Tag: Mark Wahlberg (Page 2 of 2)

It’s box office preview time: Carrell and Fey to clash with “Titans”

Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, and Mark Wahlberg commisserate in

Commercially speaking, the premise of Fox’s PG-13 rated “‘Date Night” seems right on the money. NBC Thursday night comedy dream team Steve Carrell and Tina Fey are a married couple with children in a humdrum relationship rut who, through a case of mistaken identity, wind up fleeing from criminals and repeatedly running into a perpetually unshirted Mark Wahlberg and other dangerous obstacles to their peace of mind.

It’s been some time since a true wide appeal mainstream comedy aimed at adults and also possibly younger comedy fans of both genders has hit the theaters. “Hot Tub Time Machine” obviously skews more than a little male and more recent films, like “She’s Out of My League,” are clearly aimed at a somewhat younger demographic. On paper, the thing seems destined to do extremely well with a potential to elicit the three words sweetest to a studio suit’s ear “four quadrant picture.”

Still, not everyone is thriller. Our own Jamey Codding found the movie a lot more entertaining in principle than in reality. Director Shawn Levy of the “Night at the Museum” franchise is getting by far the best reviews of his career over in  Rotten Tomato land, but that is not as impressive as it could be given his rather rotten critical track record and many of the critics seem to be simply praising the considerable comic skills more than the movie as a whole. As for the box office gurus, a solid but not super-dramatic opening somewhere significantly south of $30 million but probably north of $20 million is predicted by the mysterious voices in Jolly Carl DiOrio‘s ear.

Sam Worthing girds his loins for battle in Of course, the comedy faces some fierce battles ahead with more grim-faced previously released films, most especially last weekend’s top picture, Warner’s “Clash of the Titans.” Like many poorly reviewed genre pictures, it’s expected to drop off by as much as 60%. Moreover, the catcalls from a geek-heavy audience made newly picky about 3-D thanks to James Cameron‘s innovations appear to be depressing turn-out at the pricey 3-D screens. Still, even with a really big sophomore drop off, it still has a very good shot a winning a second weekend in a row, though the win could well be as ugly as Medusa herself.

Also debuting this week is a Christian-themed heart-tugger, Vivendi’s  “Letters to God.” It’s somewhere between a large limited release and a very small major release as it will be in just under 900 theaters this weekend, according to the mighty Box Office Mojo theater count. No reviews are out yet to speak of, but I noticed even the Christian user reviews on IMDb are a bit muted, noting that the acting is in a bit better than on prior films from the same team and the movie is “professional.” High praise.

Not to be glib — which is a way of me preparing you for the glibness ahead — but with the usual church-based marketing push, this one should do okay preaching to the converted. I guess, as a secular Jew, I sort of feel like I see an awful lot of essentially Christian movies, they’re just not marketed that way or noticed because about 95% of Americans are actually Christian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Despite an atmospheric and a mega-creepy trailer that I love and strong trio of lead actors — Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, and Justin Long — the death-obsessed, R-rated horror thriller from Anchor Bay, “After.Life,” is leaving the large majority of critics as cold as the grave. With only 41 screens for a film which should have a wide appeal for horror fans, an early demise seems likely for this morbid but apparently non-gory tale. I personally hope Ricci, a terrific actress who I haven’t seen in a while in anything, has better luck soon.


Top Gear 11 & 12 Coming To DVD in January

Although “Top Gear” has been floating around the British airwaves in one form or another since the 1970s, I must admit that my knowledge of the series didn’t kick into overdrive (automotive pun utterly intended) until earlier this year, when “Top Gear 10” of the series was released on DVD here in the States. I realize I’m highly late to the game, since not only is it one of the top rated shows on BBC America and BBC Canada, but it’s aired in more than 100 countries, thereby officially making it an international phenomenon. In my defense, I figured, “This is absolutely not a show that I would care about,” but even though I’m someone who could care less about the car he drives, a fact evidenced by my ownership of a 2000 Hyundai Elantra with well over 100K miles on it, I quickly fell in love with “Top Gear,” describing it as “a show about cars that isn’t strictly aimed toward those who think of themselves as ‘car people.'”

“(‘Top Gear’) approaches the whole fast-cars-are-awesome concept without taking it too seriously, which is often the problem with American coverage of NASCAR and whatnot. Hosts Jeremy Clarkson (a staple on the show since its original inception), Richard Hammond, and James May go out on various tracks and test-drive new vehicles – occasionally aided by the mysterious test driver known only as The Stig – and that’s all fine and well, but it’s when they venture forth into the real world that things really begin to take off. Sometimes it’s a challenge, other times it’s a race, but you don’t have to be a car enthusiast to find yourself enthralled by the concept of making a truck into a seafaring vehicle and attempting to cross the English Channel. It’s ridiculous, but they take it completely seriously, and with their very real reactions to the situations combined with some wonderfully dramatic music, you can’t take your eyes off the proceedings.”

Given my obvious enjoyment of “Top Gear: The Complete Season 10,” you can imagine my excitement when I was made privy to the news that the subsequent two seasons of the series will be heading to stores in the early part of next year, helping to kick off 2010 with a bang.

