Billy Crystal

Labyrinth Movie

By announcing Billy Crystal‘s involvement with Which Witch, a new animated film that has him taking on starring, writing and producing duties, the Jim Henson Co. quietly slipped in just a few other, minor items. The studio, which is now run by the late Jim Henson’s children Lisa and Brian Henson, is ramping up its feature film side after focusing on television ventures for some time; and four films involving beloved Henson properties are on the way. While the rights to The Muppets were sold to Disney in 2004 — and those rights have definitely not gone to waste — the Henson Co. has enough franchises in their arsenal to pad their slate. According to Variety, aside from Which Witch, the studio is working on a Fraggle Rock film, a sequel to Dark Crystal, a movie based on Emmet Otter (there was a 1970s TV movie, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas) and a film centered in the world of Labyrinth. They also optioned the rights to “Frog and Toad” in 2012, but there hasn’t been any news on that front since.


review monsters university

The friends you make in college are the ones you make for life, right? Monsters University certainly thinks so, using the film as a prequel to Monsters, Inc. to tell the origin story behind how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley’s (John Goodman) scare-tastic team came to be. After a class field trip to Monsters Inc., Mike sets his eyes (ahem, eye) on going to Monsters University and becoming a Scarer. The problem is – no one thinks Mike is scary. Despite his enthusiasm, things only get worse when he ends up in class with the large, brash Sulley, a monster who has the right look (and the famous Sullivan name to back it up), but who also has it out for “know-it-all” Mike. After a mishap during their final, the rivalry and tension between Mike and Sulley only increases and Mike decides that entering the Scare Games is the only way to get his dream of becoming a Scarer back on track. But because you must be a part of a team to enter the games, Mike decides to join one of the less popular fraternities on campus, OK (Oozma Kappa), made up of the kooky middle-aged Don Carlton (Joel Murray), two-headed monster Terri and Terry Perry (Sean Hayes and Dave Foley), awkward Scott “Squishy” Squibbles (Peter Sohn), and laid-back goof Art (Charlie Day.) This rag tag group must come together to win the games, but before they can even enter, they need a sixth member – and that is where Sulley comes in.



The sequel to beloved Pixar property Monsters, Inc., Monsters University, is mere weeks away from arriving in a theater near you, and Disney and Pixar have just now released a trailer that pulls on the heartstrings in a decidedly firm fashion. Sure, all our other looks at the film, a prequel reunion of Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) and James P. Sullivan (voice of John Goodman), have been varying degrees of cute and funny, but the film’s final trailer is the sweetest one of all. Why so darling? This one focuses on the big dreams of a little Mike, and it’s just the most adorable little personal journey story, and just soooo, just sooo…just awwww! It’s just adorable! We can’t help it (we apologize). And, yes, it’s also funny and filled with hijinks and college fun. What a mix. After the break, get the warm and fuzzies for Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan (again) with the final trailer for Monsters University.


Monsters University - Domestic

While not many films about professional partners doing their jobs together tend to make audiences sit back and wonder, geez, I wonder what these two were like in college?, not many films about professional partners doing their jobs together came with the sort of sweetness and humor that Pete Docter‘s Monsters, Inc. did. Next year’s prequel to the Pixar hit, Dan Scanlon‘s Monsters University, takes us way back into the early years of Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike Wazowski’s (Billy Crystal) friendship and matriculation at, you guessed it, Monsters University. Lucky for us, the project has started to roll out some teaser posters (and they are OMG adorable, squeee), including an international one up top and a domestic one after the break. Who knew college could be so totally charming?


Parental Guidance

Well, hmm. At the very least (like, bare minimum here), Andy Fickman‘s Parental Guidance looks inoffensive. The family film stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as a set of grandparents finally getting their big shot with their three grandkiddos, thanks to their daughter (played by Marisa Tomei) and her urgent need to have someone (possibly anyone) look after them for a few days. Suddenly, the “old school” parents must take care of some new wave munchkins who’ve been raised in a sugar-free environment that’s big on feelings and such. Hijinks, misunderstandings, and apparently some sort of overdose on sheet cake ensue. It all seems relatively harmless (and certainly less embarrassing than something like Robert DeNiro’s fall from respectability at the hands of his own family series, the nosedive-y endeavor that is the Meet the Parents franchise), and Parental Guidance will likely be a solid choice come the holidays – at least, when you need to please everyone in your family when it comes to movie-going. Check out a new Parental Guidance trailer after the break, and ponder if Crystal is the new Robert DeNiro.



