Showing posts with label Cedric the Entertainer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cedric the Entertainer. Show all posts

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from July 11th to 17th, 2021 - Update #21

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:


CANNES - From Variety:  At the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, the "Palme d'Or" goes to director Julia Ducournau's horror film, "Titane."

BOX OFFICE - From Variety:   The animated/live-action hybrid film, "Space Jam: A New Legacy," which stars NBA mega-star, LeBron James, is set to win the weekend box office over Disney's "Black Widow."

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  The long-running lawsuit between AMC and Frank Darabont, the original showrunner of "The Walking Dead," and his agency, CAA, has been settled with AMC giving Darabont and CAA 200 million dollars. 

CANNES - From Deadline:  Kira Kovalenko’s Russian drama, "Unclenching The Fists," won the Grand Prize in Cannes Film Festival’s "Un Certain Regard" sidebar this year.

DISNEY - From Deadline:   Oscar-nominee Antonio Banderas is joining fellow Oscar-nominee Harrison Ford in "Indiana Jones 5."  James Mangold is directing the film.

TELEVISION - From TheWrap:   The site published excerpts from 360 pages of complaints that supporters of former President Trump made to the FCC about "Saturday Night Live" and its comedy skits about Trump.

BOX OFFICE - From Deadline: "Black Widow" has the best non-holiday Monday at the pandemic box office (7.16 million dollars) and now has the best pandemic box office Tuesday (7.6 million dollars).

STAR TREK - From Deadline:   Director Matt Shakman guided Disney+/Marvel's "WandaVision" to 23 Emmy nominations, including one for himself.  Now, his next project is Paramount's next "Star Trek" movie, which is being fast-tracked to begin production next spring.

PIXAR-TRAILER - From CBC:   Pixar has released a teaser trailer for its film, "Turning Red" (Spring 2022), and Toronto residents are happy to see that their city is the backdrop for the film.

EMMYS - From Variety:   The nominations for the 2021 / 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards have been announced.  The article includes a complete list of nominees.  The winners will be announced on September 19th in a ceremony broadcast on CBS and streamed on Paramount Plus and hosted by Cedric the Entertainer.

From Variety:  Cedric the Entertainer has been named host for the 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony.

LGBTQ-EMMYS - From Variety:   Mj Rodriguez has become the first transgender performer to pick up an Emmy nomination in a major acting category.  The category is "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" for FX's "Pose."

THE RACISTS - From SkyNews:  One of the three Black English football players receiving racist abuse from English football fans speaks out.  Tyrone Mings rightly calls out Home Secretary "Pissy" Priti Patel for her hypocrisy.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficePro:  The winner of the 7/9 -7/11/2021 weekend box office is Disney/Marvel's "Black Widow" with an estimated take of 80 million dollars. 

From Negromancer:  A review of "Black Widow" by yours truly.

From Deadline:  "Black Widow" leads the international box office with its 78.8 million dollar debut.

From Deadline:  The concert documentary, "Summer of Soul (...Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)" leads the specialty box office with a 1.4 million dollars.  The film is distributed by Searchlight Pictures and also streams on Hulu.

CANNES - From Variety:  Director Wes Anderson's long-awaited film, "The French Dispatch" dazzles the crowd at the 2021 edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

SPORTS/AWARDS - From Deadline:  If you care, here is the full list of winners at the 2021 ESPY Awards, the awards given out by cable network, ESPN.


From Deadline:   Rapper, singer, DJ, and actor, Biz Markie, has died at the age of 57, Friday, July 16, 2021.  Biz was best known for the hit song, "Just a Friend" (1989), which was a top ten hit on the "Billboard Hot 100" music chart was certified platinum.

From Deadline:  Rock guitarist, Jeff LaBar, has died at the age of 58, Wednesday, July 14, 2021.  LaBar was best known as a guitarist for the 1980s hair/glam metal band, "Cinderella," which he joined in 1985, replacing an original member, Michael Schermick.  LaBar played on all four of Cinderella's four studio albums and was a fixture with the band during its heyday from the mid-1980s to the 1990.

From Variety:   Veteran television and film actor, Charlie Robinson, has died at the age of 75, Monday, July 12, 2021.  Wilson was best known for his role as clerk court, "Mac Robinson," in the former NBC sitcom, "Night Court" (1984-92), beginning in the series second season.  Wilson was a series regular or had a recurring role in a number of other sitcoms, including "Buffalo Bill," "Love & War," "Home Improvement," and "Mom," to name a few.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Presenters for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards Have Been Announced

Recording Academy™ Announces Presenters for the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards®

Music's Biggest Night®, Hosted by Alicia Keys, Airs Live on CBS, Feb. 10

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An eclectic all-star lineup of artists, musicians, actors, and comedians will take the stage as presenters at the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards®. This year's presenters include current GRAMMY® nominees Kelsea Ballerini, Leon Bridges, Luke Combs, and Charlie Wilson; GRAMMY winners Alessia Cara, Eve, John Mayer, Bob Newhart, Smokey Robinson, Swizz Beatz, and Meghan Trainor; recording artist Kane Brown, South Korean pop sensation BTS, past GRAMMY nominee Cedric The Entertainer, actress Nina Dobrev, professional football player Julian Edelman, actress Anna Kendrick, actress Jada Pinket Smith, and actor Wilmer Valderrama.

Previously announced GRAMMY performers include Yolanda Adams, J Balvin, Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Brandi Carlile, Chloe X Halle, Miley Cyrus, Andra Day, Dan + Shay, H.E.R., Fantasia, Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Little Big Town, Post Malone, Ricky Martin, Maren Morris, Shawn Mendes, Janelle Monáe, Kacey Musgraves, Dolly Parton, Katy Perry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mark Ronson, Diana Ross, Arturo Sandoval, Travis Scott, St. Vincent, and Young Thug.

Live from STAPLES Center, and hosted by Alicia Keys, the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards will be broadcast in HDTV and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

The 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures for the Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich is executive producer, Ben Winston is executive producer, Louis J. Horvitz is director, Chantel Sausedo is the producer, and David Wild and Ehrlich are the writers.

The Recording Academy™ represents the voices of performers, songwriters, producers, engineers, and all music professionals. Dedicated to ensuring the recording arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, the Academy honors music's history while investing in its future through the GRAMMY Museum®, advocates on behalf of music creators, supports music people in times of need through MusiCares®, and celebrates artistic excellence through the GRAMMY Awards—music's only peer-recognized accolade and highest achievement. As the world's leading society of music professionals, we work year-round to foster a more inspiring world for creators.

For more information about the Academy, please visit For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @RecordingAcad on Twitter, "like" Recording Academy on Facebook, and join the Recording Academy's social communities on Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: "Top Five" is Chris Rock's Woody Allen Thing

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 15 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

Top Five (2014)
Running time:  102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language throughout and some drug
PRODUCERS:  Eli Bush, Barry Diller, and Scott Rudin
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Manuel Alberto Claro
EDITOR:  Anne McCabe
COMPOSERS:  Ludwig Göransson and Ahmir-Khalib “Questlove” Thompson
Black Reel Award winner


Starring:  Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, J.B. Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Romany Malco, Cedric the Entertainer, Ben Vereen, Sherri Shepherd, Jay Pharoah, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Jones, Hassan Johnson, Tichina Arnold, Luis Guzman, Kevin Hart, Olga Merediz, Laurissa Romain, Miriam Colon, Charlie Rose, Bruce Bruce, Taraji P. Henson, Gabourey Sidibe, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler, DMX, Jim Norton, and Jerry Seinfeld

Top Five is a 2014 comedy-drama and romance from writer-director Chris Rock.  Rock stars as a comedian who is trying to make it as a serious actor, while his fiancée is turning their upcoming wedding into a reality-television event.  Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Jay-Z, is a co-producer on this film.

