Marvel and Sony find Tom Holland, their new Spider-Man, and a director as well
Credit: Universal Pictures

Marvel and Sony find Tom Holland, their new Spider-Man, and a director as well

And with Jon Watts directing the first Spider-Man movie, what should fans expect?

Born in 1996, eh?

I'll give them this… Sony and Marvel took their time, they did the hard work, and they made a careful and considered decision here that they're going to hopefully be happy with for many years to come.

They better be, because Tom Holland is their new Spider-Man, and if they've ever truly gambled as a studio with this particular property, now is the moment.

Read Full Post
Why Universal's 'Minions' are the perfect 21st century movie stars
Credit: Universal

Why Universal's 'Minions' are the perfect 21st century movie stars

We'll see a lot more of these little yellow weirdos

Next week, I'm taking my kids to see the press screening of "Minions," and the next day, we're going to Universal to check out the new "Fast & Furious" ride as well as the other major additions to the park, including their new emphasis on the Minions from "Despicable Me."

I'm not remotely surprised by the way the Minions have taken root in pop culture. When they were in production on the original "Despicable Me," a group of us went to the Illumination Entertainment offices to see some footage and talk about what the film was going to be, and my big takeaway that day was "No matter what, kids will love the Minions."

When the film opens and absolutely destroys at the box-office worldwide, I'm sure there will be box-office pundits who count it as some sort of surprise, but it won't be. Not really. And considering we are now in what I would consider a post-Movie Star era in Hollywood, the Minions make even more sense.

In fact, I'd argue that the Minions are the perfect movie stars for the 21st century.

There are several reasons this is true. First and foremost, they are almost entirely non-verbal, and with international box-office more important than ever to the overall success story of a movie, that's more important than ever. The Minions make noise, sure, but it's unimportant in all but the broadest sense. Everything is conveyed visually, and any audience anywhere, no matter how unsophisticated, is going to be able to get something out of what they watch.

Even more importantly, they aren't real. They can't renegotiate their contracts based on the success of the series. And while I can tell you who wrote and/or directed the movies, most people can't. It is a case where the characters are bigger than any single offering with them. The studio figured out that these things push some button in the audience, and they steered directly into it.

There's a reason Universal just smashed the landspeed record for making it to a billion dollars at the international box-office. They have become very shrewd about managing the properties they already own, and Donna Langley deserves credit for the way both the "Fast and Furious" and "Jurassic World" series are growing this late in the series, instead of shrinking. That's amazing, just from a business perspective, and spinning the Minions off so they can anchor their own series is another move that I bet will pay off in a major way for them.

While there are certainly still plenty of famous actors of all types, I think the age of the giant monolithic movie star is over. It is more about the brand name than who i starring than ever before, and Universal has perfected a model here that we'll see more and more studios embracing in the near-future.

"Minions" is in theaters July 10th.

 

Read Full Post
Is 'A Deadly Adoption' the year's most straight-faced prank?
Credit: Lifetime Networks

Is 'A Deadly Adoption' the year's most straight-faced prank?

Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig pull off a fairly awesome but insane joke

Most of the reactions I saw roll by in my social media timelines this weekend to the film "A Deadly Adoption" were along the lines of, "What the hell did I just watch?"

I can understand the confusion. And it's awesome.

"A Deadly Adoption" aired Saturday on Lifetime, and it is, by any metric you want to use, a completely typical Lifetime movie. What makes it stand out is that the film stars Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, and there's nothing about the film at any point that would tip that this is meant as a joke. The film opens with a party being thrown by Robert (Ferrell) and his wife Sarah (Wiig), during which Robert casually remarks about how they're going to have to fix the dock soon, just about the time Sarah walks down to stand on the dock no matter what Robert says. She's six months pregnant, but that's over and done with when the dock collapses and she almost drowns.

