(Photo by Touchstone/courtesy Everett Collection)
From tales of crashing bachelor parties and kickball games, to intimate fan pranks that he knows the public will never believe, to his unavailabity outside of a 1-800 number, the antics of lord of chaos Bill Murray could overshadow his actual job as an actor. But this decade alone has seen Certified Fresh hits like Moonrise Kingdom, The Jungle Book, Grand Budapest Hotel, and St. Vincent.
The output compares handsomely even to his ’80s heyday, which saw the likes of Ghostbusters, Stripes, Caddyshack, and Scrooged put into theaters. The ’90s not only had his lead-starring masterpiece Groundhog Day, but also the zany What About Bob?, and his first reinvention as the patron saint of comedic melancholia, Rushmore. All that paved the way for his towering 2000s output, featuring The Royal Tenenbaums, Lost in Translation, his Best Actor-nominated Broken Flowers, and Garfield…which we’re mentioning because it led directly to his inspired cameo in Zombieland.
Now, take a look at Bill Murray movies ranked by Tomatometer.
(Photo by Universal/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail image: Sony Pictures, Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection.)
If we had known that The Rock was indeed cooking a biggest-star-in-the-world movie career, we would’ve stuck our noses up in there a lot sooner. Yes, we would have sniffed up those early stinkers Doom and Be Cool, because at least nestled somewhere in there was The Rundown, which featured peak Seann William Scott and a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger passing the action torch to this upstart, the man who would be Dwayne Johnson. And indeed Johnson was the action man of the mid-aughts, tacking on the likes of Walking Tall to his brawny resume. And like his action forebears, he made a curve into family comedy, releasing The Game Plan, The Tooth Fairy, and Race to Witch Mountain to the delight, we assume, of some people. On a scale between Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot to Kindergarten Cop, we rate Johnson’s comedy career detour Top Dog.
But things turned around in 2010. That’s the year he jumped face first off a building into the pavement. And thus was born a new action/comedy classic: The Other Guys. Meanwhile, ’70s-style throwback Faster showed a leaner, meaner Johnson back in a hard-hitting groove. He was invited into the Fast & Furious family, helping turn Fast Five into the franchise’s first Certified Fresh entry and a global phenomenon. San Andreas, Rampage, and Skyscraper turned him into the master of disaster, while Moana and Fighting With My Family, which he also produced, are among his highest-rated movies.
Central Intelligence was the first collaboration Johnson had with Kevin Hart, which was merely the opening for the main course: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the unlikely reboot-sequel that connected with audiences and critics worldwide. He, Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan all came back for Jumanji: The Next Level, and we’re taking a look back on all of Dwayne Johnson’s movies ranked by Tomatometer!
From the football field to the professional wrestling arena to the big screen, Dwayne Johnson has dominated every field he’s entered — and with his latest outing, the big-screen adaptation of the arcade classic Rampage, roaring its way into cineplexes this weekend, we figured now would be a pretty good time to honor that success by taking a fond look back at what he’s been cooking at theaters since breaking into the movie business. Oil up those pecs, because it’s time for Total Recall!
From the football field to the professional wrestling arena to the big screen, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has dominated every field he’s entered — and with his latest action outing, Brett Ratner’s Hercules, flexing its way into cineplexes this weekend, we figured now would be a pretty good time to honor that success by taking a fond look back at what he’s been cooking at theaters since breaking into the movie business. Oil up those pecs, because it’s time for Total Recall!
When Dwayne Johnson moved out of the wrestling ring and into family-friendly filmmaking, many of the roles available to him tended toward the excessively kiddie end of the spectrum, a la 2010’s Tooth Fairy. But at least in terms of its outline, 2006’s Gridiron Gang would seem to have offered the best of both worlds — a wholesomely uplifting drama about a tough-as-nails probation officer who lifts L.A. kids out of their lives of juvie crime by offering them a strong example of positive male leadership. Alas, most critics felt that this Gang didn’t flash enough of the right signs during its time on the screen; although few writers argued against the movie’s undeniably admirable aims, they felt screenwriter Jeff Maguire’s script did a poor job of bringing dramatic life to a real-life situation that deserved more depth. Still, for some scribes, the ends justified the means; as Claudia Puig wrote for USA Today, “Gridiron entertains and makes a powerful point about the faults inherent in the penal system, particularly for youths with hopes of rehabilitation.”
