Reese Witherspoon

Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr takes the week off because the studios didn’t screen the new releases anywhere near him. In fact, he was specifically told not to come to one particular screening. And that can’t be a good sign, can it? What else can you expect for the movies in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, ‘cause the new ones in the theaters don’t stand a chance of winning anything next year. To take away the pain of not seeing movies this week, Kevin makes a deal with the devil, selling his soul for the ability to set his skull on fire whenever he sees a bad movie. Unfortunately, the light from said flaming skull got him kicked out of the theater because someone thought he was using his cell phone to pirate the film.

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Depending on how you interpret it, This Means War is either another insipid, aggressively convoluted candy-colored flick from that auteur of nothingness McG, or one of the great unrequited male love stories of all time. The portrait of two men who really only have eyes for each other, it’s an aggressively formulaic, borderline nonsensical fantasy about Los Angeles-based CIA studs FDR and Tuck (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) who fall for a woman named Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) and set out to woo her in an elaborate pissing contest.

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It looks like your Valentine’s Day movie-going options might now be limited to The Vow, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Safe House, and maybe Rampart if you and your significant other are feeling particularly punchy, as Fox has reportedly ditched their plan to open McG‘s This Means War on the 14th (next Tuesday). Deadline Springwood reports that the studio “hasn’t seen the pic’s poor tracking pick up at all in recent days,” pushing the studio to move the picture back to a wide release date on Friday the 17th, though there will be some sneak peeks sticking around on the 14th. What’s the issue? Well, oddly enough, Nikki Finke herself doesn’t seem to get it – her exclusive post on the matter includes lines like “I don’t get what the moviegoing public’s problem with this pic is: Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, and Reese Witherspoon are just as cool casting as Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams” and “the film didn’t look dumb (and that’s is half the battle with this genre).” Clearly, Finke’s got a short memory on this one – the film went through a protracted cycle of casting, with names like Sam Worthington, Seth Rogen, and Bradley Cooper all getting bandied about before Hardy and Pine finally signed on for the flick (for some, frankly, pretty strange casting – Pine is set as the smooth operator and Hardy is the good boy), and the film was lensed back in 2010. Does the moviegoing public really care about stuff like that? […]

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Atom Egoyan’s planned cinematic dramatization of the infamous West Memphis 3 triple homicide story, Devil’s Knot (based on the book by Mara Leveritt of the same name), seems to be trucking along nicely. The first news that came out about this project was that Reese Witherspoon had been cast as Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of the three victims in this grizzly murder tale. That gave a project that’s still looking for funding and distribution some much-needed star power. The newest bit of casting news should help in that regard as well. Deadline Eastleigh is reporting that the 2011 winner for the Best Actor Oscar, Colin Firth, is joining the cast as well. That should put even more attention and even a little bit of prestige on this project, which Deadline says is now pretty close to getting funding and distribution deals in place. Firth joins the cast playing Ron Lax, a private investigator working on the case who did a lot of the initial work that cast doubt on the guilt of the three defendants, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. It was his investigation that found DNA in the ropes tying up one of the victims that implicated not the three teenage boys, but Terry Hobbs, the husband of the woman Witherspoon is playing, in the murders.

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Jeff Nichols

One of my most anticipated films of the year is Jeff Nichols‘ Mud. Nichols is behind one of, if not the, best films of 2011: Take Shelter. With only two pictures under his belt, he’s quickly established himself as a filmmaker to get excited about. Earlier today Nichols was kind enough to make the time for an interview to discuss Take Shelter, for the upcoming Blu-ray release. We discussed an array of topics, and Mud was briefly covered. Nichols was hard at work in the mood swing-sounding editing room when we spoke, and although he stated he’ll have clearer answers for the movie once it comes out, the writer-director shared enough details to give us a small sense of what to expect from Mud. After talking about the love-hate relationship with editing, the joy of shooting the Mississippi river with 35mm anamorphic cameras, the no bullshit (and awesome) attitude of Sam Shepard, Nichols touched upon the themes of the film:

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I’m not sure how we missed this one, but I can only assume it was intentional. If you do a search of our site for the name ‘McG’ you’ll find mostly negative comments, critiques and flat-out insults including us celebrating the idea of the director being launched into space on a one-way ticket. (Of course, you’ll also find my Transformers 2 review that inexplicably calls for an apology to be given to McG.) But while we’re a month late in featuring this trailer for McG’s newest movie, we’re at least covering it with an open mind and a positive attitude. Because surprisingly, This Means War looks like it could actually be kind of fun. Tom Hardy and Chris Pine play CIA agents at the top of their game. They’re partners and friends who have each others backs and would let nothing come between them. Nothing that is, except a hot blonde. When the two discover that they’re both dating the same woman (Reese Witherspoon) they decide to let her choose the better man. But that doesn’t mean they can’t try to hedge their bets using all the skills and equipment at their disposal. So yes, it’s basically Mad Magazine’s Spy vs Spy with a love story angle thrown in as motivation. Check out the trailer below, and get ready to accept the fact that even with Chelsea Handler co-starring it doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as we all feared.