Read Full Post
Review: Joe Dante tries to spin gold with the thin script for 'Burying The Ex'
Credit: Voltage Pictures

Review: Joe Dante tries to spin gold with the thin script for 'Burying The Ex'

HitFix
C
Readers
n/a
Anton Yelchin and Alexandra Daddario shine but it's not enough to make this work

Alan Trezza's screenplay for "Burying The Ex" might as well have had Joe Dante's name above the title from the moment he wrote it, because it is a perfect fit for the filmmaker's sensibilities. Dante's three leads (Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene, and Alexandra Daddario) are all game for whatever he asks of them, and they seem to be having a blast with the material. There's a slightly muted quality to the film, though, which keeps it from being a complete pleasure, but considering how rarely we get a new film from Dante, I'll take something slight over nothing at all.

Read Full Post
Review: Schwartzman and Scott shine in deeply uncomfortable 'The Overnight'
Credit: The Orchard

Review: Schwartzman and Scott shine in deeply uncomfortable 'The Overnight'

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
This is a sophisticated modern comedy of manners and a nice surprise

One of the things that I noticed during my married years was just how hard it can be for a couple to meet another adult couple they can spend time with socially. There were plenty of couples we knew, but that was because I was friends with someone in that couple before they were in that relationship. Most of our friends were my friends who she met through me, or friends of hers that I met through her. There was really only one couple that we met during our entire marriage where we clicked completely and they became basically family to us.

It started when they moved into the apartment directly across from ours. Right around the time we found out we were having our first child, they found out they were expecting as well. We started out chatting about that, and then little by little realized how much we all got along, and by the time our kids were born, they were absolutely part of our lives. They live in Alabama now, and one of the strangest parts of our divorce last year was thinking about how we won't have that experience again. I'll see them, and I'm sure she'll see them, but part of what was great was the way it felt to hang out with them together, with all of the kids. It was invaluable, and I felt like a big part of what made it work was that we all understood where we were as people and as parents and as adults.

Read Full Post
25 Years In LA Part 4: 'Masters Of Horror,' Revolution, and getting Foxed
Credit: Showtime/Anchor Bay

25 Years In LA Part 4: 'Masters Of Horror,' Revolution, and getting Foxed

Our most productive years still managed to frustrate in some big ways

Like all superheroes (or anyone else who uses a secret identity), there came a moment when someone finally cracked the code and published my real name.

To be fair, my identity was a pretty poorly-kept secret by that point. The first time I went to an actual press event, I used my real name, and anytime I met someone, I used my real name. "Moriarty" was a fun identity to slip into, and especially in the early days of the site, we played up the mythology of things. My friends all got their own spy names and would show up in the reports in the form of Henchman Mongo and Segue Zagnut and Harry Lime and more. From my end, it was silly and fun, and not something to be taken seriously. But when Film Threat ran a fairly vicious hit piece on Harry, I was also a target, and them exposing my identity in print was treated like they'd found the missing Nixon tape segments. It was supposed to destroy me, and they had plenty of support for that concept.

I became the personal hobby of a group of particularly grotesque Internet trolls for a while, and they seemed to be determined to chase me offline. I see some of the outrage wars that pop up now and I see the tactics of the trolls in these cases, and it all seems very familiar. There were certainly moments where I considered walking away from all of it because it seemed like such a strange and violent overreaction to what was, at the heart of it, me writing about movies.

Read Full Post
Film Nerd 2.0 begins a march through Middle-Earth with 'Fellowship Of The Ring'
Credit: New Line Cinema

Film Nerd 2.0 begins a march through Middle-Earth with 'Fellowship Of The Ring'

Will the boys fall in love with the series, or has the 'Hobbit' already tarnished it for them?

There's not a week that goes by without someone either e-mailing me or reaching out through Facebook or Twitter to tell me how much they love the "Star Wars" series I wrote here as part of Film Nerd 2.0. That is something that I can't quantify in terms of how much it means to me that what I went through with the boys resonated so loudly for so many people, and I am excited to be able to share a new "Star Wars" film with them for the first time ever later this year.