As acting gigs go, the prospect of taking over the reins of an effects-driven franchise from Brendan Fraser probably don’t rank high on many movie stars’ wish lists — but after Journey to the Center of the Earth made more than $240 million in 2008, a sequel was pretty much a foregone conclusion, and by securing the services of Johnson and Vanessa Hudgens to round out the cast with returning young lead Josh Hutcherson, the producers of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island probably felt like they had the makings of an all-ages blockbuster waiting to happen. In financial terms, they were right — Journey 2 broke the $300 million mark — but critically speaking, the results proved a letdown, with many writers questioning the clunky mishmash of dopey plotting and Hudgens cleavage shots. For others, though, those were minor missteps worth looking past to see a good old-fashioned adventure; Beliefnet’s Nell Minow, for example, called it “A well-paced and highly entertaining family film made with good humor, panache, and imagination.”
Dwayne Johnson against Billy Bob Thornton in an action thriller about an ex-con out to avenge his brother’s death while on the lam from an aging lawman and psychotic hitman? By all rights, 2010’s Faster should have been exactly the sort of out-and-out smash that makes absolutely no bones about playing squarely to each of its participants’ strengths — especially given that it saw Johnson’s return to R-rated action after an uneven stretch of family-friendly fare. Sadly, most critics felt Faster failed to live up to its title, and audiences seemed to agree, sending the film to an ignominious $35 million total at the box office. Once again, however, our star’s work was singled out as a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing movie: “Johnson’s performance is one of seething rage camouflaging emotional scars as ugly as the physical ones,” wrote Gary Dowell of the Dallas Morning News, calling Johnson’s Driver “a grim, single-minded figure straight out of a Jim Thompson or Richard Stark novel.”
For viewers of a certain age, Disney’s Witch Mountain movies — adapted from Alexander Key’s classic novels — rank among the studio’s better live-action efforts, although it would be hard to argue the notion that the films’ acting and/or special effects offered room for improvement. So when director Andy Fickman took the helm for a franchise reboot in 2009, with Johnson attached to play a cab driver who ends up acting as reluctant protector for a pair of mysterious kids (AnnaSophia Robb and Alexander Ludwig) on the run from a cruel Defense Department goon (Ciarán Hinds), it didn’t seem altogether out of the question that they might produce compelling results. Unfortunately, Race to Witch Mountain wasn’t quite the sequel-starter the studio seemed to be hoping for; although it did decent business, racking up more than $145 million in worldwide grosses, many critics were let down by the movie’s lack of depth and reluctance to explore the poignant, intelligent themes in Key’s books. As tends to be the case with even his worst-reviewed films, however, Johnson earned praise for his charismatic performance. “The star of this movie universe is undeniably Dwayne. His cinematic charisma is as big as his biceps,” wrote Film.com’s Christine Champ. “Hard and soft in all the right spots, he’s a badass hero with heart, armed with world-weary one-liners and wicked comic timing.”
Michael Bay movies are frequently derided for their general insensitivity — to character development, to all notions of filmmaking subtlety, to the art of storytelling, to viewers’ eardrums — but if ever a movie seemed like it might call for that treatment, it should have been Pain & Gain, which adapts the true-life story of a group of Miami gym rats (Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Anthony Mackie) whose thirst for wealth leads them to make a series of spectacularly ill-advised decisions, including kidnapping, theft, and murder. Unfortunately, Bay’s insensitivity hampered him here, too; in the eyes of many critics, his decision to treat the story as a sort of gaudy action comedy felt wrong, given that it’s a movie about horrible things that happened to real people. Set that aside, however, and you might just enjoy Pain & Gain on its own merits: “Might this be the best Michael Bay film ever?” asked Tara Brady for the Irish Times. “We know what you’re thinking. But we mean it in a good way.”
