Tag Archives: Anne Hathaway

Go Ask Alice

Magic mirror returns plucky lass to Wonderland—or Underland

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Sacha Baron Cohen & Johnny Depp

Directed by James Bobbin

PG

British author Lewis Carroll’s tales of a Victorian lass and her escapades in an enchanted place of talking animals, odd humans and other curious creatures have been made into numerous movies, TV shows and stage adaptations—dozens since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was originally published in 1865. In the early 1970s, the rock band Jefferson Starship made Alice the hook of its hippy-dippy song “White Rabbit,” which used her journey down a rabbit hole as a metaphor for another kind of “trip.” The ABC-TV modern-day fairytale anthology Once Upon a Time spun off a standalone series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, based on Carroll’s novels, in 2013.

Clearly, something about the plucky, curious young Alice never falls out of fashion.

“Go ask Alice,” sang Jefferson Starship’s Grace Slick.

Go ask Alice, indeed, for she is a most resourceful gal in this Disney follow-up to the House of Mouse’s Alice in Wonderland, which reunites most of the cast of the 2010 film. When we meet her in the opening scene, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is the cool-headed captain of her late father’s sailing ship, The Wonder, excitedly exploring the globe, narrowly escaping from pirates and clearly making her own way in a “man’s world” that wants to put her—and keep her—in her place.

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter

When the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) gets in a bit of a bind, his friends in Wonderland—now called “Underland”—know just what to do: Go ask Alice!

That sets the stage for Alice’s return—this time through a magic mirror—to the enchanted realm, where she again meets up with the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), Tweedles Dee and Dum (Matt Lucas), the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, the Dormouse and the Bloodhound.

In order to help the Hatter, Alice must make a dangerous, daring trip back in time. That’s always tricky in any movie, and here it involves stealing a device called the Chronosphere from Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen). The film’s weirdly wacky new character is a clockwork despot who speaks like German actor Christoph Waltz and is served by a staff of comical, robotic minions he refers to as his “seconds”—a time pun, get it?

Once again, Johnny Depp is all tics, weird hair and crazy quirks—three shades of eye shadow, eyebrows that look like florescent orange caterpillars attacking his forehead, ghoulish white makeup and yellow teeth. When the Hatter speaks, he sounds like he’s got marbles in his mouth and a lisp. It’s just too much.

Sacha Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron Cohen

So it’s practically an invitation for Sacha Baron Cohen to glide right in and steal the show with a perfectly calibrated performance of comedic timing, camp and cleverness, which he does.

British director James Bobbin (who also steered two Disney Muppets movies plus the brilliant Flight of the Conchords and Cohen’s satirical Da Ali G Show) replaces Tim Burton, who directed the 2010 Alice in Wonderland. Burton’s influence remains as one of the producers, however, and the whimsy and imagination of his original are still very much evident.

So: How long before we get our next trip to Wonderland/Underland? Go ask Alice!

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Love & Work & Friendship

De Niro, Hathaway put mature ‘seasoning’ on workplace rom-com

THE INTERN

The Intern

Starring Robert De Niro & Anne Hathaway

Directed by Nancy Meyers

PG-13

“Love and work, work and love, that’s all there is,” says Ben (Robert De Niro), paraphrasing Sigmund Freud in the opening moments of The Intern.

Ben’s a 70-year-old retiree, adrift in Brooklyn after the death of his wife of 40-some years. He longs for purpose and connection that Mandarin Chinese lessons, tai chi in the park and morning treks to Starbucks can’t provide. When he sees an ad for a “Senior Intern Program” at a hip new e-commerce clothing company, he thinks it could be just the thing to bring his decades of experience, loyalty and passion for productivity back into play.

After a humorous round of interviews with the start-up company’s young “talent acquisition” team, Ben gets the job, assigned directly to the busy-bee founder and president, Jules (Anne Hathaway), a mile-a-minute micromanager who barely has time to even notice him.

How long will it take for the geriatric guru to go from invisible to indispensible?

THE INTERNWriter-director Nancy Meyers is best known for the frisky romantic comedies Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated and The Parent Trap. There’s both romance and comedy in The Intern—there’s no mistaking the soft, rounded edges of Meyers’ humor and the sunny storybook optimism of her feel-good style. But still, it’s not what you might think.

Ben doesn’t fall—at least romantically—for Jules. They both grow ever closer in their relationship, and even end up literally “in bed” together, but it’s all business, building a genuine friendship.

