A few key members of the SNL cast and crew must love “The Californians” because the much-derided sketch was brought back to life for the show’s star-studded 40th anniversary special. For those of us who have always enjoyed this bizarre sketch (and there are about three of us), it’s a welcome return and we will greedily drink up the angry tears of everyone else.
We knew going in that the SNL 40th anniversary special would be chock-full of just about every famous person who has ever walked within spitting distance of 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the opening monologue was quick to make use of this genuinely insane temporary cast of stars. Things got started on the right foot when the always-welcome Steve Martin took the stage ... but then he was joined by Tom Hanks. And then things got really crazy.
ScreenCrush wraps up the latest in movies and TV you might have missed. Today, Frozen finally makes its move to Broadway, a Space Invaders movie (!) gets a writer, and a ranking of all of Djimon Hounsou’s sidekick roles.
The first ‘Pitch Perfect’ was a sleeper success, doing surprisingly solid business at the box office and earning equally solid reviews from critics. But it was home video that transformed this little a cappella comedy into a genuine sensation, instantly becoming the favorite film of 12-year-old girls (and their initially reluctant parents) all over the world. So the new ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ trailer arrives with the air of an event film. The sequel is not an underdog, but the Bigger, Flashier, and Louder follow-up that has the confidence to suggest that there is an entire franchise to be found here.
‘Breaking Bad’ may be completely, definitively over, but that doesn’t mean Walter White is ready to leave popular culture alone. Oh, no. As long as Bryan Cranston is alive and as lone as insurance companies are prepared to back dump trucks full of cash up this house, we’ll get to see America’s favorite meth dealer pop up every so often. So while it’s weird to se Cranston play Heisenberg one more time in an Esurance commercial, it’s not that surprising.
In most years, January tends to be the most boring month of the year for the box office. This is where Hollywood typically sends the movies in which it has the least faith. This is the dumping ground, the place where movies go to die so the studios can concentrate on their Oscar campaigns. However, thanks to ‘American Sniper,’ this January has bucked every trend. It may technically be a 2014 release, but Clint Eastwood’s war film has made the first chunk of 2015 interesting, shattering expectations and threatening to become the highest grossing film of last year in only a few weeks.
Forged in the fires of Mount Doom, the Ring of Power was stripped from the hand of Sauron following the final battle with the Last Alliance and became of a keepsake of Prince Isildur. Now corrupted by the One Ring, Isildur fell in battle, losing the ring to the river. From there, “Isildur’s Bane” fell into the hands of the creature known as Gollum and from there, into the hands of the Hobbit known as Bilbo Baggins. It was only through the efforts of the Fellowship of the Ring and the brave Frodo Baggins that the One Ring was destroyed forever ... or so we thought. Because the ring has fallen into the hands of a young Texas boy, who was suspended from school for wielding such an accursed tool.
Before he was a CGI creation, Jedi master Yoda was a puppet. Before green screens became the norm, the Dagobah set for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was built elevated off the ground to accommodate Yoda’s puppeteers. And before he brought Yoda to life, puppeteer and voice actor Frank Oz was best known as the man behind Miss Piggy. In a weird way, that makes the most wizened character in the ‘Star Wars’ universe a distant relative of the extended Muppet family.
Super Bowl commercials are still a big, huge, massive, crazy deal, with major corporations shelling out absurd amounts of money on ads designed to win over the most reliably large and receptive audience in all of televised sports. So of course ‘SNL’ was going to contribute its own commercial parody to the mix...but man, no one was expecting something this mean, scathing or on-point.
Nicolas Cage has made a habit of selecting atrocious film roles for the better part of a decade, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when he finds himself attached to something that actually sounds promising. Fresh off a Razzie nomination for the quick and dirty paycheck gig that was ‘Left Behind,’ Cage is set to lead ‘Army of One,’ a film adaptation of a truly bizarre story about man’s hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
A lot of people are going to act like they didn’t see the enormous success of ‘American Sniper’ coming, but the signs were all there. On top of the promising limited release numbers, there was the awards buzz. On top of that, there were the names of director Clint Eastwood and star Bradley Cooper. On top of that, the subject matter of the film is inherently attractive to the same category of moviegoer that makes Christian-themed films into massive hits. ‘American Sniper’ had one doozy of a weekend, but it’s not that surprising.
You’d be surprised by how many beloved directors earn a little extra cash anonymously directing commercials, but when you hire the great Martin Scorsese to help sell your lavish new casino in Manilla Bay, Philippines, you end up with a full fledged Scorsese Picture. Which means that this is one of the most energetic and stylish advertisements you’ll see this year … and that it stars Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.
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