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3 items from 2006


The Shaggy Dog

17 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

If Queen Latifah can step into Alec Guinness' Last Holiday and Steve Martin can go from Father of the Bride to Cheaper by the Dozen to The Pink Panther remakes, why shouldn't producer-actor Tim Allen take a romp as The Shaggy Dog? Director Brian Robbins, a young veteran of teen and family fare, and five writers have turned out a fast-moving Walt Disney Co. comedy that manages to sail past many of the cliches usually found in this genre while throwing together a wild story line more apt for a new millennium. Business could be brisk for the tweener crowd. DVD sales and rental figures look to be strong.

The original 1959 release was the first of scores of live-action family comedies from the Walt Disney studio, producing a lineage of teenage stars that would lead to Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohan. Although Fred MacMurray was top-billed, that film focused on his teenage son, played by Tommy Kirk, who stumbled onto Cold War missile secrets. Back then it was Kirk's Wilby Daniels who turned (off and on) into a canine, courtesy of an ancient Borgia curse. Years later, a sequel, The Shaggy D.A., had studio regular Dean Jones stepping into the role of an adult Wilby.

The remake credits both earlier screenplays with an acknowledgment of Felix Salten's original story, The Hound of Florence, as well. About the only similarity to the first film plot-wise is Dad's dislike of dogs (though in the original, there was a valid rationale: MacMurray was a veteran postal employee). As before, the fun is in the shape-shifting between man and beast, usually at the most inopportune moments.

Like Batman Begins, The Shaggy Dog opens in Tibet. A brief prologue introduces us to a 300-year-old bearded collie living -- and praying! -- among the monks. Henchmen from an evil pharmaceuticals conglomerate, headed by an ailing Philip Baker Hall, are on a reconnaissance mission to snatch the dog. Once back at the U.S. headquarters/secret genetics lab, two young scientists try to use the collie to perfect the Fountain of Youth for greedy corporate nincompoop Robert Downey Jr. (who seems to be playing a campy Prince Hal).

The balance of the film has assistant DA Dave Douglas (Allen) prosecuting his animal-activist daughter's (Zena Grey) tree-hugging social studies teacher, when his bloodstream gets infected with the ancient serum that gradually transforms the star into a furry dog. Allen is at his comic best in these scenes, from growling at opposing counsel in the courtroom (reminiscent of his Home Improvement hyper-masculine barking shtick) to chasing his bathrobe's tail at home. Kristin Davis, almost too attractive, plays Mrs. Douglas, and Spencer Breslin (Disney's The Kid, The Santa Clause 2) is the atypical younger brother. As a four-legged animal whose "voice" is heard only by the viewer, Allen starts to see how much he had neglected his family.

The supporting cast includes Jane Curtin as the judge, Danny Glover (miscast) as the DA and Shawn Pyfrom (Desperate Housewives) as Grey's teen boyfriend. The best supporting players are the mutant creatures (a snake with a dog's tail, a bulldog-headed frog) -- real animals mixed with concoctions bred by the Stan Winston and Tippett labs -- that aid Allen in an elaborate laboratory escape.

THE SHAGGY DOG

Buena Vista Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures/Mandeville Films/Boxing Cat Films

Credits: Director: Brian Robbins; Screenwriters: The Wibberleys and Geoff Rodkey and Jack Amiel & Michael Begler; Producers: David Hoberman, Tim Allen; Executive producers: Robert Simonds, Todd Lieberman, William Fay, Matthew Carroll; Director of photography: Gabriel Beristain; Production designer: Leslie McDonald; Costume designer: Molly Maginnis; Music: Alan Menken; Editor: Ned Bastille.

Cast: Dave Douglas: Tim Allen; Rebecca Douglas: Kristin Davis; Carly Douglas: Zena Grey; Josh Douglas: Spencer Breslin; Ken Hollister: Danny Glover; Dr. Kozak: Robert Downey Jr.; Judge Claire Whittaker: Jane Curtin; Lance Strictland: Philip Baker Hall; Baxter: Craig Kilborn.