By 2008, Steve Carell’s work as Michael Scott on NBC’s The Office had elevated him to the ranks of comedy’s preeminent doofuses, so he was a natural choice to step into Don Adams’ hallowed shoe phones when Warner Bros. decided to put together a modernized film adaptation of the classic 1960s TV spy comedy Get Smart. Alas, in spite of Carell’s suitably bumbling turn as clueless spy Maxwell Smart — and the presence of a strong supporting cast that included Alan Arkin as Smart’s exasperated chief, Anne Hathaway as the inexplicably amorous Agent 99, and Dwayne Johnson as the impossibly smooth Agent 23 — Smart left many critics cold. For others, the key to enjoyment was lowered expectations; as Susan Tavernetti argued for Palo Alto Weekly, “You’ll have a better time if you don’t expect this re-imagined work to resemble the original. The phone shoe does fit Carell, and he wears it well.”
It’s got a one-word title and a tough-lookin’ Dwayne Johnson behind the wheel of a truck, but Snitch isn’t your average Rock action thriller. Directed by Ric Roman Waugh, it’s actually something of a message movie, starring Johnson as the anguished father of a boy (Rafi Gavron) whose trumped-up drug-dealing charges could send him to prison for at least 10 years — unless Dad follows through on a hastily struck deal with the US Attorney’s office, the terms of which require him to infiltrate a local drug kingpin with no support from law enforcement. With Johnson in the lead, the temptation to turn Snitch into a typically overdriven action flick had to have been high, and it’s to Waugh’s credit that he actually practices a modicum of restraint; unfortunately, many critics felt that left the movie stranded in a rather dull no-man’s-land between thoughtful drama and brainless thrills. Still, it wasn’t without its admirers; as Tom Russo wrote for the Boston Globe, “Nobody is going to confuse a Dwayne Johnson movie with Les Misérables. But Snitch gets a decent amount of drama (and action, of course) out of the argument that there’s paying for a crime, and then there’s overpaying.”
Retooled into an action franchise that just happened to include lots of cars, the Fast & Furious series roared into its sixth installment with a lot more momentum than most similarly persistent film properties, and although the reviews for Fast & Furious 6 weren’t quite as kind as they’d been for Fast Five, critics were still generally on board for another round of Johnson, Vin Diesel, and Paul Walker wreaking extralegal mayhem in order to bring down a truly nasty bad guy. The heavy this time around is Shaw (Luke Evans), whose nefarious plot stretches beyond your average multi-national criminal ring; in fact, he’s gone and — you guessed it — made things personal for our heroes. “Some of the action sequences are insane,” enthused the Denver Post’s Lisa Kennedy. “No, really. Absurd, impossible, physics defying, triage-required stuff. No matter. That’s the foolish rush of a franchise that must go faster and faster and furiouser and furiouser.”
It’s a formula as old as film: Take a big, strong guy, give him a more averagely built comedic foil, and stand back while the laff-a-minute hijinks fly. Kind of a cheap cinematic trick, but one that still tends to work pretty well; why, just take a look at The Rundown, which throws Johnson and Seann William Scott together in an action caper about a retiring bounty hunter (Johnson) who’s wheedled into hunting down his boss’s twerpy wayward son (Scott) in a Brazilian rainforest where he’s managed to tick off an unscrupulous mining kingpin (Christopher Walken) while pursuing some treasure. It’s the kind of movie that delivers the expected beats at the expected moments, but thrives on the charisma of its stars; as James Berardinelli wrote for ReelViews, “The Rundown offers everything a good movie of this sort should: plenty of suspenseful action, a few good laughs, and a share of obligatory ‘reluctant buddy’ bonding.”
The Fast and the Furious franchise seemed to be petering out after 2006’s Tokyo Drift, but things got back on track with 2009’s The Fast and the Furious — which in turn set up 2011’s Fast Five, the fifth installment that turned the series into the sequel-churning heist thriller factory it’s become. Aside from jump-starting FF‘s creative prospects, Five also gave Johnson the part he may have been born to play: government agent Luke Hobbs, the bounty hunter-turned-U.S. Marshal who goes bicep-for-bicep against series mainstays Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. This time around, even critics — who’d always been notoriously recalcitrant where the Fast and Furious movies were concerned — climbed on board, including Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald, who applauded it as “Embarrassingly fun, the sort of speedy, senseless, violence-crammed action flick that virtually defines the summer season, with superheroes who aren’t gods or crusaders in tights but guys in T-shirts and jeans who can drive cars really fast.”
