The Charlie’s Angels franchise has been an icon of badass, empowered women ever since Jaclyn Smith judo flipped a dude in 1976. The story of “three little girls” was resurrected in 2000 with a sequel series featuring new Angels and the hip styles of the new millennium. After a failed 2011 reboot on ABC, the producers are sending the angels back to the big screen with a hot new reboot directed by Elizabeth Banks. Not only that, but reports are going around that Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper), Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther), and Naomi Scott (Power Rangers, Aladdin) have been cast as the titular Angels. If true, the three would become the most diverse Angels in the franchise’s history.
The original program debuted in an era where crime shows were hot, but male. Creators Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts conceived the series to allow both men and women to feel the escapism of the action genre. Original “Angels” Sabrina (Kate Jackson), Jill (hair icon Farrah Fawcett), and Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) would kick, punch, and shoot their way through the crime-ridden streets of San Francisco on the orders of the mysterious “Charlie.”While the cast and location would change many times over five seasons, it always kept the central premise of Charlie and his Angels front and center.
From the get-go, the production seemed more focused on the famously “unrestrained” leads and their often revealing outfits. But as the show went on it began to focus more and more on the crime-fighting (while still placing heavy emphasis on fan service). Despite its eye-candy reputation, the show is still remembered fondly by many and remains an icon of 70’s culture.
Despite the success of Charlie’s Angels, it took nearly 20 years for a film to be made of the series. Rather than a reboot, they instead framed the 2000 film as a continuation. Thanks to the return of original Charlie, John Forsythe, the new trio of girls succeeded rather than replaced the classic lineup. The new Angels, Natalie (Cameron Diaz), Dylan (Drew Barrymore), and Alex (Lucy Liu), emulated the originals both in appearance (a blonde, brunette, and redhead) and in action. While it lost none of the fanservice, it aimed more for comedy than its predecessor, with the quips and double entendres, cranked up to 100. It was successful enough to spawn a sequel, Full Throttle, which would end up being John Forsythe’s last role.
The casting of Chinese-American Lucy Liu was a huge deal for the monochromatic Angels franchise, and it helped Liu’s career take off. But the new Angels reboot could take things to a whole new level. Not only would we be getting another Asian Angel in Naomi Scott (Gujarati Indian) but we’d also be getting a black Angel in Lupita Nyong’o (Kenyan-Mexican). Director Elizabeth Banks will also play the first female Bosley, replacing David Boyle, Bill Murray, and Bernie Mac. We might even get a queer Angel if Kristen Stewart signs on(if nothing else, it’s win for openly LGBTQ actors picking up roles in Hollywood).
While Banks’s Power Rangers co-star Scott reportedly has signed on, the other casting choices are yet to be confirmed. The Charlie’s Angels reboot is also being produced by Banks with her husband Max Hadelmen for Sony Pictures. Filming is set to begin in September of this year.
Images via Sony Pictures
Disney Unveils First Look at ‘Toy Story 4’
It’s the franchise that started it all for Pixar, and now with a fourth installment set to drop in theatres next summer, Disney has treated Toy Story enthusiasts to a small look at what some of our favorite characters are up to.
Up to meaning dancing hand in hand in a circle formation to Judy Collins’ seminal hit “Both Sides” now. They look happy, considering the song is far more introspective than most of the scene showcasing the toy family shows. Granted, there’s always a catch, and that comes in the form of a kid-crafted spork utensil turned into a toy, and having a serious case of the wiggins about its identity and hysterically screaming it’s not a toy before running away and causing a circular collision of all the other toys. I’d say there’s an opportunity there for some identity symbolism to be explored in the movie, but that’s probably expecting a tad too much.
Still, it’s nice to see the friends many of us have literally grown up with for over two decades. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are both back as Woody and Buzz, and they’re joined by regulars like Joan Cusack and Jeff Garlin. Bonnie Hunt, Laurie Metcalf, Annie Potts, and Patricia Arquette also lend their voices to the film.
Toy Story 4 premieres in theatres on June 21, 2019.
Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
‘The Grinch’ Doesn’t Skimp on Charm
The Grinch is a harmless, but charming, remake of the beloved television classic. The third attempt to tell a story that no one really thought needed to be retold. The original 1966 television special is so perfectly preserved in popular memory as being near perfection it bothers the brain as to why a remake is even necessary.
Thankfully, the latest version of The Grinch understands a very profound and delicate thing: how to tell a story for kids. Dr. Seuss stories succeed because they play with the boundless wonder of a child’s imagination, while also trusting in the simple but potent faith each child possess. In other words, The Grinch doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel so much as add some spokes.
The story is still the same as we remember it. The Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) lives atop the mountain overlooking Whoville. A giant green oval shaped creature with an expressive face he is as his name implies, not a happy being. Every year, around Christmas, the Whos down in Whoville begin their annual celebration of Christmas and it drives the Grinch mad because he was born with a heart two sizes too small. So he steals Christmas.
