Buddy Cops
It’s been used and abused so many times that by all rights, it should have been exhausted of fresh possibilities long ago — but the buddy cop comedy is alive and well, as evidenced by Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s return for more wisecracking gunplay in this weekend’s 22 Jump Street. In honor of the genre’s latest freshly chambered round, we decided to take a look back at some of the more successful quippin’ ‘n’ shootin’ duos from precincts past. Shoulder those holsters, because it’s time for Total Recall!

 


83%

Beverly Hills Cop

The Buddy Cops: It’s Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) who’s shown on the poster and described in the title, but his classic debut would have seemed pretty lonely without the involvement of his Beverly Hills buddies Detective Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Sergeant Taggart (John Ashton).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: Foley’s such a pain in the neck, he triggers high-volume outbursts from superiors in two places: As the movie opens in Detroit, he’s getting an earful from his inspector (Gil Hill), and when he follows an investigation to Beverly Hills, he runs similarly afoul of Beverly Hills PD Lieutenant Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox).

Saving the Day: Foley spends a substantial portion of the movie keeping Rosewood and Taggart from figuring out what he’s up to, but the trio put their heads together just in time to take down ruthless smuggler Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff) — and lay the groundwork for a series of sequels that seems likely to continue with Beverly Hills Cop IV in 2016. The follow-ups have made their share of cash, but there’s nothing like the original; as R.L. Shaffer wrote for IGN, “Simply put, Beverly Hills Cop is one of the best buddy cop movies ever made.”


94%

The Guard

The Buddy Cops: Irish police Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) and FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: Actually, Boyle pretty much punches his own ticket in his little burg; he’s got enough respect and seniority to do more or less whatever he likes, including indulging in illegal activities while he’s on duty. The Guard‘s tension lies between Boyle’s blasé attitude and Everett’s by-the-book approach — a conflict as old as the genre, to be sure, but one enlivened here by the movie’s change of setting.

Saving the Day: From the moment Everett and Boyle clash, you know they’re going to develop a begrudging respect, just as surely as you know a change is gonna come for the depressingly corrupt rural police district that Boyle calls home. But it doesn’t matter, because writer/director John Michael McDonagh has penned such a smart, tightly constructed script — and lucked into a pair of immensely compelling leads — that The Guard could probably get by on charm and chemistry even if it had nothing else to offer. “McDonagh’s script is agile, darting between the ridiculous, the sage and the surprisingly sentimental,” opined the Denver Post’s Lisa Kennedy. “His love of language and the absurd has hints of the wisecracking Quentin Tarantino. But the story is decidedly more rooted in Ireland’s loamy turf.”


66%

The Heat

The Buddy Cops: Straight-laced FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and slovenly Boston cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: When you have a cop on your payroll that’s as loudly insubordinate (yet utterly effective) as Mullins, there’s no point in yelling, lest you end up being rewarded for your trouble with a few insults and a tape dispenser to the head. Which is a shame, because as Tom “Captain Woods” Wilson proved when he played Biff in Back to the Future, he makes for a pretty compelling authority figure.

Saving the Day: Undermined by their co-workers and frequently at odds, our pistol-packing duo still manage to hunt down a local drug lord known only as Larkin — and even with cinema’s most godawful impromptu tracheostomy and a ghastly stab wound standing between them and the bad guy, they do (of course) manage to get their man. They also earned the admiration of critics like Movie Talk’s Jason Best, who wrote, “The Heat is crude and rude, and its plot is pretty ropey, but as Bullock’s by-the-book prissiness collides with McCarthy’s slobbish street savvy, its leading ladies strike scintillating comic sparks off each other.”


91%

Hot Fuzz

The Buddy Cops: U.K. constables Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) and Danny Butterman (Nick Frost).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: It’s actually Angel who does most of the yelling, mainly because he’s been “promoted” to the sleepy country town of Sanford as a way of keeping his spotless arrest record from ruining the curve for his fellow officers in London. Angel’s no-nonsense demeanor and sharp eye for crime seem utterly wasted in Sanford, and to add insult to injury, his new partner Butterman is an oaf whose evident incompetence is matched only by his childlike love of the cop shows and movies that make a mockery of Angel’s respect for the law.

Saving the Day: An affectionate half-parody of the buddy cop movie, Hot Fuzz subverts some of the genre’s cliches while following its basic narrative outline — which is to say that Sanford isn’t quite the idyllic hamlet it initially seems to be, and that Angel and Butterman find their groove and prove their partnership’s mettle just in time to bring the bad guys to justice. “What you get from Hot Fuzz is what you rarely see from Hollywood,” argued David Germain for the Associated Press. “Something genuinely smart and silly at the same time, a film and filmmakers that respect their characters, their audience and the genre at which they lovingly poke fun.”


82%

Lethal Weapon 2

The Buddy Cops: LAPD detectives Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson), back for another round after 1987’s smash hit Lethal Weapon. While the first installment certainly had its funny moments, it’s the first follow-up that might be the funniest in the series — partly because it introduces the annoyingly fast-talking Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), whose antagonistic presence unites the occasionally fractious duo against a common nuisance.

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: Mainly because Riggs is at least mildly insane, which makes for some of the most entertaining moments in the four-volume (and counting) Weapon franchise, but causes angst at HQ when you’re dealing with, say, a smuggling ring perpetrated by a cadre of South African diplomats.

Saving the Day: They’re ordered to leave the case alone, but you know you can’t keep Murtaugh and Riggs from pursuing the bad guys — especially ones as nasty as Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland) and his second-in-command, Pieter Vorstedt (Derrick O’Connor). Things get a little dicey, of course — the original script had Riggs kicking the bucket in the final act — but our men emerge victorious and ready to reload for another sequel. “If you liked Lethal Weapon, you’ll like Lethal Weapon 2,” nodded the New York Times’ Caryn James. “It’s almost as simple as that.”


79%

The Other Guys

The Buddy Cops: Trigger-shy NYPD desk jockey Detective Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and his exceedingly reluctant partner, the much more aggressive Detective Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: Gamble’s pencil-pushing ways make him a liability under fire (not to mention the butt of department-wide jokes), but Hoitz has a few skeletons in his closet, too — including the time he accidentally shot Derek Jeter.

Saving the Day: Initially sent to investigate a permit violation, Gamble and Hoitz turn up a wide-ranging conspiracy involving an unscrupulous billionaire (Steve Coogan), a ruthless CEO (Anne Heche), and the NYPD pension fund. The entire department is against them, and their boss (Michael Keaton) is distracted with his second job at Bed, Bath & Beyond — can they collar the perp while delivering the funny? “The plot doesn’t always hold water and it has a tendency to ramble, but they don’t seem to care,” chuckled Betsy Sharkey for the Los Angeles Times. “And honestly, neither should you.”


67%

Red Heat

The Buddy Cops: Moscow police captain Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Chicago detective Art Ridzik (Jim Belushi), thrown together when a Soviet drug kingpin flees to the States after murdering Danko’s partner.

