Cameron Diaz

Annie

The Annie mythos — culled from various versions, from an 1885 poem by James Whitcomb Riley to the Harold Gray-crafted syndicated comic strip to the beloved 1977 Broadway musical and its subsequent 1982 film adaptation — has evolved quite spectacularly over the years. Once a character in a poem that is straight up about goblins, Annie is now the adorable, plucky heroine of a feel-good musical about finding your own family (and copious amounts of cash) in the most unexpected of places. Still, the problem with Annie is that, jazzy song-and-dance sequences aside, the story itself is almost too wrenching to be believed. At least, that’s the problem with Will Gluck‘s Annie, which insists on foisting still more troubles on our pint-sized leading lady while also involving a weirdly adult subplot about corporate invasions of privacy. Isn’t being a goddamn orphan bad enough? No, because this orphan has to soft-shoe it through a feature that thinks that illiteracy works wonders as a late-breaking, totally tossed-off issue and that selling kids for cash is the kind of feature the entire family can enjoy this holiday season. Still worse, the musical elements of the film — which is still a musical, no matter how many times its own characters make fun of the genre during the actual course of the feature — are ham-fisted, poorly made and embarrassing.

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Rob Lowe in Sex Tape

Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) used to love to fuck. Having hooked up in college, they would screw in her dorm, in his car, in the library stacks, even behind a tree. Ten years, two kids and one marriage later, that spark has apparently vanished, prompting the desperate couple to film a comprehensive reenactment of “The Joy of Sex” in a bid to get it back. However, this being 2014, their exploits have been filmed with an iPad and not on a video camera, allowing the file to handily vanish into the little-understood Cloud for storage. As a radio DJ, Jay has an unlikely amount of iPads at his disposal and hands them off to friends and family once he’s done with them, and as a mommy blogger, Annie is dreadfully worried that their three-hour lovemaking session might be seen by anyone they’ve given a device, including her wholesome new employer, Hank (Rob Lowe). To watch Sex Tape is to gloss over the practical hurdles of file-sharing and the leads’ repeated reminders of the Apple tablet’s many merits. To watch it is to reinforce the shameful, fearful mindset with which many Americans regard sex while ignoring the distancing effect technology can have on our everyday lives. Furthermore, to watch it is to endure a constant strain as director Jake Kasdan (Zero Effect; Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) struggles to mine the panicky high-concept premise for three acts’ worth of story, let alone 90 minutes of laughs.

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CBS Films

Even the Coen Brothers deliver a dud on occasion, but the films usually still have something going for them. That isn’t the case with their penned remake of Gambit, directed by Michael Hoffman. It’s sad to say, but Gambit is like some fan aped their style in service of their flimsy idea of remaking Gambit. Replacing Michael Caine as Harry Deane is Colin Firth, playing a dweeby, undervalued Englishman. For years he’s suffered at the hands of his intolerable nudist boss, Lionel Shahbandar (Alan Rickman). To stick it to the art collecting Lionel, Harry decides to pull a fast one on him. Deane’s con involves pretending he’s found a famous painting by chance, owned by a small town American woman, PJ Punznowski (Cameron Diaz). Everything sounds so perfect in his head, but once he involves the unpredictable Punznowski his plan becomes less and less promising. Unfortunately, so does the film.

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20th Century Fox

Carly (Cameron Diaz) is a successful corporate lawyer who may have finally found “the one.” After eight weeks of dating she’s putting all of her eggs in Mark’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) kind, romantic and handsome basket, but a surprise visit to his home reveals a disturbing surprise. There’s a woman in a bathrobe there. Worse, it’s Mark’s wife, Kate (Leslie Mann). The two become unlikely friends, and when they discover a third woman (Kate Upton) who’s been spending time in Mark’s pants the three join forces to teach him a lesson about hell, fury and scorned women. Unfortunately, it’s an embarrassing lesson for almost everyone involved. The Other Woman will be perceived by some as empowering towards the fairer sex in its message of women sticking together against a common enemy, but anything more than a cursory glance at the film reveals that to be a load of wishful b.s. Paper-thin characters, a simplistic script and sloppy attempts at physical comedy weigh the already weak film down, and instead it’s Mann who single-handedly struggles to keep the film afloat with her humorous and heartfelt performance.

