Tag Archives: Mila Kunis

Moms Gone Wild

‘Bad Moms’ is a raunchy yarn about mothers who’ve had enough

Bad Moms
Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn & Christina Applegate
Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Rated R

“I feel like the worst mom in the world,” says Amy (Mila Kunis), the harried, hurried, overworked, underappreciated mother of two young teens. “Still, I love being a mom.”

That conflicted yin and yang of motherhood, so familiar to anyone who’s been there (or is there), is the comedic core of this raunchy, righteously rollicking yarn about a trio of suburban moms who decide they’ve had enough—of PTA Nazis, wussie husbands, doofus booses and just about everything else—and cut loose.

Writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who contributed to the screenplays of The Hangover—about three guys on a Las Vegas party-pa-looza—and its two sequels, seem to want to show that they’re equal-opportunity humorists: They can write crude, R-rated sex jokes for women, too, even soccer moms!

The strong cast seems up for the task. Kunis is just the right shade of frazzled as Amy, whose world falls apart quickly after she catches her loutish husband (Dave Walton, who plays Sam on TV’s New Girl) in a compromising position with his internet girlfriend.

Kristen Bell is social outcast Kiki, struggling to raise three young children with her chauvinist mate and fantasizing about getting into a car crash where she can go to the hospital for some quality “me time.”

BAD MOMS

Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn raise a toast to ‘Bad Moms.’

But the real comedy catalyst is Kathryn Hahn, a veteran of dozens of TV and movie roles, as Carla, the trio’s sole single mom—and she’s a pistol, a brash, been-around-the-block sexual dynamo who gets most of the movie’s laugh-out-loud lines and visual gags, particularly the hilariously vulgar ones. You’ll have a hard time looking the same way again at any sweatshirt hoodie after Carla uses the pink one Kiki is wearing to demonstrate a particular point about male anatomy.

“I’m not going to wear this sweatshirt ever again,” a stunned Kiki vows.

Christina Applegate digs deep into the delicious dirty tricks of her role as Gwendolyn, the head of the school PTA, who rules everything—particularly bake sales—with an iron fist. Jada Pinkett Smith is Stacy, her feisty first lieutenant. Jay Hernandez is the school’s “hot” widower dad (who really knows how to speed-buckle a car seat). Wendell Pierce (who played Det. “Bunk” Moreland on TV’s The Wire) gets in a great line in his short scene as the principal. Wanda Sykes plays a marriage counselor who finally gets an un-coupled couple she can’t re-couple. And there’s a very special cameo by a very special hostess.

Amy (left) faces off at a PTA bake sale with her nemesis Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her lackey (Jada Pinkett Smith).

Amy (left) faces off at a bake sale with nemesis Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her lackey (Jada Pinkett Smith).

“It’s OK to be a bad mom,” a converted Amy eventually realizes, after a blitz of female empowerment, liberation, bonding and unification. Nobody’s perfect, every “bad mom” has a good side, there’s beauty in imperfection, and when moms are all in it together, it’s all good!

Stay for the credits to meet the real-life moms of the cast members. For anyone feeling a bit roughed up and raw by the R-rated humor, this gentle, parting dollop of smooth sweetness is guaranteed to leave you with a smile.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Cosmic Canned Ham

Loopy ‘Jupiter Ascending’ is a way-out, sci-fi mind scramble

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Jupiter Ascending

Starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis & Eddie Redmayne

Directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski

PG-13

There’s a dinosaur wearing a motorcycle jacket in the dining room, a shirtless interplanetary hunk (Channing Tatum) zipping around the sky on rocket skates, and a maid (Mila Kunis) scrubbing the toilet who’s actually queen of the universe.

Better buckle up: This is one way-out, sci-fi space-opera mind scramble. But the filmmaking-siblings team of writers, producers and directors Lana and Andy Wachowski typically don’t do anything small. Previously, they’ve given us the time-and-space-shifting The Matrix (1999) and its two sequels; a futuristic political thriller (V For Vendetta); a live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime classic Speed Racer; and the sprawling, brain-warping Cloud Atlas.

JA-FP-0005

Mila Kunis

The Wachowskis’ movies are often lauded for visual sumptuousness but criticized for lack of lucid storytelling, and that could certainly be said for Jupiter Ascending, a lavish, fantastically over-the-top spectacle of outrageous special effects, Baroque set design, outlandish characters and fantastical ideas that never stop zapping and zinging. But so many of those ideas fail to find their way into a coherent package, and the whole movie rings loudly, if not proudly, in the major key of gobbledygook.

The “Jupiter” of the title is Jupiter Jones (Kunis), a lowly Russian immigrant who grows up in Chicago cleaning bathrooms, completely unaware that her lofty astral pedigree has made her the subject of an intergalactic bounty hunt. As how Jupiter came by her out-of-this-world DNA is explained (sort of), we meet the various characters that have all come looking for her.

