This may look like it's going to be a zany Christmas romp, but it's really a warm exploration of family connections, essentially an American take on Love Actually's multi-strand comedy-drama. At least it has an unusually strong cast and moments of hilarity scattered throughout the story. And while it's never very deep, the themes are strongly resonant.
The Cooper family is gathering for what Charlotte (Diane Keaton) hopes will be one last perfect Christmas together. She knows that her 40-year marriage to Sam (John Goodman) is on the brink, but is ignoring that to plan a massive dinner. Their son Hank (Ed Helms) is stinging from divorce and unemployment, while daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) has picked up a hunky soldier (Jake Lacy) in the airport and asks him to pose as her boyfriend so her family will stop asking about her love life. Meanwhile, Charlotte's father Bucky (Alan Arkin) is trying to cheer up his favourite waitress (Amanda Seyfried), and Charlotte's sister Emma (Marisa Tomei) is delayed when a cop (Anthony Mackie) arrests her for shoplifting.
Narrated with wry joviality by Steve Martin, the interwoven stories are fairly simplistic, but each touches a raw nerve. And the above-average cast brings out the underlying themes without overplaying their scenes. Keaton and Goodman add subtle shades to the slightly undemanding central roles, while Arkin finds a couple of new textures to his usual twinkly grandad persona. Helms and Wilde strike the right balance in their intriguingly unlikeable roles, while Tomei gets the most complex character as a woman who feels like she's merely watched her life drift along. By contrast, the outsiders played by Seyfried, Lacy and Mackie are much less defined, but each actor brings just enough magnetic energy. The most wasted performer is June Squibb, as a ditzy old aunt who's little more than the requisite gross-out relative.
Continue reading: Love The Coopers (aka Christmas With The Coopers) Review
Charlotte Cooper is the family matriarch and all she wants is for her family to be together at Christmas. All her children are now grown up and some have kids of their own. Like most families, their bond over the years might've loosened slightly as day to day life gets in the way but Christmas is different, it's a time to reunite and enjoy the holidays together.
Easier said than done with the Cooper's. Charlotte and her husband have decided to divorce (a secret they plan on keeping from the family as to not destroy the family break) their oldest daughter lives in another state, is out of work and has been dumped by her partner and is hates the idea of going home and facing the family whilst their son is currently dealing with his daughters back-chatting ways. As many problems are there are, there must be a way through in the spirit of Christmas.
Director Jessie Nelson has described The Coopers as The Christmas Von Trapp family commenting: "I like to say The Coopers are The von Trapps of this Christmas. They are the von Coopers,"
Charlotte Cooper is determined to make this Christmas the best holiday the family has ever had, given that it's the only time of year when everyone's together. But, of course, while she and husband Sam are struggling to get everything perfect, everyone is equally struggling with other areas of their lives. Daughter Eleanor has been single for a while now, and the last thing she wants to do is arrive home without a boyfriend - again! And so, she convinces a soldier she meets at the airport to accompany her to her Christmas family reunion and pretend to be her partner, to which he reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile, the other daughter, Emma, gets in trouble with the police for jewel theft, and their son Hank has his work cut out when it comes to caring for his young daughter Madison alone; especially when she starts to learn some seriously unfriendly words.
Continue: Love The Coopers Trailer
Edward Scissorhands is no ordinary boy, as his name may tell. Created by a genius inventor who passed away before his subject was completed, he seems doomed to a life of solitude in a dilapidated castle. That is until the local Avon lady named Peg Boggs calls round and willingly takes the poor boy under her wing. Integrating him into civilised society isn't easy, however. While many neighbours are deeply accepting and impressed by his ability to cut hair and trim hedges, others see him as a danger with his bladed fingers that could easily cause some damage. Peg's daughter Kim is a little uneasy, despite how immediately taken Edward is of her, and her friends recognise this weakness and aim to exploit it to their advantage. Predictably, Edward's mistakes get him into a lot of trouble and he soon finds that the novelty of his presence is wearing thin.