MPAA rating PG, running time 92 minutes.

»

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The Shaggy Dog

6 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

If Queen Latifah can step into Alec Guinness' Last Holiday and Steve Martin can go from Father of the Bride to Cheaper by the Dozen to The Pink Panther remakes, why shouldn't producer-actor Tim Allen take a romp as The Shaggy Dog? Director Brian Robbins, a young veteran of teen and family fare, and five writers have turned out a fast-moving Walt Disney Co. comedy that manages to sail past many of the cliches usually found in this genre while throwing together a wild story line more apt for a new millennium. Business could be brisk for the tweener crowd. DVD sales and rental figures look to be strong.

The original 1959 release was the first of scores of live-action family comedies from the Walt Disney studio, producing a lineage of teenage stars that would lead to Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohan. Although Fred MacMurray was top-billed, that film focused on his teenage son, played by Tommy Kirk, who stumbled onto Cold War missile secrets. Back then it was Kirk's Wilby Daniels who turned (off and on) into a canine, courtesy of an ancient Borgia curse. Years later, a sequel, The Shaggy D.A., had studio regular Dean Jones stepping into the role of an adult Wilby.

The remake credits both earlier screenplays with an acknowledgment of Felix Salten's original story, The Hound of Florence, as well. About the only similarity to the first film plot-wise is Dad's dislike of dogs (though in the original, there was a valid rationale: MacMurray was a veteran postal employee). As before, the fun is in the shape-shifting between man and beast, usually at the most inopportune moments.

Like Batman Begins, The Shaggy Dog opens in Tibet. A brief prologue introduces us to a 300-year-old bearded collie living -- and praying! -- among the monks. Henchmen from an evil pharmaceuticals conglomerate, headed by an ailing Philip Baker Hall, are on a reconnaissance mission to snatch the dog. Once back at the U.S. headquarters/secret genetics lab, two young scientists try to use the collie to perfect the Fountain of Youth for greedy corporate nincompoop Robert Downey Jr. (who seems to be playing a campy Prince Hal).

The balance of the film has assistant DA Dave Douglas (Allen) prosecuting his animal-activist daughter's (Zena Grey) tree-hugging social studies teacher, when his bloodstream gets infected with the ancient serum that gradually transforms the star into a furry dog. Allen is at his comic best in these scenes, from growling at opposing counsel in the courtroom (reminiscent of his Home Improvement hyper-masculine barking shtick) to chasing his bathrobe's tail at home. Kristin Davis, almost too attractive, plays Mrs. Douglas, and Spencer Breslin (Disney's The Kid, The Santa Clause 2) is the atypical younger brother. As a four-legged animal whose "voice" is heard only by the viewer, Allen starts to see how much he had neglected his family.

The supporting cast includes Jane Curtin as the judge, Danny Glover (miscast) as the DA and Shawn Pyfrom (Desperate Housewives) as Grey's teen boyfriend. The best supporting players are the mutant creatures (a snake with a dog's tail, a bulldog-headed frog) -- real animals mixed with concoctions bred by the Stan Winston and Tippett labs -- that aid Allen in an elaborate laboratory escape.

THE SHAGGY DOG

Buena Vista Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures/Mandeville Films/Boxing Cat Films

Credits: Director: Brian Robbins; Screenwriters: The Wibberleys and Geoff Rodkey and Jack Amiel & Michael Begler; Producers: David Hoberman, Tim Allen; Executive producers: Robert Simonds, Todd Lieberman, William Fay, Matthew Carroll; Director of photography: Gabriel Beristain; Production designer: Leslie McDonald; Costume designer: Molly Maginnis; Music: Alan Menken; Editor: Ned Bastille.

Cast: Dave Douglas: Tim Allen; Rebecca Douglas: Kristin Davis; Carly Douglas: Zena Grey; Josh Douglas: Spencer Breslin; Ken Hollister: Danny Glover; Dr. Kozak: Robert Downey Jr.; Judge Claire Whittaker: Jane Curtin; Lance Strictland: Philip Baker Hall; Baxter: Craig Kilborn.

