Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Jessica Parker’

Mr. Peabody & Sherman travel through time to the big screen.

mr__peabody__sherman_2014-wideBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Jay Ward may not a household name, but many of the characters he created are.

As the Grand Poobah at Jay Ward Productions he produced the animated television shows that gave us Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman and George of the Jungle among others.

His cartoons weren’t just for kids. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “The good ones, which Ward was a master at creating, worked at two levels: one direct and another wonderfully satiric.”

This weekend his characters take over the big screen in Mr. Peabody & Sherman, an animated film starring the voices of Modern Family’s Ty Burrell, Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann.

Based on Peabody’s Improbable History segment from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, the movie sees the duo use the WABAC machine to ping pong through time, interacting with everyone from Marie Antoinette to King Tut to Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman isn’t the first film based on Ward’s characters.

In a 199 television movie (originally shot in 1988 for theatrical release) SCTV alum Dave Thomas played Boris Badenov, “world’s greatest no-goodnik.” With his partner-in-crime Natasha Fatale (Sally Kellerman) he leaves Pottsylvania for the United States to retrieve a micro-chip. TV Guide said, “as a 90-minute feature film, it’s at least 80 minutes too long,” but it’s worth a gander to see one of the rare live action performances of June Foray, the original voice of Rocky.

Brendan Fraser brought two of Ward’s characters to life, George of the Jungle and Dudley Do-Right.

George of the Jungle is a riff on Tarzan. He’s boy raised in the jungle by an ape (John Cleese) but who never mastered the art of swinging from tree to tree. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 56% Fresh Rating, but the film remains most memorable for the catchy “George, George / George of the Jungle / Strong as he can be / Watch out for that tree,” theme song by the Presidents of the United States of America.

Two years later Fraser was back in another Ward inspired movie about a bumbling Canadian Mountie called Dudley Do-Right who “always gets his man.”

Co-starring with Sarah Jessica Parker and Alfred Molina, the story saw Dudley track his nemesis, the depraved Snidely Whiplash. Bad reviews—USA Today’s called it a “Dead-carcass spinoff of Jay Ward’s animated TV favorite.”—doomed the movie, but the character lives on as part of an amusement park ride called Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls at the Islands of Adventure theme park.

Finally, despite an big name cast—Jason Alexander, Rene Russo and John Goodman—The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle bombed at the box office despite Robert De Niro doing a take on his famous “You talkin’ to me?” speech from Taxi Driver.

FAILURE TO LAUNCH: 3 STARS

FTLFailure to Launch has one of those titles that begs me to poke fun. I could call it Failure to Laugh or say Failure to Launch fails to launch, but I won’t because it is actually quite an amiable romantic comedy.

Sarah Jessica Parker does a riff on her Sex in the City character Carrie Bradshaw as a woman who specializes in coaxing grown men to leave the nest. Her clients are usually the parents of man-boys who have “failed to launch.” They still live at home well past the point where they should be out on their own doing their own laundry and cooking for themselves. Matthew McConaughey is a handsome, successful thirty-something who still lives with his folks and has major relationship issues. She is hired to lure him out of his childhood bedroom, but of course there are complications.

Along the way we meet the usual rom-com suspects—his goofy friends, her slightly crazy roommate—while the story progresses in a paint-by-numbers way. There are no surprises here, just a few laughs and good-looking people falling in love, which is just as it should be otherwise this wouldn’t be a romantic comedy but a romantic tragedy.

Failure to Launch has an odd premise that wouldn’t happen in real life. As the story unfolded I had to wonder why McConaughey’s parents would go through such a complicated and potentially damaging scheme, so obviously doomed to failure to get rid of him rather than just talk to him. Of course if they did that there wouldn’t be much of a movie.

Failure to Launch is a good romantic comedy with a bad name.

The Family Stone

stone-the-family-stone-29971484-700-459Hollywood has a long standing tradition of churning out holiday films in which large, loving but dysfunctional families gather to celebrate Christmas and end up bring up old feuds, swapping girlfriends (or boyfriends) and over-cooking the turkey. So the idea for The Family Stone, a new comedy starring Diane Keaton and Sarah Jessica Parker, isn’t a new one, but despite the ring of familiarity The Family Stone works as both a comedy and a poignant family drama.

The story centers around Dermot Mulroney—the oldest and favorite Stone son—who brings his uptight girlfriend, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, home for Christmas. The Stone siblings and parents take an instant dislike to her and united in the cause of tormenting her they try to drive her away. For support she brings in her beautiful younger sister, played by Claire Danes who only complicates an already strange situation.

This is normally the kind of thing that makes me run to the theatre—to see something else—but the great ensemble cast really salvages this from the treacly depths. As Meredith Sarah Jessica Parker leaves her Sex in the City character far behind daring to be unlikable and along the way proves that there is more to her than simply being Carrie Bradshaw.

