Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny

Review: 'Brave' takes Pixar in some new directions by embracing some old forms

The trailers may not tell the whole story, but Pixar's not playing games

HitFix
B+
Readers
A-
<p>Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is forced to learn some unconventional definitions of the word courage over the course of the new Pixar film 'Brave'</p>

Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is forced to learn some unconventional definitions of the word courage over the course of the new Pixar film 'Brave'

Credit: Walt Disney Company/Pixar

Pixar finds themselves at a particularly vulnerable moment in the mythology that surrounds the studio.  Since the release of the first "Toy Story," they have released a string of movies that have been nothing less than dazzling, a series of films that have both commercial and critical hits.  Last year's release of "Cars 2" was the first moment where they seemed to be operating like any other Hollywood studio, putting commerce ahead of their craft, and for many fans of their work, it was a moment that rattled their faith.

Since we live in an age where each and every decision during the production of a motion picture can be scrutinized, often free of the context that led to the decision, much has been written about the process by which "Brave" emerged from what was originally known as "The Bow and the Bear."  Brenda Chapman was the first director on the picture, and she still gets a co-director credit as well as a "story by" in the credits.  She was set to be the first female filmmaker to direct a feature for Pixar, and she absolutely deserves credit for getting this original fairy tale from her first idea to the final film that is about to open.  But it's hard to get upset about the process when we have no idea what happened that resulted in Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell getting co-director credits with her.  After all, Andrews has been kicking around the business for years, working on the storyboard department for "The Iron Giant," working as head of story for "Osmosis Jones," "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille," and directing the short film "One Man Band."  Purcell has paid his dues as well, creating the popular "Sam and Max" computer game series and working as one of the many screenwriters on the original "Cars."  Chapman put in years as an animator, working on TV shows like "The Real Ghost Busters" and "Heathcliff" before working in the story department on films like "Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King," and "Chicken Run."  She was one of the directors of the very ambitious "The Prince Of Egypt," and that was a milestone at the time, making her one of the few women to ever reach that sort of position on a major studio animated movie.

James Bond Declassified: Father's Day Dossier

A look back, a look ahead, and when you can read the rest of the series

<p>Few film series have the iconic weight of the James Bond series, but today we explain a more personal reason for this year-long exploration of every film in the franchise.</p>

Few film series have the iconic weight of the James Bond series, but today we explain a more personal reason for this year-long exploration of every film in the franchise.

Credit: EON/MGM/UA

It is the 50th anniversary of James Bond's first theatrical feature film this year.

That alone would be justification enough to write my special series in which we review each and every film in the official James Bond franchise so far, but I must confess a more personal motivation at work here.

1977 was a big year for me in terms of figuring out my tastes as a filmgoer.  It was obviously the year that "Star Wars" was released, and that film was like a lightning bolt someone fired directly into the top of my head.  It was also the year that "Smokey and the Bandit" was released, and in some ways, that film was like my dad's "Star Wars," a movie that seemed to be almost specifically engineered for his pleasure.  It made a huge impression on me, seeing him laugh like that, seeing how completely he handed himself over to it.  My dad is cut from that same sort of pure cowboy cloth as Sam Elliott, and growing up, his stoicism was one of the things that defined my idea of manhood.  Watching him laugh so hard he cried was uncommon, but it did happen on occasion, and I made careful note of what did it to him.

'That's My Boy' stars Will Forte, Ciara, and Leighton Meester get dirty for Adam Sandler

We interview the eclectic supporting cast of the new Happy Madison comedy

<p>Will Forte is in two of this weekend's new movies, and we spoke to him about working with Adam Sandler on the very raunchy 'That's My Boy'</p>

Will Forte is in two of this weekend's new movies, and we spoke to him about working with Adam Sandler on the very raunchy 'That's My Boy'

Credit: HitFix

By now, it's starting to look like "That's My Boy" is taking a bit of a hit at the box-office this weekend, a shock after the almost unassailable commercial strength of his movies over the last decade or so.  After all, when something like "Grown-Ups" can make a Scrooge McDuck-sized pile of cash, it's not like the viewing public is exactly discerning when it comes to Adam Sandler's films.

So what happened with "That's My Boy"?  Although our own Geoff Berkshire wrote the official HitFix review, I'd just add that the film reminds me of Sandler's early comedy albums and his first few films in the way it feels unfettered, like anything goes.  The R-rating seems to have allowed Sandler and his crew to try some things they haven't tried before, and, yes, the results are crude and often breathtakingly crass, but I'd rather see Sandler lay it all out there like this than sleepwalk through a vacation video with his millionaire buddies.

You've got to get everyone on board if you're going to make a movie as completely deranged as "That's My Boy," from Sandler to the supporting cast to Sean Anders, the director of the film, who also made "Sex Drive" a few years ago.  I've run several interviews this week with cast members, including Sandler and Andy Samberg, but this last interview we've got for you tonight is actually three of them put together.

