TV Reviews

"The Undoing" Overestimated Hugh Grant's Charm And Nicole Kidman's Green Coat

Not even Nicole Kidman's green jacket could save the new HBO series.

An emerald green coat rarely carries a show as heavy as an HBO drama, but Nicole Kidman's did so admirably in The Undoing.

Besides Kidman's definitively stunning costumes (that green coat deserves an Emmy), there were very few concrete takeaways from The Undoing, the new HBO limited series based on the book You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Still, it's worth noting that the show, which premiered October 25th to favorable reception, had a very promising start.

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FILM & TV

BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | What's coming to theaters this weekend?

JANUARY 12th - 14th | Stories with heart and humor take over the cinema

Bears breaking the law, teenagers finding solace in church, and a son who just wants a little love from his father round out our top picks for the movies this week.

In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about have your pants scared off? Maybe just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have it.

Take a peek at our top picks for this week...

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FILM & TV

REVIEW | 'Paddington 2' will warm even the coldest winter hearts

FILM | Everyone's favorite bear is back and even better when he takes on a whole new set of troublesome adventures

A bit of crime, a little marmalade, and a whole lot of love will start the new year off right with a flick for the whole family.

Kids movies are notorious for boring the parents that must attend alongside their children, and the more installments the franchise cranks out, the more yawns and sighs adults release. What's never heard of? A sequel to a film that actually does better than its parent production. Alas, Paddington 2 is just the film to break that mold. In its first week at the box office in the United Kingdom, it grossed more than the original Paddington, and for good reasons!

From the same brains as the first film, including Director/Writer Paul King, Co-Writer Simon Farnaby, and Producer David Heyman, the beloved cast returns for its next chapter bringing Michael Bond's bear and his antics to life. Also in the mix are Hugh Grant, stepping into the role of villain, and Irish actor Brendan Gleeson as a criminal with a soft side. While the first film was under production for seven years, this one was a much quicker turnaround, and even more successful story-wise.

The sequel reintroduces us to the Brown family in their Windsor Gardens home in London. While Paddington has made himself comfortable over the time that has passed, new trials and tribulations face the household humans. The parents are having their own versions of midlife crises while their children experience teenage growing pains. Paddington's plight is much simpler: he wants to purchase a birthday present for his Aunt Lucy, but the perfect gift —a pop-up book featuring all of the London sights Lucy herself has never been able to see — comes at a price. Paddington takes a job as a window washer and all seems well, but it can't be for long when a mischievous Peruvian bear is involved.

This pop-up book contains a secret all its own that can reveal a hidden fortune. When it's stolen from a Portobello Road antique shop and Paddington goes running off after the perp, he's mistaken for the crook himself and ends up in jail for his crimes. The Brown family must then go on a quest to bring their beloved bear back, which begins with the investigation of their curious neighbor/washed-up actor, Phoenix Buchanan (Grant).

What ensues is almost two hours of pure pleasure. Visually, the film is stunning and detailed. A combination of live-action and CGI production not only encapsulates the lovable, furry Paddington, but also works its magic in other ways. The pop-up book comes to life as Paddington and Aunt Lucy are imagined traveling through London. When Paddington feels lost and sad in jail, his tears work to grow a forest around him to remind him of the comforts of being back in Peru. The film editors spare nothing to make us feel just as this little bear does.

This pays off in the film's storyline as much as it does in its visual appeal. Audiences of all ages (children, teens, and adults) will experience the plot beat by beat without rolling their eyes or feeling under-amused. I can say this without doubt as my viewing group included such a wide range and we all found ourselves laughing at the antics of the little bear, being surprised when his choices revealed themselves in a cumbersome series of events, and eventually crying when the spirit of family and kindness overcame all.

It's a delight, one as wonderful as the marmalade sandwiches this little bear is so fond of, and definitely worth all audiences purchasing a ticket to see.

Some critics have said that the film sure is pleasant but serves no purpose outside of distracting viewers from the cruelties in the outside world. I disagree. Paddington over and over again reminds us of a message from his Aunt Lucy: "If you're kind and polite, the world will be right." There's likely some truth to this. Perhaps if we can all take this message into the new year and start treating each other with a little bit more kindness, it will start showing up elsewhere. Adding in a few sweet, marmalade treats can't hurt, either.

Paddington 2 will be released on January 12, 2018 from Warner Bros Pictures.

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Events

Why 'Love, Actually' is Actually the Worst Thing About the Holidays

Ho ho no thanks, you bunch of horndogs.

The holidays are a time for tradition: doing the same things we do every year because we love them, because they bring us a sense of peace in an ever-changing world, because they help connect us to the people you love. We make the same foods, celebrate the same rituals, watch the same old movies. Unfortunately, one tradition that manages to hold on is the infiltration of Love, Actually on every channel.