In case you were wondering, here are Johnson’s top 10 movies according RT users’ scores:
1. Fast & Furious — 84%
2. Gridiron Gang — 82%
3. Fast Five — 82%
4. The Game Plan — 70%
5. Get Smart — 67%
6. The Rundown — 67%
7. Snitch — 62%
8. Walking Tall — 61%
9. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island — 60%
10. G.I. Joe: Retaliation — 49%
Finally, here’s Mr. Johnson’s famous catch phrase:
In the entertainment world, nothing succeeds like success. For decades, we’ve been treated to television spinoffs of popular movies, and blockbuster silver screen reboots of decades-old TV properties. Still, audiences have a natural curiosity about how their old favorites will be handled in a different format, and how a new actor or actress will perform in an already familiar role. (We’re limiting our list to TV-movie crossovers, so you won’t see James Bond here — and yes, we know about the 1954 made-for-TV version of Casino Royale.) With that in mind, we’ve compiled a brief list of roles that were occupied by different thespians when a franchise made the shift from movies to TV (or vice versa). We know there are plenty more examples out there, so be sure to tell us some of your favorites in the comments.
If nothing else, the 2010 adaptation of The A-Team equaled — and in some cases, bested — its predecessor in terms of mindless action — if memory serves, no one attempted to fly a parachuting tank at any point during the series’ five seasons. And in a head-to-head battle of actor gravitas (George Peppard, Dirk Benedict, Dwight Schultz, and Mr. T versus Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson), we’d have to give the edge to the latter four. Still, the 1980s wouldn’t have been quite the same without the original series, which mixed explosive action and goofy yuks with greater aplomb than its big-screen cousin.
Winners: The original A-Team. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Joss Whedon wrote the script for the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was panned by critics abut did reasonably well at the box office. In 1997, the TV version of Buffy — which adhered more closely to Whedon’s original vision — hit the airwaves, and became one of the most cultishly adored shows of the decade. Nowadays, when someone mentions Buffy, most people think of Sarah Michelle Gellar, not Kristy Swanson.
Winner: Sarah Michelle Gellar, putting her slaying skills to good use.
A clever, contemporary take on Jane Austin’s Emma, Clueless might not have worked without Alicia Silverstone’s deft comic performance as Cher, a fashion-obsessed rich girl who’s also sly and loveable. When Clueless became a sleeper hit at the box office and a cult favorite with teenagers, a TV spinoff was probably inevitable. With Rachel Blanchard taking over as Cher, and with a few key supporting players from the movie on board, Clueless ran for a respectable three seasons, though it failed to fully capture the wry wit of its source.
Winner: Alicia Silverstone. Some people are not lucky enough to be as naturally adorable as she is.
No one would ever mistake The Dukes of Hazzard for high art, but for seven seasons, the goofy, exhaust-spewing antics of Bo (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat) — and of course, their cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach) — scored huge ratings for CBS. But while the 2005 The Dukes of Hazzard movie was a financial success, critics were far less enamored with the big-screen incarnations of Bo, Luke, and Daisy (Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, and Jessica Simpson, respectively).
Winner: The old-school Dukes, makin’ their way the only way they know how.
Harrison Ford’s frantic, feral energy helped to make The Fugitive one of the biggest critical and commercial smashes of 1993. So compelling was the film, in fact, that it practically erased its source material from the public consciousness, despite the fact that The Fugitive was a sizable hit in its day. Loosely based upon the Sam Sheppard murder case, The Fugitive starred David Janssen as Richard Kimble, a doctor who goes on the lam — and in search of a mysterious one-armed man — after being falsely accused of murdering his wife.
Winner: Harrison Ford, for the epic beard-shaving scene alone.
Steve Carell seems born to play Maxwell Smart: few contemporary actors are as good at personifying the mix of cluelessness and supreme self-confidence that Don Adams brought to the role in the original series. However, while Get Smart the show emphasized laughs over action, the 2008 film version took the opposite approach, and critics felt the end result, to borrow Maxwell’s famous catch phrase, missed it by that much.
Winner: Would you believe… it’s Don Adams?
