Tuesday March 11, 2014
Guy Trilby is 40 years-old and harboring a deep seated grudge-with a plan for revenge that will stomp on the spelling bee dreams of kids and their parents like a herd of rampaging elephants . We are first introduced to Guy as he is about to join a bevy of contestants vying to win a regional spelling bee contest. Although blessed with a photographic memory, his failure to pass the eighth grade is the loophole that allows him to compete.
Along for the ride is a reporter (played hilariously by Kathryn Hahn) who is determined to get to the bottom of Guy's motives-even falling into a sexual relationship when everyday chit-chat fails to get him to reveal his rationale for her story. (Their intimate encounters are among the movie's most amusing moments.)
Although this revelation isn't revealed until the somewhat sappy final reel, the majority of this dark biting comedy is Guy's modus operandi as someone who has total disdain for children and his utter lack of respect for adults and institutions. Everything politically incorrect is fair game for the foul-mouthed Guy as he proceeds to flatten his competition on his journey to the PBS-televised national Golden Quill competition.
First-time director Jason Bateman shows admirable skill behind the camera while adeptly portraying the lead character with great comic timing and effective understated delivery. His supporting cast is superb-including the aforementioned Kathryn Kahn, Allison Janey who is in charge of the Golden Quill competition, the wonderful Philip Baker Hall who plays the founding father of the competition, and Rohan Chand as an Indian 10-year-old (whom Guy calls Slumdog) who is the only character that softens the vulgar protagonist. And first-time screenwriter Andrew Dodge shows solid future promise penning a script that has many more hits than misses.
Although that final reel falls short of what preceded it, the 89 minutes will entertainingly fly by. However, if you are easily offended and/or disgusted by foul mouthed children, an adult introducing liquor and sex to a pre-teen, or anything remotely inappropriate then by all means look for the nearest Disney flick. Otherwise, meet Guy Trilby, a dude who makes Billy Bob Thornton's character in Bad Santa seem like Mr. Rogers.
UP NEXT: Bowie MD director Mike Flanagan's horror film Oculus
Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) sneers at his competition
Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn) tries to get to the bottom
of Guy's story
Monday March 10, 2014
THE SHOW (***)
Clocking in at 214 minutes, this years 86th version, in this reviewer's mind, was a half star better than last year-and not because it was a scant one minute shorter. Overall, host Ellen DeGeneres fared tons better than Seth MacFarlane's lame effort last year. The comedienne talk show host provided more joke hits than misses while adding some new audience participation winkles that kept the proceedings lighter and looser compared to previous years (more on that below). Also, most of the acceptance speeches seemed to be shorter and more to the point without being prodded to end by the house orchestra. Oh, there were the usual screw-ups and missteps that usually occur-which are reasons for devoting a portion of one's life to watching moviedom's annual pat-on-the-back. However, overall the telecast was deserving of its viewership of 43.7 million (up 8% from 2013), which is the best since the Billie Crystal hosted show of 2000 which had 46.53 million viewers.
With apologies to Sergio Leone, this breakdown will pretty much sum up the event through this reviewer's eyes:
THE GOOD-In general, DeGeneres provided the usual roasting-style patter without pandering to the celebrity audience and kept things moving as much as possible over the 3 1/2 hours. Her occasional forays into the audience was typical of a talk-show host's antics and was a distinct departure from the usual stiff telecasts of the past. While her pizza-delivery bit might have gone on a tad too long, she brilliantly incorporated the current social media craze by overloading Twitter with her celebrity selfie photo snapped during the show.
-Generally shorter acceptance speeches that only produced one shout-out to the almighty (by McConaughey) who has inched one thank-you closer to Meryl Streep (who received none).
-No overblown production numbers this year.
-Fabulous impression of Bruce Dern by Jim Carrey.
-Bette Midler's touching, expressive, and beautifully rendered "Wind Beneath My Wings" at the conclusion of the In-Memorium segment was made especially poignant with the too recent demise of Hollywood standouts Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Harold Ramis. Midler received a well-deserved standing O and was a fitting solemn tribute to the list of talent that preceded it.
