James Marsden

The Best of Me

The Nicholas Sparks idea well is running dry — also, hey, how come the guy hasn’t tried to kill anyone by tossing them down a well yet? surely, that has to be coming soon — and the prolific author has started cribbing from his own material to slap together lackluster storylines that only approximate genuine feelings, emotional ether floating on the breeze. The latest film to be adapted from Sparks’ written works, Michael Hoffman‘s The Best of Me is rife with plotlines pulled from other Sparks features — kid cancer, car accidents, using an interest in astronomy to prove that someone is smart, disapproving parents, a small Southern town (always a small Southern town, someone introduce Sparks to the North for chrissakes), trademark shocking deaths — but everything is so loosely cobbled together that the film feels closer to a cinematic adaptation of Nicholas Sparks-branded Mad Libs than it does an actual feature. There is, however, one thing that Sparks is still damn good at portraying: the idiocy of first love. But while Sparks’ stories are so often occupied with showing good-looking teens pawing away at each other (and, yes, also pawing away at deep emotions), Sparks steadfastly refuses to face the truth of what he’s writing. These kids are dumb. First love is not the end-all and be-all. The person you are at age seventeen is not the (cough cough) best version of yourself, and continuing to base books and movies on such ideals is, frankly, as immature as anything you’ll find in the average American high school. […]

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The Best of Me

Author Nicholas Sparks knows what he’s doing. The bestselling scribe has penned seventeen novels, ten of which have been turned into films, two of which will arrive in theaters within the next year. Sparks’ films have pulled in nearly half a billion dollars in just domestic box office returns, making a hell of a bankable brand that appeals to all sorts of studios (Sparks’ films have been produced by a variety of movie studios, from Warner Bros. to Relativity to Sony’s Screen Gems label). Sparks know what’s up. The people who make films based on his novel know what’s up. And, if you’ve ever read even one Sparks book or seen one Sparks movie, you also know what’s up, because these productions tend to look pretty damn similar. There are plenty of hallmarks of Sparks’ work, from a Southern setting to imminent death scenes to lots of yelling in the rain, and it appears that the majority of them are on full display in his latest film, The Best of Me. Starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, the autumn offering smacks of Sparks, and its latest trailer proves it. Just how “Nicholas Sparks” is our latest Nicholas Sparks film? Oh, it’s extremely Sparks-y. After the break, let’s all enjoy a second-by-second breakdown of all the most Sparksian elements this new trailer has to offer.

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Idina Menzel and James Marsden in Enchanted

Seven years after Disney brought Amy Adams into our lives as the real life princess that we’d always dreamed could exist, they’re attempting to make magic happen again with a sequel to their 2007 hit Enchanted, according to Deadline. In that first movie, doe-eyed, full of wonder and dressed like an adorable cupcake Giselle (Adams) peeled herself away from the animated kingdom of Andalasia when a wicked queen (Susan Sarandon) banished her to plain old regular Earth for fear that she would marry her princely stepson (James Marsden) and unseat her from her throne. With Enchanted 2 now a reality, maybe that means Giselle and her true love from New York City (Patrick Dempsey) didn’t wind up happily ever after as it so tidily seemed at the end of the first film. Or Prince Edward and his equally earthly girlfriend (Idina Menzel) weren’t exactly a match either. Having a partner who sings constantly, no matter how dreamy they might be, probably gets a little grating. No cast members have signed on yet for the sequel, which is being written by David Stem and David N. Weiss (The Smurfs; Are We There Yet?) and directed by Anne Fletcher (The Proposal; The Guilt Trip), meaning the doors are open for some healthy speculation about plot and premise.

