Usually, I start roundtable interview pieces with a rather large amount of biographical information about whoever’s involved. In the case of Topher Grace, former star of “That 70′s Show” as well as movies like “In Good Company” and “Predators,” I’ve already covered him pretty thoroughly in my one-on-one interview with him over at Bullz-Eye.com. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that as a hands-on executive producer and coauthor of the film’s story, he has a lot riding on the profitability of “Take Me Home Tonight,” a comedy about post-collegiate growing pains in the 1980s. Although I liked the film quite a bit, my review is but one, and to be honest, I appear to be something of an outlier. The good news for actor-producer Grace is that reviews mean next to nothing commercially for youth comedies, and people are laughing in screenings.
As for the striking, Australian-born Teresa Palmer, she’s still something of a newcomer to the American screen, having gotten good notices in the otherwise critically bashed, “I Am Number 4,” as well as Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Bedtime Stories.” She shows every sign of becoming a more familiar face to audiences — and her face is definitely one of the prettier ones you’re likely to see right now.
While one journo tried to use a then-upcoming holiday to pull some personal info out of Palmer and Grace — at more than one point in the past, the pair have been rumored to be dating — the business and pleasure of making a youth oriented comedy was the chief topic during this mass interview from the “Take Me Home Tonight” junket.
Okay, I personally think John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei kind of cornered the market on humorous interpretations of the Human League kitsch classic, “Don’t You Want Me, Baby?” in “Cyrus.” Still, Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer and (very briefly) Demetri Martin come pretty close in this nicely done promotional video for the upcoming 1980s-set coming of age comedy, “Take Me Home Tonight,” featuring the band, Atomic Tom.
Yep, you did catch Michael Biehn in there. He plays Grace’s policeman dad in the movie.
I’m currently embargoed from reviewing “Take Me Home Tonight,” but let’s just say that as someone who has been tired of the 1980s since the 1980s and has been tired of coming of age films even longer, my expectations were kind of shattered. What do I mean by that? You’ll have to wait. In the meantime, you can see my earlier post on the red band trailer.
Via IGN and the movie’s publicists comes this NSFW for language, drugs, and brief boobies trailer for the retro-themed, hi-jinks strewn and presumably R-rated romantic comedy, “Take Me Home Tonight.” I’m happy to report that this try is more promising than the one we ran a while back on a day when I was apparently in maximum snark mode. I’m glad it’s better because I’m seeing it tonight. Topher Grace, Anna Faris, and Dan Fogler star. The story was cowritten by Grace, who also gets an executive producer credit.
The TCA Winter Press Tour is an event which never quite seems to live up to the TCA Summer Press Tour…but, then, that stands to reason, as the mid-season series rarely match the ones which hit the airwaves in the fall, right? Still, the experience never fails to be one which I enjoy, mostly because you never know what’s going to be around the corner, and Day 1 really set the stage for that: during the course of 12 hours, I interviewed Betty White, Henry Rollins, and Bruce Jenner, and, thanks to National Geographic, I wore a giant snake around my neck. Not a bad way to begin things…
It felt like there was more star power on hand than usual for a winter tour…but, then, having Oprah in your midst kind of skewers your perceptions on that sort of thing. I suppose it’s a testament to how many famous people I’ve met over the years, though, that one of the biggest reasons I look forward to the tour is not because of who I might interview but, rather, because I’ll get the chance to hang out with the friends I’ve made within the TCA. All told, it was another great time, but, as ever, when it was over, I was more than ready to get back home to my family and share my memories with them…and with you, too, of course.
Well, let’s get on with the reminiscing, shall we?
Oh, but one word of warning: if you followed my daily dispatches during the tour, then a couple of these stories will sound strikingly familiar, but please rest assured that the majority of the material has not been copied wholesale and is, in fact, 100% new. Swear to God.
Most entertaining panel by a broadcast network: “Made in Spain” (PBS)
Not being a foodie, I wouldn’t have known José Andrés prior to his kick-off of PBS’s first day at the TCA tour if he’d been standing next to me…and, even then, I wouldn’t have known that I was supposed to care who he was. After several minutes of clips from the first season of “Made in Spain,” however, I was already in love with the series, and when Andres himself took the stage, it was impossible not to be charmed by him. He’s a sweetheart of a guy for whom food truly is life, but he’s also a hoot.
