The Nice Guys

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The 50 Best Action-Comedy Movies, Ranked By Tomatometer

The action-comedy is one of the of the more playful, exciting genre hybrids out there, though it didn’t really come into shape until the 1980s, when buddy-cop films like Lethal Weapon and 48 Hrs. exploded onto the scene, along with Midnight Run, The Blues Brothers, and the rise of Jackie Chan. In Police Story, Drunken Master, and rest of his peak output, Chan is essentially a living, breathing homage to Buster Keaton, whose absurdly dangerous slapstick prowess powered the original action-comedy: 1926’s The General.

Chan and Chris Tucker revitalized the action-comedy formula for the ’90s with the Rush Hour movies. Though they’re fan favorites, the Rush Hour trio were not heavy hitters with critics, so they’ll be absent from this guide to the best-reviewed action-comedies ever, where we’re collecting the top 50 Certified Fresh movies of the genre. What that means is that you will see Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels represented. Lock, Stock was released the same year as Rush Hour and impressed critics and audiences alike by infusing the action-comedy with post-Tarantino grit and swagger.

Hot Fuzz, Tropic Thunder, Kung Fu Hustle, 21 Jump Street, and Bad Boys For Life are among many that have kept the genre going during the past 20 years. And though most superhero movies these days are humorous on some level, we’ll be highlighting the ones that really flex their comedic muscles, like The Suicide Squad and Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds seems molded for this wisecracking genre, wherein he has played the Merc With a Mouth and starred in Free Guy.

Now, see the 50 best-reviewed Certified Fresh action-comedies!

#50

Red (2010)
72%

#50
Adjusted Score: 78999%
Critics Consensus: It may not be the killer thrill ride you'd expect from an action movie with a cast of this caliber, but Red still thoroughly outshines most of its big-budget counterparts with its wit and style.
Synopsis: After surviving an assault from a squad of hit men, retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reassembles his old... [More]
Directed By: Robert Schwentke

#49
#49
Adjusted Score: 81626%
Critics Consensus: Too over the top for its own good, but ultimately rescued by the cast's charm, director John Landis' grace, and several soul-stirring musical numbers.
Synopsis: After his release from prison, Jake (John Belushi) reunites with his brother, Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) -- collectively known as the... [More]
Directed By: John Landis

#48
Adjusted Score: 79723%
Critics Consensus: Brimming with energy and packed with humor, Big Trouble in Little China distills kung fu B-movies as affectionately as it subverts them.
Synopsis: Kurt Russell plays hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton, who gets caught in a bizarre conflict within, and underneath, San Francisco's... [More]
Directed By: John Carpenter

#47
Adjusted Score: 77268%
Critics Consensus: Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is a grimy, twisted, and funny twist on the Tarantino hip gangster formula.
Synopsis: Eddy (Nick Moran) convinces three friends to pool funds for a high-stakes poker game against local crime boss Hatchet Harry... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#46
Adjusted Score: 84837%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, subversive, and above all fun, Kingsman: The Secret Service finds director Matthew Vaughn sending up the spy genre with gleeful abandon.
Synopsis: Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton), whose late father secretly worked for a spy organization, lives in a South London housing... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#45

The Gentlemen (2020)
75%

#45
Adjusted Score: 93415%
Critics Consensus: It may not win writer-director Guy Ritchie many new converts, but for those already attuned to the filmmaker's brash wavelength, The Gentlemen stands tall.
Synopsis: Mickey Pearson is an American expatriate who became rich by building a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word... [More]
Directed By: Guy Ritchie

#44
#44
Adjusted Score: 94669%
Critics Consensus: Loaded up with action and a double helping of leading-man charisma, Bad Boys for Life reinvigorates this long-dormant franchise by playing squarely to its strengths.
Synopsis: The wife and son of a Mexican drug lord embark on a vengeful quest to kill all those involved in... [More]

#43

Kick-Ass (2010)
76%

#43
Adjusted Score: 86376%
Critics Consensus: Not for the faint of heart, Kick-Ass takes the comic adaptation genre to new levels of visual style, bloody violence, and gleeful profanity.
Synopsis: Using his love for comics as inspiration, teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to reinvent himself as a superhero --... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#42
Adjusted Score: 83185%
Critics Consensus: Team America will either offend you or leave you in stitches. It'll probably do both.
Synopsis: When North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il (Trey Parker) orchestrates a global terrorist plot, it's up to the heavily armed marionettes... [More]
Directed By: Trey Parker, Matt Stone

#41

Keanu (2016)
78%

#41
Adjusted Score: 88037%
Critics Consensus: Keanu's absurd premise and compulsively watchable starring duo add up to an agreeably fast-paced comedy that hits more than enough targets to make up for the misses.
Synopsis: Recently dumped by his girlfriend, slacker Rell (Jordan Peele) finds some happiness when a cute kitten winds up on his... [More]
Directed By: Peter Atencio

#40

The Other Guys (2010)
79%

#40
Adjusted Score: 85914%
Critics Consensus: A clever parody of cop-buddy action-comedies, The Other Guys delivers several impressive action set pieces and lots of big laughs, thanks to the assured comic chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: Unlike their heroic counterparts on the force, desk-bound NYPD detectives Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) garner no headlines... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#39

Shanghai Noon (2000)
79%

#39
Adjusted Score: 83982%
Critics Consensus: Although the plot is really nothing to brag about, Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson work well together. The cinematography looks great, and Jackie delivers a hilarious performance. This is an old-fashioned crowd-pleaser.
Synopsis: Bumbling Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) works as an Imperial guard in the Forbidden City of China. When Princess Pei Pei... [More]
Directed By: Tom Dey

#38
Adjusted Score: 108906%
Critics Consensus: With a fresh perspective, some new friends, and loads of fast-paced action, Birds of Prey captures the colorfully anarchic spirit of Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn.
Synopsis: It's open season on Harley Quinn when her explosive breakup with the Joker puts a big fat target on her... [More]
Directed By: Cathy Yan