Top Five focuses on Andre Allen (Chris Rock).  He had a successful career as a stand-up comedian, and later became a box office star with his hit movie franchise, Hammy The Bear, which yielded three films.  Now, Allen is trying to become a serious actor with a new film, Uprize, in which he portrays Dutty Boukman, a prominent figure in the Haitian Revolution.

Allen is also engaged to marry reality-TV star, Erica Long (Gabrielle Union).  The wedding planning, the bachelor party, the wedding itself, and even the honeymoon are going to be reality-television programming on the cable network, Bravo.  While dealing with the headache of a big wedding, Allen is also busy promoting Uprize, so he grudgingly agrees to a probing interview with The New York Times.  Allen is surprised to find himself opening up to Times reporter, Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), but Brown isn't quite being upfront about her intentions.

In Top Five, Chris Rock has delivered a film that recalls the films of Woody Allen.  Like Allen, Rock uses comedy to probe the inner recesses of the lead character's mind, faults, shortcomings, and foibles.  Also like Allen, Rock uses romance to bring together two conflicted people, whose motivations and yearnings are similar to one another, but are also in conflict with one another.

The drama comes into Top Five because, even with the crazy scenarios and embarrassing moments and revelations, the story takes everything seriously.  The sublime and the ridiculous cannot exist without each other, and stupidity does not absolve one of being honest with oneself.

Rock delivers a solid performance, and he only plays himself half the time in the film.  Rosario Dawson shows both dramatic and romance-comedy chops.  Wow, she is good, and I can't help but think that if she were a white girl that she would have headlined big-time romantic comedies ages ago.  Katherine Heigl and Kate Hudson aren't better than Dawson.

J.B. Smoove is smooth, and Cedric the Entertainer kills it and then some in a cameo role.  Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler, and Jerry Seinfeld appear together near the end of the film and are a treat, especially Seinfeld, who is a riot.  In fact, a number of comic actors and comedians (including Tracy Morgan) make cameo appearances or have bit parts in this movie, and they do their best to make Top Five a must-see movie.

The Hollywood trade press is reporting that producer Scott Rudin wants Chris Rock to quickly make a non-sequel follow-up to Top Five, bringing back some of the cast of this film.  This movie is going to be a hard act to follow.  Top Five is Rock's best directorial effort to date, and it is one of the best films of 2014.  Rock should have received an Oscar nomination for Top Five's screenplay.

9 of 10

Saturday, April 11, 2015

2015 Black Reel Awards:  1 win: “Outstanding Screenplay (Original or Adapted), Motion Picture” (Chris Rock);  6 nominations: “Outstanding Motion Picture” (Scott Rudin and Eli Bush), “Outstanding Actor, Motion Picture” (Chris Rock), “Outstanding Actress, Motion Picture” (Rosario Dawson), “Outstanding Director, Motion Picture” (Chris Rock), “Outstanding Ensemble” (Victoria Thomas), and “Outstanding Original Song (Ahmir-Khalib Thompson-performer and writer and Eliza Colby-performer and writer for the song, “It Ain't Easy”)

2015 Image Awards:  2 nominations: “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (Cedric the Entertainer) and “Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture” (Chris Rock)

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: "Planes: Fire and Rescue" Flies Past Original

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 50 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014)
Running time:  84 minutes (1 hour, 24 minutes)
Rating: MPAA – PG for action and some peril
DIRECTOR:  Bob Gannaway
WRITERS:  Jeffrey M. Howard; from a story by Jeffrey M. Howard and Bob Gannaway (based on characters created by John Lasseter, Klay Hall, and Jeffrey M. Howard)
PRODUCER:  Ferrell Barron
EDITOR:  Dan Molina
COMPOSER:  Mark Mancina

ANIMATION/ACTION/DRAMA/FAMILY with elements of comedy

Starring:  Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, Curtis Armstrong, John Michael Higgins, Hal Holbrook, Wes Studi, Barry Corbin, Regina King, Fred Willard, Kevin Michael Richardson, Rene Auberjonois, Jerry Stiller, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Cedric the Entertainer, Danny Mann, John Ratzenberger, and Brent Musburger

Planes: Fire & Rescue is a 2014 computer-animated fantasy action film and drama that was produced by DisneyToon Studios.  It is a direct sequel to the 2013 film, Planes.  The Planes film series is a spinoff of Pixar's Cars film franchise.  Planes focuses on Dusty, a cropduster plane who dreams of competing in a world-famous aerial race.  In Planes: Fire & Rescue, Dusty learns that he may never race again and begins training as a firefighter to help his hometown.

As Planes: Fire & Rescue opens, Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) continues his successful aerial racing career that took off after he won the Wings Around the Globe Rally.  However, the high rates of speed at which Dusty flies leads to some internal damage that may end his racing career.  After an accidental fire closes the airport in his hometown of Propwash Junction, Dusty offers to undergo training to be certified as a firefighter.

He travels to Piston Peak National Park to train under Blade Ranger (Ed Harris), a veteran fire-and-rescue helicopter, and the crew he commands, the Piston Peak Air Attack.  Dusty, however, is over-anxious and his training proves to be a difficult challenge, even as a major fire strengthens and threatens the entire park.

There is no way that I expected Planes: Fire & Rescue to be a better film than Planes, which I really liked, but the sequel surpasses the original.  Why is that?   Fire & Rescue has heart; it's that simple.  Dusty Crophopper's problems:  the dilemmas he faces, his conflicts with his new colleagues, his self-doubts, his grief over a possibly lost career, and his desperation to prove himself all over again make for surprisingly gripping drama.

Yes, I said drama.  Pixar's films are strongly dramatic, even when there is a lot humor or at least a strong undercurrent of humor.  The Planes films are a spinoff of a Pixar series, but are not produced by Pixar.  They are produced by another Disney unit (DisneyToon Studios).  Still, Fire & Rescue feels kind of Pixar-ish, and that is, of course, a good thing.  This film is more of a heartwarming drama than it is a comedy for children.

Fire & Rescue is also a topnotch aerial action film.  It is still hard for me to believe that computer-animated air planes and helicopters in action could be as exciting to watch as live-action airplanes and jets, but it is true.  My interest in the story soared with each new flight scene.

Once again, the voice acting cast supporting Dane Cook is good, and that means a good film for family viewing and a good film in general.  In fact, I think that if more adults gave Planes: Fire & Rescue a chance, they would like it.

7 of 10

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Review: "Planes" Flies Pretty High

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 49 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Planes (2013)
Running time:  91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
Rating: MPAA – PG for some mild action and rude humor
DIRECTOR:  Klay Hall
WRITERS:  Jeffrey M. Howard; from a story by John Lasseter, Klay Hall, and Jeffrey M. Howard
PRODUCER:  Traci Balthazor-Lynn
EDITOR:  Jeremy Milton
COMPOSER:  Mark Mancina


Starring:  Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Sinbad, Gabriel Iglesias, Danny Mann, Colin Cowherd, Oliver Kalkofe, Klay Hall, John Ratzenberger, and Brent Musburger

Planes is a 2013 computer-animated fantasy adventure film and sports comedy that was produced by DisneyToon Studios.  It was originally intended to be released straight-to-video, but was instead released to movie theaters as a 3D film in August 2013.  Planes is a spinoff of Pixar's Cars film franchise and is co-written and executive-produced by John Lasseter, the director of Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011).  Planes focuses on a cropduster plane who dreams of competing in a world-famous aerial race.

Planes opens in the small town of Propwash Junction and introduces Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook).  This young airplane is a cropduster, but he dreams of being an air racer and even has a racing alter-ego he calls “Strut Jetstream.”  Dusty's pal, a fuel truck named Chug (Brad Garrett), encourages Dusty's dream of flying in the airplane race, the Wings Around the Globe Rally.

However, Dusty was built to be a cropduster, not an air racer, but he is determined.  After barely qualifying for the rally, Dusty seeks the help of an elderly and reclusive Navy war plane named Skipper (Stacy Keach), who reluctantly agrees to help him.  Still, the odds are against Dusty, and so are some of his competitors.  Does he have what it takes to win?  Does Dusty truly understand the motto “Volo pro veritas” (“I fly for truth.”)?

