(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / February 24, 2013) Also By Steven Zeitchik September 18, 2013, 1:26 p.m. Seth MacFarlane may have plenty of reasons to count his millions , but hes had a pretty rough year of it in the media. Last winter he was pummeled for his boob-happy Oscar-hosting turn, which many critics found misogynistic and unfunny. And this week hes been getting dragged through it all over again with the premiere Tuesday night of his live-action Fox sitcom Dads, which, in an unfortunate parallel to the Oscars , has been called racist and unfunny. Thats of considerable interest to moviedom. MacFarlane has two big films coming out over the next 20 months: the comedic western A Million Ways to Die In the West, out in May, and Ted 2, the sequel to the Mark Wahlberg blockbuster that shoots next year and will hit theaters in April 2015. West starring an ensemble cast of MacFarlane, Neil Patrick Harris , Sarah Silverman and Dads Giovanni Ribisi is about a sheep farmer, a duel, a criminal and other genre absurdities. Its a big test for MacFarlane, since it takes him deeper into a new territory and much further from the Family Guy-esque comedy hes known for on TV and was able to smuggle into Ted. Having a strike against you leading up to that film won’t help the cause. FALL TV 2013: Watch the trailers Indeed, the biggest problem for MacFarlane on Dads isnt the offensiveness its that, so far, its not bringing the laughs. Regardless of what you think of the so-called edginess the Hitler video-game jokes, the cancer jokes, the Asian-school-girl jokes that will matter a lot more than whether the show sets off taste alarm bells. As Mother Jones said , The real problem does not lie with any ethnic or racial stereotypes, but with the fact that it is unoriginal and often a painfully unfunny, lazy waste of production space.” Or as the Associated Press put it , “The truth is, viewers who celebrate MacFarlane as well as those who revile him should be equally dismayed by ‘Dads.’ It’s just a mediocre multicamera sitcom, complete with formula humor and unearned laughtrack. FULL COVERAGE: Fall TV preview 2013 The fact is, MacFarlanes yet to prove he can pull off true live-action without quippy computer-generated people or animals. As my colleague Scott Collins asked, “Is Seth MacFarlanes Dads the worst-reviewed show of the season?” But heres why the movies probably won’t take a hit. While TV types like to tout the open-ended advantages of the form compared to the constraints of film, in this case MacFarlane will have a lot more freedom working in cinema. Hes one of the rare commercial directors with heavy sway over the final cut. And the 22-minute multicamera sitcom is about as restrictive as it gets; compared to it, a 100-minute feature offers the malleability and creative freedom of a Tolstoy novel.
Given gravitas by Christian imagery and a mood of millennial survivalist desperation, this pulp procedural joins a long line of films that sell themselves by way of the very depravity and malignant moral imagination they pretend to deplore. Ann Hornaday 1/2 Thanks for Sharing (R) Although Blumbergs script focuses on the fraught romance between Adam and Phoebe, it is, improbably, the relationship between Neil, whom most people would consider a creep, and Dede, a woman who might once have been called a nymphomaniac, that is the films sweetest pleasure. Their platonic friendship (yes, platonic!) is rendered with great humor, poignancy and dignity. Michael OSullivan (No rating) The Wizard of Oz 3D IMAX (PG) Seeing The Wizard of Oz on the big screen also offers an opportunity to consider the incredible special effects, considering the film was shot more than seven decades ago and long before computer-generated imagery. The black-and-white scenes of Dorothy battling against the wind as a twister approaches were especially transporting. Stephanie Merry 1/2 Wadjda (PG) Youre seeing a world on screen that, until now, has been largely hidden from the filmgoing world at large. Because in addition to being a terrific garden-variety coming-of-age film, Wadjda happens to be the first feature-length movie ever made in Saudi Arabia all the more notable in that its been made by a woman, about a young girl chafing against the religious and social strictures of a kingdom literally shrouded in sexual anxiety, misogyny and severe repression. Ann Hornaday 1/2 Salinger (PG-13) While much of the movie consists of