Thursday, October 31, 2013

DreamWorks Acquires Film Rights to Another Doris Kearns Goodwin Book

DreamWorks Studios Acquires the Film Rights to Pulitzer-Prize Winning Author Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Highly Anticipated Book, "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism"

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--DreamWorks Studios has closed a preemptive deal to acquire the film rights to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin’s soon-to-be-released book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, it was announced today by Stacey Snider, Partner and Co-Chair at DreamWorks Studios. Goodwin previously collaborated with the studio on the critically acclaimed and award-winning Lincoln, based in part on Goodwin’s #1 New York Times bestselling Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit will be released November 5, 2013 by Simon & Schuster. The book, seven years in the making, tells the riveting story of two longtime friends who become bitter political opponents. Roosevelt’s fighting spirit and impulsive temperament stood in counterpoint to Taft’s deliberative, conciliatory disposition. Yet, their opposing qualities proved complementary, allowing them to create a rare camaraderie and productive collaboration until their brutal fight for the presidential nomination in 1912 divided them, their families, their colleagues, and their friends. It split the Republican Party in two, and altered the course of American history.

“Doris has once again given us the best seats in the house where we can watch two dynamic American personalities in a battle for power and friendship,” said Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg and Goodwin previously worked together on Lincoln, based in part on Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, with a script by Academy Award®-nominated writer Tony Kushner. This new project expands upon that winning combination. Lincoln earned 12 Academy Award® nominations, including an Academy Award for actor Daniel Day-Lewis for his portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln, and box office grosses of over $270 million.

“Working with Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks on Lincoln seemed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Doris Kearns Goodwin. “I cannot imagine anything better than the prospect of working with them again, this time to bring Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft to life.”

Goodwin, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, is also the author of the bestsellers Wait Till Next Year, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream and The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, which was adapted into an award-winning five-part TV miniseries.

Doris Kearns Goodwin was represented in the deal by ICM.

About DreamWorks Studios
DreamWorks Studios is a motion picture company formed in 2009 and led by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider in partnership with The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. The company’s recent releases include Spielberg's Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones. The film has grossed over $180 million at the U.S. box office and was nominated for twelve Academy Awards® with Daniel Day-Lewis winning for Best Actor. Other releases include Real Steel, starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Shawn Levy, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, based on Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning book and nominated for six Academy Awards® including Best Picture, and The Help, which resonated with audiences around the country and earned over $200 million at the box office and received four Academy Award® nominations with Octavia Spencer winning for Best Supporting Actress. Upcoming films include the comedy Delivery Man, starring Vince Vaughn, car racing actioner Need for Speed, starring Aaron Paul, and the drama The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren.

DreamWorks Studios can be found on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Review: "The Covenant" a Poorly Cast Spell

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 194 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Covenant (2006)
Running time:  97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense action sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, sexual content, partial nudity, and language
DIRECTOR:  Renny Harlin
WRITER:  J.S. Cardone
PRODUCERS:  Gary Lucchesi and Tom Rosenberg
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Pierre Gill (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Nicolas De Toth
COMPOSER: tomandandy


Starring:  Steven Strait, Laura Ramsey, Sebastian Stan, Taylor Kitsch, Toby Hemingway, Chace Crawford, Matt Austin, Wendy Crewson, Robert Crooks, Steven Crowder, Larry Day, and Jessica Lucas

The subject of this movie review is The Covenant, a 2006 supernatural horror and action-fantasy film from director Renny Harlin.  The film follows four young men who belong to a supernatural legacy and are forced to battle a fifth power long thought to have died out.  The young men must also contend with is their jealousy and suspicion of one another, which threatens to tear their union apart.

In 1692, four families of the Ipswich Colony of Massachusetts formed a covenant of silence to hide that they wielded The Power – what their fellow colonists identified as witchcraft.  Cut to the present: Caleb Danvers (Steven Strait), Pogue Parry (Taylor Kitsch), Reid Garwin (Toby Hemingway), and Tyler Sims (Chace Crawford) are the Sons of Ipswich, the heirs to the bloodline of those four families.  They are bound by their sacred ancestry, and Caleb, as the oldest, is their de facto leader.  As minors, they possess only a fraction of The Power they will have as adults, but Caleb is just a few days from his 18th birthday when he will “ascend” and receive his full powers.

Caleb and the other sons are students at the elite Spencer Academy.  There are two new students.  The attractive blond, Sarah Wenham (Laura Ramsey), catches Caleb’s eye.  The raffish Chace Collins (Sebastian Stan) becomes a rival for the affections of Pogue’s girlfriend, Kate Tunney (Jessica Lucas).  High school puppy love and rivalries are put on hold when the body of a dead student is found in the local woods after an outdoor party (rave?).  Caleb and Pogue sense that one of their own is abusing his power, threatening to break the covenant of silence that has protected their families for hundreds of years.  And this mystery user is very powerful and also hunting Caleb and Sarah.

The Covenant is kind of like the 1987 film, The Lost Boys, jammed into The WB’s (now The CW’s) TV series, “One Tree Hill.”  Director Renny Harlin (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Exorcist: The Beginning) is no stranger to cheesy horror flicks that have a few scary moments, and The Covenant is a cheesy horror flick with some genuine atmosphere, a few scary movie thrills, and an obnoxiously loud soundtrack and score.  The main problem with The Covenant is that it’s all surface – lots of pretty visuals.  In fact, Harlin focuses so much on how the film looks – with its bevy of sexy male leads and haunting Québec, Canada filming locations – that he never gets into the meat of the story.

I will grant that co-producer/writer J.S. Cardone’s script is top heavy with backstory, pre-history, and mythology, so Harlin has a lot of text and subtext to transform into a movie that holds the short attention spans of its intended audience.  (This probably would work better as a novel, or hey, even a television series on The CW.).  There is so much intriguing stuff left in the air, and Harlin only brushes on the characters enough to give the audience a nebulous idea about what’s going on.  Still, The Covenant is a faintly entertaining, half-assed popcorn flick.  It’s the kind of horror movie that will live a half-life in the limbo of video rentals – lucky to be an afterthought behind the good horror movies.

4 of 10

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Updated: Thursday, October 31, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

76 Nations Compete for Five 2013 Foreign Film Oscar Nominations

76 Countries In Competition For 2013 Foreign Language Film Oscar®

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – A record 76 countries have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 86th Academy Awards®.  Moldova and Saudi Arabia are first-time entrants; Montenegro is submitting for the first time as an independent country.

The 2013 submissions are:

Afghanistan, "Wajma – An Afghan Love Story," Barmak Akram, director;
Albania, "Agon," Robert Budina, director;
Argentina, "The German Doctor," Lucía Puenzo, director;
Australia, "The Rocket," Kim Mordaunt, director;
Austria, "The Wall," Julian Pölsler, director;
Azerbaijan, "Steppe Man," Shamil Aliyev, director;
Bangladesh, "Television," Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, director;
Belgium, "The Broken Circle Breakdown," Felix van Groeningen, director;
Bosnia and Herzegovina, "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker," Danis Tanovic, director;
Brazil, "Neighboring Sounds," Kleber Mendonça Filho, director;
Bulgaria, "The Color of the Chameleon," Emil Hristov, director;
Cambodia, "The Missing Picture," Rithy Panh, director;
Canada, "Gabrielle," Louise Archambault, director;
Chad, "GriGris," Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, director;
Chile, "Gloria," Sebastián Lelio, director;
China, "Back to 1942," Feng Xiaogang, director;
Colombia, "La Playa DC," Juan Andrés Arango, director;
Croatia, "Halima’s Path," Arsen Anton Ostojic, director;
Czech Republic, "The Don Juans," Jiri Menzel, director;
Denmark, "The Hunt," Thomas Vinterberg, director;
Dominican Republic, "Quien Manda?" Ronni Castillo, director;
Ecuador, "The Porcelain Horse," Javier Andrade, director;
Egypt, "Winter of Discontent," Ibrahim El Batout, director;
Estonia, "Free Range," Veiko Ounpuu, director;
Finland, "Disciple," Ulrika Bengts, director;
France, "Renoir," Gilles Bourdos, director;
Georgia, "In Bloom," Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross, directors;
Germany, "Two Lives," Georg Maas, director;
Greece, "Boy Eating the Bird’s Food," Ektoras Lygizos, director;
Hong Kong, "The Grandmaster," Wong Kar-wai, director;
Hungary, "The Notebook," Janos Szasz, director;
Iceland, "Of Horses and Men," Benedikt Erlingsson, director;
India, "The Good Road," Gyan Correa, director;
Indonesia, "Sang Kiai," Rako Prijanto, director;
Iran, "The Past," Asghar Farhadi, director;
Israel, "Bethlehem," Yuval Adler, director;
Italy, "The Great Beauty," Paolo Sorrentino, director;
Japan, "The Great Passage," Ishii Yuya, director;
Kazakhstan, "Shal," Yermek Tursunov, director;
Latvia, "Mother, I Love You," Janis Nords, director;
Lebanon, "Blind Intersections," Lara Saba, director;
Lithuania, "Conversations on Serious Topics," Giedre Beinoriute, director;
Luxembourg, "Blind Spot," Christophe Wagner, director;
Mexico, "Heli," Amat Escalante, director;
Moldova, "All God’s Children," Adrian Popovici, director;
Montenegro, "Ace of Spades - Bad Destiny," Drasko Djurovic, director;
Morocco, "Horses of God," Nabil Ayouch, director;
Nepal, "Soongava: Dance of the Orchids," Subarna Thapa, director;
Netherlands, "Borgman," Alex van Warmerdam, director;
New Zealand, "White Lies," Dana Rotberg, director;
Norway, "I Am Yours," Iram Haq, director;
Pakistan, "Zinda Bhaag," Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, directors;
Palestine, "Omar," Hany Abu-Assad, director;
Peru, "The Cleaner," Adrian Saba, director;
Philippines, "Transit," Hannah Espia, director;
Poland, "Walesa. Man of Hope," Andrzej Wajda, director;
Portugal, "Lines of Wellington," Valeria Sarmiento, director;
Romania, "Child’s Pose," Calin Peter Netzer, director;
Russia, "Stalingrad," Fedor Bondarchuk, director;
Saudi Arabia, "Wadjda," Haifaa Al Mansour, director;
Serbia, "Circles," Srdan Golubovic, director;
Singapore, "Ilo Ilo," Anthony Chen, director;
Slovak Republic, "My Dog Killer," Mira Fornay, director;
Slovenia, "Class Enemy," Rok Bicek, director;
South Africa, "Four Corners," Ian Gabriel, director;
South Korea, "Juvenile Offender," Kang Yi-kwan, director;
Spain, "15 Years Plus a Day," Gracia Querejeta, director;
Sweden, "Eat Sleep Die," Gabriela Pichler, director;
Switzerland, "More than Honey," Markus Imhoof, director;
Taiwan, "Soul," Chung Mong-Hong, director;
Thailand, "Countdown," Nattawut Poonpiriya, director;
Turkey, "The Butterfly’s Dream," Yilmaz Erdogan, director;
Ukraine, "Paradjanov," Serge Avedikian and Olena Fetisova, directors;
United Kingdom, "Metro Manila," Sean Ellis, director;
Uruguay, "Anina," Alfredo Soderguit, director;
Venezuela, "Breach in the Silence," Luis Alejandro Rodríguez and Andrés Eduardo Rodríguez, directors.

The 86th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network.  The presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Review: "Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure" Goes to Disneyland

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 73 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure (2013) – straight-to-video
Running time:  57 minutes
PRODUCERS/DIRECTORS:  Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone
WRITER:  Paul Dini
EDITOR:  Kyle Stafford
COMPOSER: Michael Tavera
ANIMATION STUDIO:  Yearim Productions Co. Ltd.


Starring:  (voices) Jacob Bertrand, Grey DeLisle, Garrison Keillor, Paul Reubens, Tom Wilson, Kath Soucie, Joe Alaskey, John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, and Richard McGonagle

Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure is a 2013 animated direct-to-video film starring the famous cartoon cat and mouse duo, Tom and Jerry.  Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, this film offers a Tom and Jerry spin on the fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk.  In Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure, the cat and mouse duo help a boy try to save his family’s theme park.

Once upon a time, Joe Bradley opened Storybook Town, a fairy tale-inspired theme park.  “Where dreams come true if you believe” became Bradley’s motto for the park.  He shared his dream with his wife, Violet (Grey DeLisle), and eventually with their son, Jack (Jacob Bertrand).  After Joe died, however, Storybook Town fell on hard times.

Now, Tom and Jerry are the last animals living in Storybook Town, but they are faithful servants of Jack.  The boy and his mother are desperate to save the park from the machinations of Mr. Bigley (Tom Wilson), a greedy billionaire and owner of Bigley’s Super Strip Malls.  Bigley wants to demolish Storybook Town and turn the property into a strip mall (what else?).

Jack believes some mysterious magical beans will help him save the park, but all they do is take him and Tom and Jerry to Fairyland.  There, the trio discovers that its denizens are also under the boot of a greedy bully, a giant named Mr. Ginormous (Tom Wilson).  Can Tom and Jerry stop their feuding long enough to join Jack in his bid to help the people of Fairyland and to maybe save Storybook Town?

Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure starts off a bit melancholy, with its themes of death, decay, and poverty.  Plus, the story’s allusions to Walt Disney and Disneyland are a little off-putting – to me, at least.  Is this an homage or sly dig?  However, once the story gains a clear sense of purpose and the heroes have a goal (or goals), the movie becomes a bright adventure that radiates with hope.

As for as the production values, the animation is on par with recent Tom and Jerry films, but the art direction is not special.  The character animation on Mr. Ginormous is the standout in this movie.

A number of Tom and Jerry’s fellow MGM animated characters make their usual appearances:  Droopy Dog (Joe Alaskey), Barney Bear (Richard McGonagle), Screwy Squirrel (Paul Reubens), Spyke and Tyke (Phil LaMarr), etc.  I must say that these are not the best versions of the characters, and they have been put to better use in other Tom and Jerry flicks.  The classic MGM sexpot character, “Red,” appears in this movie as Red Fairy (Grey DeLisle), but she is a tepid version of her red-hot self, but still manages to be a little risqué.  Radio legend and spoken word artist, Garrison Keillor, gives voice to the character, Farmer O’Dell.  I can’t say that his performance does anything particularly special for this film, but Keillor’s presence does strike an odd note.

Strangely, the thing that really appeals to me is this film’s sense of hope and perseverance.  In Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure, there is the sparkle of magic to go with the movie’s spark of hope.  I found myself really believing in miracles, and for me, that makes what could have been an average movie a little special.

6 of 10

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Gotham Award Nominations Announced

by Amos Semien and Editor

The 2013-14 American movie award season has been kicked off with the announcement of nominations for The Gotham Awards - the 23rd edition of the awards.  The Gotham Awards is an annual film awards ceremony that honors independent films.  The Gotham Awards are part of The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers.  The Gotham Awards also signal the kick-off to the film awards season.

Nominees are selected by groups of distinguished film critics, journalists, festival programmers, and film curators. Separate juries of writers, directors, actors, producers, editors and others directly involved in making films determine the final Gotham Award recipients.

The 2013 Gotham Awards nominees were announced Thursday, October 24, 2013.  The winners will be announced live at the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards™ on Monday, December 2, 2013.

23rd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards nominees:

Best Feature:
12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen, director; Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Anthony Katagas, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
David Lowery, director; Tony Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Amy Kaufman, Cassian Elwes, producers (IFC Films)

Before Midnight
Richard Linklater, director; Richard Linklater, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, Sara Woodhatch, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)

Inside Llewyn Davis
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, directors; Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, producers (CBS Films)

Upstream Color
Shane Carruth, director; Shane Carruth, Casey Gooden, Ben LeClair, producers. (erbp)

Best Documentary:
The Act of Killing
Joshua Oppenheimer, director; Signe Byrge, Joshua Oppenheimer, producers (Drafthouse Films)

The Crash Reel
Lucy Walker, director; Julian Cautherly, Lucy Walker, producers (HBO Documentary Films)

First Cousin Once Removed
Alan Berliner, director and producer (HBO Documentary Films)

Let the Fire Burn
Jason Osder, director and producer (Zeitgeist Films)

Our Nixon
Penny Lane, director; Brian L. Frye, Penny Lane, producers (Cinedigm and CNN Films)

Best Actor:
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films)
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)
Robert Redford in All Is Lost (Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions)
Isaiah Washington in Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects)

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics)
Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon (Relativity Media)
Brie Larson in Short Term 12 (Cinedigm)
Amy Seimetz in Upstream Color (erbp)
Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now (A24)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director:
Ryan Coogler for Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)
Adam Leon for Gimme the Loot (Sundance Selects)
Alexandre Moors for Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects)
Stacie Passon for Concussion (RADiUS-TWC)
Amy Seimetz for Sun Don’t Shine (Factory 25)

Breakthrough Actor:
Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Classics)
Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight (The Film Arcade and Cinedigm)
Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Robin Weigert in Concussion (RADiUS-TWC)

euphoria CK Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ grant:
Afia Nathaniel, director, Dukhthar
Gita Pullapilly, director, Beneath the Harvest Sky
Deb Shoval, director, AWOl

Audience Award powered by Festival Genius

Voted on by an independent film community of 230,000 film fans worldwide.  To be eligible, a U.S. film must have won an audience award at one of the top 50 U.S. or Canadian film festivals from November 2012 through October 2012.  Voting on the nominees closes November 24th, and the winner revealed at the Gotham Awards ceremony.