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The Best of Me Trailer

Check your calendars. Gasp. Blink. Check them again. Yes, it’s true. It’s been over a year since we’ve had a brand new Nicholas Sparks film open in a theater (and a heart, awww). For awhile there, it looked as if author Sparks was going to get a tidy little late winter/early spring thing going — Safe Haven opened on Valentine’s Day of last year, The Lucky One opened in April 0f 2012, and 2010 saw a double dose, with The Last Song hitting theaters in March and Dear John opening in February. There was so much Sparks — for a time. Now, however, we’ve been left with the bitter memories of Safe Haven (how safe is it when ghosts are just wandering around, huh, Sparks?) and the distant dream that one day, perhaps soon, we’d get another Sparks film. Rest your little heads, because that next Sparks film is here, and The Best of Me comes complete with an eye-pleasing cast (James Marsden! Michelle Monaghan! Gerald McRaney!), the director of Soapdish (Michael Hoffman, and we do not consider that an insult, as Soapdish is brilliant) and a time-spanning romance. Ah, smells like Sparks. Let’s take a look, shall we?

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X-Men Movie Commentary

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom that the X-Men franchise is solidly in its teenage years. It’s going to start driving and dating soon. The series is so significant to cinema history that it is responsible for launching the modern superhero film era. (Remember that this film came out only three years after Batman & Robin.) Without X-Men, there might not have been Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series or The Avengers films. With Days of Future Past hitting the theaters, it’s time to look back to the year 2000 when superhero movies weren’t given $100m budgets and unlimited power automatically. Writer/director Bryan Singer had something to prove with X-Men, and with a limited budget and a production schedule shortened by five months, he succeeded. Five months into shooting X2: X-Men United, Singer recorded a commentary for his groundbreaking film for the X-Men 1.5 DVD, which is preserved throughout subsequent DVD and Blu-ray releases. Here’s a chance to listen in on what was happening at the dawn of the modern superhero movie.

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It’s been a long time since we’ve heard or seen anything from Jack Black. Considering that he’s famous mostly for scat singing (loudly scat singing, I might add) and exposing his very ample stomach, that’s no small feat. But ever since the twin flops of Year One and Gulliver‘s Travels — flops that occurred four and five years ago, respectively — there hasn’t been much mainstream Black for public consumption. That might change, however, with The D-Train. The Hollywood Reporter has Black set to star in the upcoming comedy, where he would play a lonely doofus still longing for the acceptance of his high school peers  who also happens to be the chairman of his twenty-year high school reunion. The film will find Black’s character traveling from Middle America to Hollywood to convince the most popular kid in school, who’s now a washed-up commercial actor, to come home for the big celebration. James Marsden is attached to play the former cool kid, while Mike White will play Black’s one friend from his high school days. Nat Faxon is also joining the film in an unknown role. The premise, on its own, doesn’t sound too remarkable. Add in first-time directors Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel, whose previous credits include the screenplay for Jim Carrey’s Yes Man and the short-lived animated series Allen Gregory, and things begin to look a little dire for The D-Train.

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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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Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 2.16.48 AM

With Paul Walker‘s untimely passing comes casting holes in upcoming films he was set to star. 2007’s Hitman, based on the popular video game featuring an elite assassin originally starred Justified-lead Timothy Olyphant, but its upcoming sequel, Agent 47, was to begin shooting with Walker in the title role after completing his Fast and Furious 7 duties. It now appears Homeland star Rupert Friend is in early discussions to fill the position in his stead. Friend is also known for his role in 2008’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. James Marsden is also in preliminary talks to take Walker’s place in the Nicholas Sparks romantic novel adaptation of The Best of Me, where he’d star alongside Michelle Monaghan as reunited high school sweethearts in rural North Carolina. Marsden is best know in his role as Scott Summers/Cyclops in Bryan Singer’s X-Men, and most recently appeared in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues alongside Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd.  

