Clearly, what I need to do is concoct a can't-miss fantasy premise that guarantees wacky hijinx AND life lessons in one family-friendly package and then rake in the millions. Case in point: Reese Witherspoon has signed on to star in "Wish List," in which a little girl attempts to make ten wishes at a wishing well, fails, grows up to be a career woman, then has to contend with said wishes when they come back to bite her on the... adulthood.
Don't you just see the whole movie in your head already? It's a marvel of contrivance and character arc the likes of which we've seen time and time again ("Mr. Popper's Penguins," "Imagine That," "Bedtime Stories," "Tooth Fairy," "Click," "The Shaggy Dog" remake, "The Santa Clause"). You may think me cynical for knocking something so potentially cute that the kids will probably enjoy, but is that any more cynical than endlessly capitalizing on the same formula? (Ask the guys behind slasher films.)
Now, if you'll excuse me, some of us have to put the finishing touches on our spec script about a magical yo-yo that teaches a successful businessman/woman to appreciate their family... (And who gets ten wishes for one coin at a wishing fountain anyway?)
There are a legion of French singers who are famous in every corner of the globe…except here. Many Americans wouldn’t even recognize an Edith Piaf song, and I’m guessing even more are oblivious to the work of internationally known stars such as Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan, Patrick Bruel, or France Gall. A fascinating new film about one of the biggest French singing superstars in history, Serge Gainsbourg, opens here on August 31.
After 2007's "Live Free or Die Hard" earned a robust $383 million worldwide, it was perhaps only a matter of time before Bruce Willis reprised his role as immortal super-cop John McClane. Now, instead of blowing the everloving crud out of large portions of Los Angeles, Washington DC, and New York, it appears McClane will get caught up in the exploding remnants of the Soviet Union on an ill-fated vacation to Russia. At least, we assume it's a vacation. Why else would a lowly NYPD detective be in Moscow?
According to Deadline, four directors are currently up for the film, including Joe Cornish, fresh off sleeper hit "Attack the Block;" Justin Lin of the "Fast and Furious" franchise; "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn; and apparent front-runner, Fox favorite John Moore ("Max Payne"). Cornish and Refn are the intriguing choices here, as they would presumably bring a different sensibility than the more workmanlike stylings of "Live Free" director Len Wiseman, Moore, or even the agreeably proficient Lin. Whomever ultimately gets the job, however, it would seem that more changes are in store beyond the simple shift in venue.
Speaking of which, Russia is becoming a strangely popular filming locale for action flicks lately, with both "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" and the upcoming alien invasion pic "The Darkest Hour" seizing the opportunity to at least film in Red Square if not actually vaporize the Kremlin. No word as yet as to how "Die Hard 5" will avoid the inevitable comparisons.
Am I secure enough with my masculinity to say how incredibly excited I am to see “The Help,” the “chick flick with a message” that opens next week?
Based on the popular novel by Kathryn Sockett, this film is set in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s and deals with the relationship between African-American maids and their white employers during this tumultuous time in the South. Emma Stone plays Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan who, newly returned from the University of Mississippi, slowly has her eyes opened about the treatment the maids must endure in the town’s white homes. Stone’s character ends up getting some of the maids to collaborate with her on a book that is written from their point of view and exposes the racist members of Skeeter’s own social set.
It’s hard to believe Stone is only 22 years old, she seems to be everywhere these days. In addition to providing one of the most appealing performances in the just-opened comedy, “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” the actress is also in “Friends with Benefits” and will appear opposite Andrew Garfield in one of next year’s most anticipated films, “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
After Deadline reported that 20th Century Fox had acquired the screen rights to "Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN" by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, speculation ran rampant as to which Hollywood A-listers would play such prominent personalities as Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann. Speculation that Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann were apparently not above joining themselves, as they recently discussed their casting suggestions for the upcoming movie on Countdown.
However, the important question here isn't who will play the pioneering SportsCenter anchors—although a mustachioed Andy Samberg and John Michael Higgins would be excellent as Olbermann and Patrick, respectively—but whether the film is heralding in a new age of expository, non-fiction cinema. First came "The Blind Side" and "The Social Network," and now we have the upcoming "Moneyball" and this? What's next? "Outliers," based on the Malcolm Gladwell book of the same name, detailing the various social and environmental conditions that allowed a young Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to simultaneously become titans of a fledgling computer industry? Hey, that's not a half bad idea...
What other non-fiction stories out there are begging for film adaptation, Hitlisters? Could we see a movie about the founding of Twitter, titled "140 Characters?" A cautionary parable about technology and hubris called "MySpace" starring Justin Timberlake? "The Internet," about how Al Gore invented the internet? "The Biebs," about how Justin Bieber was secretly bio-engineered by megalomaniacal Canadian geneticists bent on world domination? We anxiously await your suggestions in the comments...
Don’t panic—Snooki and the Situation are not heading to the Big Screen…yet! But their network has.
Thirty years ago today, on August 1, 1981, the brand new cable TV network, MTV, began broadcasting at 12:01 am. The very first music video it aired was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the British New Wave band, The Buggles. Then came Pat Benatar’s “You Better Run.” Music videos were a new concept back then and the idea of a TV station that would play them seven days a week, 24 hours a day, was revolutionary. In those early days it’s all that MTV did. The videos were introduced by “VJs” such as Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, and Martha Quinn.
No one could have imagined in 1981 that the new network would eventually ditch its primary format and become a major force in television programming (from “The Ben Stiller Show” and “The Real World” to “The Osbournes” and “Jersey Shore”) and the movies. MTV Films has made over three dozen theatrical films during the past 15 years, including hits such as “Zoolander,” “Jackass: The Movie,” “Napoleon Dynamite,” and “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.”
After being lambasted as one of "the darnedest things," a "bizarre concoction," and "kind of Nixonian"—and that's just by our fellow MSN Movies critic Glenn Kenny—Sony's "The Smurfs" has nonetheless beaten all odds and expectations to debut to an estimated $36.2 million at the box office.
And there we have it: incontrovertible proof of the complete uselessness and wholesale impotency of the modern movie critic. Like a colonoscopy, while the experience may be excruciatingly painful, undignified, and humiliating, certain mediocre films will always be endured. Why? Whether it offers two hours respite from the responsibilities of parenthood or merely an escape from the oppressive heat of summer, the cinema will always be there for us. And for that we should be thankful.
Perhaps less surprising than "The Smurfs" actually being successful is the apparent failure of "Cowboys & Aliens." The $160 million genre mash-up faces a long road to profitability considering its underwhelming $32.6 million opening haul. While "The Smurfs" can reasonably expect to continue drawing families, the inebriated, and the confused, "Cowboys" faces a tough challenge in weeks to come as other films, like this week's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," arrive to steal its meager glory.
Did you see "The Smurfs" this weekend? Was it better or worse than the critical consensus? Are reviewers truly irrelevant? Does the abject failure of "Zookeeper" obviate my thesis on bad family films? And which would you rather see, "Cowboys & Aliens" or "Rise of the Planet of the Apes?" As always, leave your cogent analysis in the comments...