There are few conflicts more dramatic than the battle for racial integration, particularly during the turbulent years of the mid-twentieth century America. 42’s Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), the first player of color in Major League Baseball, is a ferociously talented athlete who struggles to overcome the rampant bigotry of the game in the post-WWII era. A quarter-century later, Remember the Titans’ ace football coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) faces the unenviable task of integrating two racially separated high school football squads in Virginia, the cradle of the Confederacy.
Both of these characters are resilient, heroic fighters who triumphed over the narrow-mindedness of their times. Each overcame long odds and passionate opposition to push his country in the right direction and his team to glory. And without them both, who knows, we might not have anything more fun to watch on weekends than NASCAR and golf.
Clearly, both these contenders have got an incredible will to win, but only one can be Smackdown champion. Batter up! Continue reading
Posted in Biopic, Drama, Sports
Tagged African American, baseball, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chadwick Boseman, Coach, Denzel Washington, Ethan Suplee, football, Harrison Ford, Hayden Panettiere, high school, integration, Jackie Robinson, Kip Pardue, Ryan Gosling, School, T.R. Knight, Virginia, Will Patton, Wood Harris
Even the most intelligent, wealthy, successful adults can be pretty clueless about raising kids. Think about the living hell these folks must endure — all that time, freedom and discretionary income on their hands, but no one for their inner children to play with! Luckily, in the world of producer/director Paul Weitz, there’s always a chance that a kid might unexpectedly enter their lives and rouse them from their self-absorbed, myopic, world view.
Weitz recreates the formula that worked so well in About a Boy in his new romantic comedy, Admission, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Both movies have appealing stars playing characters who appear polished and competent on the outside, yet who are somewhat damaged and lost on the inside. In both, the protagonist’s world is shaken when a boy comes along to makes them question everything they hold dear. The experiences they go through cause them to change, which in turn causes the people around them to change as well.
Posted in Comedy, Romance
Tagged admissions officer, Chris Weitz, Hugh Grant, Lily Tomlin, Nat Wolff, Nick Hornby, novel, parents, Paul Rudd, Paul Weitz, Princeton, Tina Fey, Toni Collette, Wallace Shawn
Let’s exit Earth for a while and travel to colorful lands distant from our own. Our contestants in this Smack are a pair of big-budget fantasy epics adapted from popular books. Hailing from storm-wracked Kansas is our challenger, Oz the Great and Powerful, a reimagining of one of the most beloved family films of all time. In this new version, our focus has shifted to the title character, a two-bit carnival magician with a grand stage name. He’s transported to the vibrant land bearing his name and gets thrown into a civil war among several bickering witches.
Flying in from Germany on a giant talking dog is The NeverEnding Story, in which a lonely young boy borrows and reads a book described by its seller as “unsafe.” And we all know what happens when a little boy reads an unsafe book, right? Of course — he gets dragged into the proceedings himself, which in this case means a fight between a fantasy kingdom and a scary black void that threatens to engulf that happy society. Continue reading
Posted in Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Tagged adapted from books, fantasy, James Franco, magic, Michelle Williams, Oz, Rachel Weisz, Sam Raimi, wizard, Wolfgang Petersen
Who here has seen that identity thief movie? And by that we don’t mean the one in which Melissa McCarthy schools Jason Bateman on new levels of quasi-comedic rudeness, but the one that actually is an Identity Thief. Yep, we’re talking about Dark Skies — the movie about terrifying alien invaders that appropriated its genre and title from the scary, 1996-97 TV series of the same name.