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: Ridzik is kind of a loudmouth, as well as a total schlub — which not only gives his superiors fits, but amps up the fish-out-of-water comedy that ensues once Danko muscles his way into the investigation.

Saving the Day: Things initially appear less than promising for our heroes — the bad guy, naturally named Viktor (Ed O’Ross), adds Ridzik’s partner to his list of casualties — but they eventually manage to find some common ground just in time to demolish half of Chicago before bringing him to justice. Although the involvement of director Walter Hill beggared a number of unfavorable comparisons to the superior 48 HRS, most critics had enough fun to give Red Heat a pass. “Walter Hill’s direction’s real cool, and the photography is beautiful,” wrote Kevin N. Laforest for the Montreal Film Journal. “The film is also pretty funny. The leads are great.”


57%

Running Scared

The Buddy Cops: Chicago detectives Danny Costanzo (Billy Crystal) and Ray Hughes (Gregory Hines).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: In a departure from the buddy-cop norm, neither Costanzo nor Hughes are buttoned-up and/or by the books; in fact, they’re both wisecracking goofballs with a disregard for procedure, which is why their captain (Dan Hedaya) forces them to take a vacation after they narrowly manage to collar a local drug kingpin (Jimmy Smits).

Saving the Day: While loafing in Florida, our heroes decide to quit the force — but when they get back to the city and discover that their perp has walked on a technicality, they return to the streets for one last takedown. Even in 1986, the audience knew exactly which beats Running Scared would hit and when it was going to hit them, but Hines and Crystal’s chemistry was more than enough to compensate for any lack of originality. “This genre is so overpopulated that it hardly seems like we need one more example,” agreed Roger Ebert, “yet Running Scared transcends its dreary roots and turns out to be a lot of fun.”


61%

Rush Hour

The Buddy Cops: Hong Kong detective Lee (Jackie Chan) and his LAPD counterpart Carter (Chris Tucker).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: Partly just to be heard over Carter’s rapid-fire, high-pitched squealing, but also because Carter’s arrogance almost ruins his and Lee’s investigation of a mysterious crime lord.

Saving the Day: Carter is brash and annoying, but he has reasons for his recklessness, and Lee is just the guy to show him the wisdom of reining in his impulsive attitude. It’s East meets West, and New Line Cinema meets franchise: Chan and Tucker’s delightful chemistry helped Rush Hour rack up nearly $250 million in global grosses, helping spawn a pair of sequels as well as a slew of critical praise from scribes such as Time Out’s Charlotte O’Sullivan, who wrote, “Much of the best dialogue, you suspect, was improvised by Tucker and Chan, who seem truly taken with each other and make a delightful, ordinary-extraordinary pair.”


89%

Stakeout

The Buddy Cops: Immaculately mustachioed Seattle detectives Lecce (Richard Dreyfuss) and Riemers (Emilio Estevez).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: Lecce is a grizzled vet who should know better than to go and fall in love with the gangster’s ex-girlfriend (Madeleine Stowe) that he and Riemers are supposed to be watching, but he’s suffering from post-divorce loneliness — not that it’s any consolation to the colleagues forced to wonder whether his loyalties have shifted once the con in question (Aidan Quinn) returns to his old tricks.

Saving the Day: Lecce and Riemers have a rather prickly working relationship — especially once Lecce starts leaving Riemers alone to man the binoculars while he’s off with his new lady friend. Do the partners bond over a final act that involves quips, firearms, and near-death experiences? If you’ve ever seen a buddy cop movie, you don’t even need to ask — but as Walter Goodman argued for the New York Times, “The director uses the conventions of the action-comedy in so adroit a way that you may even forget the hundred other films you’ve seen lately about a couple of cops kidding around with each other in between battling the bad guys.”


62%

Starsky & Hutch

The Buddy Cops: Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) and David Starsky (Ben Stiller).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: Mainly because they’re borderline incompetent — and because their commanding officer is the decidedly imposing Captain Doby, played by martial arts master and former AFL defensive back Fred Williamson, who can yell at anyone he wants.

Saving the Day: They don’t really trust each other and they’re both sort of useless, but as they fumble about in their pursuit of local drug kingpin Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn), Starsky and Hutch begin to develop a brotherly bond…although that’s really your only good choice after you’ve been involved in the accidental shooting death of a pony. Using the 1970s TV source material as an enthusiastically goofy showcase for Stiller and Wilson’s comedic chemistry, the result is good for more than a few laughs; as James Verniere wrote for the Boston Herald, “The film takes a bad but beloved 1970s TV series and transforms it into an experience of almost transcendent silliness.”


96%

Supercop

The Buddy Cops: Hong Kong cop “Kevin” Chan Ka-Kui (Jackie Chan) and Interpol director Jessica Yang (Michelle Yeoh).

Their Commanding Officer Yells a Lot Because: The third entry in Chan’s Police Story series, Supercop is definitely a buddy cop movie, but its Hong Kong origins kept it from falling prey to some of the genre’s more annoying cliches. For the most part, Ka-Kui and Yang are on the road during this story, and her upper-level status with Interpol helps keep any interference from commanding officers at bay.

Saving the Day: While they do engage in their share of bickering — Supercop‘s finale finds them arguing over whether the ill-gotten goods they’ve reclaimed should go to China or Hong Kong — for the most part, Ka-Kui and Yang make a pretty terrific team here, hunting down a drug lord known as Chaibat (Kenneth Tsang) and bringing his reign of terror to a suitably stunt-filled conclusion. Most Chan movies work a fair amount of humor into (and in between) all those spectacular set pieces, but this one whips up a particularly potent blend; as Stephen Hunter wrote for the Baltimore Sun, “By its second half, Supercop cranks up into such an extravaganza of fighting, blowing things up, spin-kicking, punch throwing and death-defying that it all but takes your breath out of your lungs and packs it up for shipment to Hong Kong.”


Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for 22 Jump Street.

Finally, here’s a clip from Turner and Hooch, in which a detective is paired with man’s best friend:

Vince Vaughn
Vegas, martinis, and the words “baby” and “money” helped launch Vince Vaughn‘s film career — and helped established him as an extraordinarily compelling cinematic scoundrel, a role he’s played repeatedly over the last decade and change. But that isn’t all Vaughn can do, as he’s proven while assembling an admirably eclectic filmography, moving from comedy to horror to action thrillers and back again, turning in memorable cameoes in films as diverse as Into the Wild, and Anchorman, and sharing screens with everyone from Richard Attenborough to Jennifer Lopez in the process. When HBO’s hit drama True Detective returns next year, Vaughn will take his place as one of the new season’s lead actors, and to celebrate, we decided to revisit his best-reviewed films, Total Recall style!


