24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Jennifer Aniston

Mel Gibson gets a boost from Robert Downey Jr.

October 15, 2011 | 12:34 am

Mel gibson at robert downey jr. event

The slow but methodical rehabilitation of Mel Gibson in Hollywood took another step forward Friday night, courtesy of Robert Downey Jr.

Dozens of famous faces who've performed onscreen with Downey or directed him -- among them Gibson, Jodie Foster, Garry Shandling, Michael Douglas and Jon Favreau -- gathered to pay tribute to (and roast) the "Iron Man" star at the Beverly Hilton as he received the 2011 American Cinematheque Award.

The evening kicked off with a humorous video of Gibson, Shandling and Jamie Foxx poking fun at Downey. That was followed by a video clip of Foster receiving the Cinematheque Award in 1999 -- and receiving a congratulatory call from Downey, who was then incarcerated in a California state prison after several arrests on drug-related charges.

Numerous other presenters, including Foster, Douglas, and Jennifer Aniston came to the stage and made various references to Downey's long battle with addiction as they paid tribute to his abilities as an actor and his strength in overcoming his substance abuse issues.

Last onstage was Gibson, who starred with Downey in the 1990 film "Air America" and reunited with him onscreen in 2003 in "The Singing Detective" -- Gibson reportedly put up the money for Downey's insurance bond on the project when he was considered essentially untouchable by others.  

Gibson has been inching back into the public eye in the last six months, after he settled the ugly custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend that exploded into public view last year and after his movie "The Beaver" (directed by Foster) finally was released.

Gibson joked that people had warned him about Downey's unpredictability but said he just saw a good guy who was "making a few adjustments." Then, he added self-depricatingly, it was essential to remember that this was Mel Gibson making this assessment. 

When Downey came to the stage, he acknowledged his long friendship with Gibson and quipped that the two had shared the same lawyer, same publicist and same shrink. We should stage "an intervention" for them, he joked.

Turning more serious, Downey said that "when I couldn't get sober, Mel helped me," keeping a roof over his head and food on his table, and helping him get work. According to Downey, Gibson told him that he needed to find his faith and embrace responsibility for his acts, and if he did so, his life would find new meaning. "Hugging the cactus, he called it," Downey said. "And all he asked was that I help the next guy" in a similar situation. 

"It's reasonable to assume," Downey added sardoncially, "that he didn't expect the next guy would be him."

As Gibson looked at his shoes, Downey proclaimed that Gibson himself had "hugged the cactus long enough" and deserved support. Then the two shared a long embrace as the crowd broke into applause.


Robert Downey Jr. revisits his film career

Robert Downey Jr.'s wife is pregnant with their first baby

'Iron Man 3′ and Robert Downey Jr. start Shane Black era 

-- Julie Makinen 

Photo: Mel Gibson speaks onstage during the 25th American Cinematheque Award ceremony honoring Robert Downey Jr.  at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Friday evening. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images 



Meet the new Hollywood trend, sort of the same as the old trend: workplace comedies

March 16, 2011 |  6:28 pm

For many film fans, the high point of the workplace comedy -- or its subgenre, the terrible-boss comedy -- is Mike Judge's "Office Space" from about a decade ago. Or, if you're inclined in a different direction, Dolly Parton's "Nine to 5" from three decades ago.

But all notable Hollywood trends must come back, and so it goes with this one, as moviedom prepares for a mini-wave of workplace comedies.

In July, Seth Gordon's "Horrible Bosses" will hit theaters. The dark comedy is about a group of unhappy employees who decide that life would be better if they kill their boss and features a star-laden cast that -- for good in-jokey fun -- also stars Jennifer Aniston, of course the female lead in "Office Space."

Meanwhile, one of the hot scripts that's been making the rounds in Hollywood over the past few weeks is called "Meet the New Boss." The premise? Several employees grumble about their boss until he's replaced by a robot, which proves to be a lot worse.  (It's written by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, the writers on Jonah Hill's upcoming semi-remake of "Adventures in Babysitting.") And then there's a new workplace comedy being developed for Zac Efron.

This on top of "Up in the Air," a dramatic offshoot of the workplace movie, and less successful comedies (see Judge's "Office Space" follow-up "Extract" in 2009).

Moviedom is catching up with television, which after decades of office-set hits such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"  and "Newsradio" has more recently been satirizing cubicle politics with shows like "The Office." And of course any time a recession comes around, there's always some vicarious pleasure to be taken in watching a boss get his.

Some trends don't go away. They just  keep coming back, like an unfinished TPS report.

--Steven Zeitchik



Will 'Horrible Bosses' be 'Office Space' redux?

Photo: A scene from "Office Space." Credit: 20th Century Fox



Critical Mass: 'The Switch'

August 20, 2010 |  4:02 pm


The reviews have not been kind for Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman's latest comedy, "The Switch," which is, as the posters proclaim, "From the people who brought you 'Juno' and 'Little Miss Sunshine.' " It has a Pulitzer Prize pedigree, since its source of inspiration was from Pulitzer-winner Jeffrey Eugenides' short story, "Baster."

Sadly, all the good genes in the world can't keep this child from coming out deficient and unloved.

