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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    ‘Contagion’ takes out ‘The Help’ at the box office

    Posted: 10 Sep 2011 03:30 AM PDT

    It’s turning out to be a good weekend to catch Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion.” But it’s not exactly spreading, uh, virally. Sorry.

    The movie is performing like a hit horror picture, which is pretty much what it is. A $9 million Friday sets up a low-to-mid$20s take by Monday. $22 million, says. Lots and lots of people want to see Gwyneth Paltrow get very sick, apparently.

    “The Help” keeps hanging around, holding onto audience and sitting near the top of the box office. It’s sweeping up another $9 million this weekend. Will “Contagion” do $150 million, which is where this film is headed? No.

    I hate to see Lionsgate, which rarely ventures into quality film territory, punished for it. But once again, they’ve released a good movie and people aren’t showing up. “Warrior,” the best new film of the weekend, is doing weak business and will be lucky to clear $6-8 million by Sunday night. Oh well, more “Saw” sequels, I guess.

    The two other wide releases — the horror dud “Creature” and the comedy misfire “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star,” aren’t in the top ten are barely registering.

    Movie Review: Bucky Larson, Born to be a Star

    Posted: 09 Sep 2011 02:17 PM PDT

    Nick Swardson is the latest comic reclamation project to come out of Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company. He’s been given a star vehicle, “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star,” a comedy about a farm country dimwit who discovers his parents were once porn stars, and takes the bus to Los Angeles to follow in their, um, footsteps.

    Two things about that. First, the concept, and the movie that comes from it aren’t funny. And second, Swanson wasn’t any more born to be a star than his character.

    As a beaver-toothed, bowl-cut wearing doofus, Swardson rarely manages to find laughs in this virgin who knows nothing of the world, the movies or porn, but who prematurely finds his way to the top, despite his inexperience and physical, um, shortcomings.

    Bucky is a fish out of water in LA, terrorized by his roommate (Kevin Nealon, not that funny), charmed by the perky waitress (Christina Ricci, making the best of things), humiliated by a “real” porn star, Dick Shadow (ahem), played by Stephen Dorff.

    Then Bucky is accidentally discovered by has-been director Miles Deep (ahem), played by Don Johnson. Bucky’s inadequacies made him a viral video sensation, and that leads to fame and porno fortune.

    Swardson pushes Bucky’s Midwestern twang to infinity and beyond, all Iowa “You betchas,” and his parents pet phrase, “Get right outta town!” I like the way Edward Hermann and Miriam Flynn milk the accents as his parents. Bucky thanks mom for his haircut.

    “Dooooon’t thank me,” she coos. “Thank the bowl!”

    Even though the tone has been set in the opening credits — a local farmer arranging a sexual encounter with a farm animal — the script tries to wring simpler, sweeter laughs out of malapropisms and misunderstandings.

    “I was afraid you had a mac and cheese fetish.”

    “Oh no. I never use feta. Only cheddar.”

    The sight gag of his buck teeth — walrus and beaver “wood chopper” jokes — fails utterly. And the running gag of people’s reactions to his man parts — “Did he lose it in a hunting accident?” — will only earn snickering from 14 year-old boys who sneak into the theater.

    It’s an ugly movie to look at and a faintly nauseating one to sit through, truth be told. And Swardson, who co-wrote the script with Sandler and others, fails to find a way to rise above material he should have been embarrassed to concoct for himself.

    MPAA Rating: R for pervasive crude sexual content, language and some nudity

    Cast: Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson, Kevin Nealon, Stephen Dorff, Edward Hermann, Miriam Flynn

    Credits: Directed by Tom Brady, written by Nick Swardson, Allen Covert and Adam Sandler.  A Columbia Pictures release. Running time: 1:34

    Need a sitter? Give Jonah Hill a call. Seriously

    Posted: 09 Sep 2011 09:42 AM PDT

    The number’s on the poster. Apparently, he’s picking up, every now and then.

    Not that he’ll come to your house and babysit your kids. Not that you’d want that, anyway.

    Based on what the movie is about.

    He didn’t pick up when I called. Maybe for you?

    Today’s screening: I Don’t Know How She Does It

    Posted: 09 Sep 2011 07:07 AM PDT

    My wife read the novel this Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle is based on, and her first words when she learned who’d been cast as the career woman struggling to balance work/home-marriage-family were “She’s not fat. She’s not frumpy.”

    As in, they cast a “Sex and the city” glamor puss for this part?

    But “I Don’t Know How She Does It” could still work. Parker dresses up  nicely, but she can play more plain Jane and put upon.

    Kelsey Grammer players her boss, Pierce Brosnan is the deal she wants to close (business deal, people, business) and Greg Kinnear is the guy she comes home to at night.

    Very much a zeitgeist sort of comedy, if nothing new, I figure. This “woman at work and looking for balance” thing has been around since, oh, “Desk Set” with Tracy and Hepburn. But it has promise.

    “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” based on an Allison Pearson novel, opens next Friday.

    Today’s interview: Disney animator Mark Henn

    Posted: 09 Sep 2011 06:37 AM PDT

    He worked on “Pooh,” and he’s one of those guys who dates from the last glory era of Disney cell animation. Mark Henn and I will be talking about the new “Lion King” release in 3D.

    Got questions for Mark Henn? Comment below, and thanks for the help.

    Mel Gibson taking on Jewish hero for his next picture?

    Posted: 09 Sep 2011 05:33 AM PDT

    He’s made his share of anti-Semitic remarks the past few years, thought that doesn’t explain the collapse of his film career. Not entirely, anyway.

    Now Mel Gibson has this wild-idea of turning the story of  Hebrew warrior Judah Macabee into a big screen “Passion of the Christ” style epic.

    He gets that well known man of the cloth — OK, once-known has-been screenwriter, Joe Eszterhas (“Showgirls”) to write it, and he’s back, right? All is forgiven, etc. You see it was JEWS he has the problems with. Not HEBREWS.

    Maccabee led a Jewish revolt against a pre-Roman empire that had its hands on the land of Judah/Israel, and Hanukkah celebrates one of the red letter dates in that revolt — the removal of pagan idols from the temple.

    SAG honors Mary Tyler Moore with Lifetime Achievement award

    Posted: 09 Sep 2011 05:21 AM PDT

    She’s starred in a couple of classic TV series, and more than a few pretty good to great films — “Ordinary People,”"Flirting With Disaster.” She has journeyed from TV’s version of “America’s Sweetheart” to living legend to national treasure.

    Now, the Screen Actor’s Guild, her union, is giving Mary Tyler Moore a lifetime achievement award for upholding the best about the profession.

    The film career never quite took off, in her youth or in her later years. But I’ll always treasure the chance I had to chat with her when “Flirting With Disaster” came out. She made a special point of noting how she was “still learning” on the job, even after her decades of doing it. Lily Tomlin, she said, had taught her how to belch on queue.

    “Wanna hear it?” she chortled. And before I could say, “Ms. Moore, that’s really not necess…”

    She let one fly. And howled HOWLED after she did it.

    MTM will be 75 when this honor is handed to her. That’s young, compared to a previous winner like Betty White (That’s good company to be in).