The 2013-14 Movie Award Season - It's On!

By Editor

With the announcement last Thursday (October 24, 2013) of the nominations for the 2013 Gotham Awards, the awards season for American films kicked off it's 2013-14 edition.  It all culminates at the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday, March 2, 2013, where Oscars get handed out.

I hear lots of commentary and buzz about 12 Years a Slave (a Gotham Awards nominee) being the early favorite to win "Best Picture."  Like Miss Melody used to say, "I ain't buyin' it!"  Seriously, I don't see a film about American slavery winning the "Best Picture" Oscar.  It would be great, but... it would be even greater to be realistic.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: "Brother Bear" is Sweet (Happy B'day, Joaquin Phoenix)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 163 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Brother Bear (2003) – animated
Running time:  85 minutes (1 hour, 25 minutes)
DIRECTORS:  Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker
WRITERS:  Tab Murphy, Steven Bencich, Lorne Cameron, Ron J. Friedman, David Hoselton, and Broose Johnson, from a story by multiple contributors
PRODUCER:  Chuck Williams
EDITOR:  Tim Mertens
COMPOSERS:  Phil Collins and Mark Mancina
Academy Award nominee

ANIMATION/FAMILY/FANTASY with elements of adventure

Starring:  (voices) Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Jason Raize, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, D.B. Sweeney, Joan Copeland, Michael Clarke Duncan, Harold Gould, and Estelle Harris

The subject of this movie review is Brother Bear, a 2003 animated drama and fantasy-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures.  This Oscar-nominated film tells the story of a young Inuit hunter who needlessly kills a bear, and is magically changed into a bear himself as punishment and forced to play big brother to a talkative cub.

As it stands in late 2003, Brother Bear is the next to last 2D animated (or hand animated) feature from Walt Disney Studios, as they announced their plans to focus on 3D or computer generated films like Finding Nemo and Dinosaur.  With next year’s Home on the Range already looking kinda tepid, the greatest studio of 2D animated films seems to be limping out the exit.

Brother Bear, apparently set sometime in Ice Age North America, is the story of Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix), a young Native American hunter, who seeks vengeance on a bear that caused the death of his older brother Sitka (D.B. Sweeney).  Deep down, Kenai blames himself for his brother’s death, and he hopes killing the bear will help to alleviate his guilt.  After he kills the bear, Kenai causes some kind of unbalance in the supernatural forces that guard the earth.  Sitka’s spirit transforms Kenai into a bear who needs the help of a young cub, Koda (Jeremy Suarez), for redemption.  Meanwhile, Kenai’s other brother, Denahi (Jason Raize), hunts the transformed Kenai, believing him to be the bear that killed both his brothers.

As usual for Disney feature length animation, Brother Bear has beautiful animation dressed up in a sumptuous feast of dazzling colors.  At times, the viewer might think he’s taking a virtual tour of a museum full of lavishly painted landscapes.  BB’s animation isn’t as good as the great ones like Pinocchio and Fantasia, but it is better than Little Mermaid or Oliver and Company.  BB’s character animators do some excellent work, especially on the human characters and the moose voiced by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, who are virtually reprising their “SCTV” characters Bob and Doug McKenzie.

BB has two major weaknesses – Phil Collins’ song score and the script.  Collins’ work, while by know means bad, ranges from tiresome to tolerably functional.  The script manages to capture the essence of a very nice fable.  The mixture of Native American spiritualism, pacifism, and interspecies friendship, however, feels strained and, at times, phony.  The animals live together in happiness as if the forest was a nice suburban, multicultural neighborhood, and there’s barely a hint that some of these creatures dine on the other creatures.  The Indian spiritualism and ancestor worship is, in a strangely subtle way, actually over the top.

The film direction ranges from mediocre to fairly good.  Brother Bear strains and struggles to feel like an epic film, but most of the time it falls on its face like a goofy and gangly bear cub.  The cornball humor doesn’t help matters and isn’t all that funny; even Moranis and Thomas are, at best, mildly amusing.  On some levels, the film succeeds in being feel good.  It captures the sense of what it means to be obligated to another being and to be responsible for what happens when one’s actions create havoc in another’s life.  In the end, Brother Bear is nice, but overreaches itself to end up a bit syrupy, not at all grand, classic and heroic like the two films it obviously mimics – Bambi and The Lion King.

6 of 10

2004 Academy Awards, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature” (Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker)

Updated:  Monday, October 28, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Review: "Brother Bear 2" Surpasses Original

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 212 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Brother Bear 2 (2006) – Direct-to-DVD – animation
Running time:  74 minutes (1 hour, 14 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Benjamin Gluck
WRITER:  Rich Burns
PRODUCERS:  Jim Ballantine and Carolyn Bates
EDITORS:  Nick Kenway and Tony Martinous Rocco
COMPOSERS:  Matthew Gerrard, Dave Metzger, and Robbie Nevil

ANIMATION/FANTASY/ROMANCE/COMEDY with elements of adventure

Starring:  (voices) Patrick Dempsey, Mandy Moore, Jeremy Suarez, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Wanda Sykes, Wendie Malick, Kathy Najimy, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jim Cummings, and Jeff Bennett

The subject of this movie review is Brother Bear 2, a 2006 straight-to-video animated feature film produced by DisneyToon Studios.  The film is a direct sequel to the 2003 Walt Disney Pictures animated feature film, Brother Bear.  Singer Melissa Etheridge contributed three songs to this film.  In Brother Bear 2, one brother bear gains a girlfriend, much to the consternation of the younger brother bear.

After waking from a long hibernation, the brother bears, Kenai (Patrick Dempsey) and Koda (Jeremy Suarez), are ready for a trip to Crowberry Ridge, the location of the best spring berries.  However, a former human friend of Kenai’s, Nita (Mandy Moore) interrupts their journey to ask for Kenai’s help.  Kenai was once human, and when he was just a boy, he and Nita made a childish promise of eternal love.

Their tribe’s Great Spirits heard them, and now that the adult Nita plans on marrying her betrothed, Atka (Jeff Bennett), a man from a prominent tribal family, the spirits apparently aren’t willing to let the marriage happen.  The village shaman, Innoko (Wanda Sykes), informs Nita that she must break her pact of devotion to Kenai before she can marry Atka.  That pact is signified by an amulet that Nita wears around her neck.  Nita and Kenai must burn the amulet together to severe the relationship.

Kenai reluctantly agrees to help Nita, and they begin the dangerous journey to Hokani Falls, the place where they made their pact.  However, as they conquer one challenge after another on the journey, the friends find their old relationship rekindled, and the bond they once made only deepens.  Meanwhile, Koda is afraid he’ll loose his brother, although he sees that Kenai deeply loves Nita, but Koda’s decisions to set things right could endanger them all.  The moose brothers, Rutt (Rick Moranis) and Tuke (Dave Thomas), among others, provide comic relief.

Brother Bear 2 (also called "BB2" in this review), the straight-to-video (direct-to-DVD) sequel to Disney’s 2003 Oscar-nominated, animated feature film, Brother Bear, has such high quality animation that BB2 could be mistaken for a traditionally-animated (hand drawn) movie released to theatres.  The story is good, but the script doesn’t sing out that its feature film material.  Still, the screenplay hits the high notes that are necessary for any Disney animal fable to be successful – those messages about family, courage, honor, sacrifice, and loyalty.  Melissa Etheridge also sings three songs, two of which she composed, and they’re in synch with the film’s tone.

