‘Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris’: TV Review

16 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Kick Off Neil Patrick Harris’ New Show Best Time Ever With Our Favorite Celebrity Pranks of All Time.

Technically, it was Neil Patrick Harris’s new live variety show adapted from the popular British series “Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.” But if you tuned in and spotted Carrot Top and Reese Witherspoon chatting while Neil Patrick Harris stood on top of a bar with his child doppelganger and some guys jumped on pogo sticks and a Pitbull song played in the background — well, it’s not entirely obvious what exactly was going on. Like this scene, which closed the show: The very first act of “Best Time Ever” included NPH pulling a “random” couple out of the audience, and he let them know that he knew a few fun facts about them: For example, they just got married a few months ago.

In addition to what we can only guess will be some legendary schemes, the former How I Met Your Mother star promises musical acts, comedy skits, audience giveaways and more will unfold on his new show. NPH is no stranger to going that extra mile for a few laughs (who else would strip down to their skivvies for the Oscars?!), but the funnyman has some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to pulling practical jokes. 1. Best Time Ever, Neil Patrick Harris’s bold, bedazzled, cheesy-as-hell and inevitably polarizing attempt to revive the variety hour, posed one searing but provocative question: What if Reese Witherspoon died on a Neil Patrick Harris-hosted variety show? The button-cute Oscar winner, who starred as the celebrity guest announcer on Tuesday night’s debut episode of NPH’s good-natured fever-dream circus jamboree, defied death by participating in a Fear Factor-lite challenge early in the episode. Turns out he also pretended to be the doorman at their New York hotel when they flew into town to see the show, and earlier, dressed up as a mascot and followed them to a college football game.

For years, Clooney has gone toe-to-toe with Brad Pritt, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and even his own father with some pretty brutal stunts, but nothing quite compares to the on-set prank he pulled on The Monuments Men co-star Matt Damon. Clooney’s undercover work was so stealth that Damon didn’t even find out until after filming wrapped that the actor had been stealing his clothes, and having them taken in, as to make Damon think he was gaining weight!

Gloria Gaynor sang her disco classic “I Will Survive” while remote cameras invaded the homes of several viewing families and asked them to perform karaoke along with her. But more importantly, he’s the noble fool trying to bring the variety show—or some indescribable amalgam of TV genres that certainly looks like a variety show—back to television. Also: Harris and an extremely game Reese Witherspoon (who was billed as the night’s celebrity announcer) were hoisted high on a metal scaffold, which they then climbed up and up and up, like Jack’s beanstalk, and from which they descended via zipline. Forced and frantic, what Best Time most often relied upon Tuesday night was the minimal pleasure of watching people be good sports — coupled with a seemingly unshakeable belief that seeing celebrities have fun is fun in and of itself.

So she had dialogue that went like this after NPH announced the aforementioned couple’s trip to Antigua: Cue the laughter from the audience, though it just made us cringe. As an example of that faith in the power of on-air bonded celebrity hijinks, you have the show’s first guest announcer, Reese Witherspoon, unknowingly (or at least so the show said) recruited into an American Ninja Warrior stunt with Harris on a suspended metal obstacle course. Things got better — or maybe worse — when Witherspoon and NPH competed in an “American Ninja Warrior” type challenge, which included a frighteningly tall platform and sky-high zipline. Perhaps, on the one hand, to answer the question, “Would the Ellen show work in primetime?” (More than one Twitter user called out similarities between some of Best Time Ever’s bits and segments that have appeared on the world’s other famous genial gay person’s daytime talk show.) There was not one bit fromBest Time Everthat I could not see my great-aunt Susan or my parents’ neighbor Gail sharing on Facebook, tagging their book club members in the comments and accruing dozens of likes.

So he asked them (Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell, Gwen Stefani and coach Carson Daly) all sorts of random questions while they stared, extremely confused. The best part about him and his ascent to fame is his willingness to exploit his myriad talents and take those risks (not to mention his ability to convince a coterie of random-ass celebrities to throw dignity to the wind and take those risks with him). The consistent failure of variety shows in recent years should make a case for why the genre can’t be resuscitated but a scan of the pop-culture and social climate really speaks otherwise. The folks on NBC’s The Voice — in one of the show’s most unwise cross-promotional moments — were surprised to discover their show’s Austrian-edition host, interviewing them, was actually Harris in another one of his disguises. The most successful elements of Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show and James Corden’s Late Late Show are celebrity-stuffed viral fodder—mini game shows, musical numbers, and hidden camera pranks—that, again, add up to a variety show.

