Rowan Atkinson, the British actor best known for his comic turns in Johnny English, Blackadder and Mr Bean, has received astonishingly good reviews for his first serious stage role in 25 years. Atkinson, 58, plays the central character St John Quatermaine in Simon Gray's 'Quartermaine's Terms', about a hapless and lonely English language teacher working at a Cambridge school in the early 1960s.
The Guardian's theatre critic Michael Billington singled out the Blackadder star for particular praise, saying Atkinson, "reminds us that he is a highly capable actor." Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph awarded the play five stars, writing, "A great play, beautifully directed and acted by an outstanding cast - but it is also an evening tinged with sadness." Speaking about his unlikely return to the stage, Atkinson told Radio Four's Front Row programme, "I don't like the idea of just having a stab at things. I'd like to play any part that I feel as though I could play well." The play's director, Richard Eyre, said that his leading man could star in "almost anything." The comedy star made a high profile appearance at the Olympics Opening Ceremony in July last year, where he led The London Symphony Orchestra as the hapless Mr Bean.
Revered playwright Simon Gray died in 2008 aged 71. His last play to enjoy success was the West End revival of Butley, starring Dominic West, though he is also known for his memoirs The Smoking Diaries.
Continue reading: No More Mr Bean: Rowan Atkinson A Revelation In 'Quatermaine's Terms'
By now, just about everyone has seen the first official portrait of future Queen Kate Middleton, and just about all of those who have seen it agree that it really doesn't do the duchess any favours at all. Enter the internet, and the masses of people offering their own take on the picture.
Catherine herself is said to be "thrilled" with the results and has praised both the portrait and artist, Paul Emsley, but few others have been quite so kind about the depiction of the royal. As such, people have given their own take on the controversial picture, with varying degrees of hilarity and perhaps a few potential follow-ups.
One such adaption has taken inspiration from the famed altercation to a painting of Jesus, which was damaged, and then re-painted in a style befitting the Mr Bean Movie.
Continue reading: Fans Give Their Own Spin On The Kate Middleton Portrait Saga
Popular British comic character Blackadder looks like he could have one more role up his sleeve, after a 'lost Christmas special' was re-discovered by scriptwriter Richard Curtis. Played by the actor Rowan Atkinson, Blackadder had entertained British television audiences between 1983 and 1989 in a series of historical roles that saw him appear by series as the weedy son of King Richard IV, an Elizabethan-era Lord, butler to the Prince of Wales in the late 18th century and finally as a captain in the trenches of World War I.
This newly found script though, originally unfinished in 1988 by Curtis and Ben Elton, sees Blackadder play the Bethlehem inn keeper in the story of the nativity, with his trusty assistant Baldrick once again by his side. The script has become public knowledge thanks to a book written by Jem Roberts called The True History Of Blackadder. Roberts was given the script by Curtis whilst constructing the piece, and she told the Radio Times "My jaw dropped when I saw I was holding a lost Blackadder script. He [Curtis] wrote on the script that one of the reasons it didn't get used was because it was a strange cross between Fawlty Towers and Life of Brian."
She added "He didn't think he was going to make it compare to either of them. That's his reason for it never getting any further than it did." With Blackadder still retaining a large cult popularity, in spite of the last televised special being aired in 1999, we wonder whether there might be room for one final, festive hurrah.
After a disastrous mission in Mozambique, disgraced spy Johnny English (Atkinson) joined a Himalayan monastery. But MI7 boss Pegasus (Anderson) calls him back into service, and soon he stumbles into a nefarious plan to assassinate China's prime minister. But he's also of course causing havoc. Now the lead suspect, only the agency's sexy shrink Kate (Pike) and his sidekick Tucker (Kaluuya) still have faith in him. And as the murderous plot unfurls at a mountain-top Swiss hideaway, English makes a daring attempt to save the world and clear his name.
Continue reading: Johnny English Reborn Review
One of Disney's greatest achievements, this is to my knowledge the only animated film to be turned into a Broadway musical. (Beauty and the Beast doesn't count, since that film had prior life outside the Disneyverse.)
The Lion King is primarily memorable because it's not based on a fairy tale or a children's story, and thus avoids the cliches that saddle so many Disney flicks. There's no "love conquers all" message, no moral about how trying hard will make everything come out OK. In fact, for much of its running time, The Lion King says the exact opposite: Hakuna Matata means "no worries," right? It's in the past, so let it go. But The Lion King also tells us that we can learn from the past, that tyrants should be overthrown, and that we should own up to our mistakes in the end.