Robert Altman was one of cinema’s greatest directors, and M*A*S*H is certainly a classic. However, the television version of M*A*S*H has far outpaced the film in the popular imagination. Donald Sutherland played Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce in the movie, but Alan Alda’s performance in the role on TV made him a star. The series finale, Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, remains one of the most-watched non-Super Bowl programs in American television history.
Winners: Alan Alda. 125 million M*A*S*H fans can’t be wrong.
When it debuted in 1984, Miami Vice was nothing short of a phenomenon — as Crockett and Tubbs, Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas were the coolest cops on prime time. Series executive producer Michael Mann adopted a darker tone for his Miami Vice film in 2006, but unfortunately, audiences and critics found the new adventures of Crockett and Tubbs (Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx) to be lacking the sleek, slick fun factor of the show.
Winners: Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. When in doubt, go with the dudes in pastels.
Jennifer Lopez lit up the screen as tough-but-sexy U.S. Marshall Karen Sisco in Steven Soderbergh’s noir-ish crime caper Out of Sight. Unfortunately, Sisco’s magnetism didn’t attract enough viewers on the small screen; starring Carla Gugino, Karen Sisco ran for seven episodes in 2003 before ABC pulled the plug.
Winner: Jenny from the block.
On paper, a big-screen remake of the 1960s CBS series The Wild Wild West — described by creator Michael Garrison as “James Bond on horseback” — probably seemed pretty sound. The show’s proto-steampunk aesthetic could certainly benefit from modern advances in special effects, and the casting of Will Smith as James West (played in the original series by Robert Conrad) was practically money in the bank in 1999. (Kevin Kline played Artemus Gordon, who was portrayed by Ross Martin in the series.) In practice, however, Wild Wild West was a legendary bomb that “won” five Razzies and disappointed at the box office.
Winner: Draw. The movie was such a dud that it even deep-sixed a revival in its source material.
The 35th annual People’s Choice Awards were handed out on January 7, 2009. A complete list of film nominees, with winners in bold, follows below.
Favorite Action Movie:
The Dark Knight
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Source: People’s Choice Awards
This week, pick up Steve Carell’s sweetly bumbling spy antics (Get Smart), the promising new Futurama movie (Bender’s Game), a few early holiday treats (Shrek the Halls, A Christmas Story Collector’s Edition) and more, plus learn about the future of digital movie rentals and another controversial election-timed DVD coming in the mail.
Bumbling spy Maxwell Smart got a 2008 update, courtesy of Office darling Steve Carell, when Warner Bros.’ big budget action-comedy Get Smart smashed its way through theaters to a $221 million global box office take. This week, take home the gadgets-and-gags adventure as Get Smart makes its way to DVD and Blu-ray!
In Get Smart, CONTROL analyst Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) yearns to become a field agent, like his idol, Agent 23 (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). When the agency is attacked, it’s up to Smart to save the world and all of CONTROL from the evil forces of KAOS.
Special DVD features include five featurettes, a bonus digital copy, and the “Comedy Optimization Mode,” in which you can view over 20 minutes of alternate jokes — what Warner Bros. calls “62% more laughs.” Watch Steve Carell unleash a barrage of alternate jokes with a sample of Get Smart‘s “Smart Takes” DVD feature below!
Next: Futurama: Bender’s Game
Futurama fans still hopeful for a franchise turnaround after the last mildly disappointing direct-to-DVD film, The Beast with a Billion Backs, should be pleasantly satisfied by the third feature-length adventure starring the Planet Express crew. Deviating from the tone set by the popular cancelled series and the first two of four subsequent DVD films, Bender’s Game takes 21st century pizza boy Fry, one-eyed gladiatrix Leela, misanthropic robot Bender and their pals away from science fiction and into the realm of the true nerd: fantasy.
As the gang embarks on a dangerous quest for dark matter to fuel their spaceship, they become fantastical characters straight out of Dungeons & Dragons, as imagined by Bender. A rich feature-length commentary by cast and crew, deleted scenes, bloopers, and more accompany the disc, along with cool featurettes including one that teaches you to draw Zoidberg, Leela and Bender.
Next: TIVO and Netflix partnership
What would happen if the future of DVD rentals and the future of digital video recording joined forces? We’ll find out soon enough, as rent-by-mail trailblazer Netflix and DVR pioneer TiVo have officially cemented a long-discussed partnership that could significantly change the world of home video entertainment.