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review anchorman 2

Comedy sequels hardly ever inspire confidence. Most attempt to recapture what worked about the first movie, but that’s never proved to be the right way to go about it. That decision tends to lead to a calculated and stale result, missing the point of why its predecessor caught on with an audience in the first place: it was unexpected. Thankfully we have one exception to the rule, and it’s called Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Co-writer/director Adam McKay‘s sequel stays in tune with the spirit of the first movie, and sometimes revisits beats as well, but that approach is fitting for characters aren’t exactly fond of change. Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), Champ Kind (David Koechner), Bryan Fantana (Paul Rudd), and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) are more or less the same people we saw in the first movie. The world is going through changes, but these four haven’t developed in the slightest. Some of the film’s best laughs come from them having to embrace these changes, like, having a black female boss. The movie starts with Ron Burgundy being fired, pushed away from his home, and, worst of all, working at SeaWorld. It’s the beginning of the end until a man, played by Dylan Baker, offers him an unlikely position as an anchor on a 24 hours news station. At first Burgundy scoffs at the idea, but when money comes into the equation, he takes the job and goes on a road trip to wrangle up his old news team. Bryan Fantana is […]

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frost-marsden

Given Vince Vaughn’s recent output, it’s kind of hard to be too enthusiastic about the news that he’s set to star in an upcoming comedy with the generic title Business Trip—especially since it’s being brought to us by a director who we haven’t yet seen all that much from. But given that this is the reality we’re living in, it would behoove us to find a silver lining in this comedy cloud, and so far that silver lining seems to be the supporting cast that director Ken Scott is putting together. Already we’ve gotten word that the younger, cuter, less weird Franco, Dave Franco, is going to be playing a supporting role in the film, and now The Wrap has a report that two more actors who are known commodities are negotiating to come on board as well—one who is a proven comedic powerhouse, and one who has shown some potential for doing well in the genre.

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James Marsden

What is Casting Couch? It’s your handy one stop destination for news about what all of your favorite and least favorite actors are up to next. Today we’ve got news about Anne Hathaway’s latest excuse to sing and what Adam Sandler’s next excuse to get paid to go on vacation with a beautiful actress will be. When James Marsden first caught international attention, it was as the stone-faced and charisma-free Cyclops in Bryan Singer’s first X-Men movie. People didn’t have much love for him back then. But since then he’s shown in things like Enchanted and Death at a Funeral that he’s not so bad when he’s letting his figurative hair down and getting a little goofy. That’s a good thing, because now we don’t have to meet Deadline’s report that he’s just become the latest name to join the Anchorman 2 cast with annoyed groans. Apparently Marsden will be playing Ron Burgundy’s rival news anchor, which sounds like quite a bit of fun, because Marsden can do smug pretty well.

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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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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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Bachelorette Movie 2012

Editor’s note: After big success on VOD, Bachelorette hits theaters today, so ready your champagne flutes and raise a glass to our Sundance review of the film, originally published on January 24, 2012. We’ll get this out of the way right off the bat – Bachelorette is not Bridesmaids, though the film’s premise (three girls embark on a bachelorette party adventure for a bride they hate!) sounds like the perfect post-Bridesmaids feature for a ladies’ night out. In reality, Leslye Headland‘s film is a production that’s perfectly crafted for people who hate their friends. Toxic, nasty, and ugly, Bachelorette reaffirms stereotypes about women (they are bitches! they are sluts! they are emotionally unstable!) and their relationships (they secretly all hate each other!) that should have disappeared from cinema (and the world) long ago. We never quite know why Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Katie (Isla Fisher), and Jenna (Lizzy Caplan) are still friends – we can only assume it’s because no one else wants to associated with such horrible shrews. Pals since high school, the trio call themselves “the b-faces” and appear to spend most of their time bitching about other things and people. They are all unhappy in different ways – control freak Regan thinks she’s done everything right and still nothing is happening to her (hint, no one cares if you went to Princeton if you’re a huge, raging bitch to every single person you meet), airhead Katie is sick of work retail but thinks she’s not smart enough for anything else […]

