Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week we have a look at the Disney+ series “Only Murders in the Building” with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, the Jeff Daniels drama “American Rust” and the rom com “Finding You” in theatres.
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the coming-of-age story “Edge of Seventeen” and Miles Teller as real life boxer Vinny Paz in “Bleed for This.”
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the coming-of-age story “Edge of Seventeen,” Miles Teller as real life boxer Vinny Paz in “Bleed for This” and “Nocturnal Animals” with Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.
“Home,” is an alien invasion movie for kids. Imagine a cute “War of the Worlds” with messages about courage and the meaning of family and you get the idea.
Oh (voice of Jim Parsons) is a Boov, an alien from a skittish race of ETs who flee at the slightest sign of trouble. Constantly on the run from their mortal enemies, this time their fearful leader Captain Smek (voice of Steve Martin) has found them refuge on Earth, moving the planet’s inhabitants to an interment camp called Happy Human Town to make room for the Boov. Oh isn’t aware of the camp. “Boov do not steal and abduct,” he says naively, “we liberate and befriend.”
Tip” Tucci (voice of Rihanna) is a teenager who managed to avoid the Boov, but is now in search of her mother (voice of Jennifer Lopez). When Oh accidentally invites the entire universe—including the Boov’s enemies—to his housewarming, he flees the angry aliens, running into Tip. The odd couple become friends and soon Oh is helping Tip find her mother while Tip teaches Oh about bravery and the importance of family.
You’d have to be particularly grim faced to deny “Home’s” cute factor. The audience I saw it with seemed to have their collective fingers permanently poised on the “Ahhhh” button but cute doesn’t mean it’s a great film. It makes the most of its modest charms, seeming content to pitch the movie at an audience young enough to not be aware of many of the clichés on display. I won’t list them all here, but suffice to say that five minutes in you know this is the kind of kid’s flick that will end with some kind of dance number.
On the plus side there is action mild enough for the young ones—although they do mostly destroy Paris, which might upset Parisian tots—with low jeopardy and nothing that should inspire nightmares.
Parsons probably has the most cartoon friendly voice on television today and he uses it to good effect as the gullible extra-terrestrial. He speaks in alien doubletalk, a kind of Yoda speak mixed with the “I Can Has Cheezburger?” meme. “I do not fit in,” he says, “I fit out.”
“Home” contains good moral lessons wrapped up in a shiny package with giggles for the kids and even a laugh or two for parents who will have top accompany the little ones.
“You’re a con artist,” wrote Karina Halle in Sins & Needles. “A liar. A thief. An unredeemable soul.”
She might also have added to that colourful list really interesting movie character.
As despicable as flim flam artists may be, there is no denying they make good film subjects.
This weekend in American Hustle, Christian Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, a con man forced to help the FBI ensnare a group of corrupt politicians in the ABSCAM sting operation.
Although American Hustle director David O. Russell says his film is a fictionalized account of events, the ABSCAM operation was headline news in the early 1980s and Hollywood took notice.
In 1982 director Louis Malle was making plans for a May start date on an ABSCAM film called Moon Over Miami starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. Belushi was to play Melvin Weinberg, based on the same man as Bale’s character in American Hustle.
The movie was scuttled following Belushi’s death in March of that year.
That con man film never saw the light of day, but many others have.
Everyone knows The Sting and The Grifters, but lesser seen is David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner, a complicated story starring Campbell Scott as Joe Ross, a man who invents a process “to control the world market.” Concerned that he will not be properly compensated for his work he contacts Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin), a wealthy businessman who offers to help. Little does Ross know that he has just stepped into a world of deception that will change his life.
Steve Martin’s performance in The Spanish Prisoner was Oscar worthy, but it wasn’t the first time he played a confidence man on film.
In the comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels he starred opposite Michael Caine as a scruffy con man trying to muscle in on some high end business on the French Riviera. Caine’s suave grifter makes a bet with Martin. Whoever can con Soap Queen Janet Colgate (Glenne Headley) first will walk away with $50,000.
The movie was written for Mick Jagger and David Bowie who were looking to do a project together after the success of their Dancing in the Street video. The rock stars dropped out before cameras rolled — Bowie later said both were, “a bit tweezed that we lost out on a script that could have been reasonably good” — and replaced by Martin and Caine whose hilarious performances earned the movie a spot on Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies list.
