This week the shelves are packed, and just in time for the holidays! Check out the long-awaited big-screen debut of Springfield’s finest (The Simpsons Movie), Matthew Vaughn‘s fantastic tale of witches, romance, and flying pirates (Stardust), or, as we strongly advise, take a chance on one of the year’s best cinematic gems (Once).
It took eleven Simpsons scribes to bring the yellowest family in America to the big screen — and a marketing campaign turning 7-Eleven stores into Kwik-E-Marts that can only be described as “inspired” — but the payoff was huge. After 19 more-or-less stellar seasons (ok, quite a few were less but it got better, didn’t it?) Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie made a fashionably late entrance into the movies, to the tune of over half a billion dollars and counting, with a feature-length adventure involving the destruction of Springfield, a pet pig, environmentalism, Albert Brooks, and Green Day.
Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’ illustrated fairy tale captivated readers upon publication in 1997; a decade later, Layer Cake director Matthew Vaughn enlisted the likes of Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Charlie Cox) in an English town called Wall bordered by a secret realm of magic, pirates and witches, the Certified Fresh Stardust dazzled critics with its heartfelt, if sprawling, tale of romance and adventure. Check out the DVD for behind-the-scenes commentary, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel.
John Carney‘s Irish Once is, quite simply, one of the best films of 2007. The micro-budgeted musical — shot for an astounding $160,000 guerilla-style, on the streets of Dublin — stars real-life artistic partners Glen Hansard (of The Frames) and Marketa Irglova, as a busker and an immigrant who meet and form an immediate musical bond. The Grammy-nominated soundtrack bears 13 hauntingly beautiful original songs, which alone are worth the price of admission. If you missed it in theaters — and a lot of you did — pick it up now on DVD.
In 1982, Ridley Scott unleashed his stylishly noir sci-fi tale of replicants and blade runners onto the world, and geeks the world over were never the same. But whose vision did they see? After a 1992 Director’s Cut that was ironically not Scott-approved, we now have Blade Runner: The Final Cut. At 93 percent, the original version already had overwhelming critical praise; at 96 percent, Scott’s “final” vision, available this week, may be even closer to perfection.
The original Bring it On (2000) was a gem of a teen comedy about a privileged high school cheer captain (Kirsten Dunst) trawling the cutthroat waters of competitive cheerleading; the uninspired sequel, set on a college campus, provoked one to lament “it’s already been broughten.” Thankfully, a third installment (Bring it On: All or Nothing, starring Hayden Panetierre) revived the flagging franchise, leading us to hope, spirit fingers waving, that the feat could be repeated…in a third sequel! Bring it On: In It To Win It is that new hope — a cheertastic take on Romeo and Juliet. Sigh.
If you’re like me, you love Comedy Central’s Reno 911; maybe, then, you won’t mind the underrated Balls of Fury, an Enter The Dragon-style spoof about the illicit ping-pong circuit starring Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken, Maggie Q and James (Lo Pan!) Hong. Lo Pan!
This week at the movies, we’ve got wacky cops ("Reno 911!: Miami"), numerological tension ("The Number 23," starring Jim Carrey), a rocket man ("The Astronaut Farmer," starring Billy Bob Thornton), and a haunted house ("The Abandoned"). What do the critics have to say?
On the small screen, the "COPS" parody "Reno 911," with its incompetent lawmen, zany situations, and absurd fashions, is good for its share of laughs. In the multiplex? Critics say "Reno 911!: Miami" is a slightly less arresting proposition. The gang heads to Miami to break up a terrorist plot on spring break; hilarity ensues. Sketch comedy is often on shaky ground when moved from the tube to the big screen, and a few of the critics say "Reno 911" is no exception; they feel the film has some good laughs but ultimately runs out of steam. Others say that fans of the show will get exactly what they want. At 55 percent on the Tomatometer, "911" is a call you have to make for yourself. (Check out an interview with "Reno 911" cast members by RT’s own Jen Yamato.)
I don’t know about you, but when I think of the number 23, visions of Michael Jordan dance in my head. (Or perhaps former Red Sox first baseman Brian Daubach.) Director Joel Schumacher and star Jim Carrey want the titular figure to be synonymous with psychological intrigue, but the critics say it’s more like the law of diminishing returns. Carrey stars as a man whose wife (Virginia Madsen) has given him a pulp novel that appears to be about his life, and he subsequently becomes fixated on the number 23, which seems to turn up everywhere he goes. The pundits say "The Number 23" is incomprehensible and overly busy, draining the film of suspense. At 11 percent on the Tomatometer, you may want to subtract "The Number 23" from your list.