'Attack The Block' director Joe Cornish set to bring sci-fi classic 'Snow Crash' to life

Could this and 'Ender's Game' kick off a new age of sci-fi adaptations?

<p>Joe Cornish, seen here in the middle on the set of 'Attack The Block,' is now set to bring Neal Stephenson's classic 'Snow Crash' to the screen</p>

Joe Cornish, seen here in the middle on the set of 'Attack The Block,' is now set to bring Neal Stephenson's classic 'Snow Crash' to the screen

Credit: Screen Gems/Film4/Studio Canal

You can't see me right now, but it's safe to assume I'm doing backflips of pure joy.

Neal Stephenson's breakthrough novel was "Snow Crash," a pre-Internet book that seems positively prescient when you look at it now.  It's a rousing adventure story about Hiro Protagonist, part pizza guy, part hacker, part samurai, who gets pulled into the mystery of a computer virus called Snow Crash that threatens to destroy the proto-internet that is the main setting of the novel.  It's a truly great book, and there have been attempts to turn it into a film before, with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall attached to produce it at one point for Disney.

Now it looks like Joe Cornish, whose breakthrough film was last year's "Attack The Block," is set to write and direct the film, with Kennedy/Marshall once again attached, and the film this time set to be produced by Paramount.

This is exciting news.  "Snow Crash" is a great piece of original science-fiction, and I would love for studios to stop demanding everything be a prequel or a requel or a sequel or a reboot or a whateverthehell that's already been made.  As I watch the cast come together on Jose Padilla's "Robocop," I am impressed by the actors he's brought together, and I like Padilla, and I remain deeply, deeply unconvinced that we need a remake of an already perfect movie. 

'Your Sister's Sister' star Mark Duplass and director Lynn Shelton on building a great movie relationship

A particularly genial sit-down with the creative team behind the great new film

<p>Lynn Shelton and Mark Duplass may have been punchy from exhaustion by the time we sat down with them at Sundance, but it still turned out to be a great conversation.</p>

Lynn Shelton and Mark Duplass may have been punchy from exhaustion by the time we sat down with them at Sundance, but it still turned out to be a great conversation.

Credit: HitFix

When I sat down with Mark Duplass and Lynn Shelton to discuss their film "Your Sister's Sister" at Sundance this year, I was well aware of just how tight time was for everyone.  I was working to juggle interviews and screenings, and Duplass was there representing two movies of his own and supporting his wife, Katie Aselton, who was there with her film "Black Rock."  He was so stretched thin that I saw him napping in a chair between interviews.

Even so, once we all sat down together, our allotted interview time ended up stretching a bit because the conversation was going well.  I've gotten to know Mark and his brother Jay on a professional basis over the last few years, and I think it's been a genuine pleasure watching them develop their voice from film to film, expanding their audience while maintaining their own sensibilities.

I saw Shelton's "Humpday" at Sundance a few years ago, and I admired the way it navigated a potentially gross joke to create something smart and heartfelt and funny.  I was excited for "Your Sister's Sister," but unprepared for what a jump Shelton seemed to make from one film to the next.

'That's My Boy' star Rob Van Winkle talks about re-inventing Vanilla Ice

How did a tattoo turn a press day encounter into pure magic?

<p>If I'd had to bet on which interviews would be a highlight of the recent 'That's My Boy' press day, I would not have guessed Vanilla Ice.&nbsp; I would have been wrong.</p>

If I'd had to bet on which interviews would be a highlight of the recent 'That's My Boy' press day, I would not have guessed Vanilla Ice.  I would have been wrong.

Credit: HitFix

It is not every day that I am offered a sit-down interview with Vanilla Ice.

And, to be honest, I would not have expected it to go quite the way it did.  After all, I remember the release of "Cool As Ice."  I remember his pop culture moment and how absurd it was, and I can't claim to have been a fan.

In "That's My Boy," Rob Van Winkle shows up, once again transformed into Vanilla Ice, playing an exaggerated and ridiculous version of the persona that people know.  It's one of those jokes that could easily fall flat, except he's actually very good at tweaking the public perception of him.

As we were waiting to do the interviews, my sons asked me who I was going to be talking to over the course of the day, and I listed the various people who were participating.  When I mentioned "Vanilla Ice," they were immediately entertained by the name, and they started asking me questions about him.

'Your Sister's Sister' stars Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt on creating a sisterly bond

How does improvisation play into this tender little film?

<p>There are some days where I almost feel guilty taking money to do what I do.</p>

There are some days where I almost feel guilty taking money to do what I do.

Credit: HitFix

One of those moments when I realize how absurd my job can be took place during this year's Sundance Film Festival.  I was waiting for my cameraman to set up for the interview we were about to do and standing in the lobby of the building everyone was using for interviews.  I realized that Christina Hendricks was standing next to me, while in front of me, Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie were chatting, and Teresa Palmer was at the bar on the other side of me.

