(Photo by Fox Searchlight/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail: Gramercy Pictures.)
Jeff Bridges, son of Lloyd, struck it big with his first major role in 1971’s The Last Picture Show, where he was Oscar-nominated for his role as a graduating high school student in a prospectless Texas town. Afterwards, Bridges became a steady, comforting fixture in American cinema, appearing across action-thrillers (Thunderbolt & Lightfoot, Cutter’s Way), big-budget remakes (1975’s King Kong, The Vanishing), magnificent bombs (Heaven’s Gate), science-fiction (TRON, Starman), theater adaptations (The Iceman Cometh), and additional fine-tuned dramas (The Fisher King).
Bridges’ eclectic career choices primed him to become a beloved Hollywood statesman, all but confirmed with 1998’s The Big Lebowski. Wearing his personal wardrobe on-screen (including the jelly sandals) and directed by the Coen brothers, Bridges as Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski in a state of perpetual befuddled zen has rooted himself into pop culture with his generation-defining comedy performance. And Lebowski has only paved the way for later milestones and hits, including True Grit, Hell or High Water, and a take-home Best Actor Oscar for Crazy Heart, his big win out of seven nominations overall.
And now we do believe you shall abide as we take a trip through all Jeff Bridges movies, ranked by Tomatometer.
Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is a rather grown-up sci-fi fairy tale of sorts, and while it looks gorgeous, its messages are worthy, and fine for older teens, we realize it’s not the most family-friendly stuff. Plus, it’s only showing in a couple of theaters in New York this week. Instead, critic Christy Lemire offers up three similar alternatives you can enjoy with your kids.
Rating: R, for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence and language.
The latest from visionary director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak) is a symphony of sight and sound – a lush love letter to movies and to the power of love itself. As romantic and transporting as it is, though, it’s also a dark, sci-fi fairy tale, as del Toro’s films tend to be. This one earns its R rating with quite a bit of nudity, suggested sexuality, language, and some strong violence, including shootings. But The Shape of Water could be a solid choice for teenagers and up: It’s a dazzling and inspiring story of unexpected romance and of outsiders banding together for a noble cause. Sally Hawkins stars as Elisa, a mute janitor working at a government laboratory during the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War. When she and her co-worker (Octavia Spencer) discover that a mutant amphibian man (Doug Jones) is being hidden away there for experimentation, they dare to free him with the help of Elisa’s best friend (Richard Jenkins). Del Toro’s film features a thoughtful mix of thrills and melancholy, and its themes of courage and acceptance are definitely worthwhile.
If your kids are too young to see The Shape of Water but you’d like to share another creature feature with them, here are a few suggestions:
An obvious choice, perhaps, because the creature in The Shape of Water so clearly resembles this classic Universal monster – although del Toro had the benefit of high-tech special effects and a much more elaborate suit to help bring his amphibious man to life. But while this sci-fi oldie but goodie may look cheesy to young viewers today, it still provides thrills as well as something to think about. Scientists on an expedition to the Amazon discover the mysterious and ferocious Gill Man, which hunts them down in pursuit of one of their colleagues, the beautiful Kay (Julie Adams). In both films, the creatures are feared, captured and misunderstood. But as is the case with The Shape of Water, Creature From the Black Lagoon is clearly an allegory about what happens when we make the mistake of attacking those who might seem different or unusual. Your kids might think the black-and-white, low-budget look of Jack Arnold’s movie is hilarious or bizarre, but that’s part of the fun.
Rating: PG, for language and mild thematic elements.
If you’ve never shown your kids E.T., now is the time. Just give in to snuggling on the couch and sobbing with your children as you wallow in the nostalgia of your own youth. Although, you may find, as I did when I watched E.T. with my 8-year-old son for the first time a couple years ago, that it’s just as powerful viewing it as an adult. I thought a lot about E.T. – one of my favorite movies ever – as I was watching The Shape of Water, and I even referenced the Steven Spielberg classic when I was explaining the plot of del Toro’s film to my son. In both, a highly intelligent, sensitive, and kind human forms a powerful bond with an otherworldly creature; in both, the government wants to take that creature away to study it. But the strength of their connection allows them to overcome whatever obstacles come their way. In a nutshell: An alien is left behind on Earth when his spaceship takes off without him. He forms a sweet friendship with a lonely boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas), which becomes so strong that they begin communicating psychically. Of course, scary scientists close in to investigate – at least, they seem scary from Elliott’s perspective. There’s some stuff in here that will seem too frightening or emotionally intense for very little kids, as Elliott and E.T. find themselves in increasing physical danger. And the ending will just wreck you, no matter how old you are. But this is a must-see, of course – both from a film-history perspective and for its themes of decency and friendship.
