ABC News(SANTA CLARA, CALIF.) -- The stars weren’t only on the field during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
The much-hyped commercials offered a wide range of A-listers, from Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen to Christopher Walken to Willem Dafoe –- as Marilyn Monroe.
Of course, the ads cost a lot of money to air during the CBS broadcast of the game: $5 million per 30-second spot, according to reports.
If you missed some of the commercials during the Super Bowl telecast, or if you want to re-watch them, you can check out all of the ads on YouTube.
Here’s a recap of the best spots:
-- Comedian Jim Gaffigan made his debut as KFC's new Colonel Sanders, replacing Norm MacDonald.
-- Kevin Hart is an overprotective dad who lends his daughter’s date his Hyundai Genesis, then follows their every move with its tracking system.
-- There were movie previews for Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War and 10 Cloverfield Lane.
-- Willem Dafoe tries to pass himself off as Marilyn Monroe in her Seven Year Itch white dress in Snickers’ latest “You’re not you when you’re hungry” spot.
-- Jeff Goldblum and a choir perform The Jeffersons theme -– and Lil Wayne makes a cameo -– in a spot for Apartments.com.
-- Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in an action-packed commercial for the game Mobile Strike.
-- Things get nutty when a pregnant woman's partner eats Doritos during her ultrasound.
-- A retired, depressed astronaut is reinvigorated when he’s handed the keys to the Audi R8 V10 plus. The commercial utilizes the David Bowie song “Starman.”
-- What do you get when you cross a puppy, a monkey, and a baby? A really weird creature for an even weirder ad for Mountain Dew Kickstart.
-- Comedy duo Key and Peele play funky characters as they tout Squarespace.
-- Silicon Valley’s T.J. Miller trades insults with a Shock Top beer tap.
-- There was a movie preview for The Jungle Book.
-- Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen form the “Bud Light Party” and go on the campaign trail like they’re in the presidential race. Paul Rudd and Michael Pena make cameos.
-- Steven Tyler teaches a Skittles portrait of the Aerosmith singer how to sing like him –- until it falls apart.
-- Steve Harvey spoofs his Miss Universe mishap in an ad for T-Mobile.
-- Two women driving a Hyundai Elantra on a road in “Ryanville” pass by Ryan Reynolds as a cop, a construction worker, a dog walker, etc. The car is billed as one that “doesn’t get distracted” thanks to its auto-emergency brake system.
-- Bank robbers are forced to rely on a Toyota Prius for their getaway vehicle, leading to a chase that becomes a media sensation.
-- There were movie previews for the new Bourne movie starring Matt Damon and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Independence Day sequels.
-- CURE auto insurance had an awkward ad in which a dying father has something important to tell his son, who's distracted by an attractive hospital staffer.
-- Janelle Monae dances to the sixties hit "Do You Love Me" by the Contours and Madonna's "Express Yourself" before singing her updated version of the "Joy of Pepsi" jingle.
-- Alec Baldwin and Dan Marino take verbal jabs at each other during a party in a commercial for Amazon's Echo speaker and Alexa voice service. "How many championships has Dan Marino won?" Baldwin asks Alexa. Marino's response: "How many Oscars has Alec Baldwin won?"
-- Dogs desperate for Doritos dress in human clothing to purchase the cheesy snack in a shop.
-- Serena Williams, Tony Hawk, soccer star Abby Wambach, T-Pain and others describe MINI USA vehicles as a “chick car,” a “short man’s car,” a “cute car,” a “slow car” and more. The message: the MINI will “defy labels.”
-- Anthony Hopkins stars in an ad for TurboTax.
-- Liam Neeson is a man who travels back in time to chat with his younger self, played by his real-life son, Micheál, about protecting the future –- and LG’s OLED TV.
-- Kung Fu Panda isn’t just a star on the big screen. The animated character is front and center in an ad for Wix.com, a website builder.
-- Dogs dressed in hot dog costumes? Why not. That’s what Heinz gave us.
-- A flock of sheep sings Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” apparently inspired by the Honda Ridgeline truck.
-- There was a movie preview for X-Men Apocalypse.
-- The NFL aired its commercial on “Super Bowl babies” –- kids born nine months after their city won the big game. The children sing a football version of Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose.” Seal himself appears in the spot, too.
-- Christopher Walken and his sock puppet lecture a man inside a walk-in closet -- get it? –- before introducing him to the new Kia Optima.
-- In a T-Mobile commercial, Drake gladly takes suggestions on how to revise his hit tune “Hotline Bling” for a mobile phone company.