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 81437%
Critics Consensus: An entertaining Jackie Chan stunt-fest in which the impressive action sequences overcome the low production value and by-the-numbers plot.
Synopsis: Hong Kong policeman Keung (Jackie Chan) arrives in New York for the wedding of his uncle Bill (Bill Tung), a... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Tong

#36

Lethal Weapon (1987)
80%

#36
Adjusted Score: 84375%
Critics Consensus: The most successful installment in a phenomenally successful series, Lethal Weapon helped redefine action movies for the 1980s and 1990s.
Synopsis: Following the death of his wife, Los Angeles police detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) becomes reckless and suicidal. When he... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#35

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
82%

#35
Adjusted Score: 85363%
Critics Consensus: Lethal Weapon 2 may sport a thin plot typical of action fare, but its combination of humor and adrenaline, along with the chemistry between its leads, make this a playful, entertaining sequel.
Synopsis: South African smugglers find themselves being hounded and harassed by Riggs and Murtaugh, two mismatched Los Angeles police officers. However,... [More]
Directed By: Richard Donner

#34

Tropic Thunder (2008)
82%

#34
Adjusted Score: 91388%
Critics Consensus: With biting satire, plenty of subversive humor, and an unforgettable turn by Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder is a triumphant late Summer comedy.
Synopsis: Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), pampered action superstar, sets out for Southeast Asia to take part in the biggest, most-expensive war... [More]
Directed By: Ben Stiller

#33
Adjusted Score: 92588%
Critics Consensus: Its script may not be as dazzling as its eye-popping visuals, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is fast, funny, and inventive.
Synopsis: As bass guitarist for a garage-rock band, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) has never had trouble getting a girlfriend; usually, the... [More]
Directed By: Edgar Wright

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 87035%
Critics Consensus: The buddy cop movie continues its evolution unabated with this Eddie Murphy vehicle that's fast, furious, and funny.
Synopsis: After his childhood buddy is murdered while visiting Detroit, rebellious cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) follows the leads to Beverly... [More]
Directed By: Martin Brest

#31

Black Dynamite (2009)
83%

#31
Adjusted Score: 83716%
Critics Consensus: A loving and meticulous send-up of 1970s blaxsploitation movies, Black Dynamite is funny enough for the frat house and clever enough for film buffs.
Synopsis: After "The Man" kills his brother and poisons the neighborhood with tainted liquor, a kung fu fighter (Michael Jai White)... [More]
Directed By: Scott Sanders

#30

Ant-Man (2015)
83%

#30
Adjusted Score: 96062%
Critics Consensus: Led by a charming performance from Paul Rudd, Ant-Man offers Marvel thrills on an appropriately smaller scale -- albeit not as smoothly as its most successful predecessors.
Synopsis: Forced out of his own company by former protégé Darren Cross, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) recruits the talents of... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 85545%
Critics Consensus: Jackie Chan sends up some amazing and entertaining fight sequences in The Legend of Drunken Master.
Synopsis: From a land where honor and tradition reign, comes the legend of a martial-arts hero unlike any other -- the... [More]
Directed By: Chia-Liang Liu

#28

22 Jump Street (2014)
84%

#28
Adjusted Score: 93474%
Critics Consensus: Boasting even more of the bromantic chemistry between its stars -- and even more of the goofy, good-natured humor that made its predecessor so much fun -- 22 Jump Street is the rare sequel that improves upon the original.
Synopsis: Although they made their way through high school successfully, an investigation at a local college brings big changes for undercover... [More]

#27

Deadpool 2 (2018)
84%

#27
Adjusted Score: 108986%
Critics Consensus: Though it threatens to buckle under the weight of its meta gags, Deadpool 2 is a gory, gleeful lampoon of the superhero genre buoyed by Ryan Reynolds' undeniable charm.
Synopsis: Wisecracking mercenary Deadpool meets Russell, an angry teenage mutant who lives at an orphanage. When Russell becomes the target of... [More]
Directed By: David Leitch

#26
Adjusted Score: 116205%
Critics Consensus: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's action-packed plot, dazzling visuals, and irreverent humor add up to a sequel that's almost as fun -- if not quite as thrillingly fresh -- as its predecessor.
Synopsis: Peter Quill and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 88037%
Critics Consensus: Romancing the Stone reaches back to the classic Saturday morning serials of old with an action-filled adventure enlivened by the sparkling chemistry between its well-matched leads.
Synopsis: A dowdy romantic-adventure writer is hurled into a real-life adventure in the Colombian jungle in order to save her sister,... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#24

21 Jump Street (2012)
85%

#24
Adjusted Score: 93642%
Critics Consensus: A smart, affectionate satire of '80s nostalgia and teen movie tropes, 21 Jump Street offers rowdy mainstream comedy with a surprisingly satisfying bite.
Synopsis: When cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) join the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances... [More]

#23

Game Night (2018)
85%

#23
Adjusted Score: 99575%
Critics Consensus: With a talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise -- and a sharp script loaded with dark comedy and unexpected twists -- Game Night might be more fun than the real thing.
Synopsis: Max and Annie's weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max's brother Brooks arranges a murder mystery party... [More]

#22

Deadpool (2016)
85%

#22
Adjusted Score: 106209%
Critics Consensus: Fast, funny, and gleefully profane, the fourth-wall-busting Deadpool subverts superhero film formula with wildly entertaining -- and decidedly non-family-friendly -- results.
Synopsis: Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces operative who now works as a mercenary. His world comes crashing... [More]
Directed By: Tim Miller

#21

Free Guy (2021)
80%

#21
Adjusted Score: 95656%
Critics Consensus: Combining a clever concept, sweet, self-aware humor, and a charming cast, Free Guy is frivolous fun.
Synopsis: In "Free Guy," a bank teller who discovers he is actually a background player in an open-world video game, decides... [More]
Directed By: Shawn Levy

