There are two and three hanky movies and then there are films like “Miss You Already” that demand more extreme measures. It’s one of those stories that is bound to inspire both happy and sad crying, so bring a box of Kleenex, or better yet, an absorbent towel.
Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette are Jess and Milly, childhood friends who have remained close even though their lives have taken different paths. Jess is an environmentalist, an earth mother who lives on a Thames houseboat with her husband Jago (Paddy Considine). Milly is a self-centered publicist, mother of two, married to a former roadie-turned-millionaire Kit (Dominic Cooper).
When Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer, her best friend is at her side but when the cancer comes back as Jess and Jago are expecting their first child the decades long relationship becomes strained.
“Miss You Already” begins as a light-hearted romp but develops into something deeper. As Milly’s cancer progresses the movie stays with her at every step, from disbelief, to anger, to denial and finally acceptance. It is unflinching—anyone who has experienced chemo will feel a twinge during the early scenes—and doesn’t pull any punches with its depiction of the treatments or its characters. Milly doesn’t become the poor sainted cancer victim we’ve seen in other films, instead she stays true to the character we met at the film’s start, likeable but not always loveable. Collette keeps it real as she works through the stages of the disease.
Barrymore brings her usual warmth and amiability but the real star is the portrayal of the effect of cancer on its victim, friends and family. “Miss You Already” captures the frustration and sadness inherent to the process but also the humour. “I look like a leopard,” Milly says as her thinning hair is shaved off. “A leper or a leopard?” replies her hairdresser.
“Miss You Already” has moments clearly designed to open the tear ducts but for the most part director Catherine Hardwicke doesn’t get maudlin, treating the material with respect but not with kid gloves.
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence first paired off in Silver Linings Playbook — he was a divorced substitute teacher, jailed for beating his wife’s boyfriend half to death; she was a troubled widow who needed his help to win a dance competition — and sparks flew.
Next they shared scenes, but no romance, in American Hustle. And, this weekend, they make it a trifecta with the release of Serena. Based on the novel by Ron Rash, Cooper and Lawrence play husband and wife lumber barons whose marriage becomes strained after she suffers a miscarriage. Despite having shared love scenes in movies, Cooper says they have kept the romance onscreen.
“I mean, first of all, I could be her father,” he says.
The re-teaming of Cooper and Lawrence in Serena proves that lightning does not always strike thrice.
The “it” couple had chemistry to burn in their previous pairings but fail to set off sparks here. As George and Serena they are ruthless and selfish, which should be the stuff of interesting characters, but the story throws so many hurdles their way that eventually it becomes one big, boring blur.
Some onscreen couples, however, have managed to keep the flame alive through several films.
After a 16-year separation, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan — the pre-eminent cinema sweethearts of the 1990s — will reunite in the World War II drama Ithaca.
The three rom coms that made them superstars, Joe Versus the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, were fuelled by the platonic chemistry they share in real life.
“He makes me feel less alone,” says Ryan.
Kate Winslet and co-star Leonardo DiCaprio are so close in real life that her children refer to him as Uncle Leo. As Titanic’s star-crossed lovers Jack and Rose, they defined romantic tragedy for a whole generation before recoupling 11 years later in the feel-bad love story Revolutionary Road.
Despite what fans thought, their friendship never turned romantic off-screen. “He always saw me as one of the boys,” said Kate.
Despite falling in love over and over again in movies like The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates and Blended, Drew Barrymore says she and Adam Sandler have exchanged nothing more than a “church kiss.”
“That’s probably why we’ve been able to stick together all these years,” she says, “because there never was that awkward moment.”
The lesson learned is that chemistry off-screen often leads to good results on the screen, but not always. Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe fogged up the lens in Some Like It Hot, but reportedly did not like one another.
The new “Madagascar” movie spin off is brought to you by the letter P. P is for penguin and puns.
“The Penguins of Madagascar” is the punniest movie of the year. It never met a pun it didn’t like and these penguins give The Marx Brothers a run for their money in the word play department. Based on spin off characters from the “Madagascar” series, these shifty, flightless birds soar in a movie that is more entertaining than the films that introduced us to them.