Most entertaining panel by a cable network: “An Idiot Abroad” (Science Channel)
I was seriously bummed when I heard that no one from “An Idiot Abroad” was going to be in attendance for the show’s panel, but I figured, “Okay, at least they’ll be there via satellite.” In retrospect, there’s no way they could’ve been funnier if they’d actually been onsite. Naturally, just being in Karl Pilkington’s presence was enough to inspire Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant to dissolve into a fit of giggles, but they were utterly warranted this go-round.
Here, see for yourself:
Most annoying panel: “Platinum Hit” (Bravo)
Between Kara DioGuardi handling a question about “American Idol” about as poorly as she possibly could have – read more about that here – and Jewel dropping names like they were hot potatoes (“I was talking to Steven Spielberg…”), I’m hard pressed to think of any panel that left a worse taste in my mouth.
Panel which had the least need for an audience: “The Best of Laugh-In” (PBS)
It wasn’t entirely surprising that a panel consisting of Lily Tomlin, Jo Anne Worley, Ruth Buzzi, Gary Owens and George Schlatter would be able keep things moving along without any of the critics in attendance actually needing to ask a question, but they kept passing the conversational ball back and forth until someone in the crowd finally had to stand up and ask if it was okay to ask a question. Schlatter instantly shot back, “We’re trying to talk here!” Laughter ensued, as did plenty of questions about the history of “Laugh-In.” “Are you guys having fun?” Schlatter asked later. “Because we’re having a ball!” Must be what keeps them looking so young: you’d never in a million years believe that Worley – that’s her in the feathered boa, in case you hadn’t guessed – is 73 years old.
Funniest panel that you probably had to be there to appreciate: “Community” (NBC)
The only person not in attendance was Chevy Chase, who was described as being “very under the weather,’ but his co-stars more than made up for his absence. If I tried to tell you about it, though, you’d probably just stare blankly at me. Some of the funniness came from the giggling of the various panelists, some it involved one-liners which would require a lengthy amount of set-up for you to appreciate, some of it was totally visual, and…well, you get the idea. But it really was hilarious, I swear. The most easily-translatable moment is probably Donald Glover’s story about how they had to teach Betty White the lyrics to Toto’s “Africa” on the set. “I assumed she knew ‘Africa,’” he said. “I was, like, ‘Everybody knows that song!’ But, like, that song was out when she was already old. She was already 50-something.”
Greatest Moment of Complete Honesty During the Tour: When I approached Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”) to ask him a question, he agreed, but then he looked down at my recorder and said, “Oh, my! You’re not going to record this, are you? I’d rather you didn’t.” At this point, he performed a perfect mock aside, holding a hand to his mouth and whispering, “I’m a little bit tipsy!” So I turned off my recorder. Kudos to you, Mr. McBrayer. Would that more actors had that blend of good humor and common sense.
The single most crowded genre in the history of film, television, literature, theater, and most definitely popular songs is getting a little bit more crowded next year.
First, “Tree of Life,” the new film from talented but way-too-contemplative-for-my-taste director Terrence Malick, threatens to be dramatic enough that I might actually like it — assuming he doesn’t spend 3/4 of the film shooting sparrows nesting in nearby trees and if can keep his reliance on endless, pretentious narration under control. (I’m still scarred by the drama-free-war-melodrama-cum-nature-documentary that was “The Thin Red Line.”) Or maybe he can make another serial killer film some day, because “Badlands” was pretty great. The pictures are very beautiful, however.
So, handsomest-man-in-the-world Brad Pitt and willowy Jessica Chastain have a baby and he grows up into Sean Penn. Boy, and I thought I didn’t fare too well in the genetic lottery. A big h/t to Film Drunk and commenter Larry:
Malick has the worst narrators since the voice in my head that tells me to burn things.