Continue: Edward Scissorhands - Clips
Based on a true story, this is one of those relentlessly uplifting Disney movies that mixes comedy and emotion to inspire and move the audience. Thankfully, it also has a very smart screenplay by Tom McCarthy (Win Win) that draws out some resonant themes while tackling cross-culture issues with wit and honesty. This makes it easy to identify with the sparky characters who are trying to reinvent themselves.
Sports manager JB (Jon Hamm) certainly needs a reinvention. He has lost all of his high-profile clients and now needs to find the next big thing. Perceived as washed-up, he has some difficulty convincing someone to fund his crazy plan to stage a talent competition in India to find baseball talent among the local cricket players. With the help of his easily distracted assistant Aash (Aasif Mandvi) and cantankerous ex-coach Ray (Alan Arkin), he narrows the candidates down to two potential stars: Rinku and Danesh (Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma and Slumdog Millionaire's Madhur Mittal). After JB brings them back to Los Angeles, along with over-eager interpreter Amit (Pitobash), renegade coach Tom (Bill Paxton) has to whip them into shape to see if they can attract interest from the big-league teams.
While the film continually threatens to indulge in smiley culture-clash slapstick, McCarthy's script continually grounds the action in the characters, who emerge as fully rounded people who are engagingly unpredictable. The cast is earthy and natural, anchored ably by Hamm as a likeable guy who remains self-absorbed even though he's desperate, and who takes a long time to learn his rather simple lesson. His chemistry with Lake Bell (as the plain-talking tenant in his pool house) is superbly messy. And ace scene-stealers Mandvi and Arkin bring plenty of comic relief to their hilarious roles.
Continue reading: Million Dollar Arm Review
Critics assess the real-life sporting drama lead by the 'Mad Men' star.
Million Dollar Arm is released today in the USA, bringing Craig Gillespie's take on the remarkable true story of sports coach J.B. Bernstein to life with Mad Men's Jon Hamm in the driving seat alongside Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Aasif Mandvi and Lake Bell. It's easy to see why Hamm was cast as Bernstein, the sports agent and marketing wiz who devised a programme to inspire Indian cricket players to make the jump to baseball in the search for a news sports hero.
Jon Hamm Plays Sports Coach J.B. Bernstein In This Heart-Warming True Story Dramatisation.
"Sometimes a hard-hitting expose, sometimes a big-hearted crowdpleaser, "Million Dollar Arm" wants it both ways to be sure, but its instincts are mostly right on the money, as are its actors," says Variety. Scott Foundas is even-handed in his review, making sure to praise all those who make the movie such a solid watch, including "Gyula Pados' ace widescreen lensing," "jubilant wall-to-wall song score by Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman" and Hamm "who possesses a special talent for ferreting out the humanity in seemingly soulless corporate suits."
Continue reading: 'Million Dollar Arm' Released: A Home Run For Jon Hamm? [Trailer]
Jon Hamm stars as a baseball agent in Disney's 'Million Dollar Arm'
Remember the Titans, Mighty Ducks, Cool Runnings - could Jon Hamm's Million Dollar Arm be Disney's next classic sports movie? It certainly looks like one of the aforementioned family flicks and Hamm has that 90s sports agent/manager/coach thing down to a tee.
Jon Hamm in 'Milion Dollar Arm'
The movie - a true story - tells the tale of JB Bernstein, a once-successful sports agent who finds himself edged out by bigger, slicker competitors. He and his partner face closing their business for good, but whilst watching cricket in India on television, JB has a light-bulb moment and sets off to Mumbia with a cantankerous scout (Alan Arkin) to find the next big pitching sensation.
Continue reading: Is Jon Hamm's 'Million Dollar Arm' The Next Classic Disney Sports Movie?
Sports agent JB Bernstein was once incredibly successful in his field, but now there's a bunch of serious new sporting entrepreneurs in town that look to be about to make his job very difficult. With his agency under the threat of closure, he and his partner Ash need to start thinking long and hard about fresh new ideas that could rake in the dollars. While watching a cricket match on the box, JB devises a crazy idea to find America's next huge baseball star in India by setting up a talent show for the nation's finest young cricketers. The finalists of the show entitled 'Million Dollar Arm' are Rinku and Dinesh, who subsequently fly over to the US to begin training in the art of baseball. However, things are less easy than they first appeared and JB finds himself in deep water when it becomes clear just how different baseball and cricket are.
