Posts Tagged ‘hank azaria’

This week’s releases include: a courtroom period drama; a spy thriller in two different eras; another bachelor party gone wrong; a true story of fantasy and murder; a playful tale with penguins; a look at famous hockey feuds; a consequence of ‘the wrong place, the wrong time’; an adaptation of a childhood classic; a trilogy about a young woman who takes matters into her own hands; and an historical re-enactment.  (more…)

It’s often difficult for couples to find a date movie that will entertain both of them, but if Friends’ goofy dinosaur guy David Schwimmer teams up with the witty genre-savvy Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead, the resulting romantic comedy is a promising remedy to the problem.

Dennis (Pegg) has made a lot of stupid mistakes in his life but the one he regrets most is leaving Libby (Thandie Newton), his pregnant fiancée, at the altar five years ago. He now does security at an upscale women’s clothing store, lives in the basement of an Indian widower (Harish Patel), and shares the parenting duties for his son, Jake (Matthew Fenton). Dennis is waiting for the day Libby will forgive him and take him back, assuming it would just eventually happen. But his dream is crushed when Libby introduces Dennis to her new beau, Whit (Hank Azaria). Whit is everything Dennis is not: charming, handsome, successful and he is running the London marathon for charity. In Libby’s words, Dennis “can’t even finish a sentence.” Convinced finishing the marathon will prove his worth and win back Libby, Dennis enlists the help of his best friend Gordon (Dylan Moran) to train for the 26 mile run. “I’m not fat,” Dennis insists, “I’m unfit.”

Though Pegg did co-write the script, don’t expect any genre-bending self-aware jabs at the rom-com; it follows the typical formula of pining rewarded as well as the Rocky recipe of training-disappointment-triumph. Instead, Pegg indulges in some physical and gross-out comedy, all the while winning audiences’ hearts as the underdog. To support his cause, it becomes obvious Whit’s nice guy act is masking a callous personality. The cast is wonderful and deliver numerous memorable and quotable lines without missing a beat.

Schwimmer’s feature debut in the director’s chair proves his extended stint on the friendly sitcom nurtured a good sensibility of funny and romantic. Conversely, it may be hampering his ability to think outside the box and bring new life to the genre. That said, you never find yourself rolling your eyes at the screen and the product is a fully enjoyable rom-com.

The special features include more than a dozen deleted scenes, several of which are very funny but would have altered the tone and pace of the film; outtakes that are disappointingly not as funny as the film; and pre-interview footage of Pegg being pranked by an unexpectedly mischievous Newton. The feature commentary is like listening in on a friendly roundtable conversation with Schwimmer, Pegg, and Newton.

The thing about Woody Allen is you either love him or hate him. That’s been the sentiment on his work and his personal life for decades. And normally one would have nothing to do with the other, but in Allen’s case he effectively uses his films as vehicles to explore his phobias and neuroses. This collection groups together most of Allen’s films from the ‘90s as well as 2006’s Scoop.

Bullets over Broadway stars John Cusack as David Shayne, an idealistic young writer who will do anything to direct his first Broadway play – even if it means giving a mobster’s incompetent girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) a part in exchange for funding and selling out his ideas for better ones from an inexperienced hired gun (Chazz Palminteri). The addition of Palminteri’s character saves this flick from being a run-of-the-mill backstage comedy.

Celebrity is a string of cameos by some the biggest names in Hollywood, including Charlize Theron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Melanie Griffith, Winona Ryder and Hank Azaria. Freshly divorced, Lee (Kenneth Branagh) explores his newfound freedom by shopping around his script and chasing women who are only interested in his car. Meanwhile, his ex-wife (Judy Davis) makes the improbable transformation from neurotic schoolteacher to high-profile TV talk show host. Allen’s decision to film this in black and white allows the actors and subtleties of the dialogue to take centre stage.

In Deconstructing Harry, Harry Block (Allen) has had three wives, six psychiatrists, dozens of girlfriends and numerous prostitutes. When he transfers his life’s experiences into a best-selling novel, his best friends and family become his harshest critics and worst enemies. As his sister-in-law and former-mistress exclaims, this book “is about us!” This film was one of his most ill received because it was his most self-reflexive.

Everybody Says I Love You is Allen’s first and only musical to-date. In this celebration of love, Joe (Allen) attempts to falsely win the heart of Von (Julia Roberts) while his youngest daughter (Natasha Lyonne) is constantly experiencing love at first sight. Meanwhile, his other daughter (Drew Barrymore) is torn between two men (Edward Norton and Tim Roth) and his ex-wife (Goldie Hawn) and her current husband (Alan Alda) try to manage everyone’s problems. All the actors, with the exception of Barrymore, sing for themselves.

In Mighty Aphrodite, Lenny (Allen) and Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter) attempt to save their marriage by adopting a son, who turns out to be brilliant. Convinced his parents must also be smart, Lenny becomes obsessed with tracking them down. When he discovers the boy’s mother is a dim-witted prostitute (Mira Sorvino), he does his best to marry her off to a similarly equipped boxer (Michael Rapaport). Interspersed is a Greek chorus relating the story to that of Oedipus. The chorus reveals the movie’s deep undertones while the main story remains a cheerful comedy.

Scoop stars Allen’s new muse, Scarlett Johansson as an inquisitive journalist who is given a career-making scoop by the ghost of recently deceased reporter (Ian McShane) at a 1950’s style magic show by the third-rate illusionist Splendini (Allen). Her investigation of a string of murders leads her directly to a handsome businessman (Hugh Jackman) who draws her in with his charm. In comparison to his earlier works, this is widely considered “minor Woody Allen.”

In Wild Man Blues, Allen embarks on a whirlwind tour of Europe with his New Orleans jazz band. He is an accomplished clarinettist and has played regular gigs in New York for over 25 years. The documentary is about the tour but most viewers are more interested in seeing a scandalous depiction of Allen and his adopted daughter and now wife, Soon-Yi Previn, who is less than half his age. While the movie isn’t gossip-worthy, it does reveal a stable and workable relationship.

Some commonalities in Allen’s films are his own participation on-screen as well as at least one character that represents and resembles Allen; it is easy to identify the character, as he or she adapts his mannerisms and speech patterns. Furthermore, his films are consistently star-studded as he continues to be one of the directors most actors want to work with.

Also typical of Allen’s DVD releases: there are no special features.

The Simpsons cast has signed a four-year deal that sees the voice actors receiving a hefty salary bump and ensures a 20th season of the animated series.

Production has been delayed for several months as the cast negotiated with 20th Century Fox TV. The new pact will pay top actors $400,000 per episode. This is markedly lower than the reported $500,000 the cast originally sought, but significantly higher than their current pay rates that hovered around the mid-$300,000 range.

The deal means most of the key members of The Simpsons cast will be returning: Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe) and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns). All were back to work for the show’s first table read Monday morning.

Shearer is still working out elements of his deal but a sealed agreement is expected shortly.

Additionally, Castellaneta was named consulting producer on the series. He will now serve as a writer, in addition to continuing as a voice performer.

Even though the actors have signed a four-year deal, there is no guarantee the series will be back beyond this season. The show’s deal with Fox expires at the end of season 20 and has not been renewed for the upcoming year.

Finally, this season will be reduced by two episodes because of the delay. Therefore, only 20 episodes of The Simpsons will be produced instead of the usual 22.