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 92176%
Critics Consensus: Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage.
Synopsis: Two-bit crook Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) stumbles into an audition for a mystery film while on the run from... [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

#19

American Made (2017)
86%

#19
Adjusted Score: 105276%
Critics Consensus: American Made's fast-and-loose attitude with its real-life story mirrors the cavalier -- and delightfully watchable -- energy Tom Cruise gives off in the leading role.
Synopsis: Barry Seal, a TWA pilot, is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central... [More]
Directed By: Doug Liman

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 105679%
Critics Consensus: A lighter, brighter superhero movie powered by the effortless charisma of Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, Ant-Man and The Wasp offers a much-needed MCU palate cleanser.
Synopsis: Scott Lang is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

#17

Shaolin Soccer (2001)
90%

#17
Adjusted Score: 93172%
Critics Consensus: The plot is utterly ridiculous, and the soccer in the movie is unlike any ever played anywhere on Earth, but watching Shaolin Soccer, you will probably find it impossible to care.
Synopsis: All his life, an ordinary young man (Stephen Chow) has been treated like dirt. Still, he's never given up believing... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Chow, Lik-Chi Lee

#16

Shazam! (2019)
90%

#16
Adjusted Score: 115111%
Critics Consensus: An effortlessly entertaining blend of humor and heart, Shazam! is a superhero movie that never forgets the genre's real power: joyous wish fulfillment.
Synopsis: We all have a superhero inside of us -- it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out.... [More]
Directed By: David F. Sandberg

#15

Something Wild (1986)
91%

#15
Adjusted Score: 94880%
Critics Consensus: Boasting loads of quirky charm, a pair of likable leads, and confident direction from Jonathan Demme, Something Wild navigates its unpredictable tonal twists with room to spare.
Synopsis: Free-spirited Lulu (Melanie Griffith) sets her sights on uptight banker Charles (Jeff Daniels) for a little bit of fun. Their... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#14

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
91%

#14
Adjusted Score: 97488%
Critics Consensus: Kung Fu Hustle blends special effects, martial arts, and the Looney Toons to hilarious effect.
Synopsis: When the hapless Sing (Stephen Chow) and his dim-witted pal, Bone (Feng Xiaogang), try to scam the residents of Pig... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Chow

#13

Hot Fuzz (2007)
91%

#13
Adjusted Score: 99761%
Critics Consensus: The brilliant minds behind Shaun of the Dead successfully take a shot at the buddy cop genre with Hot Fuzz. The result is a bitingly satiric and hugely entertaining parody.
Synopsis: As a former London constable, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) finds if difficult to adapt to his new assignment in the... [More]
Directed By: Edgar Wright

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 110304%
Critics Consensus: Enlivened by writer-director James Gunn's singularly skewed vision, The Suicide Squad marks a funny, fast-paced rebound that plays to the source material's violent, anarchic strengths.
Synopsis: Welcome to hell--a.k.a. Belle Reve, the prison with the highest mortality rate in the US of A. Where the worst... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#11

The Nice Guys (2016)
91%

#11
Adjusted Score: 110281%
Critics Consensus: The Nice Guys hearkens back to the buddy comedies of a bygone era while adding something extra courtesy of a knowing script and the irresistible chemistry of its leads.
Synopsis: Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is a down-on-his-luck private eye in 1977 Los Angeles. Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a hired... [More]
Directed By: Shane Black

#10

Men in Black (1997)
92%

#10
Adjusted Score: 97654%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a smart script, spectacular set pieces, and charismatic performances from its leads, Men in Black is an entirely satisfying summer blockbuster hit.
Synopsis: They are the best-kept secret in the universe. Working for a highly funded yet unofficial government agency, Kay (Tommy Lee... [More]
Directed By: Barry Sonnenfeld

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 105688%
Critics Consensus: Guardians of the Galaxy is just as irreverent as fans of the frequently zany Marvel comic would expect -- as well as funny, thrilling, full of heart, and packed with visual splendor.
Synopsis: Brash space adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the quarry of relentless bounty hunters after he steals an orb... [More]
Directed By: James Gunn

#8

48 HRS. (1982)
93%

#8
Adjusted Score: 96664%
Critics Consensus: Marking an auspicious feature film debut for Eddie Murphy, 48 Hrs. is a briskly paced action comedy that succeeds largely due to the outstanding chemistry between its two leads.
Synopsis: Renegade cop Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) pulls bank robber Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) from a federal prison on a 48-hour... [More]
Directed By: Walter Hill

#7

The General (1926)
92%

#7
Adjusted Score: 96429%
Critics Consensus: Brilliantly filmed and fueled with classic physical comedy, The General captures Buster Keaton at his timeless best.
Synopsis: One of the most revered comedies of the silent era, this film finds hapless Southern railroad engineer Johnny Gray (Buster... [More]

#6

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
93%

#6
Adjusted Score: 126308%
Critics Consensus: Exciting, funny, and above all fun, Thor: Ragnarok is a colorful cosmic adventure that sets a new standard for its franchise -- and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Synopsis: Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits... [More]
Directed By: Taika Waititi

#5

Midnight Run (1988)
94%

#5
Adjusted Score: 97834%
Critics Consensus: Enlivened by the antagonistic chemistry between Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, Midnight Run is an uncommonly entertaining odd couple comedy.
Synopsis: When Eddie Moscone (Joe Pantoliano) hires tight-lipped bounty hunter Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) to locate a mob accountant named... [More]
Directed By: Martin Brest

#4

Three Kings (1999)
94%

#4
Adjusted Score: 98633%
Critics Consensus: Three Kings successfully blends elements of action, drama, and comedy into a thoughtful, exciting movie on the Gulf War.
Synopsis: Just after the end of the Gulf War, four American soldiers decide to steal a cache of Saddam Hussein's hidden... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#3