Thanks to the partnership announced Thursday, mutual subscribers to Netflix and TiVo will soon be able to download their Netflix queue through their TiVo feed, eliminating the need to receive and return physical DVDs through the mail. And you thought it couldn’t get any easier!
Next: Anti-Obama DVD in newspapers
In a move similar to the controversial anti-Islam DVD mailed to households across America back in September, a conservative group is funding the distribution of anti-Barack Obama DVDs in the swing states of Ohio, Florida and Nevada only days away from next Tuesday’s Presidential election.
Hype: The Obama Effect will arrive in the mail along with five major newspapers in the aforementioned states this week; David Bossie, president of Citizens United, who will be spending $1 million on the effort, calls the DVD and its message “a truthful attack.” Look for your copy in The Columbus Dispatch, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Palm Beach Post, and the Las Vegas Journal-Review. Read more here.
Director Brad Anderson (Next Stop Wonderland, The Machinist, Session 9) sets strangers on a train rumbling across the icy Russian tundra in this taut thriller, new to DVD. Emily Mortimer and Woody Harrelson star as a married couple traveling on the famous Trans-Siberian railroad when they befriend another couple (Eduardo Noriega, Kate Mara) who draw them into dangerous plot of infidelity, drugs, and murder. What’s more criminal is the lack of special features on this sparse, yet intriguing, release.
Next: The Bourne Trilogy
Amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne made a game-changing Hollywood debut with 2002’s The Bourne Identity, followed by two impressive sequels that held up the hype (2004’s The Bourne Supremacy) and then surpassed it (2007’s Oscar-winning The Bourne Ultimatum). This week you can get your hands on the super-charged series as the complete trilogy comes to DVD and Blu-ray — a perfect way to start getting excited about the just-announced fourth Bourne flick, set to reunite star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass.
Next: Shrek the Halls
Shrek, Donkey, Princess Fiona and their friends gather to celebrate the Shrek family’s first Christmas in this holiday special that first aired last November. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Banderas reprise their roles from the Shrek feature films in this 30 minute program. But considering its brief runtime and too-light smattering of special features, Shrek the Halls may be a worthwhile investment for strictly die-hard fans of the franchise.
Next: What We Do is Secret
Revisit one of the more tragic stories in punk rock history with this biopic of Germs frontman Darby Crash, who lit up LA’s 1970 punk scene before realizing a five-year plan for fame that ended with his planned suicide. Shot guerilla-style over the course of two years, director Rodger Grossman’s meticulously-detailed film drew mixed results from critics but should be an intriguing watch for Germs faithful. Founding Germs member Pat Smear (who would go on to join Nirvana and Foo Fighters) produced all of the film’s music, which was performed largely by the cast; after providing his own vocals as lead singer Darby Crash, actor Shane West (yes, the dude from A Walk to Remember) went on to tour with the remaining Germs under the moniker The New Germs.
Next: Waterworld: Extended Edition
Can the movie once known as “Fishtar” improve with an additional 40 minutes of footage? Find out this week, as Waterworld: 2-Disc Extended Edition hits shelves. A lucky thirteen years after it debuted as one of the most expensive flops in movie history (global sales eventually evened out the $175M budget), Kevin Costner’s pricey aquatic odyssey returns to DVD, but what has been added?
If you recall the original cut, you’ll be pleased to notice new scenes that flesh out the daily experiences of Costner’s Mariner, who gets a new name, and those of the Smokers. The downside: this extended cut, though closer to director Kevin Reynold’s vision, is the same one televised in 1997 and hasn’t been cleaned up much, so expect the TV-ready absence of profanity, nudity, and some scenes of violence.
Next: A Christmas Story Ultimate Collector’s
If you don’t already own one of the previously-released special editions of this holiday classic, consider throwing down for this bonus-packed Ultimate Collector’s Edition; we triple-dog dare you. The tale of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) holding out for the ultimate present — a Red Ryder BB gun — one Christmas in 1940 remains one of the best-loved family flicks of the holiday season, and Warner Bros. has gift-wrapped it in an amazing set for DVD and Blu-ray.
