Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Relatively early on into this remake of the well-loved 1981 comedy starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli, the tough and intimidating and possibly nuts would-be father-in-law of the wealthy drunkard title character is extolling the virtues of his high-profile businesswoman daughter. “She once bought a crack house and turned it into a condo,” he brags. “That's funny; I once did the exact opposite,” demurs Arthur, in that slightly fake-deferential but unmistakably barbed delivery that’s a specialty of the performer playing him this time around, the British comic Russell Brand.
If that exchange—which, to my mind, is enhanced by the fact that an ultra-gruff Nick Nolte is playing the prospective father-in-law—strikes you as funny—and I’ll admit right now that it did, as it happens, make me laugh, and not just a little bit, so there you have it—well, then you’re likely to have an OK or better time with “Arthur.”
Granted, I’m not one of the odd people out there who believes that remaking “Arthur,” the definitively fractured fairy tale of a drunk millionaire who has to choose (but not really) between money and love, constitutes some form of cinematic sacrilege. Having experienced the original on DVD recently, and having considered said original a crock with a lot of good one-liners and some excellent bravura comedic performances (particularly, of course, from Moore and from John Gielgud), I wasn’t expecting too much more from this than another crock with good one-liners and so on.
Brand definitely carries the first hour with his free-associative riffing and childlike energy, making the irresponsible rich playboy a more-than-acceptable mercurial object. His various foils—Luis Guzman as an amiable but almost constantly befuddled butler, Helen Mirren doing stiff-upper-lip wisecracks and compassion in a gender-reversed version of the Gielgud role, Jennifer Garner as the manic man trap who wants to snare Arthur in a marriage—give about as good as they get. And Greta Gerwig, in the role originated by Minnelli, that of the nice-but-poor girl from the outer boroughs who captures Arthur’s childlike heart, is both magnetic and charmingly natural.
Still, it has to be said that in the picture’s second half things get bogged down in unnecessarily drawn-out plot complications which, among other things, cause both the comic energy and the disarming charm of the performers to lose more than a bit of steam. But the cinematography remains bright and shiny, the New York locations are lovingly treated, and the old Christopher Cross song is semi-enticingly evoked but never completely reprised. I know what you’re waiting for me to say, so I’ll just say it: As remakes go, I guess this is the best that they could do.
Grade: ★★★ out of 5 stars
Men and women, as every chick flick and buddy-slob comedy will tell you, don’t just come from different galaxies—they’re locked in a battle for supremacy. But “Hall Pass,” a light comedy of horny marital woe, makes a novel statement about the sex wars: It says that they’re essentially over. And that the guys—in case there was any lingering suspense about it—have lost.
Rick (Owen Wilson), a real estate agent who dresses in dweebish plaid shirts, and Fred (Jason Sudeikis), a life-insurance salesman as genial and square as Howdy Doody, are suburban schlubs devoted to their wives and family. When Rick isn’t taking out the trash or disciplining his children with textbook New Dad sensitivity, he, like Fred, has one topic on the brain: all the sexy, gorgeous women who, as faithful and loving husbands, they will never, ever get to sleep with.
All of which makes them sound like the most common and boorish of male movie characters. Except for one thing: These two, though they spend their hours fantasizing about straying, would never dream of actually doing it. They’re like neutered dogs who carry their own leashes. When it comes to satisfying their libidos, they’re whipped, defeated—by the demands of family life (who has time for sex when you’re trying to get the kids to bed?) or just by their loyalty. The raunchy chatter spills out of them, and some of it is funny, but mostly because it’s so pathetic.
“Hall Pass” presents these men as a new archetype: the frustrated middle-aged husband as randy adolescent virgin. Wilson, geeked out in super-square hair, knows how to use his gentleness to turn himself into a figure of soft desperation. And “Saturday Night Live’s” Sudeikis, in his first major movie role, has an agreeably dorky, bootlicking officiousness. (Fred thinks that he’s scored a victory if he figures out how to look at a woman’s ass without his wife seeing him.) They are so domesticated, the joke is they don’t even know their pent-up sexual frustration is driving them nuts.