I was kind of interested in seeing Planes when it first played in movie theaters, but I changed my mind.  However, I was able to get a Blu-ray copy for review of its sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue, which was released to theaters in July 2014.  So I decided to see the original film, and I have to be honest, dear reader:  I really like Planes.

Planes is a formulaic animated film aimed at the family audience; meaning children watch it and the parents who take them to the movie suffer through it.  However, Planes is a well-executed and entertaining formulaic animated family film.

The characters are a mixture of familiar little-guy heroic types, ethnic stereotypes, and assorted comic caricatures.  But they're mostly all lovable, and stand-up comedian and actor, Dane Cook, who can be, at best, an acquired taste, is quite good as the voice of Dusty Crophopper.   Carlos Alazraqui is a treat as El Chupacabra, a friendly competitor of Dusty's in the Wings Around the World Rally, and Sinbad makes the most of his character, Roper, the forklift who is also a rally official.

Planes is a well-written version of the little engine that could (in this case, an airplane), and the writers are constantly putting believable obstacles in his way that the audience will want to see him overcome.  Some, like me, will find their hearts lifting as Dusty soars over those obstacles, and also over his primary antagonist and rival, Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith), who is the kind of jerk I want to see get his comeuppance.  I enjoyed Planes enough, surprisingly so, that I'm ready for the sequel.

6 of 10

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Paramount Pictures Picks Up Chris Rock's Third Directorial Effort, "Top Five"



Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIABN, VIA), announced it will distribute writer / director Chris Rock's "TOP FIVE" worldwide. The news comes as the film from producer Scott Rudin, and his IACF partner Barry Diller, earned rave reviews at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

"Chris and I go back decades, both personally and professionally, and so I am particularly proud to have watched his career grow to its highest heights over many decades. This film showcases brilliantly how talented Chris is as a filmmaker and storyteller and we are thrilled to be partnering with him, Scott Rudin and my longtime friend, the legendary Barry Diller and IACF for its worldwide launch," said Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures.

Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, “TOP FIVE” tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he's left behind.  Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah.  The film is produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush.  The Co-Producers are Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West; the Executive Music Producer is Questlove.  Barry Diller and Scott Rudin’s IACF financed the film.

UTA negotiated the deal on behalf of the IACF and the filmmakers. The studio's negotiating team was lead by Paramount's SVP of Acquisition and Production Eben Davidson and Rona Cosgrove, EVP of Business Affairs.

Top critics have said about “TOP FIVE”:

“Chris Rock's third turn in the directing chair proves the proverbial charm in this smart, ferociously funny Hollywood-insider romp… it’s also a candid, fresh, ferociously funny snapshot of life in the celebrity bubble.  Rock has finally found a big-screen vehicle for himself that comes close to capturing the electric wit, shrewd social observations and deeply autobiographical vein of his standup comedy,” said VARIETY’s Scott Foundas

“Chris Rock brings it big time in this uproarious celebrity self-portrait....piling on one hilarious sequence after another in a barrage of hard-hitting humor that has rarely been so successfully dished out in a single film. It’s like watching a first-rate standup routine transformed into fiction, or in this case auto-fiction, as Rock has more on his mind than just making us laugh, offering up a witty celebrity satire that doubles as a love story set during one long and eventful New York City day,” said THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Jordan Mintzer

“Rock has hit a career high with his new film TOP FIVE....Hilarious situations continue to top themselves as the film progresses. Just when you think the surprises are over, another famous face and comedy icon appears…. Rock may know the ins and outs of American stand-up better than any of his peers because he uses that knowledge masterfully in casting this picture. But TOP FIVE transcends its genre…. It’s a movie about the current state of race relations. It’s a movie about honesty and forgiveness. It's another searing indictment of the world of celebrity. It’s even a movie about the lasting legacy of hip-hop. And it all combines to smash you silly and leave you breathlessly wanting more,“ said HITFIX’s Greg Ellwood

“Chris Rock is at his rude, ribald and raucous best in the laugh-out-loud TOP FIVE, a deliriously funny film that looks destined to be a box office hit. Written, directed and starting Rock, the film mines similar territory to Woody Allen at his younger best – sex, comedy, paranoia, insecurity and more sex – but with a much rawer and uncensored edge,” said SCREEN INTERNATIONAL’s Mark Adams

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.

About IAC
IAC (NASDAQ: IACI) is a leading media and Internet company comprised of more than 150 brands and products, including,,, HomeAdvisor and Vimeo.  Focused on the areas of search, applications, online dating, media, and eCommerce, IAC’s family of websites is one of the largest in the world, with over a billion monthly visits across more than 100 countries. The Company is headquartered in New York City and has offices worldwide.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: "The Original Kings of Comedy" - Remembering Bernie Mac

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 3 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)
Running time:  115 minutes (1 hour, 55 minutes)
MPAA – R for language and sex related humor
DIRECTOR:  Spike Lee
PRODUCERS:  David Gale, Walter Latham, and Spike Lee
EDITOR:  Barry Alexander Brown
Image Award nominee


Starring:  Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac

The subject of this movie review is The Original Kings of Comedy, a 2000 concert film and documentary from director Spike Lee.  This stand-up comedy film featured Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac, who at the time, were probably the four major African-American stand-up comedians.

First, I must note that I liked half this movie – the half with Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer.  I like D.L. Hughley as a political and social commentator, but not so much as a stand-up comic.  I have mixed feelings about Steve Harvey, and I’ll leave it at that.

For two years in the late 90’s into early 2000, comedians Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac toured the United States in a comedy show called “The Original Kings of Comedy.”  Director Spike Lee (Malcolm X) captured a two-night performance by the “Kings” in Charlotte, North Carolina on digital film, which became the documentary/concert film, The Original Kings of Comedy.

All four of the performances have film and television backgrounds in addition to their stage work, but they are best known to and most liked by urban i.e. African-American audiences.  In fact, the huge success of the concert tour so surprised mainstream i.e. white news media that the tour was the subject of numerous stories.  Those writers expressed shock at how the Kings played to packed houses, but there wasn’t really a secret to their success.  Tickets prices were cheap (usually around 10 bucks), and tours of King’s were kind of geared toward the so-called urban audience are rare.  Some concert venues consider large gatherings of African-Americans a security risk and demand exorbitant insurance coverage from tour promoters.

I can only hope that the Charlotte shows were not indicative of the tour as a whole.  Much of the performances were thoroughly dry and not funny.  It’s hard to chose between who was worse - tour “host” Steve Harvey (of TV’s “The Steve Harvey Show”) or D.L. Hughley (of TV’s “The Hughleys”).  The audience seemed to like them.  Maybe it was a black thing, or perhaps a certain “class” of black thing – not so monolithic, after all, eh?

Cedric the Entertainer and Bernie Mac were hilarious, especially Mac.  They are gifted both as comedians and storytellers, something that is important for all the Richard Pryor wannabees to remember.  Pryor just didn’t tell jokes; he told hilarious, often uproarious, stories.  Many of the profanity junkies that currently pass for comedians would do best to understand what made Pryor so funny and why he enormously crossed over to white audiences.  Cedric and Mac are funny storytellers, and their humor, laced with tales about black folks, actually reaches to a larger segment of the black population.  In fact, a lot of people from different backgrounds can relate to Bernie’s tales, which is why he has the most diverse work history as an entertainer of all the “Kings.”

Much of the comedy here deals with black culture, black folks, black people’s habits, black people who grew up in the 70’s versus young blacks of the 90’s, old school versus hip hop, and, of course white people.  And they deal with white people rather stiffly.  It’s telling that many of the white faces in the audience were not smiling.  Some of the barbs against white folks were mean, and mostly not funny.  When Redd Foxx, Pryor, and Eddie Murphy joked about whites, it was funny and dead on true.  Mac approaches their touch.  The rest of these guys act as if they’d never met a white person.

