"Mary Poppins" is not the film I thought it was.
Growing up, I saw the film many times, and I always enjoyed it. It's hard not to enjoy the film. A passion project for Walt Disney, it was lavished with every bit of tender loving care he could muster, and director Robert Stevenson did a wonderful job of creating this eccentric, artificial version of London and filling it with strange and memorable characters. I loved the songs by the Sherman Brothers, and I thought Mary Poppins herself was, as she says, practically perfect in every way.
Seeing this as a kid, I thought it was a film about two kids who are so bad that they can't keep a nanny, until they finally get a magical nanny, and she turns them into good kids. It's not a film I spent a lot of time watching over the last quarter-century, despite my affection for it, so my misunderstanding of the film became sort of ossified and like many films, my opinions and attitudes about it were shaped at a time when I had a very different perspective on most things than I do now.
In particular, I was not a parent the last time I saw the movie.
"Mary Poppins" is not the film I thought it was.
You've got a lot of options for what to watch and how, and we want to help you plan your weekend with a new column where we'll highlight three things you can see in theaters, three things you'll find streaming, and three titles new to home video. Appropriately enough, we call this The Weekend Watch.
Does the summer movie season really start next week? Wow. This year is flying by, and I guess it feels like it really just raced up on us this year. Still, there's plenty of good stuff to see in theaters this weekend, so it's not like you have to wait. Besides, it's good to get in a few more small titles before the onslaught of wanna-be blockbusters begins.
We've also got a few winners you should check out at home, whether you like your movies streaming or on DVD or Blu-ray, and I hope at least one thing off this list ends up as part of your weekend.
It is unusual to actually learn something about a performer on a set visit, but I had a moment of pure clarity when I went to San Francisco to watch some of the production of "The Five-Year Engagement."
It was at the very end of the schedule, but it was for the first scene in the film. We spent most of the night on top of a building right by the water, watching Jason Segel propose to Emily Blunt repeatedly, and as I watched them shoot the scene, it was interesting to see how the dynamic between them played out.
In the first master shot, Segel was playing the comedy in the moment. It was a very funny version of the scene, and Blunt played it the same way. When Stoller moved in for close-ups, though, he shot Blunt's first, and she played the real emotion of the moment. It was still funny, but there was also something else going on underneath, something real and sweet. When the crew reversed the set-up for Segel's close-up, he adjusted his performance, playing it as real as Blunt did, turning up the emotion.
In the just-released trailer for Judd Apatow's Christmas release this year, "This Is 40," they directly acknowledge the unusual DNA of the movie, referring to it as a "sort-of-sequel to 'Knocked Up.'"
I can't really think of any equivalent follow-up to a mainstream hit, where supporting characters just sort of take over the second movie and the original lead characters don't return at all. When I spoke to Apatow about the origins of the film on the set last year, he said his first impulse wasn't to do a sequel, but that as he started exploring the idea of doing a film about turning 40 and dealing with the issues that raises for people, he realized that he would essentially have to create a new Pete and Debbie, and why bother when he already had a Pete and Debbie that he knew audiences liked.
This is a nice introductory trailer, and it's interesting how much of the movie it doesn't even remotely suggest at this point. For example, we'll meet Pete and Debbie's parents in this movie, and we'll see Albert Brooks and John Lithgow show up as their fathers. We'll also see Debbie's business, a clothing boutique, where Megan Fox and Charlene Yi both work.
Hello, Village Roadshow.
This evening, I was working on a review for a film and occasionally looking over at the Twitter feed on another screen, and I saw Garth Franklin send a single Tweet. "Roadshow have confirmed - both "Cabin In The Woods" and Chernobyl Diaries" will go direct to DVD in Australia. Dates to be announced."
Could I ask you to reconsider that decision?
You've got time. You haven't announced any dates yet, so you haven't tied yourself to anything that you'd then have to retract. You are in a position right now to simply reverse course and make a whole lot of potential customers very very happy.
