FILE: Cher is said to be staring with Johnny Knoxville in a new movie.
Robert Redford stresses optimism for future at Thursday's Sundance opening night.
Cher, the legendary, the timeless, and the Oscar winning is getting ready to make her film comeback. Her co-star is a jackass.
Sources say that the star of "Moonstruck," "Mermaids" and other comedies is getting ready to make a film with none other than Johnny Knoxville.
"The Drop Out" is written by "Family Guy" writer-producer Ricky Blitt, who last teamed with Knoxville on a 2005 feature called "The Ringer." That one was a send up, believe it or not, of the Special Olympics.
Cher's last film role was in the Farrelly brothers' not so funny "Stuck on You," in which she, hilariously, played herself. I'm told the Farrellys may have something to do with this one, too, maybe as producers.
"The Drop Out" is not a remake, but an original comedy about a lonely 62-year-old who takes up with her 35-year-old ne'er-do-well neighbor. Knoxville was born in 1971, when Cher was cracking wise to Sonny on TV every week. He's two years younger than her daughter Chastity. Hello!
The Cher news was delivered at last night's Sundance dinner at the Bon Appetit café for Spike Lee's film of "Passing Strange." That's the video version of the award winning Broadway musical by Stew, who has one name, just like — that's right — Cher!
Chef Scott Conant of the burgeoning Scarpetta restaurant empire (he's in New York, Miami and soon Las Vegas) saved a bunch of souls with his delectable cooking, a welcome relief from a day of Sundance pizza and cookies!
Rachel Dratch, of "Saturday Night Live fame," was supposed to be in "30 Rock" with fellow alum Tina Fey. But Jane Krakowski's role got beefed up, and Dratch was reduced to doing comedy walk-ons.
Well, Dratch has gotten her revenge, and taken "SNL" pal Amy Poehler with her. Last night's midnight Sundance screening of Dratch's sidesplitting comedy "Spring Breakdown" was sold out and, of course, wildly successful.
Ryan Shiraki directed the comedy in which Dratch, Poehler and the always sublime Parker Posey play three geeky college buddies who get to relive their sad university years when Posey's Sarah Palin-like boss (hysterical Jane Lynch) sends them to follow her geeky daughter (Amber Tamblyn, the anti-Bristol Palin) on spring break to South Padre Island, Texas.
The movie is raunchy, raucous, irreverent fun, and it's almost stolen by Missi Pyle as the inhibited, Amazonian social director of the crappy motel where the women check in.
The big issue now is who will release "Spring Breakdown"? It was originally made for the now defunct Warner Independent. Now Warner Brothers has it and apparently doesn't know what to do with it. They're not a studio known for cult comedies. The word is that there's a move afoot to sell it, at least partially, to another studio that would be more appropriate. Can you say "Slumdog Millionaire"? Or Fox Searchlight?
Whoever gets "Spring Breakdown" should get a nice hit out of it, a la "Baby Mama." It's nice to see the women of "SNL" at last getting to make the same belly-laugh, if ephemeral, comedies that the male stars used to make.
Sundance is ramping up film-wise and in audience numbers. But there still are many fewer people here than in recent years. Nevertheless, the films keep coming.
Yesterday's major press attraction was "Moon," directed by David Bowie's son Duncan Jones —he was born Zowie Bowie but wisely changed it. A sort of "2001: A Space Odyssey" sequel, "Moon" stars Sam Rockwell as an astronaut who's been stranded on a space station up there. With two weeks to go before he's allowed home after a three-week contract, Sam starts to experience strange things. Either he's a clone, or he's an original and someone's cloned him.
I wanted to say this was the first film ever to shoot up on the Moon because it looked so realistic, but I worried someone would believe me. Anyway, the production is excellent, and Rockwell – whose only actor interaction is with Kevin Spacey as Gerty, a "Hal" type robot — is excellent. Jones conveys all the sense of loneliness that his father sang about in the hit song, "Space Oddity." All they need to do is add the song to the soundtrack and the film will be a big hit.
Yesterday brought two other feature debuts as well. Antoine Fuqua's "Brooklyn's Finest" is a police procedural with no compelling purpose and just tons of violence. Fuqua managed to gather an all star cast – Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, etc — and then just wasted them.
The film is a mess, the screenplay is incomprehensible and at two hours, fifteen minutes there's no payoff. In the final scene, Gere does something violent, and the audience at Eccles laughed out loud. Luckily, Gere decided at the last minute not to come. Producer Avi Lerner, perhaps sensing disaster, went and stood in the back early in the screening and never returned.
Better results came from "Toe to Toe," a kind of wonderful after-school special by director Emily Abt about two high school girls in Washington D.C. — one white, one black — and their friendship in senior year at a tony prep school. Abt beautifully captures the nuances of race and class, the young cast is terrific and it was great to see Leslie Uggams as — believe it or not — an ornery grandmother. Can't believe she could be that old! It's the kind of film that's going to launch a bunch of young stars.
Robert Redford, looking jaunty in a black beret that hid his golden locks, sounded a note of optimism last night at the opening of the 25th annual Sundance Film Festival.
After taking a bow and accepting raucous applause, Redford launched into his annual welcome, startling the crowd a little with his opening:
“All right. Nerves. Angst. Worries. Pain. Panic. Fear. I’m not talking about the festival, although you might think I was. I’m talking about what’s going to be exiting the national stage on Tuesday.”
That bit got the audience charged up. He continued: “Change is in the air. Change is, of course, inevitable. It could bring good times. It could bring bad times. There’s no reason to think the times coming have to to be so filled with dread that we can’t look for some sport of optimism and hope. There’s always some space for opportunity. I’m thinking this could be a very inspiring time for artists.”
With that, Sundance 2009 began in earnest, as “Max and Mary,” kind of “Wallace and Gromit” for adults unspooled. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette are the voices of the title characters — pen pals who find each other by accident — respectively, a cranky old guy in New York and a little girl in Australia. The stop action animation is brilliant and layered, while the story itself — Max turns out to have Aspergers Syndrome, Mary is haunted by a crazy mother —is a bit of a downer.
Still “Max and Mary” is unique, and not a bad choice to open what is already a festival season full of questions. For one thing, Park City seems quiet despite proclamations that ticket sales for the movies are strong. The economy combined with the presidential inauguration have definitely contributed to eliminating a whole level of Sundance cruisers — people who just come to gawk at stars and have nothing to do with the film world.
Friday will be the test as everyone from cab drivers to shop keepers to restaurant owners cross their fingers that some crowds are indeed coming. Last night’s premiere at the Eccles Auditorium was sold out, but that may be not a clear indicator since the audience included sponsors, local officials, and the like. Interestingly, Brooks Addicott, the excellent new head of press at Sundance, says a lot of this year’s tickets were bought by locals. As Obama is planning his Neighborhood Ball in Washington for Tuesday — exclusively for residents of the District of Columbia — maybe this year’s Sundance is the Neighborhood Film Festival.
This was certainly also borne out by the parties in town last night. Attendance was light at both the Sundance edition of Tao, imported from New York and Las Vegas to the bottom of Main Street, and at the “Max and Mary” after party next door although some celebrity shined with the last minute appearance of producer Trudie Styler and husband Sting, who told one interviewer “I’m just the arm candy this year.”