Lee covers the stage, the audience, and to a lesser extent, the backstage very well – just enough directing not to take away from the main show.  The performances don’t live up to the hype.  I will recommend this to people who want to see the work of a fine entertainer, and that’s Bernie Mac.

5 of 10

2001 Image Awards:  1 nomination: “Outstanding Motion Picture”

Updated:  Friday, August 09, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

"Disney's Planes" to Screen at D23

The Walt Disney Studios to Present Disney’s Planes, a High-Flying, Big-Screen Comedy Adventure

D23 Expo Attendees to Be Among the First to See the Film in 3D with Special Appearances from Select Filmmakers and Stars

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Official Disney Fan Club reveals plans for a special 3D screening of the high-flying big-screen adventure Disney’s Planes at the D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event.

D23 Expo attendees will be among the first to see Disney’s Planes on its opening day. An action-packed 3D animated comedy adventure from Disneytoon Studios, Disney's Planes will take flight in theaters nationwide August 9, but D23 Expo guests will see this special 3D presentation featuring an introduction by some very special guests. Dusty Crophopper dreams of competing as a high-flying racer, but he’s not exactly built for racing—and he happens to be afraid of heights. So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator who helps him train to take on the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty’s courage is put to the test as he aims to reach heights he never dreamed possible, giving a spellbound world the inspiration to soar.

Directed by lifelong aviation enthusiast Klay Hall (King of the Hill, The Simpsons), and produced by Traci Balthazor-Flynn, Disney’s Planes features the voices of Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Sinbad, Gabriel Iglesias, Brent Musburger, Colin Cowherd, Danny Mann, Oliver Kalkofe, and John Ratzenberger.

The screening is slated for Friday, August 9, 2013, at 3 p.m. at the Arena inside the Anaheim Convention Center. For more information about the movie, check out, like us on Facebook: and follow us on Twitter:

DISNEYTOON STUDIOS, a division of The Walt Disney Studios, is home to a vibrant group of filmmakers, artists, and production teams who produce original high-quality series-based stories for in-home and theatrical audiences, including Disney’s Planes, which hits the big screen Aug. 9, and the popular Disney’s Fairies franchise, starring Tinker Bell and her Pixie Hollow friends.

About D23 Expo 2013
The D23 Expo—The Ultimate Disney Fan Event—brings the entire world of Disney under one roof, providing attendees with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, and theme parks. For the latest D23 Expo 2013 news, visit To be part of the D23 Expo conversation, make sure to follow @DisneyD23 and tag your tweets with #D23Expo.

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Fans can join D23 at and at To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow us @DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Original "Ice Age" is Still Cool

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 70 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Ice Age (2002) – computer animated
Running time: 81 minutes (1 hour, 21 minutes)
MPAA – PG for mild peril
DIRECTOR: Chris Wedge with Carlos Saldanha
WRITERS: Michael Berg, Michael J. Wilson, and Peter Ackerman; from a story by Michael J. Wilson
PRODUCER: Lori Forte
EDITOR: John Carnochan
Academy Award nominee


Starring: (voices) Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Goran Visnjic, Jack Black, Cedric the Entertainer, and Stephen Root

The subject of this movie review is Ice Age, a 2002 computer-animated film from Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox. This adventure comedy and talking-animal story follows a woolly mammoth, giant ground sloth, and smilodon (a saber-toothed cat) who go on a journey to return a human baby to its parents.

As the ice age encroaches upon the land, a mismatched trio of prehistoric critters: Manfred “Manny” the mammoth (Ray Romano, who gives a low key but commanding voice performance), Sid the giant sloth (John Leguizamo, a show stealer as usual), and Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) become reluctant guardians of a human infant. They embark on an epic, but perilous and sometimes hilarious journey to return the infant to its tribe. Diego, however, has mixed loyalties, as his pack lies in wait to spring a trap for Manny and the baby.

Ice Age, produced by computer animation studio Blue Sky Animation for 20th Century Fox, was the first blockbuster computer animated feature not produced by Pixar (Disney) or PDI (DreamWorks). The film also earned a 2003 Oscar nomination for “Best Animated Feature” (which went to director Chris Wedge). If the film has a secret to its success, it’s actually two things: high quality computer animation and story. Creating computer animation that doesn’t look clunky, but instead looks like eye candy apparently isn’t easy. Pixar remains the gold standard, but after a rough start DreamWorks Animation (formerly PDI) is producing some colorful and unique looking works. Ice Age looks like the work of a studio that has been at computer animated features for a long time, although Blue Sky at the time had been making computer animated shorts and computer-generated characters for films like Alien: Resurrection and Joe’s Apartment. Other than the chunky looking adult humans, the animation in Ice Age is smooth and pleasant to look at, but most of all, the characters have character.

Cute looking characters mean nothing if they leave the audience cold. Manny the mammoth and Sid the sloth especially are lively and engaging. The animation allows both Manny and Sid’s faces to exploit the performances by the respective voice actors. Sid has a physicality that reminds of a really good physical comedian, and Sid is as animated as John Leguizamo’s hilarious and inventive voice performance of him. The saber-toothed tigers seem a bit stiff for the kind of animal they likely were. Their faces aren’t quite menacing, and they pose more than they move.

However, animated films are all sound and fury without a good story. It’s not enough that an animated feature is funny, and Ice Age does have much wry and witty humor (with some clever nods to pop culture and nice comic relief in the form of a character called Scrat). Ice Age is an engaging tale about lost souls coming together and working together to do something that is more important than their individual failures and yearnings. United they are far mightier than they were alone, and the cause (returning the human infant to his father) isn’t so much noble as it simply is the right thing to do. Anyone who believes in family and friendship can identify that, and such a goal moves beyond group alliances.

This is an all-inclusive message that embraces both traditional and non-traditional families (whatever those are). It’s a good message and a heartwarming story that makes Ice Age more than just empty, family entertainment product. Add the fact that it is often quite funny and witty, and Ice Age is a winning picture.

7 of 10

Sunday, April 09, 2006

2003 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature” (Chris Wedge)

Friday, June 8, 2012

First "Madagascar" a Looney Tune

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 86 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Madagascar (2005)
Running time: 80 minutes (1 hour, 20 minutes)
MPAA – PG for mild language, crude humor, and some thematic elements
DIRECTORS: Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
WRITERS: Mark Burton and Billy Frolick and Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
PRODUCER: Mireille Soria
EDITOR: Mark A. Hester


Starring: (voices) Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, and Andy Richter

The subject of this movie review is Madagascar, a 2005 computer-animated film from DreamWorks Animation. The film focuses on a group of zoo animals accidentally shipped to Africa.

Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) is king of the animal attractions at New York City’s Central Park Zoo. He and his friends: Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) have lived there their entire lives. However, on the day of his tenth birthday, Marty begins to wonder what life outside the zoo – in particular life in the wild, would be like. With the help of four crafty penguins, Marty escapes the zoo for an overnight excursion. When his friends discover him missing, they also leave the zoo to rescue him.

The quartet attracts so much attention, and the sight of Alex the Lion running loose and free scares many New Yorkers. After the quartet is captured, they along with some other animals who escaped (two monkey’s and those darned penguins, again) are put on a cargo ship to be transferred to a zoo in Kenya. Once again, the penguins cause trouble and sabotage the ship, inadvertently causing Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria to be stranded on the exotic island of Madagascar. Now, the quartet has to learn to survive in this lush jungle paradise, but Marty, Melman, and Gloria discover, much to their chagrin, Alex’s wilder side.

Madagascar is the fifth feature-length computer animated film from DreamWorks through their computer animation studio, PDI (DreamWorks Animation). With each film, the art and craft of PDI’s computer graphics and animation markedly improves. In terms of the “drawing” style, this film is closer to the Warner Bros. cartoon shorts of the 1930’s and 40’s, in particular the work of cartoon directors Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and Bob Clampett. The characters are designed to look 2D (two-dimensional), like the hand drawn cartoon characters featured in the aforementioned trio’s legendary work, although the Madagascar’s characters exist in the 3D (three-dimensional) world of computer animation.