-Bill Murray's extra acknowledgment off-prompter to Harold Ramis for his work for Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, after Murray handed out the cinematography award .
-Pharrell Williams' rousing performance of "Happy" (Despicable 2) which included a jump into the audience and prompting some fine dance moves from Amy Adams, Lupita Nyong'o, and Meryl Streep.
-Singer Pink's beautiful rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in a tribute to the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.
-Backup singer Darlene Love proved why she was a backup when she broke off-key into song after the acceptance speech for the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom.
-The usual montages. There was one that was themed about heroes but I have no idea why it was included and seemed to lack cohesion. The other one about animation was more successful-but barely.
-John Travolta's total mangling of Broadway veteran singer Idina Menzel's (who sang the nominated song "Let It Go") name as "Adele Nazeem".
-Presenter Jamie Foxx who is not good at ad-libbing-or whatever he was doing standing next to co-presenter Jennifer Biel.
-Mathew McConaughey's glaring omission of mentioning HIV in his acceptance speech-the central theme of The Dallas Buyers Club.
-The work of Liza Minnelli's and Kim Novak's plastic surgeons.
-John Travolta refusing to age gracefully.
-Not getting this broadcast at least under three hours.
-Ellen DeGeneres in a dress (which she appeared in as Gilda from The Wizard of Oz after Pink's performance).
-The pizza party bit. At first humorous, someone needed to extend a hook offstage to finally end it.
NOW . . . THE ANNUAL JAY B CINEMA DIARY AWARDS:
THE BIGGEST SURPRISE WINNER
THE BEST FILM NOT TO WIN AN OSCAR
THE MOST NOMINATED FILM NOT TO WIN AN OSCAR
American Hustle (with 10 nominations).
THE MOST MEAN SPIRITED JOKE OF THE NIGHT
Ellen DeGeneres calling Liza Minnelli a drag queen and then calling her "sir".
FUNNIEST JOKE OF THE NIGHT
Ellen DeGeneres calling Liza Minnelli a drag queen and then calling her "sir".
THE BEST CARRYOVER JOKE FROM LAST YEAR
Jennifer Lawrence's klutziness-helped immeasurably when earlier that evening she tripped over a traffic cone on the Red Carpet while exiting a limo.
BEST SPORT BEING THE OBJECT OF ENDLESS JOKES
BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Lupita Nyong'o accepting for Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years A Slave. She concluded by saying, "When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child, no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."
MOST HEARTFELT ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
2ND BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Jared Leto accepting for Best Supporting Actress for The Dallas Buyers Club. A highlight: Praising his mom for "teaching me how to dream".
3rd BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
Original song winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for "Let It Go" (Frozen) delivering their rhyming acceptance speech. (The pair joined eleven others who have won an EGOT- all four major annual American entertainment awards: the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.)
THE COMEDY BIT THAT NEEDLESSLY LENGTHENED THE SHOW BY AT LEAST 1/2 HOUR
Ellen's pizza party.
THE MOST BORED LOOKING AUDIENCE MEMBER
Charlize Theron who looked like she wished she was anywhere else on the planet.
THE HAPPIEST AUDIENCE MEMBER NOT NOMINATED FOR AN OSCAR
Lupita Nyong'o's brother who also photo-bombed the celebrity selfie.
THE MOST NOMINATED FILM NOT DESERVING TO WIN MAJOR OSCARS
Gravity (which had only one major-Best Director-among its seven winners)
THE MOST DESERVING FILM TO WIN THE MOST MAJOR OSCARS
12 Years A Slave
THE BEST FILM NOT NOMINATED FOR A BEST PICTURE
Inside Llwelyn Davis
(For the record: the nine nominated films I rated from best to least:
(1) 12 Years A Slave
(3) American Hustle
(6) The Wolf of Wall Street
(7) The Dallas Buyers Club
(8) Captain Phillips
I would have put Inside Llwelyn Davis second on this list and removed Gravity.)
THE WOMAN WHO LOOKED THE WEIRDEST IN A DRESS
UP NEXT: Jason Bateman's subversive comedy Bad Words
The Oscar audience selfie