What does a high-wattage star cast and a high-concept thriller premise do for you? Broken City, from Allen Hughes (one half of the Hughes Brothers) features Mark Wahlberg as a disgraced/retired cop hired by the NYC mayor (Russell Crowe) to find the man sleeping with the mayor’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). When Wahlberg is successful at this task, he is drawn into a dangerous situation in which the mayor holds evidence of his past against him.

This first trailer for the film makes Broken City look like a pretty standard thriller that works just to leverage our knowledge of the cast. That said, all three of the leads look like they’re fully committed, and Crowe is a natural for this sort of heavy-handed politician. Does the script (by Brian Tucker) go deeper into ideas about what was done to clean up New York City in the Giuliani years, or does it just sit on the surface for thrills? Probably the former, but we’ll see what happens in January. Read More »

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When a holiday movie schedule is as crowded as this year’s promises to be, it’s actually kind of a relief to see a trailer for a year-end release that looks like lighthearted, feel-good entertainment with no apparent aspirations of picking up a little gold man come February.

The romantic dramedy Playing for Keeps (formerly Playing the Field) stars Gerard Butler as onetime pro athlete George Dryer, who’s still struggling to adjust to adult life. In an attempt to do right by his ex-wife (Jessica Biel) and their child, he signs on to coach the boy’s soccer team — but finds himself tempted at every turn by gorgeous soccer moms like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, and Judy Greer. (Because in Hollywood, your average suburban cul-de-sac is populated by parents who look like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, and Judy Greer.) Dennis Quaid also stars. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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“Nothin’ But a Good Time” promises the tagline of Rock of Ages, referencing one of the two dozen or so classic ’80s rock songs its cast energetically deflates into innocuously pleasing sing-a-longs. It’s an admirably honest proclamation of the film’s limited aspirations, one which it fulfills with all the grace of a monkey hurling its own feces at the screen.

Credit where credit is due, Rock of Ages stops just shy of having literal monkey shit flung at its audience; although monkey sight gags are in fact a primary source of the film’s humor, should we choose to accept that the innumerable moments in which a trained monkey behaves contrary to that of an untrained monkey qualify as humor. Said hilarity includes but is not limited to: monkey wearing a dictator outfit, monkey throwing stuff, monkey not throwing stuff, monkey grinning, monkey screeching loudly, monkey having a silly name, monkey serving drinks, monkey not serving drinks, monkey doing other things that resemble what humans do, and homosexuality. That last one has nothing to do with any monkey related shenanigans, but apparently it’s just as noteworthy, as was evident from the fits of hysterical laughter that surrounded me when two male characters share an out-of-nowhere romantic musical number together — complete with obligatory make-out session. (A gay guy directed the film, so it’s okay to laugh!)

If all that, and Tom Cruise in assless chaps, sounds like a promising night of fun and laughs to you, Rock of Ages should prove more than serviceable. Granted, of course, that you’re also an advocate of the recent surge of jukebox musicals, none of which lend themselves very well to things like “story” and “character development”, but all of which feature songs you already know and enjoy and can sing the lyrics to, so who gives a fuck, right? Read More »

What’s the latest Batman Internet meme? Will The Dark Knight Rises be screening at midnight in the UK? Who will Catherine Zeta-Jones be playing in Red 2? Want to watch several featurettes from The Amazing Spider-Man? Does Malcolm McDowell like The Avengers? Is Teen Titans coming back to TV? Read about all this and more in today’s Superhero Bits. Read More »

Stephen Frears‘ record may not be flawless, but his hit to miss ratio’s high enough that I generally look forward to his movies. His newest project, Lay the Favorite, started out looking as promising as any other. The filmmaker collected a likable cast, including Bruce Willis, Rebecca Hall, Joshua Jackson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones for the dramedy, an adaptation of a favorably reviewed memoir by Beth Raymer about the strange world of sports betting.

Unfortunately, early reviews suggest that the result hasn’t lived up to that promise at all. The new trailer offers some hints as to what exactly went wrong, starting with a strangely off-putting performance by the usually charming Hall. Check it out after the jump.

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Even if you’ve long since outgrown summer vacation, there’s just something about warmer weather that makes it tempting to put aside the heavy, thought-provoking stuff and look for a good, lighthearted laugh instead. If you’re curious what the upcoming season has in store for you on that front, hit the jump to check out new posters for The Dictator, Rock of Ages, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Neighborhood Watch.

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Let me say one thing first: this is the sort of role I think Tom Cruise does well. A variation on the arrogant, overbearing personality with a core of self-doubt has served him well in a few films here and there. So I hoped that playing big-time rock star Stacee Jaxx in Adam Shankman‘s ’80s cock rock jukebox musical Rock of Ages might work, too. But based on this new full-length trailer, I don’t think anything really works in Rock of Ages. I know there will be people who dig this, and given that it took time and effort to create I hope someone digs it. Go forth and have a great time, please. But I can’t lie: this one made me cringe more than I would have expected to.

Check out the trailer below. Read More »

Steven Soderberg is prepping a movie called Side Effects, a film that he plans to shoot this spring and which will be one of his last two movies. The project ran into a snag recently when financier Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures started to pull away. Part of the problem with the deal was reportedly the fact that Soderbergh wanted to cast Blake Lively in the lead female role. He was trying to push forward with that idea, but was willing to go with someone else if that casting proved problematic with other financiers.

We might assume that it did, because Lively’s role has now been given to Rooney Mara, star of David Fincher’s remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Read More »

There are some changes going on with Steven Soderbergh‘s planned film Side Effects. The past couple months have seen reports of Soderbergh ditching The Man From UNCLE and taking up the Side Effects script by UNCLE and Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns. In the past couple weeks there have been reports that Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Productions would finance Side Effects, with Open Road (The Grey) set to distribute after Summit decided not to pick up the film.

But Ellison has walked away from the film, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. (Theorize if you like about the middling performance of last weekend’s Haywire opening being a factor.) With the departure of Ellison, some of the previously attached cast is in doubt. But there is one new addition: Soderbergh’ vet Catherine Zeta-Jones (Ocean’s Twelve, Traffic). Read More »