Like all characters, he eventually realizes the error of his ways; his heart grows three sizes, some say. Look, the original animated special was some twenty-six minutes with credits included. The Grinch is a scant eighty-six minutes, with credits. I mention this only to say, yes they added filling, but not necessarily padding. The directors Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney show a great faith in the Seuss original.
For instance, Cindy Lou Who (voiced by Cameron Seely) has a story all her own. As some of you may know, Cindy Lou Who is the little girl who catches the Grinch in the act of stealing her Christmas tree. In this, her story is simple and in fact, adds to Cindy Lou Who’s character and her relationship with the Grinch.
Cindy’s mother, Donna Lou Who (voiced by Rashida Jones) is a single working mother of three. Cindy wants to get in touch with Santa so she can wish for some happiness for her Mother. Michael LeSieur and Tommy Swerdlow have hammered the script into such a shape that we understand Donna isn’t unhappy. But Cindy sees her Mom struggling one morning and is sad she can’t do anything to help. Swerdlow and LeSieur lay the groundwork in a clever roundabout way.
As Cindy is trying to deliver a letter to Santa she runs into the Grinch, who is in town shopping for food. Being the Grinch he yells at her and comes dangerously close to doing something one of the most unforgivable things one could imagine: tell Cindy that Santa isn’t real. He doesn’t tell her, but he does imply. So when Grinch is disguised as Santa and he meets little Cindy once more, well let’s just say the Grinch was not the only person whose heart grew three times that day.
Mosier, Cheney, LeSieur, and Swerdlow allow The Grinch story as a whole to be visually expressive. From the Grinch’s sparse, cold, and granite home to the warm embracing circular geography of Whoville, the universe of the Grinch looks and makes sense. Well, sense enough. Blessed be the script never tries to overreach and explain logistical fallacies or complex municipal services. They simply allow Whoville and the Grinch to exist.
The animation by Illumination Studios is, far and away some of the best they’ve done. The studio’s movies such as Sing, Despicable Me, and Smallfoot have all been nice to look at but The Grinch has texture and depth that the other movies were lacking. It’s one thing to look good, but it’s another to understand camera placement and cleverly figuring out comedic gags that don’t feel forced.
Cumberbatch Grinch is impressive for its lack of vanity. You could argue that Cumberbatch has been working towards his role his entire career considering all his characters tend to be akin to either the Grinch or Oscar the Grouch. His voice work is so complete I had to remind myself who was doing the voice. Notice the timber of his voice as he realizes Fred, the reindeer, who he’s captured to help pull his sleigh, has a family.
Keean Thompson has a small role as the jolliest Who in Whoville, Mr. Bricklebaum. Thompson walks a fine line between playing him as naive without mocking him or making him a fool. Thompson’s Bricklebaum is a man so in love with life and Christmas that he can’t understand how anybody could be so happy. His faith in people is such that he somehow believes the Grinch and he are the bestest of friends. A fact that the Grinch is as baffled by as we are.
Pharrell Williams takes place of Boris Karloff and Anthony Hopkins as the narrator. His laid back smooth voice anchors The Grinch. He handles the Seussian rhyming scheme with aplomb and even gives his own remix of the classic You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. A perfect fit, Williams narrates without treading on the words. Being a musician he treats the words as Seuss intended; music to the ears.
There’s not a lot to say about The Grinch. It’s a simple straightforward and charming children’s movie which never panders. For being the third attempt at telling this story, it is remarkably free of any cynicism. The humor is both sly and broad and the emotions are genuine. After sitting through the cynical tripe of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Grinch feels like a soothing balm. It’s not Christmas yet, but at least with The Grinch, I didn’t mind celebrating a little early.
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures
Vince Gilligan to Make Breaking Bad Movie
Five years after “Felina” ended the landmark, all-time great show, Breaking Bad is set to return in film form. Details are scarce, with the plot mostly unknown and no confirmation yet whether the movie will release in theaters or on television. Obviously, it’s also unclear whether this will take place before or after the series’ timeline.
Does this matter at all to me? Nope. I’m the kind of hesitantly excited that’s bordering on speeding past hesitancy.
What little we do know is that Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan will write, produce, and possibly direct. Better Call Saul producers Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein will also be involved. The rumored plot right is said to “follow the escape of a kidnapped man and his quest for freedom.” This has everyone (obviously) thinking the movie will feature Jesse Pinkman post-series as he escapes his kidnapping by the white supremacists Walt kills in the finale.
This sounds like a very, very good idea, even if I’m worried to see Jesse suffer more. Can this movie be about him changing his name, moving to LA, ending up on the couch of a former sitcom star, and going on a series of wacky adventures?
Whatever my natural worry, about taking Breaking Bad to the big screen, Vince Gilligan’s heavy involvement deserves optimism. After five fantastic seasons of Breaking Bad, he and Peter Gould have gone on to create another brilliant show in Better Call Saul. Gilligan clearly knows this universe. If he says he has a story to tell, then I want to hear it.
The Breaking Bad movie will be the first project of a three-year overall deal Gilligan signed with Sony TV this past July.