Pick up the DVD set for a plethora of extras, including an audio commentary with director Bob Clark and actors Billingsley and Melinda Dillon, featurettes, a documentary and more; you’ll also get a 48-page recipe book, chef’s apron, and a set of cookie cutters with designs based on iconic moments in the film (leg lamp cookies!). Blu-ray buyers will get even more special features, including script pages, and a string of leg lamp holiday lights.
This week saw the announcement of a couple of sequels, some casting news/rumors for two big DC Comics titles, two new biopics and adaptations of some classic English lit. Thankfully, no remakes this week!
#1 GET SMART 2: GET SMARTER
Following the success this past summer of Get Smart, Warner Bros has both signed Steve Carell to return in a Get Smart sequel, and signed the comedian-actor to a three picture first look production deal (which doesn’t include Get Smart 2). No writer or director has been announced yet, and there’s no word yet on any returning cast besides Steve Carell, such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Anne Hathaway. Considering Johnson’s continuing love affair with kiddie movies, maybe Get Smart 2 will prove too mature and sophisticated to come back to.
#2 KEVIN COSTNER IS FULL OF BULL (DURHAM)
The New York Post is reporting that Kevin Costner has been in Los Angeles, talking to Bull Durham director Ron Shelton (Tin Cup, White Men Can’t Jump) about reteaming once again on Bull Durham 2, which would also see the return of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, whose characters now own a MLB baseball team that Costner’s character Crash Davis manages. Kristen Kerr, costar of Showtime’s Dexter, is expected to costar as Crash Davis’ latest romantic interest. The idea of a Bull Durham 2 seems a bit out of left field, but if Stallone can come back with Rocky Balboa and Rambo, why not?
#3 STUDIO MOVIES FILMING IN MID-2009 EXAMINED
As negotiations continue with the Screen Actors Guild, Variety published an overview this week of the 40+ movies that the studios are aiming to start production on in the spring or summer of 2009, and there are some interesting titles. We’ve heard that most of the titles in the article were in development, but it’s an entirely different thing to actually see that a production start date has been decided upon. The movies the studios hope to start filming by next summer (see the article for the full list) include: The A-Team, Alvin and the Chipmunks 2, Beverly Hills Cop 4, Bioshock (videogame adaptation), Clash of the Titans, Footloose (starring Zac Efron), Gears of War (videogame adaptation), The Green Hornet, Iron Man 2, Jonah Hex, Mars Needs Moms (Robert Zemeckis-produced CGI), A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ramona (Beverly Cleary’s), Robocop, Sex and the City 2, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Fantasia spin-off starring Nicholas Cage), Thor, Tr2n and Wild Hogs 2.
#4 DC COMICS MOVIES CASTING UP
With W. opening next week, Josh Brolin is already in talks to star in what is being seen as a potential franchise starter, Jonah Hex, based upon the long-running DC Comics title from the 1970s (and in other titles in the 30 years since), about a scarred former Confederate soldier turned Western bounty hunter. Jonah Hex would go on to spend his second series, published in the 1980s, in the future, but the latest script review suggests this first movie is set entirely in the 19th century. Jonah Hex is being written and will be directed by the team of Mark Neveldine Brian Taylor (Crank). That’s not the only DC casting news, however, as Latino Review is reporting that Warner Bros’ top choice to play Hal Jordan in the fast-tracked Green Lantern movie is Ryan Gosling (The Notebook). Gosling continues to show himself to be a really top notch young actor, but he doesn’t really look like Hal Jordan to me (something about his eyes, they’re too… squinty?).
#5 RIDLEY SCOTT AND LEONARDO DICAPRIO’S BRAVE NEW WORLD
Earlier this year, Ridley Scott made a comment that his next film after Nottingham would be an adaptation of a sci-fi novel, which led to online speculation that it might be Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Well, the trades haven’t picked up on this yet, but the talented director of Alien and Gladiator has confirmed in this interview that yes, indeed, Brave New World is his next project! Scott says that the project was brought to him by Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way (The Aviator, the upcoming Atari biopic), and that the director feels that DiCaprio would be “perfect for it.” Brave New World is set in a future governed by a world “utopia” where everyone does drugs and sex is purely for recreation, because the government uses “hatcheries” to create test tube babies. The script is still being worked on, so that does put a bit of a question mark about whether it will really be Scott’s next after Nottingham, but this is still very exciting news.