The show was essentially a collated version of those “You Wouldn’t Believe What Happened When…” videos and headlines that thrive on social media and viral monitors like Buzzfeed or Upworthy. Ahead of the Terminator Genisys release, Arnie suited up in character to prank unsuspecting tourists at Madame Tussauds wax museum in West Hollywood while they posed with his “wax” figure. Find Out Why!” Even nostalgia was involved: “Gloria Gaynor Sang Karaoke to ‘I Will Survive’ and It Was Everything.” Isolated on Fallon’s show or on Ellen, these bits (albeit in tighter versions) would be heralded.

There were times, certainly, when Harris seemed a bit like the dinner party host who keeps forcing you to play another round of Celebrity when you just want to eat your chocolate cake, dammit. For more than two months, the TV stars went back and forth, with DeGeneres employing some clever editing to reveal the Today show co-host whipping Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan, and Lauer retaliating by dropping 20,000 ping-pong balls through the sunroof of Ellen’s beloved Porsche Cayenne. And if I were given my own TV show I’m not sure Carrot Top would be among the first people I would call, though Reese Witherspoon and definitely Nicole Scherzinger would be. (Stay tuned for the sequel to this article, titled “Why Nicole Scherzinger Is the Most Underrated Pop Performer of Her Time.” It is backed up by hours of pinot grigio-fueled 2 a.m. It all came to a head when DeGeneres released a racy video of Lauer lounging in his birthday suit as he shaves his legs, plays ping-pong and even slaps his butt with a paddle.

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Finding the ‘Joy’ in Jennifer Lawrence

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Joy’ review: Jennifer Lawrence cleans up in enjoyable biopic.

Writer-director David O. Their latest collaboration — following in the footsteps of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle — is a biographical picture about the life and times of Joy Mangano.Jennifer Lawrence groans when she’s asked about singing the classic Nancy and Frank Sinatra duet Something Stupid with co-star Edgar Ramirez in her new film Joy. “David [O Russell, the movie’s director] texted me last night to ask if he could put it on the soundtrack and this is what I texted him back,” the actor says as she digs around for her mobile phone and reads out her response verbatim. “‘David, no!!!’ and it is three exclamation marks.In a very abbreviated nutshell, that actually happened to Joy Mangano, 59, the fabulously successful Long Island entrepreneur/inventor and HSN pitchwoman whose rags-to-riches journey started with the invention of a mop.

Russell has made three kinds of movies: offbeat romances (“Flirting With Disaster”), surreal comedies (“I Heart Huckabees”) and dramas about dysfunctional yet appealing families (“The Fighter”). In real life, Mangano is the Long Island housewife and inventor who became famous and eventually rich after bouts of near-bankruptcy, by creating and marketing her Miracle Mop. Out Boxing Day in Australia, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence in the fictionalised life story of Joy Mangano, a single mum from Long Island who made her fortune selling a mop. On Christmas Day, “Joy,” a movie inspired by her struggles as a divorced, single mother turned mogul by way of that mop, will open at movie theaters across America.

This was before she hooked up with the giant Home Shopping Network, becoming their most effective pitch person and eventually selling her parent company, Ingenious Designs, to HSN. Gross, I can’t listen to it; I have to go to bed.’ And I said yes, but it’s a groaning, reluctant yes.” It’s the kind of unfiltered moment you come to expect when interviewing Lawrence, who may now be one of the most famous actors on the planet but still blurts out whatever she’s thinking with such self-deprecating charm it’s impossible not to be, well, charmed.

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Miracle Mop inventor and QVC pitchwoman Joy Mangano glues the movie together, but it threatens to unravel at any time. Lawrence, 25, looks genuinely surprised when complimented about how unchanged she seems from our earlier interviews before the fame and Oscars. “But there would be no reason to change,” she says with a shrug. “I just have a job and I love my job. In the film, Lawrence’s Mangano is a colourful character, a single mom with a unique relationship and friendship with her ex-husband, and an enterprising woman who parlays her creativity into an incredibly successful business.

Mom (Virginia Madsen) stays in her bedroom and watches soap operas, until she falls for a Haitian plumber (Jimmy Jean-Louis) who fixes a hole in her bedroom floor. She landed minor roles on TV shows such as Monk, Cold Case and Medium before her 2010 indie film Winter’s Bone led to her becoming the second youngest best actress Oscar nominee in history. This is true even when the film tilts off its rocker with a bit of Russell-esque madness built into the screenplay, and with the director failing to always keep the energy going. That resulted in not only a string of critically acclaimed films, an Academy Award and another Oscar nomination, but also her very own mega-franchise as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

Joy’s grandma (endearing Diane Ladd) delivers messages of empowerment and smooths over constant fights, but she’s opposed by the money-grubbing rich woman (Isabella Rossellini) who dates Joy’s dad and sends negative messages about her. Lawrence’s endearing habit of speaking her mind resulted in a controversial essay she penned on Lena Dunham’s website about her discovery during the Sony hacks that she was being paid less “than the lucky people with dicks” on her recent films, including American Hustle. “I completely understand when people say actors shouldn’t talk about politics and things they don’t know about, but this was my gender at stake and it was being threatened with unfairness and I thought, ‘What is the point of having this voice if it’s not to speak out for myself and for everyone else who can’t?’,” she says unapologetically.

