LAMB Alert: “My Best Friend’s Wedding” Casting

29 06 2010

As you may recall in my post announcing my victory in the “LAMB Casting” contest for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” I had the option of choosing the next movie to be recast.  I have chosen. I decided to take “LAMB Casting” in an entirely different direction that I hope will be fun and enjoyable for all.  The movies that have been recast in the past have been very serious, Oscar-type movies like “Doubt” and “The Color Purple.”  My choice is in an entirely different genre: romantic comedy. “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” released in 1997, remains one of my favorite romantic comedies because it is charming, funny, and does not adhere to the formula.  It features Julia Roberts, who was achieving superstardom at the time, and Cameron Diaz, just beginning her own rise.  Dermot Mulroney, the romantic interest, used the movie as a catapault out of indies and into mainstream.  And then there’s Rupert Everett who is just an absolute laugh riot. I want to encourage every LAMB to participate in the event because it’s just too much fun to miss out on.  So as a kick-off of sorts to the challenge, Andrew from “Encore Entertainment,” did a little write-up of each of the roles to be recast.  Read it and submit your cast.

Julianne Potter, our heroine originally played by Roberts: assertive and outspoken, but still insecure it shall be tough to one up Julia
Michael O’Neal, our leading male but not the hero originally played by Dermot Mulroney: good looking and bland (as far as I could tell) really Mulroney was a bit of a bore, let’s see what you can do to improve
Kimberly Wallace, the ingenue originally played by Cameron Diaz: ostensibly naive but not an idiot, personable but just  a little annoying Diaz was golden here, but there are some good options out there
George Downes, the best friend originally played by Rupert Everett: smart, suave and a lot of fun this will be the tough one I think…

Let the games BEGIN!  I’ll say a little prayer for you.





REVIEW: Shrek Forever After

20 05 2010

DreamWorks really struck it big with the “Shrek” franchise.  The original won the first Academy Award for Best Animated Film.  The sequel was the third highest grossing movie of the decade.  Then, out of nowhere, the magic makers forgot what made their previous two installments so successful and churned out a third installment void of joy, laughter, and fun.  I prayed that “Shrek Forever After,” the supposed final entry in the series, would provide closure while still providing the entertainment of the first films.

My wish was their command.  This “Shrek” is a jubilant celebration of the series that will serve as a perfect bookend of the series.  It will have you howling from beginning to end, surpassing the total laugh count of “Shrek the Third” in mere minutes.  Everything you love about “Shrek” is present here – all the adult humor, pop culture references, send-ups of your favorite fairy tales, and the characters we’ve come to adore.

But at the same time, it doesn’t rely on your lingering nostalgia from 2001 and 2004.  “Shrek Forever After” has plenty to give us that is new and exciting, from the introduction of the maniacal Rumpelstiltskin to an engaging plotline that twists Frank Capra.

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REVIEW: The Box

8 04 2010

There was one thing that struck me immediately when I started watching “The Box“: it’s one of the most over-directed movies I have ever seen.  It’s like the little kid who puts shaving cream on his face and thinks he is just like his dad.  With all the ominous music and long, drawn-out shots, Richard Kelly has convinced himself that he has made “The Shining.”  But he is no Stanley Kubrick, and “The Box” is no “The Shining.”  In fact, the movie dabbles its toes in so many different genres that we can never be quite sure exactly what it wants to be.

Is it a mystery?  Well, the insane predictability of the script prevents us from ever really wondering what’s going to happen.  But even if you put that aside, “The Box” is about as subtle as a shotgun in a schoolyard.  All of the symbolism (NASA?  Sartre and “No Exit?”) is so obvious that it sucks any suspense out of the movie.

Is it science-fiction?  Well, the movie works in some sci-fi elements, but they are incorporated as oddly and awkwardly as the aliens in the fourth “Indiana Jones” movie.  I would have been so happy had “The Box” just stuck to analyzing the morality and ethics of pressing a button that gives you a million dollars at the cost of a random person’s life.

Is it horror?  It so desperately wants to be, but the only thing that scared me was the scorched side of Frank Langella’s face, which looks like a half-assed Two-Face.  And even that didn’t really scare me, per se, so much as it gave me a few chills.

Is it a thriller?  Any chance I had at being “thrilled” went out the window after about 10 minutes when I realized that the sluggish pace wasn’t going to let up.  And at all the potential moments of exhilaration, I was too busy ridiculing what I had just seen.