This also makes The Lion King one of Disney's most adult movies. Though it's rated G, it features numerous scenes of peril and death -- with lion cub Simba orphaned after his uncle kills off his dad to usurp the throne and title of king of the jungle. But that too is part of the famed Circle of Life. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Simba runs off to live in the jungle -- gettin' real, ya know -- stricken with guilt that he (thinks he) killed his father. Eventually he returns home to showdown with evil uncle Scar, who has been ruling the jungle with an iron fist, disrupting the Circle of Life.
The Lion King is one of Disney's last great 2-D creations, with computers aiding in some truly stellar moments such as the wildebeest stampede. Lots of perspective shots and moving cameras make this one of the genre's most film-like movies.
If there's anything annoying about the film, it's the singing, young Simba sounds like a young Michael Jackson. On the new song added to the just-out DVD release of the movie, the atrociously vapid "Morning Report," he sounds like a castrato Michael Jackson. You almost don't want him to succeed, but thankfully, Simba eventually grows up and is replaced, voice-wise, by Matthew Broderick. By way of other extras, there's a whole second disc of goodies, including an extensive selection of making-of footage, a deleted scene or two, an alternate first verse of "Hakuna Matata," a special home theater audio mix (sounds good), and about a bazillion kid-friendly features like games and singalongs.
The Lion King has rightfully spawned one of the most enduring industrial complexes ever to come from an animated cat. Way to go, Disney.
Join the Disney Movie Club and get three free Disney DVDs!
Ah, the majesty.
And, there's not a bottle of Windex anywhere to be found.
Continue reading: Four Weddings And A Funeral Review
Zoiks! Like, man, some ghoulish fiend is turning party-hearty spring breakers into straight-laced zombies on the amusement park resort atoll Spooky Island! And for once you'll never guess (well at least not right away) who will be unmasked as the villain in the gleefully goofball live-action version of "Scooby-Doo."
Self-spoofing yet devoted to its inspiration, this campy comedy ex-cartoon escapade may be edited with a fire axe and aimed mainly at kids, but screenwriter James Gunn (a veteran of underground spoof studio Troma Films) and director Raja Gosnell ("Big Momma's House") know who the hardcore "Scooby" fans are. They're grown-ups who have fond memories of the Saturday morning cartoon about an oddball foursome of post-teen detectives and their bark-talking dog, but who have since come to realize how stupid it was.
Liberally sprinkled with humor that only adults will get -- like the winking implications that cowardly hippie Shaggy (played to squeaky-voiced perfection by Matthew Lillard) is a major stoner -- the movie assumes a working knowledge of "Scooby-Doo" and is very smart about being deliberately stupid. It makes sport of the TV show's repetitive plots ("I'd have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"). It pokes fun at the characters' personalities (perpetual damsel-in-distress Daphne, played with ditzy aplomb by Sarah Michelle Gellar, has become a black belt). And it's clever enough to know what parts of its source material worked and what didn't.
Continue reading: Scooby-Doo Review
After a generation on hiatus, the crazy, ensemble-cast chase comedy is back with an MTV vengeance in "Rat Race," a cornball marathon between a dozen second-tier stars vying for a $2 million booty.
The gimmick: To entertain his high-rolling clientele, a Las Vegas hotelier -- played by John Cleese with a slightly insane, toothy-dentured grin -- recruits an oddball assortment of zealous casino tourists to dash across the desert to New Mexico in search of a bus station locker where the loot has been stashed. The runners think it's all a zany promotion for Cleese's resort, but in the penthouse billionaires from all over the world are placing high-stakes bets on who will get there first, just for rich-guy kicks.
The players: Jon Lovitz is an chintzy, unemployed soccer dad who red-lines his minivan while dragging his family along, on the pretense of a job offer so he doesn't get chewed out for ruining their vacation. He catches hell anyway when the car breaks down outside a "white power" roadside attraction and they steal Hitler's limo to complete the pilgrimage.
Continue reading: Rat Race Review
Date of birth
6th January, 1955
After the painfully unfunny 2003 original, a franchise was highly unlikely. And yet the spoof...
One of Disney's greatest achievements, this is to my knowledge the only animated film to...
Zoiks! Like, man, some ghoulish fiend is turning party-hearty spring breakers into straight-laced zombies on...