-- Helen Mirren charmingly warns viewers about the dangers of drunk driving on behalf of Budweiser.
-- Colgate advises viewers to start conserving water by turning off the faucet when it’s not needed.
ABC News(SANTA CLARA, CALIF.) -- Coldplay offered a flashback performance during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show Sunday night at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, dipping deep into their catalog while also paying homage to past performers who've graced the big stage at the big game -- with the help of Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.
Chris Martin and company teased their first hit, "Yellow," before launching into "Viva La Vida." Martin commanded a psychedelic stage while the fans in the seats held up yellow, blue and orange signs.
Martin said, "Wherever you are, we are in this together," before seguing into the sing-along "Oooooh" part of the song.
His band -- which was joined by the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles -- followed up with "Paradise," as the audience surrounding the stage waved their arms.
Chris shed his jacket with blue patches for a more recent tune, "Adventure Of A Lifetime," jumping up and down and singing "Woohoo" repeatedly.
Coldplay gave way to Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, who delivered their smash hit "Uptown Funk." Bruno wore a shiny black outfit with sunglasses, plus large chains dangling from his neck.
A marching band led into Beyoncé, who performed her just-released song "Formation." She and Bruno then had a bit of a dance-off before she and Martin joined in on "Uptown Funk," with a sample of Bey's "Crazy In Love" mixed in.
Coldplay returned with "Clocks" and "Fix You," as viewers saw a montage of highlights of past Super Bowl halftime performances from the likes of Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Stevie Wonder and others. Martin even worked in lyrics of songs by these artists, including Prince's "Purple Rain" and Bruno's "Just The Way You Are."
Martin, Beyoncé and Bruno all sang Coldplay's "Up&Up" to close things out. In the stands, fans held up placards that spelled out, "Believe In Love."
A new Beyoncé tour was announced immediately after her appearance in the halftime show.
Katy Perry performs at Super Bowl 49; Tom Pennington/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Super Bowl halftime show normally features the biggest names in music, who are often veteran performers. This year's headliners,pop/rock band Coldplay, aren't on the level of past headliners like The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, but they're a bit more seasoned than the headliners from the last two years: Katy Perry and Bruno Mars.
Coldplay, who just released a new album, A Head Full of Dreams, will celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. They'll take the stage with some help from past headlinerBeyonce and, rumor has it, Bruno Mars, who headlined in 2014. Special guests have also been teased for today's 12-minute performance.
It's more than been ten years since Janet Jackson's notorious "wardrobe malfunction" scandal of 2004 led the NFL to turn to "safe" classic rock acts. In addition to the Stones and Springsteen, we saw Paul McCartney, The Who and Tom Petty take the stage over the past decade. Contemporary pop returned to the scene in 2011, when the Black Eyed Peastook the stage; no wardrobe malfunctions ensued.
The NFL took a risk in 2012 with one of pop music's most controversial stars, Madonna, but the only controversy that emerged from that was courtesy of one of her invited guests, M.I.A., who flipped the bird during the performance. In 2013, Beyonce delivered a widely-acclaimed performance, though some felt her outfit and her gyrations were a bit racy.
Early in her career, Katy Perry had been a bit controversial due to her #1 hit "I Kissed a Girl," and for her cleavage-baring outfits, but last year, her spectacular headlining show went off without controversy, to great critical acclaim and record viewership.
But believe it or not, the trend of having major pop, rock and country music stars appear at the Super Bowl halftime show only dates back to 1991, when New Kids on the Block performed. Before that, the halftime show usually consisted of marching bands, older stars like Chubby Checker and Ella Fitzgerald, or the G-rated vocal troupe Up with People. That's because initially, the halftime show was designed to entertain the audience in the stands, not those viewing at home. As the New York Times puts it, "It was decades before the NFL realized that the halftime show plays not to the stadium but to the camera."
But after '91, it was all stars, all the time, especially in 1993, when Michael Jackson, the reigning King of Pop, sang "Heal the World" with thousands of children. Writes the Times, "It was one template for the Super Bowl shows that eventually followed: a superstar, big hits, a cast of thousands and graphics for blimps to photograph from above."