How did PDI successfully create a computer animated film that looks like classic “cartoony” animated cartoons of yesteryear? What makes this work is that they mastered “squash and stretch,” the process which animators use to deform an object and then snap it back into shape to portray motion or impact. The ability to squash and stretch is essential to cartoon slapstick comedy such as the Road Runner cartoons. While squash and stretch are easy for animators to do with a pencil in hand-drawn/2D animation, it is more difficult for computer animators to do. DreamWorks Animation has successfully moved to the next level in terms of the quality of their work by creating characters that stretch and expand. It’s a film that able captures the manic energy of Avery, Jones, and Clampett’s Warner Bros. cartoons.

The animation of human characters and the layout, lighting, and set designs of human environments is shocking in how good it looks, but once the narrative moves to Madagascar the character animation really takes off. The characters bend, twist, elongate, and expand in a constant barrage that has the manic energy of classic cartoons. This also helps to sell a limp concept.

The plot is a basic fish-out-of-water tale without much imagination. The characters, except for the penguins, aren’t exceptional or memorable. They are good for some laughs, but they lack the zip, zest, or tang of cast of the Shrek franchise. The buddies of this buddy film, Alex and Marty, have some chemistry, but aren’t that dynamic a duo. Actually, the animals and the actors that give voice to them (Stiller, Rock, Schwimmer, and Ms. Jada) have the best chemistry as either a trio or a quartet. Put three or four together, and the film sparkles and splashes over with slapstick comedy that works. Cut the quartet in half and the narrative loses its energy.

Overall, Madagascar is a pleasant family comedy with some exceptionally strong humor that should appeal to adults; plus, the film references lots of other movies, and that keeps older viewers interested. DreamWorks Animation hasn’t yet reached Pixar, the gold standard in computer animation, but the quality of entertainment in Madagascar proves that the studio can deliver high-quality, if not classic, animated entertainment.

7 of 10

"Madagascar 2" is Kinda like "The Lion King"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 47 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
Running time: 89 minutes (1 hour, 29 minutes)
MPAA – PG for mild crude humor
DIRECTORS: Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
WRITERS: Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath and Etan Cohen
PRODUCERS: Mireille Soria and Mark Swift
EDITORS: Mark A. Hester and H. Lee Peterson
COMPOSER: Hans Zimmer


Starring: (voices) Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, John DiMaggio, Bernie Mac, Alec Baldwin, Sherri Shepherd,, and Elisa Gabrielli

The subject of this movie review is Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, a 2008 computer-animated film from DreamWorks Animation and a sequel to the 2005 film, Madagascar. It is also the company’s 10th computer-animated feature film released to theatres. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa finds the zoo animal heroes from the first film now accidentally stranded in Africa.

Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) was the king of New York City. Actually, he was the king of the animal attractions at New York City’s Central Park Zoo. He and his friends: Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), had lived at the zoo practically their entire lives. However, a series of events found them stranded on the exotic island of Madagascar. Four crafty Penguins: Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Private (Christopher Knights), and Rico (John DiMaggio) were also stranded with them.

In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Alex and friends and the penguins hope a rickety airplane can get them back to New York. The Madagascar lemurs: King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen), Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer), and Mort (Andy Richter) join them on a flight that goes bad quickly. Now, the group is stranded in continental Africa, where Alex (whose birth name is “Alakay”) is reunited with his parents, his father, Zuba the Lion (Bernie Mac), and his mother, Florrie the Lioness (Sherri Shepherd). It is a happy reunion until a rival, Makunga the Lion (Alec Baldwin), hatches a plot to use Alex to unseat Zuba as king of the pride.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is an exceedingly family-friendly film; for a DreamWorks Animation production, it has surprisingly little scatological humor or romantic innuendo. The story is rife with themes built around family and friendship, and it emphasizes that friends can also be another kind of family. Escape 2 Africa is all about love, and in this story, love means understanding and then, acceptance.

I find the last half hour of this film to be much better than the rest. Getting the duet featuring Alex and Zuba makes watching this movie worth the time spent. As was the case with the first film, there is a subplot featuring the Madagascar penguins, who are some of my all-time favorite animated characters. This plot involves some tourists and hundreds of monkeys, and it’s like its own mini-movie – a good mini-movie.

Like the first film, Escape 2 Africa has great production values. The character animation and the overall film design and art direction are beautiful; this is the computer animation equivalent of The Lion King, one of Walt Disney’s most gorgeous and visually striking films. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa won’t have the place in film history that The Lion King has, but I love this movie’s almost-obsession with being about family and friends. It is a movie that has just enough balance to get parents to watch it with their children.

6 of 10

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: "The Honeymooners" is Sweet and Charming (Happy B'day, Cedric the Entertainer)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 93 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Honeymooners (2005)
Running time: 90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some innuendo and rude humor
DIRECTOR: John Schultz
WRITERS: Danny Jacobson and David Sheffield & Barry W. Blaustein and Don Rhymer (based on characters from the CBS television series)
PRODUCERS: David T. Friendly, Marc Turtletaub, Eric C. Rhone, and Julie Durk
EDITOR: John Pace


Starring: Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Eric Stoltz, John Leguizamo, Jon Polito, Carol Woods, Ajay Naidu, and Alice Drummond

The subject of this movie review is The Honeymooners. This 2005 family comedy takes the classic television series, The Honeymooners, and transforms the characters into African-Americans, while also setting the story in the 21st Century.

Ralph Kramden (Cedric the Entertainer) is a dreamer. By day, he is a New York city bus driver. During his off-hours, he is an inventor, an entrepreneur, and an innovator who is always one get-rich-quick scheme away from instant wealth, and he has a closet full of failed products to prove it. Most of the time, Ralph’s best friend and upstairs neighbor, Ed Norton (Mike Epps), is along for the ride. Ralph’s wife, Alice (Gabrielle Union), has been putting up with it for years, but now she has had enough. Alice has her sights on a practical dream, the American dream; she and Ed’s wife, Trixie (Regina Hall), want to buy a duplex fixer-upper house that the two couples could share and build into their dream home. However, Ralph’s latest half-baked project turns out to be really half-baked, and he spent his and Alice’s savings on it. Now, he needs Ed’s help on another big money plan if he’s going to replenish their savings before Alice leaves him.

Other than the character names, a few domestic and job facts, and the title, the film The Honeymooners bares little resemblance to the CBS television series of the 1950’s that many consider classic TV and an important program in television history. The four lead characters that were white in the original are now black, which should set some tongues to wagging. All that doesn’t, in the end, matter when it comes to the issue at hand, and that’s the current film. Is The Honeymooners a good film, and how good is it?

The Honeymooners, like a lot of Hollywood film product for so many years now, is cursed with a limp script and an unimaginative director. The concept: Ralph’s latest get-rich-quick plan backfires and not only costs him money, but might cost him his marriage, was a stable of the original TV program. Apparently that concept worked great for a half-hour TV show (about 22 minutes of actual show and the rest commercials), but stretched to a 90 minute feature-length film, it doesn’t fly… or at least not long enough. The director moves The Honeymooners at a plodding pace, almost as if he were following the recipe to make bland-tasting baked goods. The script contains not a sparkle of wit or imagination, and the romance and love between husband and wife are woefully hollow notes.

The weak film structure forces the burden to entertain the audience upon the backs of the cast. Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps are up to the challenge; in fact, they add a lot of their own construction work to this shell of a film and make it worth seeing. A lot of the humor in Cedric’s comedic style comes from his expressive face and watching how he reacts in certain situations and to particular incidents. Epps is the perfect sidekick, a combination clown and straight man, he can do the silly stuff, or he can be the guy who balances the hijinks of the class clown. Sadly, the talented Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall (who adds meat to the comic routine she used in the Scary Movie franchise) have to fight for what little screen time they have. The limp script spends so much time anally fixated on Ralph’s next-great idea that it ignores half of what made the Ralph Kramden/Ed Norton act work – the wives.