Spy (2015)
95%

#3
Adjusted Score: 104613%
Critics Consensus: Simultaneously broad and progressive, Spy offers further proof that Melissa McCarthy and writer-director Paul Feig bring out the best in one another -- and delivers scores of belly laughs along the way.
Synopsis: Despite having solid field training, CIA analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has spent her entire career as a desk jockey,... [More]
Directed By: Paul Feig

#2

Supercop (1992)
96%

#2
Adjusted Score: 98746%
Critics Consensus: Blending hand-to-hand combat with breathtaking stunts and slapstick comedy, Supercop reminds us why Jackie Chan is one of the world's great entertainers.
Synopsis: To infiltrate a drug cartel, police Inspector Chan Ka Kui (Jackie Chan) goes undercover in a Chinese prison. There, he... [More]
Directed By: Stanley Tong

#1

The Paper Tigers (2020)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 100602%
Critics Consensus: The Paper Tigers blends action, comedy, and heart to produce a fresh martial arts movie with plenty of throwback charm.
Synopsis: Three martial artists--notorious in their prime as "the three tigers"--have grown into middle-aged men one kick from a pulled muscle.... [More]
Directed By: Quoc Bao Tran

(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme, a filmmaker whose distinguished career ran the gamut from acclaimed music-driven efforts such as the Talking Heads concert documentary Stop Making Sense to socially conscious dramas like Philadelphia, has passed away at the age of 73 following a struggle with esophageal cancer and heart disease.

Born in New York’s Nassau County on Feb. 22, 1944, Demme cut his filmmaking teeth with producer Roger Corman, working for the low-budget legend on a series of early-to-mid-’70s efforts before graduating to directing with 1974’s Caged Heat. He made the leap to studio filmmaking in 1977, helming the Paramount-distributed CB movie Citizens Band, and earned a measure of early critical acclaim with the 1980 limited release Melvin and Howard.

That early taste of success presaged a wildly eclectic decade for Demme, who’d hopscotch between period comedy (1984’s Swing Shift), documentary (Stop Making Sense), screwball romance (Something Wild), and a film adaptation of stage monologuist Spalding Gray’s classic Swimming to Cambodia. By the late ’80s, he’d proven his hand with a wide variety of genres — but it was a jump into full-blown horror that truly marked Demme’s mainstream breakthrough.

An adaptation of Thomas Harris’ bestselling novel of the same name, 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs proved a runaway success, earning nearly $300 million at the box office and becoming one of the few horror movies to earn major awards — including the so-called “big five” Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. While the response to Lambs inevitably led into a franchise, Demme didn’t direct any of the sequels, instead continuing to let his muse lead him through a varied assortment of projects.

That approach paid immediate dividends with 1993’s Philadelphia, which earned Tom Hanks a Best Actor Oscar, while leaving room for a growing body of work on the commercial margins, including a continuing series of music-fueled documentaries, several of which focused on the life and music of Neil Young. More recently, Demme earned critical raves for his work helming the 2016 concert film Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids.

Demme continued to work despite his health struggles, curating screenings at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY and reportedly making his way through pre-production on another new movie. He is survived by his wife, artist Joanne Howard, and their three children.


For Jonathan Demme’s complete filmography on Rotten Tomatoes, click here.

Always an actor first and celebrity second, Jeff Daniels has appeared in scores of films over the last three decades and change without ever commanding a superstar level of attention — but as even a cursory glance at his filmography makes clear, he has a marvelous knack for choosing projects, one that extends to his work on the stage (where he’s earned a Tony nomination) and the small screen (where he won an Emmy for his work on The Newsroom). This weekend, Daniels reunites with his old pal Jim Carrey for the Dumb and Dumber sequel Dumb and Dumber To, and to celebrate, we’ve decided to turn our attention to his most critically beloved efforts. It’s time for Total Recall!


10. Fly Away Home 87%


Little kids and animals often trigger Cuteness Overload warnings for filmgoers over the PG-13 age barrier, and that can be especially true for sun-dappled dramas starring grizzled Hollywood veterans playing emotionally broken parents fumbling to reconnect with their children while also racing against time to solve some critical little kid/animal dilemma. Pretty much all of those boxes are ticked in 1996’s Fly Away Home, but the end result is affecting enough to tug a few strings in all but the hardest of hearts — due in large part to a pair of top-shelf performances from Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin, starring here as a father-daughter duo who move beyond their painful past in order to save a flock of geese. Saying that the movie’s “tender beauty… goes well beyond what might be expected from a movie about things that hatch,” Janet Maslin of the New York Times applauded director Carroll Ballard for turning “a potentially treacly children’s film into an exhilarating ’90s fable” and added, “See it and you will never look at a down comforter in quite the same way.”

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9. The Lookout 87%


Out of Sight and Get Shorty screenwriter Scott Frank made his directorial debut with The Lookout, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt — then just beginning to demonstrate the knack for picking scripts that had helped him earn raves for Brick two years before — as a callow high school athlete whose foolishness leads to a catastrophic accident that turns his entire life upside down…and puts him in the path of a group of bad people who want to use him for their own nefarious ends. Co-starring Daniels as Gordon-Levitt’s blind roommate and Isla Fisher as the seductive, memorably named Luvlee Lemons, The Lookout didn’t have much of an impact at the box office, but it earned plenty of praise from critics like the AV Club’s Scott Tobias, who wrote that its “thriller elements could stand to be more surprising, but they’re ultimately in service of a better understanding of the characters. Usually, it’s the other way around.”

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8. Something Wild 91%


It’s refreshing whenever an actor plays against type, but there’s also something to be said for a script that lets a star sit directly in his or her wheelhouse; for example, here’s Something Wild, in which Daniels plays a buttoned-down stockbroker who makes the fateful decision to accept a ride home from a vivacious stranger (Melanie Griffith), thus setting off a chain of events that finds him an unwilling participant in all manner of ill-advised hijinks — including fending off her enraged husband (Ray Liotta). Subversive, willfully quirky, and thoroughly well-acted, Wild earned applause for its stars as well as for director Jonathan Demme; as James Kendrick wrote for Q Network Film Desk, “The tones shift rampantly, which for some viewers can be disorienting and off-putting. But, if you’re in tune with Demme’s aesthetic, which usually runs counter to our cinematic intuition, it is a wild ride indeed.”

