Elizabeth Banks

LEGO Movie Batman

With the release of The LEGO Movie on DVD and Blu-ray this week, we’re taking a look behind the scenes of the movie with the cast and crew. Christopher Miller and Phil Lord lead the commentary, joined by many of the actors in the studio, as well as Elizabeth Banks who phones in her contributions from an undisclosed location. Miller and Lord are riding a wave of cinematic goodwill with two of the biggest openings of 2014 (is a 23 LEGO Jump Street far of?), but they managed to tear themselves away from counting their cash and diving into piles of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck to devote an hour and forty minutes to the cause of pulling the curtain back from the magical world of LEGOLAND.

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Every Secret Thing movie

Plenty of feature films about crime – true or otherwise – center on seemingly normal people who break both the boundaries of normal social behavior and a little thing called the law. Regular people do bad things, too, but that doesn’t mean it’s not shocking and weirdly wrenching when those regular people are of a jarringly young age. Such is the case is Amy Berg’s Every Secret Thing, which follows a pair of pre-teen girls who (possibly) commit a ghastly crime and then (possibly) repeat it nearly a decade later. The feature opens on what seems to be a charmed night in the Manning household, as mother Helen (Diane Lane) acquiesces to her daughter Alice’s (played in these younger sequences by Brynne Norquist) every demand. Let’s read stories! And paint nails! And bake cookies! Helen is delighted by the requests, unaware that Alice is either desperately trying to please her or attempting to cram all the happy memories she can into a single night before everything changes. A knock on the door interrupts the peace, and suddenly there’s another little face (this one belongs to Ronnie, played in her younger years by Eva Grace Kellner) clinging to Helen, apologizing for something that no words can ever repair.

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review the lego movie

You’d be right to be cynical about a Hollywood movie based around a bestselling toy with a high price point and a lack of prepackaged story inside the box. The movie business is just that, a business, and when they join forces with toy manufacturers to make “entertainment” for children the results are rarely satisfying or recognizable as anything but crummy, feature-length commercials. But every rule has an exception, and The LEGO Movie is that gloriously wise, beautifully crafted, and unabashedly fun anomaly. Emmet (Chris Pratt) is an average guy whose continually optimistic outlook is fueled by his appreciation for, and obedience of, President Business’ (Will Ferrell) instructions for living. They tell him to park within the lines, drink overpriced coffee, root for the local sports team… everything necessary for an orderly, structured, and “perfect” community. That illusory perfection is threatened by a prophecy stating that a lone hero will rise to liberate the people through organized chaos, and as luck would have it, Emmet appears to be that hero. Or not.

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Pitch Perfect

Consider this the rare bit of movie news that manages to handily encapsulate the promise of so many, many things we’ve long wanted to see come true, ranging from dearly-held personal preferences (a love for movies about reticent a cappella stars and Rebel Wilson) and the hint of an industry sea change that everyone should be hungry for (more female directors). It’s worth singing about, you guys. THR reports that Elizabeth Banks is on board to direct the upcoming Pitch Perfect sequel, as the co-star and producer of the first film will now add “feature film director” to her resume (along with maintaining both her roles as supporting star and producer). Banks was apparently “instrumental” in making the first film a success, and her energy and passion for the project seem to heartily recommend her for the gig. Screenwriter Kay Cannon, who adapted Mickey Rapkin’s book for the first film’s script, is also back on board to pen this new installment.

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The Lego Movie arrives in theaters February 7, 2014, but there’s been no shortage of video content introducing us to the world and characters the interim leading up to the release. There are a lot of characters. And oh, what fun it appears we’ll be in store for. I’ll admit, I’m already kinda sold, but I’m highly biased. My love of Lego is borderline unhealthy.