54%

10. A Cool, Dry Place

Based on Michael Grant Jaffe’s novel Dance Real Slow, 1998’s A Cool, Dry Place broke Vaughn’s string of rapscallions and ne’er-do-wells and gave him the first thoroughly sympathetic role of his career: Russell Durrell, a young lawyer struggling through single fatherhood after his wife (Monica Potter) abandons him and their five-year-old son (Bobby Moat). Despite a cast that also included Joey Lauren Adams, Place barely squeaked its way into theaters, grossing a few thousand dollars during a one-week run — and though many critics rolled their eyes at the film’s leisurely pace and heavy melodrama (Filmcritic’s Christopher Null accused the plot of “just [sitting] there like a stuffed monkey”), they were matched by scribes such as Sandra Contreras of TV Guide, who wrote, “Its heart is in the right place, but this sweet drama just doesn’t build enough true drama from its slender premise. That said, it’s not bad enough to merit the kind of stealth release its studio has imposed on it.”


60%

9. Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Take The War of the Roses, inject it with some loud, glossy, big-budget action, add a dash of potent sexy chemistry between your stars, and you’ve got 2005’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith — as well as a pretty fantastic formula for a blockbuster summer flick. Smith could easily have been overshadowed by all the tabloid speculation that dogged Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s relationship; this is, after all, the movie that gave the world Brangelina. But if filmgoers came for glimpses of real-life sparks, they stayed for the snappy one-liners in Simon Kinberg’s script, director Doug Liman’s well-staged (albeit thoroughly ludicrous) action set pieces, a terrific supporting cast that included Vince Vaughn, Kerry Washington, Angela Bassett, and character actor extraordinaire Keith David, as well as the sheer spectacle of two very attractive people dispatching bad guys and blowing stuff up while they decide whether they want to stay married or kill each other. It certainly isn’t high art, but the movie has a fizzy charm that Roger Ebert summed up by writing, “What makes the movie work is that Pitt and Jolie have fun together on the screen, and they’re able to find a rhythm that allows them to be understated and amused even during the most alarming developments.”


60%

8. Old School

After 2000’s The Cell, Vaughn was relatively quiet for a few years; although he appeared in a pair of major releases (Domestic Disturbance and Made, both released in 2001), he spent much of his time in films whose appeal was more, uh, selective (The Prime Gig, I Love Your Work). It took another testosterone-heavy ensemble comedy to remind audiences what made the Swingers star famous — and okay, so Old School ended up being stolen by Will Ferrell, but Vaughn got his share of laughs, too, and it foreshadowed his funny roles in Anchorman and Starsky & Hutch. A not inconsiderable number of critics dismissed Old School‘s raunchy lowbrow humor, but the majority agreed with Cinerina’s Karina Montgomery, who gasped, “I can’t believe it, but I want to see it again.”


61%

7. Clay Pigeons

After making a splash with Swingers, Vaughn hit the ground running, booking roles in several years’ worth of big-budget productions, including 1997’s Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World, and the costly Jennifer Lopez flop The Cell. Between the tentpoles, however, Vaughn hadn’t lost his taste for the odd lower-profile project — like Clay Pigeons, a Ridley Scott-produced black comedy about a drifter (Vaughn) who uses his imagined friendship with a casual acquaintance (Joaquin Phoenix) as the impetus for a homicidal, Throw Momma from the Train-style “favor.” Playing a charming, murderous lunatic helped prep Vaughn for the starring role in Gus Van Sant’s Psycho remake — and while Pigeons didn’t make much of an impression at the box office, it earned the admiration of critics like the Palo Alto Weekly’s Jeanne Aufmuth, who wrote, “This is not your classic whodunit. It’s blacker, funnier, and edgier.”


62%

6. Starsky & Hutch

The overlap on the Venn diagram between Dodgeball and Wedding Crashers, 2004’s Starsky & Hutch stars Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as the titular detectives — and Vaughn as Reese Feldman, the bar mitzvah-throwing drug kingpin who’s responsible for pushing a new, untraceable form of cocaine. While a number of critics were turned off by the way the movie enthusiastically embraced its cheesy television roots, for most, it was too goofily good-natured to resist — right down to Snoop Dogg’s appearance as the streetwise police informant known as Huggy Bear. It is, wrote Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post, “A really good not-great movie, the kind that would be classified as a guilty pleasure were it not executed with guilt-free honesty and good nature.”


71%

5. Dodgeball – A True Underdog Story

Vaughn has an admirably varied resume, having done everything from thrillers to dramas to comedies, but if forced to choose, most people would probably say he works most successfully as half of a comic duo. Enter 2004’s Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, which pits Vaughn against a hilariously over-the-top Ben Stiller in a fight to the finish to be decided by bouncy rubber balls traveling at punishingly high speeds. The idea of a movie about grown men playing professional dodge ball is funny all by itself, and when you have the added benefit of a cast stuffed with funny supporting players (including Jason Bateman, Gary Cole, Stephen Root, and Rip Torn), you’re almost assured of a movie that’ll make at least two-thirds of its audience laugh — and, as it turns out, 70 percent of the world’s top critics. Of course, there were a few curmudgeons turned off by Dodgeball‘s broad humor, but most reviews echoed the sentiments of Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, who wrote, “This masterpiece of modern cinema depends upon a single truism: A guy getting hit in the nuts a hundred times in a row is funny a hundred times.”


71%

4. Return to Paradise

This Joseph Ruben-directed remake of the 1989 French movie Force majeure arrived during a period when American filmmakers were apparently pretty fascinated with the travails of reckless U.S. tourists in Southeast Asian prisons — Brokedown Palace was released a year later, and both films were compared unfavorably with Alan Parker’s Midnight Express. Starring Vaughn, Joaquin Phoenix, and David Conrad as a trio of pot-puffing Malaysian tourists who inadvertently run afoul of the law, Paradise took a familiar plot device — innocent American awaiting death in a foreign prison — and added a new wrinkle: Vaughn and Conrad, safe on U.S. soil, are told they can save Phoenix from being hanged, but only if they return to Malaysia to do hard time. Though the script wasn’t without its fair share of contrivances, Paradise‘s thorny moral dilemma was enough to satisfy most critics, and even those who didn’t give the movie their stamp of approval tended to find positive aspects — like Luisa F. Ribeiro of Boxoffice Magazine, who wrote, “Vaughn labors mightily under the obviousness of the script, while managing to reveal a fragile but profound fear of being an aging frat boy who longs to realize a finer, better self, only to be petrified that quality isn’t within him.”


71%

3. Made

Five years after they gave each other their big break in Swingers, Vaughn and Jon Favreau reunited — this time, with Favreau behind the camera in addition to writing the script — for the mob comedy Made. Starring Vaughn and Favreau as a pair of low-level Mafia knuckleheads, Made took their funny, fast-paced banter, surrounded it with a bigger budget, and added drugs, violence, and Sean “Diddy” Combs. Predictably, critics couldn’t help but compare Made to its surprise hit predecessor — and just as predictably, these comparisons didn’t do Made any favors. Still, even if Made didn’t reach Swingers‘ lofty critical heights (and barely made back its budget), Vaughn and Favreau’s chemistry remained potent enough to impress critics like Hollywood.com’s Stacie Hougland, who wrote, “Vaughn hits the bullseye as a strident, volatile jerk who can’t keep his mouth shut. You never really like him, but you can’t wait to see what he’ll do next — his missteps and offenses are so unbelievable you wince, but you can’t look away.”