"But we've gone over the numbers and we've discussed it and we're pretty sure this is the right decision." I'm sure you have any number of very smart professional people working for your company who have spent real time and energy putting together the plan that Garth was referring to tonight. I'm sure there is sound reasoning behind the decision.
Nicholas Stoller's films are frequently lumped in under the broader umbrella of "Judd Apatow movies," but I think that's not fair. Yes, Apatow helped usher in a certain style of studio comedy that is now a major part of the landscape, but he doesn't write and direct every movie that he produces. Stoller's movies, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall, "Get Him To The Greek," and this week's new release "The Five-Year Engagement," have their own identity, their own unruly voice, and I think he's doing a nice job of honing that identity from film to film.
Working with Jason Segel, it seems to me that Stoller is fascinated by just how far he can push a character or characters before they break. In "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Segel played wounded very well, and the gradual way he mended his heart was charted with honesty even though it was also packed with laughs. "Greek" was all about testing the character played by Jonah Hill and seeing just how much he was willing to put up with from someone he idolized. Now, with this film, Stoller and Segel are once again writing about something real, wrapping up some painful truth in some big comedy set piece moments, and if the film has a major flaw, it is inherent to the premise itself.
Here's a combination that I never would have expected.
The Duplass Brothers are on fire right now, working incredibly hard and putting out something like 85 movies a year. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, and at least part of that effect comes from seeing Mark Duplass show up in other people's movies like "Your Sister's Sister" or "Darling Companion" or on his TV series "The League." Their movie "The Do-Deca Pentathalon" is getting a Fox Searchlight release later this year and their other new film, "Jeff Who Lives At Home" is still in some theaters now.
And as Todd Phillips prepares to start production on the final film in "The Hangover" series, he's also enjoying the recent success of "Project X." Once he wraps up his mega-successful franchise, he's going to be looking for his next movie. And it looks like that's going to be a film that brings him together with the Duplass Brothers, an unlikely marriage if I've ever seen one.
It must be a lovely time to be Alison Brie.
No matter what happens with "Community," the show definitely has an audience that loves it and is passionate about it, myself included. And "Mad Men" returned this year after an unusually long hiatus and appears to have quickly reestablished its place at the center of pop culture. Now, with "The Five Year Engagement," she's also on thousands of movie screens this weekend.
She co-stars here as Suzie, sister to Violet (Emily Blunt), one of the leads of the film. One of the ways Stoller and Jason Segel, the film's star and co-writer, illustrate the frustration of the prolonged engagement in the film is by etching in the details of a separate relationship where things move at a totally different pace. Suzie ends up with Alex (Chris Pratt), and we see them start a family and start to evolve into real adults, and while they don't have a ton of screen time, they do a good job of showing some real growth as time passes.
I haven't seen the new "Expendables 2" trailer that premiered at CinemaCon this week, but it seems like it went over well with the crowd that was there.
No one would be happier to see this movie work than I would. I want to believe. I love action movies that don't remotely apologize for what they are and what they do, and if you do an ensemble film like this correctly, it can be tremendous fun. While I didn't love the first film, the potential of it was potent, and the additions they're making this time absolutely make it worth taking another trip with the Expendables.
Well, I'm glad you asked.
Shirley MacLaine's been famous as long as I've been aware of movies and movie stars, and she has been part of more classics than I can list here today.
She's one of those people who works infrequently enough that when you get a call asking if you want to interview them, you say yes no matter what the film is. You say yes because you have no idea how many more opportunities there will be to speak to them and tell them how much their work has meant to you.
Thankfully, "Bernie" is more than just an opportunity for me to sit down with a great movie star. My review will be up later, but it's safe to say I'm wildly enthusiastic about it, and I think both MacLaine and her co-star, Jack Black, give great performances in the movie. Much of what they do is bouncing off of one another, so it makes perfect sense that they put the two of them together for the interview.