THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: ‘Zombieland’ set to ‘Whip’ the competition
Woody Harrelson, tells The Miami Herald, that he’s been pleasantly surprised by how his new movie, Zombieland, turned out. It’s a hybrid horror-comedy that takes place in a world where zombies have invaded the planet and tells the story of an unlikely duo (played by Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg) who team up to fight them. Harelson, says that when he first read the script, he thought to himself,
“It’s a zombie movie; it’s gotta be stupid,”
and later changed his tune after he caught a screening of the finished result.
When I went to see the movie at a screening in Orange County, I was really worried it was going to be terrible, because you never know. But I was delighted. It turned out great.”
Zombieland has had a long road to the big screen. Writing partners, Paul Wenick and Rhett Reese came up with the idea for the movie for a 1995 Tv pilot for CBS. After they passed, the duo began to re-think the project as feature film. Wernicks, says, “We wanted to look on the bright side of the apocolypse and treat the world as a playground — as a place that might actually be fun to spend time in.”
Like Harrelson, most critics have also been “pleasantly surprised” by the movie. Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum says,
“Zombieland is a polished, very funny road picture shaped by wisenheimer cable-TV sensibilities and starring four likable actors, each with an influential following.”
Chicago Sun Times critic, Roger Ebert, writes,
“The filmmakers show invention and well-tuned comic timing, and above all, there’s a cameo by Bill Murray that gets the single biggest laugh I’ve heard this year.”
“My whole life I’ve been training”
to be a director, Drew Barrymore said in a recent interview with the LA Times. She describes her directing debut Whip-It as being,
very close to me. It seems pretty obvious in a way. I have a tumultuous relationship with my mother, so obviously that story had a deep emotional interest to me — about women who are empowered and can be athletic and capable and kick ass out on the track and be their own heroes, and I think finding your tribe is everything. I certainly found it with my company”.
That it was a story about “empowered” women was one of the reasons, Ellen Page, one of the stars of the movie, was attracted to the project. She tells Redeye:
It felt really great for young women – a world where women could be aggressive and competitive, strong. There were women of all shapes and sizes. And the fact that it was Drew who was going to be directing was pretty exciting.”
Barrymore has embarked on an exhaustive promotional tour to promote the movie, which she calls a “labor of love”. Now that it’s finally being released, coming after a year in which she starred in and executive produced, the romantic comedy, He’s Just Not That Into and received an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Edie Beale in the HBO miniseries Grey Gardens, she just may get a chance to relax. She says,
I’ve actually measured it. I’ve worked over 1,200 days compared to the 40 to 50 I’ve taken off. But it’s been so worth it.”
Now all that remains to be seen is whether audiences will decide Barrymore’s roller-derby fantasy is “worth it”.
Most critics have found it be wild, fun and not a little uneven in terms of quality (not unlike Barrymore’s career). Peter Travers writes in Rolling Stone,
“Screenwriter Shauna Cross dulls the edges of her novel Derby Girl, which the skate action and rockin’ soundtrack can’t disguise. At moments, especially in the conflicted intimacy between Marcia Gay Harden and Daniel Stern as Bliss’ parents, Barrymore shows real directing chops. But in Whip It she’s painting inside the box.”
New York Magazine’s David Edelstein, says,
“Like some of her acting, Drew Barrymore’s directing debut Whip It is a mite too adorably ingratiating, especially for a story of a 17-year-old (Ellen Page) groomed for pageant life who gravitates to snarling girl punks and roller derby. But Barrymore hovers over her actresses like the nicest, most nurturing den mother imaginable, and on its own, Go For It formula terms the movie delivers.”
The Invention of Lying starring Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais is set in an alternate world where lying doesn’t exist and Gervais, says he knew right away, once he started reading the script that he wanted to do it.
I loved it by page 10. I felt at home. I read the scene in which Mark invents religion–gotta do this. Gotta do this film.”
Lying is a comedy, although Gervais, who plays a down on his luck banker, who earns fame and fortune after he discovers the ability to lie, says that doesn’t mean it’s filled with non-stop gags:
“We have to make sure that jokes don’t keep happening. Then people are just watching everything, thinking, ‘Is that a joke?’ They’ve just got to relax”.
Like his last big screen outing, Ghost Town, which was also a mid-budget “dramedy”, it will probably struggle to find an audience, who traditionally, haven’t flocked to subtle comedies.
The New York Times, Manohla Dargis, says,
“In Extras his hilarious television series about life on the show business margins, Mr. Gervais played a professional narcissist (an actor) who, after a long slog, hits the B-ish list only to then wag his finger at everyone (us included) for being so obsessed with fame. He’s following a similar strategy here by playing the nominal loser turned triumphant conscience, and while that’s fine as far it goes, the movie itself would have gone further if he and Mr. Robinson had worked harder on their own sweet lies — their art.”