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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Cameron Diaz

'Bad Teacher' director aims for new classroom

May 4, 2011 |  6:28 pm

  Diazteach
EXCLUSIVE: Jake Kasdan is already getting good buzz for "Bad Teacher," the raunchy Cameron Diaz comedy that opens next month. Now he looks to be gearing up for a new comedy.

The filmmaker is set to come aboard a movie called "Family Getaway," according to a person who was briefed on the project but asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

The Warner Bros. film is a dysfunctional-family tale about a clan that has to go on the run after its Thanksgiving dinner is crashed by assassins ("Little Miss Sunshine" meets Jason Bourne, is the pitch line).

The film is  based on an original script from up-and-coming writers Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer, who are also writing "The Bodyguard' remake for the studio. A Warner Bros. spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Kasdan has directed a number of commercial comedies, including "Orange County" and "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story." 'Bad Teacher," costarring Justin Timberlake, is drawing attention for its devil-may-care antics, particularly Diaz's. Jake is also the son of Larry Kasdan, the writer and director with "The Big Chill," "Body Heat" and "The Empire Strikes Back" among his credits.

Gibson and Palmer's "The Bodyguard" credit gives "Getaway" an added Kasdan connection: Larry wrote the original.

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Cameron Diaz looks to reclaim her R-rated mojo

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Cameron Diaz in "Bad Teacher." Credit: Sony Pictures


Cameron Diaz looks to reclaim her R-rated mojo

February 25, 2011 | 12:26 pm

Diaz
She was last seen feeding popcorn to Alex Rodriguez in Cowboys Stadium, but Cameron Diaz will be up to something naughtier when her R-rated comedy "Bad Teacher" open this June.

The red-band trailer for Jake Kasdan's movie debuted this week. In the movie (which also, incidentally, comes with an "Office" writing pedigree), Diaz plays a junior-high teacher who lusts after a fellow educator played by ex-beau Justin Timberlake while facing off with a rival, er, pedagogue.

It's bawdy, though the first reports that Diaz has gone all-out hard-R were a tad breathless. The actress does reel off profanity, smokes pot and generally doesn't give a fig (or an "F," as the trailer puts it). If you haven't seen it, it's funny in spots and sets up a promising set of comedic dynamics. It's also the first school-set comedy in recent memory in which the adults are the main characters. (You can watch the trailer here; please be over 17.)

Camerond It's been a long time since Diaz has resonated with a mass audience, or had a lead role in anything resembling a hit ("Knight & Day," "The Box" and "My Sister's Keeper" were her last three movies).

Although she's become known for lighter comedy, the actress has, over her career, actually shown flashes of dramatic chops -- as the dowdy animal-lover with a transgendered side in "Being John Malkovich"; as an irresponsible sister in "In Her Shoes"; and even in "Sister's Keeper," in which she played a mother devoted to her terminally ill daughter beyond the point of reason.

The snarling raunchiness of this movie won't require Oscar-level talent -- and there will be those who say that the more aggressive bawdiness smacks of career desperation -- but there is something comeback-y about the role. "Bad Teacher" takes Diaz away from the sunny chipper-ness that broke her out in "There's Something About Mary" but became tired when she recycled it too many times since. But it takes her away from all of that while still keeping her in a comedy, which has proved to be where we most like seeing her. Most Diaz movies and R-rated comedies have disappointed lately, but sometimes hope comes from an unlikely place, like a red-band trailer.

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

 Photos: Cameron Diaz in "Bad Teacher." Credit: Columbia Pictures


Preview review: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in 'Knight and Day'

March 31, 2010 |  4:56 pm

Cruise When we first watched the trailer for "Knight and Day," we wondered whether Tom Cruise was really acting, or instead just revisiting the loopy persona he's established over the last couple of years.

In the new film, out in June, Cruise plays Milner, a government agent who takes June (Cameron Diaz) out on a blind date. Soon, June discovers that Milner may have been hiding his true identity and she is pulled into his dangerous globe-trotting adventures. Meanwhile, a federal agent (Peter Sarsgaard) is trying to convince June that Milner is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and has recently suffered "a full-blown break from reality."

But Cruise's character here seems eerily similar to a certain persona he's employed in the past. At one point, right as Milner abducts June, he assertively tells the man sharing a dinner table with her, "Please, for your own safety, please stay in the booth." It's just the type of condescending tone of voice Cruise had during his now-infamous interview with the "Today" show's Matt Lauer, in which he told the host, "Here's the problem. You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do."

In fact, much of the trailer seems recycled. Diaz, as usual, is all too breathy and giggly and ditsy and wide-eyed to be taken seriously. Really, how many times now has she taken on the dumb-blond-who-becomes-savvy role?

Then there are the cliched action scenes we've seen a million times: the car chases that result in gun wielding, the death-defying escapes through curvy streets, the formerly innocent woman who quickly learns how to handle hardware like a pro. Plus, there's a fugitive odd couple who will defy the odds and probably end up together, a la "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," or "The Bourne Identity."

Interestingly enough, Cruise seems to be the best part of the film. Maybe that's because he does the crazy maniac so well. Will "Knight and Day" offer something new to audiences, or is this just more of the same tried-and-true action film formula? Vote with your fingers.

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star in "Knight and Day." Credit: 20th Century Fox


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