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Archive for July, 2008


Mamma Mia!

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A Universal (in U.S.)/United Intl. Pictures (in U.K.) release of a Universal Studios, Littlestar, Playtone production. Produced by Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman. Executive producers, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Mark Huffam. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Screenplay, Catherine Johnson, based the original musical book by Johnson, originally conceived by Judy Craymer, based on the songs of Abba.
Donna – Meryl Streep
Sam – Pierce Brosnan
Harry – Colin Firth
Bill – Stellan Skarsgard
Rosie – Julie Walters
Sky – Dominic Cooper
Sophie – Amanda Seyfried
Tanya – Christine Baranski

Take a Chance on Me” may be one of its most celebrated songs, but little risk is actually involved in “Mamma Mia! The Movie,” a predictably glossy screen adaptation of the Abba-scored musical. The pic uses virtually the same creative team behind the stage original — topped by helmer Phyllida Lloyd, making her film bow — but subs in bigscreen names like Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan for the leads and adds lush Greek exteriors. But the island-set tale of a young bride-to-be looking for dad offers little else that differs from the stage version and, since its grosses have exceeded $2 billion, why should it? To borrow another song title, Universal should reap reasonable “Money, Money, Money” in all territories.

The tuner shares a basic plot with the lesser-known 1968 Gina Lollobrigida starrer “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell,” so offers a variation of the recent screen-to-stage-to-screen-again works as “The Producers” and “Hairspray.” One difference is the highly lucrative addition of a soundtrack featuring several No. 1 hits by one of the most profitable music acts in history. With each song inserted to capture a certain moment or emotion in the script, and with the script itself stretched to encompass enough songs to fit the perfect best-of compilation, the storyline plays out more like an oversized Abba promotional vehicle than a fully dramatic piece.

The opening scenes offer a preview of the over-polished, glitzy texture used throughout, as a series of moonlit postcard images introduce us to the Greek island where Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is set to marry heartthrob Sky (Dominic Cooper).

Having never known the identity of her father, Sophie decides to invite three suspects –suave architect divorcee Sam (Pierce Brosnan), lonely but loaded investment banker Harry (Colin Firth), and roughshod world traveler Bill (Stellan Skarsgard). But Sophie doesn’t give warning to her ex-swinger mother Donna (Meryl Streep), who now runs a bed and breakfast atop the island.

Quid pro quo plays on for much of the pic’s first half, as the slightly bitter Donna — accompanied by zany friends Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) — attends to wedding preparations while reminiscing about the good old days when her trio, Donna and the Dynamos, rocked the scene. Meanwhile, Sophie plays an unending game of “My Three Dads” as she hops from one protective fatherly embrace to the other, unable to determine who’s the real one, and unwilling to confess her hidden agenda to Mom.

A prolonged, dance-heavy centerpiece features simultaneous bachelor and bachelorette parties where the entire cast, and all the subplots (including Donna’s re-emerging interest in Sam), converge in the type of chorus-line bonanza usually timed to wrap the first act with a bang. Yet on film, the scenes play more like “MTV Grind” than Busby Berkeley, with a roving camera breaking up the action into fast-cut singles.

The final reels are devoted to the wedding, set atop a dreamy seaside cliff (covered in one too many helicopter shots). After the truth is revealed, in what amounts to the film’s lengthiest dialogue sequence, the music kicks in for an extended showstopping finale that runs tirelessly through the stretched-out closing credits.

The singing-and-dancing work for the basic excitement and energy of a live performance, butan additional boost of cinematic prowess is needed to sustain a similar rhythm on film. Scribe-creator Catherine Johnson (also in her first screen outing) and theater-opera vet Lloyd can’t seem to find the right tone or style for their globally celebrated material.

Most of the chorus dance numbers — especially “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” and “Voulez-vous” — feel over-shot and over-cut, never allowing for the pleasure of a sustained, well-choreographed performance. Other, more intimate songs — including the beach-set “Lay All Your Love On Me” and the cliff-set “The Winner Takes It All” — feature a twirling Steadicam that does a better job of depicting the gorgeous coastline than the lip-synching cast.

Thesping is all-around pro, although some stars, especially the bouncy and rejuvenated Streep, seem better suited for musical comedy than others, including Brosnan and Skarsgard.