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sex tape roller skate sex

A couple weeks ago on an episode of the Broken Projector podcast, Scott and Geoff discussed movies that became dated by the technology on display, particularly if that tech was integral to the plot. I could only think of them doing a follow-up piece while watching the new Red Band trailer for Sex Tape. The comedy, which stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as a couple who accidentally share their three-hour personal porn with all their friends and family and bosses, is so filled with references to iPads, the Cloud, Siri and Macbooks that not only do I feel the whole thing was financed by Apple but that it resembles a landfill from 2017 — not necessarily a physical one but a garbage dump of culture. These are things that eventually will be outdated, and when that happens, this movie is going to resemble You’ve Got Mail. Only without the sweetness that is making that AOL commercial of a movie celebrated after 15 years (can you imagine a You’ve Got Mail Red Band trailer?). Sex Tape is, instead, a raunchy comedy with plenty of intercourse, cocaine usage, animal cruelty and I bet Segel’s balls wind up on screen at some point, too. It’s also about people with enough money to give out iPads as gifts to everyone they know — see, the way their sex tape is shared with everyone from grandma to Robs Corddry and Lowe (he’s Diaz’s boss) is that it’s uploaded to the Cloud and rained down […]

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review the counselor

The Counselor is one of the most cinematic and uncinematic movies of the year. It’s the former because director Ridley Scott used  the production to craft a beautifully uncomfortable atmosphere, truly evoking the themes, ideas, and visuals of scribe Cormac McCarthy‘s writing. Yet, it’s uncinematic because, to no one’s surprise, McCarthy loves to do things his own way. The movie doesn’t give you conventional exposition, backstory, or whatever else audiences might expect from easily digestible and normative filmmaking. The lead, The Counselor (Michael Fassbender), isn’t given a name. Why? Because he doesn’t need one. But the film isn’t vague – it tells you everything you need to know. The script itself is a slightly different matter. The people who loathed The Counselor, of which there are many, based on its D Cinema Score and a current rating of 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, would have torn the screen apart if  Scott used everything that McCarthy provided for him on the page. The script is just that good. Scott’s final product contains both minor and major deviations in McCarthy’s script (which reads more as a novel than a traditional screenplay), and following are ten of the most notable changes.

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lowe

Now that Rob Lowe has broken the world’s hearts by announcing that he’s going to soon be stepping away from his regular role on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, he’s going to have to work awful hard to make up for the disappointment he’s made us all feel. In particular, he’s going to have to make up for it by taking lots of movie roles, and preferably in comedies, so he can continue to exercise that bulging laugh-making muscle he proved to us he had with his sitcom work. The good news on that front is that Lowe has already signed up for a post-Parks comedy. According to Deadline, art is going to imitate an unfortunate incident from the early part of Lowe’s life in the spotlight, as he’s agreed to appear in the new comedy from director Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard, Bad Teacher), Sex Tape.

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cordrry hot tub

Two more actors have been announced for Jake Kasdan’s upcoming comedy Sex Tape, and with them come an unholy onslaught of cheap puns. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rob Corddry is in talks to join the cast, while The Wrap reports that Jack Black will be appearing in a cameo role. The film is, to the surprise of absolutely no one, about a sex tape. Specifically, it’s about a couple (Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz) who attempt to spice up their love life by filming one. Naturally, the tape goes missing, and so begins a frantic search to find it before it could fall into potentially embarrassing (or worse) hands. Corddry will play a friend of the couple’s who joins them on their quest, while Jack Black will play “the CEO of a major porn company.” The story doesn’t give us a whole lot to go on, but thankfully the cast does. Segel and Diaz with Kasdan directing — it’s the exact same lineup as Bad Teacher from two years ago. If you adored that, than chances are you’ll probably love Sex Tape. And if not, at least you’ll know exactly what you’re in for. The title states it pretty plainly. Sex Tape is expected to start production this fall.

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moore

What is Casting Couch? It’s all of the day’s most pressing casting news compiled in one convenient place. Today we’ve got a very important update on what David Hasselhof is going to be up to next. The Germans should love this one. One of the more important characters who’s going to be introduced in the next two Hunger Games movies is Alma Coin, who’s the President of one of the Districts that make up the story’s dystopian world—probably the most important and mysterious of all the Districts too. Anyway, she’s a lady, and she’s the sort of lady who projects quite a bit of competence and authority, so it’s going to be important for director Francis Lawrence to find an experienced actress with some real chops to play her. Low and behold, Deadline has a report that he’s likely found such an actress. According to their sources, Julianne Moore is very close to signing on to take the role, which will finally give her a chance to play a politician with some brains.