Rating: PG-13, for adult situations/language, violence.
This one’s probably better for older kids – tweens and up – but it’s an ‘80s classic with a funny and touching Jeff Bridges performance. Bridges stars as an alien who crash lands on Earth and takes the human form of a deceased man named Scott. He then kidnaps Scott’s widow, Jenny (Karen Allen), and forces her to drive him to a crater in the desert to reconnect with his kind, or he’ll perish. (The alien journey element of the story is reminiscent of last year’s excellent Midnight Special, which would also be a solid choice for older kids.) But the two eventually form an unlikely bond as he learns to assimilate on Earth, and Jenny feels protective of (and ultimately falls for) this sweet, misunderstood visitor – especially as the authorities close in on them. John Carpenter’s film is both thrilling science fiction and a cleverly charming romance. It features a bit of sex, and Jenny becomes pregnant. There’s also some violence, smoking, and language scattered throughout. But the film’s themes of kindness, tolerance and generosity toward people who seem different are more than worthwhile.
Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner attempt to communicate through an intergalactic language barrier with aliens in this week’s Arrival. Are the visitors hostile? Curious? Come bearing presents and gift cards? Those questions answered in this week’s gallery: 24 best and worst movie alien visitors!
You’re in for some sweet, sweet movie watching this week, starting with the latest in bromantic comedies (I Love You, Man, starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel). Those with a High School Musical fetish should check out Zac Efron’s more grown-up vehicle (17 Again), while you twee cineastes have a new reason to worship Zooey Deschanel (Gigantic, also starring Paul Dano). Go European with a few highly rated imports (Oscar nominee The Class; Paris 36; London to Brighton) or go lowbrow with a direct-to-DVD college comedy sequel (Road Trip: Beer Pong). Lastly, check out everyone’s favorite heroes on a half-shell (the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 25th Anniversary set) and a few sci-fi throwbacks (the retro spoof Alien Trespass; Starman on Blu-ray).
Paul Rudd and Jason Segel (who last co-starred in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall) team up again in this romantic comedy of sorts about a super nice girls’ guy (Rudd) on a desperate search for a best man who finds an unlikely BFF in a carefree bohemian bachelor (Segel). Naturally, the odd couple bond over poop jokes, the music of Rush, and plenty of Apatow-styled comedy (minus the actual involvement, and some argue, the edginess, of Judd Apatow himself). This Certified Fresh valentine to the bromance — the unabashed man-love between two or more straight men — comes to DVD with even more laughs, thanks to a wealth of additional footage that includes alternate take after take of ad-libbed lines and a particularly cozy commentary track with Rudd, Segel, and director/co-writer John Hamburg (pictured in the exclusive snapshot above recording the DVD commentary on a special man-date in Hollywood). Watch an exclusive deleted scene below!
Next: Zac Efron grows up (and Matthew Perry gets younger) in 17 Again
Disney star Zac Efron continues to transition out of the ‘tween niche with 17 Again, his first starring vehicle after hitting stardom as the singing jock in the High School Musical films (a supporting role in Hairspray earned kudos, as did the forthcoming Me and Orson Welles, which was directed by Richard Linklater and debuted at the Toronto Film Festival). In 17 Again, an unhappy former basketball star (played in middle age by Matthew Perry, who we hope Efron doesn’t grow up to resemble) wishes his way back into his 17-year-old body (Efron) to relive the glorious high school life that he once had. The only catch? Save his grown-up geek of a best friend (Thomas Lennon), nobody knows who he really is, including his estranged wife (Leslie Mann) and his two teenage children. Truth be told, the formulaic fantasy wasn’t as bad as some critics feared, thanks in great part to Efron’s winning charm, resulting in a Tomatometer rating just shy of Fresh. For a handful of Zac-tastic bonus features (including a commentary track with Efron available on BD-Live, OMG) you’ll have to pick up 17 Again on Blu-ray.
Next: Zooey Deschanel as Paul Dano’s manic pixie dream girl
Anyone already tired of the Zooey Deschanel Manic Pixie Romance Film (see: Elf, (500) Days of Summer, Yes Man, The Go-Getter, etc.) should go ahead and skip this one on principle, seeing as Deschanel plays a beautiful, quirky love interest yet again — and what’s more, her character’s name is “Happy.” All others will find that Gigantic is on quirky indie overload, from its plot (28-year-old man-child mattress salesman adopts Chinese orphan baby) to its supporting cast (John Goodman as Happy’s millionaire father, Ed Asner as a mushroom-hunting senior citizen). Only a few extra scenes have been included, making for a fairly sparse DVD menu.