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14063-4

Small town life and big tragedy take to the big screen in filmmaker Sarah Colangelo’s feature film debut, Little Accidents, a slice of life drama about what happens when a town is hit by a pair of twin tragedies that may or may not be related to each other. Centered on three connected storylines that frequently bump up against each other before finally blending into one full-scale disaster, the film attempts to tackle big questions about grief and blame and responsibility through interpersonal examples. But despite strong acting (including a tear-stained performance by Elizabeth Banks, usually flexing her acting muscles in comedic situations), Little Accidents doesn’t pack much of an emotional punch, weighed down by predictable plotting and an uncomfortable sense that it’s primarily interested in piling on bad situation under bad situation, until everyone involved (characters and audience) simply crumbles under the weight of more cliché. The film opens months after a mining accident has rocked a small town that’s seemingly wholly dependent on its local coal operations. The sole survivor of a mine cave-in, young Amos (Boyd Holbrook) is clearly uncomfortable with the attention his designation has begun affording him, from people declaring that his survival was a miracle to the local union who is putting pressure on him to speak out against the mining company in order to punish them (read: give more money to all of the victims, including Amos). Both physically and emotionally damaged, Amos just wants his life back, and sets about returning to […]

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Walk of Shame

Elizabeth Banks has had an enviable career in comedy, playing a series of cool, confidant and hilarious blondes. Ranging from Lindsay, the hottest camper in Wet Hot American Summer, to Avery Jessup, Jack Donaghy’s slightly terrifying Fox News-worthy wife on 30 Rock, Banks has had her fair share of solid roles to pad her resume in addition to her other work in more serious films like The Hunger Games franchise. But none of her comedic work has really given her that starring vehicle that she rightly deserves; while she’s certainly been the bright spot in many a movie, we’ve never truly had the Elizabeth Banks Hour. Enter Walk of Shame, the movie that’s trying to fill that void. Banks stars as Meghan Miles, a reporter whose friends are sick of her sitting at home every night and moping. They convince her to go out partying and borrow “something slutty” (a yellow dress that’s perfectly matched to her skin tone and fits her body impeccably, okay), so she decides to go all out and throw caution to the wind when she meets a handsome stranger. Enter James Marsden, the recipient of a one night stand with Miles and the reason for her “walk of shame” — the next morning, she gets a call that network executives are coming to scout her to be an anchor that night, so she must make it to the studio at all costs, particularly because her car gets towed.

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hungergamestruth-1

Whether you’re been a fan of the books from the beginning or constantly find yourself grumbling “Battle Royale ripoff” under your breath, it’s hard to deny the pop culture phenomenon that is The Hunger Games. However, there’s a lot to the series – especially as it is committed to film – that is left unexplained. The premise is simple: After an uprising and war that wiped out much of the North American population, the oppressive government of Panem now demands that two tributes a year are chosen from each of the sparsely-populated districts to compete in the Hunger Games, a battle to the death with a single victor. The story opens in the poverty-stricken District 12 where our heroine is marched into the town square to be part of this annual Reaping. However, knowing that District 12 makes up a large portion of Appalachia and supposedly is larger than the modern state of West Virginia, it seems this Reaping is like the people struggling to survive: a little thin. Do they have the Panem equivalent of draft dodgers? Do the THX-1138 stormtroopers not notice that the ranks are a bit small? How are they getting away with this? In the interest of fairness, this got us thinking: Were the good folks in District 12 scamming the Hunger Games?

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Walk of Shame

In one of the most weirdly Los Angeles-focused (and just plain terrifying to Angeleno driers) press releases to ever land at Reject HQ, we’ve just received our first look (up top) at the Elizabeth Banks-starring Walk of Shame, thanks to a release that doesn’t emphasize the film’s fun cast (including Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs, Bill Burr, Liz Carey, Ken Davitian, Willie Garson, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Oliver Hudson, Alphonso McAuley, Kevin Nealon, Tig Notaro, Ethan Suplee, and Sarah Wright) or its amusing premise (Banks gets stranded in downtown LA after a one night stand goes awry, with only eight hours to get to the biggest job interview of her career), but instead focuses on how much the film’s shoot has completely screwed up LA’s already-screwed traffic situation. If you are an Angeleno, I beg you to brace yourself before reading some of the most hive-inducing details of said press release. Really, think of yourself, think of the children, think of the smog. Let’s begin.