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The West Memphis Three trials are infamous, not just for the brutality of the crime that spawned them, but also for the controversy surrounding the verdict. The case involved the triple homicide of three 8-year-old boys and the conviction of three teenagers, who were thought to be responsible for the crime. After the three were imprisoned, however, doubts began to grow about their guilt, eventually leading to their release from prison on August 19th of this year, 17 years after their conviction. The entirety of the trials, convictions, imprisonments, and further investigations into the murders that eventually led to the suspects’ releases were already well-chronicled in the Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries done by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, but now it seems that since the whole ordeal has come to an end, Hollywood is going to take a crack at dramatizing the story. To that end, screenwriters Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) have been adapting a screenplay from a book about the murders, Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three, which was written by Mara Leveritt. That’s a lot of names involved with this project already, but let’s add one more to the pile. Derrickson and Boardman’s script is going to be directed by Atom Egoyan (Chloe), who has worked on the latest draft of the script with Boardman. The newest news about the film is that Egoyan and company have signed Reese Witherspoon to play a featured role. She’ll be […]

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Sex Tape is a script that Sony has their hands all over, thanks to screenwriter Kate Angelo. It must be something special, because in a world where people selling their spec scripts is becoming increasingly more rare, Angelo was able to unload this one for seven figures. It tells the story of a suburban couple whose increasingly boring lives lead to them ditching their kids for an evening and getting together to make a salacious sex tape. The trouble starts the next morning when they wake up from their post-debauchery coma and realize that the tape has gone missing. Thus begins a desperate search for the tape in hopes of staving off humiliation. Sony has been working on making this movie happen for a while now, and it seems like their efforts are about to pay off. They’re in negotiations with not only a director, but also a pair of actors to play the lead couple. The director is Nick Stoller, who helmed the hit comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall and co-wrote this year’s The Muppets. The actors are Jason Segel and Reese Witherspoon, which makes sense because Segel and Stoller have worked together numerous times before and Witherspoon is just the type of name that studios want to put in things. If Sony is able sign the trio, then I’m sure it will be only a matter of time before Sex Tape goes from spec script to comedy hit. But can we do something about that title? It’s kind of the […]

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; 100% medically accurate. Because Salisbury has staked the reputation of his chubby little column on my abilities to pen something that will be even in the same neighborhood as his consistently hilarious musings on bad movies and bad food, I will honor him in the only way I know how – by writing about a romantic comedy that centers on a lady in a coma and the dude who loves her. You’re regretting your decision now, aren’t you, Briguy? TOO LATE. I’ve hijacked your precious little column and we’re going straight to the most glorious reaches of heaven above (with a wee detour along the way). What’s the plan? Well, it’s the usual plan. I’m going to roast a terrible film over the coals of a hellfire, gently turning it on a devil-approved spit, and dance around all that horrific burning while the screams stretch up through eight other levels of Hell, said bad film begging for mercy and forgiveness. Then, we’re just totally going to skip Purgatory, because it’s super-boring, but then and only then will I shower the film with love, tickling it gently with little white feathers, with a brief pause to run through a sunlit meadow while a blonde lady plays a harp nearby. Then we’re all going to eat cake. Please open the pearly gates for Just Like Heaven.

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Reese Witherspoon has just signed on to star in Disney’s Wish List, which focuses on “an overly imaginative little girl who makes ten wishes at a wishing well,” but those wishes never come true because her coin never reaches the well’s bottom. Somehow, it takes twenty-five years for that pesky coin to shake loose and, when it does, the now-adult little girl (Witherspoon) is faced with all of her wishes coming true at once. First of all, what sort of wishing well grants ten wishes per coin? Also, what sort of wishing well has enough nooks and crannies that coins can stay lodged in them for a quarter of a century? I just fail to understand the mechanics of this supposed “magic” well. Who is building these things these days? Elves? Just shoddy magical construction, all around. In any case, hijinx will surely ensue as Witherspoon’s character, now a career-focused adult, must handle the onslaught of wish fulfillment at its most unexpected. I will be legitimately shocked if one of those wishes is not for a pony, possibly even a unicorn.