Next: France’s Oscar nominee, The Class
One of the best-reviewed films of last year, this French drama not only earned an impressive 97 percent Tomatometer (and Certified Fresh seal of approval), it also won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. Partially filmed documentary-style, The Class (AKA Entre les murs) follows an inner city teacher, played by Francois Begadueau (who wrote the original book from his own experiences) over the course of a year within the walls of a Parisian school where racially diverse students examine themselves and each other. Director Laurent Cantet cast an impressive group of non-actor teens, lending a natural energy to his film; their own self-portraits and actors’ workshop are a few of the fascinating extra features included in the release.
Next: Moulin Rouge-esque nostalgia in Paris 36
Moulin Rouge devotees might like this similarly-themed and -set musical comedy about a ragtag group of locals who attempt to restore a Parisian theater with a fantastic vaudeville show in 1936. Pure Francophiles are the target audience here, as the more bourgeois in taste might find the frothy proceedings too light and whimsical for their liking, and the multi-strand plot altogether too jumbled. However, if you’re in the mood for an unapologetically nostalgic fantasy filled with fabulous costuming, intricate musical numbers, and Amelie-like adornments (and who isn’t, really?), give Paris 36 a rental.
Next: The gritty, taut crime thriller London to Brighton
The titular train route is what two young prostitutes hope will take them away from trouble when a job goes horribly awry in Paul Andrew Williams’ directorial debut. Taut and grim (very grim, according to critics), this British crime thriller makes brutal use of cinematic realism, peeling back the layers to tell a story not just about two women on the run, but one about the sordid world of street kids and criminals on the hustle in England’s underworld. A making-of featurette, deleted scenes, director commentary and more highlight the special features.
Next: Road Trip gets a sequel in Beer Pong
Shockingly, it took nine years to get a sequel to the Breckin Meyer-Seann William Scott college comedy Road Trip (thanks, if you can call it that, go to Paramount Vantage for seizing the rights to make this long-awaited follow-up). With the sole exception of a cameo by Road Trip‘s DJ Squalls, Road Trip: Beer Pong assembles a new crew of college kids who hit the road for an adventure full of shenanigans, this time headed for the National Collegiate Beer Pong Championship. Personally, we’d rather rack up our own cups than watch some actors throw down (or watch these guys hit some impossible trick shots), although in real life, there are no “Bodacious Babes of Ta Tas” at our beer pong/Beirut tourneys. An unrated cut, bloopers, and a beer pong tutorial are just some of the illuminating special features in the release.
Next: Retro creatures featured in Alien Trespass
Conceived and presented as part homage, part spoof to the bygone creature features of the 1950s, Alien Trespass sets itself up as a “lost” film from the era, a conceit that it never quite surmounts. Boasting an “all-star” cast (headlined by Eric McCormack, Robert Patrick, and Dan Lauria), this faux-B movie alights on a desert town where an alien spacecraft crashes, releasing two passengers: a galactic police officer of sorts, and the fugitive monster who could destroy the entire planet. But the nostalgic charm wears off too soon, leaving stilted dialogue and inconsistent special effects and direction — what one might consider not just unintentionally campy, but altogether bad.
Next: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles complete film set!
Lovers of sewer-dwelling martial arts-mastering mutant turtles should jump at the chance to own all four of Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo’s feature films, released this week in a 25th Anniversary edition box set, but will they? Children of the ’80s (now full-fledged grown-ups) can capture a little bit of that bygone turtle power with 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (46 percent), the first live-action film to translate the pizza-loving heroes from animation to the big screen (as a bonus, you may delight in the fact that the Blu-ray set discs are presented in the form of different kinds of pizza). One of our personal favorites, however, was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze (36 percent), and yes, it is because of Vanilla Ice’s Ninja Rap. Perhaps we can all agree to give a pass to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (32 percent), because no sequel ever goes to Japan and succeeds (as the Bad News Bears and the 3 Ninjas can attest). Rounding out the collection is the 2007 animated update TMNT (33 percent).
Unfortunately, the only advantage to picking up this TMNT set on either DVD or Blu-ray is the additional promo swag included in each set (temporary tattoos and bandannas in the DVD set, collectible cards, a Kevin Eastman-signed sketch and beanie in the Blu-ray box). Cowabungle, dude.
Next: John Carpenter’s Starman hits Blu-ray!