The news comes to us straight from BBC Worldwide’s publicity offices that both “Top Gear 11” and “Top Gear 12” will be speeding to retail…sorry, that was their joke, not mine…on January 12, 2010. Messrs. Clarkson, Hammond, and May tackle fresh challenges, push extraordinary and ordinary cars to the limit, and fill every episode of these two seasons with exhaustive road tests featuring some of the world’s most exotic supercars. In short, if you’ve got the money to actually buy any of these vehicles, you’ll be able to watch the show and find out if you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

In “Top Gear 11,” the new batch of cars includes the Mitsubishi Evo X, Brooklands Bentley Super Coupé and Mazda’s Furai concept car, and the crew invents a new sport: fox-hunting Jeremy-hunting with a Daihatsu Terios 4×4. Additionally, they race across Japan in a Nissan GTR in a competition against public transport, then dare to beat their German rivals in a series of grueling automotive tests.

When “Top Gear 12” kicks off, it’s with a crash, a bang and an overwhelming smell of burning…but, then, what scent would you expect when the guys are behind the wheels of a trio of second-hand trucks? They also visit our fine country – feel free to pause and chant, “USA! USA! USA!” – and take three big-engine ‘muscle’ cars on an epic road trip from San Francisco to Utah. Other escapes during the course of the season include explorations of the Fiat 500 Abarth, Porsche 911 and Pagani Zonda F Roadster, but if you’ve come for the celebrity guests, you won’t come up short there, either; Mark Wahlberg, Sir Tom Jones, and British talk show legend Michael Parkinson all stop by to chat after they’ve buckled up and done their time as a “Star in the Reasonably Priced Car.” On the special-feature front, there’s audio commentary on the guys’ Vietnam special (where the boys attempt to travel the entire length of the country in just eight days) and Botswana specials, deleted scenes, photo galleries, and the highly nonspecific claim of “more.”

“Top Gear 11” and “Top Gear 12” race into stores…again, not my joke…on January 12, 2010 for the suggested retail price of $29.98 and $39.98, respectively, but in the meantime, you can pick them up on iTunes. (You certainly wouldn’t be the first person to do so: Seasons 10 and 11 both debuted at #1 for “Top TV Season” on iTunes Store in the U.S.). You can also keep yourself occupied by exploring the show’s new site for U.S. and Canadian fans, TopGear.com, which features a Top Gear America blog, exclusive video clips, and contributions from Jeremy, Richard, James and executive producer Andy Wilman.

I’ll close things here the same way I closed my Season 10 review: with an assurance to those of you who, like myself, aren’t car people. Personally, I don’t get any thrill out of racing, but I was moving from episode to episode of “Top Gear” without a moment’s hesitation. It’s top-notch television, entertaining even to those who have no interest in the subject at hand. That’s impressive stuff, and I have no doubt that Seasons 11 and 12 offer more of the same.

Today in casting news

There are times when I really think I shouldn’t mention another single casting related story. There are so many, and the news so often changes several times before the first day of shooting, that it seems kind of pointless. Nevertheless, today brings us a few such items that sort of demand a little attention.

* I don’t think I’ve mentioned the word that’s been floating around for a while now that Brad Pitt will apparently be opposite Robert Downey, Jr. playing the role of Sherlock Holmes’ archnemisis, Prof. James Moriarity, aka “the Napoleon of Crime.” Though it appears he’ll only be in a cameo role, if at all, in the upcoming “Sherlock Holmes” film directed by Guy Ritchie, he’ll apparently be handling head villain duties in the already-planned for sequel — assuming, of course, that the first film is reasonably profitable.

If you can’t get enough of excessively early speculation, Spout’s Christopher Campbell was way ahead of me and rounded that all up as of yesterday. Pitt seems an unusual choice, but he’s always seemed to do better in character roles than leading man parts, and Downey is a genius at bringing a bit of character to leading man roles, so there’s a nice bit of symmetry here.

* If one or even two well known leads can’t guarantee box office success, why not try four and add a cult-comedy kicker? That seems to be thinking behind the latest collaboration of comedy writer-director Adam McKay and post “Land of the Lost“-still-megastar Will Ferrell.

As described by MTV’s Mike Wigler and THR‘s Mike Fleming, “The Other Guys” is a post “Hot Fuzz” spin on the buddy-cop genre in which Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “No Longer the Rock” Johnson will attempt to allow a day in the sun for presumably bumbling, non-supercop ne’er do wells Ferrell and Mark “It’s been Decades Since I’ve Been ‘Marky Mark!” Wahlberg.  Only time will tell if this funky bunch — which also includes English comic Steve Coogan of “Tropic Thunder” and “24 Hour Party People” — delivers at the box office, but all five of these guys have proven they can be varying degrees of funny.

For some reason Jackson  hasn’t had much luck with out-and-out comedies. (He once remarked wryly that, “They were all funny while we were making them.”) Personally, I’d like to see him break that particular curse. I’m sure he would too.

Entourage 6.5 – Fore!

