Kathie Lee Gifford cluelessly asked the most uncomfortable questions while interviewing Martin Short. The awkward questions start at the 3:30 mark in the video below (if you didn't know Martin Short's wife died of cancer a few years ago.
Can you believe it's been four years that Will Smith has even appeared in a movie. It seemed like he took time off in his career to shove his annoying children down America's throat with a son so full of false swagger he had the balls to remake The Karate Kid and a daughter who made a song so abbrasive that it should be used as a car alarm. But before Smith annoyed us with that, he annoyed us by becoming an A-list celebrity who no longer made good movies. Depending on your taste in films and your standards for what constitutes quality entertainment, you could make a case that Men in Black 2 was his last good movie and that was a decade ago. So should Will Smith be the only one happy that Tommy Lee Jones agreed to don the black suit again? If you ask me, the answer is "no way" because it's excellent!
Directory Barry Sonnenfeld is a guy that has a unique style and the Men in Black series seems to be the only commercially successful outlet for it. But the guy makes great looking films even when they turn out to be complete duds like RV or Big Trouble. His films feel like Tim Burton movies but without all the cutting and trademarked moping. Despite the lack of success, I still would put The Addams Family movies in my Top 100 Favorite Comedies. If anyone else would have attempted to make the next installment of Men in Black, I'm certain it would have been awful since it is as much Sonnenfeld's as it is Smith's and Jones'.
Rule #1 in Hollywood generally is that if you're going to make a sequel, you don't mess with what made it successful. Well Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones is a massive part of that success since, to those that appreciate subtle humor, his stoic persona is funnier than Smith at times; however in Men in Black 3 you will see very little of Jones at all. A decision like that couldn't have panned out unless they got the homerun performance they did from Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, True Grit).
Brolin plays Jones' Agent K character but in 1969. That's right, Sonnenfeld tried to double down on risk and make the next installment a time travel film as well. Time Travel, as a genre, is the very definition of "Big Risk, Big Reward;" it can either give you fantastic science-fiction stories or some of the worst that just confuse and detract an audience. I'm thrilled to say that Men in Black 3 is one of the more fantastic ones. It knows that its target audience didn't come to think so they spell out as much zig-zagging time paradoxes as they have to so as not to lose them all while keeping the classic Men in Black silliness.
But back to Brolin. As impressive as the special FX are and alien make-up (which Sonnenfeld mutes a little more in this thankfully), the most amazing thing to watch in the film is Brolin's performance. He is so convincing as a younger Tommy Lee Jones that you completely lose sight that it's Brolin you're watching. He did this once before in Oliver Stone's W where he did a flawless job portraying George W. Bush. The man has a knack for vocal nuances and physical impersonation performance.
The other scene stealers are Bill Hader (SNL, Superbad), who is sadly only featured in one scene as a very famous '60s icon and Oscar-nominated Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, Hugo). Stuhlbarg plays an alien that is blessed and cursed with constantly seeing every possible outcome to every possible existence and he's amazing at it. Just like he did in his performance for A Serious Man, he invokes a balanced mix of humor and sadness that makes every scene he's in fun to watch.
The most shocking thing about Men in Black 3, to me at least, was that it almost brought a tear to my eye at the end. Again, a totally unneccessary risk that Sonnenfeld took but I'm thrilled that he did. I not only forgot how funny Smith can be but also how well he can move an audience too. (Need I remind you of the dog scene in I Am Legend?) It was such a successful ending that it makes me hope the Men in Black series goes out on that pitch-perfect note, but then again I hope they don't if they can still make them this good. Men in Black 3 (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A-
Global superstar Justin Bieber officially takes the wraps off his eagerly anticipated new studio album today, BELIEVE, scheduled for June 19th release by the Island Def Jam Music Group.
BELIEVE takes flight on the wings of “Boyfriend,” its first worldwide smash single, which set a world-record for debuting #1 on iTunes in 32 countries. The “Boyfriend” video has shattered all YouTube records since its MTV premiere (on May 3rd). The clip generated 8 million views in its first 24 hours, and has garnered over 44 million views to date.
BELIEVE is Executive Produced by Scott "Scooter" Braun and Usher Raymond IV, and track producers include Max Martin, Mike Posner, MdL, Diplo, Hit-Boy, The Messengers, Zedd, Rodney Jerkins, and Justin’s vocal producer, Kuk Harrell. The album features guest appearances by Ludacris, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Big Sean.
In its standard physical configuration, BELIEVE will contain 13 tracks as follows: *1. “All Around The World” featuring Ludacris *2. “Boyfriend” *3. “As Long As You Love Me” featuring Big Sean *4. “Catching Feelings” *5. “Take You” *6. “Right Here” featuring Drake *7. “Fall” *8. “Die In Your Arms” *9. “Thought Of You” *10. “Beauty And A Beat” featuring Nicki Minaj *11. “One Love” *12. “Be Alright” *13. “Believe” The deluxe physical package will contain an additional three tracks: “Out Of Town Girl,” “She Don’t Like The Lights,” and “Maria.”