We also get a welcome glimpse of Canadian actress Rachel McAdams as the nasty Stone sister Amy. This is her third good film this year after The Wedding Crashers and Red Eye, and in it she proves that she has mastered the role of the cinematic mean girl.

There are many humorous moments but the film packs an emotional punch in the scenes between the elder Stones, played by Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson. In their best moment together they tell us all we need to know about their relationship in one quiet bedroom scene and one gentle touch of a scar.

I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT: 1 STAR

i-dont-know-how-she-does-it_104921-1024x768In “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” a working mom comedy based on a popular book of the same name, Sarah Jessica Parker plays Carrie Bradshaw in a different time and dimension. This time out she’s traded New York for Boston, her Manolo Blahniks for children, Mr. Big for Mr. Joe Average and all that sex in the city she used to have for bake sales and kid’s birthday parties.

Fans of “Sex and the City” will recognize some of the style of “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” if you’ve missed SJP typing on her laptop or doing ocassionally witty voice over, then you may find something here to like. Otherwise it’s a tedious fourth-wall breaking exercise in female empowerment.

Where “Sex and the City” broke ground in its portrayal of female relationships, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” settles for rehashing truisms we’ve heard ad nauseum. “Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman,” may sound like a Carie Bradshaw line, but its minus the freshness that made Carrie’s quips so memorable.

What it lacks in substance it tries to make up for style. Graphics adorn the screen and characters address the audience. So is it a documentary? Nope, it’s an underwritten comedy where the acors break the fourth wall to make up for the story’s shortcomings.

“I Don’t Know How She Does It” tries to play off SJP’s previous successes, but only manges to be even more forgettable than “Sex and the City 2.”

SEX AND THE CITY 2: FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW WHAT LOUBOUTONS ARE: 1 STAR FOR PEOPLE WHO KNOW THAT BIG’S LAST NAME IS PRESTON: 4 STARS

Sex-and-the-City-2-001Two years ago I learned a very important lesson. After giving the original “Sex and the City” movie a so-so review I was deluged with hate mail. My favorite letter suggested I “shut my damn manhole,” and never speak of the show or the movie again. What did I learn? I learned that you must never mess with Miranda, Charlotte, Carrie and Samantha. Too bad series creator and “Sex and the City 2” director Michael Patrick King hasn’t learned the same thing.

Since the last movie Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Big (Chris Noth) have settled into the comfortable life of ordering in food from fancy restaurants instead of getting dolled up and eating out in fancy restaurants five nights a week. She misses their old glamorous life, he likes putting his feet up on the coach and watching television in bed. Meanwhile gal pals Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) are respectively, gulping down pre menopausal hormones, struggling to find a balance between work and child rearing and fretting that a busty nanny (Alice Eve) is attracting too much attention around the house. Their carefully manicured lives are fraying ever so slightly at the edges so what do they do? They head off for Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirate of course!

As I watched “SatC 2” the phrase “leave well enough alone” came to mind. On television Miranda, Charlotte, Carrie and Samantha became icons; cutting edge characters with verve, style and chutzpah. In the movies, however, it seems like they have been blunted. They still have style—the first obligatory Louboutin shot happens about sixty seconds in—but the verve and chutzpah seems forced. Michael Patrick King has allowed these once-upon-a-time titans of female empowerment to be trivialized. In other words he has messed with what made the show great. Whatever “SatC” is now, it is a much different thing than the television show.

There are flashes of the old magic every now and again. The iconic shot from Carrie’s old Upper East Side brownstone window to Big’s limo parked down below is a reminder of the good times and the quartet has undeniable chemistry. So when King allows the characters to be true to themselves the movie works, but a 146 minute movie needs more than flashes.
It’s hard to know exactly when “SatC 2” nukes the fridge (apparently the term “jump the shark” has jumped the shark). Perhaps it’s when Miley Cyrus shows up wearing the same dress as Samantha. Perhaps it’s during the intolerably bad “I Am Woman” karaoke scene, which is meant to be a grrl power anthem, but frankly, is just embarrassing. Or perhaps it is when the movie leaves its NYC home base and becomes the culturally insensitive “Carrie of Arabia.”

Whenever it is that it goes wrong, and believe me, it does go wrong, it probably won’t matter much to “SatC” fans. The audience I saw it with treated the movie as an interactive experience, commenting on the clothes, the relationships and the plot revelations as if they were enjoying a Cosmo with the girls at Buddakan.

Fans have a real life loyalty to these characters that isn’t dissimilar to the bond the fictional Miranda, Charlotte, Carrie and Samantha share. I guess that’s what it means to be friends, you stick with them during good times and bad, but in “Sex and the City 2” there are more bad times than good.