De Niro, a double Oscar winner, is well known for playing tough, so it’s always great fun to see him working whimsical. But shades of some of his former, heavier performances are always around, lurking—Ben has a “mirror” moment that might be seen a silent spoof of “You talkin’ to me?!” from Taxi Driver, and a comedic house break-in feels like it might morph into Goodfellas parody, if only there were a body in the trunk and a walk-on by Joe Pesci.

Hathaway, 32, another Oscar winner, plays Jules with sensitivity for her character’s strengths as well as her struggles—which include a frazzled home life with her husband (Anders Holm, from TV’s Workaholics) and their precocious young daughter (JoJo Kushner), and conflict about how her company has grown so much it may need to bring in a CEO, someone above her, to run things.

TIN-FP-0076

Ben (De Niro) bonds with the younger interns (Adam Devine, Zack Pearlman and Jason Orley).

Renee Russo plays a frisky “older” staff masseuse who rubs Ben the right way, and three younger interns (Jason Orley, Zach Pearlman and Adam DeVine, also from Workaholics, as well as the Pitch Perfect movies) form male bonds with their much older, more stylish, infinitely wiser coworker.

The Intern won’t win any awards. But for some hearty laughs and touching cross-generational life lessons from a couple of “old pros,” it’ll make for a decent date night, especially with audiences who often search in vain for movies of any kind—particularly comedies—seasoned for more “mature” tastes.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Time Warped

Matthew McConaughey stars in mind-bending deep-space yarn

INTERSTELLAR

Interstellar

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway & Michael Caine

Directed by Christopher Nolan

PG-13

Outrageously ambitious, deliriously far-out and epically geeky, director Christopher Nolan’s sprawling Interstellar is a space movie with one foot on the ground and one in the stars, a story of both humanity and the heavens, with a thumping heartbeat driving its spewing intergalactic fountain of dazzling, digitized special effects.

In this mind-bending yarn about gravity, time and the power of love, Matthew McConaughey plays a family-man space cowboy on a mission to save the Earth. As its story unfolds, sometime in the not-so-distant future, our planet’s resources have been all but exhausted; the world’s a big dust bowl. McConaughey’s character, Cooper, a former moon-exploring astronaut, is selected for a top-secret, last-ditch NASA dash across deep space to chase down a probe signal that may possibly signal a new planetary home.

Big problem: The widowed Cooper will have to leave behind his sage old dad (John Lithgow) and his two young children, teenage son Tom (Timotheè Chalamet) and spunky young daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy). Even bigger problem: Once he takes off, Cooper doesn’t know how long how he’ll be gone—or if he’ll be able to return.

INTERSTELLARCooper tries to reassure Murph—he gives her an old-school wristwatch and tells her that whenever she looks at it, she can know he’ll be looking at his, too, wherever he is, up there in space, for however long, until he comes home. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Nolan, whose other films include the Batman Dark Knight trilogy and the mind-scrambling Inception, sets off an explosion of images and ideas as the tale unfolds both “on the ground” and “out there.” We’re taken through a space “wormhole,” a shortcut expressway compressing and expanding space and time, to a watery planet prone to monstrous tidal waves, where every hour counts for seven years of Earth time, and another that’s so cold, even the clouds are solid ice. We watch as Cooper, whose own aging has been halted by the time-warp of space travel, sees video feeds of his children grown into adults (Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck)—and bitter that their father has apparently abandoned them, “decades” ago.

INTERSTELLARAnne Hathaway plays one of Cooper’s fellow explorers—a key role in more ways than one because of her connection to her NASA scientist father (Michael Caine) back on Earth, and also to someone the astronauts will meet on their journey to the outer reaches of the cosmos.

Along the way, we’re introduced to some lofty concepts: Are we alone in the universe? Is it possible to go backward and forward in time, or to make it stand still? Is love a quantifiable force? Nolan lays out a narrative path between Odysseus, Albert Einstein and Buck Rogers, then paints it with bold cinematic brushstrokes inspired by the masters—Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, John Ford.

It doesn’t always work, but man, is it ever something to see. It gets pretty trippy (and even a bit hokey) in the end, and at nearly three full hours, it’s quite a journey. And this rip-roaring Rip Van Winkle rocket tale is unlike anything else you’ve seen at the movies this year, if ever. Hang on for the ride and you may come out on the other side feeling a bit wobbly and time-warped yourself.

And afterward, you might never look at the tick-tock of your wristwatch the same way again.

—Neil Pond, Parade and American Profile Magazines

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