Two years ago it was released online that Hollywood was planning on taking the classic Hasbro board game Battleship and turn it into a movie. It was met with nothing but laughs and jeers at what a horrible film that would turn out to be. It also launched rumors, some of which have been confirmed, that other classic board games like Ouija, Monopoly and Candyland are getting turned into movies to follow. Everyone was expecting the worst from Battleship, there was no way it could live up to the awful hype. I'm here to tell you that not only did it live up to it but it surpassed it.
Director Peter Berg has made some damn good films. Very Bad Things, Friday Night Lights, The Kingdom are all excellent and impressive feats considering that they're each three different genres that he tackled (literally in one case) flawlessly. Granted he made Hancock, but for the most part Berg is known as someone who makes quality films. Why he would ever lend his name to something so epically embarassing as Battleship is beyond me.
You may ask yourself why the movie about battleships warring in open water would ever be about aliens trying to destroy Earth. That's a great question and I can't answer it for you. The plot for Battleship is as bad as it gets. It's the kind of scipt that you wouldn't believe if you hadn't seen with your own eyes. It gets so bad that toward the end of the film the US Navy finds themselves out of battleships (yes, I know how silly that sounds) and their last resort is the USS Missiouri, which is a 70-year-old floating museum in Hawaii. The survivng cast members must then get the entire ship in shape for killing off the aliens in less than three hours because that's when the world ends, but the catch is that none of the know how to operate the antique ship. Their solution is...and I couldn't make this up if I tried...to find old veterans to help them run the ship and go to battle. Yup.
Even more silly is that there is indeed a scene where the actors are looking at an electronic grid that has pictures of battleships on it and they're saying lines like, "B4" and "E2" in hopes to shoot missiles to hit the enemy. It was so on-the-nose that I wanted to stand up in the theater and scream out to everyone, "How is no one else laughing at this?!"
The FX are as impressive, bloated and expensive as they come and Berg executes with the douchey precision of Michael Bay. Battleship continues to double down on itself as a film with goofy story plots and the disgusting budget to back it all up. Battleship will make plenty of money and I'm sure some people will even find it entertaining, but what it does to Peter Berg's reputation as a director is very difficult to repair. This is one Battleship that should have been sunk before it got to this point. Battleship (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: F
There is no better audience for a movie about having babies than a guy who just had one five weeks ago...except maybe a woman who just had one. My son Connor has made me tear my hair out and battle headaches but it's totally worth it. There were times when What to Expect When You're Expecting had the same effect on me, but it wasn't worth it. If you can make a new father hate your movie about babies, then I cringe to think what it did for everyone else.
What to Expect When You're Expecting is from director Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee) and two writers who really haven't done anything before and hopefully never will again. How this group of misfits managed to put together a cast as A-list as they got is beyond me. The film touts the likes of Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks (Hunger Games, 40-Year-Old Virgin), Anna Kendrik (Up in the Air, 50/50), Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, Tom Lennon (MTV's The State, I Love You, Man), and Rob Huebell (I Love You, Man, The Descendants). But be warned; whenever you see a cast this large of recognizable faces and it's NOT directed by Quentin Tarantino or Oliver Stone, it's probably God-awful.
The key issue with What to Expect is that it's episodic in nature and therefore shallow. It literally covers every single cliche you can think of that Hollywood has already covered in films about pregnancy and condensed them into one film. It's so full of plots that it's busting at the seams and it views as uncomfortably as that sounds. The film is a comedy but they do cover very serious subjects such as miscarriage, infertility and difficutly during births, but because it's a film that tries to be everything to everyone, those scenes are mere like footnotes and not given the time to treat them with respect. It actually comes across as insulting to anyone who can relate to any of the dramatic moments that it's treated so casually.
I feel sorry for all the actors in the film. None of them are weak and they give the best performances they could with such an awful script. Each indivigual story would have made a fine feature length film on its own and it's a shame they didn't do that. A series of films under the title What to Expect When You're Expecting would have been far more successful. It would have paid respect to a book title that has become a generational tradition for couples preparing for parenthood.
There are some highlights such as any of the scenes with the Dads Group. They are mostly funny and Chris Rock steals the scenes with some very quotable lines. Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids), who is Oscar-nominated Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) real life husband, is also given a chance to have a breakout performance playing Banks' husband.
There is no doubt that this movie will do well and find fans. I would imagine that every new pair of parents would love to make this babysitter-worthy and make it a date night in hopes that they'll see something in the film that they can relate to. Don't worry everyone who thinks that, you will...because it simply has everything and covers all possible scenarios. Just remember that films that try to be everything to everyone quickly end up being watered-down films for no one. The only thing that you should be expecting from this film is let down (and I don't mean in terms of breast feeding). What to Expect When You're Expecting (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: D
Every year lists come out talking about common things that children being born today will never use. With the rate that technology changes these days, it won't be long before wired internet, hard drives, and even CD's are no long part of our every day lives.