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Less-known Christmas films: Christmas In Compton

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Our continued quest to find a Christmas movie classic in the bargain bins! It's Christmas In Compton!

Family-orientated Christmas films broadly come in two flavours – the heartwarming tale of a selfish or immoral person redeeming themselves just in time for the big day, or straight out slapstick with lots of people falling over on ice and getting hit with snowballs. One Bad Christmas!, or Christmas In Compton as it's known in the Us, attempts to be both of these and more, without coming anywhere close to achieving its ambitions.

The story focuses on Derrick (Omar Gooding, brother to Cuba Jr), a law school dropout living in his father's house but with dreams of becoming a hit record producer. His father, disappointed with his son's never-realised ambitions, pressures him to make something more of his life. Derrick decides to prove once and for all he can be a
See full article at Den of Geek »

Keith David, Omar Gooding Dramedy 'Christmas In Compton' Gets Trailer, Theatrical Release Date

We were made aware that Christmas in Compton was on the horizon back in July.  We learned today that the comic Christmas tale will be released in theaters on November 9th. The film is directed by David Raynr, and stars Keith David, Omar Gooding and Sheryl Lee Ralph.  Writing duties were sharred by David Raynr, Suzanne Broderick, and Robert Fedor.  The film tales the tale of "Big Earl (David), owner of a Christmas tree lot in Compton, and a man with a big heart and a big vision, who demands success from everyone around him. All kinds of trouble erupts the week before Christmas when his son, Derrick (Gooding), part-time music producer and part-time...
See full article at ShadowAndAct »

Helen Hunt Goes Ape In "Project X"

  • SneakPeek
Director Jonathan Kaplan's 1987 science fiction comedy, "Project X", starring Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt, will be re-released by Anchor Bay on DVD.

Produced by Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker, "Project X" makes a political commentary on the ethics of animal research :

"...grad student 'Teri MacDonald' (Hunt) trains a chimp named 'Virgil' to use 'American Sign Language'. When her research grant is not renewed, Virgil is taken away. Teri is told that Virgil will be sent to a zoo. Instead, he is taken to an Air Force base to be used in a top-secret research project involving platforms designed to simulate the operation of aircraft.

"Meanwhile, 'Airman Jimmy Garrett' (Broderick), as punishment for misconduct involving a romantic interlude in an aircraft cockpit, is assigned to the same chimp project to which Virgil was sent. Jimmy begins to bond with Virgil and they become attached to one another.
See full article at SneakPeek »

Martin Lawrence Live

Martin Lawrence Live
"Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat," the actor-comic's latest performance film, is a two-for-one job. The first part contains a spectacularly unfunny stand-up routine consisting of weak, off-putting and belabored jokes. The other is a rationalization for all his recent legal and personal misfortunes.

The Maryland native delivers his jokes and excuses to thousands of adoring fans at Constitution Hall in Washington. Thanks to a hit TV series and several popular films, Lawrence has a definite following of forgive-and-forget fans, so the laugh track is solid. This concert film should also score with fans nationwide, but it is unlikely to win many converts for Lawrence.

The best comics, whether their material is off-color or not, deliver observations and insights into the human condition with wit and verbal dexterity. Neither weapon is in Lawrence's comic arsenal. His crude routines focus on safe sex, getting old (he's all of 36), disciplining children ("Whup you child's ass!"), sex after pregnancy, prenuptial agreements (he's for them) and overweight women (he's against them).

Lawrence has little to say on any of these topics. Worse, he is one of the least articulate comics in the history of stand-up. If you eliminate the words "fuck," "shit" and all their variations, this movie would barely qualify as a talkie.

Of course, humor is a matter of taste. Fans may love his comic riffs. Things only become pathetic when Lawrence decides to "tell my own story." The three now-infamous incidents he explains are his deranged behavior with a gun in the middle of an L.A. street -- "I was higher than a motherfucker!" -- a nightclub fight and a bizarre episode where he nearly died of heat stroke and dehydration while jogging in the noon sun.

His defense of this misbehavior: "No one is immune to the trials and tribulations of life." No apologies. No declaration that he has cleaned up his act. Just a defiant "We're all human". Everyone does these kind of things, he insists. Really?

This guy could have taught Tricky Dick Nixon a few tricks. He invokes God whenever he thinks that will go down well. He patronizes his audience by insisting that through all his self-imposed trials, "I felt your love". He even invokes Sept. 11 in response to his critics in the media without ever explaining what one has to do with the other.

The film itself is very cut and dried. An opening sequence contains clips from old TV shows and films and shots of Lawrence revving up backstage for his show. Once it begins, director David Raynr keeps the cameras trained on his sweating comic, seldom cutting away for obligatory shots of the crowd screaming with laughter. Daryn Okada's cinematography is refreshingly no-frills.

MARTIN LAWRENCE LIVE: RUNTELDAT

Paramount Pictures

MTV Films and Runteldat

Credits: Director: David Raynr; Writer: Martin Lawrence; Producers: Michael Hubbard, Beth Hubbard, David Gale, Loretha Jones; Executive producers: Martin Lawrence, Robert Lawrence, Van Toffler; Director of photography: Daryn Okada; Production designer: Richard Hoover; Co-producers: Walter Latham, Michael Cole, Momita Sengupta; Editor: Nicholas Eliopoulos. Cast: Martin Lawrence.

MPAA rating R, running time 103 minutes.