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Robot and Frank

Editor’s note: With Robot and Frank hitting limited release this week, here is a re-run of our review from Sundance, originally published on January 22, 2012. If Jake Schreier‘s Robot and Frank is too believed, the near future is very similar to the present – just with more hipsters enamored of things they don’t understand and more robots consigned to help with everyday tasks. Both come, oddly enough, to a head in Schreier’s feature debut about a man, his robot, and the things that bond them (including a distaste for said hipsters). The film is a wily mix of genres – Robot and Frank is a buddy comedy, a fish out of water story, a heist film, and a drama about aging in its many forms – and it mostly delivers on its immense promise when it works within the bounds of dry and clever comedy. But when the film allows itself to slack, it slumps almost irrevocably, and it never quite recovers from an unsatisfying and overemotional middle.

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James Marsden in The Butler

Make no mistake, we love us some Matthew McConaughey around these parts, but his unique brand of show-stopping performance is perhaps not so well-suited for historical dramas with large casts of characters, particularly ones that might not have the strongest of directing talent to steer them. Films like Lee Daniels‘ upcoming The Butler, set to chronicle the life story of Eugene Allen, who served as a White House butler under an incredible eight presidents and through the years 1952 to 1986. To that end, Variety reports (via The Playlist) that James Marsden has joined the film as JFK. McConaughey had been attached to the role for only two months, but dropped out of the project just last month due to scheduling conflicts with the long-gestating The Dallas Buyer’s Club. Of course, we must also wonder if those “conflicts” have anything to do with Daniels and McConaughey’s last project, Cannes giggle factory (and home of Nicole Kidman demanding to pee on Zac Efron), The Paperboy.

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Technology is meant to make our lives easier – from the brain-crushing minutiae of everyday work to world-changing scientific advancements, the possibilities of technology are endless. And, in Jake Schreier‘s Robot and Frank, those possibilities even include criminal activities. In the director’s first feature, Schreier imagines (thanks to Christopher D. Ford‘s original screenplay) a world where technology has advanced to the point that most homes now have their very own helper robot. The new robot tech is gradually taking over supposedly mindless jobs – inside and outside the home – including serving as nifty companions to the elderly. Salty old Frank (Frank Langella) isn’t too sold on the idea of robots (to put it mildly), so he’s quite put out when his kids (James Marsden and Liv Tyler) provide him with his own robo-helper. While Frank initially balks at the new addition to his home, the pair eventually form a bit of a friendship – which former jewel thief Frank then totally exploits in order to get back in the gem-heisting game. What a nice old man! Check out Langella robbing his neighbors with his robot pal in the first trailer for Robot and Frank after the break.

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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?

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Writer-director Rod Lurie was in a bit of a lose-lose situation when it came to dealing with the hardcore Straw Dogs fans. Like all remakes, if Lurie deviated too much, many critics would ask, “Why call it Straw Dogs?” If the Nothing But the Truth director stayed too faithful, then he’d get ripped on for making a carbon copy. There’s a tough middle ground between those two sides, and Lurie made enough changes to try to find it. For one thing, unlike Sam Peckinpah, Rod Lurie doesn’t hate women. All jokes aside, the original film earned controversy, partly because Peckinpah’s depiction of his female lead was deemed misogynistic. That’s not much of a surprise — Peckinpah treated that character with such disgust, as he treated all the main characters in that film with disgust. His film was about David (played in this version by James Marsden) finding his inner animal, while Lurie opted for David finding his inner man. Here’s what Rod Lurie had to say about the commercial potential of a Straw Dogs remake, the fine line between David being manly and narcissistic, and Peckinpah’s depiction of Amy versus his own: Note: this interview contains spoilers.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr feels the weight of the fall movie season. It’s September, and while the kids are heading back to school, he’s playing hooky with Sarah Jessica Parker chick flicks and yet another not-quite-70s-video-nasty remake. Kevin is consoled by the release of Drive, however, because Albert Brooks as a crime boss makes him chuckle. And his love for 3D and Disney meet head-on in a collision of awesomeness.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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