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7. Terms of Endearment 78%


Daniels made his cinematic debut in Milos Forman’s 1981 epic Ragtime, but he got his first big break two years later in Terms of Endearment. Writer-director James L. Brooks, working from Larry McMurtry’s novel about the complicated lives and relationships of a mother (Shirley MacLaine) and daughter (Debra Winger), fashioned a critical and commercial sensation that grossed more than $100 million and picked up 11 Oscar nominations (winning five). While none of those trophies went to Daniels, he did earn positive notice for his supporting role as Winger’s rather scummy (and ridiculously named) husband, Flap Horton, and he was hardly alone among an almost uniformly praised cast; as John Ferguson so succinctly put it for Radio Times, “This is American mainstream movie-making at its best.”

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6. The Purple Rose of Cairo 92%


After catching Hollywood’s eye in Terms of Endearment, Daniels wasted no time racking up further accolades, picking up a starring (and Golden Globe-nominated) role in Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo. Starring Mia Farrow as a mousy waitress toiling her way through a fairly dismal marriage to a rough-tempered drunk (Danny Aiello), the movie offers its heroine an unexpected boost in the form of a movie character (Daniels) who steps out of the screen and into her life. (As she tells her sister, “I just met a wonderful man. He’s fictional, but you can’t have everything.”) Critics were similarly smitten. “To be blunt about it, The Purple Rose of Cairo is pure enchantment,” gushed Vincent Canby of the New York Times. “It’s a sweet, lyrically funny, multi- layered work that again demonstrates that Woody Allen is our premier film maker who, standing something over 5 feet tall in his sneakers, towers above all others.”

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5. Arachnophobia 93%


Frank Marshall (backed here by his longtime production partner Steven Spielberg) made his directorial debut with this affectionate, cheerfully creepy tribute to classic Hollywood creature features, in which a deadly breed of spider terrorizes a small town whose residents include a lunatic exterminator (John Goodman) and, of course, a doctor with the titular phobia (Jeff Daniels). “That sound you hear in the background is the ‘ugh!’ heard round the world,” chuckled Janet Maslin of the New York Times, adding, “luckily, Arachnophobia will also be generating its share of boisterous, nervous laughter.”

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4. Speed 94%


After Die Hard blew up at the box office, action movies where the setting served as a sort of co-star became a wildly popular trend — to the point where, when Keanu Reeves starred in 1994’s Speed as an LAPD officer trapped on a moving bus that a maniac (Dennis Hopper) has loaded with explosives, it seemed safe to assume that it was just one more of the “Die Hard on a _____” movies that had clogged the cineplex for the past several years. Happily, this one proved a sleekly thrilling exception to the rule, both at the box office — where it racked up more than $350 million worldwide — and among critics, who applauded director Jan de Bont’s lean production, the movie’s uncommonly intelligent screenplay (given an instrumental polish by Joss Whedon), and a terrific cast that also included Sandra Bullock, Alan Ruck, and as Keanu’s steadfast partner, Jeff Daniels. Calling it “clean, delirious, and, yes, speedy,” the New Yorker’s Anthony Lane deemed it “the best big-vehicle-in-peril movie since Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear.”

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3. The Squid and the Whale 92%


Round up all the characters in every Noah Baumbach movie, and you’d have yourself a room full of some fairly messed up individuals. Case in point: 2005’s The Squid and the Whale, starring Daniels and Laura Linney as a husband and wife whose messily splintering marriage throws shards that wound their two sons (played by Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline) — not that either of the parents seem willing or able to put a stop to their selfish behavior. Like many of Baumbach’s films, Squid puts the viewer in the company of narcissists and misanthropes, but it’s also a piercingly honest look at the ways in which we deal with disappointment when our lives — and our loved ones — let us down. As Roger Ebert put it, “The Squid and the Whale is essentially about how we grow up by absorbing what is useful in our parents and forgiving what is not.”

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2. Good Night, and Good Luck 93%


For his directorial follow-up to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, George Clooney decided to dramatize Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt — specifically from the viewpoint of CBS News, where legendary anchor Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) engaged in a public war of wills against McCarthy while trying to temper the mass hysteria wrought by his adversary’s rabid insistence that all levels of American life had been infiltrated by the Red Menace. Rounded out by a stellar supporting cast (including Daniels as CBS News director Sig Mickelson), Good Night, and Good Luck. earned an impressive six Academy Award nominations — as well as our own Golden Tomato for Best Reviewed Film of 2005 in Limited Release. “By its end,” enthused Movie Mezzanine’s Sam Fragoso, “Good Night, and Good Luck evolves into a prophetic vision of how television and film can be used to illuminate or insulate, educate or entertain.”

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1. Looper 93%


A large part of Jeff Daniels’ considerable screen appeal has always been his ability to project an unassuming everyman aura, but acting opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to bring out the oddball in him: After stealing every scene he was in as Gordon-Levitt’s roommate in The Lookout, Daniels proceeded to do the same in Looper, injecting writer-director Rian Johnson’s thought-provoking sci-fi thriller with a madcap blast of energy as the sociopathic (and perversely likable) mob boss who orders Levitt’s hit man character to kill…well, we don’t want to spoil the fun if you haven’t already seen the movie. Point is, Looper is a lot of fun, not least because of Daniels’ performance, as well as what Deadspin’s Will Leitch called “A wildly entertaining film that isn’t content with science and cinematic tricks. It desires, and achieves, much more.”

