Carole Mallory's blog consists of movie and book reviews and commentary on Hollywood. Mallory is an actress who portrayed a Stepford Wife in the original film and appeared in other movies such as Looking for Mr. Goodbar. A former supermodel, her writings are published in The Huffington Post and Hollywood's The Wrap. Her book reviews are published in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Norman Mailer was her mentor. Upon his death she sold her collection of writings with his edits to Harvard University.
With Bryan Forbes passing, I was reminded of what a good director he was. He taught me the importance of listening. Oh, I had taken acting classes with Wyn Handman who directed the American Place Theatre and had classmates the likes of Richard Gere and Brad Davis, and had filmed many commercials as a spokesperson, but Stepford Wives was my first major motion picture. It was the 1975 Ira Levin thriller in which women are turned into docile electronic incarnations of themselves.
The scene in which I, portraying Kit Sunderson, recall his talented direction was the following: All us wives were seated in a group therapy session when the topic turned to how our husbands were forcing us to do intense housework and we were rebelling. But instead of objecting to the masculine brow beating, eager to please any male when the topic wascleaning, I said, "It took me so long to get my upstairs floor to shine, I didn't have any time to bake."
"Have you ever tried Easy Off?" my girlfriend asked. "Is it really that good?" I replied. Bryan wanted me to think about a life and death situation and the gravity this would imply. "Listen to Toni, Carole. You're not listening to her," Bryan yelled.
And he was right. The music became chime-like and eerie and the audience was given a clue that I was dead. That all the wives were dead. We were servants to our husbands. Slaves. Zombies in house dresses. Not wives. Loving wives.
This was a pivotal scene and Bryan made it work because he watched our performances like a myopic hawk and was forceful in his direction. We all listened to him especially when he yelled which wasn't often.
Stepford Wives drew mixed reviews and endures as a cult film and a quasi-feminist document. It helped make the phrase "Stepford wife," describing any woman who seems vapid and compliant, an enduring part of the lexicon.
In 2004 Bryan Forbes was named a Commander of the British Empire. But For all his accomplishments, Bryan remained remembered almost exclusively for The Stepford Wives,and sometimes found himself having to defend the film against misinterpretation. In an interview in 2004, he recounted having been accosted by an umbrella-wielding woman at a press screening.
"I remember saying to this particular savagely disturbed woman, 'You've missed the whole point,'" he recalled. "'A, it's a fantasy; B, if anybody looks stupid, it's the men. It's not an attack on women. It's an attack on women being exploited by men.'"
Who wants to see a film with a six in the title? I certainly didn't. But, boy, am I glad I did! This is a good film. The dialogue is fast and wicked. The cast, as usual, exudes a heat and a sexuality that burns up the screen. The reasons for seeing this film are: to be entertained and to forget the everyday minutiae that clog our regurgitating brains and to laugh. Yes,F&F6 is funny.
The writer of this ripe for pickins' dialogue is Chris Thompson and the screenplay that doesn't quit (do I see a F&F 7 in the making?) is Chris Morgan. While the talented director of this fine film is Justin Lin who was born in Taiwan. Perhaps due to his origin, this former student of UCLA film school has a fresh look at film that enables him to breathe life and longevity into an aging franchise. Long live Lin should be Universal's mantra.
F&F 6 begins with the guys and girls enjoying their millions from the last heist in retirement minus the soul burning, crime fighter Letty (Michele Rodriguez) who is believed to be dead. Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) pays a visit to Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) who is on the barbie in a sunny vacation spot and who tries to enlist Luke to rescue Letty. Luke has a photo of Letty that proves she is alive. This photo convinces Dominic to honor Luke's request to unite the gang not only to find Letty, but to bring down special ops soldier Shaw (Luke Evans) who is the head of a team of lethally skilled mercenary drivers, specializing in vehicular warfare.
Luke convinces Dominic that Shaw is holding Letty against her will. And so across 12 countries the gang of Brian (Paul Walker), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Tyrese Gibson (who handles his lines with skilled comedic talent), Taj (Ludacris), and Elena (Elsa Pataky) drive fast and furiously. Payment for helping Luke bring down Shaw will be a pardon for all their crimes which will enable them to be reunited as a family. Who'd think this franchise was based on family values, but there you have it.
A travelogue of sorts this team drives through London, Liverpool, Spain and ends in Tokyo. Don't walk out before credits end as this tag ending will take you to F&F 7 and I will eagerly await its release.
"You got some serious balls, man," Letty says to Dom. "I've been told." Dom replies
Hangover 3 is predictable and not too funny except for scenes between Melissa McCarthy and Zach Galifianakis. McCarthy has a small but memorable part as Zack's love interest. The tag ending is a goof, too, as a sight gag so don't run out of the theatre even thoughcredits begin.
All in all the writing by director Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin falls short of coming up for big laughs. Mild chuckle worthy, Hangover 3 is about the Wolfpack -- Bradley Cooper (Alan), Ed Helms (Stu), Zach Galifianakis (Alan), Justin Bartha (Doug) -- trying to create an intervention for Alan's mental issues. Alan's father (Jeffrey Tambor) dies and the Wolfpack agrees to drive Alan to the facility. This begins the trip that continues to the end of this wacky and weird road show. John Goodman (Marshall), who has been funnier, holds up the Wolfpack for money that Ken Jeong (Mr. Chow) allegedly has stolen from him.
While the audience was eager to laugh and laughing before punch lines in expectation of the humor of The Hangover, I sat through most of the film stone-faced. A joke would be set up, but the pay off wasn't there. The production values are top notch unlike the home movie look of that hit, Hangover. Goes to show you that a polished looking film does not relate to the laugh factor and level of humor. Oh, I wanted to laugh, but it just wasn't in my windpipe.
As to the acting, Bradley Cooper is smooth and his usual handsome self. Ed Helms is his deft, dry witted self, capable of a throw away delivery like no comedian I know. Zach Galifianakis is smooth and quirky and steals most of the scenes he is in -- except those with Melissa McCarthy who is triumphant as a horny store manager. Justin Bartha is played down and has little to do except be number four in the Wolfpack. Ken Jeong does not overact and director Phillips gets the maximum amount of laughs out of Jeong's frequently too broad performance.
Las Vegas becomes a character as much of this caper is filmed here. Hangover 3 is an infomercial for Caesar's Palace, Cooper, who lives with his mother, said on a talk show. He likes Vegas, but was leery of it as a steady diet or falling into "that Vegas thing." This franchise cannot endure a Hangover 4. Iron Man, it isn't. But it is fun, mild fare for a hot spring night. Give it a chance, but keep your expectations on the back burner.