MPAA rating PG, running time 92 minutes.

»

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Last Holiday

3 February 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

One of the most likable performers in the business, Queen Latifah finally gets a vehicle that gives her formidable talents and expansive spirit plenty of blooming room.

That picture, a remake of a 1950 Alec Guinness film recast as a female-targeted fantasy romantic comedy, would have at best been a minor bit of genial fluff without her presence.

But with the Queen on the scene, it's elevated to a breezy escapist romp with considerable crossover appeal. "Last Holiday" should be a solid King Day holiday weekend entry with sufficient word-of-mouth stamina to emerge as a tidy little hit for Paramount Pictures.

Latifah is Georgia Byrd, a glammed-down, shy New Orleans department store sales clerk who sings in her church choir and has dreams of having a boyfriend, traveling to exotic countries and meeting the celebrity chefs who inspire her to cook great meals which she dutifully photographs and pastes in her Book of Possibilities before popping a Lean Cuisine in the microwave.

As fate would have it, those possibilities are about to meet reality when a bump on the head leads to a faulty CAT scan resulting in a misdiagnosis that gives Georgia mere weeks to live.

Determined to make every last minute count, she quits her job, cashes in her savings and jets off to the venerable European resort village of Karlovy Vary, home to fairy-tale snowy mountains and the truly grand Grandhotel Pupp (not to mention the annual Karlovy Vary Film Festival).

In short order, Georgia waxes those oppressive eyebrows, outfits herself in fabulous clothing and generally busts out of her shell to become the toast of the Pupp, charming congressmen (Michael Nouri), senators (Giancarlo Esposito) and even the notoriously temperamental Chef Didier (a swell Gerard Depardieu in one of his threatened final performances), while proving to be a thorn in the side of the smarmy retail magnate (Timothy Hutton) who once was her boss.

While Georgia might be making up for lost time, director Wayne Wang ("Maid in Manhattan", "The Joy Luck Club") keeps the pace quite leisurely, for the most part refusing to force any of the gentle comedy to be found in the script by Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman ("Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas").

Although their adaptation lacks the satiric edge of the J.B. Priestly original, it gives its star plenty of opportunity to showcase a more introspective side to that proven, more lively personality.

Wang also mines terrific performances from a supporting ensemble that would have been right at home in any vintage studio comedy. In addition to the aforementioned players, there's also nice work from LL Cool J as the soft-spoken object of Georgia's secret affections, Alicia Witt as Hutton's reluctant mistress, Ranjit Chowdhry as a neurotic doctor and Susan Kellermann as an uptight, nosy hotel valet.

Contributing to the desired escapist vibe are those Old World European locations, photographed to postcard picturesque effect by "Under the Tuscan Sun" DP Geoffrey Simpson, not to mention costume designer Daniel Orlandi's fabulous frocks and composer George Fenton's lush score.

Last Holiday

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures presents an Imagemovers/Laurence Mark production

A Wayne Wang film

Credits:

Director: Wayne Wang

Screenwriters: Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman

Based on a screenplay by: J.B. Priestley

Producers: Laurence Mark, Jack Rapke

Executive producers: Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey, Richard Vane, Peter S. Seaman, Jeffrey Price

Director of photography: Geoffrey Simpson

Production designer: William Arnold

Editor: Deirdre Slevin

Costume designer: Daniel Orlandi

Music: George Fenton

Cast:

Georgia Byrd: Queen Latifah

Sean Williams: LL Cool J

Kragen: Timothy Hutton

Chef Didier: Gerard Depardieu

Ms. Burns: Alicia Witt

Sen. Dillings: Giancarlo Esposito

Congressman Stewart: Michael Nouri

Rochelle: Jane Adams

Ms. Gunther: Susan Kellermann

Dr. Gupta: Ranjit Chowdhry

MPAA rating PG-13

Running time 108 minutes »

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3 items from 2006


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