DID YOU READ

Bomb Squad: Why Did R.I.P.D. Tank?

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Welcome to “Bomb Squad,” a recurring column that takes a closer look at a movie that tanked at the box office and tries to figure out what happened.

From the outset, R.I.P.D. held some promise. Starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds, and based on a Dark Horse comic book, the film was being positioned as a new version of Ghostbusters or Men in Black, telling the story of two deceased, wisecracking policemen who team up to battle runaway paranormal folks who are seeking refuge among the living. The box office results, however, were ghastly: R.I.P.D. brought in less than $13 million in its first weekend, ending up in seventh place. (Even more painful, the film is said to have had a budget of $130 million.) What exactly happened here? Let’s take a look at some possible theories, some more convincing than others, and then come up with our verdict…

Theory No. 1: Ryan Reynolds can’t open a movie.

In a sane universe, Ryan Reynolds would seem to be your prototypical movie star. He’s handsome, he’s funny, he’s buff—quite simply, he simply looks the part. But when you check out his commercial track record, that’s when the problems start. His biggest hit is The Croods, an animated movie where he isn’t even the lead. Other movies that have performed well — X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Safe House and The Proposal — featured him in limited or second-fiddle roles. The one movie where he’s really the main attraction, Green Lantern, made over $116 million but was labeled a disappointment, in part because the reviews were scathing and in part because it supposedly cost at least $200 million to make. In R.I.P.D., he’s again supporting a bigger name — in this case, Jeff Bridges — but because his costar is a legend with an Oscar who seems above the messy needs of A-list stars to deliver huge box office, this new movie’s failure will probably hurt Reynolds a lot more than it does Bridges. (Also tarnishing Reynolds’ box-office credentials: He was the lead voice in Turbo, which underperformed this weekend as well.)

Theory No. 2: It just seemed like a Ghostbusters/Men in Black rip-off.

It’s no secret that Hollywood likes to recycle successful formulas, whether that means rebooting a franchise or copying what worked in a movie from the past. R.I.P.D. clearly was targeting fans who dug Ghostbusters and Men in Black — the new film has the same smirky attitude as those venerable action-comedies — but director Robert Schwentke never could quite figure out what made the Bridges/Reynolds pairing fun. Instead, it’s a lot of strained oil-and-water sparring without the clever characters that made those other franchises so breezy and engaging. Nobody would have loved Men in Black that much if it was just a bunch of nifty effects — they came for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

Theory No. 3: Nobody was familiar with the source material.

More and more often, studios are very happy to serve up movies during the summer that are based on properties you already know: Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3, Monsters University. By comparison, R.I.P.D. was almost an original idea. Sure, it was adapted from Peter M. Lenkov’s comic book, but this is the first time it’s been made into a film. The problem with that rationale, however, is that this summer has actually been pretty decent when it comes to first-time films. The Heat, The Croods and Now You See Me all made over $100 million, each produced from an original screenplay. There’s always a market for fresh ideas, but R.I.P.D. clearly didn’t qualify in the minds of a lot of audiences.

Theory No. 4: Jeff Bridges keeps doing the same shtick.

Everybody loves Bridges, and with good reason. Ever since appearing in The Last Picture Show as a fresh-faced kid, he has proved to be one of Hollywood’s most enduring actors, finally winning a long-overdue Academy Award for his work in 2009’s Crazy Heart. But in recent years, he’s enjoyed turning out spirited, slightly nutso portrayals in films like Masked and Anonymous, Tron: Legacy and True Grit. (The height of such performances, of course, is in The Big Lebowski.) His performance as the Old West lawman Roy in R.I.P.D. is a silly twist on his drunken, ornery Rooster from True Grit, but it felt formulaic, Bridges going to the watch-me-be-kooky well once too often. It’s really hard to believe that a lot of people would have stayed away from R.I.P.D. just for that reason, but it’s always possible it was a contributing factor for some.

The Verdict

There are plenty of explanations for what might have contributed to the commercial failure of R.I.P.D. (For example, Universal’s decision to only screen the movie the night before its release was a strong indication to the world that the studio knew it had a stinker on its hands.) But the overarching problem seems, in hindsight, rather simple: There was nothing that interesting or compelling in what audiences saw in ads that made them want to seek out this movie. Especially in the summer, a film has to offer something genuinely exciting (or, at the very least, pleasantly familiar) to get people to come out. R.I.P.D. never did that, so it’s little surprise that it flat-lined.

You can follow Tim Grierson on Twitter.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

Season 6, Episode 2: Going Grey

Mayoral Mandate

Check Out Behind the Scenes Portlandia Photos Courtesy of the Mayor Himself Kyle MacLachlan

Catch Kyle MacLachlan in a brand new Portlandia Thursday, January 28th at 10P on IFC.

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This week, Portlandia mayor and Twin Peaks‘ resident coffee and pie lover Kyle MacLachlan took over IFC’s Instagram account. The honorary municipal leader performed diligent social media service, supplying the world with candid on-set shots of himself alongside stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, as well as an inside look at what makes his fake mayor seem so perfectly suited to the hipster haven.

