Mariah Makes Good in Mob Movie

Mariah Carey | Cherish | Jennifer Aniston | Ted Demme | Bert and Ernie

Mariah Makes Good in Mob Movie

Mariah Carey may have found her calling at last in films. Instead of carrying a movie as a heroine, she actually excels at being a tough-talking barroom girl, sort of a Thelma Ritter for the new millennium.

Let's put it this way: If Cheers were ever made into a feature film, Carey would be hands-down the best choice to play Carla.

In David Anspaugh's extremely misguided mob movie Wise Girls, Carey is third to Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters. She doesn't have responsibility for the whole movie, and this time — as opposed to the god-awful Glitter — it works.

Carey looks relaxed and comfortable as she plays a savvy waitress in an upscale Staten Island mob joint. Even though she tends to wear skimpy outfits as usual, her line delivery is sharp and she manages to get the right laughs. She shows good comedic timing in places where you wouldn't expect her to get it right.

Unfortunately, Wise Girls is really awful, a terrible mob stereotype movie that pales considerably next to The Sopranos. And The Godfather? Fuggeddaboutit.

I don't understand what's happened to Mira Sorvino, or how she picks these turkeys. One after another, her choices of films are atrocious. All this after a much-deserved Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite back in 1995.

Sorvino's dad spoke out about Italian-American stereotyping in films, and certainly this movie — which raises just about every crude Mafia reference it can think of — is guilty of just that. Nearly every word out of Carey's mouth is the f-word.

Still, Mariah may have found her forte with Wise Girls, and now it's her handlers' turn to find more roles like this — wisecracking, world-weary, street-savvy people.

And no, Carey doesn't sing in the film, although there's quite a big soundtrack. That's just as well — there are no distractions for her here.

Cherish Is the Word: A Sundance Hit, Plus Sales

The buzz on Finn Taylor's Cherish started in the afternoon. By 8:30 p.m., when it debuted at the Library Theatre, Cherish was sold out. There were lines of people trying to get in, and Robert Redford turned up for the show.

It was all worth it. Cherish is the best movie I've seen so far at Sundance 2002. Fresh, stylish, witty, exuberant, the romantic thriller reminded me of Memento meets Amelie.

What it really does is make a star out of Robin Tunney, whose previous movies included Niagara, Niagara, End of Days and Vertical Limit.

Tunney plays Zoe, a single girl who winds up getting herself into a lot of trouble after she's been carjacked and a policeman is killed by accident. She winds up under house arrest in a loft. She listens to easy-listening pop radio all day long, has lots of fantasies, and finally enlists the sheriff's deputy assigned to her case — deftly played by Tim Blake Nelson — to help get her out of her bind.

Besides the director and actors, the other big beneficiaries of Cherish will be Darryl Hall and John Oates, whose '80s pop hits are all over the soundtrack. They've been waiting for a comeback. This should do it.

Meanwhile, the bidding here has started and it looks like Miramax has already picked up two hot prospects — Gary Winick's Tadpole and Karen Moncrieff's Blue Car. The former is said to have sold for somewhere in the range of $5 million.

Jennifer Aniston Hits a Home Run

Finally, good news for Jennifer Aniston. After many failed tries at hit movies, she may finally have one in The Good Girl. Miguel Arteta's black comedy gives Aniston a chance to show off her true acting talent and abandon all the tics from her Rachel character on Friends.

Whoever winds up with this film will have an easy Golden Globe nominee on its hands next year, with Aniston almost certainly going to the podium to accept her prize. The script is inventive and detailed, and the supporting performances — notably by John C. Reilly, Tim Blake Nelson and Jake Gyllenhaal — are superb.

Ted Demme, Movie and Video Director

Everyone here at Sundance was unnerved and saddened by the news that director Ted Demme died Sunday of a heart attack. The director of The Ref, Beautiful Girls and Blow was 38 years old. He was the nephew of director Jonathan Demme.

Too young, folks — this is just completely ridiculous. You're going to see a lot about Ted's death in the days to come. According to sources he dropped dead playing basketball with actors Breckin Meyer and Michael Rappaport. He was talented, he was a good guy, and he will be sorely missed.

Bert and Ernie Outed at Sundance

Sesame Street's beloved characters Bert and Ernie were outed yesterday at the Sundance Film Festival.

Those lovable Muppets, who are always together, were featured in the world premiere of a short satirical film directed by Peter Spears called Ernest & Bertram. In the eight-minute presentation, the two male puppets are 'outed' by tabloids because they live together. It's then revealed that they are gay — and they discuss their true feelings for each other.

Of course, the movie doesn't use Muppets, but actors wearing Bert and Ernie costumes and huge Muppet heads. There's a reference to Miss Piggy as a 'fag hag.'

No word yet on whether Children's Television Network, which owns Sesame Street, will sue Spears for copyright infringement or defamation of characters.