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Finally, here’s Daniels putting in a plug for his home state:


Greg Kinnear

How do you describe the career of a guy who started as the host of Talk Soup on E! and within five years was Oscar nominated for a role opposite Jack Nicholson? Greg Kinnear certainly hasn’t taken the usual career path. He may have starred opposite Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail, but he was also conjoined with Matt Damon, played a sex addict and a meat inspector, guest starred on Friends and voiced a character in the Beavis and Butthead movie. Not to mention leading the SAG-winning ensemble in one of the best indie comedies of recent years in Little Miss Sunshine.

Now he’s on screen as the inventor Bob Kearns in Flash of Genius, and he was happy to be playing a real-life character no one’s ever heard of. “Well, it’s not like everybody comes in with a preconceived idea of who Bob Kearns is,” he says. “So it was kind of loose as to how I could portray him. You know, nobody’s ever going to stand up in the theatre and say, ‘Hey, that’s not what I remember the intermittent windshield wiper guy to be like!’ It’s not like with Clinton or Nixon or some sort of galvanising figure that everyone’s familiar with. At the same time, as an actor I felt absolutely obligated to try to, as best I could, make him real.”

Later this year he’ll be sees in Paul Greengrass‘ new film Green Zone, about the hunt for WMDs in Baghdad after the American invasion. “Paul is a remarkable director,” he says. “He just has an immediacy on the set. He doesn’t come in with a prearranged agenda of how things are going to go, and he’s always chasing something that’s not easily found. It’s his own journey as a filmmaker, but I think everybody feels like you want to give him everything you’ve got, because the thing that he’s searching for always translates to the screen, always creates these pictures that feel very vibrant. He has a way of making even smallest moments really big and lifelike on screen. It was wonderful.”

When asked about his five favourite films, he looks to the ceiling and comments that he’s going through his mental Rolodex…


Greg Kinnear

Something Wild

Something Wild

“Great performances from a great ensemble of actors. Jonathan Demme did such a great job of making that look so real, creating an atmosphere that felt very immediate. It’s a funny film, but it’s scary as hell in parts. And it’s a completely unpredictable movie, I think. There’s no expectation, as you go into that film, what to expect or where it’s going.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Something Wild
Something Wild

The Godfather
The Godfather

Chinatown
Chinatown

North by Northwest
North by Northwest

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka


Greg Kinnear

The Godfather

The Godfather

“For obvious reasons. It’s just painted on a giant canvas – it’s larger than life. There’s a reason it’s a classic, and I don’t know what else to say about it that hasn’t already been said. It’s just one of the greats. There’s not a character in it that I don’t like, and there’s not a performance in it that’s flawed. It’s incredible.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Something Wild
Something Wild

The Godfather
The Godfather

Chinatown
Chinatown

North by Northwest
North by Northwest

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka


Greg Kinnear

Chinatown

Chinatown

“I had a chance to work with Jack Nicholson, which was a real thrill. You can scoop out a lot of performances from Jack, and consider them as possible films you could add to this list, but that was a great performance. Roman Polanski‘s direction is incredible too. It’s a movie where, the first time you see it, it’s kind of shocking because you don’t know where it’s going and how big the story actually is that’s being told.”


Greg Kinnear

North by Northwest

North by Northwest

“I like the classics! I like a pretty eclectic mix actually. But if you want a great old movie, this is it. It’s in colour but it always feels like a black and white movie to me. It feels like a film with great history in it, and it’s got great style.”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Something Wild
Something Wild

The Godfather
The Godfather

Chinatown
Chinatown

North by Northwest
North by Northwest

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka


Greg Kinnear

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

“It’s one of the great endings to a movie ever when Willy asks Charlie what happened to the little boy who got everything he ever wanted. “You don’t know? He lived happily ever after!” And then the glass elevator breaks through the glass roof. It’s incredible. I worked briefly on a television show with Mel Stuart, the director, and heard all sorts of fantastic stories about that remarkable film. And of course I knew all the songs – I still do. I have a 5-year-old, but I haven’t shown it to her yet. It’s kind of scary – that guy who shows up with the little shopping carriage and makes that little speech about how nobody who goes in ever comes out. And the Oompa Loompas. And that boat ride – woo, acid trip!”

Click on a thumbnail below.

Something Wild
Something Wild

The Godfather
The Godfather

Chinatown
Chinatown

North by Northwest
North by Northwest

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka


Flash of Genius opens in UK cinemas this week. It is on DVD in the US and in cinemas in Australia.

Quentin Tarantino‘s Death Proof hits DVD shelves this week as a stand-alone from Grindhouse, his two-for-the-price-of-one collaboration with Robert Rodriguez. The tale of a group of young women terrorized by an aging stuntman in a killer automobile, Death Proof is an homage to 1970s road movies like Vanishing Point, as well as Tarantino’s twisted take on the slasher genre.

By itself, Death Proof fared pretty well with the critics, notching a 71 percent on the Tomatometer (check out RT’s take here); still, it’s a cut below Grindhouse‘s 82 percent. At a press conference at Cannes, the Death Proof gang, which included Tarantino, stars Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Tracie Thoms, and Zoë Bell, as well as executive producer Harvey Weinstein, talked about the differences between the stand-alone version and the Grindhouse cut, as well as Tarantino’s influences, his ability to write for female characters, and what’s going on with his World War II flick, Inglorious Bastards.




Quentin Tarantino, Kurt Russell, and Rosario Dawson at Cannes.

The cinema of the 1970s is something of an artistic inspiration for you. You’ve done blaxploitation, action movies, and martial arts. What was your inspiration this time around?