There are good filler episodes, and then there are bad filler episodes. Last week definitely fell into the former category, and although I assumed that this week’s show would belong to the latter, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. There wasn’t a whole lot going on tonight with everyone involved in the charity golf tournament in some form, but it was the hardest I’ve laughed at an episode of “Entourage” in quite awhile.

Since there was only a little bit of actual plot development this time around, let’s get that out of the way first. Eric may be the only character this season who’s actually getting a proper story arc, but it’s been entertaining thus far. Now that he’s dating Ashley, Eric is a little weirded out about seeing Sloan at the tournament, but when she informs him that he’s been paired with Hollywood bigwig Maury Barrinson at his request, Eric’s interest is perked. As it turns out, Maury is actually scouting Eric to come work for his company, and though it sounds like a promising opportunity, he turns it down when he learns that it was Sloan’s idea. For some reason, Eric believes that he’s being treated like a charity case, and while I understand where he’s coming from, he should know by the now that she’s only doing it as a friend. Unfortunately, Eric still sees her as an ex-girlfriend, which only means one thing: these two are going to get back together real soon. Sorry Ashley, but this was never a battle you were going to win.

Meanwhile, Vince and Drama are paired up with Mark Wahlberg and Tom Brady, and Wahlberg is having a field day teasing Drama about his surprisingly high handicap. Drama, looking for a little retribution, suggests a friendly little bet between them, only to slice his first drive into the trees. Drama’s day doesn’t get any better from there, either, and he eventually breaks Brady’s driver (which the Super Bowl MVP had just let him borrow) in a fit of rage. You’d think Turtle would be crying in joy after declaring his hatred for Brady (he even plans to tell the Patriots quarterback that he sucks balls, much to the behest of Jamie-Lynn), but that was before Brady invited Turtle over to his house to have dinner with Giselle. You can call him a sellout if you like, but you know you’d do the exact same thing.

By far the funniest pairing of the night, however, was Ari and Jeffrey Tambor – and for once, it wasn’t because of Jeremy Piven. Tambor was absolutely hilarious in his second guest spot to date as he cheated every chance he got in an attempt to impress his kids. Just watching him cut up the green was funny – especially while Ari was busy stressing out about his wife’s unhappy reaction to him keeping knowledge of Andrew’s affair from her. Of course, there’s no way this argument is over yet, despite Ari buying her a brand new Maserati. Still, for as much as Piven has proven the show’s savior these last few weeks, Tambor single-handedly stole the show in his response to his kids’ explicit-laced complaints about being bored: “Hey, this is a family day. So shut the fuck up and hit the ball.”

Entourage 5.2 – Unlike a Virgin

Turtle: You wanna go to the Villa tonight, E?
Eric: What, just you and me?
Turtle: Yeah, you’re right.

If there’s one thing I learned from tonight’s episode, it’s that the writers have no reservations about taking things slow. That’s actually good news, since it means they’re serious about the show’s future, despite the fact that some fans were probably hoping the new season would start off with a little more of a bang. All I can say is, be patient, because although the first two episodes have been relatively tame, they’ve also shown real promise for the things to come.

Even Vince is taking things more seriously since being courted back to Hollywood. He’s busy reading scripts, and though the films he’s interested in already have actors attached, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get back into the game. Unfortunately, no one is listening, and while Eric would love for him to do an indie film called “Nine Brave Souls” from a duo of up-and-coming screenwriters, he agrees with Ari that Vince’s next project should be a studio film. He’s also probably not willing to gamble away what little left there is of Vince’s career, but that doesn’t stop him from tracking down the writers to discuss the possibility of signing with him.

Entourage 5.2

What he doesn’t expect is for LB (Lukas Haas) and Nick (Giovanni Ribisi) to be so demanding. A little too demanding for a pair of unknowns, perhaps, but they also have a point. After all, if Eric is Vincent Chase’s manager, then why can’t he convince him to star in their movie? Eric explains that Vince is only interested in doing a studio movie right now, but Nick doesn’t want to hear it. Instead, he suggests that Eric sell their script first before they begin worrying about any kind of contract.

When Eric goes to Ari for help selling the script and is immediately blown off, however, Eric takes it to the one person who I honestly thought we’d never see again: Amanda (Carla Gugino), Ari’s temporary replacement from season three. Depending on whether or not she likes the script (and why wouldn’t she, if they’ve gone through the trouble of bringing her back into the fold?), it’ll be interesting to see how her involvement will affect Vince’s relationship with Ari. The fact that Vince wants to do the film, combined with Ari’s recent confession that Vince isn’t a good actor, will likely play a major role in the weeks to come.

For the time being, Vince is sticking with Ari, but how much longer is Ari willing to stick with Vince? Sure, he’s movie star quality, but if he can’t get the guy a job, what exactly is the point of keeping him on the client list? It looks like he’s willing to commit to Vince’s career for now (“This town loves a comeback, and since Britney fucked hers up, it’s all you!”), but wouldn’t it be fun if Vince had to completely rebuild his career from the ground up without the help of a super agent? It would certainly be different, and it might help the show regain its identity without feeling like it’s selling out.

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