Patrick Dempsey (now best known as Dr. Derek Shepherd or “Dr. McDreamy” of the hit ABC TV drama, “Grey’s Anatomy”) replaces Joaquin Phoenix as the voice of Kenai for BB2, and he’s pretty good.  It helps that Jeremy Suarez reprises his voice performance as the wisecracking bear cub, Koda, and he’s great – heads and shoulders above everyone else.  The beautiful animation work done on Koda manages to capture the energy and quality of Suarez’s performance.

Some of Disney’s earlier video sequels to their classic animated features had animation that was, at best, the quality of a good TV cartoon.  While not the work of Walt Disney Feature Animation, Brother Bear 2 is the best work from DisneyToon Studios, the group responsible for prior straight-to-video flicks.  DisneyToon was recently shut down, and this is a shame because the animators and artists there were just hitting their stride.

7 of 10

Friday, October 13, 2006

Updated:  Monday, October 28, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"The Hobbit" Part 2 Has Worldwide Fan Event November 4th

Worldwide Fan Event for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Set for November 4, 2013

Fans Get Chance to Meet New Stars Joining the Trilogy, Catch an Exclusive First Look at Footage from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” and Participate in a Live Q&A with Director Peter Jackson and the Cast

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Gearing up for the December 13, 2013, release of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), fans will get a chance to meet new cast members joining the highly anticipated second film in “The Hobbit” Trilogy, including Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace and Luke Evans, as part of a global fan celebration to be held on Monday, November 4, at 5:00 pm EST, and simultaneous times around the world. At each of the satellite-linked cinemas in four host cities—Los Angeles, New York, London and Wellington—Jackson and members of his cast and filmmaking team will gather with fans to show exclusive footage from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and answer questions in front of a live audience, as well as offer a few surprises.

CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper, who serves as special host for the entire event, will be based in New York, where he will welcome Richard Armitage, the film’s Thorin Oakenshield, and Orlando Bloom, who returns to the role of Legolas from “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy. Evangeline Lilly, who joins the cast as a new Elf warrior, Tauriel, will be based in Los Angeles. London will host new cast member Lee Pace, the film’s Elf King Thranduil; Luke Evans, who joins the cast as Bard the Bowman; and Andy Serkis, a member of Jackson’s filmmaking team and the first film’s Gollum. Peter Jackson will join the celebration from Wellington, New Zealand (where it will be Tuesday, November 5, at 11:00 am).

Each cinema will be connected by satellite, allowing audiences to participate in a simultaneous Q&A among participants in all four host locations. Additionally, in cities across the globe—including Brussels, Belgium; Hamburg, Germany; Madrid, Spain; Mexico City, Mexico; Miami, Florida, USA; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; Sydney, Australia; and Toronto, Canada—fans will be invited to gather at select cinemas to be among the first to see the extended footage debut and watch the festivities unfold live. The event will also be streamed live online so that anyone with an internet connection can join the celebration at home or at viewing parties among friends, though the online simulcast will feature an edited version of the extended footage debut.

Details on locations, timing and how to sign up for a chance to join one of the many simultaneous events can be found at the film’s official site ( and on Facebook ( and Twitter (, under the global hashtag #hobbitfanevent.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The three films tell a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings,” which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. The international ensemble cast is led by Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. The film also stars (in alphabetical order) John Bell, Manu Bennett, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Lawrence Makoare, Sylvester McCoy, Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, Mikael Persbrandt, and Aidan Turner.

The screenplay for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Philippa Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

The creative behind-the-scenes team is led by director of photography Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hennah, conceptual designers Alan Lee and John Howe, editor Jabez Olssen, and hair and makeup designer Peter Swords King. The costumes are designed by Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey and Richard Taylor. Taylor is also overseeing the design and production of armour, weapons, creatures and special makeup, which are once again being made by the award-winning Weta Workshop. Weta Digital is taking on the visual effects for the film, led by senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri. The visual effects supervisor is Eric Saindon, with David Clayton and Eric Reynolds serving as animation supervisors.

Under Jackson’s direction, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” was shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second and will be released in High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D) in select theaters, other 2D and 3D formats, and IMAX®. Production took place at Jackson’s own facilities in Miramar, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand. Post production took place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Present a WingNut Films Production, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: "Unleashed" is Brutal (Happy B'day, Bob Hoskins)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 74 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Unleashed (2005) – USA title
Running time:  102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violent content, language, and some sexuality/nudity
DIRECTOR:  Louis Leterrier
WRITER:  Luc Besson
PRODUCERS:  Luc Besson, Steve Chasman, and Jet Li
EDITOR:  Nicolas Trembasiewicz
COMPOSERS:  Neil Davidge, Massive Attack


Starring:  Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, and Kerry Condon

The subject of this movie review is Unleashed, a 2005 martial arts and crime film from writer Luc Besson and director Louis Leterrier.  The film was a French, British, and American co-production and was originally released under the title, Danny the Dog, but released in the United States as Unleashed.  The film centers on a man who has been enslaved by the mob since childhood and trained to act like a human attack dog, but who one day escapes his captors and attempts to start a new life.

On and beneath the mean streets of Glasgow, Bart (Bob Hoskins) destroys those who won’t pay their debts to him.  The fiery gangster has a nearly unbeatable weapon he uses to encourage debtors to pay him what they owe, one he also uses to put would-be rivals in their place.  This secret weapon is Bart’s enforcer, Danny (Jet Li), a martial arts fighter of near supernatural ability.  Danny has been kept a prisoner, for all practical purposes, by his “Uncle Bart” since he was a boy.  “Danny the Dog” wears a collar and lives the simple existence that Bart has crudely and cruelly fashioned for him; Danny can’t even remember his origins.  When Bart pulls his collar off, that’s the signal for Danny to attack, and he will either maim or kill – always as Bart dictates.

However, a chance encounter with a soft-spoken, blind piano tuner, Sam (Morgan Freeman), offers Danny a chance to find out what kindness and compassion are.  When a gangland coup inadvertently frees him, Danny finds his way back to Sam and begins to live with the kindly old soul and his daughter, Victoria (Kerry Condon).  They open their home and hearts to him, but the past comes knocking back into Danny’s life.  Now, he has to fight the mob to protect his new family and keep from returning to his old one.

Luc Besson is the French director of flashy action films such as The Fifth Element, but he has also produced a number of martial arts inflected films, including The Transporter franchise.  He went directly to the Hong Kong source for his Jet Li vehicle, Danny the Dog, known for its American release as Unleashed.  [I do not know if this film was re-edited and shortened by a few minutes, in addition to the name change, for its U.S. release.]  Unleashed is one of the few really good English-language martial arts dramas to hit the screen since Bruce Lee’s films in the early 1970’s.  What makes this film a solid and compelling production in which the drama is equal to the martial arts sequences is having two fine dramatic actors:  Morgan Freeman, who is arguably the best American actor working today, and Bob Hoskins, a superb character actor who is too often an afterthought.

Freeman does his wise old black man routine, but this time with a twist.  Sam is a man of culture with impeccable taste.  He is a man who savors life, and his other senses so deeply drink of life that it is as if he weren’t blind.  Kind yet vigilant, he is the ultimate father figure – protector and encourager.  Hoskins gives his Bart many flavors.  On one hand, he plays the gangster as a petty and petulant hood looking for his share; on the other hand, he is all too human in his cruelty.  There isn’t a whiff of the supernatural or paranormal about what Bart does; he is just a bad man.

Jet Li is the star, and even Jet fans like myself must face up to the fact that Li isn’t a great actor when he has to speak English.  He is, however, a great performer regardless of the language he speaks.  Those all-around, all-star abilities that a movie star must have – a blend of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual – he has.  Li lights up the screen every time he’s on, and he always draws attention to himself, no matter how many good actors may be on screen with him.  A human dynamo, Jet Li is truly a martial artist and a film artist.

Unleashed is quite good, but falters in the end – letting the drama whither on the vine so that Li and his adversaries can have their big, final confrontation, and what a confrontation it is.  The film plays at being an epic, but Besson’s script can’t be bothered with developing conflicts and motivations; we’re here to see Li fight and the script focuses on giving us that.  Watching that final battle makes me wonder when Li is going to get his “Crouching Tiger,” but in the meantime, we can enjoy Li’s best English language effort… yet.

7 of 10

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Updated:  Saturday, October 26, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.


Friday, October 25, 2013

"Gravity" Still Soaring High in Worldwide Box Office

Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Gravity” Rockets Past $300 Million Worldwide

Number one weekends and record-breaking international openings continue to fuel the acclaimed worldwide hit, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney under the direction of Alfonso Cuarón.