Upon learning that Lawrence would be playing her mom, Miranne says, “I braced myself so I wouldn’t fall on the floor.” As for Mangano, she says Lawrence playing her “made me feel old, number one. Lawrence hangs out with a posse of celebrity girlfriends, including Amy Schumer and singer Adele, but the reason is simple. “The friendship gets expedited a lot when you meet someone you know beyond a shadow of a doubt has no agenda,” she says. Draining her savings and taking out loans, she started off small, selling her mops to local boat owners. “She persuaded QVC to take a thousand, but sales were poor and they tried to send them back,” says Mason. “She suggested letting her demonstrate it herself, and the channel agreed.” Sales skyrocketed and Mangano’s career as a QVC pitch woman was launched. That’s so amazing there aren’t even words.” Mangano and her three children didn’t view “Joy” until the Dec. 13 premiere in Manhattan, though a family outing to see “Trainwreck” included a trailer.

This is, after all, the self-confessed reality-show junkie who confessed in a recent Vogue interview that on the night of her 25th birthday party, friends surprised her with a visit from reality queen Kris Jenner, who presented her with a cake inscribed, ‘Happy Birthday, you piece of shit!’ The only time she seems tongue-tied is when asked about her relationship status, after a four-year stint with X-Men: First Class co-star Nicholas Hoult and a year with Coldplay singer Chris Martin before their breakup earlier this year. “Next!” Lawrence says in a no-nonsense voice, pausing as she decides if she’ll continue that thought. For one thing, Mangano’s childhood is not that interesting for a film, despite some flashbacks to her as a youngster (when she is played by 10-year-old Isabella Cramp, who does actually look like we imagine Lawrence could have at the same age). A satire on the acquisitiveness of the public? (Here, QVC foists unnecessary things on gullible viewers who could better save their money.) Russell doesn’t seem to know. And, of course, the grave ending would be a lie: Mangano is very much alive at the age of 59, still inventing, still pitching products, still a superstar of the American home shopping universe. There’s the Clothes It All luggage system, essentially a rolling suitcase with a removable garment bag, and the Super Chic vacuum, which releases fragrance into the air.

If I even casually say something to a reporter, that quote haunts me for the rest of my life,” she says, “so I am never, ever, ever talking about boys again!” I don’t think any of us brought enough tissues!” A good portion of the film was shot last winter in Boston, and though the always-busy Mangano was twice scheduled to visit the set, snowstorms made travel impossible. He has mixed genres successfully before, as in the anti-war comedy-drama “Three Kings,” but the blender often grinds to a halt in “Joy.” Just as we’re getting used to the realism of Mangano’s fight for respect, Russell photographs Rossellini as if she were a gargoyle.

One of her creations, the thin and velvet-covered Huggable Hanger, remains a bestseller for HSN, at more than 300 million sold, and was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. Yet in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Cooper, De Niro and Russell all supported her with fine work; here they lay back and make the movie a one-ring circus where she has to be acrobat, bareback rider and clown.

He had a presence all of his own.” At one point, Miranne says, “Jennifer grabbed Joy’s hand and said to David, ‘Look at the nails, a French manicure.’ ” (That manicure is a Mangano signature.) Lawrence revealed that in studying for her part as Joy, she watched recordings of the inventor’s early pitches on HSN, including ones for “Huggable Hangers” and found her so compelling that she wanted to buy them on the spot. There is something special when creative people get together.” Mangano’s take on Lawrence? “She’s beyond her years, so brilliant, hysterical and so talented.

Critically, Russell’s sense of wonder and beauty turns elegiac moments — especially when Joy Mangano becomes fully realized as a woman and as a business executive — into scenes of great beauty. Lawrence recently said on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” that the movie was “half Joy Mangano’s story and half [Russell’s] imagination and other powerful, strong women who inspired him.” The director mined much of his Mangano material by phone.

The cast includes Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Lucci (in a mock TV soap opera that gives Joy some of its silliness) and even Melissa Rivers as her late mother Joan Rivers. There’s no situation Joy cannot overcome or circumvent.” At a Newsday photo shoot at Mangano’s luxurious but serene 42,000-square-foot mansion on 11 acres in St. As for parting advice for the ambitious? “If this movie inspires even just one more person to believe in themselves and to go after their dreams, then it’s made a very special impact in this world.

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