Despite the obvious time and energy devoted to smooth transitioning between studio and location scenes (both are shot realistically yet theatrically by d.p. Haris Zambarloukos), tech work often feels more rushed than mastered. Poor dubbing in some of the outdoor sequences tends to take away from the filmmakers’ insistence that we’re actually there.

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(Co) Universal Studios Sound Facilities

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Camera (Technicolor, Panavision widescreen), Haris Zambarloukos; editor, Lesley Walker; music and lyrics, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, with songs by Stig Anderson; musical director, Martin Lowe; music supervisor, Becky Bentham; production designer, Maria Djurkovic; supervising art director, Nick Palmer; art directors, Dean Clegg, Rebecca Holmes; set decorator, Barbara Herman-Skelding; costume designer, Ann Roth; sound (SDDS/Dolby Digital/DTS), Simon Hayes; supervising sound editor, Nick Adams; re-recording mixers, Michael Barry, Michael Minkler, Dominick Tavella; choreographer, Anthony Van Laast; visual effects supervisor, Mark Nelmes ; visual effects, Framestore; assistant director, Chris Newman; casting, Priscilla John, Ellen Lewis. Reviewed at Odeon Leicester Square, London, July 4, 2008. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 108 MIN.

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Step Brothers (2008)

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“Step Brothers,” which was produced by Judd Apatow and his and Will Ferrell’s manager, Jimmy Miller, is nowhere near as good, funny or polished as “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” the Nascar spoof directed by Adam McKay, which was also produced by Mr. Apatow and Mr. Miller. In that movie, Mr. Ferrell and John C. Reilly play best, not terribly bright, friends. Here, again directed by Mr. McKay, they play not terribly bright slackers turned brothers turned friends, who, after their parents wed, generate a lot of noisy, fitfully amusing, ultimately tiresome havoc. They’re losers that only a mother, an entertainment manager or a gang of self-satisfied comedy insiders could love.

The idea of two men of around 40 still living with their folks and addicted to nominally juvenile pursuits (toys, pornography, “Star Wars”) seems like grist for the comedy mill or a newspaper trend piece. Mostly, though, it sounds like an idea that was hatched (Mr. McKay?) in waggish reaction to yet another movie review carping about how American comedies are stuck in adolescence. They are, and have been. (“Hey Abbott!”) What’s distinct about the recent cycle of comic juvenilia are its contemporary contours — male camaraderie and self-actualization combined with raunchy guffaws and a preoccupation with women that doesn’t extend to giving them interesting roles — and the ease with which its prominent practitioners are willing to recycle their own laughs to increasingly diminished ends.

So, once again, there is the spectacle and pathos of the sexually stunted immature male, here times two: Brennan (Mr. Ferrell) and Dale (Mr. Reilly). Richard Jenkins plays Dale’s crinkly father, Robert, while Mary Steenburgen, as Brennan’s mother, Nancy, takes the fantasy parent role: she’s saintly, sexy — her relaxed, ready smile telegraphs satisfaction — and endlessly patient. She looks good for a woman who would have had her youngest at about 14. Brennan and his insufferable brother, Derek (Adam Scott), both strong arguments for adolescent birth control, provide some of the crueler sport in “Step Brothers,” evincing mutual hostility that spills over into sadism. It’s hard to reconcile this nice woman with either Brennan or Derek, with his wolfish grin and winner-takes-everything mania.

That few girls and fewer credible women are allowed in the Apatow boys’ club is old news. The only distaff comedy here is provided by the enthusiastic Kathryn Hahn, who as Derek’s pitifully desperate wife, Alice, makes dexterous use of a bathroom urinal. Despite this bit of physical comedy, potty humor doesn’t play a large role in “Step Brothers,” which, like all of Mr. Apatow’s films, is firmly, perhaps self-consciously, rooted in what Freudians term the phallic stage of human development, not the anal. The phallic stage is supposed to be the time when little boys realize that little girls are built differently, which leads them to see their fathers as rivals for their mothers and in turn leads to castration anxiety.

Castration anxiety, at least in this movie, may explain the startling sight of Mr. Ferrell placing his scrotum (or a remarkably persuasive prosthetic) on a drum during one of Brennan and Dale’s full-rattle battles. The penchant for Apatow men letting it all hang out has become a familiar and much-discussed part of the factory formula. Dudes, I understand: You have penises. You’re nice and sort of blobby and you don’t look like Tom Cruise, but you’re real men. Hot-blooded, anatomically correct men, and no one should ever forget it, least of all the ladies that you can’t stop talking dirty about and hope one day to marry because, well, that’s the kind of good, hot-blooded, anatomically correct guys you are.