It takes their wives, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate), to figure that out, and to propose a solution: They will give their husbands a “hall pass,” a week off from marriage during which the two will be allowed to sow their wild oats—and, in theory, purge all those demons of roving-eyed desire.
Still, if Rick and Fred’s dilemma is the film’s amusing appetizer, the main course ought to be what they actually do when they’re let loose. And the punchline is: Out on their own, Rick and Fred are such hapless, inept womanizers that even when “freed,” they’re still trapped in their overgrown-teenage heads. When they do try to hook up, they’re so clueless about how seduction now works (“R-O-C-K in the USA!” says Rick, thinking that he’s just said something cool, which makes you want to dive under your seat) that women look at them as if they were another species.
Grade: ★★★ out of 5 stars
In order to fit into a pair of -10 jeans, former Chanel and Fendi head designer Karl Lagerfeld’s entire digestive system was removed, so now he gets his nutrients from feeding off of the gasps the audience at his fashion shows make when he sends a $3,000 cobweb tunic down the runway. And he also gets life when he listens to the remaining fat on a model eating away at itself after she snorts a line of the bad shit. So because of this, I thought it was a little crotch-scratching strange when Magnum Ice Cream hired Karl to direct their commercial starring Rachel Bilson.
I used to think that Karl Lagerfeld and ice cream went together like Donald Trump and common sense. But Kunty Karl tells W Magazine that he’s actually a perfect fit since his father was a milkman of sorts and he looooooves chocolate even if it never passes through his zombie lips.
W Magazine: So why ice cream?
Kunty Karl: Don’t forget my father was a milkman. He produced Carnation milk in Europe under different names, so I like to say he was a milkman. And ice cream is made with milk, no?
W Magazine: Do you eat it?
Kunty Karl: I would love to if I was allowed to eat sugar, but my doctor told me that sugar wasn’t needed for me so I haven’t touched it in ten years. I also did the ad for Dom Pérignon and I don’t drink alcohol, but I think it’s a very civilized drink.
W Magazine: Do you crave sugar?
Kunty Karl: No. Gone. But I like chocolate. I don’t eat it, but I like the smell of it. People can drink with their eyes; I can eat with my nose. I would love to have a perfume based on chocolate.
“I can eat with my nose.” – Lindsay Lohan’s newest diet mantra :)
When I finally retire from being a professional drunk hater, I really hope that like ol’ white girl here, I can spend my better days bringing the party to the pool areas of various Central Florida (or wherever the hell this is) resorts.
When I’m not passed out in a puddle of slobber and wine cooler that didn’t make it down all the way, I’ll slip on my purple floral Speedo and let my fupa lead me to an absolutely random and bizarre hip hop pool party where nobody is dancing.
I’ll bless the sky with my ass before blessing the pavement with that same ass. Not giving a fuck is living the life!
Marielle and I took long walks and played Scrabble on the iPad. We talked about only romantic things. We talked about going to the south of France; we talked about windsurfing in Maldives.
We listened to love songs from Bruno Mars (Marry You), Train (Marry Me) and Colbie Caillat (I Do) over and over again. We rode the Zipline across Tagaytay Ridge. We held hands while schools of Doctor Fish nibbled at our feet at Picnic Grove.
We took baths together. We stayed in bed all day, snuggling beneath blankets. I woke her up with kisses. After dinner late at night, we would come into the room, shivering, and fool around until early dawn.
Sipping Vodka Mudshakes at Leslie’s Seafood Restaurant, I would look into Marielle’s eyes and imagine running around Greenbelt Park on a cool December afternoon with her, laughing, holding hands; we buy balloons, we let them go.
“At last my love has come along / My lonely days are over / And life is like a song…”
Martin Backes designed the Pixelhead mask to act as media camouflage “completely shielding the head to ensure that your face is not recognizable on photographs taken in public places without securing permission.”
The mask is made out of stretch satin and features a pixelated pattern of the German Secretary of the Interior. It’s the ideal gift for the fashion-conscious paranoid-delusional in your life.
No word on whether it blocks the secret CIA radio waves from reading your mind :)