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Showing no signs of coming back to Earth, Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Gravity” flew past the $300 million mark on Wednesday, October 23, less than three weeks after its record-breaking opening. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

“We all congratulate the filmmakers and the cast on the world’s overwhelming response to ‘Gravity.’ The film’s success speaks not only to the awe-inspiring visuals but also to the universal appeal of the story’s emotional journey, a combination that continues to captivate audiences everywhere.”

One of the best reviewed movies of this or any year, the Alfonso Cuarón-directed dramatic thriller has topped the box office for three consecutive weekends in North America as well as internationally, holding the number one spot in every major market in which it has opened.

Strong word of mouth has made “Gravity” a must-see film that audiences and critics all agree is best experienced in 3D. Moviegoers around the globe have flocked in record numbers to see the film in the immersive 3D format, which has proven to be the overwhelming preference worldwide. 3D sales represent an astounding 81% of the total gross domestically and 77% internationally. IMAX numbers are equally impressive, with an estimated $40 million domestically, and more than $12 million in 32 overseas markets.

Internationally, the film has enjoyed stellar openings in a number of key territories, including Cuarón’s native Mexico, as well as Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy and Korea. “Gravity” is also yet to open in several major markets, including France (today), the UK (November 8th), Japan (December 13th) and, as just announced, China, where it will be released on November 20th.

Fellman stated, “Alfonso Cuarón, together with his collaborators on both sides of the camera, crafted a magnificent film that is a creative and technological feat. These terrific box office numbers are exceeding expectations every day as more and more people discover ‘Gravity’ for the first time or return to enjoy it again and again.”

Kwan Vandenberg said, “We all congratulate the filmmakers and the cast on the world’s overwhelming response to ‘Gravity.’ The film’s success speaks not only to the awe-inspiring visuals but also to the universal appeal of the story’s emotional journey, a combination that continues to captivate audiences everywhere.”

Academy Award® winners Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) and George Clooney (“Syriana”) star in “Gravity,” a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space. The film was directed by Oscar® nominee Alfonso Cuarón (“Children of Men”).

Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in command. But on a seemingly routine mission, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left.

But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

“Gravity” was written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, and produced by Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman (the “Harry Potter” films). Chris deFaria, Nikki Penny and Stephen Jones served as executive producers.

The behind-the-scenes team includes multiple Oscar®-nominated director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki (“Children of Men,” “The New World”); production designer Andy Nicholson (art director “Alice in Wonderland”); editors Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger (VFX editor “Children of Men”); and costume designer Jany Temime (the “Harry Potter” films). The visual effects were handled by Oscar®-nominated visual effects supervisor Tim Webber (“The Dark Knight”). The music was composed by Steven Price (“Attack the Block”).

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents an Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films Production, an Alfonso Cuarón Film, “Gravity.” The film is being released in 3D and 2D and IMAX®, and is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company. This film has been rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.

Review: "Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning" an Excellent Superhero Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 72 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning (2012)
Original title:  Gekijō-ban Tiger & Bunny – The Beginning
Running time:  92 minutes (1 hour, 32 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Yoshitomo Yonetani
WRITER:  Masafumi Nishida
PRODUCERS:  Kazuhiko Tamura and Chintasu Matsui
CINEMATOGRAPHERS:  Yuk Tanaka and Haruhi Goto
EDITOR: Hiroshi Okuda
COMPOSER: Yoshihiro Ike

ANIME/SUPERHERO/ACTION/COMEDY with elements of drama

Starring:  (original Japanese voices) Hiroaki Hirata, Masakazu Morita, Minako Kotobuki, Taiten Kusunoki, Go Inoue, Kenjiro Tsuda, Mariye Ise, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Yuko Kaida, Hiroshi Iwasaki, Rina Hidaka, and Kappei Yamaguchi

(English dub voice cast): Wally Wingert, Yuri Lowenthal, Patrick Seitz, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Kari Wahlgren, John Eric Bentley, Michael Sinterniklaas, Liam O’Brien, Jamieson K. Price, Stephanie Sheh, Steven Blum, Eden Riegel, Dave Wittenberg, Tara Platt, Keith Silverstein, Laura Bailey, Daran Norris, and Beau Billingslea

Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning is a 2012 Japanese animated film (anime).  Its original title is Gekijō-ban Tiger & Bunny – The Beginning, and it is based on Tiger & Bunny, a science fiction and superhero anime television series that was originally broadcast in Japan and ran for 25 episodes in 2011.  The series was produced by Japanese animation studio, Sunrise, known for such anime as Accel World and Cowboy Bebop, among others.  VIZ Media released an English language version of Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning on DVD and Blu-ray in North America on October 1, 2013.

Tiger & Bunny takes place in a world where 45 years earlier, super-powered humans, known as NEXT, started appearing.  Some of them fight crime as superheroes in Stern Bild City (a re-imagined version of New York City).  They promote their corporate sponsors while appearing on the hit reality television show, HERO TV.  Each season, the superheroes compete to be named the “King of Heroes.”  However, not all NEXT use their powers for good.  Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning starts as a recap of the first few episodes of the TV series and then, moves on to a new story.

Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning opens as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi (Wally Wingert), a veteran superhero known as Wild Tiger, begins his day.  Meanwhile, the Justice Bureau approves Barnaby Brooks, Jr. (Yuri Lowenthal) as a new superhero, but this rookie does not want a codename.  Circumstances place Kotetsu in the employment of Apollon Media, and they want him to join Barnaby in forming the first every superhero team.

Kotetsu and Barnaby immediately dislike each other.  Kotetsu even gives Barnaby the nickname “Bunny,” which the rookie hates.  They will have to learn to work together when Stern Bild City faces two grave threats, “Steel Hammer Statue” and a seemingly impossible to catch thief named Robin Baxter.

Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning is the second best animated feature film about superheroes.  I put it behind Pixar’s Oscar-winning film, The Incredibles.  As Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning mixes traditional 2D (or hand-drawn animation) with 3D (or computer animation), I would say that it is by far the best 2D animated superhero film.

The film is a little soft on character drama, and the plot is pretty simply.  The characters are wonderful, although the supporting superheroes are more colorful than the leads.  The English voice-acting gives zest to Blue Rose (Kari Wahlgren) and Dragon Kid (Laura Bailey), and spice to the risqué Fire Emblem (John Eric Bentley).  Kotetsu and Barnaby are a little too straight and narrow, as if the storytellers and filmmakers are reluctant to let them really show their range as characters.

Visually, Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning is a good example of how anime can actually match CGI in live-action when it comes to creating fantastic gadgets, creatures, and environments.  The superheroes wear costumes that are more high-tech gadgets and armor than they are uniforms.  One villain even has a costume that is practically some kind of eccentric motorcycle.  Automobiles and helicopters are fantastic future-machines that mix technology with custom car and fashion design.

Stern Bild City is a wonderland that dots the metropolis of the future with theme park attractions throughout the city.  To me, this city looks like a 3D version of Batman’s Gotham City as created by Batman creator Bob Kane and artists like Dick Sprang and Jerry Robinson.  The city also makes me think of Arcade’s Murderworld as drawn by John Byrne in X-Men #123 (Marvel Comics, February 1979).

Everything comes together to make Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning a unique superhero adventure.  It is not only unlike any superhero fiction in America, but it is also a grand spectacle that embraces the imagination and sense of wonder that should be inherent in film, television, novels, and especially comic books featuring superheroes.  This anime is an action-comedy that both gently pokes fun at and embraces superheroes.  Most of all, Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning leaves you wanting more.

8 of 10

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Anchorman" Sequel Inspires New Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Flavor

This Just In: Ben & Jerry’s Launches “Scotchy Scotch Scotch”

New Flavor Honors Legendary Anchorman Ron Burgundy

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--You heard it here first, folks! Ben & Jerry’s announces its newest Limited Batch ice cream flavor, "Scotchy Scotch Scotch.” Created in honor of beloved Ron Burgundy, the TV news anchor with a penchant for all things scotch, the flavor is a creamy concoction of butterscotch ice cream with ribbons of butterscotch swirl. Don’t act like you’re not impressed!

“Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch is a delicious ice cream and I hope Ben and Jerry consider my other suggestions,” said Ron Burgundy. “Malt liquor marshmallow, well liquor bourbon peanut butter, and cheap white wine sherbet.”