Here's a reminder of who's played Super Bowl halftime shows in the modern era:
1991 -- New Kids on the Block 1992 -- Gloria Estefan 1993 -- Michael Jackson, performing with 3,500 children 1994 -- Country stars Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, Wynonna, and Naomi Judd 1995 -- Patti Labelle, Miami Sound Machine & Tony Bennett 1996 -- Diana Ross 1997 -- ZZ Top, James Brown, the Blues Brothers featuring Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman and James Belushi 1998 -- Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, the Temptations, Queen Latifah 1999 -- Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy 2000 -- Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton 2001 -- Aerosmith, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Nelly, Mary J. Blige 2002 -- U2 2003 -- Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting 2004 -- Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Nelly, Kid Rock, P. Diddy 2005 -- Paul McCartney 2006 -- The Rolling Stones 2007 -- Prince 2008 -- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers 2009 -- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band 2010 -- The Who 2011 -- Black Eyed Peas 2012 -- Madonna 2013 -- Beyonce (and Destiny's Child, briefly) 2014 -- Bruno Mars feat. Red Hot Chili Peppers 2015 -- Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz & Missy Elliott 2016 -- Coldplay, Beyonce and guests
Christopher Polk/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It just goes to show that if you wait long enough, all scandals will fade away. Pepsi's big Super Bowl commercial this Sunday will include a classic Madonna song -- nearly thirty years after the soft-drink company had to pull an ad featuring another Madonna tune.
In 1989, Madonna's hit "Like a Prayer" was featured in a Pepsi commercial, but controversy soon erupted over the song's video, which featured the singer kissing a black saint and other provocative uses of Catholic imagery. The Vatican condemned the video, and family and religious groups threatened a boycott of Pepsi products. Pepsi caved, the ad was pulled and Madonna's contract was canceled, though she kept her initial fee.
Now, another classic Madonna tune -- "Express Yourself" -- is featured in Pepsi's new commercial, which has a theme of past, present and future.
The spot, starring R&B singer Janelle Monae [moh-NAY], starts with her dancing to the sixties hit "Do You Love Me" by the Contours. Next, she's sporting an early Madonna outfit and dancing to "Express Yourself." The spot ends with Janelle singing her updated version of the "Joy of Pepsi" jingle.
As for why "Express Yourself," which appears on Madonna's 1989 album Like a Prayer, was chosen, Pepsi VP of marketing Chad Stubbs tells Ad Age, "It was within that album and era that we had worked with Madonna before."
Helen Mirren accepts the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar for "The Queen" in 2007; Michael Caulfield/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Oscar winner Helen Mirren is defending the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the Oscars diversity debate.
Asked about the controversy by England's Channel 4 News, the 70-year-old actress said she thinks "it's unfair to attack the Academy."
"It just so happened this year it went that way," she said Wednesday about the Academy's failure to nominate any people of color in the top acting categories for a second year in a row.
She did acknowledge that "Idris Elba absolutely would have been nominated for an Oscar," but explained that "he wasn't because not enough people saw -- or wanted to see -- a film about child soldiers."
Elba won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor last weekend for his role in Beasts of No Nation.
The bigger issue, Mirren added, "is what happens before the film gets to the Oscars."
"What kind of films are made, and the way in which they're cast, and the scripts," she said. "So it's those things that are much more influential ultimately than who stands there with an Oscar."
The Academy recently announced that it was planning to double the number of women and diverse members by 2020.
Image courtesy Essence magazine(NEW YORK) -- With all the controversy surrounding Hollywood’s lack of diversity, Chris Rock seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders with his upcoming duties as host of this year’s Academy Awards.
The multiple Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning funnyman recently opened up to Essence magazine writer Isabel Wilkerson to share his views on Black Hollywood.
Regarding any contentious feelings about the success of his peers, Rock, who graces the cover of the Time Inc. publication, offered:
“It’s big enough for all of us. I always say that to people. Kevin Hart and I always talk about this. It never comes out of my check. If Kevin gets two million dollars, it doesn’t come out of my check. I’m not short ten million dollars because Kevin Hart has a big movie. Good for him. It’s a good thing for everybody....”
When it comes to the challenges African-American actresses encounter pertaining to their white peers, the Top Five star said:
“I’ve never done a movie, any movie, the silliest movie, where someone, some studio person hasn’t gone, ‘Does the girl have to be black?’ It happens every time. Black women get paid less than everybody in Hollywood. Everybody’s talking about Jennifer Lawrence. Talk to Gabrielle Union. If you want to hear stories, talk to Nia Long. Talk to Kerry Washington. They would love to get to Jennifer Lawrence’s place, or just be treated with the same amount of respect. Black women are the least represented on-screen. They just are. You can go see a lot of movies and there’s not one black woman in there with, like, a real part. It’s a real, real, real problem....”