While being none of these things, “The Box” actually manages to be quite a good comedy.  It’s pretty hard not to get a good chuckle out of Cameron Diaz’s horrendous Southern accent, which manages to make Sandra Bullock’s “The Blind Side” dialect seem completely natural.  The movie takes itself way too seriously, and that often leads to some good comedy.  The dialogue is so ridiculous that it becomes quite hilarious, particularly when Diaz delivers it.  But even as a comedy, “The Box” is still a pratfall, just like it is as any other genre.  C- /





What To Look Forward To In … November 2009

7 10 2009

The holiday movie season begins to kick into high gear in the month of November, as does exciting Oscar season.  Accordingly, this post is longer than the previous monthly preview posts.  Brace yourself for movie mania coming your way in a few weeks.  Sit back, relax, and let Marshall guide you through the coming attractions.

November 6

From the mainstream movie perspective, the hot movie of this weekend will be Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.”  Shot with the same motion capture technology that Zemeckis used to make “The Polar Express,” the movie will cash in on premium ticket prices from 3D and IMAX 3D screenings.  My main concern about the quality of the movie itself lies with its principal actor, Jim Carrey, who will act as Scrooge and all three ghosts.  I doubt Zemeckis will permit it, but I fear that Carrey will make a mockery of Dickens’ classic novel much in the fashion of Mike Meyers with “The Cat in the Hat.”  Regardless of what critics say, I will probably end up seeing this with the family for some good old-fashioned family fun at the movies.

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” is the first movie of the holiday season to which George Clooney lends his talents.  Here, he plays a a military man in charge of a secret unit that attempts to use psychic powers for military purpose.  One such activity is to attempt to kill goats just by staring at them.  The movie also stars Ewan MacGregor as the reporter who discovers it all; the cast also includes Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey.  The movie is directed and adapted by Grant Heslov, previously nominated for an Academy Award for his work on “Good Night, and Good Luck.”  The trailer seems to show Heslov’s approach as similar to the Coen Brothers who usually provide a fun-filled romp.  Maybe the film will be a bona-fide indie hit, and Overture Films will be able to claim their first movie to gross over $50 million.  But we’ll have to see.

I’ve already written about the Oscar favorite, “Precious,” in a previous Oscar Moment.  I’ll post the trailer here just for the sake of promoting it, but if you want to hear my thoughts, read the post.

Two thrilling movies also open this week.  First, “The Box” with Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, seems to have an intriguing premise: if you push the button on the box, you will get a million dollars, but someone you don’t know will die.  However, it looks to be more interested in cheap thrills than exploring moral issues.  The other, “The Fourth Kind,” looks downright scary.  If horror is your thing, this looks like the movie for you.  I saw the trailer at “District 9,” and even if you don’t want to see it, you have to ponder the validity of the “true story” behind the movie.

November 13

Disaster porn reaches its pinnacle this weekend.  “2012,” Roland Emmerich’s apocalyptic film, will have some of the biggest destruction and explosions the world has ever seen.  The trailer was so mind-blowing that I am willing to overlook all vices in the plot to see the world’s greatest landmarks get wiped off the earth.  My only comment is that if John Cusack somehow finds a way to stop the end of the world, I will be enraged.

The other major wide release of the week is “Pirate Radio,” a movie that Focus Features so desperately wants you to see that they changed the title from “The Boat that Rocked” just a few weeks ago to appeal to you. Are you flattered? You shouldn’t be. The movie seems like comedic Oscar Bait, but it didn’t do well Britain, the country of production. Focus scrambled to change their focus from awards movie to popular movie. So whenever this pops into a theater near you, be armed with the knowledge that “Pirate Radio” is merely a washed-up Oscars wannabe. But make the decision to see it for yourself.

New York and Los Angeles get the treat of watching Wes Anderson’s adaptation Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”  I have the utmost respect for Anderson for not conforming to the growing trend to do all animation through computers.  Anderson’s film uses the stop motion technique, moving an object gradually to give the illusion that it is moving.  Even more exciting that Anderson’s eccentric style in an eccentric medium is the voice cast.  Clooney voices the titular character, the cunning Mr. Fox.  The cast also features Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray.  What’s not to like?  (NOTE: The movie expands on November 20 and enters wide release on November 25.)

For those who like very obscure indies, “That Evening Sun” with 87-year-old Oscar bridesmaid Hal Halbrook has his latest shot at the gold.

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