Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the dirty-mouthed puppet movie “The Happytime Murders,” the prison drama “Papillon,” the rom com “Little Italy” and the gritty crime drama “Crown and Anchor.”
Richard has a look at the raunchy puppet movie “The Happytime Murders,” the time-travelling rom com “Little Italy,” the “Papillon” reboot and the gritty crime drama “Crown and Anchor” with the CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
“Little Italy,” a new rom com starring Hayden Christensen and Emma Roberts, is good hearted enough but feels like it arrived via a marinara sauce splattered time capsule from 1985.
Leo Campo (Christensen) and Nikki Angioli (Roberts) were inseparable while growing up in Toronto’s Little Italy. “To us Little Italy wasn’t just a few blocks, it was our whole world.” Their families were tight, working side by side at the Napoli Pizza Parlour until the Great Pizza War erupted, causing a split that saw the pizza place sliced down the middle, cleaved into two separate businesses. Years pass. “It’s Little Italy’s oldest food fight.” Nikki moves to England to study the culinary arts while Leo stays home, working with his father.
Five years later Nikki returns home to renew her English work visa and is drawn back into the world she thought she had left behind. My Nikki is coming home today,” says mother Dora (Alyssa Milano). “Now we have to find her a husband so she’ll stay.” Will there be amore? Will the moon hit her eye like a big pizza pie or will she return to her cooking career in London?
“Little Italy” is an “I’m not yelling I’m Italian” style rom com. Desperate to establish the flavour of Little Italy it parades stereotypes across the screen speaking in loud exaggerated Italian accents. It’s annoying but it is all played for laughs, tempered with the easy sentimentality of the most rote of rom coms.
Director Donald Petrie, whose “Mystic Pizza” made a superstar out of Roberts’s Aunt Julia, never finds the balance between the slapstick, romance and cliché. Sometimes it feels like sketch comedy, other times like every rom com you’ve ever seen. Either way, it never feels original or particularly likeable. Top it off with a been-there-done-that run to the airport climax that would likely get everyone involved, if this is anything like real life, arrested and you have a movie that is all about love that is anything but loveable.
Richard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson have a look at he weekend’s big releases, the bombastic “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2’s” souvlaki slapstick and the terrific tension of thriller “Eye in the Sky.”
It’s hard not to sound cynical and grumpy when reviewing a movie like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” It is a fourteen-years-in-the-making sequel to one of the biggest grossing romantic comedies of all time, and while it has much of the warmth as the original, it feels warmed over.
Nia Vardalos leads the reunited cast in a story that’s all about mothers and daughters, grandparents and kids, nieces and nephews, brothers, one overbearing aunt and a long lost brother. In other words, it’s all about family.
Vardalos is Toula the bride from the first film, now the overprotective mother to Paris (Elena Kampouris). She’s still married to Ian (John Corbett) and living next door to her parents and brothers. It’s a tight knit group she says is so close it’s occasionally suffocating.
“Close families,” she says, “we make it through things like bad economies because we stick together, but some of us just get stuck.”
Everyone is involved in everyone’s business, so when it comes to light that because of a paperwork error Toula’s parents, Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan), were never officially married, the entire clan pitches in to throw another big fat Greek wedding.
There’s more, including a subplot about Paris leaving for university, the genealogy of Alexander the Greek and Toula and Ian’s own martial issues. It’s a catch-all for every crowd-pleasing clichés about big families. Let’s teach an old guy how to use a computer! Kids leaving home! Wait, there’s an inappropriate aunt! Battle of the sexes! No stereotype goes unturned in a screenplay (once again penned by Vardalos) that feels as bloated as an overstuffed Yemista.
Under all the clutter, however, are the characters. Vardalos doesn’t blaze any new ground here but she does stay true to the characters that made the first film such a hit. Gus is still a sitcom stereotype who thinks the Greeks invented everything, but Constantine brings him to life despite the weight of the clichés. Ditto Andrea Martin as the randy Aunt Voula and Kazan as the boisterous Maria. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” is a cartoon, an ethnic exaggeration, but the ensemble embraces it.
There’s not an ounce of cynicism here, and I think audiences might respond to the sweet open heartedness of Vardalos and company, but there isn’t a lot of originality here either.
Richard hosted the press room at the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards, interviewing all the winners, including Xavier Dolan, Tatiana Maslany (see clip above), “Call Me Fitz” star Joanna Cassidy (Read about her and “Blade Runner” HERE!), Don McKellar, “Mommy” star Anne Dorval, 19-2 star Jared Keeso, Best News Anchor for CTV National News winner Lisa LaFlamme and host Andrea Martin. (Thanks to Mr. Will Wong for the photo!)
Everybody knows what happens on stage at a big show like this Sunday’s Canadian Screen Awards. A host sings, dances and/or tells jokes, glamorous presenters tear open envelopes and announce award winners who thank everyone from managers to spouses to Jesus. There’s the slapping of backs, bespoke tuxedos and flowing gowns and tears.
Add in some drama, a red carpet and you have the ingredients of a big awards show, but what happens backstage?
Lots, as it turns out. Every year at the Canadian Screen Awards there’s a whole other show that happens offstage in the pressroom. Located deep in the bowels of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts it’s my domain during the live broadcast. Every year I host the room, interviewing the winners as they come off stage in front of an “audience” made up of local and national reporters there for the free food and access to the celebs. I am the purveyor of sound bites, the compère to the press who take the interviews I do and turn them into stories for the next day’s papers and newscasts.
Over the years Elvis Costello, Tatiana Maslany, William Shatner and many others have passed through, tossing out bon mots like they were candy. Jay Baruchel let it slip he was engaged to Alison Pill on our small stage. Viggo Mortensen proudly waved the Montreal Canadiens flag in the face of a roomful of Leafs fans and Jill Hennessey gushed about the Canadian Screen Awards gift bag, thanking the Academy for the Norman Jewison Maple Syrup.
It’s an easy gig for me. Everyone who comes down from the main stage is a winner, automatically in a good mood and ready to have some fun.
When Lifetime Achievement Award winner David Cronenberg was asked where the inspiration for his movies came from he took a moment to examine the assembled crowd of journalists before deadpanning, “Just standing here is giving me all kinds of ideas for horror films.”
Call Me Fitz star Tracy Dawson picked up a CSA for Best Actress but later told me that awards don’t guarantee work. She won a Gemini in 2011 for playing Meghan Fitzpatrick on the show and thought she had it made. Then her phone didn’t ring for ten months. In the pressroom she joked that she wanted to be clear—she was looking for work. “I’m totally available,” she laughed.
It’s a different show downstairs, less glitzy and more relaxed.
This year Andrea Martin is taking over hosting duties from fellow-SCTVer Martin Short but I’ll never forget last year how Short tore up the pressroom, still jacked up from hosting the show. He was hilarious when I asked if he’d try and top his spectacular flying entrance next year. “I can only fly so many times,” he said. “That harness chafes.”