In Hollywood, as in any business, a name is everything. It’s your brand, it’s who you are. The old Hill Street Blues television series had fun with this idea in a classic episode that featured a comedian named Vic Hitler who couldn’t understand why audiences didn’t buy his act. That kind of unfortunate moniker dooms an entertainer or a project to failure, while a winning name like, say, Snakes on a Plane can go a long way toward getting a film made no matter how weak the script behind it. Continue reading
Two years ago, the Oscars crossed the line from Annual Guilty Pleasure into Annual Torturous Ritual, and by the look of things last night, that’s where it’s planting its feet. The main issue I raised in this space about last … Continue reading
Posted in Awards, Smackdown News
Tagged Academy Awards, Anne Hathaway, Argo, Billy Crystal, Bond, Daniel Day-Lewis, host, Jennifer Hudson, nominees, Oscars, Seth MacFarlane, Shirley Bassey, winners
What’s better than an adventure movie featuring a rugged, two-fisted hero? An adventure movie featuring a father and son team of rugged, two-fisted heroes, of course. Today’s competitors are a pair of sequels, each of which brings either a progenitor or an offspring into the proceedings. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – the third Indy movie and last one before that set of films’ loooong hiatus and better-forgotten, 2008 finale – everybody’s favorite archeologist is joined by his grumpy dad Dr. Henry Jones Sr., played by Sean Connery (you did know that Indy’s real name is Henry, right?).
It’s a Russian family reunion in A Good Day to Die Hard, with the apparently immortal John McClane (Bruce Willis, if you’ve been living in a cave until now) journeying to Moscow to connect with son Jack (Jai Courtney), a visit which immediately triggers nearly two hours of Die Hardish firefights, chases and explosions. Continue reading
Posted in Action, Adventure, Crime, Thriller
Tagged Bruce Willis, CIA, cop, Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones, Jai Courtney, John McClane, John Moore, Moscow, Russia, Sean Connery, Sebastian Koch, Steven Spielberg, uranium
Have you finalized your picks for the current crop of Oscar hopefuls yet? No? Well, allow us to help you. In this, our second annual Oscar Smackdown, we pit the nominees for Best Picture against each other. We’ve Smacked most … Continue reading
Posted in Awards, Smackdown News
Tagged Academy Awards, Amour, Argo, Best Picture, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Oscars, Silver Linings Playbook, Smackdown, Zero Dark Thirty
2012 was a year of countless blockbuster disappointments, a handful of sleeper gems, several overhyped critical darlings, some masterful documentaries and foreign films, loads of forgettable dreck, a couple of delightful surprises, and no genuine masterpieces, but a fair amount … Continue reading
Posted in Awards, Smackdown News
Tagged 21 Jump Street, Amour, awards, blockbuster, Cabin in the Woods, Django Unchained, Looper, The Imposter, top 10, Top Ten
Movie Smackdown loves a good old fashioned film fight — it’s something we do every day that Hollywood does once a year during awards season. Who among us can’t appreciate putting some films in a cage and letting them duke it out until there’s only one left standing?
This year there were nine nominations out of a possibility of ten in the “Best Picture” category.
We’ve had most of the nominated “Best Picture” films in the Smack ring already. This offers us the chance, here in this single post, to create a gateway for you to lots of fresh writing, keen observation and (of course) a general lack of respect for authority, cinematic or otherwise. Continue reading
Ah, the ’70s. Now that was the golden era for New York City movies, am I right? (Just nod, youngsters.) You had the likes of Martin Scorsese, Sidney Lumet and Woody Allen, all at the top of their games, cranking out classics ranging from Taxi Driver to Dog Day Afternoon to Annie Hall to Mean Streets to Serpico to Manhattan, and even to a movie named New York, New York, which actually wasn’t very good, but my point stands, which is that New York’s best cinematic days are long behind us. Woody Allen is now essentially doing a movie for every city he’s ever visited outside of New York, Scorsese basically just does whatever he feels like doing at the moment, and Lumet… is not doing much at all these days, but he has a solid excuse. Continue reading
Posted in Crime, Drama, Thriller
Tagged Allen Hughes, Broken City, Catherine Zeta-Jones, City Hall, crime, Harold Becker, Hughes brothers, Jeffrey Wright, John Cusack, Kyle Chandler, Lindsay Lohan, Lumet, Mark Wahlberg, mayor, New York City, Paul Schrader, Russell Crowe, Scorsese, shooting, The Canyons.