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teaser counselor

Of the many high profile films opening later this fall Ridley Scott‘s newest has seemed to exist in a rather quiet little bubble. It’s strange considering the director’s pedigree as well as that of his very recognizable and accomplished cast. Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem are marquee names, and more than that they’re also considered to be some of Hollywood’s sexiest stars. The most impressive selling point for me though is that they’re all over 35 years old, meaning this just may be that rarest of Hollywood films… a big, dramatic thriller for adults. The Counselor comes from the pen of Cormac McCarthy, but unlike The Road or No Country for Old Men, this represents a departure for the writer in that it’s an original screenplay. The story follows a lawyer who finds himself involved in the dirty world of drug dealing millionaires who own cheetahs. Check out the first teaser below.

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black:farrell

What is Casting Couch? A handy way to keep up with what all of your favorite actors are going to be up to in the coming months and years. Does that make you a stalker? Today we’ve got word on who’s the latest name to join George Clooney in Brad Bird’s mysterious Tomorrowland. Few things in the world are funnier than Jack Black kicking Will Ferrell’s dog off of a bridge, that much is certain. But take the hilarious animal cruelty out of the equation and would these two A-list comedians still be able to produce laughs together? We’re about to find out, because THR is reporting that New Line is putting together a comedy called Tag, which has them attached as co-stars. The basic story of the film comes from a “Wall Street Journal” article about ten classmates from a Washington prep school, now all in their 40s, who get together one month out of the year to play an elaborate game of tag. This conceit, of course, is just the sort of manchild nonsense that these two should be able to knock out of the park, as long as they get a script everyone likes and the thing actually comes together.

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Sylvester Stallone in Cobra 2: Axing for Trouble

What is Casting Couch? It’s a news roundup that’s jam-packed with updates about big star doing big things. Look at this list of names! There’s barely a second-stringer on there. When you shoot as many people in the head and blow as many things up onscreen as Sylvester Stallone, every once in a while it’s nice to take a break from all of the insanity and do a quiet little indie drama. So, according to Variety, that’s exactly what he’s doing with his next film, Reach Me. Written and directed by Stallone’s Cobra co-star John Herzfeld, Reach Me is an ensemble piece about a group of characters who were all touched by a self-help book that was written by a reclusive football coach. There isn’t yet any word on what role Stallone will be playing, but, for the sake of his old knees, let’s hope it doesn’t involve any running. Those hobbling away from the explosion scenes in the Expendables movies are starting to look pretty painful.

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Gambit 2012 Movie

In the original Gambit, Michael Caine went up against the great Herbert Lom, but in the updated version, it’s Colin Firth attempting to pull one over on Alan Rickman. It’s a little bit like Ocean’s One, and instead of a dancer played by Shirley MacLaine, we get a Southern stereotype played by Cameron Diaz. Fortunately, everyone drops their pants in the trailer. The movie was written by The Coen Brothers and directed by Michael Hoffman (The Last Station, Soapdish), so it’s definitely got a pedigree. However there’s just something flat about this particular piece of marketing. Something sort of tired and silly without being funny. Check it out for yourself:

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Over Under - Large

Being John Malkovich was an amazing success story upon its 1999 release. Not only was it a critical darling that got nominated for a bunch of awards, but it also successfully launched the big screen careers of a music video director named Spike Jonze and a lowly TV writer named Charlie Kaufman. In case you didn’t know, those guys have gone on to be big names, and Being John Malkovich earns quite the pedigree by being the start of their careers. On a personal level, I walked out of the movie in ’99 shocked at how unique and inventive it was, and loving how it melded progressive filmmaking with a comic sensibility. Revisiting it all these years later though, I realize it hasn’t aged as well as I’d hoped, and I find myself wondering if it still deserves the level of reverence that it gets. Mabrouk El Mechri’s 2008 film JCVD didn’t get near as much buzz or recognition as something like Being John Malkovich. Maybe that’s because a big chunk of it wasn’t in English, or maybe it’s because it just wasn’t as good—that’s debatable. But the opinion that it showed us a different side of its star, Jean-Claude Van Damme, was pretty universal, and it seemed like it was going to be something of a rebirth for the action star’s career. It’s four years later though, and nothing has really come of it. The man has still been largely relegated to straight-to-video action movies, and any of the […]

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Pregnancy and childbirth are nothing new. In fact, there are few things less new than humans reproducing. It’s been done before. But Kirk Jones’ What to Expect When You’re Expecting accurately captures the inherent selfishness of expecting parents,and their individual “journeys” to the delivery room (and beyond). Unfortunately, even when gifted with a large, mostly eager cast, Jones is also saddled with a script from Shauna Cross and Heather Hach (working off of Heidi Murkoff‘s guidebook of the same name) that is deeply uninterested in providing much variety in their work. The effect is simple one – the film itself is deeply uninteresting. While What to Expect continually reminds its viewers that pregnancy and childbirth are miracles, unique and thrilling gifts, Cross and Hach have concocted one of the most bland, basic, and unadventurous scripts in recent memory.

