." Arnold then detonates a bomb with a cool cigarette case. Yeah, cold-weather scene, enjoy your beverage.
Malt liquor / skunky beer
If you're monetarily challenged and all you can afford is King Cobra or some other swill, you're still allowed to play this game. To match your horrible alcohol, take some swigs every time you realize dumb reality TV stars are having a much better holiday season than you. You hear that, Farrah Abraham and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, people are killing their brain cells because apparently, you guys were born without them.
Mix and match
Any time you put on a DVD or Blu-ray, get creative with your drinking. Try Patrón with original Gatorade (don't forget plenty of ice).
Would Dr. Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) confess his love to Dr. April Kepner (Sarah Drew) before her wedding?
That was the question before the Grey's Anatomy winter finale. Kepner's marriage to Matthew (Justin Breuning) seemed forced.
Yeah, he's a nice guy, but the spark that Avery and Kepner shared was apparent.
Avery waited until the actual wedding. He delivered a moving plea to the redheaded bride in an "oh, damn" moment: "April, I love you. I always have. I love everything about you. Even the things I don't like, I love. And I want you with me. I love you, and I think that you love me too ... do you?"
But that wasn't the only part of the winter finale that raised eyebrows. Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Dr. Meredith Grey's (Ellen Pompeo) friendship is deteriorating.
"You know what Meredith ... go to hell. I have listened to your crap for weeks now and I'm not gonna stand here and take it any more."
Their fight over surgical competence and the importance of family has been brewing for a while. The only solution could be bare-knuckle boxing or a steel-cage match. Hair pulling would definitely be legal.
Speaking of Yang, her boy toy Dr. Shane Ross (Gaius Charles) is out of control. He's mean-spirited, edgy, reckless and disrespectful. All because he finally got some. His surgical mistake should get him in hot water, possibly even resulting in termination.
The other docs have OK story lines, but nothing really intriguing, although Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) could have a game changer thanks to a phone call from the President of the United States.
Kepner's response will be the juiciest outcome at all. Avery has played his hand and it will have a gigantic domino effect whether Kepner's answer is yes or no.
Season three of Homeland felt disjointed. The pacing was slow, keeping Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) away from all the CIA action until the middle of the season. Carrie (Claire Danes) has acted even more irresponsible, ignoring her pregnancy as if it's just a bothersome stomachache. And the CIA leadership has been erratic with Saul (Mandy Patinkin) hatching dangerous plans and pissing off everybody, including the President of the United States.
But there were some storylines dangled in front of us that either never developed or got chucked aside.
Family played an important part, especially the Brody household. Jessica Brody (Morena Baccarin), wife of the most wanted man in the world, was a strong woman as she never suffered a lot of mental anguish. That anguish passed on to daughter Dana, who attempted suicide. Dana's pain got plenty of screen time, but where was Jessica's? Baccarin's real-life pregnancy has limited her time this season. Still, how did we not see more of how she coped with the burden of the Brody name? And what of Chris Brody, who we get to see basically nothing about his reaction?
The oversaturation of the media has been missing this season. TV followed the notorious Brody through interviews, news conferences and live coverage. The media was all over the hearing in which Saul threw Carrie under the bus regarding her mental status. Brody was in hiding most of the time, but it would have been nice to get more of his family's reaction once the world realized he had surfaced.
Finally, where was the sex? Showtime is one of the channels that can really entertain when it comes to grind sessions. Homeland didn't bring its A game. Usually there are some episodes when after one of those eye-opening scenes we just have to say wow. Not so in season three. Get busy, Homeland characters.
The Griffin family looks forward to the annual Christmas carnival at the Quahog mall. When they arrive at the mall, there's nothing festive going on at all. It's canceled.
Vinny, who still doesn't quite fit with the family and has yet to form a truly cohesive friendship with Stewie, finds out that Carter Pewterschmidt, Lois' jerk of a father, runs the mall and axed the carnival. Peter visits the cranky old man hoping to get an explanation. Carter says he canceled it because he hates Christmas: when you're rich, everyone expects you to buy something great and you get nothing.
The Griffins worry that Stewie will dwell on the fact that the carnival was canceled; he seems really broken up. After some sexually explicit convincing from Peter (and telling him people assume him to be Jewish), Carter brings back the carnival.
Even with the return of the carnival, Stewie seems very bothered. When he hops on Santa Claus' lap, his sadness is apparent: he wants his friend back. That's right, Family Guy fans, Stewie misses Brian the dog!
Is this the glimmer of hope viewers have been wishing and tweeting about?
Vinny tries to make Stewie feel better by giving him some Christmas presents to open. When that doesn’t work, Vinny offers to buy Stewie a toy. At the toy store, Stewie sees himself from the past that had time-traveled ahead to make a purchase.
Stewie realizes that the past Stewie has a time travel pad. The current Stewie’s time travel pad had been destroyed before Brian got killed by a speeding car. After a distraction by Vinny, current Stewie plans to go back in time with the pad to save Brian. It's bye-bye for Vinny and it's at this moment that his departure actually seems sad. The new dog was beginning to fit in.
Back in time, current Stewie saves Brian from getting hit by a car. Current Stewie fades away because history has been altered. But that's OK. Brian is alive and the past Stewie carries on like nothing's happened. They're such best friends, Stewie greets Brian with a "Game on" shout and hits the beloved dog between the legs with a hockey stick.
Brian gives Stewie a photo of the two of them for Christmas; it says "Friends Forever." All is right in the Family Guy world.
Warner Bros via Everett Collection
Congratulations, Marvel Comics, you have inspired DC Comics to tank a potentially good idea for a film franchise.
Marvel's The Avengers killed it at the box office (more than $1.5 billion, third best all time) and two of its characters, Iron Man and Thor, parlayed that success into more money this year. Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World were just OK films, but the afterglow of The Avengers shines bright.
Now DC Comics wants to try that same success with an untitled Batman vs. Superman movie. Caution: this is hard to do. Especially if DC plans to throw in a ton of characters without developing them in their own movies.
Before The Avengers, Marvel spent years pumping up their super heroes. Iron Man came out in 2008 (it even spawned a sequel before the gang got together last year). Thor and Captain America also got their own films so by the time all of them teamed up in 2012, we knew the universe, characters, sub-plots and expected a cohesive mash-up. Director Joss Whedon delivered.
No such patience exists in DC’s eyes. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman? Jason Momoa gets thrown in there as a potential villain or Justice League member? Why? WNy not?
Where is this all going? The only continuity in this movie is director Zack Snyder and Superman (Henry Cavill). Snyder is an extremely capable director who will deliver eye-popping action sequences. But if DC wants its own epic in the form of the Justice League, then it needs to establish these new heroes slowly. And ditch Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern. Reynolds is consistent: he consistently underperforms, DC doesn't need that in its movies.