Movie Review: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

Starring
Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Tony Shaloub
Director
Jonathan Liebesman

Jonathan Liebesman’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reboot has been the subject of much debate ever since it was announced, with fake script leaks and silly rumors inducing panic among the property’s fanbase (not to mention providing ammunition to a legion of snarky Internet commenters), most of which proved to be patently untrue. That’s not to say that the finished product is going to make everyone happy, but it also isn’t nearly the disaster that many feared it would be with Michael Bay involved. In fact, it’s actually quite entertaining at times provided you check your brain at the door and don’t mind that the film is basically feeding off the fumes of your childhood. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” delivers a slightly different take on the series – something that’s occurred with every rendition – and though it gets some things wrong along the way, it gets just as much right.

The general plot is pretty much the same. New York City is being terrorized by a criminal organization called the Foot Clan under the command of a shadowy figure known only as The Shredder (Tohoru Masamune). But there’s a group of vigilantes silently serving as the city’s protectors, and ambitious news reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is determined to uncover their identities… only to find that the mystery men aren’t men at all, but rather oversized mutant turtles skilled in the art of ninjitsu. Raised by their sensei Splinter (voiced by Tony Shalhoub), the four turtles – Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Donatello (Jeremy Howard) and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) – were created in a test lab by a pair of scientists, Eric Sachs (William Fichtner) and April’s late father, who believed that they perished in a fire before the mutagen they were injected with transformed them. But when Sachs, now a powerful businessman secretly working alongside The Shredder, learns of their existence, the Turtles’ sewer home is attacked, forcing them to come out of hiding and take the fight to the bad guys.

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Weekly Web Series Review: Smart Girls at the Party

Described by host Amy Poehler as “a celebration of real friendship, real fellowship, and a kind of community with other girls,” the web series “Smart Girls at the Party” is a kind-hearted, fun and educational program for kids and their parents alike, but especially for young girls. Often specifically focusing on girls who enjoy activities traditionally thought of as being more for boys, the series enjoyed a significant viewership boost in its first season when it introduced its youngest interviewee, seven-year-old Ruby, who speaks precociously about feminism. Its most-viewed episode to date features a 14-year-old boxer named Precela, and another highlight features a young robotics engineer named Rachel.

These are the “girls who are changing the world by being themselves,” in the words of Poehler, who hosts the show with the tongue-in-cheek seriousness of a news anchor before ending each episode with a dance party. Along with producer Meredith Walker and musical director Amy Miles, Poehler explores the special talents and interests of each girl – or in a few episodes, groups of girls – and interviews them, always ending on a “very serious question,” such as “pizza or cotton candy?” or “which is cuter, a baby panda or a baby monkey?” However, despite poking fun at self-serious interview questions, the series never makes fun of the girls or treats them or their interests with cynicism or irony. Instead, it clearly aims to imbue its young audience with a sense of self-worth and individuality, without being boring or preachy.

Now in its second season, the series has markedly improved from its first few episodes, adding a “World Famous 20 Second Song” segment for Miles and boasting higher production values. There are also some familiar faces in the dance parties that parents will enjoy spotting, including Poehler’s husband Will Arnett (who returns from the first season), as well as her “Parks and Recreation co-stars Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones and Aubrey Plaza. Look closely and you’ll also spot folks like Jon Hamm, David Cross and Jack McBrayer in later episodes. With its own new channel on YouTube, “Smart Girls at the Party” is slicker and more fun than ever, and is highly recommended for viewing with children, especially daughters, between the ages of five and fifteen.

  

What are your grooming habits?

Grooming habits have been evolving for both men and women, and it’s definitely something we all keep in mind now when it comes to dating and relationships. Any guy whose been dating since the 80s or 90s knows that many women today will eliminate every hair from their bodies. While they don’t expect quite he same for guys, the idea of manscaping is something every guy at least needs to think about. You should at least start by considering that back hair if that’s an issue for you . . .

On a less private matter, facial hair is making a comeback in some circles, as it’s been mostly out of fashion for years. In this area opinions vary wildly as you might expect.

All of this is covered in a new film called “Mansome” from Morgan Spurlock, with appearances by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Adam Carolla, Judd Apatow, Zach Galifianakis along with others. From metrosexuals to more extreme cases, Spurlock takes a humorous look at the subject.

If you’re looking to improve your game with women, you should definitely consider your appearance and grooming habits. You don’t have to do anything radical, but paying attention to it can help you with your confidence and improve your chances. Find a look that works for you, and subtle changes can go a long way.

For more ideas in this area, check out our men’s grooming channel and our dating tips page.