76%

2. Wedding Crashers

Part of the R-rated comedy renaissance of the aughts, Wedding Crashers may not have given Vaughn the opportunity to do anything new — here, he appears as Jeremy Grey, a lech with a heart of gold who isn’t terribly dissimilar from the character he played in Swingers — but it played squarely to Vaughn’s comedic gifts, had a solid Steve Faber/Bob Fisher script, and surrounded Vaughn and his co-star, Owen Wilson, with some terrific supporting talent, including Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, and Isla Fisher as the crazy nymphomaniac who thrills and torments Vaughn in equal measure. Though some critics had problems with Crashers‘ uneven tone — and the scads of gratuitous flesh on display in the movie’s opening montage — most found it too much fun to resist. “The likes of the sneakily subversive Wilson and Vaughn deserve better,” wrote MaryAnn Johnson of Flick Filosopher, “but this is darn close to a perfect showcase for what they can do, and how much better they do it together.”


87%

1. Swingers

Somehow, we doubt many of you are surprised that this list ends where it all began for Vince Vaughn — specifically, with his scene-stealing turn as the appealingly smarmy Trent Walker, best bud to Jon Favreau’s sad sack Mike Peters. Favreau may have written the script, but it was Vaughn who ended up with many of Swingers‘ best lines — and although it’s true that those lines inspired countless wannabe hipsters to pronounce various persons and objects as “so money” for years to come, that’s just an unfortunate byproduct of the movie’s immense likability, and Vaughn’s seemingly effortless cool in the role, which showcased his gifts for comedy and drama. “Four guys hang out, kid one another, get into scuffles and flash their gonadal searchlight for available women,” wrote Time’s Richard Corliss. “Yikes, haven’t there been enough variations on the multiple-buddy movie? Actually, no.”


In case you were wondering, here are Vaughn’s top 10 movies according to RT users’ scores:

1. Swingers — 89%
2. Old School — 86%
3. Dodgeball – A True Underdog Story — 76%
4. Return to Paradise — 76%
5. Wedding Crashers — 70%
6. Made — 68%
7. Clay Pigeons — 67%
8. A Cool, Dry Place — 61%
9. Mr. and Mrs. Smith — 58%
10. The Cell — 57%


Take a look through Vaughn’s complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for The Watch.

 

Maybe Ice Cube had better hold off a bit on getting that mohawk for The A-Team. Woody Harrelson, though? He’s got a part ready for the taking.

So says director John Singleton, who found himself standing next to Collider‘s Frosty in a valet line last Friday, and was gracious enough to spend a few minutes talking about his plans for Fox’s big-screen adaptation of the ’80s television hit. While not specifically addressing rumors of Ice Cube stepping into Mr. T‘s gold chains as B.A. Baracus, Singleton did say the following:

“I don’t know who is in the cast yet, so all this…saying who is this person and who is…nobody is playing Mr. T — the character’s name is B.A. Baracus, he will have a Mohawk and there is a moment in the movie where he actually gets the Mohawk cause he’s going crazy. And I don’t know who is in the cast yet…but I do know that the only person I want right now is, that I really, really want is Woody Harrelson to play Murdock — the guy who is crazy but he’s kind of real smart, a jack of all trades. That’s the only person I really, really want.”

Harrelson as “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock. Pretty perfect, no?

Singleton also identified the writers responsible for the script’s most recent rewrite (Michael Brandt and Derek Haas), and took pains to clarify his vision for the movie’s overall tone:

It’s not a comic movie farce like Starsky and Hutch, it’s kind of in the tradition of the ’80s action pictures, the man’s movies like Die Hard, Predator, Commando, or even Lethal Weapon…The action is very serious, but there is humor. That’s what we are going for.

Finally (and unsurprisingly), anyone who signs on will need to agree to a multi-picture deal, as Singleton and the studio are eyeing The A-Team as a potential franchise. How does some sequel money sound, Woody?

Source: Collider

Ashton Kutcher fans get two chances to see (or hear) their favorite star this weekend as the Hollywood prankster takes on reigning box office champ "Jackass: Number Two" by voicing a mule deer in the animated comedy "Open Season" and going up against Kevin Costner in the action drama "The Guardian."

Also opening nationally is the Billy Bob ThorntonJon Heder comedy "School For Scoundrels" while some potential Oscar contenders debut in the arthouses.

Hollywood’s umpteenth computer-animated feature film of the year hits multiplexes on Friday in the form of "Open Season." The PG-rated pic features the voices of Martin Lawrence and Kutcher and finds a domesticated grizzly bear being dropped into the wilderness right before the start of hunting season. Young kids usually eat up these fish-out-of-water comedy toons and this Sony release should play to the same family audience. The target demographic has had an endless line of movies this year featuring talking animals getting into wacky situations, but since the current marketplace is lacking any major offering for children, "Open Season" should score as the first animated hit of the new school year. The studio is saturating the market with screens giving the film the fourth widest bow ever for a non-DreamWorks toon, and the second widest in Sony history for any film after 2004’s webslinger sequel. With no competition and solid funnyman starpower behind the mics, a strong number one bow could result. "Open Season" makes its way into 3,833 theaters and may debut with around $24M this weekend.


Ashton Kutcher, in his other film, "Open Season."

For those who would rather see the "Punk’d" star’s face, Buena Vista sets sail with its Coast Guard thriller "The Guardian" which finds Kutcher playing a young and cocky swimming champ who butts heads with his unorthodox teacher played by Kevin Costner. Directed by Andrew Davis ("The Fugitive," "Collateral Damage"), the PG-13 film has broad appeal with each star pulling in his respective generation. Cross-gender appeal is also present with the military-like storyline doing the job for males and the hunky actors attracting the ladies. Disney offered successful sneak previews two weeks ago to get some word-of-mouth spreading before the official debut. The studio will try to lure in the same audience that spent a solid $22.1M on the John TravoltaJoaquin Phoenix firefighter drama "Ladder 49" two autumns ago. Launching in over 3,000 theaters, "The Guardian" might debut with about $18M.


Kevin Costner to the rescue in "The Guardian."

Following his commercial success with the male-driven comedy hits "Road Trip," "Old School," and "Starsky & Hutch," Todd Phillips returns to theaters with "School for Scoundrels" which finds Billy Bob Thornton squaring off against "Napoleon Dynamite"’s Jon Heder for the affection of a young gal. MGM’s PG-13 film about an awkward young misfit who enlists the help of an expert on getting the ladies should aim for an audience of teens and young adults, plus fans of the "Bad Santa" star’s rogue ways. Starpower is not very high here. Films anchored by the former Mr. Jolie usually don’t explode on opening weekend as evidenced by the recent debuts of "The Bad News Bears" ($11.4M), "The Ice Harvest" ($3.7M), and "The Alamo" ($9.1M). Competition for young males will be tough, but if "School" can connect with teen girls as a funny romantic comedy, then it has a chance of doing some respectable numbers. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, "School for Scoundrels" might debut with about $12M.