The newly divorced father, who launched his career in 1990 on Saturday Night Live, pondered the future of his career, too: “I was with [Jerry] Seinfeld the other day. We were like, what we got? Five years? Six years? Literally. That’s not saying making a living. It’s saying, how much longer do you have where people are going to care what you say?”
Rock, who last hosted the Academy Awards in 2005, confessed about the prospects of this year's ceremony: "It could go horribly wrong. Don't ever think that it can't. That's when it goes wrong—when you don't think there's any chance of it going wrong. If you know it won't, it probably won't."
The March edition of Essence magazine is on newsstands nationally on February 12.
CBS via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Break out your Swiss army knife -- MacGyver’s coming back.
Variety reports entertainment company Lionsgate made the announcement Friday during an earnings call, revealing both a movie and subsequent CBS TV show are planned. The original series credit, Lee David Zlotoff, is on board, as is Neal Moritz, who produces the monster hit Fast and the Furious movie franchise.
MacGyver ran on ABC for seven years, from 1985 to 1992, and starred Richard Dean Anderson as the globe-trotting, troubleshooting adventurer Angus MacGyver, who refused to use guns but instead relied on his wits, ingenuity and ever-present Swiss army knife to get himself out of a jam.
Ernesto Ruscio/GC Images(NEW YORK) -- George Clooney said he knew within six months after meeting his future wife Amal that he wanted to marry her.
The 54-year-old actor shared with Ellen DeGeneres the moment he proposed to the British-Lebanese human rights lawyer, 38, and why it took her 25 minutes to realize what he was actually doing.
"I think it was about six months until I actually thought I might pop the question, and it was one of those horrible moments -- we didn't talk about it. It wasn't like, 'Oh, maybe we should get married,' or anything. I plotted the whole thing out," Clooney told DeGeneres on her show. "I had the ring hidden behind her. I had music playing -- my Aunt Rosemary's gonna sing 'Why Shouldn't I?' Everything was planned out and I've cooked dinner."
Amal, who had just returned from London, suggested to Clooney that they order in.
"And I go, 'No, no, no. I've made dinner.' I've got it all set up, timed out, and the song is coming and she gets up to go wash the dishes -- which she's never done," he recalled with a laugh. "And I'm like, 'What are you doing?'"
When she finally finished, Clooney blew out the candle and asked Amal to hand him the lighter in a box behind her.
"She reaches around and she pulls out the box and I've got just the ring sitting in there," he recalled. "And she pulls it out and she looks at it and she's like, 'It's a ring.' Like somebody had left it there some other time! I don't know. I'm doing all the moves you can do with my face."
But Amal still had no clue.
Then, Clooney recalled, "I got down on my knee and said, 'I couldn't imagine spending the rest of my life without you.' And she kept looking at the ring and she was looking at me and she was like, 'Oh, my God.' And we now know, because there was a playlist, so we know how long it actually took, and it was like 25 minutes.
"Finally, I literally said, 'Look, I hope the answer's yes, but I need an answer. I'm 52 and I could throw out my hip pretty soon,'" he continued. "And she said, 'Oh, yes.'"
The pair wed in Venice in September 2014. "It worked out really well," Clooney said.
"It was one of those funny things," he said. "From the minute we met we just hit it off. From the minute we met, we sort of felt like we were gonna be together."
Netflix(LOS ANGELES) -- Orange Is the New Black fans just got some good news to start their weekend. The hit Netflix comedy-drama has just been renewed for three more seasons. Creator and executive producer Jenji Kohan will be sticking around for the additional seasons as well.
“Audiences around the world have come to love the ladies and men of Orange Is the New Black, and we are eager to see where three more seasons will take them,” Netflix original content VP Cindy Holland said in a statement revealing the news.
Kohan’s happy, too: “[K]udos and gratitude to the stellar cast and crew and writers and producers and editors and musicians and mixers and shleppers...with whom I have the pride and honor of crafting this show,” she says. “Three more years! Three more years!”
Orange Is the New Black won the Ensemble Comedy Series award at last weekend’s Screen Actors Guild awards, while cast member Uzo Aduba won Outstanding Female in Comedy Series.
Season four of Orange Is the New Black premieres June 17 on Netflix.
Universal(NEW YORK) -- Here's a look at the new movies opening nationwide today:
* Hail, Caesar! -- In the Coen brothers' comedy, set during Hollywood's Golden Age, George Clooney is an actor who is kidnapped and held for ransom. Josh Brolin is a fixer who tries to resolve the situation. Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum also star. Rated PG-13.