  

“Arrested Development” returning to small screen, debuting on big screen?

Ever since “Arrested Development” was yanked off the air in 2006, rumors that a big-screen version of the quirky Fox sitcom have refused to die. Fans have long been skeptical, and for good reason, but even the most optimistic “AD” fan never could have predicted what series creator Mitchell Hurwitz has in mind: an abbreviated fourth season with nine or 10 episodes airing on either Netflix or Showtime, leading up to the release of the much-anticipated “Arrested Development” movie.

Said Hurwitz, while addressing the audience at the New Yorker Festival on Sunday:

“I have been working on the screenplay for a long time and found that as time went by there was so much more to the story. In fact, where everyone’s been for five years became a big part of the story. So, in working on the screenplay I found that even if I just gave five minutes per character to that backstory, we were halfway through the movie before the characters got together. And that kinda gave birth to this thing we’ve not been pursuing for a while and we’re kinda going public with a little bit. We’re trying to do kind of limited run series into the movie.”

Too good to be true? Hurwitz doesn’t seem to think so, judging by his candor and optimism on the subject. Jason Bateman, who plays Michael Bluth on the beloved show, further stirred the pot when he tweeted, “It’s true. We will do 10 episodes and the movie. Probably shoot them all together next summer for a release in early ’13. VERY excited!”

“Arrested Development” fans have been waiting five years for good news, and while it’s wise and natural to remain somewhat skeptical until production on the movie and/or episodes has actually started, there’s enough smoke here to at least suggest the existence of a real fire.

To be safe, we thought it wise to prepare for an “Arrested Development” return. We’ve got reviews of Season 1, Season 2 and Season 3, and our 2009 interview with David Cross. You can also see where “Arrested Development” placed in past editions of our TV Power Rankings, and don’t miss scenes from the show below, including an awesome Chicken Dance mash-up.

  

Bullz-Eye’s 2011 Fall TV Preview: What’s New for NBC

Monday

The Playboy Club

(10 – 11 PM, Sept. 19)

The competition: Castle (ABC), Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)

Starring: Eddie Cibrian, Amber Heard, Laura Benanti, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Wes Ramsey, Naturi Naughton, Leah Renee, Jenifer Lewis, David Krumholtz

Executive producers: Brian Grazer, Chad Hodge (“Runaway,” “Tru Calling”), Francie Calfo (“Scoundrels”), Jason Burns and Dick Rosenzweig (“The House Bunny,” “The Girls Next Door”), and Ian Biederman (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”).

What the network says: “Nick Dalton is the ultimate playboy and one of the city’s top attorneys, rubbing elbows with everyone in the Windy City’s power structure. With mysterious and complicated ties to the mob, he comes to the aid of Maureen, the stunning and innocent new Bunny at the club, who accidentally kills the patriarch of the Bianchi crime family. Dating Nick is Carol-Lynne, a bombshell of a beauty and an established star at the Playboy Club who’s ready to be more than a Bunny. As she seeks an opportunity to elevate her stature even higher at the club, she can’t help but notice that something is developing between Nick and Maureen. Adding to the charm of the club is Janie, the foxy and carefree life of the party who is dating Max, a sweet and romantic bartender. Brenda, a stunning beauty with a dry wit, has big aspirations. Bunny Alice manages to take care of everyone but herself, and while married, is hiding a huge secret from everyone. Pearl is the club’s seamstress who’s been there since day one and knows more about what it takes to survive than anyone. Running the club and answering only to the top is general manager Billy Morton, who also shares a close friendship with Nick. With all of these larger-than-life ambitions, there are even greater secrets. It’s a good thing Hef’s Playboy Mansion is open after hours for a little R&R – and burying your past.”

What we say: Given that this is “the guys’ portal to the web,” it should come as no surprise to find that we here at Bullz-Eye find this series to be imminently watchable, in no small part because of the ever-gorgeous Amber Heard. It must be said, however, that the similarity in feel to “Mad Men” is almost unbearable at times, not just because it’s set in the ’60s, but also because if you close your eyes when Eddie Cibrian is talking, it might as well be Jon Hamm. Plus, not only is there a lot of melodrama on hand with the blend of romance and criminal activity, but the idea of having actors playing real ’60s celebrities – in the pilot episode, Ike and Tina Turner perform at the club – brings back dormant memories of “American Dreams.” By the time the proceedings are over, there’s really only one question to be asked: will beautiful babes in bunny costumes be enough to keep us coming back? Up to a point, sure…which makes sense, since that’s why people kept coming back to the real Playboy Club. As for the show, though, we’ll see where things stand after a few episodes.

