4 items from 2002
Elizabeth Hurley has ensured her son Damian will have plenty of men around when he's growing up to counteract the influence of too many women. The Austin Powers beauty's showbiz pals Elton John, Hugh Grant and Denis Leary are among four-month-old Damian's godfathers, and Liz is hoping they'll be enough of a masculine influence to make up for his absent dad. Damian is the son of American playboy Steve Bing, who famously questioned paternity when Liz's pregnancy was revealed. Hurley, 37, says, "I want him to have lots of boys around, otherwise it's like being in a harem smothered by big bosoms and wafting scents. He needs someone to dangle him upside down by his ankles, which isn't going to be me." »
Elizabeth Hurley and Denis Leary's new films have reportedly been singled out as turkeys already by early audiences. The pair, who are close friends in real life, have completed two films together, Bad Boy and Double Whammy, hopeful their off-screen chemistry would transfer onto the big screen. Not so, says a source in British newspaper The Daily Mail: "Hopes were high that the chemistry between Leary and Hurley would result in a hit romantic comedy, but it is shockingly bad. Double Whammy won't reach cinemas either. It makes Bad Boy look like Citizen Kane." »
This review was written for the theatrical release of "Ice Age".
"Ice Age", a computer-animated film from Blue Sky Studios, has energy to burn -- and you might wish director Chris Wedge and co-director Carlos Saldanha had burned a little. The cartoonists apparently believe a moment without physical or verbal gags is a moment wasted. The lunatic energy does result in several nifty slapstick sequences, at times reminiscent of Warner Bros.' beloved Looney Tunes. Just think of the Roadrunner and Daffy Duck in the Ice Age and you get the idea.
But this gag-a-thon keeps the animators from ever deepening their story or characters. The film lacks the emotional resonance and levels of meaning of such recent CGI features as "Shrek" and "Monsters, Inc". It's simply a fun, silly comedy, but then what's wrong with that? "Ice Age", released by 20th Century Fox, makes for fine Saturday-matinee entertainment and should enjoy a healthy afterlife in video/DVD following its theatrical career.
Certainly, "Shrek" and "Monsters" are tough acts to follow. This film's computer animation is almost Stone Age by comparison to its storied predecessors, which only illustrates how fast this technology is advancing. The rendering of human figures is poorly executed with human beings, who, fortunately, appear seldom, looking plastic and thoroughly unconvincing. (To be fair, no animation house has entirely licked this problem.) The creature animation is better, though no match for the breakthrough achieved by Pixar in "Monsters", where every stand of hair on the monsters' fur is articulated.
The story itself is built for laughs. The tall tale by writers Michael Berg, Michael J. Wilson and Peter Ackerman is essentially a remake of John Ford's sentimental Western, "Three Godfathers", where three outlaws on the run discover a dying woman and her baby and swear to bring the infant to safety across the desert, even at the risk of their own lives. Only in "Ice Age", the trek occurs over vast icy vistas of the Ice Age, and the baby's three unlikely rescuers are a lumbering mammoth named Manfred (voiced by a dry, laconic Ran Romano), a rubbery sloth named Sid (a hyper John Leguizamo) and a cunning saber-toothed tiger named Diego (played with icy menace by Denis Leary). The latter must be watched constantly as he clearly views the infant as an hors d'oeuvre.
There is a fourth character, who puts in a series of cameos, including very clever opening and closing sequences. Scrat, a prehistoric squirrel right out of the late Chuck Jones' playbook, spends the entire movie trying to bury an acorn. He never quite succeeds. While the three god-fathers chatter incessantly, Scrat (voiced by Wedge) emits only squeaks, squawks and groans. Which means his welcome appearances bring the relief of relative quiet.
Backed by David Newman's jaunty musical score and splendid layouts, "Ice Age" makes for a snappy vaudeville act that at 80 minutes knows exactly when to get off stage.
20th Century Fox
Blue Sky Studios
Producer: Lori Forte
Director: Chris Wedge
Co-director: Carlos Saldanha
Writers: Michael Berg, Michael J. Wilson, Peter Ackerman
Executive producer: Christopher Meledandri
Production designer: Brian McEntee
Music: David Newman
Editor: John Carnochan
Manfred: Ray Romano
Sid: John Leguizamo
Diego: Denis Leary
Soto: Goran Visnjic
Zeke: Jack Black
Roshan: Tara Strong
Scrat: Chris Wedge
Running time -- 80 minutes
MPAA rating: PG »
Film-maker Ted Demme's sudden death on Sunday was likely the result of "natural causes", according to the Los Angeles Coroner's Office. Toxicology tests and a thorough look at the burly 38-year-old's medical history - a process which could take several weeks - will now be conducted. Demme was pronounced dead Sunday at UCLA Medical Center in California. He had been brought to the hospital in full cardiac arrest after collapsing at a celebrity basketball game at nearby Crossroads School. The popular director of films such as the Denis Leary kidnapping satire The Ref, the Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy prison comedy Life and the hit Johnny Depp drug saga Blow had seemed destined to become as well-known and admired as his uncle, Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme. A former football lineman in college, Ted Demme was less than six feet (1.8 meters) in height but, according to the coroner's office, "in excess of 200 pounds (90 kilograms)." He reportedly played basketball as often as five times a week. He was known to joke about his shape and size. In a 1998 interview with the Los Angeles Times he said, "It's an encouraging thing that studios are hiring, big, husky guys... We're the minority that has been deprived of work for years. The millennium will be good for the husky. Watch out, you skinny bums." »
4 items from 2002
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