Next, we have the first starring role in a while from Topher Grace. I think Grace is a hugely underrated actor with a gift for comedy. The movie, however is called “Take Me Home Tonight” and what you are about to see is even more familiar than the title of a bad hairband song. Also, why do people want to relive the 80s? I wasn’t so crazy about them the first time.
The good news is that, at 32, Grace is getting a bit old for this kind of material. I’m also fairly sure the very hot (I mean career wise) Anna Faris could probably do a lot better than this. Dan Fogler, on the other hand, is at approximately the correct level. Actually, the scene with the cuckold guy and the glamorous but slightly strange looking redhead was the first small chuckle he’s elicited from me so far, so there’s always hope for improvement.
A sprained ankle and other unexciting matters sidelined me yestereday, but now I can use my imposed semi-immobility for bloggy purposes.
* THR is claiming an exclusive that a date has finally been set for the two-part Peter Jackson/Guillermo del Toro collaboration, “The Hobbit.” (That’s with an assist from the late J.R.R. Tolkien, of course.) There was some apparent confusion earlier in the day, but it now looks like the two films will be released in Christmas of 2012 and 2013. That’s a year off from the original plan for the LOTR follow-up/prequel (though LOTR is technically the sequel here). Though this article doesn’t mention it, at least part of the problem was widely supposed to be the decline and fall of MGM.
* I’m not at all sure how the “poison pill” actually works but it appears that a decision by authorities up in British Columbia — which is, like, part of an entirely different country than ours and everything — will make it easier for Carl Icahn to attempt his hostile takeover of Lionsgate.
* Bill Murray is apparently bound and determined to be the proverbial turd in the “Ghostbusters 3″ punchbowl. It wasn’t a punch I had my heart set on, in any case, much as I liked the first one.
* Just the day before yesterday I was part of a press round-table with the affable, stylish French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie,” “City of Lost Children”). Someone brought up his adapatation of the acclaimed, fantastical Booker Prize-winning novel, The Life of Pi, a project which the vagaries of movie-making had apparently forced him to give up on. Today, Anne Thompson brings word that it appears that the project has been picked up by another strong directorial hand, Ang Lee. And, guess what, it’ll be 3-D. Lee’s one of the movies’ great humanists still working, so I’m sure the film won’t be overwhelmed by effects.
* Robert Rodriguez is producing a “Predator” reboot, entitled “Predators,” to be directed by Hungarian-American helmer Nimród Antal. As per today’s Variety, along for the ride are Adrien Brody and Topher Grace. I, personally, will wait for the movie to decide first whether I’ll bother to see it and second whether these two undoubtedly talented actors are well cast here. (Grace is kind of a personal favorite and this sounds like chance to be sort of a badass Norman Bates, which I can kind of see.) However, as usual geek film bloggers and some film geek bloggers can’t wait for the movie to have an opinion, and Spout’s Christopher Campbell collates the reaction. No word on Brody’s chances for eventually becoming a not-too competent and unlucky governor of California.
* Two very tentative but interesting items from Mike Fleming today. Gary Ross, who’s past specialty was such seriocomic Oscarish fare as “Dave,” “Pleasantville,” and “Seabiscuit” but who is doing the the latest rewrite on the next “Spiderman” film may also be directing as well as rewriting a proposed “Venom” movie, without Topher Grace, most likely. The many problems with “Spider-Man 3” to my mind had nothing at all to do with Grace, but who said life was fair?
* The second Fleming item has screenwriter-director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls“) “in discussions” to return to biographical material somewhat along the lines of “Gods and Monsters” and “Kinsey,” with a proposed film about the late Richard Pryor to star Marlon Wayans. Adam Sandler‘s “Happy Madison” company is involved at this point, which makes sense given the reverence nearly all modern comedians have for Pryor.
* Speaking of people who’ve been known to throw a few M-F bombs in the name of a laugh, our own Will Harris has an interview with the praised and maligned indie film mainstay and part-time funny de facto stand-up comic, Kevin Smith at Bullz-Eye. Very definitely worth a read. And, though I probably don’t need to say it, the following video is NSFW and is just plain dangerous to your life and career if you are anywhere near Gwyneth Paltrow, Steven Spielberg, or George Lucas.