Wednesday

Up All Night

(8 – 8:30 PM, Sept. 21, special preview Sept. 14 @ 10 PM)

The competition: The Middle (ABC), Survivor (CBS), The X Factor (Fox), H8R (The CW)

Starring: Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph

Executive producers: Lorne Michaels, Emily Spivey, Jon Pollack (“30 Rock”), and Erin David (“Saturday Night Live”)

What the network says: “Reagan Brinkley is a loving wife, successful career woman, life of the party and, most recently, mom. Determined not to compromise her career or cool reputation to the clichés of motherhood, Reagan adjusts to life with a baby and returns to work with the support of her stay-at-home husband, Chris. As Reagan and Chris figure out their new life, self-doubt, sleep deprivation and the pressure of today’s parenting protocols rattle their confidence. What’s more, the endless needs of Reagan’s boss, ambitious but vulnerable talk-show host Ava, threaten to throw Reagan off balance.”

What we say: As is only appropriate for a show about a new baby, “Up All Night” has already experienced some growing pains, with the producers making the decision to A) pump up Maya Rudolph’s role on the series, and B) add Nick Cannon to the cast as Ava’s onscreen cohort. As a result, the revised pilot – which still doesn’t include Cannon but does offer much more Maya – feels less about the new parents than it should, which isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, but…well, isn’t it ostensibly about the new parents? This is the kind of shift that you’d expect as the series progresses, not before it ever leaves the station. Granted, it isn’t as if anyone outside of the TV critic community will have any idea that a change has occurred, but viewers are still likely to wonder why a show revolving around Reagan and Chris becoming new parents spends so much time focusing on Reagan’s boss.

Free Agents

(8:30 – 9 PM, Sept. 21, special preview Sept. 14 @ 10:30 PM)

The competition: The Middle (ABC), Survivor (CBS), The X Factor (Fox), H8R (The CW)

Starring: Hank Azaria, Kathryn Hahn, Anthony Head, Mo Mandel, Al Madrigal, Natasha Leggero, Joe LoTruglio

Executive producers: John Enbom, Todd Holland, Ira Ungerleider and Karey Burke (“Miss Guided”), Kenton Allen, Nira Park, Chris Niel

What the network says: “Newly-divorced Alex is missing his kids and trying to keep himself together. Alex’s co-worker Helen thinks she has it together, but she drinks too much in order to cope with her fiancé’s untimely death. It’s no surprise then, when these two overworked public relations executives share an ill-fated night of passion and are forced to cope with the awkward aftermath. Thus begins the journey of two lost and emotionally damaged souls in search of happiness. Joining the cause is an array of co-workers who are both helpful and meddling at the same time. Stephen is the office boss who is concerned about Alex’s emotional stability, yet needs him to focus on his work; Dan is a bachelor in search of a wingman; and Gregg is the nerdy, lone husband of the group. Despite their valiant and well-intentioned efforts, they are failing in their attempts to help Alex get back into the dating scene. In addition, Emma is Alex’s spitfire assistant who is always ready with a quick comeback, and the building security guard is always ready to share a little advice. Together, this motley, and often dysfunctional, group takes on a new level of damage control.”

What we say: As it stands right now, “Free Agents” lives or dies on the performances of the couple at the heart of the series. Fortunately, Azaria and Hahn are sweet, likeable, and very funny. So, for that matter, is Mr. Head, but we’ve come to expect that from the artist formerly known as Rupert Giles. Insofar as the rest of the ensemble goes, however, it’s mostly and miss. The only other person who really stands out is Leggero, but she’s only got a couple of lines. The big question is where the series will go from here. Will it stick to its current strengths and phase out most of Alex and Helen’s coworkers, or will it begin to flesh them out and turn this into a good old fashioned ensemble comedy? Hard to say. At the moment, though, it’s worth sticking around just to see Azaria and Hahn interact with each other. They’re just so darned cute!

Thursday

Whitney

(9:30 – 10 PM, Sept. 22)

The competition: Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), Person of Interest (CBS), Bones (Fox), The Secret Circle (The CW)

Starring: Whitney Cummings, Chris D’Elia, Zoe Lister-Jones, Rhea Seehorn, Maulik Pancholy, Dan O’Brien

Executive producers: Scott Stuber, Quan Phung, Betsy Thomas, Barry Katz, Andy Ackerman, Whitney Cummings

What the network says: Whitney and Alex are a happily unmarried couple. Together for three years, the duo is in no rush to get hitched, which seems to get a mixed response from their friends. Whitney’s close circle of girlfriends includes on one side: Lily, a romantic idealist who loves being in love, and on the other: Roxanne, a recent divorcee who is practical, cynical, and dreading being single again. Lily and Roxanne’s opposing points of view only exacerbate Whitney’s own complicated outlook on relationships. Completing their close-knit group is Neal, a real modern day Renaissance man – sensitive, cool and knows a little bit about everything and happens to be dating Lily. On the other end of the spectrum is Whitney and Alex’s next-door neighbor Mark, a police officer and total bachelor, who claims to be the ultimate player, but likes to talk a good game. At the end of the day, Whitney and Alex try to have a relationship on their own terms – in a world that expects a more traditional approach.”

