Razzies Form Guide 2013

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 19th February 2013.

It’s the movie awards season again and my favourite ceremony will take place in Hollywood on February 23. Celebrating the worst in film, the Golden Raspberry Foundation (of which I am proud member and voter) will award the Razzies, gold spray painted plastic trophies worth $7.50 each, to cinematic clunkers and wooden performances that have horrified audiences over the past year. I’ve just submitted my voting form so here are my choices from the cream of the rancid crop.

My Worst Picture: Battleship I would only play a board game if there was nothing else to do. And that includes sleeping, pushing hot needles into my eyeballs and watching that Gangnam Style music video again. I feel very much the same way about movies that are based on video games and feature robots onscreen. By this I mean Brooklyn Decker and Taylor Kitsch attempting to “act” and Liam Neeson in permanent grizzled mode, not the Transformers-style robot baddies.

My Worst Actress: Kristen Stewart Ah, the many facial expressions of K Stew. There’s bored. And, well, that’s it. The fact that she was outacted by a bizarre CGI head stuck on a baby in the last instalment of the Twiglet saga and made Chris Hemsworth’s attempt at a Scottish accent seem competent in Snore White and the Huntsman, means that the gong should go to this dynamic, versatile actress.

My Worst Actor: Eddie Murphy Why does Eddie keep going back to the turgid family friendly well? Two words: contractual obligation. His latest disaster A Thousand Words mercifully bypassed Australian cinemas but can be found in a bargain bin near you. Murphy plays a slimy literary agent whose interactions with a spiritual guru result in the appearance of a magical tree. For each word he speaks, one leaf falls off the tree. When the final leaf falls, who cares? Cherish your family blah blah blah.

My Worst Supporting Actress: Brooklyn Decker   Former model Ms Decker followed up her nomination in the Worst Screen Couple category (alongside Adam Sandler) at last year’s Razzies for Just Go with It, with a dual nomination for her wooden efforts in Battleship and pregnancy comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I couldn’t bring myself to see the latter movie. I suppose I knew what to expect: dross. I do, however, like What to Expect When You’re Expecting for its assistance with my word count.

My Worst Supporting Actor: Liam Neeson How do you follow up the laughable but action packed The Grey and the action packed but laughable Taken 2? Why not reprise your role as Zeus in the beardtastic Wrath of the Titans and play the humourless Admiral Shane in Battleship? I guess we all have to eat. Shakespearean actors Vanilla Ice and David Hasselhoff are also nominated in this category but nothing compares to a great thespian knowingly slumming it in terrible films.

And the rest…

My Worst Screen Couple: Robert Patterson and Kristen Stewart (Twiglet)

My Worst Director: Peter Berg (Battleship)

My Worst Screen Ensemble: The Entire Cast of Battleship

My Worst Screenplay: Battleship

There goes my sponsorship from Hasbro. The winning losers will be announced on Oscars eve.


My Razzies Diary 2012

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 17th January 2012.

The awards season kicked off with the Golden Globes yesterday, however, the most important ceremony is yet to come. Every year, on the night before the Oscars, the Golden Raspberry Awards are announced to celebrate the worst in cinema. As a member of the Golden Raspberry Foundation, I take my responsibilities berry seriously. At the moment, members are deciding the nominees for the final ballot. Having wisely avoided most of the past year’s dross, I needed to watch a dud a night this week to make an informed decision. This is my Razzie diary

Monday Tonight’s delight is Just Go with It starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. I really want to like Adam Sandler but I’m constantly disappointed by his work. In 1995 I took my university friends kicking and screaming to the cinema to see Billy Madison, but they ended up loving the film. I guess his comedy schtick was fresh then. It certainly isn’t now. My test for deciding whether a comedy I’ve just watched is a dud is to watch the gag real. If the bloopers make me laugh more than the movie itself, it’s rubbish. Just Go with It is certified rubbish. There’s no chemistry between the leads and I’m not entirely sure what Nicole Kidman is doing here in a supporting role. I guess we all have bills to pay.