#6 HELEN MIRREN TO STAR IN A FEMINIZED VERSION OF THE TEMPEST
Director Julie Taymor (Frida, Across the Universe) made her debut with the flamboyantly designed Shakespeare adaptation Titus, and now she’s returning to the Bard’s work with The Tempest, one of his most mysterious and mystical plays, but with a twist: the magician Prospero will now be Prospera, and played by Helen Mirren. The Tempest is set on a magical island inhabited by the sorceress and Duchess, Prospera, her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones), her mystical servant Ariel (played by Ben Wishaw, another gender switch) and the deformed slave, Caliban (Djimon Hounsou). The story is propelled by the arrival of the passengers of the royal ship (wrecked by a storm caused by Prospera) of Prospera’s brother, King Alonso of Naples (Jeremy Irons), which include Gonzalo, a former advisor of Prospera’s (Geoffrey Rush, in talks), a butler (Alfred Monlina) and a jester (Russell Brand). The Tempest, which is scheduled to start filming in Hawaii in November to capture the appropriate island atmosphere (maybe they will bump into the Lost crew?), will be distributed by Miramax.
#7 ROSE MCGOWAN TO TAKE ON DEEP THROAT STAR?
Following Anna Faris’ recent departure from the project, Fox News is reporting that Rose McGowan is now in talks to star as 1970s porn star Linda Lovelace in the biopic about the actress, titled Inferno, and being produced by Brian Grazer, who also produced the Inside Deep Throat documentary. Inferno is being directed by relative newcomer Matthew Wilder (Your Name Here), with that movie’s star, Bill Pullman, reportedly costarring as Hugh Hefner and Josh Lucas playing Lovelace’s abusive first husband.
#8 LOUIS ARMSTRONG BIOPIC: WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
Charles S. Dutton announced earlier this year that he has a deal with HBO to develop a six hour mini-series about the life of famed jazz trumpeter (and singer) Louis Armstrong. So, actor/director Forest Whitaker (First Daughter, Hope Floats) has signed a deal with a French production company to direct and star in What a Wonderful World, a theatrical biopic about Armstrong, from a script by Ron Bass (Dangerous Minds, What Dreams May Come), who also cowrote Whitaker’s directorial debut, Waiting to Exhale. This will be Whitaker’s second run at portraying a jazz great, following his turn as Charlie Parker in Bird. What a Wonderful World is scheduled to start filming in the summer of 2009 in Louisiana.
#9 TOM THUMB: THE NEXT BIG LITTLE THING?
With Marvel prepping their Ant-Man movie for sometime in the next few years, Warner Bros. has fast-tracked a potential tentpole project based on the English folklore character Tom Thumb, with Kevin Lima (A Goofy Movie, Enchanted) directing and Red Wagon Productions (Stuart Little, Bewitched) producing. Revamping the tiny character’s origin story (which was often connected to Merlin and King Arthur), the script by Robert Rodat (The Patriot, Saving Private Ryan) is about an arrogant knight who is shrunk to 6 inches tall while assigned to protect a princess.
#10 HOLLYWOOD TO MAKE ANOTHER HINDU MOVIE AFTER THE LOVE GURU
Good news, Hindus, followers of the 3rd largest religion on the planet: Mike Myers did not kill all future hopes of your faith getting attention on the big screen with this summer’s atrocity, The Love Guru. The newly renamed Liquid Comics (formerly Virgin Comics) has signed a deal with producer Mark Canton (300, Land of the Dead) and Mandalay Pictures (Sleepy Hollow) to make a movie version of their comic title, Ramayan 3392 A.D., which is a futuristic sci-fi series inspired by the blue-skinned Hindu prince, Rama (an avatar of Vishnu), and his battle against the evil demon, Ravan. The comic series was created by self-help author Deepak Chopra and film director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth, The Golden Age), as part of Liquid/Virgin’s mission to publish comic book titles written by celebrities like directors, actors and musicians. Sony Online Entertainment is also developing a MMO video game (like World of Warcraft) based upon Ramayan 3392 A.D. John Collee (cowriter of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) is working on the script.