SEX AND THE CITY: 2 ½ STARS

Kim_Cattrall_in_Sex_and_the_City-_The_Movie_Wallpaper_3_800The world’s population is split divided like this: 60% women, 40% men. That means 60% of the world’s population will likely squeal with delight at the mention of the names Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, while 40% will likely scratch their heads, wondering what all the fuss is about.

If the names don’t ring a bell they are the Sex and the City mainstays; the four women who navigated New York City’s treacherous relationship waters for six seasons on HBO. Four years after wrapping up their small screen adventures the foursome is back with a feature length, (and then some), movie that sees them older, but not necessarily wiser.

As the movie plays catch-up with the Fab Four best-selling author Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), a fashionista so fabulous she even wears a pearl necklace to bed, is still with her longtime paramour Mr. Big (Chris Noth), the kind of businessman who instead of sending a love letter to his girlfriend would be more likely to have his secretary send a love fax.

Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), the no nonsense lawyer, has settled into a comfortable but boring relationship with Steve (David Eigenberg), the father of her child.

Charlotte’s (Kristin Davis) perfect life has gotten even more perfect with the addition of an adopted daughter and the notoriously self-centered Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has relocated to Los Angeles to manage the career of her hunky boytoy Smith (Jason Lewis).

The players firmly in place, the characters then spend the next two hours and twenty minutes changing in-and-out of designer clothes, sitting in expensive Eames chairs while pondering whether marriage ruins everything in a relationship. The interpersonal questions and glamorous style are vintage Sex and the City, but somewhere in the years since the show went off the air whatever edge the writing once had became blunted.

The wisecracks are still there—Candace Bergen as Vogue editor Enid Frick has the movie’s best line when she says, “Forty is the last age a woman can be photographed in a wedding dress without the unintended Diane Arbus subtext”—and there is certainly more than enough talk of relationships but the rebellious spirit of friendship that guided the girls through a mountain of men has evaporated.

Where these women had once been sexual suffragettes who thumbed their noses at traditional morality, they now seem much more conventional, looking to men as the fonts of all happiness. I’m afraid that the relationship gladiators Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte of the edgy television series would barely recognize their namby-pamby big-screen counterparts.

On other counts though, the movie, which is as review proof as any to be released this year, continues the traditions of the television show. The lifestyle porn—prominent designer labels on everything, a walk-in closet that could only exist in Manolo Blahnik’s wildest dreams and enough expensive shoes to shod and entire army of Vivienne Westwood wannabes—is lovingly photographed and should please audiences more concerned with couture than story.

Despite its turn toward a more conservative tone, the Sex and the City movie will please fans, who will likely find the experience somewhat akin to watching an entire season of the show on DVD. Others—that 40% I mentioned earlier—may be put off by the improbable “Oh Puleeze!” ending and left wondering what all the fuss was about to begin with.

SJP’s flip flopping movie career In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA Published: September 14, 2011

I-Dont-Know-How-She-Does-It-9Sarah Jessica Parker is best known as Carrie Bradshaw, the sharp-tongued figurehead of Sex and the City, the long-running ode to post feminism and stylish clothes. But before Mr. Big and the Louboutins she was a movie star with some classics– like Footloose–and some stinkers–like Dudley Do-Right –to her credit.

This weekend she’s back on the big screen for the first time in a non-Sex and the City movie since the 2009 flop Did You Hear about the Morgans? In I Don’t Know How She Does It she plays a version of Carrie all grown up with kids and a job in the financial sector. It’s a far cry from her first big movie, Footloose.

She played Rusty, a role Parker called the “best friend of the pretty girl.” The movie and its fancy footwork earned her a Best Young Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Musical, Comedy, Adventure or Drama nomination at the Sixth Annual Youth in Film Awards.

A few forgettable films followed like Firstborn—described as a “heavy-handed suburban sitcom”—Girls Just Want to Have Fun—called “a total wannabe in the realm of 80s teen flicks”—and Flight of the Navigator, which features the voice of Pee Wee Herman as a robot.

It wasn’t until she teamed with Steve Martin in L.A. Story that things started looking up. In this surreal look at life and love in Los Angeles Parker plays SanDeE*, a ditzy blonde who aspires to be a spokesmodel. “Um, it’s just a model who speaks,” she explains. “You know, and she points at things like merchandise, you know, like a car or washer and dryer. Sometimes it’s something really small, you know, like, like a book or fine art print.”

The movie broke her out of the teen movie mode and displayed her deft comic timing which was put to great use in Honeymoon in Vegas opposite Nic Cage. A few flops later she appeared in the critically acclaimed Ed Wood with Johnny Depp. Playing the much put-upon girlfriend of the world’s worst director, she calls the actors and crew of his film Bride of the Monster “the usual cast of misfits and dope addicts.”

Her most spectacular pre-Sex and the City role, however, is in Mars Attacks. In it she plays a flighty talk show host, who literally becomes a talking head when she is beheaded by aliens.