The flavor was officially unveiled at New York City’s Pier 36 where members of the press attended and witnessed the announcement first-hand. True to the iconic ice cream company’s untraditional style, the event kicked off with – what else? – a performance by Nutty The Waterskiing Squirrel, as seen in the first Anchorman film. Nutty’s amazing performance was immediately followed by the appearance of a Ben & Jerry’s scoop-truck-turned-Channel 4 News-truck, which rolled onto the scene transporting a legion of blazer-wearing Ron Burgundy look-alikes. After “Scotchy Scotch Scotch” was officially unveiled, attending media and fans were treated to free scoops of the new Ron Burgundy-inspired flavor.

Fans anxiously await December 20th, when Ron and his elite news team return to the news desk in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”

“As a company who believes our fans deserve nothing but the best, we have great respect for Ron Burgundy, who takes the same belief to heart,” said Lisa Sholk, Ben & Jerry’s Brand Manager, who lead the team on the Scotchy Scotch Scotch flavor project.

“Having Ben & Jerry’s celebrate the return of Ron Burgundy to the big screen with the introduction of this special ice cream is an exciting and delicious way to build anticipation for the film,” said LeeAnne Stables, President of Consumer Products at Paramount Pictures. “We especially enjoyed the sampling process over the last several months to find the perfect Scotchy scotch flavor.”

Scotchy Scotch Scotch is available now at participating scoop shops across the country. Pints of the flavor will arrive on store shelves over the next few weeks.

“To help locate the flavor as it rolls out, we’re asking fans of Ben & Jerry’s and Anchorman to log onto and share when and where they were able to have a taste,” Sholk said. “We want fans to be able to experience it all first-hand, because as Ron says, this flavor is ‘kind of a big deal.’”

With the 70's behind him, San Diego’s top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), returns to the news desk in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” Also back for more are Ron’s co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), weather man Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), man on the street Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner) – all of whom won’t make it easy to stay classy... while taking the nation’s first 24-hour news channel by storm. Produced by Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Written by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay. Directed by Adam McKay.

To learn more about Ben & Jerry’s and to find a scoop shop near you, please visit

About Ben & Jerry’s
Ben & Jerry’s produces a wide variety of super-premium ice cream and ice cream novelties, using high-quality ingredients including milk and cream from family farmers who do not treat their cows with the synthetic hormone rBGH. The company states its position on rBGH* on its labels. Ben and Jerry’s products are distributed nationwide and in selected foreign countries in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, franchise Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops, restaurants and other venues. Ben & Jerry’s, a Vermont corporation and wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, operates its business on a three-part Mission Statement emphasizing product quality, economic reward and a commitment to the community. Contributions made via the employee-led Ben & Jerry’s Foundation in 2012 totaled $1.8 million. Additionally, the company makes significant product donations to community groups and nonprofits both in Vermont and across the nation. The purpose of Ben & Jerry’s philanthropy is to support the founding values of the company: economic and social justice, environmental restoration and peace through understanding, and to support our Vermont communities. For the full scoop on all Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop locations and fabulous flavors, visit

About Paramount Pictures Corporation
Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. Paramount controls a collection of some of the most powerful brands in filmed entertainment, including Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., and Paramount Studio Group. TM & © 2013 Paramount Pictures Corp. All rights reserved.

* The FDA has said no significant difference has been shown and no test can now distinguish between milk from rBGH treated cows and untreated cows. Not all the suppliers of our other ingredients can promise that the milk they use comes from untreated cows.

Want to own a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop? We’re looking for a few progressive entrepreneurs in key markets. Call 802.846.1500, extension 7818.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: "Boogeyman" Didn't Have to Be a Disappointment (Happy B'day, Sam Raimi)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Boogeyman (2005)
Running time:  86 minutes (1 hour, 26 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of horror and terror/violence, and some partial nudity
DIRECTOR:  Stephen Kay
WRITERS:  Eric Kripke, Juliet Snowden and Stiles White; from a story by Eric Kripke
PRODUCERS:  Daniel Carrillo, Hans Jurgen Pohland, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert
EDITOR:  John Axelrad
COMPOSER:  Joseph LoDuca


Starring:  Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Lucy Lawless, Tory Mussett, Robyn Malcolm, Charles Mesure, Philip Gordon, and Andrew Glover

The subject of this movie review is Boogeyman, a 2005 horror film from director Stephen T. Kay.  A take on the classic fear of a “monster in the closet,” this film focuses on a young man who is still haunted by a childhood terror that has affected his life.

Boogeyman was co-produced by Sam Raimi (director of The Evil Dead and three Spider-Man films), and also yielded two direct-to-DVD sequels. Actor Barry Watson, who was one of the stars of the long-running television series, “7th Heaven,” plays the lead character in Boogeyman.

A young man named Tim Jensen (Barry Watson) is traumatized by events he believes happened in his childhood bedroom.  His memories tell him that as an eight-year old boy he saw the boogeyman (Andrew Glover) come out of his closet and steal his father (Charles Mesure) away from him.  Now years later, after his mother’s (Lucy Lawless) funeral, he returns to his family home to face his fears that may be either a monstrous entity stealing away those he loves or the figment of his sick mind.

Boogeyman is lightweight entertainment, but sometimes it’s a gooseflesh raising, edge-of-your-seat, horror movie, even the cheesy bits, of which there are many.  Quick cuts from one shot to another, bumps in the night, slamming doors, knocking from behind locked doors, closets, and walls, lots of night scenes, and day scenes that look like night scenes are on the menu for this film.  There is even a shot of the footsteps of an unknown person who may be the (gasp) boogeyman, but still horror movie buffs, even the most difficult to please, will find a few moments of genuine fears and thrills.

However, Boogeyman tries to be mystery story about a child abductor, a psychological horror film, a monster movie, a family melodrama, etc.  It finally adds up to a scary movie that abruptly runs out of gas after trying on the rags of just about every horror sub-genre.  It’ll leave you asking what happened.  The screenwriters and director are too coy and too cute by a mile, so the result of their creative efforts is a film barely worth a rental.

3 of 10

Updated:  Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: "The Lords of Salem" is Bee-zarre

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 71 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Lords of Salem (2012)
Running time:  101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – R for disturbing violent and sexual content, graphic nudity, language and some drug use
PRODUCERS:  Jason Blum, Andy Gould, Oren Peli, Steven Schneider, Rob Zombie
EDITOR:  Glenn Garland
COMPOSERS:  Griffin Boice and John 5


Starring:  Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, Judy Geeson, Meg Foster, Patricia Quinn, Ken Foree, Dee Wallace, Maria Conchita Alonso, Andrew Prine, and Troy

The Lords of Salem is a 2012 horror film from writer-director Rob Zombie.  The film received a limited theatrical release in April 2013.  The Lords of Salem focuses on a radio DJ who receives a strange vinyl record that when played causes her to feel sick and to experience flashbacks of a violent, dark past.

In Salem, Massachusetts, radio station WIQZ has a hot trio of DJs, the “Big H Team.”  One of the DJs, Heidi Lorac (Sheri Moon Zombie), a recovering drug addict, receives a strange wooden box containing a vinyl record from a band called “the Lords.”  Heidi’s fellow DJs, Herman “Whitey” Salvador (Jeffrey Daniel Phillips) and Herman “Munster” Jackson (Ken Foree), decide to call the band, “The Lords of Salem.”  The first time Heidi listens to the record, she has strange visions and feels nauseated.

There are also strange doings at the apartment complex where Heidi lives.  Heidi insists that she has a new neighbor in Apartment 5, but her landlord, Lacy Doyle (Judy Geeson), says that there is no new tenant.  Meanwhile, Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison), an author of a book on witches, is troubled by the name, “The Lords of Salem.”  He begins to research Salem’s dark past involving witches, as Heidi’s visions become more troubling.

The Lords of Salem is like a modern version of Rosemary’s Baby with tattoos and Hepatitis C.  This is not really a typical girl-gonna-have-Satan’s-baby movie, as it has original story elements.  It is horrifying and horrible, meaning that some of it is unsettling and even disturbing, but some of it is ridiculous and unintentionally comical.

Coming from the music industry and having appeared in music videos, Rob Zombie knows how to create an aural-visual experience that captivates the imagination or captures it, if necessary.  To that end, Zombie gets an exceedingly creepy film score from Griffin Boice and John 5, making The Lords of Salem, in some ways, their film.