John Leguizamo also does an edgy and hilarious turn as a jack-of-all-scams dog trainer that should remind a lot of people not only how funny this fine comedian is, but what a good actor he is. Cedric, Epps, and Leguizamo make a dynamic comic trio. Ultimately, the cast is funny enough and surprisingly charming enough on the strength of performances to make The Honeymooners worth watching, even though it’s not worth a trip to the theatre.

5 of 10


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review: Characters Save Creaky "Barbershop"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 14 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Barbershop (2002)
Running time: 102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for language, sexual content and brief drug references
WRITERS: Mark Brown, Don D. Scott, and Marshall Todd, from a story by Mark Brown
PRODUCERS: Mark Brown, Robert Teitel, and George Tillman Jr.
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tom Priestley (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: John Carter
COMPOSER: Terence Blanchard


Starring: Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Troy Garity, Michael Ealy, Leonard Earl Howze, Lahmard Tate, Jazsmin Lewis, Tom Wright, Jason Winston, DeRay Davis, and Keith David

Barbershop, a recent co-production by Ice Cube’s film production company Cube Vision and State Street Pictures, is another in a recent spurt of so-called urban audience movies, i.e. movies for black people. However, the light-on-plot film was a huge hit that drew in a broad cross section of viewers, so even white folks can be entertained by film’s with little or no story as long as the characters are funny and engaging, as they definitely are in Barbershop.

Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube) is a barber like his father and grandfather before him, but Calvin has bigger dreams. He inherited his late father’s shop, but Calvin has also saddled himself with debt from a number of failed business ventures. Looking for cash to help him with his latest start up, he sells his barbershop to a loan shark, Lester Wallace (the wonderful, but seldom seen Keith David). After he takes that big step, he comes to regret his decision when he realizes that Wallace is going to turn the shop into a ho house. That really hurts because his father’s business always meant a lot to the local community.

I can forgive the weakness of the film’s plots (and subplots) because it is rich in funny and endearing characters. To be of quality, a film doesn’t have to have great characters, a great setting, and a great story; the finest and most artful films do. A good film can be strong and entertaining with just one of those elements. Barbershop holds our attention because the characters are so damned funny. The acting isn’t always tight, but the cast really gets into their characters and give a good show. In an odd way you can forgive Barbershop a lot of faults because you know that you’re always going to get another hilarious scene with these great characters.

Out of all the actors, Anthony Anderson captured my attention just as he has in Romeo Must Die, Big Momma’s House, and Life among others. He’s funny, hilarious in fact, in the tradition of portly funny men. Ice Cube is nowhere near being a good actor, but he has an excellent sense in choosing film projects that will appeal to a broad audience, whether it’s popular trash like Anaconda, a sleeper hit like Friday, or a daring filmmaking choice like Three Kings. He’s a movie star.

Barbershop is a good comedy with many funny characters. It’s warm and homespun like Soul Food, with a good down home message about family and having sense of community, at its heart. Besides who could miss a film when Cedric the Entertainer is really on his game as a funny man and an actor, especially since you get to hear him say “F*ck Jesse Jackson.”

5 of 10

2003 Black Reel Awards: 6 nominations: “Best Film” (Robert Teitel, George Tillman Jr.), “Best Film Soundtrack, “Theatrical - Best Actor” (Ice Cube), “Theatrical - Best Director” (Tim Story), “Theatrical - Best Screenplay-Original or Adapted” (Mark Brown and Don D. Scott), “Theatrical - Best Supporting Actor” (Cedric the Entertainer)

2003 Image Awards: 5 nominations: “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” (Ice Cube), “Outstanding Motion Picture,” “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (Anthony Anderson), “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (Cedric the Entertainer), and “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Eve)

"Barbershop 2: Back in Business" is a Better Business

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 15 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004)
Running time: 106 minutes (1 hour, 46 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for language, sexual material and brief drug references
DIRECTOR: Kevin Rodney Sullivan
WRITER: Don D. Scott (based upon characters created by Mark Brown)
PRODUCERS: Robert Teitel and George Tillman Jr.
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tom Priestley (D.o.P)
EDITORS: Patrick Flannery and Paul Seydor
COMPOSER: Richard Gibbs

COMEDY with elements of drama

Starring: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve, Troy Garity, Michael Ealy, Leonard Earl Howze, Queen Latifah, Harry Lennix, Robert Wisdom, Jazsmin Lewis, Kenan Thompson, Javon Jackson, DeRay Davis, Tom Wright, and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon

Barbershop 2: Back in Business is a hilarious character based comedy that easily surpasses its admittedly funny 2002 predecessor, Barbershop. Like the first one, Barbershop 2 relies on funny characters to carry the movie and a homey setting in Chicago’s Southside to establish the atmosphere.

Shop owner Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube) has settled into being a small business owner, and his shop is thriving. The barbers who rent from Calvin are gregarious people who are fun to be around, so many locals gravitate to Calvin’s shop for a haircut, bawdy jokes, and the generally funny atmosphere.

As in the first film, Calvin is still struggling to save his shop – this time from greedy urban developers who want to buy him and his neighbors out. They want to replace “mom & pop” business with name brand chains – including a rival barbershop called Nappy Cutz. If that wasn’t enough, some of his employees/renters are starting to get on each other’s nerves, so can Calvin save his shop and neighborhood, while dealing with complex and messy interpersonal relationships? However he chooses to deal with problems will certainly involve laugher.

Anyone who liked Barbershop should like the sequel, and I can imagine many people who didn’t like the first will enjoy Barbershop 2, since it is almost twice as funny as the original. Barbershop 2’s script simply has more zest, and the comedy flows naturally. The first time around the laughs became old shtick, and the movie lost steam. The story and plot here is relatively light, and the little guy business versus the corporate devils is a familiar tale. However, the execution of the plot and routines of the characters have a better rhythm and the timing’s impeccable. Every thing seems to happen just when the films needs a boost or needs to move onto the next joke or funny scene. As far as character pieces go, Barbershop is a work of art.

In the end, the filmmakers wrap up Back in Business with a bit too much ease. Even this lightweight story ended up having the potential to say a lot about tradition and community over greed and progress, but maybe they believed that dealing with such weighty subject matters would turn a character comedy into ensemble drama. And we did come for the laughs. What Barbershop 2 misses in dealing with real world issues, it more than makes up for in being a good time, feel good comedy that just may keep audiences laughing for years.

Oh. Barbershop 2 isn’t a BLACK movie. It’s a funny, broad comedy featuring a primarily African-American cast, but it’s laughs and lightweight pass at values should appeal to peoples.

8 of 10

2005 Black Reel Awards: 4 nominations: “Best Actor, Musical or Comedy” (Ice Cube), “Best Film, Musical or Comedy” (Robert Teitel and George Tillman Jr.), “Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted” (Don Scott), and “Best Supporting Actor” (Cedric the Entertainer)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Be Cool" Never Heats Up

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 33 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Be Cool (2005)
Running time: 114 minutes (1 hour, 54 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence, sensuality, and language including sexual references
DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray
WRITER: Peter Steinfeld (from the novel by Elmore Leonard)
PRODUCERS: Danny DeVito, David Nicksay, Michael Shamberg, and Stacey Sher
EDITOR: Sheldon Kahn


Starring: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer, André (3000) Benjamin, Steven Tyler, Christina Milian, Harvey Keitel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Paul Adelstein, Danny DeVito, Robert Pastorelli, James Woods, and Debi Mazar with Joe Perry and Aerosmith, The Black Eye Peas with Sergio Mendes, The RZA, Kobe Bryant, and Seth Green

Be Cool is a 2005 crime comedy and is also a sequel to the 1995 film, Get Shorty. It is adapted from the 1999 novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard.