Continue: Million Dollar Arm - Clips
The 'Mad Men' actor takes on a baseball challenge in this true story adaptation.
The trailer has been released for Disney's upcoming sports drama, Million Dollar Arm, which stars Jon Hamm, Alan Arkin, Bill Paxton, Aasif Mandvi and Lake Bell. Based on a true story, the movie sees the Mad Men star take centre-stage as J.B. Bernstein, the sports agent and marketing wiz who devised a programme to inspire Indian cricket players to make the jump to baseball in the search for a news sports hero.
'Million Dollar Arm' Sees Jon Hamm Play Real-Life Sports Agent J.B. Bernstein.
With music by double Oscar winning A.R. Rahman ('Slumdog Millionaire'), Million Dollar Arm charts Bernstein's journey to India for a new generation of sports stars as well as the players' experiences in the competitive environment of US sports as well as their new cultural encounters thousands of miles away from home. Hamm as Bernstein is a sports agent who is struggling to keep his home and business in an increasingly innovative market against more enterprising sports entrepreneurs.
JB Bernstein is a sports agent who may outwardly look successful, but is struggling to make much business these days due to serious competition from much more enterprising sports entrepreneurs. JB and his business partner Ash are under significant threat of closure if they don't come up with some new ideas soon. He devises a plan to introduce America's next biggest baseball star by travelling to India to check out some of the nation's finest young cricketers. After filming a talent show called 'Million Dollar Arm', he brings winners Rinku and Dinesh over to the States to learn the art of baseball. Unfortunately, there appears to be more differences between baseball and cricket than Bernstein initially thought, and the boys are struggling under the pressure. However, with a little teamwork and determination, things start to look like they're going to work out just fine.
Continue: Million Dollar Arm Trailer
It's a little annoying that this high-concept marketing project (Rocky vs Raging Bull!) is as entertaining as it is: we want to hate it, as tired actors are sending up their own faded images. But while the script never even tries to be something interesting, it at least gives the stars some engaging scenes to work with. And we can't help but cheer for them in the end.
The film stars with a bit of history (and digital trickery), as young bucks Henry "Razor" Sharp and Billy "The Kid" McDonnen (Stallone and De Niro) battle it out back in 1982. Local fans in Pittsburgh are divided between them and are hugely disappointed when, at the peak of their fame, Razor suddenly retires before a climactic rematch. Now some 30 years later, a young promoter (Hart) decides to finally get them back together in the ring. But this stirs up an old feud involving Kid's affair with Razor's wife Sally (Basinger), which resulted in a son BJ (Bernthal), who's now a father himself. Can these two men possibly work together to promote their epic grudge match?
Silly question. Of course they start off gruffly snarling at each other but eventually find the expected mutual respect. And that's about the extent of the acting required of these two iconic stars. Add some fast-talking comedy from Hart, veteran battiness from Arkin, steely femininity from Basinger and soulfulness from Bernthal and the film at least has a veneer of complexity. But aside from wondering whether the filmmakers will fudge the final match so no one loses (they don't), there isn't much to worry about.
Continue reading: Grudge Match Review
The general word amongst critics is that the two screen titans just couldn't muster a half-decent film together
Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone are no strangers to putting on their boxing gloves for the sake of the movies and in their latest film, Grudge Match, the two screen icons are putting their respective ages aside to step into the ring once again. The film comes with a lot of promise, starring Alan Arkin, Kevin Hart and Kim Basinger alongside the two screen titans, yet sadly the overall response to the film from critics has been very underwhelming.
Stallone, Arkin, Hart and De Niro miss the mark with their latest film
The film stars Stallone and De Niro as two retired boxers, both well past their best, who ended their career with a long-standing and unresolved feud some years earlier. After meeting each other for the first time in years in a chance encounter, their feud returns and boils into a confrontation that ends in a melee of sorts, one that almost instantly goes viral and reignites interest in the former fighters. Soon they are receiving offers to return to the ring and settle their feud once and for all, but they can only make it into the ring if they can actually regain their fitness in time for the big fight.
Continue reading: Stallone And De Niro Miss The Punch In 'Grudge Match' - Review Round-Up