In his breakout movie role, Jay Baruchel (Undeclared, Knocked Up) proves to the world that Zach Braff isn’t the only geeky leading man who can pull off a romantic comedy without making us want to puke. Baruchel plays Reed Fish, a small town radio personality with a hot fiancée (Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel) and a solid 10-year plan, whose life is turned upside-down when his former high school crush suddenly reappears on the eve of his nuptials. With DJ Qualls (Road Trip, Hustle & Flow) and SNL alum Chris Parnell at the helms, I’m Reed Fish takes a not-so-original story and turns it into a not-half-bad picture.
What would the lateBruce Lee have to say about Steven Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle? “It’s no Enter The Dragon.” Maybe not, but KFH manages to hold its own – so well, in fact, that it received 26 nominations (including a Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Film) and 17 awards at a slew of international film festivals when it was released in 2004. Set in 1940s Shanghai, KFH is the story of Sing (Chow), a pitiable would-be gangster with high hopes of joining the city’s most notorious crew, Axe Gang. But a series of events find Sing going toe-to-toe with the powerful gang, leading the unlikely hero to discover his inner kung fu master. If you think Drunken Master beats Rush Hour any day of the week, then Kung Fu Hustle is like the Jackie Chan movie you’ve been waiting for, sans Jackie Chan. Check out the DVD before KFH 2 rolls out in ‘08.
When the fine print in his insurance plan prevents New York firefighter and widower Larry Valentine (played by Hitch’s Kevin James) from naming his own kids as beneficiaries, he and his best friend Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler) devise a foolproof plan to get around the technicality: They tie the knot, claiming to be gay domestic partners. So far, so good, until a suspicious official starts snooping around, and Chuck and Larry’s personal life is suddenly front-page news. Enter Jessica Biel, the firecracker lawyer who feels so comfortable around her gay client Chuck–who is of course actually straight and single–she doesn’t think twice about getting undressed in front of him or making sure he knows first, uh, hand that she doesn’t have breast implants. A bit of a hokey premise to be sure, but everything Adam Sandler touches turns to gold, and Kevin James’s ass is no exception.
“Knocked Up is about a guy [Ben], played by Seth Rogen, who is starting a website, is kind of a slacker, who goes out to a bar one night and is lucky enough to end up back home with Katherine Heigl’s character [Alison], and what should have been nothing but a one night stand, next thing you know she’s knocked up. So it’s the story of the two of them coming to terms with the fact that they’re sorta stuck together,” says actor Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother), who, along with Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel and Martin Starr, plays one of Ben’s four roommates in this summer’s Knocked Up.
Jonah Hill offers a somewhat different take on the movie. “The plot is basically like Letters from Iwo Jima. We actually ripped off the same plot, and we just added a few ‘fucks’ every now and then,” he jokes, when asked whether there is more to the story than the title and movie trailer suggest. But Jason and Jonah (whose characters also happen to be named Jason and Jonah) do agree that what makes Knocked Up work so well is largely writer/director Judd Apatow’s approach to movie-making. Both have worked with Apatow before (Jonah had a small but memorable role in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Jason starred in Apatow’s television cult classic Freaks and Geeks, among other things) and credit the success of his films with the fact that he trusts his actors enough to let them improvise. Continue reading
This spring, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) returns in the third installment of Spider-Man. In the new flick, Spidey’s suit suddenly turns black, augmenting his existing powers and drawing out a more sinister side focused on retribution and vengeance. As he struggles to resist the power of the black suit and remain on the side of good, he must also throw down with two of his most dangerous opponents, Sandman and Venom. Can Peter overcome the forces of evil that threaten to pull him away from his family and his dreamgirl, M.J. (Kirsten Dunst), or will he hold it down and regulate on his enemies? Since this is Hollywood (and since we’re not retarded), we already know the answer, but with Tobey Maguire dancing around in a glorified leotard, Spider-Man 3 is like watching a demented version of Billy Elliot with high-budget special effects and action sequences. In other words, it’s worth it.
We first met Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) in 2003’s Bruce Almighty, in which he played Bruce’s (Jim Carrey) office rival at a local Buffalo, N.Y., television station. When Bruce lost his job to Evan, he blamed God, prompting the Almighty Himself to come down from the heavens to teach Bruce a lesson. Now, Evan is a United States congressman, and he’s about to get his very own visit from God (Morgan Freeman). And what does God want with Evan, pray tell? It’s pretty standard, really; He wants Evan to build an ark in anticipation of a great flood and He won’t take no for an answer. Thus it is that Evan becomes the modern counterpart to Noah, as he sets about building an arc, much to the dismay of his wife and kids. Co-starring John Goodman, Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Jonah Hill (Knocked Up; The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Daily Show correspondent Ed Helms (not to mention a variety of elephants, giraffes and other members of the animal kingdom), Evan Almighty is laugh-out-loud funny, which is certainly the best thing the Bible has done for us lately.
If you don’t like The Simpsons, there is something very, very wrong with you, and you ought to consult a doctor immediately. Medical conditions notwithstanding, if you do nothing else this summer, you must go see The Simpsons Movie. Nerds have Star Trek and cool nerds have Star Wars, but the one thing we can all agree on is our common love and appreciation for The Simpsons. In the movie, Homer is charged with saving the world from an impending disaster that he is responsible for having created in the first place. Sounds like a classic in the making.