Ten years after Get Shorty, the sequel, Be Cool, shows up at theatres. Both films are based upon novels by Elmore Leonard, whose books have long been a source of film materials for Hollywood. Be Cool is not as witty and as sharp as Get Shorty, but it certainly tries to be the same blunt comic crime caper that the latter was. It has the characters, the cast, and some truly sidesplitting comedy, but ultimately, a faulty script and clunky directing mar a film that was so close to being a really fine crime comedy.

Chili Palmer (John Travolta), the Miami-based shylock who came to Hollywood and charmed and bullied his way into filmmaking, is now tired of the movie business. He’s interested in music, and when Tommy Athens (James Woods), a friend who owns a record label, is murdered by Russian mobsters before Chili’s eyes, that homicide opens the door for him. Chili meets Linda Moon (Christina Milian), a struggling singer stuck with a wannabe Negro named Raji (Vince Vaughn) for a manager. Chili, in his usual way, relieves Raji of Linda’s contract with him, and becomes her new manager.

Chili makes his next connection with Tommy’s widow, Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), who after some convincing is ready to take on Chili and Linda. However, there is the issue of Linda contract with Raji, and Raji’s partner, Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) who isn’t crazy about letting go off a potential star. Edie also has another big problem: Tommy owed $300,000 to Sin LaSalle (Cedric Entertainer), a very successful, but violently inclined record producer. Raji, Nick, and Sin all see Chili as their problem; as they angle towards him, he’ll try to make Linda a star, woo Edie, and get his way, always dealing with violence and pressure by his motto, be cool.

There are probably a lot more belly laughs in Be Cool than Get Shorty, and that makes it worth seeing. The cast is littered with star turns and novel and hilarious supporting performances, especially Vaughn as Raji and The Rock as his gay, wannabe actor bodyguard, Elliot Wilhelm. Christina Milian holds her own; she works in this movie because her confidence makes her come across as a fine singer and actress, even if there might be stronger singing voices and better young actresses than her.

Travolta reportedly suggested Uma Thurman as his leading lady for Be Cool because they could recapture their screen chemistry from Pulp Fiction, which restarted Travolta’s career and boosted Ms. Thurman’s, but they don’t. Yes, a rapport and friendliness exist between them, but they are sluggish here. Travolta is Chili Palmer, but he’s on automatic here, older and heavier. Even Thurman looks strained, only managing about half the time to have the perkiness, determination, and raw magnetism that show themselves in her collaborations with Quentin Tarantino.

The lion’s share of the blame from this go to writer Paul Steinfeld and director F. Gary Gray. They never seem to be able to integrate the music business element into this plot (after all it’s about Chili getting in the music business), and the film’s musical numbers (except the Aerosmith/Christina Milian performance) and music videos ring hollow. This is a gangster film with laughs, lots of them, but these hilarious and likeable characters don’t seem to be in music because the music industry isn’t in this film the way the movie business was clearly and strongly a part of Get Shorty. Still, Travolta, Ms. Thurman, and a supporting cast of wacky players make this a crime comedy worth seeing, even if you can’t make it to the theatre.

5 of 10

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hanks and Roberts Shine in Winning "Larry Crowne"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 107 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Larry Crowne (2011)
Running time: 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual content
WRITERS: Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Philippe Rousselot (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Alan Cody
COMPOSER: James Newton Howard


Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Bryan Cranston, Pam Grier, Rami Malek, Maria Canals Barrera, Rita Wilson, George Takei, Ian Gomez, and Rob Riggle

Larry Crowne is a 2011 romantic comedy and college film directed by Tom Hanks and is the first film Hanks has directed since That Thing You Do! (1996). The film focuses on a middle-aged man, downsized from a big-box company, who decides to attend college for the first time. In a landscape full of movies that are full of unbelievable things, Larry Crowne is level-headed, real, and, for me, a great !@#$%& movie.

Larry Crowe (Tom Hanks) has just been fired from his job at the retail giant, UMart. The divorced, middle-aged man is drowning in a six-figure mortgage and suddenly cannot find another job. His neighbors, Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) and B’Ella (Taraji P. Henson), suggest that he attend college, so Larry enrolls at East Valley Community College where he even joins a scooter club.

One of the members, the free-spirited Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), befriends Larry, renames him “Lance Corona,” and turns him into her makeover project. Larry thrives in an economics class with a peculiar instructor, Dr. Ed Matsutani (George Takei). In a public-speaking class, Larry develops an unexpected crush on his teacher, the taciturn Mercedes “Mercy” Tainot (Julia Roberts), who has lost her passion for teaching and is in the midst of a personal crisis. Both are about to discover a new reason for living.

I saw a quote from a review of Larry Crowne that described it as bland and conventional. On the surface, Larry Crowne may seem so, but it actually isn’t. Ostensibly a romantic comedy, this film is really about two people, Larry Crowne and Mercedes Tainot, in full midlife crisis. In those roles, Hanks and Roberts, respectively, give their best performances of recent years. The shock and grief Hanks portrays early in the film when Larry is fired is palatable, so much so that I nearly burst into tears (having undergone a similar experience).

Roberts’ turn as the burnt-out professor, Tainot, is equally inspired. She fashions Mercy as a sarcasm addict whose suffer-no-fools attitude actually hides a generous soul. Roberts does what Hanks does – uses every moment of screen time to build her character into something a bit deeper than what can be described in 20 words or less. Crowne and Tainot are more than my brief descriptions imply.

The supporting characters are mostly types and are not fully realized characters. They are in this movie to add laughs and to give the film some zest and odd flavors. Why else have Cedric the Entertainer, Wilmer Valderrama, Bryan Cranston, Pam Grier, George Takei, Ian Gomez, and Rob Riggle in throw-away parts if not to give the film different essences from unique characters?

However, it is the relaxed chemistry between Hanks and Roberts and also their robust performances that make Larry Crowne surprisingly not conventional and certainly not bland. It’s one of the best romantic comedies of the year, if not the best.

8 of 10

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Image Entertainment Acquires Bernie Mac Documentary


A Full Galaxy of Stars Share Thoughts on the Beloved Comic

CHATSWORTH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Image Entertainment, Inc. (OTCQB: DISK) has acquired the North American home entertainment and digital rights to I AIN’T SCARED OF YOU: A TRIBUTE TO BERNIE MAC. The film, set to be released on Image’s One Village label, chronicles the life and career of a true “king of comedy” and includes exclusive footage of early, never-before-seen performances. The announcement was made by Image Entertainment’s Chief Acquisition Officer, Bill Bromiley.

“Bernie Mac was taken from us much too soon,” said Bromiley. “This film reminds us of his comic brilliance and viewers will be able to share in the enormous affection his friends, family and coworkers have for him by way of their candid, intimate interviews.”

I AIN'T SCARED OF YOU: A TRIBUTE TO BERNIE MAC traces Bernie Mac’s unique performance style and tireless pursuit of comedy that broke through racial and class barriers, enabling his ascension to club, television and film stardom. The film’s title comes from Mac’s first appearance on Def Comedy Jam where he took the mic and immediately exclaimed to the audience 'I Ain't Scared of You!' turning their boos into cheers. Instantly, this sharp-tongued Chicago native with a heart of gold won over millions of fans.

Directed by Robert Small and executive produced by Small and Rhonda McCullough, I AIN'T SCARED OF YOU features exclusive footage of early, never-before-seen performances, courtesy of Mac's friends and family. Additional footage includes his better-known work, such as the Kings of Comedy Tour, “The Bernie Mac Show” and several of his feature films.

Bernie’s daughter conducted many of the revealing interviews with his co-stars, colleagues and friends including Anthony Anderson, Tom Arnold, Angela Bassett, Bill Bellamy, Cedric the Entertainer, Don Cheadle, Cameron Diaz, Mike Epps, Andy Garcia, D.L. Hughley, Warren Hutcherson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ali LeRoi, Je’niece McCullough, Rhonda McCullough, Carl Reiner, Chris Rock, Zoe Saldana, Kellita Smith, Steven Soderbergh, Joe Torry and Camille Winbush. All filmed after his untimely passing, the interviews have a distinctively retrospective point-of-view and paint a vivid picture of who Bernie Mac was as an actor, comedian, husband, father and friend.