And when I walked away?  It was so I could sit down with Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt.

Yes, I am aware that is preposterous, and that I should count myself lucky.

Sitting down with the female leads of "My Sister's Sister" was a pleasure because (A) one can never spend enough time talking to Emily Blunt and (B) "My Sister's Sister" is kind of awesome.  It's a small, tender, brutally honest movie that features great performances from all three of the leads.  Playing sisters, though, requires a special sort of bond that you need to somehow communicate to an audience, and that's what I wanted to talk to Blunt and DeWitt about when we spoke.

Review: 'Rock Of Ages' is movie-star karaoke and oh-so-silly

Without the social weight of 'Hairspray,' Shankman serves up pure souffle

HitFix
C+
Readers
B-
<p>Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise are just two of the celebrities who seem to be having a preposterous amount of the fun in the very silly 'Rock Of Ages'</p>

Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise are just two of the celebrities who seem to be having a preposterous amount of the fun in the very silly 'Rock Of Ages'

Credit: Warner Bros/New Line

Musicals are one of the most unusual genres in all of film, and I am fascinated by any attempt to create one, especially in a modern age where filmgoers do not have them as part of their daily cinematic diet.

There is a moment early on in "Rock Of Ages" where Julianne Hough, playing Sherrie Christian, is on a bus on her way to the big city, ready to make her dreams of music stardom come true.  She begins to sing "Sister Christian," and while the song choice may have made '80s survivors smile, it wasn't until the rest of the passengers on the bus also begin to sing that the audience around me started to laugh.  It's that moment where any musical makes the leap from reality to the world of the movie, and if your audience is willing to go with you, you're gold.

Justin Theroux and Allan Loeb are credited with the adaptation here, along with Chris D'Arienzo who created the piece for the stage, and it's painting in big bright primary colors.  There is not a subtle moment in the movie.  The entire thing is pitched at this sort of full-volume level, everything spelled out with the most literal interpretation of song lyrics and the most exaggerated character types, so there's no chance you're going to miss anything.  "Prometheus," this is not.

Watch: Sandler and Samberg in a two-for-one 'That's My Boy' interview

Plus what happens when Adam Sandler meets Film Nerd 2.0?

<p>Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler sat down together for a joint interview about their new comedy 'That's My Boy'</p>

Andy Samberg and Adam Sandler sat down together for a joint interview about their new comedy 'That's My Boy'

Credit: HitFix

My wife is in school these days, which means there are many moments where I am the only person available to take care of Toshi and Allen, even if I've got work that needs to get done.  It can make for some exciting schedules on certain days, and a recent Saturday was a perfect example of that.

We were up early for Toshi's final baseball game of the season, and then we had his end-of-the-season party at his coach's house with all the parents and players, a great group of folks.  And almost immediately after that wrapped up, we had to head down to the Four Seasons so I could do my interviews for "That's My Boy," Adam Sandler's new comedy.

Walking into a room with kids in tow totally changes the dynamic.  In the case of Sandler and Samberg, the last room we did that afternoon, as soon as we walked in, Sandler was up on his feet.

He stood in front of the boys, looking down at them.  "I'll bet I can guess your ages."  He pointed at Toshi and guessed correctly.  "Six, right?"  Then he pointed at Allen.  "And you're three."

"No," said, Allen.  "I'm four.  I turned four on my birthday!"

Three new 'Amazing Spider-Man' clips feature chemistry, web-swinging, and The Lizard

We're just a few weeks away, so Sony's pulling out all the stops

<p>&quot;Wait... you're telling me that all of this is just a movie and you've got CLIPS from it?&quot;</p>

"Wait... you're telling me that all of this is just a movie and you've got CLIPS from it?"

Credit: Sony Pictures

We're in the home stretch now, with only a few weeks left until "The Amazing Spider-Man" arrives in theaters.

The film screened late last week for people doing interviews at the New York press day, and I assume we'll see it here in LA in the very near future.  I'm looking forward to it, and to make sure I don't carry the Raimi movies into the theater with me, I've made sure not to re-watch them or refer to them at all.  The last time I saw any of them was when "Spider-Man 3" was released, and at this point, I've got my general impressions of them, but that's about it.  Whatever Marc Webb and his cast and crew have done here, I'm going to judge it as its own film.

This is, of course, a key moment for Sony Pictures.  They've got a lot riding on this film.  In order to remain in the Spider-Man business, they need to keep producing films at a certain pace, and they are gambling big here by rebooting.  They had a proven creative team and a well-liked cast in place, so scrubbing all of that and starting over is about as risky as making a Spider-Man movie can be at this point.  Sure, the character is well-known around the world, and ultimately, the character is what they're selling, but if this is going to work, all the moving pieces have to come together.

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