Thornton, Heder, and that Real World chick again in "School For Scoundrels."

Some high profile indies pop into limited release this weekend. Fox Searchlight launched its Idi Amin pic "The Last King of Scotland" in four theaters on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles and has already been receiving early Oscar buzz for Forest Whitaker‘s portrayal of the Ugandan dictator. Coincidentally, a year ago this same weekend, "Capote" debuted and fueled its own Best Actor buzz which sustained itself throughout awards season leading to a trophy for Philip Seymour Hoffman. Reviews for "Scotland" have been good and for Whitaker, have been electric.


Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."

Miramax gets its Oscar campaign going, but for the Best Actress prize, with its Helen Mirren film "The Queen" which opens in New York City on Saturday after it officially opens the New York Film Festival on Friday evening. Mirren has already taken home the top actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in the dark days after the death of Princess Diana. The PG-13 film is directed by Stephen Frears ("Mrs. Henderson Presents," "Dangerous Liaisons") and has ranked number two at the U.K. box office for the last two weeks.

First Look Studios takes audiences back to Queens in 1986 with its coming-of-age drama "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" which stars Robert Downey Jr., Chazz Palminteri, Shia LaBeouf, Dianne Wiest, Channing Tatum, and Rosario Dawson. The R-rated film won awards for Best Director and Best Ensemble at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and bows in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.

Last weekend, "Jackass: Number Two" flexed its muscles at the box office with a better-than-expected $29M launch. The Paramount film’s predecessor dropped 44% in its second weekend in the fall of 2002, but the sequel may drop harder. A 50% decline would still give the Johnny Knoxville flick about $15M for the weekend and a strong ten-day cume of $51M.

Jet Li‘s "Fearless" also drew upon a built-in audience of young men last weekend setting itself up for a sizable sophomore drop. The Focus title might also lose half of its business and take in roughly $5M. That would give the martial arts saga $18M after ten days. Sony’s "Gridiron Gang" held up well last weekend despite tough competition. Another 35% fall could be in order giving The Rock a $6M frame and a $34M total after 17 days.

LAST YEAR: For the second straight weekend, Jodie Foster‘s airline thriller "Flightplan" topped the box office with $14.8M dropping only 40% from its bow. Opening in second place was the sci-fi actioner "Serenity" which grossed $10.1M on its way to $25.4M for Universal. Warner Bros. followed close behind with $10M for its animated comedy "Corpse Bride." The revenge thriller "A History of Violence" expanded nationally and placed fourth with $8.1M and a solid $6,047 average which was the best in the whole Top 20. Opening in fifth was the Jessica-Alba-in-a-bikini pic "Into the Blue" with only $7.1M leading to a weak $18.5M final for Sony. Disney debuted its historical golf drama "The Greatest Game Ever Played" to the tune of $3.7M. A $15.3M final gross resulted.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The Johnny Depp juggernaut Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest remained the most popular film in North America for a second weekend easily defending its box office crown against two new comedies that fought bitterly for the runnerup spot.

According to studio estimates, Sony’s Little Man narrowly edged out Universal’s You, Me and Dupree opening in second and third, respectively. With less than $400,000 separating the two new releases, chart positions could change when final numbers are tabulated on Monday.

Disney shattered more box office records with its runaway smash Pirates which hauled in an estimated $62.2M in its second weekend in theaters to boost its ten-day total to an eye-popping $258.2M. That’s the largest ten-day start of any film in history and the fastest any movie has cracked the quarter-billion dollar mark beating the old records which were both set last summer by Star Wars Episode III. The final Jedi sequel collected $236.9M in its first ten days and surged to $255.6M in its eleventh day.

Pirates did suffer a sizable 54% drop from its record-breaking opening weekend, however a large decline was widely expected since it had already absorbed such a massive amount of business when it entered its sophomore frame. Second weekend declines for the summer’s other big-budget tentpole pictures were larger including 56% for The Da Vinci Code, 59% for Superman Returns, and 67% for X-Men: The Last Stand. In just ten days, Dead Man’s Chest has quickly become the top-grossing film of 2006 and now sits at number 34 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of Monsters, Inc. which grossed $255.9M in 2001.

The high seas adventure also enjoyed the third best second weekend gross ever trailing the $72.2M of 2004’s Shrek 2 and the $71.4M of 2002’s Spider-Man. Pirates is already the seventh biggest film ever for Disney and the fourth largest among live-action pics for the studio. The Mouse House also scored its 13th film to top the $200M mark which is the most of any Hollywood studio.Where can Captain Jack Sparrow sail to from here? The triple-century barrier should come crashing down by next weekend as the megablockbuster sequel continues on a trajectory that could see it loot $350-400M from the domestic market alone.

Opening in second place with an estimated $21.7M was Little Man starring Marlon and Shawn Wayans from director Keenan Ivory Wayans. The $64M Sony release averaged a stellar $8,567 from 2,533 theaters and tells the story of a diminutive crook who masquerades as a toddler in order to retrieve a stolen diamond. Teens and young adults made up the core crowd as studio data indicated that 59% of the audience was under the age of 25. Women slightly outnumbered the guys with 53% of the crowd. Reviews were mostly negative.

Little Man enjoyed an opening that was similar to that of the last effort by the Wayans brothers, White Chicks. That Sony comedy bowed on a Wednesday in June 2004 with a Friday-to-Sunday take of $19.7M as part of a $27.2M five-day launch on its way to $69.1M. The studio reported encouraging exit polls for Man with 85% marking it "excellent" or "very good." If estimates hold, it will be the third consecutive second place opening for Keenan Ivory Wayans after 2001’s Scary Movie 2 and White Chicks which were also summer comedies.

Close behind with an estimated $21.3M debut was Universal’s new comedy You, Me and Dupree. The PG-13 film averaged a solid $6,815 from 3,131 theaters and stars Owen Wilson as a houseguest who crashes in the home of a newlywed couple played by Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon. The $54M film played mostly to young adults in their twenties and thirties and skewed more towards women. Studio research indicated that 58% of the audience was under the age of 30 and 58% was female. Reviews were not very favorable. Dupree opened below the levels of Wilson’s previous hits like Starsky & Hutch which bowed to $28.1M in March 2004 and the $33.9M of Wedding Crashers which debuted one year ago this weekend.

While both new comedies opened with roughly the same weekend gross, and chart positions could change on Monday, it was Little Man that clearly delivered the more impressive performance. Playing in 600 fewer theaters, the Wayans brothers attracted enough of an audience to still sell the same amount of tickets and generated a per-theater average that was 26% stronger than Dupree’s. The Owen Wilson film however, cost $10M less to produce as it did not need to rely on costly special effects.

In its third battle against the forces of box office evil, the big-budget super hero flick Superman Returns fell to fourth place with an estimated $11.6M. Off a moderate 47%, the Warner Bros. pic lifted its cume to $163.7M after 19 days. The Man of Steel is well behind the $192.4M that War of the Worlds collected over the same period last year, but a bit ahead of Men in Black II‘s $158.1M from July 2002. However, those pricey pics posted stronger third weekend grosses of $15.2M and $14.6M, respectively. Superman Returns remains on a course to fly to $190-200M domestically which is less than what most in the industry were expecting from the Bryan Singer film.