Writing in The Times, critic Betsy Sharkey bucks the opinions of most other critics and finds many nice things to say. She calls the film a "Bate-and-switch affair," in that the film is "more his journey than hers, more satire than slapstick." Instead of "Juno" or "Little Miss Sunshine," she compares it to "About a Boy" and "The Kids Are All Right," though she concludes "the film never quite rises to the level of either, the filmmakers show enough restraint to keep things interesting."

Continue reading »

Jason Bateman has a message for Bill O'Reilly

August 17, 2010 |  3:37 pm

The Jason Bateman-Jennifer Aniston parenting dramedy "The Switch" has generated a war of words with Bill O'Reilly  that's been interesting in a culture-wars sort of way (while not, incidentally, being exactly hurtful to the film's publicity efforts).

After Aniston, whose character in the movie conceives a child through artificial insemination, told reporters that "women are realizing it more and more, knowing that they don't have to settle with a man just to have that child," O'Reilly responded with a barb of his own. Aniston's comments, he said on his Fox News show, are "throwing a message out to 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds that hey, you don't need a guy, you don't need a dad."

At the film's premiere last night, Bateman was not shy about standing up for his costar and questioning the cable host's world view. "She said something that isn't really shocking. She's a current woman," Bateman told us at the afterparty. "And he's reading from a very old book."  (For full premiere coverage, check out our colleague Matt Donnelly's report at The Times' Ministry of Gossip blog.)

The dramatic comedy, in which Bateman plays the best friend to Aniston's single mother, deals as much with questions of male responsibility as it does with single motherhood. But it's this second issue that's gained cultural traction.

Bateman said that O'Reilly's comments ran counter not only to Bateman's own values but what he thought the host stood for. "He has this TV show that's supposed to be supporting diversity and the many different ways we have of doing things in this country. And the fact that he chose to say that one way is not right seems pretty antithetical to that," the star said.

He continued. "She was gracious as always in responding to it, but the way he went about it seemed like a pretty unsubtle play for ratings."

After his initial roundelay last week, O'Reilly has yet to respond to Aniston, who subsequently told People magazine that "for those [women] who've not yet found their Bill O'Reilly, I'm just glad science has provided a few other options." Given the attention O'Reilly has put on a film he disagrees with, maybe he's decided it's wiser to stay silent.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. Credit: Walt Disney Pictures


The Switch premiere: On the red carpet with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman

The Switch directors: We're not really sure what Bill O'Reilly is talking about

Bill O'Reilly slams Jennifer Aniston for no-baby-need remarks

'The Switch' directors: We're not sure what Bill O'Reilly is talking about

August 13, 2010 |  7:38 pm

As Jennifer Aniston and Bill O'Reilly trade barbed words about the virtues of single motherhood in Aniston's new movie "The Switch," the directors of the movie that sparked the debate say they're mystified by the talk-show host's critique.

"We're surprised that issue has any traction with the right," Josh Gordon, who co-directed the dramatic comedy with Will Speck, told 24 Frames as the pair discussed the movie Friday in their Santa Monica offices.

"This feels like culture battles that were fought in the '90's. It feels like 'Murphy Brown.' And Jen dealt with it years ago when she had a kid on 'Friends.' I'm surprised anyone on the right is still digging these bodies up."

The contretemps began when Aniston, while promoting "The Switch" last weekend, told reporters that "women are realizing it more and more, knowing that they don't have to settle with a man just to have that child."

"Times have changed, and ... what is amazing is that we do have so many options these days, as opposed to our parents' days when you can't have children because you have waited too long."

OreilHis moral hackles raised, O'Reilly fired back this week, saying that Aniston is "throwing a message out to 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds that hey, you don't need a guy, you don't need a dad."

In a roundtable he convened on his show, O'Reilly said that this type of thinking was "destructive to our society" and that Aniston is "diminishing the role of the dad." (Aniston then replied, telling People magazine that "many women dream of finding Prince Charming (with fatherly instincts), but for those who've not yet found their Bill O'Reilly, I'm just glad science has provided a few other options.")

"The Switch" tracks the story of a thirtysomething woman who chooses to have a child via artificial insemination, and the consequences that ensue when Jason Bateman's character swaps  his sperm for that of her chosen donor. The great novelty of the film might be that there's little novelty at all to single motherhood; indeed, much of the movie focuses on Bateman's character and his emerging relationship with the child when the boy re-enters his life as a 6-year-old.

"It's ironic what Bill O'Reilly is saying about the dad not getting enough credit," Gordon said. "If you see this movie you leave with this appreciation of how difficult it is for men to step up."

And while Speck/Gordon -- whose previous effort was the more broadly comedic but still gender-role-themed "Blades of Glory" -- were hardly looking to make a family-values picture, they say that at the front of their minds was the importance of a father’s role in parenting.

 "Ultimately, it's not a movie that charts the path of a single mother needing a man," Speck said. "What it feels like is the realization of these characters that when you have certain kinds of connections it can be beneficial to a child."

--Steven Zeitchik


Photos: Jennifer Aniston in 'The Switch.' Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Bill O'Reilly. Credit: Associated Press


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