After directing such genre classics as Halloween, Escape from New York, and The Thing, John Carpenter turned his attention to a much gentler kind of science fiction; the result was 1984’s Starman, a fish-out-of-water tale about an alien (Jeff Bridges) who mimics the form of a grieving widow’s (Karen Allen) late husband and kidnaps/asks her to drive him cross-country to a homebound rendezvous ship. Although the 1980s-era special effects seem a bit dated (exception: Bridges’ shape-shifting transformation from infant human form to grown man in the span of a minute is still as creepy as ever), and its dialogue is frequently corny, Starman looks great in HD and is a worthy addition to your sci-fi geek Blu-ray collection. (Sadly, there are zero bonus features on the disc.)
Until next week, happy renting!
What do Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Jeff Bridges all have in common? They’ve all been nominated for Oscars — and they’re all set to star in Jon Favreau‘s "Iron Man" adaptation.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mr. Bridges will be playing an old-school colleague / friend of Tony Stark, but that’s all the producers are dishing out so far.
And if right now you’re scratching your head wondering who Jeff Bridges is, shame on you. (You know him from "Tron," "Starman," "Jagged Edge," "The Fisher King, " "Fearless," "Seabiscuit," and (of course) "The Big Lebowski.")
Marvel boss Kevin Feige seems justifiably happy with the casting choice: "He’s excited about doing a movie like this, and we’re excited to have him in this particular role. There are many facets to this character which I can’t discuss, but looking at the spectrum of all of Jeff’s roles, this fits in nicely with the man who played ‘Starman,’ ‘Tucker,’ ‘Big Lebowski’ with a little bit ‘Tron’ thrown in … This rounds out our ensemble, and I think it’s one of the strongest casts ever assembled for one of our films."
No argument here.
Production on "Iron Man" is scheduled to begin next month. The flick is scheduled to hit screens a year from this May — so expect a lot more news. (I’m expecting them to cast Kevin Kline and Jennifer Connelly next.)
IGN Filmforce scored a pretty sweet scoop, provided you’re any sort of animation fan, that is. Click over to FF to enjoy a pair of clips from the all-new "Ice Age" sequel, which used to have a "2" in the title, but is called "Ice Age: The Meltdown."
"In "Ice Age: The Meltdown," the sub-zero heroes from the worldwide blockbuster CGI film "Ice Age" are back – Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth, Diego the saber-toothed tiger, and the hapless prehistoric squirrel/rat known as Scrat. In the new film, from director Carlos Saldanha and the Academy Award winning creators of "Ice Age" and "Robots," the Ice Age is coming to an end, and the animals are delighting in the melting paradise that is their new world.
Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary return to voice our three heroes: Manny, Sid, and Diego. New cast members include Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah, Seann William Scott, late night talk show king Jay Leno, Will Arnett and Josh Peck.
Our trio is still together and enjoying the perks of their now melting world. Manny may be ready to start a family, but nobody has seen another mammoth for a long time; Manny thinks he may be the last one. That is, until he miraculously finds Ellie (voiced by Queen Latifah), the only female mammoth left in the world. Their only problems: They can’t stand each other – and Ellie somehow thinks she’s a possum!
Ellie comes with some excess baggage in the form of her two possum "brothers"…Crash and Eddie (voiced by Seann William Scott and Josh Peck), a couple of daredevil pranksters and cocky, loud-mouthed troublemakers.
Manny, Sid, and Diego quickly learn that the warming climate has one major drawback: A huge glacial dam holding off oceans of water is about to break, threatening the entire valley. The only chance of survival lies at the other end of the valley. So our three heroes, along with Ellie, Crash and Eddie, form the most unlikely family – in any "Age" – as they embark on a mission across an ever-changing, increasingly dangerous landscape towards their salvation.
The film also presents the continuing adventures, or misadventures, of Scrat, who has an even larger role this time."
"Ice Age: The Meltdown" opens this Friday (March 31st), so grab a few kids and pretend you’re seeing it for their sake.
William Hurt, whose role as a crime boss in David Cronenberg‘s "A History of Violence" nabbed him an Oscar nomination, joins the cast of MGM’s psychological thriller "Mr. Brooks" as the evil alter ego of Kevin Costner‘s character.
Bruce A. Evans will direct from a script he co-wrote with Raynold Gideon; Evans and Gideon have been a screenwriting team since 1979’s "A Man, A Woman and a Bank" and have also co-written "Starman," "Stand By Me," "Kuffs" (Evans’ other directing credit), "Cutthroat Island," and "Jungle 2 Jungle."
From the Hollywood Reporter: "Costner will play Brooks, a tortured man who tries to be disciplined and remain in control. Hurt will play Costner’s alter ego, the evil part of Brooks that loves murder and mayhem.
Evans wrote the script with Raynold Gideon. Costner is producing via his Tig Prods. with Jim Wilson and Gideon.
An April shoot in Louisiana is being eyed."