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Happy Anniversary: Jimmy Fallon — From Taxi to The Tonight Show

Monday night marked the beginning of Jimmy Fallon's career as the host of NBC's venerable The Tonight Show, a job that -- based on his predecessor -- he'll either have for three decades or nine months. In an amusing bit of timing, Fallon's promotion to late night's top spot arrives exactly ten years after his bid to become an A-list movie star. That's right, 2004 was the year Taxi zoomed into theaters… and then zoomed out again just as quickly, effectively ending Fallon's big-screen career. In case you don't recall (and honestly, why would you), the wacky buddy comedy cast the then recent-Saturday Night Live refugee as a bumbling cop with a deep-seated fear of driving who teams up with a road crazy taxi driver (Queen Latifah) to take down a crew of smoking hot bank robbers… because that's what happens in wacky buddy comedies. To mark the occasion of Fallon's new gig, I watched Taxi and his maiden Tonight Show episode back-to-back to see how they stacked up against each other.

Four Things to Know About The Wizard of Oz: IMAX 3D

All due respect to Sam Raimi's decent Oz: The Great and Powerful, but when it comes to onscreen depictions of that magical land over the rainbow, it's impossible to top the 1939 childhood favorite The Wizard of Oz, which is now 75 years young. (Although, if you want to be all ageist about it, the film doesn't technically hit the big 7-5 until 2014.) Warner Bros., which currently holds distribution rights to the Victor Fleming-directed musical fantasy, is marking the occasion by releasing a five-disc Blu-ray and DVD set sporting all-new bonus features and collectibles on October 1. But before you can bring Oz home, you can also experience it on the big screen thanks to a WB-funded IMAX 3D presentation that's opening for a one-week-only stint today. (Go here to find specific IMAX locations in your area.) If you do decide to take your family to The Wizard of Oz -- and honestly, why wouldn't you? -- here are four things you should know:

Happy Anniversary: National Lampoon’s Vacation

When the 30th anniversary Blu-ray edition of National Lampoon's Vacation (which hits shelves tomorrow) crossed my desk, two thoughts went through my head. 1) "I haven't seen this in ages!" and 2) "30th anniversary? Man, I am old." To my surprise, though, the movie itself doesn't feel as ancient as I did in that moment or as many comedies from that era do today. (Seen Meatballs lately? Yikes.) In fact, period fashions, music cues and surprising amounts of casual nudity aside, Vacation is fairly timeless in its comedy. The Griswold clan's ill-fated road trip to Walley World still makes us laugh in large part because the characters' personalities and the madcap situations they become ensnared in remain relatable and funny to viewers past and present.

Amazon Women on the Moon: The Original Movie 43

by Ethan Alter January 23, 2013 12:01 pm
Amazon Women on the Moon: The Original Movie 43

Despite the participation of a galaxy of stars (Emma Stone! Chris Pratt! Richard Gere! Halle Berry!) and several big-name directors (Peter Farrelly! James Gunn! Brett Ratner!), the feature-length assemblage of skits that's billing itself as Movie 43 arrives in theaters this weekend unscreened for critics. (Imagine spending 90 minutes surfing Funny or Die and you've got the general gist of what it has to offer.) That's almost certainly a terrible sign, but I can't help but hold out hope that maybe, just maybe Movie 43 will be as stupidly enjoyable as the all-star sketch comedy revue it's clearly inspired by. I'm speaking, of course, about 1987's Amazon Women on the Moon, where such then-famous actors as Steve Guttenberg, Rosanna Arquette and Ed Begley Jr. popped up in spoofs of TV commercials, shows and one very bad '50s sci-fi movie.

Happy Anniversary: The Cult of Boogie Nights

by Ethan Alter September 12, 2012 1:43 pm
Happy Anniversary: The Cult of Boogie Nights

It's been 15 years since Paul Thomas Anderson became a critical darling with the premiere of his sprawling '70s porn epic Boogie Nights. As widely liked as the movie was then, one couldn't have anticipated the quantum leap Anderson's already impressive skills would take over the next decade-and-a-half, as he crafted films as diverse and challenging as Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love and his masterpiece, There Will Be Blood. Put alongside those titles, Boogie Nights stands out as his most conventional movie; it's a straightforward rise-and-fall-and-rise-again Hollywood narrative that just happens to take place in the adult film industry rather than bright lights of the studio world. Seen today, the film is still a lot of fun -- before it goes to some truly dark places in the second half -- packed with great performances (it's still a crime that Burt Reynolds didn't win that Best Supporting Actor statue he was nominated for) and lots of razzle-dazzle filmmaking, but it's also a reminder of how much richer and complex Anderson's pictures have gotten since.

The Expendables 2: Welcome to Con Air 2.0

by Ethan Alter August 17, 2012 6:00 am
The Expendables 2: Welcome to Con Air 2.0

Let's be honest: once you got past the vicarious thrill of seeing all of the major action icons from your '80s and early '90s childhood sharing the screen, The Expendables was a lousy movie. A passion project for writer/director/star Sylvester Stallone -- who threw his body, soul and bank account into the film, even severely injuring himself in the line of duty (check out the pretty good feature-length making-of documentary Inferno, available on Netflix Instant, for the full story) -- the finished film turned out to be monotonous, poorly choreographed and self-serious to the point of parody. Still, the tug of nostalgia proved too strong for most moviegoers and The Expendables became a legitimate late-summer hit, making a sequel inevitable if not exactly demanded. So here comes The Expendables 2, which, if you're judging a movie by its plot, characterizations and internal logic (you know, the little things), is also pretty lousy. Unlike its predecessor though, this one recognizes its inherent stupidity and goes all-in on being the loudest, dumbest and most comically preposterous action movie of the summer. It's even more of a cartoon than that mid-'80s Rambo animated series... and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Happy Anniversary: Batman Returns and Batman & Robin

Before The Dark Knight Rises closes out the current Batman series, we celebrate the anniversaries of two older Caped Crusaders.

Happy Anniversary: Spider-Man

It's been ten years since Sam Raimi showed us a man could swing. How does the original Spider-Man hold up? Quite well, thank you for asking.

Happy Anniversary: Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection

Before Prometheus arrives in theaters tomorrow, let's celebrate the anniversaries of the last two films in the original Alien cycle.

Happy Anniversary, CQ and The Darjeeling Limited

Before you see Moonrise Kingdom this weekend, check out these two films from the movie's co-writers, Roman Coppola and Wes Anderson.



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