* Pride and Prejudice and Zombies -- The classic Jane Austen novel comes to the big screen, with a zombie twist. Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Charles Dance and Lena Headey star in the film, which is based on the 2009 parody book of the same name. Rated PG-13.
* The Choice -- A medical student falls for a ladies' man in the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel. Benjamin Walker, Teresa Palmer, Alexandra Daddario, Maggie Grace, Tom Welling and Tom Wilkinson star. Rated PG-13.
Michael Becker/FOX(NEW YORK) -- Thursday was Final Judgment day as American Idol’s top 24 were revealed. More than 50 remaining contestants faced off in the Showcase Round, before facing judges Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jennifer Lopez to see would fill the coveted spots.
Here are Thursday’s highlights:
The journey ended for a couple of early favorites. Michelle Marie performed Carrie Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns,” but while Urban noted that she really “takes to the stage,” Michelle’s charm and energy didn’t stand up to the fierce competition. Colette Lush’s audition also blew the judges away, but nerves seemed to get the better of her in the Showcase Round. Her vocal performance on Meghan Trainor‘s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” impressed the judges, but they didn’t think she was ready for Idol’s top 24.
Trent Harmon was dealt a devastating blow when he came down with a case of mononucleosis upon arriving in Hollywood, but he mustered every ounce of energy he could for his version of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” It ended up working in his favor, as the judges thought he showed character, as well as talent, battling through his illness. He earned a spot in the top 24.
A couple of 16-year-olds also moved on to the top 24. Flame-haired Amilia Eisenhauer “left it all on the stage” for her performance of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” playing a little fiddle as well. Lee Jean sang Ed Sheeran’s “Make It Rain,” urging the crowd to keep quiet as he did – a serious no-no in Jennifer’s opinion. Both managed to convince the judges they had what it takes to be a part of Idol’s top 24.
Thomas Stringfellow’s girlfriend of a year broke up with him just before he entered the competition for fear it would hurt their relationship, but channeled that heartbreak into his performance of One Direction’s “Story of My Life.” Harry noted there were better singers in the competition, but Thomas had a special quality that earned him a spot in the top 24.
Returning contestant Emily Brooke, who didn’t make it into last season’s top 24, gave it another shot with Carrie Underwood’s “So Small.” J-Lo thought that of all the contestants, Emily grew the most in one year, which was a testament to her commitment and talent. The judges all agreed that this was Brooke's year and she advanced the top 24.
Gianna Isabella, the 15-year-old daughter of Brenda K. Starr and the youngest person in the competition, chose her mom’s hit single “I Still Believe,” but her mom’s maternal instinct to coach her little girl didn’t sit well with musical director Ricky Minor. Brenda backed off and Gianna did her mom proud, earning a spot in the top 24.
It was between Jordan Sasser and Kayce Haynes for the last two men’s spots. Jordan, with his wife – who had also auditioned, but didn’t make it to Hollywood – sitting in the audience, brought the house down with his version of OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out.” However, Kayce also felt confident about his Showcase Performance, Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” Sasser and Haynes were brought into the room together, where Harry informed them that Jordan would claim the final spot in the top 24.
It was the same process for the two remaining females: Lindita belting out Jessie J’s “Bang Bang,” and La’Porsha Renae delivering a soulful version of the classic “House of the Rising Sun.” Urban noted that Lindita brought her swagger to the competition, while La’Porsha brought soul, before revealing that Renae gobbled up the last female spot in the top 24.
Here are the top 24:
Jenn Blosil MacKenzie Bourg Emily Brooke Amelia Eisenhauer Trent Harmon Gianna Isabella James VIII Lee Jean CJ Johnson Adam Lasher Tristan McIntosh Jeneve Rose Mitchell Stephany Negrete Dalton Rapattoni Jenna Renae La'Porsha Renae Olivia Rox Jordan Sasser Thomas Stringfellow Manny Torres Sonika Vaid Kory Wheeler Avalon Young Shelbie Z.
The first group of 12 semifinalists will perform when American Idol airs Wednesday night on Fox.
“A movie where they add zombies to Pride and Prejudice?” I thought. “Seriously? This was a joke someone made on Twitter that somehow spiraled out of control, right?” And then I saw a little bit of footage at Comic-Con last year, and I must say I was impressed. Strong female leads who can kick butt in corsets? Ok, I’m intrigued.
Now that I’ve seen the movie, I can tell you: I’m all in.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is exactly what the title states: it takes Jane Austen’s beloved 19th century comedy of manners and adds zombies. It follows the five unmarried Bennet sisters and their various courtships with suitors Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy and others. Only in this version, zombies are at war with humans and a constant danger. This being the case, all the sisters are combat-trained martial arts experts. Sound crazy? Trust me, just go with it.