JUPITER ASCENDING

Eddie Redmayne

Channing Tatum is the genetically engineered, half-wolf, half-human mutant who zips to Earth to warn Jupiter about who she really is—and what kind of danger she’s in. Eddie Redmayne is an alien business tycoon dealing in a deluxe brand of “youth serum.” Sean Bean, from TV’s Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, is a scruffy, Han Solo-ish, galaxy-hopping good guy.

It’s all wild, weird, and a high-heavens, hot-mess hoot, especially when you realize you’re seeing two guys just coming off tony, Oscar-nominated movies (Tatum’s Foxcatcher and Redmayne, for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything) now chewing such enormous, supernova-size slices of cosmic canned ham. The whole thing is so earnestly, self-seriously over-the-top, so ridiculously rich in excess, it’s like a gonzo, gazillion-dollar mash-up of Plan Nine From Outer Space and Guardians of the Galaxy steered by a committee of 13-year-old boys hyped on an all-weekend Star Wars/Star Trek marathon and fueled by an endless supply of Mountain Dew and Pixy Sticks.

But hey: In what other flick are you going to find Channing Tatum grunting like a (half) wolf, zipping around shirtless in zero-gravity shoes a la Buck Rogers at an Olympic speed-skating event, and slugging it out with a dinosaur? You’d have to traverse many a multiplex—if not the entire galaxy—to find anything that shoots for the stars quite like the loopy Jupiter Ascending. And if you’re going to ride this rocket, into an orbit that that swings w-a-a-a-y out there, well, don’t hope to understand it, just try to hang on.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Little Girl Lost

Modernized ‘Annie’ is an underwhelming, quasi-musical mess

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Annie

Starring Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx & Cameron Diaz

Directed by Will Gluck

PG

“You’re such a special little girl,” one character tells the world’s most famous little orphan during this latest musical remake of her well-traveled tale.

And it’s certainly true: Little Orphan Annie, the eternally young waif, has cut a 90-year swath across pop culture, from comic strips to the Broadway stage and beyond. You’ve got to be some kinda special to live nearly 100 years and never look a day over 9.

But most people who are familiar with Annie today know her from the 1982 musical made about the 1970s Broadway production, and that will be the standard—for better and for worse—to which much of this new Annie will be compared.

Perhaps it’s finally time for Little Orphan Annie to come out of the 1920s and into the modern world, and this version does that, all right, putting a shiny contemporary spin on an old, familiar story. But just how well will Annie fans take to mashed-up, hip-hop songs, miscast performers, and a production that sinks far more than often than it soars?

Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx

Quvenzhane Wallis & Jamie Foxx

The new Annie, Quvenzhanè Wallis, who received an Academy Award nomination when she was 6 for her starring role in as the unflappable bayou child in Beasts of the Southern Wild, has a relaxed, natural charm and undeniable cuteness. But she’s no “stage kid,” and she’s clearly out of her element in a role requiring extensive singing and dancing.

Jamie Foxx plays Will Stacks, the contemporary equivalent of Daddy Warbucks, now a fat-cat tech tycoon running for mayor of New York. Cameron Diaz is Miss Hannigan, the boozy-floozy foster mom raising Annie—a several other preteen tykes—in a welfare-funded tenement. Bobby Cannvale and Rose Bryne are Stacks’ campaign manager and personal assistant, working hard to humanize his cool, aloof image.

Fine performers all, they’re hamstrung by cinematography, choreography (or lack of it) and staging that leaves them stumbling, bumbling, flailing, wailing and sounding like their vocals have been pumped into an Annie atomizer. Director Will Gluck, whose previous films include the witty teen comedy Easy A and the sexy relationship farce Friends With Benefits, had never directed a musical before. This makes you wonder if he’d ever paid much attention to one, either.

Enter Annie—now a foster child instead of an orphan—in an encounter than becomes a YouTube viral video and a campaign godsend for Stacks, and the opportunity for the moppet to work her magic.

1111746 Ð ANNIEExcept there’s not a lot of magic to be found—certainly not in the signature show tunes, like Tomorrow, Hard Knock Life and Little Girls, which are revised with new lyrics and urbanized, boom-box-y arrangements, and supplemented with some new tunes entirely. The storyline, though mostly hewing to Annie basics, dazzles it up with contemporary window dressing, including a Big Apple setting, jazzy lingo (“janky,” “Bam!”), celebrity cameos (Hey, there’s Michael J. Fox! And Austin Kutcher—and Mila Kunis!) and a breathlessly “today” subplot driven by cell-phone tracking and Twitter postings.

But it all makes for one big, underwhelming quasi-musical mess. Little Orphan Annie has been a kitschy, pop-cultural treasure for nearly a century, arcing across generations with a message of spunk, sunshine, adventure, uplift and the possibilities of better, brighter tomorrows. But most viewers will probably be disappointed to watch this Annie fall—and ring—achingly flat, reminding them mostly of much more enjoyable yesterdays.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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