Superman flew into over a dozen new countries around the world this weekend and grossed an estimated $38M from 36 markets to boost its international cume to $77M. In most territories, the comic book pic rocketed straight to number one, however in the United Kingdom it scored a solid number two bow behind the sophomore weekend of Pirates.

Despite competition from two new comedies, Meryl Streep held up well with her hit The Devil Wears Prada which grossed an estimated $10.5M in its third session. Down a little more than 30%, the Fox release has commanded an impressive $83.6M and is heading for the vicinity of $115M.

For the third straight weekend, the Disney/Pixar toon Cars enjoyed the smallest drop in the top ten and slipped less than 30% to an estimated $7.5M. After its sixth weekend, the G-rated blockbuster has upped its cume to a sturdy $219.7M passing The Da Vinci Code to become the third highest grossing film of the year after the Pirates and X-Men sequels. Cars is running 6% behind the pace of Pixar’s last film The Incredibles after the same amount of time, but is 3% ahead of the company’s Monsters, Inc. Those pics ended up with $261.4M and $255.3M, respectively. Cars looks to have enough gas in its tank to be able to reach $250M. Barring any surprise megahits, that would give Disney the two biggest blockbusters of the summer season. Coincidentally, the studio also ruled the 2003 summer contest with the first Pirates and Pixar’s Finding Nemo both crossing the $300M threshold.

Adam Sandler followed close behind in seventh with Click which fell 41% to an estimated $7M in its fourth frame. With $119.7M in the bank, the Sony release is still running a bit ahead of the studio’s 2003 Sandler vehicle Anger Management which collected $115.3M at the same point on its way to $135.6M. Click should be able to reach $135-140M.

The Lake House starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock grossed an estimated $1.6M, off 45%, for a $48.9M total. The Warner Bros. romance should end with a respectable $53M. Paramount’s Nacho Libre laughed up an estimated $1.5M, down 54%, putting its sum at $77.1M. Jack Black‘s wrestling comedy looks to go home with around $81M.

Warner Independent Pictures expanded its animated crime drama A Scanner Darkly from 17 to 216 theaters nationwide and hit the top ten with an estimated $1.2M. Richard Linklater‘s R-rated film averaged a healthy $5,486 per location and raised its cume to $1.8M. The Keanu Reeves-starrer will stay in roughly the same number of locations this coming weekend.

With a brutal heat wave hitting much of the country, audiences continued to flock to the hit global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth which slipped a scant 5% to an estimated $1.1M. Now in its eighth weekend of release, the Paramount Vantage title finished a hair out of the top ten and has taken in a solid $17M.

Three films from the Universal Studios family fell from the top ten over the weekend. The racing sequel The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift dropped 59% to an estimated $1M in its fifth lap pushing its domestic total to $59.7M. The $75M actioner has grossed an additional $42M overseas and continues to open in new countries each week. In North America, look for a final take of $61M.

The Break-Up fell 52% to an estimated $777,000 giving the Vince VaughnJennifer Aniston comedy $116M to date. The $52M production should end its relationship with theaters at $118M. Internationally, Break-Up has grossed $24.5M thus far with major European markets like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy still to come between now and September. The Focus Features actioner Waist Deep tumbled 63% to an estimated $695,000 putting its cume at $20.7M. Little more is expected for the inexpensive film which might close with around $22M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $146.1M which was off 4% from last year when Johnny Depp‘s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory debuted at number one with $56.2M; but up 8% from 2004 when Will Smith‘s I, Robot opened in the top spot with $52.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

A pair of new star-driven comedies will try to steal away some treasure from the record-breaking hit Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in a laugh-filled battle for the number two slot.

Universal launches You, Me and Dupree starring Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, and Matt Dillon while Sony counters with Little Man anchored by Marlon and Shawn Wayans. Neither film, though, is expected to come close to the massive second weekend haul that Johnny Depp will take away as his blockbuster sequel looks to shatter the quarter-billion mark in a mere ten days.

52 weeks after Wedding Crashers opened to stellar business, Owen Wilson returns to the big screen playing a slacker in his mid-thirties who moves in with his best friend and his wife who are a newlywed couple. The PG-13 film stars Hudson and Dillon as the lucky duo while Michael Douglas plays the father to Hudson’s character. The date crowd will be the primary audience here and like most romantic comedies, Dupree should skew a little more female. However, the starpower and the concept give the film solid male appeal so both genders should show interest which will be important. Though formulaic and predictable as can be, the Universal release does offer up lots of laughs which will work with audiences willing to check their brain at the door.

As the anchor, Wilson has seen his share of box office hits, especially when there are other stars surrounding him. The R-rated Wedding Crashers with Vince Vaughn bowed to $33.9M this weekend a year ago, 2004’s Starsky and Hutch with Ben Stiller opened to $28.1M, and his last Jackie Chan action-comedy Shanghai Knights debuted to $19.6M. The blonde funnyman plays the exact same character for the umpteenth time, but somehow audiences keep buying it.

June has served up a steady diet of hit comedies like The Break-Up, Click, and The Devil Wears Prada so audiences are certainly not starving for a laugh right now. Competition will be tough and Little Man’s arrival will take away some folks looking for a chuckle too. Even Pirates, which packs a hundred laughs into its two-and-a-half-hour package, will be a factor. But Dupree does offer four big and likable stars even if Douglas has been underutilized in the marketing campaign. The plot has come across very clear in the advertising which is crucial. And the same audience that powered March’s Failure to Launch to a $24.4M opening could be out once again for this one. Making itself comfortable in 3,131 locations, You, Me and Dupree could gross around $22M this weekend.

For the fourth time in seven summers, the Wayans brothers regroup for some raunchy fun in Little Man opening this Friday. Keenan is once again at the helm while younger siblings Marlon and Shawn take to the screen in another high concept story. This time, a pint-sized criminal disguises himself as a toddler in order to uncover a stolen diamond from an unsuspecting couple. CGI allows Marlon to become a little man and laughter ensues. The Wayans clan last hit theaters two years ago in White Chicks which opened to $19.6M and a five-day $27.2M take. Little Man’s plot is not as catchy as Chick’s, but much of their loyal fan base is still likely to give it a try.

Sony has been pushing its latest summer comedy heavily, but with so many other laughers in the marketplace right now, some of the audience will get split. The Wayans team has always had a strong urban following which will once again be out in solid numbers. Waist Deep has been the only summer film anchored by black stars so an underserved audience is sure to come out and drive ticket sales. With about 600 fewer theaters than Dupree, Little Man is likely to find itself debuting in third place with an average that will challenge Owen’s. Poor reviews should not make a difference and a PG-13 rating will open the doors to a large teen crowd that might find Dupree to be too mature. Hiding out in 2,533 theaters, Little Man could make off with about $18M over the weekend.