variations on this same theme that Salinger was a brilliant, flawed man the film also delves into more salacious matters, including the role of Catcher in the shootings of Ronald Reagan, John Lennon and Rebecca Schaeffer (gunmen John Hinckley Jr., Mark David Chapman and Robert John Bardo were all fans of the novel). Stephanie Merry The Henchmans War (Unrated) Greene, a native Washingtonian with a handful of local directorial and co-producing credits on his resume, has an eye for urban grit and an ear for tough-guy dialogue. He makes excellent use of his shadowy locations, lending War the coveted visual grime that enhances such pulp-noir material. Sean OConnell 1/2 Battle of the Year (PG-13) Lee is attempting to keep a spotlight shining on b-boy culture, an aggressive style of street dancing that consists of body-contorting twists, flips, leaps, spins and poses set to hip-hop music. Lee showcased this next level of competitive breakdancing in his award-winning 2008 documentary Planet B-Boy , and a feature film building on that awareness makes complete sensejust not five years later, when the fad appears to have faded. Sean OConnell My Lucky Star (Unrated) Bringing Sophies comics to life, the movie interjects drawings and animated sequences. The camera spins excitedly, and the editing is brisk. Split-screen compositions evoke the 1960s, as do Sophies pop-art ensembles, which include a lilac wig with matching lipstick. This girlie romp is less about martial arts and espionage than stuffed animals and dress-up. Mark Jenkins 1/2 Good OlFreda (PG) Ryan White weaves in archival footage of girls fainting and images of old headlines. The soundtrack consists primarily of Beatles covers. While the tales of the bands spectacular rise create a genial mood, the film feels superficial. Kelly can be cagey, and when a voice offscreen asks if she ever dated any of the guys, she demurs, saying, Thats personal. Stephanie Merry 1/2 Ip Man: The Final Fight (PG-13) The showiest action sequence involves lion dancers who battle atop high wooden posts. The grittiest and final one sends Ip to save one of his former pupils, whos risked fighting for money inside the gangster-controlled Kowloon Walled City.
1 To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs ‘Prisoners’ takes box office hostage as Hollywood gets dark In ‘Prisoners’, two young girls are kidnapped, and one dad takes justice into his own hands. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard and Maria Bello. Scott Bowles, USA TODAY 1:04 p.m. EDT September 22, 2013 As summer fades and studios enter the fall and awards season, studios begin releasing more adult fare. ‘Prisoners,’ starring Hugh Jackman, was No. 1 at the box office. (Photo: Wilson Webb) “Prisoners” appeals to adult audiences after summer of teen fare “Insidious Chapter 2” hung on for second place “Wizard of Oz” re-release followed the yellow brick road SHARE 15 CONNECT 31 TWEET 1 COMMENTEMAILMORE Hollywood began its seasonal migration to more adult fare this weekend as the fall-oriented Prisoners scored a convincing win at the box office. The crime drama starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal collected $21.4 million, according to studio estimates from ticket talliers Hollywood.com. The haul slightly exceeded analysts’ expectations, propelled by strong reviews as Prisoners marked one of fall’s first awards contenders. According to survey site Rottentomatoes.com, Prisoners won over 79% of critics and an impressive 90% of moviegoers a strong public reaction to a dark, R-rated film that runs 2 hours long. The film benefited from public hunger to get away from summer’s big-budget spectacles, says Tim Briody, analyst for ticket trackers Boxofficeprophets.com. Briody says Prisoners “found the right combination of star power and strong reviews to give audiences a reason to check out the crime thriller in what’s been a weak September at the movies.” Gitesh Pandya of Boxofficeguru.com says the film’s pedigreed cast, which included Viola Davis, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo, “played to a mature adult crowd,” often neglected in the summer gold rush for teen audiences. Alas, it was the kids left with the scraps this weekend. Insidious Chapter 2 took second place with $14.5 million in its second weekend. The Robert De Niro comedy The Family was third with $7 million, followed by the Spanish-language family comedy Instructions Not Included with $5.7 million.