Launched in 2007, One Village Entertainment, a division of Image Entertainment, is devoted to the development, production and acquisition of feature films, comedy specials, stage plays, documentaries and music content targeting the African-American consumer and urban market. The programming is distributed across multiple platforms including theatrical, broadcast, Blu-ray™/DVD and digital streaming and downloading. Among the more than 50 titles that carry the One Village imprimatur are live stand-up performances featuring Kevin Hart and Charlie Murphy, documentaries 2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master Jay and Soulmate, and the feature films American Violet starring Oscar-nominee Alfre Woodard and the acclaimed theatrical romantic comedy Russ Parr’s 35 & Ticking. Bestsellers in the One Village line also include the stage play productions What My Husband Doesn’t Know and Love in the Nick of Tyme by David E. Talbert, who is described by Variety as "the acknowledged kingpin of urban musicals."

Image Entertainment, Inc. is a leading independent licensee and distributor of entertainment programming in North America, with approximately 3,200 exclusive DVD titles and approximately 340 exclusive CD titles in domestic release and more than 450 programs internationally via sublicense agreements. For many of its titles, the Company has exclusive audio and broadcast rights, as well as digital download rights to over 2,100 video programs and approximately 400 audio titles containing more than 6,000 individual tracks. The Company is headquartered in Chatsworth, California. For more information about Image Entertainment, Inc., please go to

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Original "Big Momma's House" is a Fun House

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 35 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Big Momma’s House (2000)
Running time: 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for crude humor including sexual innuendo, and for language and some violence
DIRECTOR: Raja Gosnell
WRITERS: Darryl Quarles and Don Rhymer; from a story by Darryl Quarles
PRODUCERS: David T. Friendly and Michael Green
EDITORS: Kent Beyda and Bruce Green
Image Awards nominee


Starring: Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Paul Giamatti, Jascha Washington, Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Ella Mitchell, Cedric the Entertainer, and Tichina Arnold

FBI Agent Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence) is a master of disguise, but to catch an escaped convict, he’ll have to pull off his greatest masquerade. Murderer and bank robber Lester Vesco (Terrence Dashon Howard) has escaped from prison. Vesco is looking for his old girlfriend, Sherry Pierce (Nia Long), long suspected by the police to be Vesco’s accomplice because she worked at the bank he robbed, and also suspected of knowing where the money from the robbery, which was never recovered, is. Panicked by news of Lester’s escape, Sherry takes her young son, Trent Pierce (Jascha Washington), and heads to the home of Big Momma, Sherry’s massively fat grandmother, Hattie Mae Pierce (Ella Mitchell), in Cartersville, Georgia.

Malcolm and his partner, John (Paul Giamatti), also head to Georgia and put Big Momma’s house under surveillance in hopes of discovering whereabouts of both Lester Vesco and the Sherry is allegedly hiding the money. When an emergency suddenly calls Big Momma away from her house for a week or so, Malcolm and John are afraid that Sherry will change her plans to stay at Big Momma’s house. Malcolm, using his and John’s fantastic abilities at creating prosthetics and masks, disguises himself as Big Momma. He, however, doesn’t count on falling in love with Sherry while pretending to me Big Momma. Will the romance and the effort it takes to maintain the disguise cause Malcolm to miss the arrival of Vesco and the return of the real Big Momma.

There’s something appealing about a man playing a woman. It’s especially interesting if the man is playing a woman for comedy, but there is something really attention-grabbing when a black man plays a fat black woman, which is what actor/comedian Martin Lawrence does in Big Momma’s House. Just seeing Martin in that get-up as a morbidly obese, black Southern matron elicits raucous laughter, so one sees Big Momma’s House strictly for the comedy. Martin is damn funny in drag, although he can disguise himself quite well to play a variety of comical male roles, as he does here, early in the film playing an older Asian hood.

Big Momma’s House if filled with sidesplitting comedy and a generous helping of belly laughs. The film falls apart when it tries the romantic comedy angle between Malcolm Turner (without his Big Momma getup) and Sherry Pierce; it’s dry and rings hollow. The actual police procedural (or what tries to be) doesn’t amount to much, so Paul Giamatti’s John is wasted. It’s hard to tell if Lawrence and Giamatti have any real screen chemistry, but something’s definitely there when they’re on screen together.

With its generous helping of laugh-out-loud comedy and a generous side of flatulence and juvenile humor for the kids, Big Momma’s House is simply a comedy that works. Add Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma to the list of great comic performances by actors in drag.

6 of 10

2001 Image Awards: 1 nomination: “Outstand Actress in a Motion Picture (Nia Long)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Kingdom Come" is Tyler Perry-Like

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 14 (of 2001) by Leroy Douresseaux

Kingdom Come (2001)
Running time: 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
MPAA – PG for thematic elements, language and sensuality
DIRECTOR: Doug McHenry
WRITERS: David Dean Bottrell and Jessie Jones (based upon their play Dearly Departed)
PRODUCERS: Edward Bates and John Morrissey
EDITOR: Richard Halsey
(NAACP) Image Awards nominee


Starring: LL Cool J, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Loretta Devine, Anthony Anderson, Toni Braxton, Cedric the Entertainer, Darius McCrary, and Whoopi Goldberg

When the despicable head of a black family dies, family and close friends band together for a few tumultuous days to bury the old turd.

His long-suffering wife, Raynelle Slocum (Whoppi Goldberg), must bear the presence of her fractious clan. Her oldest and most reliable son, Ray Bud (LL Cool J) deals with burying a father he wasn’t particularly fond of, while he and his wife Lucille (Vivica A. Fox) struggle over their difficulty to conceive a child. Ray Bud’s brother Junior (Anthony Anderson) arrives broke and unemployed with his shrewish wife Charisse (Jada Pinkett Smith) and their brood of noisy boys. And there are many more mini-dramas in this huge cast of characters.

Kingdom Come is wholly and unabashedly a black movie. The cast is all black, and the writers created a cast of characters who are black rural and black Southern archetypes and stereotypes. If movies can revolve around story, setting, and/or characters, this one complete hangs upon its large cast. The plot is sparse: bury the old bastard as fast as we can so we don’t have to stay around each other too long.

Based upon a stage play, the movie, adapted by the playwrights, is very talky. Many of the actors spend much of their screen time screaming at their screen partners or just plain talking and explaining. The movie obviously has a message about families sticking together that it repeatedly pounds into our heads. Like many stage plays aimed at African-Americans, this one aims to both entertain and to teach. Its message is both obvious and familiar and geared towards black folks. African-Americans can nod their heads in agreement at the play’s message and vicariously gobble down huge servings of soul food with the cast.

Director Doug McHenry, a prolific producer and director (House Party 2 and Jason’s Lyric) chooses bluntness over subtlety, but he wisely follows each cast member’s every move, as this film could not hang upon its story. To understand Kingdom Come, one must come to understand the characters’ motivations. The film is average goods that does have some very funny and touching moments.

Kingdom Come’s importance is that it exists at all, and it is much needed in a Hollywood landscape that mostly ignores the audience that wants films like Kingdom Come. The cast also includes R&B vocalist Toni Braxton, Loretta Devine (Waiting to Exhale and What Women Want), and Cedric the Entertainer. The quality of the acting ranges from surprising to really good, and the actors overcome the average script and directing in making their characters fun to watch.

In the end, anyone with an extended family, regardless of ethnic background, will recognize the family template upon which this family is based. It’s a universal story with universal themes set in one particular group. Its family dynamics are as similar as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” or Parenthood. While it is not great, or even very good, for that matter, it is a good choice on home video and for family viewing.

5 of 10