LOS ANGELES – Jonathan Winters, one of the most influential comedians of the past two generations, has died of natural causes on April 11th at his home in Montecito, California. His characteristic schizophrenic comic style inspired modern funnymen like Robin Williams, George Carlin and Jim Carrey. He was 87 years old.
CHICAGO – It’s this simple – “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” just isn’t funny. Sure, there are a few laughs here and there and some of the supporting cast works but the leads are woefully miscast and most of the jokes hit with all the awkward silence of a Bennigan’s tableside magician who guesses the wrong card.
CHICAGO – I have to admit that I went into my review of “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” expecting to feel torture not unlike when I suffered through “Yogi Bear” or “Gulliver’s Travels.” Live-action family entertainment has been the other side of the coin to the influx of quality animated entertainment. For every Pixar, there’s a “Chipwrecked.” For every “How to Train Your Dragon,” there’s a “Zookeeper.” To that end, I found “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” totally harmless, mostly because Jim Carrey gives it his all and brings enough manic glee to the proceedings to keep it from falling flat.
CHICAGO – It’s the movie poster that says it all. The familiar red-headed talk show host, now bearded, resting his head against an ever-present microphone. The show must go on for “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop.”
CHICAGO – Pity the poor penguin making pictures. Their wings cannot fly, they have no script approval or agents, just a trainer bribing them with food to hit the mark. Their presence, their cuteness, even their flightlessness are exploited for a dreadful Jim Carrey film called “Mr Popper’s Penguins.” Somebody call PETA.
CHICAGO – With all the creatively bankrupt, audience-repelling dreck clogging up theaters these days, it’s easy to see why a comedian would sign up for a challenging art house satire rather than pick up a fat, unearned pay check. Robin Williams delivered his best work in years in Bobcat Goldthwait’s “World’s Greatest Dad,” and now Jim Carrey adds to his streak of woefully underrated performances in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s “I Love You Phillip Morris.”
CHICAGO – John Requa and Glenn Ficarra’s “I Love You Phillip Morris” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival nearly two years ago and was released internationally so long ago that it’s out on DVD in most markets around the world. After financial difficulties plagued the first company intent on stateside distribution, the movie sat on a shelf and most of us assumed it would be making its U.S. debut on a round shiny disc.
CHICAGO – Disney’s “A Christmas Carol” is a loud, annoying mess, a film that reimagines the Charles Dickens’ classic in ways that the author never intended, turning a morality lesson into an effects-heavy action extravaganza. Having said that, the Blu-ray release is typically-strong for one of the best companies in the world when it comes to family product. Disney can turn even a bad film into a solid Blu-ray.
CHICAGO – Jenny McCarthy is at again, penning another one of her “Naked Truth” books, this time about relationships. The prolific Ms. McCarthy is back on the shelves with “Love, Lust & Faking It: The Naked Truth about Sex, Lies and True Romance.” She appeared at Border Books in Oakbrook, IL, on October 11th.
CHICAGO – It’s easy to see why filmmakers like James Cameron are constantly inspired by the life forms that exist underwater. They are as fascinating and mysterious as any otherworldly being dreamed up a science-fiction author. BBC’s brilliant series, “The Blue Planet,” unearthed deep-sea specimens that continue to haunt my nightmares. It proved that monsters do sometimes hide in the dark, and exist only to feed (one fish had teeth so large that it couldn’t even close its mouth).