An exceptionally strong cast makes this fantasy romantic comedy trifle pleasantly watchable despite its chick-lit conventions. Kristen Bell is Beth, the (of course) supremely competent museum “curator,” who is so devoted to her work that she has never figured out the love thing. She is (of course) not just humiliatingly re-dumped by her ex (the always-engaging Lee Pace) in the middle of a big art gala but — just to make this a major chick-flick tragedy — she also breaks the heel of her boot at the same time. And she has a mean boss (Anjelica Houston). This officially makes her the Cinderella of the movie.
Enter Prince Charming, late and with a loud and inappropriate ringtone. That’s Josh Duhamel as Nick, who is some sort of sportswriter. And they meet at a ball, or close enough, the grand wedding of Beth’s sister to a gorgeous Italian she just met. No evil stepsisters here.) Maid of honor, meet best man. But Beth, all too ready to assume the worst about love, runs away from Nick as fast as her Louboutins can go, stopping to grab four coins from the Fountain of Love to show her defiance of all things romantic.
Enter the complication: it seems that if you remove a coin thrown by a man into the Fountain of Love, you become the object of his desire. So, back in New York and with the Big Gala coming up at the museum, Beth finds herself being something between stalked and chased by: Danny DeVito as the sausage king who sends her a basket of “encased meats,” Will Arnett as an artist who paints an enormous nude portrait of Beth on the side of a building, Jon (“Napoleon Dynamite”) Heder as a street magician who can make the audience’s patience and good will disappear, and Dax Shepherd as a guy who is unabashedly way too into himself.
There’s a lot wrong with this movie. Just for the record, I do not know what the people who made this film think curators do, but in this world party-planning for cultivation of donors seems to be Beth’s primary obligation. Anyone who works in any capacity at an art museum will have more edge and style to her clothes than Beth does, with a particularly unfortunate dress in the big denouement that looks like collision of two of the biggest fashion catastrophes of all time: the 1970’s and bridesmaid’s gowns. The movie promises much more humor from a tiny little car, some pratfalls, a confused priest, a museum exhibit about pain(!), a restaurant in the dark, the characteristics of the four suitors, and the entire premise than it delivers. But the deftness of Bell and especially Duhamel manages to make clumsiness seem a little romantic and rather sweet.
In this episode from the classic golden-age television series “Father Knows Best,” the three Anderson children try to explain — in 25 words — why their father deserves to win the local newspaper’s “Father of the Year” prize.
After breakfast in bed and hand-made Father’s Day cards, let Dad settle back into his favorite chair with a great new DVD. My suggestions:
Foyle’s War The 6th set of this superb British miniseries has just been released, with Michael Kitchen (“Enchanted April” and “To Play the King”) as Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Foyle, a police investigator in the British coastal community of Hastings. Set just after World War II, Foyle had hoped to retire. But he finds himself once again caught up in superbly crafted mysteries and intrigue involving a Russian POW, racism faced by African-American soldiers, and a young traitor whose biggest mystery is his resolve not to defend himself.
My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story Utterly simple and utterly compelling, this is a documentary about people who love their dogs. Former poet laureate Billy Collins, actors Richard Gere, Glenn Close, Edie Falco, Lynn Redgrave, Richard Belzer, and Christopher Meloni, designer Isaac Mizrahi, columnist Cindy Adams, playwright Edward Albee and more introduce us to their canine best friends and tell us why they love them.
Life Oprah Winfrey narrates this stunning documentary from the same people who did the sensational Planet Earth. Once again, this is filled with “how did they get that?” intimate footage of our planet’s life forms, from tiny insects to powerful top-of-the-food-chain predators. Filmed over four years, with more than 100 stories of struggle, triumph, devotion, and, yes, love, this is one Dad and the whole family will enjoy together.
The sun’ll come out tomorrow, but Little Orphan Annie won’t be there to see it come up in the morning. After 86 years, the daily comic strip about the plucky redhead and her dog, Sandy has come to an end.
Harold Gray created the strip and was its writer and artist from 1924 to 1968. During the Depression, the story of the feisty, independent-spirited orphan captivated newspaper readers. It became a popular radio show and Annie merchandise included everything from books and dolls to piggy banks, tea sets, board games, and, as anyone who has ever watched “A Christmas Story” knows, a decoder ring. Decades later, a musical based on the comic strip was one of the biggest box office hits in Broadway history. Several of its young stars went on to careers in show business including Sarah Jessica Parker. There is even a documentary called Life After Tomorrow about the girls who played Annie and the orphans and what happened to them while they were in the show and after they outgrew the role.
The musical later became a movie with Albert Finney as Annie’s adoptive father Daddy Warbucks and Carol Burnett as the cruel Miss Hannigan, and was remade for television. In 1977, Leonard Starr of “On Stage” took over the strip, retitled “Annie.” Under his direction, it received the National Cartoonist Society’s Story Comic Strip Award in 1983 and 1984. Starr retired in 2000 and the cartoonists who followed were not able to continue at his level. The fading appeal of comic strips and the struggles of print newspapers led the syndicate to announce its cancellation.
Little Orphan Annie survived the Depression, WWII, the Cold War, Watergate, and the dot.com bubble. She began just four years after American women got the vote and six years after the end of World War I. Gray, Starr, and all those who worked on the strip created a cultural touchstone that will continue through future generations. A junior version of the musical is performed frequently in elementary schools. Somewhere, someone is singing “Tomorrow.”