That’s fine as far as it goes, but recently it hasn’t gone anywhere new. Mr. Ferrell has made a big-screen career riffing on dimwitted innocence, sometimes aided by Mr. McKay’s sitcom styling. Some of their movies have been funny, others less so. Yet successful or not, these characters fit right in with Mr. Apatow’s band of horny and virginal (in spirit if not in flesh) boys and men. In “Step Brothers,” Brennan and Dale almost bring down the house by clinging to a delayed adolescence that makes them seem angry rather than playful and joyous. There’s a shadow of darkness to all their thudding blows and sputtering epithets, but is it the characters who are so fearful of growing up or is it their creators?

“Step Brothers” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). R for raunch.


Opens on Friday nationwide.

Directed by Adam McKay; written by Will Ferrell and Mr. McKay, based on a story by Mr. Ferrell, Mr. McKay and John C. Reilly; director of photography, Oliver Wood; edited by Brent White; music by Jon Brion; production designer, Clayton Hartley; produced by Jimmy Miller and Judd Apatow; released by Columbia Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes.

WITH: Will Ferrell (Brennan Huff), John C. Reilly (Dale Doback), Richard Jenkins (Robert Doback), Mary Steenburgen (Nancy Huff), Adam Scott (Derek Huff) and Kathryn Hahn (Alice Huff).


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Pamela Anderson says she is constantly being asked by her ex-hubby Tommy Lee to marry him again, according to Contact Music. Pam and Tommy have been spending much more time together lately and said to be living together for the sake of their children, Dylan and Brandon. Apparently, Tommy wants to get back together again and Pam has hinted she may decide to accept his proposal one day. She said:

“Tommy asks me to marry him every day. It’s very confusing. Marriage is romantic and I get swept up easy. Tommy is the love of my life. It’s a very deep love that grows in all sorts of unexpected ways. It’s been the one relationship that’s challenged me to the core.”

The Motley Crue rocker and the Baywatch Babe have quite an on-again-off-again relationship so I won’t be surprised if they actually get married again and then divorced not too long after. I guess some relationships are destined to be that way, like U2’s song from the Joshua Tree album, “With or Without You.”

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It looks like Sienna Miller is easier to get over then some might think. Rhys Ifans was seen last night out with Kimberly Stewart at Bungalow 8 nightclub. The couple must be trying to hide something because they slipped in the back door of the club.

Come on – it’s Kimberly Stewart. I am sure she would have had no problem going in the front door. The two went to several bars and a friends home and then headed back to Kimberly’s flat. Trying to be sneaky – Rhys had the driver let him off down the street from her home so they wouldn’t be photographed together.

Ifans was a mess after his breakup with Miller, reportedly calling her and crying all the time in a feeble attempt to win her back. He still looks pretty messed up. Hey what’s the white stuff all over his shirt?

This isn’t the first time Stewart has gone after Sienna’s past lovers.   She was also
recently seen kissing
Jude Law.

More photos below.

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What Happened to Jack Osbourne? (Crown Bar Photos)

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It has been a while since we last saw Jack Osbourne and we just can’t quite put our finger on who he looks like at the moment. Ozzie and Sharon’s boy and a host of other celebrities were seen coming and going from Crown Bar in LA last night.

We have no idea if there was something special going on at Crown Bar but Lance Bass, Tila Tequila, Cindy Taylor were among those in a party mood.

Hey – let us know who you think Jack looks like.

More photos below.

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Jamie Lynn Spears Planning Fall Wedding (Photos)

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Jamie Lynn Spears, 17 year old actress and new mother of one month old daughter Maddie, is living happily with her 19 year old boyfriend and baby daddy Casey Aldridge. The actress bought a home on three acres and the little family is said to be very happy with their new life in Liberty, Mississippi.

Spears new digs are only a 30 minute drive from her family home in Kentwood, Louisiana. Her sister Britney Spears owns Serenity estate, where Lynn Spears resides.

The teen, according to OK! magazine, is planning an intimate outdoor family wedding at her home later this Fall. She is not interested in the trappings of a mega celebrity affair and has opted to keep it private and in her own backyard. Britney will be her maid of honor and Casey’s sister Ashlee will be a bridesmaid.

Check out photos of below.

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