Dead Man’s Chest set off the kind of box office fireworks last weekend that the industry has never seen before with a towering $135.6M opening and a per-theater average of nearly $33,000 from more than 4,000 locations. Despite its popularity, the Disney smash is bound to see a substantial drop this time coming off of such a large number. Spider-Man, which previously held the record for the largest opening weekend, dropped only 38% in its second session in May 2002 while fellow megahit Star Wars Episode III fell 49%. However, the webslinger was not a sequel and did not have Thursday night preview grosses during its debut frame, and the final Jedi flick had the Memorial Day holiday prevent its decline from surging too high.

Even though audiences are happy with Johnny Depp and his motley crew in their second adventure, big budget summer sequels like Chest are made to erode quickly. Plus with no holiday or expansion to soften the blow, sales could get sliced in half and then some. Weekday sales have been red hot with the Davy Jones pic looting $18.1M on Monday and $15.7M on Tuesday. By the end of its first full week in theaters, Disney should have more than $190M in its chest. A weekend fall to about $66M would give Pirates the third largest sophomore weekend gross in history after Shrek 2 ($72.2M) and Spider-Man ($71.4M). Coincidentally, all three franchises will launch their third installments next May. After only ten days, Captain Jack Sparrow would drink down an amazing $261M worth of rum.

Superman Returns has been completely overshadowed by Pirates. Its 59% sophomore fall last weekend was troubling but this weekend’s decline should stabilize to around 50%. No new action films will be opening which is good news to Warner Bros. A weekend gross of about $11M would give the Man of Steel $163M in 19 days.

Meryl Streep‘s The Devil Wears Prada is likely to see more competition from Dupree than from Little Man.this weekend. A 40% drop would give Fox a weekend take of about $9M and a 17-day cume of $81M surpassing the $71.4M of 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary which was also based on a best-selling book.

LAST YEAR: Starting an annual tradition, Johnny Depp was the handsome groom and Owen Wilson settled for the best man spot at the mid-July box office. The dashing pirate reteamed with his favorite filmmaker Tim Burton for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which opened impressively at number one with a $56.2M debut. The Warner Bros. remake would go on to collect $206.5M domestically and over $470M worldwide. Premiering in its shadow at number two was Wedding Crashers starring Wilson and one of his favorite co-stars Vince Vaughn. The New Line sleeper smash bowed to $33.9M but enjoyed amazing legs and eventually outperformed Charlie in North America with $209.2M. The global gross reached a terrific $285M. Dropping 59% to third place was Fantastic Four with $22.8M in its sophomore frame for Fox. More effects-driven actioners rounded out the top five. Paramount’s War of the Worlds grossed $15.2M and Batman Begins captured $6M for Warners.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got some unwanted houseguests, in the guise of a guy with a bad case of arrested development ("You, Me and Dupree," starring Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon) and a pint-sized thief on the lam ("Little Man," starring Marlon and Shawn Wayans). Will the critics be welcoming, or will they boot these flicks into the street?

Owen Wilson has made a side career of crashing things. He (literally and figuratively) crashed weddings in "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "Wedding Crashers," and now, in "You, Me and Dupree," he’s crashing on the couch of uptight newlyweds, played by Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon (who’s been involved in a "Crash" of his own). The plot involves the recently jobless Wilson, whose free-wheeling antics get under the skin of his hosts. While the critics say "Dupree" is reasonably warm and fun, it’s inconsistent and lacks the real comic punch to be anything more than mildly amiable. At 22 percent on the Tomatometer, "Dupree" may not be for you and me.


An unemployed Owen Wilson considers a career as an interior decorator.

Shawn and Marlon Wayans‘ previous film, "White Chicks," has legions of guilty defenders, despite (or, perhaps more accurately, because of) the fact that it’s tasteless, ludicrous, and often downright bizarre. Now they’re back with "Little Man," the story of a diminutive thief who poses as a baby in order to infiltrate the home of a suburban couple unwittingly in possession of stolen goods (said couple wisely takes the baby in, despite the fact that he has a mouthful of teeth). The question among critics is not whether "Little Man" is a good movie, but whether it contains laughs. Many say no, some resoundingly so, but for those of you who treasure lowbrow humor, politely ignore "Little Man"’s Tomatometer of 20 percent.


What’s the least realistic thing in this picture? I say it’s the fact that no babies wear bonnets like that anymore. Or the tat. One or the other.

Also opening this week, albeit in limited release: Francois Ozon‘s latest, "Time to Leave," is at 87 percent on the Tomatometer; "Gabrielle," starring Isabelle Huppert, is at 73 percent; "Changing Times," starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu, is at 70 percent; the black comedy "Mini’s First Time" is at 50 percent; the David Mamet adaptation "Edmond" is at 33 percent; Ed Burns‘ latest guy-bonding flick "The Groomsmen" is at 29 percent; and the sex comedy "The Oh in Ohio" is at 24 percent.

Recent Owen Wilson Movies:
————————————
76% — Cars (2006)
75% — Wedding Crashers (2005)
51% — The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
63% — Starsky and Hutch (2004)
17% — The Big Bounce (2004)

Recent Movies Written and Starring Marlon and Shawn Wayans:
——————————————————————————
13% — White Chicks (2004)
11% — Scary Movie 2 (2001)
52% — Scary Movie (2000)
24% — Don’t Be A Menace… (1996)

This week at the movies brings us "The Break-Up," a hotly-anticipated dark comedy featuring two actors whose faces are criminally under-documented by the paparazzi. What do the critics say?


"The Break-Up:" This wouldn’t have happened if she just had a couple more pieces of flair.

Critical Consensus has had a couple bad breakups in the past. Fortunately, CC has some really good friends who are always available to provide pep talks. They have said, "Move on! Get over it! It’s all good!" Unfortunately for "The Break-Up," starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, the critics just can’t move on. They can’t get over it. The film, billed as an "anti-romantic comedy," tells the story of a couple in the final death spiral of a relationship, the inverse of typical Hollywood rom-com fare. It’s an intriguing idea (kinda like a Frat-Pack version of Bergman‘s "Scenes from a Marriage"), but the critics say that two of contemporary cinema’s most likeable actors stranded in a tonally schizophrenic plot with unfunny bickering that is simply hard to watch. At 22 percent on the Tomatometer, this one can’t catch a "Break."


"District B13:" Seriously kids, do not try this at home.

In limited release this week, French martial arts thriller "District B13" currently stands at 88 percent on the Tomatometer; the Iraq documentary "The War Tapes" is at 92 percent; indie comedy "The Puffy Chair" is at 75 percent; "Favela Rising," a doc about Brazilian political unrest, is at 60 percent; the Floridian noir "Coastlines" is at 50 percent; "Peaceful Warrior," starring a philosophical Nick Nolte, is at 40 percent; and the South Korean action thriller "Typhoon" is at 17 percent.