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Ben Affleck

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that finally gets to stop talking about Walk of Shame, which was really being something of an attention hog lately. Some real bad news hit today for everyone looking forward to seeing what a trainwreck Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart starring opposite of each other as romantic interests would have been. Affleck announced that, due to his busy schedule of being a busy person, he’s not going to be able to act in Focus after all. This means that the Glenn Ficarra- and John Requa-helmed pic will have to find someone else to vibe with Stewart as its in-the-mood-for-romance con artist, and Affleck is going to have to stick to directing movies, a place everyone seems to feel way more comfortable with him being in anyway. [Variety]

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Garrett Hedlund

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that was compiled today with the help of Daft Punk musical accompaniment. You may not remember much about TRON: Legacy’s story, because other than its glowing lights and its pumping soundtrack, that 2010 sequel to Disney’s cult classic TRON was pretty dull. So, let’s refresh your memory. The movie starred Garrett Hedlund as the son of Jeff Bridges’ character from the first film. He went into the computer world, found his dad, and then there was a big battle. Remember all this? Good, because Next Movie just confirmed that Hedlund will be back for whatever TRON 3 ends up being called. Disney apparently started getting a script together for a third film just last week. This, of course, means that we’ll all now be keeping our eyes open for the real news regarding this new sequel: whether or not Daft Punk is coming back to do another soundtrack.

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Michael Shannon

What is Casting Couch? It’s the roundup of casting news that knows what Gillian Jacobs is going to be doing with her upcoming break from Community. All that time in the bushes finally paid off. Most people probably thought Wild Things director John McNaughton’s career hit its zenith when he directed Wild Things. That movie was basically the most ’90s thing ever, and it practically introduced the concept of the three-way to the square community through the communicative power of Denise Richards’ boobs. He may yet top that work though, because Deadline reports that he’s just recruited the best actor in the world, Michael Shannon, to star in his upcoming thriller The Harvest. The film will star Samantha Morton as a successful heart surgeon and Shannon as her co-dependent husband. Its conflict comes in when their sick son meets a new friend, and suddenly the very controlled routine that Morton’s character has created starts to break down. Sounds like a creepy mom.

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James Marsden

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting column whose Wizards of Waverly Place fandom is finally coming in handy. That upcoming comedy where Elizabeth Banks tries to juggle being a person with loose morals with being a person with career goals, Walk of Shame, has just added another actor. According to Variety, James Marsden has joined the film. There’s no word on what sort of character he’s going to be playing, and seeing as the film is about a series of adventures that occur as Banks’ character tries to get from the scene of a one night stand to a job interview across town, that leaves a lot of possibilities open. Will Marsden be a romantic foil? Just someone who pops in briefly for a humorous interaction? We don’t know, but since we all saw Death at a Funeral, what we do know is that Marsden can do goofy comedy. Hopefully this one will give him another chance to act silly.

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The Details

Hollywood does not look favorably upon suburbia. It’s understandable of course, what with all the illusory perfection and white picket fences, but from Little Children to American Beauty to Home Alone we’ve seen time and again that surface innocence hides infidelity, unhappiness and abandoned children setting deadly traps made from household items. That trend continues with Tobey Maguire‘s latest film where he plays Jeff Lang, a man who seems to have it all. A beautiful wife, a healthy little boy, a job and a home in the suburbs… what more could he want? But when a raccoon starts digging holes in his perfect back yard a chain of events is set in motion that threatens it all. The links in that chain, henceforth known as the details, are a mix of the mundane and the ridiculous, and almost without exception they see Lang behaving like a complete and utter bastard. There are laughs along the way, but as one bad domino after another falls before him he grows further and further away from a believable character we can relate to, and therein lay the film’s biggest issue. Things become a bit too outrageous and Maguire’s dueling expressions of surprise and bemusement aren’t enough to carry viewers along.

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Anyone who’s lived in a college town or a neighborhood with a bustling bar district over the past ten years or so has probably heard the term “walk of shame.” Or, at least, you have to have seen one take place, even if you didn’t know what the kids were calling it at the time. The walk of shame happens when somebody makes some bad decisions at a bar, spends the night at the house of someone they don’t know, and then has to walk back home the next morning looking all disheveled and gross because the person they spent the night with doesn’t even have the decency to give them a ride. Due to the fact that the walk of shame is both comically embarrassing and promotes casual sex, it was only a matter of time before somebody in Hollywood used it for the basis of a raunchy comedy, and that time is now. According to THR, Elizabeth Banks has just signed a deal with Lakeshore Entertainment to make Walk of Shame her next project after filming wraps on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The film, which was written and will be directed by Steve Brill, tells the story of a news anchor in Los Angeles who has to make her way across town after a one night stand in time to receive a promotion at her work that she’s been dreaming about forever.