Not since The Beverly Hillbillies’ Miss Jane has there been such a bird crazy character. “The Big Year,” a new comedy starring the tryptic of comics Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson, is based on a true story of birders trying to break a world record.
“This is a true story,” the opening credit reads. “Only the facts have been changed.” Wilson is Bostick, the world’s best birder (they don’t like being called bird watchers). He is the king of The Big Year, an annual competition to see the greatest amount of birds in North America in a calendar year. There’s no prize other than bragging rights, but, jokes Brad Harris (Jack Black), “the bird seed endorsements are huge.” The film follows Bostick and the efforts of two newcomers to the Big Year, Stu (Martin), a wealthy CEO who is finally taking time to smell the roses and look at the birds, and Harris, an unhappy office grunt who loves anything that flies, as they vie for the top spot.
Whether or not audiences will migrate to “The Big Year” depends on their tolerance for a soundtrack stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with bird songs like a jazz version of “Blackbird,” and the trio of leading men.
Each plays to his strength. Black provides the slapstick, martin is the silver haired charmer and Wilson plays the edgy jerk he’s perfected in movies like “Drillbit Taylor.” The three different styles work well together even though nothing about it really feels fresh. Despite its subject it never really takes flight. There’s a more ripple of giggles throughout but the big laughs are fewer and further between. Surely some Blue Footed Booby jokes could have spiced things up just a bit.
Having said that, “The Big Year” is enjoyable enough, particularly if you like footage of our fine feathered friends. The final third tugs at the heart strings when it becomes more about the characters than their birding obsession. Not really memorable, but at least it’s not another installment of Martin’s dreadful Inspector Clouseau series.
There was a time when the teaming of Steve Martin, John Cleese and Lily Tomlin would have sent tsunami sized ripples through the comedy world. Mr. Wild and Crazy paired with comedy legends from Monty Python and Laugh In would have guaranteed laughs and big box office mojo. That would have been 1978. Unfortunately for us and them, it’s 2009. The three comedy legends co-star in the unimaginatively titled Pink Panther 2, an uninspired and unnecessary sequel to Martin’s 2006 reimagining of the classic Peter Seller’s character.
The movie’s premise is thin even for a February comedy. In fact, it’s thin enough to make Paul Blart: Mall Cop look nuanced. It begins with a super villain named El Tornado thieving the world’s greatest treasures—the Magna Carta from England, Italy’s Shroud of Turin and a Japanese Imperial Sword. Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese) of the French police is forced to assign Jacques Clouseau, “the world’s greatest detective,” to the case. The situation becomes complicated when El Tornado steals the national French treasure The Pink Panther and Clouseau must work with an international team of detectives to solve the case.
Inspector Clouseau has suffered cinematic indignities in the past. Both Roger Moore and Alan Arkin bungled their way through past adaptations, but the Martin’s take on the character lowers the bar to untold depths. There was a time when Martin’s out-there brand of humor shook up the comedy world, rebelling against exactly the kind of comedy pabulum that is imprinted on every frame of Panther 2.
Where to start?
His ever changing vocal inflection sounds like Elmer Fudd doing the Wild and Crazy Guys accent. More annoying than funny. More annoying than anything else.
The script, the thing that passes for comedy writing here, is formulaic and flat. There isn’t a line in this movie that even approaches the pure comedy mania of the “That is not my doog” scene in The Pink Panther Strikes Back and even the slapstick is so predictable that Buster Keaton would have thought of these gags as old hat. Only one set piece, where Clouseau burns down a restaurant while juggling bottles of wine, hints at what could have been if anyone on either side of the camera put in the effort.
Worst of all is Martin’s take on the character. In Seller’s hands the Clouseau was an inspired collection of quirks and tics; a doofus but a well meaning one. Martin has subtly changed Clouseau into an arrogant, petty bumbler. The difference? One was lovable and funny and one isn’t.
February is quickly turning into the “I’m only in it for the money month” where good actors stoop to making crap for a quick paycheque. It’s bad enough that Martin makes movies like this, but why does he have to bring Andy Garcia, Jeremy Irons, Alfred Molina and Jean Reno down with him?
The first Martin Pink Panther wasn’t funny but nonetheless made a lot of money. As a potential audience member keep this old saying in mind, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Don’t get sucked in again. Stay home. Rent A Shot in the Dark and remember when someone knew how to get real laughs playing the clueless Inspector Clouseau.