Recent Jennifer Aniston Movies:
—————————————-
68% — Friends with Money (2006)
21% — Derailed (2005)
18% — Rumor Has It (2005)
26% — Along Came Polly (2004)
51% — Bruce Almighty (2003)

Recent Vince Vaughn Movies:
————————————
69% — Thumbsucker (2005)
74% — Wedding Crashers (2005)
29% — Be Cool (2005)
70% — Dodgeball (2004)
63% — Starsky & Hutch (2004)

There was lots of hand-wringing and second-guessing among the X-Men fans when "Rush Hour" director Brett Ratner was tapped to helm "X-Men: The Last Stand," but the guy kept his head down and focused on his biggest project to date … and then sat down for an interview with IGN FilmForce.

IGNFF: Obviously this is a movie where you have a ton of outside analysis going on from the fans. Did you try to set that aside while making the film?

RATNER: Yeah. I mean, when I got the movie, I spoke to Bryan [Singer], and he said, "Let me give you one good bit of advice." I said "okay," and he said, "Don’t read Aint it Cool News. I’m like, "Why?" He’s like, "They’re just gonna talk s*** about you, and they did the exact same thing about me. They did the exact same thing when I did the first X-Men." So I kind of stayed away from it and just focused on making the film.

IGNFF: So what do you think the people criticizing you will say when they actually see the film?

RATNER: Oh, I think they’ll be eating crow! I think so. Because the movie came out great. I’m really proud of it.

"X-Men: The Last Stand" opens on the last Friday in May.

Character actor Chris Penn was found dead Tuesday at a Santa Monica apartment. He was 43 years old.

Police are investigating the death but have found no signs of foul play.

The younger brother of fellow actor Sean and musician Michael, Penn was well known for supporting roles in over fifty films including "Reservoir Dogs," "Best of the Best 2," and "Rush Hour." He had a role in 1983’s "Rumble Fish" before making an impression a year later in "Footloose" as Kevin Bacon‘s best friend with two left feet, lent his voice to the "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" video game, and recently appeared in "Starsky & Hutch."

Chris Penn filmed at least four independent films that have yet to be released, including "The Darwin Awards," which premieres Wednesday at the Sundance Film Festival. With a recognizable cast that includes Joseph Fiennes, Winona Ryder, David Arquette and Juliette Lewis, and helmed by writer-director Finn Taylor ("Cherish"), "Darwin" looks to have a good shot at landing a distribution deal this year.

Prior to his death, Penn also filmed "King of Sorrow" with director Damian Lee ("Ski School") as well as the crime drama "Aftermath," both of which are still in post-production. Last year he appeared in the unreleased "Holly" with Ron Livingston and Udo Kier.

Check out Sundance features by Rotten Tomatoes:

Sundance Full Coverage
Sundance Blog
Sundance Discussion

Variety reports that Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder will co-star in a remake of the 1960 comedy "School for Scoundrels," with Todd ("Road Trip") Phillips in the director’s chair.

The "School" will soon be set up at Weinstein’s Dimension label. Screenwriter Scot Armstrong, who has already collaborated with Mr. Phillips on "Road Trip," "Staraky & Hutch," and "Old School," will be assuming his co-scribe position.

"Heder plays a down-on-his-luck meter reader who enrolls in a confidence-building class so he can win the love of his dream girl. The class turns out to be something quite different once it becomes clear to the young man that his professor (Thornton) has set his sights on the same woman."

Dimension plans to start shooting in October in preparation for a late-spring / early-summer release.

This week’s wide releases blend the sweet and the sour. Sweet, like the taste of chocolate or true love; sour, like unabashed excess or scoundrel-like behavior. Will critics develop a taste for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" or "Wedding Crashers?"

"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" is one of the most beloved children’s films of all time, so naturally there was some trepidation when it was announced that Tim Burton would be remaking it. Well, it appears those concerns were as misplaced as Veruca Salt’s self-regard. Critics are biting into this eye-catching confection, which tells the surreal tale of five lucky kids who win a trip inside the world of the eccentric candy magnate Wonka (played by Johnny Depp). At 88 percent on the Tomatometer, the reviewers say it’s a visual treat, wondrous and demented in equal measure. Nonetheless, it’s still a bit short of the original "Willy Wonka," which notched a 96 percent on the Tomatometer.

Frat-packers Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are two very funny guys, and much of their appeal revolves around the fact that they are each in a state of arrested development, with a hint of desperation. In "Wedding Crashers," they play two thirtysomething dudes on the make who have found the perfect racket: the wedding scene, where women are in the mood for love. The critics are feeling the love as well; at 84 percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes have found this comedy to be a near perfect union of raunch and sentiment. And it’s a high point in the careers of its two stars; only "Rushmore" (for Wilson, at 85 percent) and "Return to Paradise" (for Vaughn, at 87 percent) have scored higher on the Tomatometer.

Other Vince Vaughn/ Wilson Brothers Collaborations
—————————————————————-
61% – Starsky and Hutch (2004)
59% – Old School (2003)
62% – Zoolander (2001)

Other Tim Burton/ Johnny Depp Collaborations:
———————————————————-
NA – The Corpse Bride (2005)
73% – Sleepy Hollow (1999)
89% – Ed Wood (1994)
91% – Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Screenwriter Scot Armstrong, who co-wrote "Old School," "Road Trip," and "Starsky & Hutch" (as well as an uncredited re-write on "Elf") has been tapped by New Line to pen a sequel to the Will Ferrell Christmas comedy. And while Mr. Ferrell is not signed up for the follow-up just yet, New Line honcho Toby Emmerich is clearly not going to move forward without his curly-haired leading man.

According to Variety, "after the failure of "Son of the Mask," (Emmerich) has said he would go forward with pricey sequels only if original stars are involved." It’s also understood that Will is set to make about $20 million for his involvement in "Elf 2," so let’s hope that Mr. Armstrong puts together an impressive screenplay.

Variety brings news of director Todd Phillips‘ ("Old School," "Starsky and Hutch") next project: Based on the novel by Carolyn Parkhurst, "Dogs of Babel" focuses on "a grieving linguistics professor who tries to communicate with his Rhodesian Ridgeback because the dog was the only witness to the death of the man’s wife, who fell from a tree in their backyard."

Newbie screenwriter Jamie Linden adapted the novel into screenplay form for Focus Features — and if this project doesn’t sound like a Will Ferrell vehicle, I’ll eat my hat.

Still a little bit uncertain about this new "Dukes of Hazzard" movie? Well then head on over to Yahoo! Movies and give the all-new trailer a peek. You might love it or you might hate it … but it should certainly go a long way to helping you make up your mind!

Starring Johnny Knoxville ("Deuces Wild"), Seann William Scott ("American Pie"), Jessica Simpson ("The Master of Disguise"), Burt Reynolds ("Smokey and the Bandit"), and Willie Nelson ("The Big Bounce"), "The Dukes of Hazzard" drives into theaters on August 5th. Jay Chandrasekhar ("Super Troopers") is directing; John O’Brien ("Starsky & Hutch") wrote the screenplay … with help from about five other writers.

See the trailer here.

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