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Movie 43 Trailer

It’s been a really long time since a sketch anthology movie got released in theaters. I’m not some sort of human trivia machine, so I don’t know exactly how long, but let’s just say that it’s been quite a while since somebody showed somebody else their VHS copy of Kentucky Fried Movie in a college dorm room. The people at Relativity Media are making a big play at bringing the form back though, by recruiting an army of funny filmmakers and a legion of talented actors to put together a new sketch comedy anthology called Movie 43. Who do they have directing segments of this thing? People like Bob Odenkirk, James Gunn, Elizabeth Banks, Peter Farrelly, and tons others. Who’s starring? People like Halle Berry, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, Emma Stone, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman, and many more than can be typed without having your fingers cramp up. This movie cast Gerard Butler as its leprechaun, so you know it’s star-studded.

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The Details trailer

Though Mean Creek director Jacob Aaron Estes’ latest project, The Details, debuted all the way back at Sundance 2011, it’s just finally gearing up for a real theatrical release come November 2. Why has it sat on the shelf for so long? Maybe it’s just because the idea of watching Spider-Man act like a jerk for a couple of hours is something of a hard sell. From the looks of the film’s new trailer, The Details is a character drama that sees Tobey Maguire cheating on his wife, banging Ray Liotta’s wife, getting another woman pregnant, contemplating murder, toilet training raccoons, appreciating latte art, chatting with Kerry Washington, chatting with Dennis Haysbert, and trying out religion. Okay, so maybe there isn’t anything wrong with those last few things, but the first couple are pretty bad. Is this going to be the sort of lead character who audiences can relate to?

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Some people may wonder why a movie idea like, say, Battleship gets raked over the coals while a film built on LEGOs gets the benefit of the doubt. The reason partially has to do with the absurdity of basing a movie on a game where you call out letters and numbers with no story attached to it  versus a toy that has a lot of different characters and environments built in. The rest of the reason is that Phil Lord and Chris Miller – the writer/directors behind LEGO: The Piece of Resistance are Midas ever since Clone High. Their track record is unimpeachable, and it’s only grown in respect after Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street (a movie concept that wasn’t totally given the optimism treatment early on). According to Deadline Hollywood, the animated movie’s cast – which already boasts Chris Pratt and Will Arnett – just signed Morgan Freeman and Elizabeth Banks. Freeman will voice a character named Vitruvius, who may or may not be a reference to the Roman architect of the same name (one Leonardo da Vinci invoked with his Vitruvian Man). That’s beyond speculation, although the idea of riffing on an architect might fit into a story based on toy building materials. Regardless of what we think the roles may be, Freeman and Banks are excellent additions. It’s sad that we’ve come to a point in major studio animated work where professional voice actors are out of the running for the big roles, but it’s a silver lining […]

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Drinking Games

Along with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, and Batman, a lesser-known heroine named Katniss Everdeen became one of the biggest box office draws of 2012. Now the immensely popular dystopian science fiction adventure The Hunger Games is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The Hunger Games tells the story of a dark future where the government punishes the people by forcing their children to fight to the death in an arena. You know the drill, basically a less-Japanese version of Battle Royale with some really funky fashions. Still, it’s an enjoyable film and worth enjoying with a drink in your hand.

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You know how clumsy puppies can’t help but be adorable, even when  they do awful things? Basset Hound pups are a prime example. Their feet are too big, they trip over their own floppy ears, and even if they eat the legs off your sofa, it’s whatever. All a Basset puppy has to do is look at you and you’re halfway over it. Writer/director Alex Kurtzman‘s People Like Us is almost like that – forgivably clumsy when it’s falling all over itself and wrecking things, but cute in spite of itself. …except for that whole almost-incest thing. Holy crap, that thing. People Like Us is the story of Sam (Chris Pine), a fast-talking dealer of anything with no use and a past-due expiration date. He’s the Jerry Maguire of selling people bullshit – and entirely unpleasant when we meet him. When one of Sam’s underhanded business deeds comes back to bite him, his boss, played by a skeez-tastic Jon Favreau, gives it to Sam straight – make up for the lost cash, or an unhappy client is reporting them both to the FTC.

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