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This Weekend at the Movies: A Second Hangover, Animals Do Battle, and the Palme d’Or Winner

Memorial Day weekend used to mean the start of the summer movie season, but by now we’re already in full swing! Nevertheless, the studios have seen fit to give you two sequels to two massively popular films. And maybe some artsy stuff for the coasts.

The Hangover Part II


And yes, they’re going roman numeral style. This is some classy stuff right here. I saw this on Monday, and while there are a lot of funny moments with the same gang (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis), you will be shocked at how incredibly similar it is to the first. Way beyond the even standard “same premise, different locale” set-up you would expect. It robs it of some of the insanity the first, which I loved, had in spades. Rotten Tomatoes has it at a 32% fresh rating. Nevertheless, it opened to a whopping $10 million on midnight showings alone last night. With a five-day weekend in which to run rampant (Monday’s a holiday!), this is going to do some serious damage at the box office.

Kung-Fu Panda 2


Once known with the much sillier subtitle “The Kaboom of Doom,” this one seems to do what a good sequel should – offer the same delights as the original in a new package. It boasts a 75% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and while some critics fault it for hewing too closely to the original, many were too swept up by its charms to care. Kung Fu Panda became unexpectedly beloved upon its release, and many cite it as one of Dreamworks’ few great films. It’s hard to imagine those fans, and their kids, won’t come to see this in droves.

The Tree of Life


While the latest film from Terrence Malick certainly won’t make the same imprint at the box office as the previously-mentioned films, this is the film event for cinephiles this weekend. That is, if you live in New York or Los Angeles. I have my ticket to the midnight show tonight, and could not possibly be more excited. If you live elsewhere, don’t fret – you’ll be able to see the Palme d’Or winner within the next few weeks, as Fox Searchlight rolls it out across the country. Click here to see when your city is getting it. And although this doesn’t have the mass appeal of your kung-fu pandas or your 30-something frat boys, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of that Cannes buzz fuel it to a respectable hit for Fox Searchlight.

Beyond that, New York gets two art house release - Tuesday, After Christmas, a sparse study of infidelity that received solid reviews when it premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and United Red Army, an epic about a revolutionary group in Japan in the 1970s.

Next week, it’s all about the X-Men back on the screen again, while at least a couple of cities will get one of my favorite movies of the year so far. Stay tuned!

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Season 10 of “American Idol” is in the books. But before we get to the result, let’s talk about how bad the performances on the show were overall, in rapid-fire fashion….

The Top 13 performed Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way,” and we all expected GaGa to come out and join them, but she didn’t. Oh, but the performance was awful, and why do they make them wear all white like the Good Humor Man for these group numbers?

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American Idol: two teens vie for title

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So here we go…..

SCOTTY McCREERY
Round 1: “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry. Scotty nailed this one a few weeks back, and that performance vaulted him into contention. Last night it wasn’t as magical, but still very strong and a good way to kick things off.

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The live finale of the show is always a big event, probably why “American Idol” decided to move its performance show to Tuesday this week–to compete head-to-head. Of course, I blog about both here, so that was annoying to me. Anyway, the first order of business was to bring out Jay and Irene, and find out who America voted to compete for the $250K grand prize along with sisters Hannah and Olivia. The winner was…Irene! So there would be three women competing for the grand prize, and Jay was relegated to compete for the $100K “at-home” prize.

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But what wasn’t blah was watching Haley, Scotty and Lauren go home last week and getting to see the outpouring of affection for each contestant. That was awesome. Especially when Josh Turner came out on stage to surprise Scotty.

Finally, it was time for the results….the first person in the finale….Scotty McCreery. Okay….down to Lauren and Haley. The other person in the finale…Lauren! So Haley was going home, and he looked mighty pissed for about 30 seconds before gaining her composure and singing “Benny & the Jets” on her way out. See you on the classic rock cover band circuit, Haley. But hey, now we’ve got Lauren and Scotty squaring off in the youngest pairing of an Idol finale yet–with Lauren being 16 and Scotty 17. Yikes. And both are country singers.

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Last night’s “American Idol” finalists performed three songs each, and suffice to say that the judges tried to be careful with their critiques–especially after Randy and J-Lo almost sent Haley home last week with some blistering comments after her first song. But then again, there were no dud performances last night, and only two that I saw that were a cut above. Here is how it went down….

First of all, Ryan Seacrest announced that next week the show will move to Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s the absolute dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, what with next week being the final week of the season. Seriously. And now they are going up against the finale of “The Biggest Loser.” Damn you, FOX. Anyway, last night they sang three songs–one of their own choice, one chosen by Jimmy Iovine, and a third by the judges. So here we go…..

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They had the final four–Jay, Irene, Hannah and Olivia–sit in a post-eliminating-Austin pow-wow with host Alison Sweeney and kind of feign fist pumps that they were in said Final Four. Okay, we get it! But seriously, who saw this coming? Tell me you had any of these folks in the finale.

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Indeed, even a momentous event  like the death of Osama Bin Laden could just barely penetrate TCM’s  mix of Hollywood fantasy and scholarship. For me, the news first came as I overheard another filmgoer during an intermission of “West Side Story,” which I had popped in on just to see how good the 70mm print was, say to another. “No, he’s really dead.” I figured it was another classic film star gone forever. George Chakiris, who played Sharks leader Bernardo, had introduced the screening, but how were Jets Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn doing?

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James and Scotty did a duet of a country ditty called “Start a Band” that was originally done by Keith Urban and Brad Paisley, and it wasn’t nearly as offensive as a song like that might be. Haley and Lauren then did Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead” and that was pretty good as well. Then after showing each of the finalists chatting with family members, it was time for the first result. There were three gold chairs at the far end of the stage, and it would hold each contestant that next week would be “going home” to have a hero’s welcome in their respective hometowns. And the first one to safety was….Lauren Alaina! Good for her. I have been pimping her since her first audition and she is hanging tough despite almost being eliminated last week.

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We know that Steven Tyler has an infamous history of drug use and living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. But it was Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez that I thought were on crack last night on “American Idol.” More on that in a moment.

First, the Final Four of James, Scotty, Lauren and Haley had the task of picking two songs each–one that personally inspires them, and another from the great Leiber and Stoller catalog. For the latter, they would be mentored by Lady GaGa. Anyway, here is how it went down and how I saw it:

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