Last Tuesday was the 25th anniversary of the theatrical openings of The Princess Bride, and this coming Tuesday sees the release of a 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray of the movie, which features a new two-part retrospective documentary. Also on Tuesday, a new print of the fantasy adventure classic will screen during the New York Film Festival, complete with a reunion of actors Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal and Carol Kane and director Rob Reiner (no Fred Savage? Inconceivable!) for a post-film conversation. So, we’ve got a new Scenes We Love this week to honor the beloved comedic romance (don’t call it a rom-com), and maybe this sounds like an impossible task. After all, if you love one scene from The Princess Bride, you love them all. We could just say, we love that 100-minute-long scene in which a stable boy-turned-pirate fights a giant, a genius and a swordsman in order to rescue a princess from kidnappers and then stop her from marrying an evil prince, all as it is told by an old man to his grandson. Then just embed the film in its entirety (if it were available this way). But we can isolate a handful of favorites — that’s six scenes, if we go by Count Rugen’s hand — and if there are any others you wish to bring up, we invite you to do so.



Today is Grandparents Day. So where are all the movies aimed at Americans celebrating the holiday? Is it that we still don’t honor the occasion the way we do with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, even after 35 years of its existence? Or, is it that, in spite of always being proven wrong by movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Hollywood still thinks seniors don’t go to the movies? It might be a combination, though I did take notice the other day that the trailer for Parental Guidance arrived appropriately this very weekend. The comedy stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as a couple who have to watch their grandchildren while their daughter (Marisa Tomei) goes on a business trip. And the humor apparently comes from the elder duo’s generational disconnect from kids today. First question: Are Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are old enough to play grandparents now? Well, they’re in their mid-60s, which seems about right looking at it as someone who feels late to the parenting game myself. My mom and dad are in that age group, and though my kid is an infant, there are some people from my high school class already seeing theirs off to high school this year.


Monsters University

Pixar and Disney are going back to college (and back into sequel/prequel territory) with Monsters University. The movie, of course, acts as a feeder school into Monsters, Inc., and features John Goodman and Billy Crystal in their old/younger voice roles. The film is being directed by Dan Scanlon (one of the writers on Cars), and while it’s not at all an indicator of quality, this first teaser trailer is pretty dull. It’s not at all imbued with the kind of Pixar magic we’ve come to love – with its generic voice over and obvious gags. The timing doesn’t even seem right. Check it out for yourself:


Small Apartments

The skin-crawling world of Small Apartments is presented without irony or judgment – so it’s not surprising that, in such an off-kilter environment, Matt Lucas’ Franklin Franklin (yes, that’s really his name) sounds relatively sane. Even when he’s off-handedly confessing to the murder of his landlord, Lucas’ delivery is so deadpan that no one takes him seriously – after all, why would Franklin kill anyone? Oh, possibly because (like everybody else in his crumbling apartment building) he’s totally deranged?


The Princess Bride

When Jeremy said he needed someone to fill in on Commentary Commentary so that he could focus his energies primarily on South by Southwesting, I simply replied, “As you wish.” But then I was left with a conundrum. What movie should I watch the commentary track for? After rifling through my DVD collection I ended up with a handful of possibilities, and I wound up choosing The Princess Bride for one reason: when else would I ever listen to the commentary tracks on this movie, if not now? The Princess Bride is so much fun, such a whimsical experience, that if you’re going to put the DVD on, you want to watch the movie. You don’t want to hear some old guy rambling over all of the classic lines. Consequently, this thing has been sitting on my shelf essentially since DVDs began, and I still haven’t listened to either the Rob Reiner or the William Goldman commentaries. So, here we go, I’ll take the hit and give them a listen, pick out all the interesting stuff, and you can go about your usual business of properly soaking in all the action, adventure, and romance the next time you need to get your Princess Bride fix.



The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has basically made it their business to look like a bunch of boring old fuddy-duddies. Not only did their nominations this year fail to recognize some of the year’s best and most progressive examples of filmmaking, like Drive, Take Shelter, and Shame, but they’ve also seemed to do everything in their power to make sure that nothing fun or new happens at the ceremony itself. The members of the Academy have gotten a lot of criticism lately for being made up mostly of out of touch, old white men, and with every decision that they make those claims appear to be more and more valid. It’s to the point where it seems like old white people aren’t just the only ones allowed to join their club, but they’re also the only ones they want watching their telecast. Already this year they made the Internet mad by refusing to hear their pleas to let the Muppets host instead of going with their safe, usual choice of Billy Crystal. And most recently they’ve raised everyone’s Muppet ires once again by announcing that—despite the fact they were nominated for the original song “Man or Muppet” – nobody would actually be performing the nominated songs during this year’s ceremony, so a Muppet performance was out of the question. I mean, come on, who could be so cold-hearted that they refuse the Muppets twice? The latest victim of their old man grumbling is apparently Sacha Baron Cohen. There […]


Wrong Poster

What is Movie News After Dark? If you have to ask, then maybe it’s not for you. We begin this evening with a shot of Noomi Rapace in Prometheus. The former Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is going interstellar for director Ridley Scott, whose return to big sci-fi has made my own 5 most anticipated of 2012 short list when I delivered such picks on this week’s Reject Radio. It seems a fitting start to the final News After Dark of the week.


