June 29, 2012 |
People Like Us is one of those "inspired by true events" stories - a tagline so commonplace these days that its absence from the beginning of Ted comes as kind of a shock. The true events at the heart of Alex Kurtzman's alternately absorbing and maddening Los Angeles melodrama have to do with the director's discovery a few years back that he had a secret sibling. His father was in another marriage, another life, and hadn't let on. In Kurtzman's terribly titled feature debut, it is Sam Harper (Chris Pine)
December 9, 2011 |
JUST AS THE ball drops in Times Square every year, the compilation movie is becoming an annual tradition. While the Brit-inflected "Love, Actually" (2003) is the mack daddy of the genre, the American counterparts began in earnest with "He's Just Not that Into You" (2009) and Garry Marshall's "Valentine's Day" (2010). Marshall continues his holiday streak with "New Year's Eve," celebrating the one day when, as Ashton Kutcher's bearded comic book artist puts it, "People who don't drink or party all year suddenly are going all Kanye on you. " As with "Valentine's Day," the stories of many freakishly attractive normals mix and mingle, coming together as the story sees fit, whether it's Zac Efron's bike messenger helping Michelle Pfeiffer's repressed secretary check off her resolutions or Jessica Biel and Seth Myers attempt to have the first baby born in 2012 in order to win a pile of cash.
July 21, 2000 |
There's almost as much water in What Lies Beneath, Robert Zemeckis' impossibly derivative psychological thriller, as there is ocean washing over the decks of George Clooney's swordfish boat in The Perfect Storm. From the rippling-water title-sequence, to Michelle Pfeiffer's numerous immersions in the bathtub, to a couple of soggy swims in the nearby lake, to the slashing rain descending from the night sky, this Fatal Attraction-meets-The Sixth-Sense-with-a-detour-to-Rear-Window pastiche is wet, wet, wet. It's also dumb, dumb, dumb - borrowing scare tactics from Hitchcock and other suspense masters, but forgetting basic storytelling essentials such as character development and logical exposition.
July 21, 2000 |
What lies beneath "What Lies Beneath" is an el stinko ending. Otherwise, it's a fairly decent spookfest that elicits many gasps from the audience. Most of the gasps I heard came from people impressed with the movie's featured house - I'm guessing a six-bedroom, lakeside mansion in New Hampshire ("Live Lavishly or Die"), home to Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford), a researcher who does a little teaching at Billionaire U. The big mystery in "What Lies Beneath" is why Ford pulls up to this $3 million spread in an '89 Honda.
May 14, 1999 |
These days, everybody's getting their shots in at Calista Flockhart, including William Shakespeare, who wrote her latest movie, "A Midsummer Night's Dream. " Flockhart has canceled many interviews related to the movie - backing out of TV appearances, etc. - because she doesn't want to answer questions about her weight, or lack of it. How ironic then, that she stars in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as Helena, a single gal who is jealous of her more popular, more buxom girlfriend Hermia.
March 12, 1999 |
Day-care culture has created a pool of working parents who are ripe for exploitation. With a child in one place, parents in another, fear takes hold under even the best of circumstances, and where there is that much fear, there is also the potential for handsome profits. Hollywood cashed in with "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. " The news media grabbed their share by flogging the case of Louise Woodward, the British nanny convicted of killing an infant, before a judge overturned the decision.
September 19, 1997 |
"A Thousand Acres" has all the elements needed for a great movie. Two quality actresses - one who has won an Oscar, the other a multiple Oscar nominee, a script adapted from a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, and a supporting cast of talented actors. In an updated version of "King Lear," Rose Cook Lewis (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Ginny Cook Smith (Jessica Lange) play two sisters living on an Iowa farm. Their father, Larry (Jason Robards), is aging ungracefully and concerned with the future of his land.
December 20, 1996 |
Rock Hudson and Doris Day made something like 687 cute little sex comedies back in the late '50s and early '60s, all with the same formula: The twosome start out loathing each other and end up loving each other, and Tony Randall is usually fussing around someplace in the background. George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer strive mightily for the same kind of cute - and even resort to the same cornball split-screen telephone spats of Hudson and Day's Pillow Talk - in the frantic but pretty much flat One Fine Day. The big difference here: Best friend Randall has been replaced by a couple of pipsqueaks.
March 1, 1996 |
Forget anything you may have heard or read about the late Jessica Savitch being the inspiration for "Up Close & Personal. " Real life is never so satisfying to Hollywood as the stuff they already have lying around on celluloid, so while the credits may say the story was "suggested by" Alanna Nash's Savitch biography, "Golden Girl," it's a suggestion screenwriters Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne largely ignored. Instead, they've dished out "Broadcast News" meets "A Star Is Born," with a side order of "Pygmalion" to go. The rise of Tally Atwater (Michelle Pfeiffer)
August 3, 1995 |
She could kill with her bare hands, one of the students in English 11-P assured the others. Their new teacher, LouAnne Johnson, had never tried to kill anyone, but she didn't contradict him. "They thought either she's crazy or she can do it," Johnson remembered with a faint smile. "Either way, they didn't want to mess with me. " What else was a brand new student teacher - who happened to be an ex-Marine - to do when faced with a class of 34 tough inner-city teenagers who had already driven a teacher and three substitutes to the brink and whose very last desire was to sit through one more hour of sophomore English?