Once again, Sheri Moon Zombie, Rob Zombie’s wife and muse/art victim, takes the lead in one of Rob’s films.  In The Lords of Salem, she is not so much an actress, as she acts like she needs an intervention and detox.  The best performance in this film belongs to Bruce Davison who brings subtlety and nuance to Zombie chamber piece of bizarre imagery and sacrilege.

The Lords of Salem is an original vision with many familiar elements, but in some ways, the film goes too far without really going too far.  The story offers crazy women forsaking one symbol of male authority for another.  Either way, they seem determined to serve the interests of male genitalia.  The Lords of Salem is not the great movie it could have been, but it gave me the creeps and the willies.  So Rob Zombie’s movie is a must-see for horror fans.

6 of 10

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Review: "The Devil's Rejects" a Different Kind of Crime Flick

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 79 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Running time:  101 minutes (1hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – R for sadistic violence, strong sexual content, language, and drug use
DIRECTOR:  Rob Zombie
WRITER:  Rob Zombie (based upon his characters)
PRODUCERS:  Mike Elliot, Andy Gould, Marco Mehlitz, Michael Ohoven, and Rob Zombie
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Phil Parmet (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Glenn Garland
COMPOSER:  Tyler Bates


Starring:  Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory, Leslie Easterbrook, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes, Dave Sheridan, Ken Norby, Lew Temple, Danny Trejo, Diamond Dallas Page, and Tom Towles

The subject of this movie review is The Devil’s Rejects, a 2005 horror thriller and crime film from director Rob Zombie.  The film is a sequel to Zombie’s 2003 film, House of 1000 Corpses.  In the new film, the villains of the first movie are now seen as anti-hero types on the run from the law.

The Firefly Family or, as they call themselves, The Devil’s Rejects, a band of sadistic killers, wake up one morning to find their isolated farm hideout ambushed by the vengeful Sheriff John Quincy Wydell (William Forsythe) and a posse of his deputies.  With guns blazing, only Otis B. Driftwood (Bill Moseley) and his sister Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie) escape the barrage of bullets unharmed.

The duo hide out in an isolated desert motel waiting to be joined by another murderous relative, the killer clown, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), killing whoever stands in their way or angers them.  However, as the body count soars, Sheriff Wydell, seeking revenge for the Rejects’ murder of his brother, George Wydell (Tom Towles), decides to take matters into his own hands and begins a private and violent war against The Devil’s Rejects outside the jurisdiction of the law.

The Devil’s Rejects is Rob Zombie’s sequel to his controversial 2003 indie hit, House of 1000 Corpses.  Rejects is structurally better in terms of narrative flow and writing, and Zombie sprinkles his cast with a collection of character actors known either for their roles in violent action movies or for their cult status in TV and film.  Among them include Priscilla Barnes, who is best remembered as “Terri Allen,” the third and final blonde roommate on the popular late 70’s/early 80’s television sitcom, “Three’s Company,”  and Ken Foree, who was “Peter,” one of the four human survivors trapped in a shopping mall in the original 1978 Dawn of the Dead.

In fact, Zombie designed his film to look like one of those violent crime thrillers that were synonymous with 70’s cinema.  Even going back to the first film, this franchise was as much Deliverance as it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The film’s opening sequence, a bullet-laden shootout, is as good as any Hong Kong crime film and is as intense as the big shootout in Michael Mann’s Heat – though much shorter.  Zombie’s film is silly, sadistic, and unabashedly subversive.  While the film and its characters’ antics (both the “hero” and the “villains are brutal and vicious assholes) get old after awhile, Zombie doesn’t commit the same flawed, artistic pretensions he did in House of 1000 Corpses.

His film is gloriously and rebelliously a bloody, gore-laden, crime film about bad-asses headed for a showdown.  There are a few scenes and sequences in this film that true film fans cannot and must not miss.  Those who can take the buckets of blood, F-bombs (several hundred), and atrocious murders will find The Devil Rejects a welcomed respite from the highly-polished polished movies that currently pass for Hollywood’s version what a gritty crime flick is.

6 of 10

Monday, April 17, 2006

Updated:  Sunday, October 20, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Review: A Rickety "House of 1000 Corpses"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 56 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Running time:  89 minutes (1 hour, 29 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong sadistic violence/gore, sexuality and language
PRODUCER:  Andy Gould
CINEMATOGRAPHERS:  Alex Poppas (director of photography) and Tom Richmond (director of photography)
EDITORS:  Kathryn Himoff, Robert K. Lambert, and Sean Lambert
COMPOSERS:  Scott Humphrey and Rob Zombie

HORROR with elements of fantasy

Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Karen Black, Chad Bannon, Sheri Moon, Erin Daniels, and Chris Hardwick

The subject of this movie review is House of 1000 Corpses, a 2003 horror and exploitation film from musician, recording artist, and director, Rob Zombie.  The film takes place on Halloween and follows four people (two couples) held hostage by a sadistic backwoods family.

I’m only vaguely familiar with Rob Zombie’s music, as a solo artist or as the front man for the band White Zombie, but what I’ve heard, I’ve like very much.  I first ignored news that he was making a movie, especially when I learned that the title would be House of 1000 Corpses.  However, I became more interested as I followed the controversy surrounding the film, including original distributor, Universal’s, decision not to release the film because they believed it would receive an NC-17 rating from the MPAA.  Since being finished in 2000, Zombie searched for a distributor until Lion’s Gate decided to distribute the film.

The tale of this horror movie is a familiar one to fans of scary movies, in particular, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  This time, two couples get lost in a remote rural area during a terrible rainstorm.  Seeking refuge and a telephone, the end up in a rundown farmhouse with a family of hugely strange and unusual people.

I could use a lot of words to describe this film: evil, wicked, disgusting, gory, horrible, horrifying, funny, hilarious, terrifying, spooky, creepy, weird, vain, surreal, strange, bizarre, or maybe I could just say whether it is good or bad.  Well, it’s not a bad film, but I wouldn’t exactly call it good.

It’s as much a music video as it is a movie, not only in its sensibilities, but also in its execution.  Zombie mixes the story with video clips that have nothing to do with the film, while some of them are either vaguely or obviously related to the film either literally and thematically.  Zombie creates a virtual sound wall of violent, bloody, gory, and deranged imagery.  The film is awash in horror, violence, and acts of pure inhumanity.  Despite all that, Zombie manages to create a coherent story.  Even while cramming in as much shock value as he does, he holds onto his central concept of victims and victimizers, giving us just enough about the characters to keep us interested in or curious about them.  Light though he may be on characterization, Zombie seemed to at least have one idea about who and what each character should be.  I know that I really liked the heroes/victims and wanted to know more about them, and the villains are so sick and deranged that I wanted to know from where do things like them come.

The performances are inspired and zany, especially Karen Black, Sheri Moon, and Chad Bannon.  Everybody seemed to be having a lot of fun.  For all the sickness that is this film, I have to give credit for the filmmakers’ creative energy and obvious love for this project.  You could see it in the performances and feel it in the craftsmanship.  Heck, love for this project dripped off the screen the way gore dripped off the walls in the film.

This is by no means for everyone.  I think the film’s biggest weakness is that the violence and sadism are far too sick.  The setting’s relentless environment of blood, violence, and the bizarre hamper the storytelling, but structurally the film is sound.  This is a curiosity piece.  It’s not very everyone; honestly, it’s not for very many people.  It’s a vanity project that might interest fans of Zombie’s music and hardcore horror movie fans who love gore by the shipload.  You have to have a strong stomach and be able to tolerate really extreme subject matter; it’s not for the average Joe or even for many “serious” film fans.  When you walk out the theatre, you need to be able to just brush off this particular movie experience.  It’s not good or bad; it just is.

The story is only supposed to make sense visually the way a music video might “make sense.”  This is Zombie vomiting out some of the twisted imagery that rides in his head.  If he gets to make another horror movie, the next one might delve a little deeper into story and character and leave the shocking and extraneous video images for one of those short films musicians use to sell their music.