Love, Actually, if you've had the pleasure of forgetting, is that overwhelmingly British Christmas movie (it's actually an American movie set in London, which explains a lot) with like 35 main characters and the child who sings the Mariah Carey Christmas song at the end. It's a sort of proto-Valentine's Day or He's Just Not That Into You format with just a ton of loosely interwoven stories of people trying to find love...actually. At Christmastime. How precious.

There are about as many plot holes as there are characters (which is about 4,500), which Lindy West did a great, maniacal job of pointing out a few years ago. Why are they recording a Christmas song 5 weeks before Christmas? What is Natalie's actual job? Why is everyone in love with their coworkers? Don't they have HR policies about that? Doesn't anyone just go meet people in normal ways like bars or parties or Match dot fucking com? It's 2003, people.

Anyway, once you accept the total void of logic that is Love, Actuallysurprise! There's more to hate. It's pretty much gross and offensive in more ways than you would even expect a Christmas movie to manage. For one thing, those fat jokes. My god. Hugh Grant plays the Prime Minister, and Martine McCucheon plays his young staffer, Natalie, who is just pretty objectively not fat. And yet, the duration of the movie is spent making jokes about how fat her ass is. Like, everyone, including senior government staffers. Which like, ok, not unrealistic, but for Christ's sake, can we not?

Other love plots include some guy who gets cheated on by his girlfriend with her brother, who then falls in love with a woman he literally does not know because he accidentally saw her skinny dipping once. (Bonus fat jokes when the sexy skinny-dipper gets confused with her fat sister, because as we all know, fat women aren't loved. Unless they're literally not fat and just get called fat, like Natalie.)

There's also a storyline in which a twerpy ginger dude goes to the U.S. to bag some babes, and it works: horny Betty Draper and friends fawn over him like something even most pornos are too well-written to try to sell you. Seriously:

Okay, so the meaning of love is a bunch of dudes who lack boundaries winning one or more unspeaking women-trophies for Christmas, in no small part (in the movie's logic) because of their sexy British accents.

What's happening here, guys? Do American guys think this is how it works for the British? Do men not understand the mechanics of sexual harassment in the workplace (it's creepy when the American president hits on you, but charming when the British prime minister does)? This is supposed to be both Christmasy and romantic? Do you secretly hate Christmas?

It's one of those movies that believes in its charm so much, it thinks it can trick you into not being cynical about "love" or commercialization of the holidays or whatever by exposing a number of loveable cynics and making them fall in love anyway. Well guess what, buddy, it's gonna take a lot more than some vapid, frequently offensive, and downright absurd (not in a good way) British Christmas movie to vanquish my cynicism. This movie is just terribly written and embarrassingly unfunny, and I can't think of any movie that's better at killing the holiday spirit. In short, Love, Actually is the real War on Christmas.

Besides, if you're looking to believe in the magic of Christmas again, just watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or something again, geez. That one is fucking adorable no matter how old you get.

He may be a notoriously grumpy bastard, but Hugh Grant can still be a very good sport - as we saw on Watch What Happens Live last night.

Once again, that magician Andy Cohen has managed to convince another high-profile star to appear on his show and do something both ridiculous and awesome.

Apparently it's always been Andy's dream to star as the leading lady in a rom-com, so Hugh agreed to recreate the famous love speech from Notting Hill.

When asked if he still keeps in touch with his real leading lady Julia Roberts, Hugh said not so much.

"I mean, I would be, I suppose, but I've probably made too many jokes about the size of her mouth. She might hate me by now."

Oh, Hugh! In his defense, the film was made in 1999. That's 16 bloody years ago!

Hugh Grant has confirmed he is not reprising his role as sexy but naughty Daniel Cleaver in the third Bridget Jones movie.

The film is based on Helen Fielding's book Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, which drew mixed reviews but, in our humble opinion, was absolutely bloody fantastic.

It's even more of a pity because the Cleaver character really comes into his own in book three, and would have been amazing in the movie.

"The book's excellent, by the way, but the script is completely different—or the script as I last saw it a few years ago," Hugh said in a recent Free Radio interview. "And in the end I decided not to do it. But I think they are going to go ahead and do it without Daniel."

Here's the thing - the book only just came out, so maybe that script can be reworked to be truer to the third book? Either way, Hugh pretty much owns the Daniel Cleaver character and we can't imagine anyone else playing him. It's bad enough that Colin Firth will probably only appear in flashbacks!

Dear Helen Fielding and everyone else involved: Sort it out! Do NOT make another clusterfuck of a film like the terrible Edge Of Reason.

Thank you.