Film review: 'Whatever It Takes'

Film review: 'Whatever It Takes'
"Whatever It Takes", the latest teen movie riff on a classic literary story -- in this instance, "Cyrano de Bergerac" -- substitutes sitcom predictability for satirical insights into love and passion. Lacking stars and going up against two other teen films this weekend -- "Romeo Must Die" and "Here on Earth" -- this Columbia Pictures release will not attract much of an audience beyond a few young women.

The film does have two good things going for it in Shane West and Marla Sokoloff, who play next-door neighbors and best pals. West and Sokoloff have amiable, charming screen personalities. The camera likes them and the easygoing manner in which they express and expose the inner lives of their characters.

Both are miscast here, though, in the sense that no one is going to buy them as school outsiders, unable to get dates or fit in with any crowd. West's Ryan doesn't necessarily need a huge proboscis like Cyrano was inflicted with. But when you look as cool and together as West, playing an accordion is not going to be a major social handicap.

Even more confusing is Sokoloff's Maggie. She's beautiful, bright and sensitive. So what's wrong with Ryan's eyesight that he's content to remain her best pal?

But Mark Schwahn's script insists that Ryan has lost his heart to the school's "It" girl, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe's Ashley, who keeps young male hearts as trophies. Meanwhile, James Franco's chick magnet Chris wants Maggie, the only girl who won't give him the time of day.

Chris persuades Ryan to school him in how to hide his macho mentality under a facade of fake sentiment to get Maggie's attention. He in turn will teach Ryan how sarcasm and disdain is the way to win over his cousin Ashley.

"Whatever It Takes" doesn't just misread Edmond Rostand's play but dumbs down the material. Schwahn and director David Raynr insist that the characters are either shallow or insincere. Their comedy goes for tired, lowest-common-denominator gags. And, most damaging of all, the film lacks vitality. The slavish devotion to formula hamstrings the cast and provides no inspiration for the technical crew to give the film any visual spark.

The film is curiously timid in its approach to its characters. Not only do its makers seem to have one eye on the film's rating in their tame stabs at sex and bathroom humor, but unlike its robust predecessor, "Whatever It Takes" fails to explore the emotional chaos and divided feelings passion brings to humans.

No blood pounds in its characters' hearts; no confusion lurks within their brains. They are instead not only single-minded, but simple-minded as well. Makers of teen films surely need to give teens more credit.

WHATEVER IT TAKES

Columbia Pictures

Phoenix Pictures

Producer: Paul Schiff

Director: David Raynr

Screenwriter: Mark Schwahn

Executive producer: Bill Brown, Vicki Dee Rock

Director of photography: Tim Suhrstedt

Production designer: Edward T. McAvoy

Music: Edward Shearmur

Co-producers: Matt Berenson, Mark Schwahn

Costume designer: Leesa Evans

Editor: Ronald Roose

Color/stereo

Cast:

Ryan: Shane West

Maggie: Marla Sokoloff

Ashley: Jodi Lyn O'Keefe

Chris: James Franco

Floyd: Aaron Paul

Cosmo: Colin Hanks

Dunleavy: Manu Intiraymi

Kate Woodman: Julia Sweeney

Running time -- 92 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

Film review: 'Trippin'

Film review: 'Trippin'
The big 1999 high school movie marathon continues with "Trippin'", a "Cooley High"-meets-"House Party" teen comedy that may not score high in originality but has promising moments of comic inspiration before slacking off toward the end.

Boosted by a likable performance by Deon Richmond -- a regular on the WB's "Sister Sister" -- this issue under October Films new genre division Rogue Pictures could hook up profitably with a young urban audience, though it might be getting a little late in the semester to attract the targeted demographic.

Richmond demonstrates a nice, light comedic touch as Greg "G" Reed, a daydreaming high school senior who frequently drifts off into amusing, Walter Mitty-type fantasies.

While his parents (Aloma Wright and Harold Sylvester) are getting just a little concerned that he has yet to fill out his college applications, G's got more pressing things on his wandering mind -- namely the high school prom and whether his dream date could ever be the smart, beautiful and highly unattainable Cinny Hawkins (Maia Campbell).

That's pretty much it in the plot department. Fortunately, actor-turned-director David Raynr and screenwriter Gary Hardwick manage to get something a little more substantial out of the humorous characters and the actors portraying them, which also include G's feisty, cholesterol-loving Gramps (Bill Henderson) and his righteous, encouraging teacher Mr. Shapic (Michael Warren, doing a fine tribute to "Room 222"'s Mr. Dixon).

Technical contributions are uniformly smooth, while busy composer Michel Colombier's ("How Stella Got Her Groove Back") laid-back score grooves along agreeably.

TRIPPIN'

Rogue Pictures

A Rogue Pictures/Beacon Pictures presentation

Director:David Raynr

Producers:Marc Abraham, Caitlin Scanlon

Screenwriter:Gary Hardwick

Director of photography:John Aronson

Production designer:Aaron Osbourne

Editor:Earl Watson

Costume designer:Jennifer Bryan

Music:Michel Colombier

Music supervisor:Pilar McCurry

Color/stereo

Cast:

Gregory Reed:Deon Richmond

June:Donald Adeosun Faison

Fish:Guy Torry

Cinny:Maia Campbell

Mr. Shapic:Michael Warren

Louise Reed:Aloma Wright

Willie Reed:Harold Sylvester

Gramps:Bill Henderson

Running time -- 85 minutes

MPAA rating: R

See also

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