Through photos and behind-the-scenes anecdotes, Kyle offered a taste of what he brings to the Portlandia set when he’s on the call sheet. Check out highlights from Kyle MacLachlan’s Instagram takeover below, and be sure to catch the new season of Portlandia Thursdays at 10P/9c on IFC. (Click here to find IFC on your TV in your area.)

1. “I’m standing with former mayor Sam Adams for the flag raising ceremony. Sam appears to be putting a whole new spin on ‘The Little Drummer Boy’.”

Kyle MacLachlan, @ifctv


2. “Sitting with Fred, Jon Krisel our director, and the Mayor of Austin…who happens to bear a striking resemblance to the mayor of Portland. Coincidence? I think not.”

Kyle Photo 2

Kyle MacLachlan, @ifctv


3. “This is where it all began. The office of Mr. Mayor and his red ball.”

Kyle Photo 3

Kyle MacLachlan, @ifctv


4. “The script said the mayor was off the grid in the jungle as in ‘Apocalypse Now!’ I embraced my inner Colonel Kurtz and began…something about ‘a snail, crawling across a straight razor…’ then Willard, running in the forest. I was having the time of my life!”

Kyle Photo 4

Kyle MacLachlan, @ifctv


5. “Sometimes a bedtime story is best told in the morning…while talking on a cell phone…in separate beds.”

Kyle Photo 5

Kyle MacLachlan, @ifctv


6. “Colin’s best friend Felix upon hearing of poor Colin’s fate…”

Kyle Photo 6

Kyle MacLachlan, @ifctv


7. “After a long day kayaking on the Willamette River, the mayor enjoys a hot shower. Actually, I needed a wet down so when I ran up to Fred and Carrie, my feet would make that squeaky-squishy sound.”

Kyle Photo 7

Kyle MacLachlan, @ifctv


8. “The mayor, off the grid and taking care of goats, when Fred and Carrie find him. I didn’t know what to do, so I asked if I could use the beard hanging on the wall in the makeup trailer and then Amanda Needham, our costume designer, found the hat. Suddenly I was Amish. I have no idea why I spoke in a strange southern accent…”

Kyle Photo 8

Kyle MacLachlan, @ifctv


9. “First season. The Mayor goes missing for the first time. He’s found weeks later playing bass in a ska reggae band. Moments before we shot the scene we added the soul patch. That’s improv folks!”

Kyle Photo 9

Kyle MacLachlan, @ifctv

Jack McBrayer Conan Weiners Circle

All Smiles

5 Funny Jack McBrayer Videos That’ll Have You Grinning

Catch Jack McBrayer in the final three episodes of Todd Margaret season three tonight at 10/9C on IFC.

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Bright, shining, and with a smile from here to his native Georgia, Todd Margaret star Jack McBrayer is the perfect actor to play any role that calls for serious pep. Best known for his work on 30 Rock and his various appearances on Conan O’Brien’s late night programs, Jack has amassed a slew of classic scenes and hilarious performances.

To get you ready for the final three episodes of Todd Margaret season three (airing tonight at 10/9c on IFC), here are five hilarious Jack McBrayer clips that’ll have you smiling from ear to ear.

1. Jack and Triumph Visit Chicago’s Weiner’s Circle, Conan

Nicest guy in the world Jack McBrayer is put through the ringer when Conan sends him to the brutally honest Weiner’s Circle in Chicago, an establishment that earns much of its business by insulting the customers. But Jack exacts his revenge — and gets to don a vendor hat as well — when he enlists Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to unleash a barrage of killer put-downs.


2. Sherlock Doug, Todd Margaret

With the unexpected third season of Todd Margaret, Jack takes over the role of Doug from actor-director Spike Jonze and puts his usual jubilant spin on the character. But when he consigns to investigate the disappearance of another Todd Margaret character, he becomes a cold-hearted flatfoot in search of his perp. (Of course, he’s still pretty chipper.)


3. Jack Struggles to Talk Over Triumph’s Quiet Reading, The Tonight Show

The rapport between Jack and Triumph proved to be too valuable to abandon, so the duo kept the act going when they visited Jimmy Fallon on the set of The Tonight Show. But like the classic “straight man/comic relief” acts from the Vaudeville era, Jack can’t seem to get in a word in edgewise as he keeps getting upstaged by the canine answer to Don Rickles.


4. New Breaking Bad Drug Lord, Conan

Few television series reached the dramatic tension of Breaking Bad largely due to the phenomenal actors. But Conan discovers that one pivotal scene from the show was woefully miscast. Take a look at who was hired to play Walter White’s latest rival. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


5. Backwards Day, 30 Rock

30 Rock had one of the greatest ensemble casts in a television comedy, and Jack played a huge role in that. (His Kenneth the Page character ending up being immortal was just a bonus.) But if you happened to miss the series when it aired, check out this easter egg of Jack McBrayer’s dedication to learning how to phonetically say a phrase backwards. When the scene plays in reverse, you’ll see he nailed it.

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