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We’ve been pretty closely following the development and casting news of Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor (written by no less than Cormac McCarthy), and while the bulk of casting so far has been quite exciting (Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt, to name the big guns), this is the first rumor that gives us pause. Twitch Film is reporting that Cameron Diaz has landed a role in the film, one Angelina Jolie was once hotly pursuing. The role of Malkina is one of two big female parts in the film, making this one of Diaz’s most juicy (and somewhat unexpected) gigs yet. While Diaz has yet to show that she’s capable of truly carrying a dark and dramatic role on her own, she has dipped her toe in interesting fare, stuff like The Box, Gangs of New York, and Being John Malkovich. She’s also continued to work on her comedic talents, showing a sort of weird fearlessness in recent roles, particularly the not-so-flattering Bad Teacher. And, hell, she’s even playing the female lead in the Coen brothers-penned Gambit remake, so perhaps Diaz is ready to take the next step in her acting career.

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Jason Segel

When the script for Sex Tape was first acquired by Sony in a deal that reportedly reached seven figures, there was talk that it already had three names attached. The story of a bored, suburban couple who make and then misplace a sex tape was said to be starring Jason Segel and Reese Witherspoon, and it was going to be directed by Nick Stoller. Well, various aspects of that report either didn’t work out or were never true in the first place, because people are talking about Sex Tape again, and only one of those names is still attached. THR reports that while Jason Segel is still on board to play the male lead, a deal with Stoller was never reached, and now Jake Kasdan has signed on to be the director. Witherspoon isn’t mentioned at all in this new report, and, as a matter of fact, they go as far as to say that the female lead hasn’t yet been cast, and Cameron Diaz is thought to be a front-runner for the role.

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I am fully aware that I after I reveal what I am about to reveal, I may very well have my Official Lady Card revoked – but I’m willing to accept that. Deadline Harriman reveals that Ryan Murphy has signed a “preemptive deal” in the seven-figures with Sony Pictures to make a film titled One Hit Wonders, a musical comedy that will center on three washed-up pop singers from the ’90s who join together to make a super group. The film has yet to be penned, but it will be written specifically for Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, and Cameron Diaz, who will play the singers, along with Beyonce, Andy Samberg, and the rest of the Lonely Island boys in unspecified (but obviously musical) roles. Here comes the part where I throw myself onto the fire – I think this sounds eighteen shades of awful, almost unspeakably terrible. The real kicker for me is this tidbit – “The project came out of a dinner that Murphy had at the Soho House, with Paltrow, Diaz and Witherspoon. They wanted to do something fun together, and kicked around ideas until they settled on One Hit Wonders.” How I wish this had just stayed a funny jag between friends and not something that the rest of us have to be subjected to. While musical comedies are usually delightful, something about a pack of Hollywood A-list friends getting together just for the sake of getting together turns my tummy, and the attachment of Ryan Murphy, […]

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There’s something great about the female-centric advertising coming out of a generic comedy based on an advice book for mothers about to deliver a bun fresh from the oven. The marketing team has faith in the women, and Lionsgate has faith in a woman-driven adult comedy. It’s clearly propelled by the success of Bridesmaids, but the more perverse secondary effect that that raucous comedy had on the studio math world is that crass women now equal box office gold. And thus, the posters for What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Again, it’s great to see women used so overtly for marketing without oversexualizing them (or, using their image months after their being sexualized?), but shoving bad lines with buzzwords in them reeks of desperation to appear edgy without actually having to be edgy. They won’t set back the women’s movement or anything, but they’re at least 10% heinous. Check them out for yourself:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with director Jake Kasdan about the horror of getting Cameron Diaz all wet for Bad Teacher. Plus, The Innkeepers and House of the Devil director Ti West offers up his favorite scary movie, and we chat with a man who got a movie deal by posting on Reddit. Download This Episode

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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