But when it came to one of the other major movie trilogies, my approach was a little less considered. When the first chapter of the "Hobbit" trilogy came out in theaters, the boys were well aware of it and asked repeatedly to go see it. For movies based on books, I try to encourage them to read the book before they see the film, and in some cases, I make that a condition of them seeing the film. WIth the "Harry Potter" series, they had to hold off for two years until we'd gone through the entire book series, and it certainly felt like their experience was richer as a result. We read "The Hobbit" over the span of a few weeks, and then on New Year's Eve, my wife and her mother went out to a party, and I stayed home with the boys and watched the awards-season screener of the "Hobbit" that I'd been sent. They enjoyed it quite a bit, but right away, they realized that the movie and the book were very different experiences.

Read Full Post
Joe Dante and Anton Yelchin on the way film fandom informs 'Burying The Ex'
Credit: HitFix

Joe Dante and Anton Yelchin on the way film fandom informs 'Burying The Ex'

A directing legend and an up-and-coming young star sit together to discuss their latest

Joe Dante is one of my favorite people.

You'll actually get some Joe Dante stories in the final two parts of my "25 Years In LA" series, but even before that, you'll get a video interview that we've cut up into three pieces for you. Last week, on the same morning we all learn that Christopher Lee had passed away, Joe came to the HitFix studios along with Anton Yelchin, who is the star of his new film "Burying The Ex," which will be in theaters on Friday.

Read Full Post
Review: Amy Poehler's tremendous work anchors the emotional 'Inside Out'
Credit: Pixar

Review: Amy Poehler's tremendous work anchors the emotional 'Inside Out'

HitFix
A+
Readers
n/a
Animated or otherwise, this is as intimate as Hollywood storytelling gets

While it's clear that each new release from Pixar seems to spur people to offer a fresh assessment of the company's entire output, I'd rather not immediately try to figure out where "Inside Out" lands by comparison. It seems like a reductive way to approach this surprisingly sophisticated emotional experience. Co-directors Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen have told a very, very small-scale story when you look at what happens in the actual physical world. But in doing so, they've done something very powerful, because they have paid full respect to just how turbulent and important the inner life of a child can be.

Ah, hell, who am I kidding? "Inside Out" works because we are all always wrestling with the particular balance required to keep us functioning. The film imagines five distinct beings that work in harmony (hopefully) inside each person: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. To be fair, that's just in the control room. There's a fairly complex ecosystem at work inside the mind, which the movie makes clear is not the same thing at the brain. This isn't "Innerspace," where characters are racing around the recognizable landmarks of the body. Instead, this is pure metaphor, a way for Docter and Del Carmen to dig deep into how we react when we are faced with some of life's defining moments.

Read Full Post
25 Years in LA Part 3: Showtime, the Silverado, and the rise of Ain't It Cool
Credit: Dreamworks

25 Years in LA Part 3: Showtime, the Silverado, and the rise of Ain't It Cool

Plus my patron saint and a few success stories

The first and most important thing that happened as a result of the staging of "Sticks and Stones" at the Met Theater as part of the Act One Festival was that Scott Swan and I got our first agent.

Barbara Baruch worked for Ambrosio/Mortimer, a smaller boutique agency at the time, and from the moment we met her, she seemed like what I imagined an agent to be. She was nurturing, she was a cheerleader, she was a ballbuster, and she was always, always, always in our corner. Our time with her was unfortunately too short, and by the time the agency imploded in accusations of embezzlement, we were already repped by Gersh out of New York. Barbara was first, though, and she was the first one to start pushing people to come see our show and to read our work.

The strangest thing about those early days is that Scott and I had spent so much time working on scripts that were, truth be told, deeply derivative genre exercises, and that's really not what people were expecting when we walked into the room. They would see "Sticks and Stones" onstage and expect us to come in pitching certain types of projects, and then these two 25 year old "Star Wars" nerds would roll in talking about giant monsters and other such nonsense.

Read Full Post