Skipper (voice of Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) are penguins on a mission. Dr. Octavius Brine, (voice of John Malkovich) is an octopodian evil genius on a mission to get revenge on a certain quartet of birds for a perceived slight. To save themselves, and perhaps all of penguin-kind, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private reluctantly team with an animal undercover organization known as The North Wind. Led by the suave wolf Agent Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch) they aim to aid the penguins, but will the high tech spies be more of a hindrance than help?
“The Penguins of Madagascar” has a lot in common with other big screen animated entertainment for children. It is paced at the speed of light, has several frenetic action scenes and seems tailor made to inspire a run on cute stuffed toys at Movies ‘R’ Us. The thing that sets it apart from its animated cousins is the spirit of anarchy in its casting, story choices and even the barrage of puns.
How many kid’s movies feature a cameo by the sublimely surreal director Werner Herzog? Can you name another children’s flick where a character says, “You didn’t have a family and we’re all going to die,” to a newborn? Then there are the puns. They come fast and furious, usually in the form of an off hand comment. The movie’s best running gag involves working movie star names into Dr. Brine’s instructions to his minions. “Nicholas! Cage those penguins!” It’s silly and by the time he gets to Elijah Wood, Drew Barrymore and Kevin Bacon, also hilarious.
“The Penguins of Madagascar” is good, zany fun. No lessons will be learned, no morals taught, nothing gained but a good time at the movies.
“Blended” reunites “cinematic soul mates” Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Of course, this is a romantic comedy, so even though they hate one another in the first couple of reels, they end up thrown together on an exotic vacation to Africa. From the first time they mention the journey you know it is just a matter of time until they put their acrimonious feelings aside and someone says, “It’s great we came on this trip.”
So how do Sandler and Co. spice up a predictable story? Easy, they add a dash of “The Brady Bunch,” some beautiful scenery and an all monkey show band.
Sandler is Jim, a widower with three girls (Bella Thorne, Emma Fuhrmann and Alyvia Alyn Lind) who manages a sporting goods store when he’s not missing his late wife. He’s a guy’s guy who named one of his daughters after his favorite network, ESPN.
Barrymore is Lauren, a single mom with two rambunctious boys (Braxton Beckham and Kyle Red Silverstein) who miss their deadbeat dad (Joel McHale). She’s the buttoned-down owner of a closet reorganization company called Closet Queens.
A blind date brings them together but is so disastrous it almost keeps them apart forever. That is until circumstances conspire—it’s too “meet cute” to detail here—to place them both at a ritzy African resort for a Blended Family retreat.
“Is this a sick dream?” Jim says when he first sees Lauren. “What is happening here?”
“We’re here for the zero romance package,” she informs anyone who’ll listen.
Feelings of disgust and hate between the two melt away as their kids do cute things and they learn not to rely on first impressions.
“Blended” is one of Sandler’s sweet family comedies. Well, it’s as sweet as a comedy with Tampax gags can be, but it is a step up from the gross out tone of “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy.”
A small step up, but a step nonetheless.
It’s a heartfelt dose of humor with slightly less vulgarity than Sandler’s recent movies. Add in a few wide-eyed kids with mommy and daddy issues and you have a slightly off-kilter version of “With Six You Get Egg Roll” filtered through Sandler’s juvenile sensibility. He’s a bigger kid than the children in the film and never met a bathroom joke he didn’t like, but he has good chemistry with Barrymore and “Wedding Singer” fans—I’m still trying to expel “50 First Dates” out of my memory—will enjoy seeing them reunited.
The usual Sandler crowed also appears. Shaquille O’Neal brings some awkward charm to lines like, “When she gets flappin’, things happen,” and Kevin Nealon does some enjoyable double-speak, but the scene stealer here is Terry Crews as the leader of a singing group who acts as the Greek Chorus at the resort. His performance lends new meaning to the term over-the-top, but his brand of unbridled silliness is an antidote to the sentimentality the movie occasionally finds itself moving toward.
Sandler has been hit-and-miss lately—mostly missing with big laugh-free comedies—but the goodwill he and Barrymore bring to “Blended” puts it a notch above his recent work. Although much of the humor is Sandler boilerplate stuff but a musical montage when Sandler realizes his daughter isn’t just a tomboy anymore is funny and worth a look.