Imagine E.T. recast as a low-rent comedy, conceived by the cheerfully profane Shaun of the Dead co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and you should have some idea what to expect from Paul, their first big-screen collaboration as screenwriters.
Absent the subversive touch of Edgar Wright, who directed and co-wrote Shaun (2004) and the pair’s buddy-cop parody Hot Fuzz (2007), Paul is a slighter diversion, as much a loving homage to geek culture as a gentle send-up of the genre’s lesser entries, including 1988’s Mac and Me.
Eighteen years to the day after the final episode of MacGyver aired on ABC comes comedian Will Forte’s belated parody MacGruber, expanded to 89 agonizing minutes from a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch. Despite a handful of early reviews that proclaimed it “the best SNL movie since Wayne’s World” – hardly high praise, but misleading all the same – MacGruber was withheld from most critics until hours before its release. Now we know why.
This has been heralded as the year of the animated movie, and with good reason: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline and Up, among others, proved as engaging for adults as for children, validating a genre unfairly dismissed as kiddie fare by some critics and too many Oscar voters.
To me, 2009 was most memorable for its documentaries. Tyson, Capitalism: A Love Story, The Beaches of Agnes and The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers entertained as well as informed, and all remain worthy candidates for end-of-the-year accolades. Consider them (as well as Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are) runners-up to my list of the year’s best films.
Drew Barrymore will never forget her first all-girl roller-derby adventure, the rough-and-tumble spectacle that inspired her critically acclaimed directorial debut, the lighthearted coming-of-age drama Whip It.
“When I walked into my first game, I literally thought it was my Wizard of Oz moment, where everything was in black-and-white and the world became Technicolor,” says the onetime child star, 34, whose Flower Films production company helped establish her as a bona fide superstar with comedies like 1999’s Never Been Kissed and the following year’s Charlie’s Angels.