Here’s a high concept for you: "Field of Dreams" in orbit. Sound ridiculous? Well, cynics be darned; critics say "The Astronaut Farmer" is a heartwarming fairytale, an inspirational family film that seems out of place in contemporary Hollywood. The movie tells the tale of a former astronaut (Billy Bob Thornton) who, facing foreclosure on his farm, dreams of building his own rocket against all odds. The pundits say "The Astronaut Farmer" is a heartwarming ride, featuring a strong sense of its Midwestern locale helmed with an unpretentious, pleasant directorial touch by the Polish brothers. At 78 percent on the Tomatometer, "The Astronaut Farmer" may be worth a ride.
It appears that the people behind "The Abandoned" have, ahem, abandoned it, since it wasn’t screened for critics. The film tells the story of a woman who returns to the house where she was born in a remote part of Russia; horrifying events ensue. Get a search party together and Guess that Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release: "Starter for 10," a Britcom about a working class kid at a posh university, is at 86 percent; "Glastonbury," a rockumentary about England’s most venerable music festival, is at 73 percent; "Cocaine Angel," a harrowing no-budget indie about a few days in the lives of Florida addicts, is at 60 percent; "Amazing Grace," about William Wilberforce’s 20 year struggle to end slavery in the British Empire, is at 55 percent; and "Gray Matters," a rom-com about a brother and sister expanding their romantic horizons starring Heather Graham, is at 20 percent.
Finally, props to FernandoDANTE and alwaysforevernow for coming the closest to guessing "Ghost Rider"’s Tomatometer of 27 percent. Get your respective motors running, and then, subsequently, head out on the highway.
Recent Jim Carrey Movies:
27% — Fun With Dick and Jane (2005)
71% — Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
93% — Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
49% — Bruce Almighty (2003)
42% — The Majestic (2001)
Recent Billy Bob Thornton Movies:
27% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
46% — The Ice Harvest (2005)
45% — The Bad News Bears (2005)
79% — Chrystal (2004)
82% — Friday Night Lights (2004)
What did the stars of "Reno 911!: Miami" have to tell us when they sat down to chat (in character) about their upcoming movie? Read the whole outrageous interview, if you dare, for the fine officers’ thoughts on inter-office romance, restraining orders, how Hollywood has changed them, their Oscar picks, and more!
Nobody wears short shorts like Lieutenant Jim Dangle of the Reno Sheriff’s Department. Unfortunately, three minutes into our interview with him earlier this month in San Francisco, his shorts got the better of him, and painfully so. With that auspicious start, RT had a most stimulating talk with three of "Reno 911!"’s most recognizable faces — Lt. Dangle (Thomas Lennon), Deputy Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney-Silver), and Deputy Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant) — to let them set straight the salacious record of their police department, as "documented" in the Comedy Central series "Reno 911!" and this Friday’s big-screen release, "Reno 911!: Miami."
**The following interview contains mature language and content.
RT: What sort of misrepresentations are you worried about coming across in the movie?
Lt. Jim Dangle: A lot of our interactions with each other have been cast forward as if…
Deputy Travis Junior: We’re a bunch of horny retards.
Dangle: Yeah, as if we’re all constantly walking around with a boner, trying to get the other one into some sort of erotic tickle bath.
Deputy Trudy Wiegel: In other words, I think we’re afraid of accuracy.
Dangle: No, no, no…
[At this point in the interview, Dangle gets himself tangled…in his signature short shorts. Laughter and concern ensue.]
RT: How relaxed are the admissions requirements to become a cop in Reno?
Dangle: Very relaxed. Crystal Methamphetamine is sweeping the region, and we need every warm body we can get to fight it. Our new requirements are three push ups (girl push ups are acceptable), one set of monkey bars, and a brief, multiple choice psychological profile. (Sample question: DO YOU FANTASIZE THAT YOU ARE THE ANGEL OF DEATH?) It’s pretty easy stuff. Our drug testing is also a lot looser. A history of shrooms, weed and whippets is no longer an automatic disqualification. So as long as you don’t think you’re the Angel of Death and can do monkey bars, you’re solid.
RT: Ok, so what’s up with you and Officer Jones?
Dangle: You know how sometimes two friends, one friend will…jump out of the showers nude, and will do like a "I’m a little Pokemon" dance for the other one? And one misinterprets it…that’s what I did, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I jumped out nude, I had a three-quarter erection — which was totally coincidental — and I was pretending to be a little Pokemon and I thought he would find this funny. Now it turns out, you can’t account for everybody’s sense of humor. Some people have different senses of humor.
Junior: So the three quarter was accidental, and yet you were the Pokeman.
Dangle: Now see, this is how they twist my words around, and it’s now coming off inappropriate. When the fact is it was very funny if you were there.
Dangle: That’s our relationship, is he filed a…
Junior: Restraining order.
Dangle: Pfft. They call it that.
Junior: You have to stay 50 feet away when you’re off duty.
Dangle: They call it that.
Junior: There are so many restraining orders between different members of our department, that they’re gonna have to build like a 300 yard morning briefing room so we can all go in at once.