What we say: How odd that a comedienne who’s generally perceived as being relatively cutting-edge should offer up such a pedestrian sitcom. “Whitney” suffers from the same problem as “Free Agents,” which is to say that the two leads are great, but the rest of the ensemble tends to fall relatively short of the mark. In particular, Zoe Lister-Jones is so over the top as to be annoying, and while Seehorn is amusingly brusque, her character needs to be toned down a bit as well. Speaking of toning things down, it’s remarkable how loud the live-before-a-studio-audience laughter is, especially given the majority of the material. Here’s hoping the rest of the show manages to climb up to the level where Cummings and D’Elia are.

Prime Suspect

(10 – 11 PM, Sept. 22)

The competition: Private Practice (ABC), The Mentalist (CBS)

Starring: Maria Bello, Aidan Quinn, Brian F. O’Byrne, Tim Griffin, Kirk Acevedo, Damon Gupton, Peter Gerety

Executive producers: Peter Berg (NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”), Alexandra Cunningham (“Desperate Housewives”), Sarah Aubrey, Julie Meldal-Johnson, Paul Buccieri, Lynda LaPlante and John McNamara

What the network says: “Tough-as-nails NYPD homicide Detective Jane Timoney is an outsider who has just transferred to a new squad where her new colleagues already dislike her. Jane is confident and focused – and also rude, abrupt and occasionally reckless. She has her vices, and rumors of a questionable past follow her everywhere – but at the end of the day she’s a instinctively brilliant cop who can’t be distracted from the only important thing: the prime suspect.”

What we say: Is it wrong that the first opinion I feel obliged to offer is that I hate the hat? It’s just feels like an unnecessary affectation, and it drives me crazy whenever I see her wearing it. Okay, I’m done bitching about the hat. But, you know, it could’ve been worse. I could’ve been a huge fan of the original “Prime Suspect” and could be sitting here bitching about how this is an affront to Helen Mirren’s accomplishments in that series. As it happens, though, I’ve never seen so much as a single episode of the original, so I’m able to take this American version on its own merits. I’m not sure how long the sexism situation can last as a running thread, frankly, so unless they want this to devolve into just another procedural (which would be depressing, since lord knows we have enough of those already), they’re going to need to maintain the unique personalities of the various characters that they’ve introduced. With Peter Berg working behind the scenes, I’m hopeful that that’ll happen. But we’ll see.

Friday

Grimm

(9 – 10 PM, Oct. 21)

The competition: Shark Tank (ABC), CSI: New York (CBS), Fringe (Fox), Supernatural (The CW)

Starring: David Giuntoli, Bitsie Tulloch, Russell Hornsby, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Sasha Roiz

Executive producers: Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, Jim Kouf, David Greenwalt

What the network says: “Portland homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt discovers he is descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as ‘Grimms,’ charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world. As he tries to hide the dangers of his new found calling from his fiancé, Juliette Silverton, and his partner, Hank Griffin, he becomes ever more entrenched in the ancient rivalries and alliances of the Grimm world. With help from his confidant, Monroe, a reformed Grimm creature himself, Nick must navigate through the forces of a larger-than-life mythology, facing off with Hexenbiests, Blutbads and all manner of ancient evils, including royal lines dating back to the original profilers themselves, The Grimm Brothers.”

What we say: This is the kind of show that has “cult hit” written all over it, but 2011 is hardly the perfect time for a floundering network like NBC to hang onto a series like this long enough for it to build an audience. That’s a shame, because as odd as the premise might be, it actually feels like it has a lot of potential, blending the dark and spooky mythology of all the Hexenbiest and Blutbad stuff with a relatively straightforward police procedural. But with no real “name” actors in the cast, the only way “Grimm” isn’t going to meet a grim fate in only a few weeks’ time is if NBC throws a lot of promotion heft behind it. A couple of seasons ago, this could’ve been the next “Heroes.” Now, it’s more likely to be the next “Cape.”

  

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