4 of 10

Updated:  Sunday, October 20, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Review: "Starsky and Hutch" is Average Entertainment (Happy B'day, Snoop Dogg)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 27 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Starsky & Hutch (2004)
Running time:  101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – PR-13 for drug content, sexual situations, partial nudity, language and some violence
DIRECTOR:  Todd Phillips
WRITERS:  John O’Brien, Scot Armstrong and Todd Phillips, from a story Steve Long and John O’Brien (based upon characters created by William Blinn)
PRODUCERS:  William Blinn, Stuart Cornfeld, Akiva Goldsman, Tony Ludwig, and Alan Riche
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Barry Peterson (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Leslie Jones
COMPOSER:  Theodore Shapiro

COMEDY/CRIME with some elements of action

Starring:  Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Snoop Dogg, Fred Williamson, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Jason Bateman, Amy Smart, Carmen Electra, George Cheung, Chris Penn, Patton Oswalt, Jenard Burks, The Bishop Don Magic Juan, and Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul

The subject of this movie review is Starsky & Hutch, a 2004 crime comedy from director Todd Phillips.  The film is based on the 1970s television series, Starsky & Hutch, a police drama-thriller that was created by William Blinn and was originally broadcast on the ABC television network from 1975 to 1979.  The film is a kind of prequel to the original television series.  Starsky & Hutch the movie follows two streetwise cops who fight crime in their red-and-white Ford Torino.

With my refined tastes, I should technically be repulsed by film remakes of 70’s television programs, but repulsed or otherwise, I’ll generally see them.  Still, I’d planned on seeing the controversial Mel Gibson Jesus movie, but it was sold out, and there was the poster for Starsky & Hutch staring me in the face.  Though I had to settle on something I hadn’t planned on seeing at the time, it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of Starsky and Hutch.  It’s a fairly funny film, but you wouldn’t have missed a cinematic event that must be seen on the big screen if you’d waited for home video or TV.

Set in a sort of anachronistic version of the 1970’s, S&H is the story of two streetwise detectives who form an unlikely partnership.  David Starsky (Ben Stiller) is an anal by-the-books guy, who actually does nothing but screw up, despite his attention to rules.  Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) is a genial kind of guy, always hanging loose, but he is also the kind of cop who breaks the law when it suits him.  Hutch robs bookies for their loot, and he uses illegal drugs.  The mismatched pair gets on the nerves of their boss, Captain Dobey (Fred Williamson), relies on tips from an omniscient street informer, Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg), and busts crime in Starksy’s 1974 red-and-white, souped-up Ford Torino.  Their first big case together involves a respectable businessman, Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn), who may be a big time cocaine dealer.  However, Starsky and Hutch’s bumbling and lack of hard evidence dog their case every step of the way.

Starsky & Hutch has some extremely hilarious moments, not as many as, say, Scary Movie 3.  S&H is structured like SM3 in that S&H’s plot, story, and script are basically an elaborate, but dumb, blueprint to layout jokes.  S&H’s script is, however, nothing like the disaster of that was SM3’s script.  S&H also reminds me of another of director Todd Phillip’s hits, Old School (2003): lots of funny scenes, but ultimately a lame, by-the-book, Hollywood yuck fest that plays it way too safe.

This is also one of the times that Ben Stiller’s shtick, that of the angry, quick-tempered nerd, works for the film.  Owen Wilson is a great screen presence; the camera loves him, and the role of the amiable Hutch easily fits Owen’s usually warm and generous film persona.

I generally enjoyed this film’s deep tongue in the tongue-in-cheek mode.  Starsky and Hutch is not to be taken seriously, nor does the film try to make you do so.  The quasi-70’s setting is a hoot, at least early on, but the film’s period atmosphere eventually dissolves into mere background noise.  There should have been much more Snoop Dogg because he surprisingly has good screen presence.  Also, Will Ferrell’s (who doesn’t get a screen credit) riotous turn as Big Earl, a man in the county lockup with serious man crush issues, is certainly a reason to see this film, at home or in a theatre.

5 of 10

2005 Razzie Awards:  2 nominations: “Worst Actor” (Ben Stiller) and “Worst Supporting Actress” (Carmen Electra)

Updated:  Sunday, October 20, 2013


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Review: "Team America: World Police" is Crazy, Smart and True (Happy B'day, Trey Parker)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 209 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Team America: World Police (2004)
Running time:  100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – R for graphic, crude & sexual humor, violent images and strong language; all involving puppets
DIRECTOR:  Trey Parker
WRITERS:  Pam Brady, Matt Stone and Trey Parker
PRODUCERS:  Scott Rudin, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Bill Pope, A.S.C. (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Thomas M. Vogt
COMPOSER:  Harry Gregson-Williams


Starring:  (voices) Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kristen Miller, Masasa, Daran Norris, Phil Hendrie, Maurice LaMarche, and Paul Louis

The subject of this movie review is Team America: World Police, a 2004 satirical comedy film from the team of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the long-running animated series, “South Park.”  The film’s cast is composed of marionettes (puppets) instead of live actors.  Team America: World Police follows a popular Broadway actor who is recruited by an elite counter-terrorism organization to help stop a dictator who is plotting global terror attacks.

Team America: World Police may be 2004’s funniest film.  Some may consider it the most obnoxious and crass movie of the year, especially after viewing the graphic puppet “sex scene.”  It will certainly go down as one of the most outrageous movies not made by John Waters.  It’s a wonderful send up of action movies, especially as those made by super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and the hilarious characters that populate them.  Even the musical scores to Bruckheimer films get it up the butt and in the mouth from this movie.  It’s also a wicked satire of American military aggression and the celebrities who protest it.  However, as good as the film is (and it’s quite good), Team America: World Police frequently falls on its own spear.

Team America is an international police force dedicated to maintaining global security.  And they’re also marionettes; you may best remember marionettes as those puppets on the venerable British TV children’s series, “Thunderbirds.”  Team America’s latest mission takes them to Paris, France, where they fight a handful of terrorists with WMD’s, also known as weapons of mass destruction.  Team America also manages to destroy Paris’ most famous landmarks, and also loose a team member to a terrorist’s bullets.

Team America’s leader, Spottswoode, a gray-headed, older, distinguished gentleman, recruits a young Broadway actor named Gary to replace the fallen comrade.  Spottswoode thinks that Gary will make the perfect spy because in college he was a double major in theatre and world languages.  The other Team America members:  Lisa, Sarah, Chris, and Joe, are wary at first, but they back him up on their first mission to Cairo to infiltrate a band of Islamic fundamentalists with WMD’s.

There is however a larger crisis looming.  Power-mad dictator Kim Jong Il of North Korea has planned a series of simultaneous global terror attacks – imagine 9/11 times 2356.  He’s convinced the Hollywood Film Actors Guild, or F.A.G., and their leader, actor Alec Baldwin, to support a conference in North Korea in which all world leaders will attend.  The conference is merely a cover for the launch of the worldwide terror strikes, which will occur while Baldwin gives his peacenik keynote speech.  Can Team America stop Kim Jong Il…and the actors?

Team America: World Police is the second major studio film from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the uproarious and bawdy animated program, “South Park,” on Comedy Central.  Team America, on one hand, is a delightful and loving send up of “Thunderbirds” and the other puppet marionette shows produced by England’s Century 21.  On the other hand, the film is mostly a vicious and brutal satire of the contemporary American political landscape and American self-righteousness.  The use of marionettes instead of actors greatly takes the sense of people getting made fun of to a level that human actors couldn’t go.

Parker/Stone use clever dialogue, over-the-top violence, and hyper-patriotic songs to skewer heavy-handed U.S. military offenses, strikes, and pre-emptive attacks on international locales.  They also use marionettes that closely resemble well known Hollywood and celebrities that protest U.S. military action.  The marionettes, in some cases, barely look like the stars that they’re supposed to resemble; in some cases the resemblance is just close enough not to get the filmmakers sued.  Still, it works enough so that such stars as Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins, Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Matt Damon, Helen Hunt and others are mercilessly lampooned.

But is the movie good?  The answer is a resounding yes; it’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in years.  However, it is mean-spirited, graphic, obnoxious, brutal, vicious, vulgar, filthy, foul, nasty, rank, etc.  Sometimes, I had a hard time believing that Parker and Stone were going so far in their satire and humor.  Still, they’re not frat boys out of control; every joke and satirical comment and farcical moment seems well conceived.

Team America: World Police, in the end, takes the side of the “good guys,” but Parker and Stone obviously only trust them a little more than the “bad guys.”  They insist that even the protagonists be viewed with a wary eye, so in the end, it’s as if they question that anyone can be trusted.  Fighting assholes who want to kill everyone is a dirty job, and the heroes and their charges may not be “all that” themselves.  Team America: World Police is not perfect, but it’s the work of frankly honest and only barely inhibited filmmakers.  That’s refreshing when “looking good” is so important these days.

8 of 10

Updated:  Saturday, October 19, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.