Nigel Tufnel Goes to 11

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that would like to lend apologies to those who despise brevity. Tonight’s just not a quantity kind of night. It is, however, a quality kind of night. Quentin Tarantino is now officially on a casting binge for Django Unchained, reportedly signing up Sacha Baron Cohen to play a gambler who buys Kerry Washington as his companion, thus angering the titular slave played by Jamie Foxx. I love it when he plays the villain.


Oscars Billy

The last forty-eight hours have been tumultuous ones for this year’s Academy Awards telecast. First, the show’s producer Brett Ratner was unceremoniously asked to step down from his position after the world realized that he was a creep. Then his host, Eddie Murphy, soon followed, wishing the new producer and new host the best of luck. Fans all over the web were in an agitated state, debating who should take their places, with a large contingent actively campaigning for a very Muppet Oscars. The Academy seems to be in a bit of a panic though, because less than a day later they’ve already locked their choices down, and the replacements they found can most accurately be described as safe. First, it was announced that Brian Grazer would be the new producer. After this, speculation began to run rampant that Billy Crystal would be the most logical and easy choice for Grazer to plug in as host, seeing as he’s done the job so many times and has a seemingly endless enthusiasm for the gig. Sure enough, earlier today Crystal took to his @BillyCrystal Twitter account and made the following announcement, “Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show.” Since then, the Academy’s official account has retweeted Crystal’s claims, making things pretty official.



Throw Momma from the Train (1987) The night was humid. Synopsis Larry is a neurotic writer who hates his ex-wife for stealing his book and the fortune and fame that subsequently followed. Owen is a simpleton momma’s boy who takes Larry’s creative writing class and who hates his momma for being old and curmudgeonly. For separate reasons, neither one of them is able to write a good story: Larry, bitter and distracted, has writer’s block and Owen, simple and naive, just has no concept on how to write well. To help out his student’s pathetic attempt at a murder mystery, Larry offers a simple piece of advice – eliminate the motive – that Owen unfortunately interprets to mean if he murders Larry’s ex-wife, Larry will return the favor by murdering his momma.



Quite a fuss has been made of Sunday night’s Golden Globes ceremony. Not the actual awards mind you – everything was safe and predictable in that arena. Not even the obvious drunkenness or awkward attempts at humor with varying degrees of success by the night’s celebrity award winners and presenters are the primary subject of the conversation (De Niro’s bizarre acceptance speech, Robert Downey Jr’s creepy framing of the Best Actress category). All discourse has been centered on the performance by the show’s host, Ricky Gervais. Gervais’s acerbic monologue was met with audible surprise and even aghast by his elite audience. His introductions to awards presenters ranged from tongue-in-cheek playfulness to blatant comic criticism. He later disappeared for more than an hour, prompting speculation on Twitter (the only place where aside observations can immediately morph into conspiracy theory) that he was taken off the show, only to emerge later, without his jacket and appearing vexed, to give quite the backhanded introduction to Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, which all-in-all does suggest at least a firm backstage talking-to. With strangely perfect timing, Gervais ended the show with the line, “And thank you to God for making me an atheist” before the generic end credits music surged. The Buñuelean echo of these final words was a rather appropriate summation of Gervais’s brilliant absurdity and anarchic irreverence peppered throughout this masturbatory rich-ual (get it?). It was, in short, hilarious and the best thing about the show. Here’s his monologue:



Kevin Carr sits his chubbiness down and sees if Tooth Fairy, Legion and Extraordinary Measures can make the grade.



While Neil is off galavanting in Park City, Utah, stocking up on watching movies for the coming year at Sundance TwentyTen, Kevin is left alone in the Magical Studio in the Sky. To help keep him company is Fozzie Bare, stepping into Neil’s sizable shoes as guest host.



I’m not ashamed to say that I love a good romantic comedy. Unfortunately, for every good one, there are about a hundred terrible ones. For this week’s Movies We Love, we take some time to appreciate one of the very best: When Harry Met Sally.

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
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published: 01.28.2015

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