Quentin Tarantino: Two things. My starting off point was that I wanted to do a slasher film. I thought that fit in really well with the whole idea, but when I started thinking about the slasher film, that genre is so rigid. I thought if I did that, it’d be too self-reflective and [the audience] would be too outside of the experience. But I still kind of liked that genre, so I tried to do a completely different thing and use the structure of a slasher. People are asking me, “Is this a revenge film?” or “Is this a feminist film? Because the film empowers women and that’s not like the exploitation movies you took this from.” And I say, “That’s not 100 percent correct.” Actually, exploitation movies dealt with female empowerment in violent genres in ways that Hollywood never did. You just brought up blaxsploitaiton and there was no A-list, white, Hollywood equivalent of Pam Grier in the 1970s. She stood alone. There was [an equivalent] in Japan, there was in Hong Kong, and there was in the last act of every slasher film. There’s always a final girl that stands up and has the moral fortitude to beat the boogeyman. That’s always been the staple of that genre and here there isn’t one final girl, its three, and they all play it chipperly but it still follows the basic rules of the genre.

About the girls: I had no idea they talk that way when they were among themselves, and especially not in a man’s presence. How did you girls work your dialogue and what made you allow him in?

Tracie Thoms: He listens to women. I can’t figure out how he knows how we talk to each other when men aren’t around.

Rose McGowan: We’re not quite as precious as most people.

TT: We’re not and he just listens. He observes people. I read the script and thought, “I have this conversation a lot. How’d he know!?” And we rehearsed the conversation a lot.

Rosario Dawson: Quentin definitely prides himself at being the lone guy when his girlfriends go out.

TT: No one else could write Quentin’s dialogue.

RD: So you just work on it.

You recently mentioned you are eager to make a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone. That would be the coolest film ever.

QT: Inglorious Bastards — I never said it was going to star Bruce Willis, Schwarzenegger and Stallone. I don’t know who’s going to be in it at this point. I have to write it first. It always starts with me and the characters. Whenever I cast an actor and try to write the character around it I always end up regretting it, so I always try to write the character and cast the actor to fit the character. Whenever I’ve written the character like in the case of Zoë [Bell] or Vanessa [Ferlito], where I know they’re who I want to play, I write it about them. Vanessa is Vanessa and Zoë is Zoë. It’s not like I thought, “I like Kurt Russell for Mike, he’d be very good.” No, I wrote Zoë. And if I couldn’t get Zoë, I’d have to throw the script away because I couldn’t do it. Same with Uma [Thurman], but she said she could do it [Kill Bill] so we did.



What about the “missing scene” in the American version?

QT: For the American version, I wanted this perverse pleasure: I enjoyed the idea of building up to this scene and not giving it to you. (Laughs) I looked forward to hearing the audience go, “Awww!” and curse my name in unison. But one of the biggest things I put [back in] was the black and white reel in the second half of the movie where Kurt’s character spies his next victims. I put that in. Most of the stuff I put back in was stuff I took out of Grindhouse for the simple fact that – we made three movies. When we made Death Proof and Planet Terror we made Grindhouse; they are three separate movies. Death Proof and Planet Terror were meant to stand alone, but when we put them together for Grindhouse we had to make them work together as one evening experience. In the case of Death Proof, in the opening scene, you meet all the girls and they all talk and everything and you have to remember in the opening scene, that’s just five minutes into the movie and we can take time and let the dialogue play out. In the case of Grindhouse, that’s not five minutes into the movie, that’s 95 minutes into the movie, and you don’t have the patience to let the jokes play. Those were the biggest cuts I made, especially shortening dialogue.

In the first cut when Stuntman Mike doesn’t get his lap dance, you kind of feel sorry for him. But in the second cut when he does get his lap dance, he kind of comes off as a sonofab—-. Did you intend any of that or was that an accidental result of the editing?

QT: That was intended. I really enjoy the fact that if you count the minutes [runtime] actually hasn’t changed that much but it has changed things 180 degrees emotionally because something as simple as showing that Stuntman Mike is stalking the girls outside the restaurant — you actually see the pictures of the girls and you know he’s the villain, you know he’s stalking them and you know he’s been there and you still don’t believe…that’s what I love. The way the tone changes is the greatest difference between the two movies (Death Proof alone and as part of Grindhouse] and I’m very proud of what I was able to do that while changing very little.

How do you feel about that, Kurt?

Kurt Russell: I haven’t seen this version, so I can’t tell you —

QT: When I knew it was going to play Cannes, I didn’t want to let the actors see it before they see it [here] so they’ve all been verboten from seeing it.

KR: I’m disappointed for any audience who walks into Grindhouse this April. There will be no movie made in the next five years for the Grindhouse audience like this one. They [audiences] will be able to see Death Proof or Planet Terror as separate films but my prediction is that 20 years from now you will want “the Grindhouse experience,” You won’t watch the films separately. You will see them separately now and hopefully you’ll enjoy them but in the end of the day, if you want to have the full effect, the full experience is something bizarre. In that regard, I like the short version, I like how it is and I’m interested to see the film in its long version [and compare] to see how it stands on its own.

QT: Most grindhouse movies have risen to the top as cult films in the last 10 years because they’ve had an audience on DVD. I feel that part of my job is to be like the symphony conductor and the audience is the orchestra. And my job is to get them to “ooh” and “ahh” and scream and clap when I want them to. That is part of the almost revival tent, religious show experience I was trying to create in the audience. It can be experienced in a lot of different ways but a bunch of strangers who have this thing in front of them that can get them to respond audibly, is the reason I worked on this and the goal I had in the editing room every single day.

Harvey Weinstein might not want to put the film out together —

Harvey Weinstein: I had a great time talking with the British press about this, who thought it was a sacrilege I release these films separately. When you see the new Planet Terror and the new Death Proof, you’re seeing Robert Rodriguez making a Robert Rodriguez movie and Quentin Tarantino making a Quentin Tarantino movie. It’s pure. The things these guys took out of their movie to save time and keep these movies together took out some of the essence of their films. Quentin talks about the scenes where Mike is introduced as a character; it’s a completely different scene in a completely different movie. It’s like cutting Kill Bill and Sin City to 70 minute versions — you’re taking some of the essence out of it. Yes, we had a fun time doing a Grindhouse for European audiences, and yes, they’ll have a great time seeing Grindhouse the way it was intended —

QT: I see what you’re saying, and I love them [the trailers] all, but it’d be wrong to try to put them in Death Proof or Planet Terror and Grindhouse isn’t going anywhere. You’ll be able to see it on DVD for the rest of your life. It would be cheapening them and prostituting them to some degree if I were to attach the trailers to the single films. It’s what makes Grindhouse special.



