American Idol: back down to earth

Last week, the performances on “American Idol” were among some of the best the show has ever seen. So where would they go this week, singing the songs of Elton John? They had to at least, to some degree, stumble back to earth. Right? Well some did, but some stayed on the same level they were on or even climbed higher. This is just a remarkable group of singers. Anyway, here is the recap as I saw it…….

THE AWESOME
I’m going to put one singer in this category today, and that was pimp spot lady, Haley Reinhart. Haley has been in the Bottom 3 multiple times, trying to find herself. But this time, she flew away, literally, singing a lounge version of “Bennie and the Jets.” I’m not keen on the Amy Winehouse impersonation thing, but Haley nailed the song, showing incredibly dynamics, and then just nailing the “Ben-Nay! Ben-Nay!” parts. J-Lo said “that was IT!” and that it all came together for Haley; Randy said it was the best performance of the night; and Steven said it was a well-placed chorus and added, “You sing sexy!” All of them were correct, and it was great to see Haley hit a home run in honor of baseball season starting today.

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Box office preview: Will “Just Go With It” flow well? Will “Never Say Never” make Bieliebers of us all?

This is the first weekend in some time when we have more than a couple of new movies opening wide and it’s a weird one. We’ve got a powerhouse team of A-listers vying for first place against a 16 year-old musical phenom whose talent is, as least in the opinion of most adults and nearly all males, vastly less than phenomenal. Gotta love show biz.

If you’re betting on this weekend, you should probably demand some odds if your choice for the #1 spot is not “Just Go With It.” At least on paper, this is a smartly designed movie in terms of attracting a mass audience. To be stereotypical about it, there’s a little romance for the women, and little raunchy comedy for the men and a slightly unusual pairing of rom-com reliable Jennifer Aniston and raunch-com superstar Adam Sandler.

Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in

The cinematic seers and soothsayers referenced over at the L.A. Times and THR differ only very slightly in suggesting that the comedy from Sony/Columbia, will do something in the neighborhood of $30 million, or perhaps a bit more. Neither Aniston nor Sandler have ever been critical darlings and their latest outing isn’t changing that.

The strange aspect of this is that the film is an unheralded remake of 1969’s “Cactus Flower,” which had a screenplay adapted by the later-career collaborator of Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, and starred Walter Matthau and my hugest crush ever, Ingrid Bergman, in the roles now inhabited by Sandler and Anniston. I’ve liked both Sandler and Anniston in movies from time to time but, my God, talk about devolution. I’ve never seen model-turned-actress Brooklyn Decker in anything, so I’ll spare her the comparison to Goldie Hawn, who won an Oscar for her role.

Meanwhile, there’s more than a little mystery about just how much Paramount’s “Justin Beiber: Never Say Never” will make. Apparently, Beiber’s very young, very female fan base is defying marketers’ ability to measure and predict the results for this 3D docu-concert flick. The really weird part of all this is that, of all four movies being released this week, the biographical documentary has the best reviews with a respectable enough 64% Fresh rating over a Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing. A sad commentary, perhaps, or just another sign of the show biz apocalypse. Could this film actually top the week’s box office? Probably not, but never say “never.”

Gnomeo and JulietNext is the 3D animated comedy, “Gnomeo and Juliet.” Disney apparently wanted to keep this one at arm’s length and is releasing it through Touchstone, usually reserved for racier properties, despite the film’s G-rating. My hunch is that animation chief John Lasseter felt the rom-com suitable for the very young wasn’t quite up to snuff all around. The reviews, however, are not completely awful and the voice cast — which includes James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Sir Michael Caine, Dame Maggie Smith and, in a voice-acting debut, Jason Statham — is beyond first rate. It also boasts music by Elton John and parents can also feel like they’re prepping their kids for Shakespeare even if this is comedy and not tragedy. So, the guess of $15-20 million seems reasonable enough to me.

Finally, we’ve got swords, sandals, Channing Tatum, and Jamie Bell in “The Eagle.” No one seems very excited about this costume actioner and that non-excitement seems to be communicating itself through some underwhelming box office guesses to match its deeply “meh” notices.

In limited release in some 16 theaters according to Box Office Mojo, the world always needs a good, or half-way decent, comedy and the large majority of critics seem to agree that “Cedar Rapids” is just that. With a cast of tip-top comedy veterans including Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, and Anne Heche, among others, it’s hard not to have an upbeat attitude about this one.

Ed Helms and Anne Heche are in

  

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The battle you’ve been waiting to see: garden gnomes vs. Vegas showgirls!

Okay, I’m feeling perverse and just putting two more or less completely random trailers together for entirely different reasons.

First, a new CGI animation from Disney is called “Gnomeo and Juliet,” which pretty much tells you the story, except the amazing cast which Pajiba was kind enough to list and the fact that there’s a lot of classic Elton John music in, for some reason.

Ugh. Not very promising. Well, since Dennis Cozzalio reminds us that today is the 15th birthday of Paul Verhoeven and Joe Eszterhas’s legendary “Showgirls,” as a cine-palette cleanser please enjoy this delightfully NSFW bare-breasted trailer. Enjoy.

I gather Dennis — whose never afraid to defend orphaned movies — thinks “Showgirls” is actually good. I don’t know because I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never actually seen it. I’m not a fan of anything post-“Robocop” by Verhoeven or pretty much anything by Eszterhas, but still, I guess I should correct that. Besides, underclothed (naked?) Gina Gershon is enough reason to see any movie.

  

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American Idol: gives back one contestant

They’ve done this before, right? On “Idol Gives Back” night, they say they are going to eliminate a contestant and then they say they can’t on a charity night, and eliminate two contestants the following week. But not last night. Last night after a heartwarming (and I’m sorry, most of the time, DRAGGING) 2.5 hour show, Ryan Seacrest announced that one of the contestants was going home…..in effect, they were “giving one contestant back,” right? At least that’s how I was looking at it.

Anyway, before we get to the results, here is a blazing fast summary of guest appearances and funny moments…

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American Idol: The wildest of wild card rounds

Last night on “American Idol,” the judges wielded their authority on the show by choosing the final three contestants out of eight wild card nominees who performed with their best foot forward. Only the wildest card of all was that they chose four finalists instead of three, making the Top 12 a Top 13. I actually loved that they did that, even if I didn’t agree with at least one of their selections. Here is how it went down…

Jessie Langseth kicked things off with Rufus’ “Tell Me Something Good,” a somewhat odd song choice but Jessie wanted to bring her sexiest best to the table. But it was really just okay. Randy said as much, calling it “not great and just aight,” Kara said she likes Jessie’s swagger, Paula said she likes her tenacity (uh-oh, swagger and tenacity?), and Simon said that while it was better than her previous performance, it was a bit self-indulgent.

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