Lily James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella) stars as second sister Elizabeth Bennett, and she’s not too keen on fitting into the common role women were meant to play in 19th century England. She has little interest in boys or balls (the dancing kind), and is perhaps the best warrior of the women. She kicks butt, a lot, and is constantly saving both her sisters and the guys – exactly the kind of strong female heroine that seems to be sorely lacking on the big screen right now, especially in the comic-book movies.
Sam Riley (Maleficent, On the Road) plays Mr. Darcy, who spars and sparks with Elizabeth for most of the movie. He’s grumbly and dark and full of both pride and prejudice, a zombie-killing colonel who has no time for games. My only problem here is that he’s perhaps a little too dark -- James’ Elizabeth is also very serious, but she has a nice lightness about her, with a wry smile every now and then. Riley’s Darcy just seems like a terrible person to spend time with.
But that’s okay, because Doctor Who’s Matt Smith is there to provide a lot of comedy. He plays Parson Collins, cousin to the Bennett sisters and a potential suitor. He steals every scene he’s in, and welcomingly cuts the tension.
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) is also fun as the eyepatch-wearing famed zombie slaughterer Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She brings a little bit of Cersei Lannister’s bite to the role of the richest lady in all the land, and it would have been nice to see a little more of her going toe-to-toe with Lily James.
I honestly try as hard as possible to go into every movie with as little baggage as possible, but given the silly concept, that was tough to do here. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies not only turned me around, it made me a fan. It’s funny, smart, has some great fight scenes, and it’s just so refreshing to see women in a 19th century period piece who aren’t damsels in distress or scheming vixens.
I want to see more. If there’s a sequel, I’ll be there.
Dana Hawley/Lionsgate(LOS ANGELES) -- The Choice is the eleventh love story from Nicholas Sparks to hit the big screen -- since 2012, Sparks films have arrived yearly. They’re the perfect thing to pair with Valentine’s Day: both have the potential to be magical, but you’ve learned not to expect much out of either so as not to be disappointed. The Choice fits right into that mold.
It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either. Benjamin Walker (In the Heart of the Sea, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) stars as handsome Southern veterinarian Travis Parker, an easygoing guy who likes to fish and hang out with his dog. Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies, Point Break) is Gabby Holland, the tightly wound medical student who moves in next door. From the first five minutes of the movie we know they’re going to get together. It’s just a matter of how they get there.
There are obstacles, of course: courtship, and – naturally, for this genre -- a coma. That’s not a spoiler, by the way, it’s all in the trailer. WAY too much is in the trailer.
Walker is charming and likeable, with his slow Southern charm. And Tom Wilkinson, who plays his dad, is a welcome addition to almost any movie.
As for Palmer, that’s one of the movie’s problems. Her character is rather abrasive, which is compounded by Palmer’s occasional enthusiastic but unnatural overacting. And her accent (she’s supposed to be from South Carolina) goes in and out like waves on the shore – I picked up right away that she wasn’t American, which is fine, but she has enough trouble trying to hide her Australian accent under a flat American accent. Adding a Southern drawl to the mix is only asking for trouble. I’m by no means saying she’s a bad actress – she’s not. But this role isn’t exactly suited to her talents.
As for the accent thing, she’s not alone. Tom Wilkinson, who’s British but here is supposed to be a native North Carolinian, makes almost zero attempt to sound like his Southern son. Maybe accents get thicker with each generation? Who knows, but it’s hard to get lost in the story when you’re spending the whole time wondering where the actors are from. Walker is from Georgia, by the way, which is why he gets a pass.
One thing The Choice does have going for it is its setting. I may not have loved the movie, but I loved where it takes place. The waters of North Carolina, the houses with the docks and the rolling green lawns, the afternoons spent in the sun overlooking a dock while the dogs eat fish guts out of a pail -- that’s all good stuff.
Also good are the dogs. Kudos to whomever decided to give so much screen time to the adorable St. Bernard, Golden Retriever, and a couple of puppies. I’d like to have seen more of that love story.
The Choice is highly predictable, often cheesy, and emotionally manipulative…and even so, you still might shed a tear. A colleague of mine admitted she didn’t like it, but still cried a bit at the end. Should you rush out to see it in theaters? No need. But if it comes on cable one night while you’re snuggling with your honey, you’ve probably watched worse.