Your films have had such an influence. How do you define your style?

QT: I don’t define my style. I think that’s for you to do: Add the adjectives and tell me what I’ve done. I’m very proud of the influence I’ve had on filmmakers. I’m very proud when young filmmakers come up to me and say, “I know you’ve heard this a million times, but you’re the reason I’m in filmmaking.” I can’t hear that enough, and I know what I responded to before I was making movies. I actually thought to myself, “I want to make movies that when people like me see them, will make them want to make movies.” I didn’t know how I was going to do that or how I would be able to do that, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to direct a film but that it’s worked out that way is one of the things I’m the proudest of. I wanted to find a style. As a young man watching movies, I knew what I responded to and if I saw a film I really liked: Jim McBride‘s Breathless, Jonathan Demme‘s Something Wild, John Carpenter‘s The Thing. Once I saw that, I couldn’t see another movie, it was like I couldn’t live another day until I saw that movie again. And usually, especially in my early 20s, I had to see it four times before I could say, “Okay, I can see another movie. Okay, I can move on with my life.” It was like sticking my finger in a light socket and getting all that electricity. I can only hope I can do that for other people.

RD: I think it’s safe to say you do. When I was 16, I was in this film called Kids and after that I told my dad, “I’d like to get into acting.” And the first film my dad handed me was Reservoir Dogs and I watched it seven times. If you wanna talk about his style… he [Tarantino] put his actors in a room in all the same clothes, and put it on his actors to get something going and it gets you really sucked in. I mean he doesn’t use tricks. Zoë Bell is really on the hood of that car. The movie magic he’s doing is not made of tricks; he’s making you feel something about his characters. [To Tarantino] So you did do what you set out to. I had to see your movie again and again and again. And when I had to be in your film I auditioned again and again and again. I was like, “Damn, there’s eight chicks in this movie, I gotta get at least one of them!”

What kind of expectations do you have for the audience? Do you think you have to be a die-hard grindhouse fan to enjoy the film?

QT: No, not at all. If you had to be a die-hard grindhouse fan to enjoy it then the movie is probably pretty limited. I feel that way about any kind of cinema. If you grew up with these movies and you have a sense of history with them then you’ll enjoy the film one way. But if you don’t know about those kinds of movies. I’m not saying my movie is better than those movies, but I am trying to transcend it. I do have a definite agenda. As much as I love those films, if you do love those films then hopefully everything will seem brand new to you and you’ll appreciate those films more. I have my own agenda that I’m trying to get across with the film and that agenda is different than the agenda of most drive-in movies.

Which "robots in disguise" will show up for Michael Bay’s live-action "Transformers" next year? Two of the pic’s screenwriters showed up online this morning to reveal just which Autobots and Decepticons we can look forward to seeing duke it out on the big screen.

Writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (who previously teamed to write "The Island," "Mission: Impossible III" and more) showed up on Yahoo to answer fan questions about the beloved 80s cartoon-turned-blockbuster, which will hit theaters on July 4, 2007.

Some of the characters they cited to appear in the movie:

Autobots:

  • Optimus Prime
  • Bumblebee — scout
  • Jazz
  • Ratchet — a medical officer; in the cartoon, he was an ambulance; in the movie, he’ll be some kind of emergency vehicle
  • Ironhide — a tough soldier; classic cowboy; Optimus’ oldest friend

Autobot Human:

  • Spike

Decepticons:

  • Megatron
  • Starscream — obeys Megatron, but wants to overthrow him
  • Brawl — an extremely pissed off Decepticon
  • Bonecrusher — closest thing to a constructicon; hates all other Decepticons except Megatron
  • Barricade — hunter of the group, scouting for Autobots; transforms to cop car as an ironic symbol of authority
  • Scorponok
  • Frenzy — a smaller form, able to infiltrate around you and not be seen — a "stealth spy"; can hide under desks
  • Blackout — takes out the ability to fight back; hits electronics (EMP); is the biggest vehicle, transports other Decepticons

Fear not, if these characters (or the entire "Transformers" world) are not familiar to you; Orci and Kurtzman promise that the story will be accessible to the uninitiated while staying loyal to the legions of fans. They also say the story will be told through the eyes of its human characters, who are witnessing the intergalactic Autobot-Decepticon war come abruptly to Earth.

For more of the Q&A, check out the webcast here.

Well-admired character actor Jeff Daniels will star in a thriller entitled "The Lookout" for Disney and Spyglass, a project that will mark the directorial debut of an excellent screenwriter named Scott Frank.

Says The Hollywood Reporter: "Jeff Daniels has signed on to star opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the dramatic thriller "The Lookout" for Spyglass Entertainment Group. Walt Disney Pictures will distribute the film in North America. The story centers on a mentally impaired former athlete (Gordon-Levitt) who works as a janitor at a bank and gets sucked into a heist. Daniels will play Lewis Canfield, a blind ex-biker who becomes an unwilling participant in the heist. Scott Frank, who wrote the screenplay, will make his directorial debut. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in the spring in Canada. "

Although he’s appeared in dozens of films, Mr. Daniels is probably best known for titles like "The Purple Rose of Cairo," "Something Wild," "Terms of Endearment," "Arachnophobia," "Speed," "Dumb & Dumber," "Pleasantville," and this year’s "The Squid and the Whale." Scott Frank, for his part, is a credited screenwriter on films such as "Dead Again," "Malice," "Little Man Tate," "Get Shorty," "Out of Sight," "Minority Report," "Flight of the Phoenix," and "The Interpreter."

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