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Let’s say you’re a greasy-haired young man of the 1930s, on the cusp of completing your Ivy League studies in veterinary medicine (which is apparently animal doctoring and not war fighter doctoring), when tragedy strikes. Your whole life is stolen away. Your first instinct is to hop on the first train out of town, right? Of course it is. That’s exactly what happens to young Jacob (Robert Pattinson) in Water For Elephants. He loses his parents (the only family he has) and jumps aboard a train in the dark of night only to find out he’s accidentally joined the circus. He proves his worth enough to stay by impressing the iron-fisted ring master August (Christoph Waltz), but he ends up impressing August’s wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), a bit too much, and the elephant pile gets higher just in time for the company to buy an elephant meant to save all of them.

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There’s a splash of Big Fish somewhere in there as well, but the trailer for Water For Elephants, based on the incredibly popular novel of the same name, displays a tone straight out of a watered down (for elephants) Moulin Rouge and a just-as-schmaltzy version of The Notebook. There’s even the Old Man Remembering His Antique Past element. This movie could turn out to be an incredible spectacle, and the presence of two Oscar winners is nothing to scoff at, but there’s something inherently soporific about Robert Pattinson that it will have to overcome. The trailer isn’t as exciting as it should have been, and hopefully the film will triumph despite its disjointed advertising. Water For Elephants hits theaters April 15, 2011, and you can see the trailer in even higher def at Apple.

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With the all-seeing eye of the internet watching every single movie production in existence (even the one your parents are making right now), it’s incredible when something flies under the radar. It’s even more incredible when it’s from an Oscar winner and fan favorite. Still, it seems that the new James L. Brooks romantic comedy How Do You Know completely flew under said radar until some promotional materials ended up in the Reject carrier pigeon drop this morning. Romantic Comedies have been sorely lacking these days. The studio formula seems to include cramming as many names and as little heart into them as possible, so seeing Brooks’s name involved in the directing game again is something to celebrate. Plus, with Paul Rudd squaring off against Owen Wilson, there’s something else there to celebrate.

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Reese Witherspoon must have finally realized that playing Golden Era singers is the key to Oscar glory. She’s personally hunted down the life rights from the Peggy Lee estate to star as the iconic singer for a life-spanning biopic. Lee had the kind of voice that was poured out of a coffee grinder – she could hit this clean bass note that carried the rest of the smooth, bright tones right on through the line. That will most likely be the biggest challenge for Witherspoon and/or the biggest challenge for whoever is hired to sing the role. Best of luck trying to match Peggy Lee. The great news is that a biopic of her should also include casting for Benny Goodman, Goodman guitarist Dave Barbour, Perry Como, Jimmy Durante, Danny Thomas, and Walt Disney. It will be interesting to see an Academy Award winner play an Academy Award nominee (Lee was nominated for playing a drunken blues singer in Pete Kelly’s Blues) but it will be even more fascinating to see this salty, sweet woman brought to life. If any musician deserves a biopic, it’s her. Plus, I’m sure Wanda Jackson might make an appearance in there somewhere. [Variety]

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After dispensing upon the world a movie (Terminator Salvation) that probably made James Cameron cry, sometimes not-so-bad director McG is heading to the world of formula action-comedy. And of course he’s bringing along his keen eye for telling the story of romance, with action.

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Monsters vs Aliens - 10 Things We Liked, 5 We Didn

We’ve already laid waste to Tokyo and kidnapped bikini babes off beaches, so it was definitely time to enlist with the Monster Army to fight Aliens. But did we enjoy the experience?

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monsters-vs-aliens-review1

After a horrifying accident with a glowing meteorite turns Susan Murphy (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) into a giant, she’s drugged and imprisoned by the government in a secret facility run by General W.R. Monger (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) where she meets some of the strange monsters our government has kept secret for years.

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10 Musician Biopics

Hollywood has been singing a tune in the key of music biopics for decades, most recently with this weekend’s release of the Christopher “Notorious BIG” Wallace biopic Notorious. We’re taking the opportunity to take a look at some of the best.

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monstersvsaliens_header1

Dreamworks’ upcoming animated film Monsters vs. Aliens is shaping up to be their funniest release yet. Sure it’s directed by Rob Letterman, the writer/director of the abysmal Shark Tale, but the man seems to have learned a lot since then.

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reese-witherspoon

Will we ever see a new Cameron Crowe film? The answer’s yes but according to Reese Witherspoon it may take some time.

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