Tuesday Season of the Witch should be billed as part three of Nicholas Cage’s alimony trilogy, along with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Drive Angry. It’s like he has chosen a terrible hairstyle and decided to wear it for three films in a row…any three films. Remember how great he was in Leaving Las Vegas? It’s been downhill ever since. Ron Pearlman, playing an almost identical role to his one in Conan the Barbarian, is probably the best thing in this disaster. He plays a disillusioned Crusader knight, alongside Cage, who decides to take an accused witch to a monastery in order to stop the Black Plague. As you do.

Wednesday I can’t believe that Ivan Reitman directed both Ghostbusters and No Strings Attached.  This so-so romantic comedy stars Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. Kutcher isn’t nearly as terrible as his annoying character in New Year’s Eve (my pick for Worst Film). There’s a sense of smugness in all of his performances which I dislike. Oscar winners seem to choose lighter projects after their triumphs to prove their versatility. I prefer Natalie Portman in dramatic roles. As proven here and in the Star Wars prequel trilogy she should avoid comedies.

Thursday Arthur is a remake of the classic eighties comedy which originally featured Dudley Moore. In the title role this time is Russell Brand. I like Brand in supporting roles because I think a little of his comedy style goes a long way. I’m not entirely sure if he is acting or playing himself. No wonder Katy Perry left him. The best part of this film is Helen Mirren as Arthur’s nanny, Hobson. She has a gravitas that will overcome any crappy script, including this one. My girlfriend says she would happily watch this film again. I wouldn’t, but it certainly isn’t from the bottom of the barrel. Arthur passes my blooper test. The film itself is funnier than the gag reel.

Friday I can’t take anymore of this and go to the cinema to watch The Muppets instead.

The Smurfs are Shonky in 3D

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This column was originally posted in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 10th January 2012.

They’ve been absent from popular culture for many years but if you’ve been anywhere near a television or magazine in the past few months, you will know that they are back. They’re annoyingly cute little people, singing and dancing at the drop of a hat, and led by an even more annoying father figure. No, I’m not talking about Young Talent Time. It’s the Smurfs.

The Smurfs were the brainchild of Peyo, a Belgian cartoonist. First published in 1958, it wasn’t until the eighties that Smurfmania hit Aussie shores. At the time, Smurf figurines were exclusively available via BP service stations. I remember harassing my Dad whenever we filled up at a BP to buy me the latest Smurf. I eventually amassed quite a collection and even had two mushroom houses. I really should find these again in my parents’ basement. They might be worth something.

There was the cartoon series on TV as well, which spawned that irritatingly catchy theme tune that will never leave your head once you hear it. Sing along with me. La la la la la la, la, la la la la. Yep, you’re now infected. I’ve also got a few cassettes of the Smurfs singing bizarre songs about Smurfin’ Beer (tea with honey) and such.

Of course, just like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pokemon, Rubik’s Cubes and Lindsay Lohan, the general public eventually lost interest and the Smurfs were tossed onto the scrapheap of past fads.

Fast forward a decade or three and our little blue friends with communist tendencies (that’s for another column) have returned. The original cartoons have been reissued on DVD, complete with a Smurf figurine in the box. A new live action feature film, with CGI Smurfs, was released in cinemas in 3D last year and has just hit video stores and shelves.

The spearhead of the Smurf invasion this time comes via our phones, rather than TV or cinema screens. The Smurfs’ Village for iPhone and android phones is an award winning game that is sweeping the world. When I say award winning, I mean that this past year, The Smurfs’ Village won a 2011 Choice Shonky Award.

You see, the game is free to download and the premise is easy. Similar to SimCity and Farmville, the object of the game is to grow and develop your village. Starting with a few Smurf workers and guided by Papa Smurf, you must grow crops, build houses and slowly build up your population. After a few easy levels, the objectives become time based. And by that, I mean extended periods of time. Growing a crop of golden corn takes ten hours. Papa Smurf will often send two workers away for a mission taking 24 hours.