Dangle: [Looks across the room] Trudy’s violating one right now.
RT: Before the movie you were kind of reality TV stars, but now that you’ve gone Hollywood how have your lives changed?
Dangle: Certainly name recognition.
Junior: When you’re a law enforcement officer and you drive around, people tend to show their respect by shoutin’…
Dangle: "Hey, f****t!"
Junior: Yeah, or "F**k you, a**hole!"
Trudy: Sometimes they throw s**t at you.
Junior: And now it’s definitely changed…
Dangle: "Hey Dangle, you’re a f****t!" Which means they must know a little bit more about me than before.
Trudy: "Hey Trudy, you f***in’ retard!" Then I get hit.
Junior: So it’s name recognition, it’s getting out there —
Dangle: — name recognition, combined with hate speech.
Dangle: We used to get the hate speech before, but now, we know who they’re talking to. It feels…more specific.
Junior: What’s that? I missed both of those.
Trudy: They’re films, feature films.
Dangle: I tried to get you to come to "Brokeback" with me, remember that’s the one —
Junior: –yeah, you kept saying it was a good cowboy movie…
Dangle: Best cowboy movie ever!
Junior: No, we got a video store, a two dollar video store, in Reno. We don’t get a lot of first-run movies. We usually get Oscars from four, five years ago. And I tend to miss those.
Trudy: Yeah, I just saw "Beaches," and it was incredible! It’s definitely gonna win an Oscar.
Dangle: "As Good As It Gets" — has this one just come out or has that one been out for a while? My goodness, it was a wonderful, splendid film.
We’ve got a two dollar movie theatre that’s mostly used by winos as a sort of "jack off" palace. I’ve been a couple times this year, and I tried to sit through "Finding Neverland" — it just came out here — but there was so much tugging going on around me that it was hard to concentrate. That Depp is a remarkable piece of work, though. I wouldn’t mind.
RT: Have you and Junior seen "Night At The Museum," and what did you think of it?
Dangle: I’m not really into "Art House" type movies like that.
Funnyman Mike Myers will star in Paramount’s sci-fi comedy "How to Survive a Robot Uprising," a movie based on Daniel Wilson’s tongue-in-cheek how-to manual.
Says Variety: "Paramount bought the book last year and set "Reno 911" creators Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant to pen the script. Myers sparked to playing the lead character, a technical administrator who has the thankless job of sounding warnings against the growing presence of robots and researching ways to keep those robots from taking over. Studio has received notes from Myers on the Lennon and Garant draft."
Myers in "Austin Powers in Goldmember"
Looks like the next time we’ll see (er … hear) Myers is in next year’s "Shrek 3."
Variety reports that the "Reno 911!" fellas have cooked up a new comedy feature, and it’ll be a ping pong flick called "Balls of Fury." And here’s the sweet spot: Christopher Walken is in talks to star.
Walken plays Fang, an evil crime lord who is also a pingpong enthusiast. Fogler, the Tony-winning star of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," plays a disgraced player enlisted by the CIA to join a tournament held in Fang’s lair. Lennon plays the comeback kid’s East German nemesis."
In addition to "Reno," Lennon & Garant collaborated on the screenplays for "Taxi," "The Pacifier," and "Herbie: Fully Loaded." Despite those credits, I’m pretty psyched for "Balls of Fury" and the impending "Reno 911!: Miami."
The ever-likable Paul Rudd has joined the cast of "Reno 911! Miami," says Larry Carroll of MTV Movies, which is good news for comedy fans in general. Mr. Rudd previously injected some hilariousness into flicks like "Clueless," "Wet Hot American Summer," "Anchorman," and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," so his inclusion in any new comedy flick is cause for mild celebration.
""40-Year-Old Virgin" co-star Paul Rudd has joined the cast of "Reno 911: Miami," the big-screen version of the heavily improvised Comedy Central TV show. Currently shooting in the Los Angeles area, the film focuses on the not-so-brave men and women of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department as they attend a law-enforcement convention in Miami and end up becoming unlikely defenders against a bioterrorist attack."
The Hollywood Reporter brings news that the cult comedy series "Reno 911!" will soon be making its way into the movie-houses, which should please the cast members, the fans, and Comedy Central a whole heck of a lot.
"The creators of Comedy Central’s "Reno 911!" are taking their cop spoof to the big screen. 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures will co-produce "Reno 911!: Miami," which will be helmed by the TV series’ co-creator, Robert Ben Garant. The film is described as an improvisational-based project that will follow a script written by Garant and fellow series co-creators Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney. "Reno 911!: Miami," which starts shooting Jan. 23 in Miami and Los Angeles, finds the officers visiting a national police convention in Miami Beach at the height of spring break. When the convention center is bio-attacked, it’s up to Reno’s "finest" to save the day."
(Anyone else remember when these guys did "The State" on MTV? Where’s that DVD release already?)