For those players, such as me, with minimal patience, Smurfberries allow you to bypass the clock and make crops grow and complete missions instantly. They can also be used to purchase extra items for your village which will also help you move to the next level faster. You start the game with a few berries but then you must buy them, with real money. 50 Smurfberries will set you back $5.49. 2000 Smurfberries (yes, this is actually an option) will cost $109.99.

From a consumer perspective, this game is deserving of its shonky title. It is really easy to rack up a large bill on your (or your parent’s) iTunes account. There are reports of gamers unknowingly spending hundreds of dollars on Smurfberries.

From a capitalist view, it is brilliant. Charge people money to buy virtual currency to purchase virtual features for their virtual village. It really is money for nothing. Why didn’t I think of this?

Be warned, The Smurfs’ Village is extremely addictive. This writer got up at 4am this morning to harvest some virtual tomatoes just to avoid paying for Smurfberries…again. My village is now at level 14 and I have 25 hard working (they don’t sleep) Smurfs under my control. How does this game end anyway? Probably when I lose interest (likely) or go broke (even more likely).

The Smurfs are back and they are taking over the world, one iTunes account at a time.

Published in: on January 16, 2012 at 06:41  Leave a Comment  
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Tony Awards 2011: a glimpse of shows coming our way, perhaps

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The Tony Awards were handed out last week and from the quality of the ceremony performances, the next few years will be exciting for theatre lovers as the best of Broadway trickles onto our shores.

With Mary Poppins already sliding up the banister at the Capitol Theatre and Hairspray opening officially at Star City this week, Sydneysiders are currently spoilt for choice. Add Jersey Boys to the mix, and the competition for your hard earned theatre dollars is fierce. Interestingly enough, there weren’t any tickets available last week for Mary Poppins but plenty for the Hairspray perviews. Jersey Boys continues to be popular but a new promotion with discounted tickets is a good sign that the pressure is on.

Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera sequel, Love Never Dies, is playing in Melbourne and will surely travel north eventually. With the poorly received London production about to close, the revamped Australian version will soon be the sole production in the world. From Oz, it will head to Broadway.

The eighties hair band jukebox musical, Rock of Ages, is also likely to come our way once it has closed in Melbourne. Unfortunately, Xanadu, the intentionally cheesy musical based on the roller skating Olivia Newton John movie and the music of Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne tanked badly there and closed early.

Our new Premier, um, you know, that guy, has also seemingly made securing musicals for Sydney his first priority and has recently announced that The Addams Family musical and a stage adaption of Strictly Ballroom (There are no new steps!) will premiere in NSW.

Rumours abound of the Legally Blonde musical coming to Australia in the near future as well as a remount of Annie. The stage mothers of Oz must be wetting themselves in anticipation.

As for the Tony Award nominees, Daniel Radcliffe surprisingly impressed with some fancy dancing and singing in the 50th anniversary revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. This very American musical is unlikely to transfer to Australia. Also with poor odds of coming our way is The Scottsboro Boys, an all black musical performed in a minstrel style, which was nominated for twelve awards despite the fact that it had closed after a disastrous 49 performances. It won none.

I managed to catch Sister Act on the West End last year, which has since transferred to Broadway. The all singing, all dancing nun chorus line in the finale is a must see but the musical itself is so-so. Think The Sound of Music in sequins. I give it fair odds of playing here.

Speaking of movie adaptations, a stylish musical version of Catch Me If You Can was nominated for four Tonys and looks very promising.

The most exciting show of the Broadway year has to be The Book of Mormon, a musical comedy from the makers of South Park. Following the adventures of two Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda and encounter a local warlord, this satire has become the must-have ticket on The Great White Way. I suggest you start writing to the Premier to bring this brilliant show to Sydney.

The future looks bright for musical theatre lovers. Let’s just hope we don’t get flooded with shows all at once because Sydney can only sustain one or two mega-musicals at the one time. I know my wallet feels the same way.