TIME Culture

Walk of Shame: A Movie That Might Just Offend Everyone

Focus Features

My latest 'walk of shame' was out of the movie theater. Even Elizabeth Banks couldn't save this dud.

The first “walk of shame” I can remember happened my freshman year of college when I hurried across campus in the wee hours of a late October morning wearing a very pronounced bee costume. (Please note: Even though I got back to my dorm with my costume’s stinger hanging between my legs, I wasn’t ashamed.)

My latest walk was less of a stereotype, but it left me feeling far more disgraced. I was leaving a movie aptly titled Walk of Shame. I didn’t feel dirty because my theater emptied into sweaty Times Square (warning: If a movie is only playing in one theater in all of New York its opening weekend, it’s going to be bad), but rather because I spent 95 minutes of my life listening to unfunny jokes that relied on racial and slut shaming/sex worker bashing stereotypes and weren’t even that original or edgy. Even though the movie bombed, I had contributed to its paltry $38k opening weekend earnings.

The premise of the movie seemed harmless enough: “good girl” local news anchor Meghan Miles goes on a debaucherous night on the town with the ladiez after her fiance leaves her and her dream job with the national network is taken by another anchor. Cue the adorable bar tender/”writer of books” who provides her not only with lemon drops, but also the sweetest one night stand Hollywood could muster. Miles (played by the hilarious Elizabeth Banks) runs out on the cute bartender’s downtown LA loft in the middle of the night after she gets a message from her producer saying that she has another shot at the network gig if she gives a killer newscast the next morning. Unfortunately for Banks, her car was towed and her phone and purse are nowhere to be found. Thus begins a series of hijinx to get her to work on time.

Ok this never sounded like a masterpiece, but with a cast like Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Kevin Nealon, and Gillian Jacobs, it was bound to be a little funny, right? But this movie was just flat-out misogynistic and offensive to just about everyone.

The movie revolves around the fact that Banks must convince every single character she comes across that she, a “good girl,” isn’t a sex worker. Because what else could a woman in the inner city, wearing high heels and a “slutty” dress (but not really, I mean, it’s Marc Jacobs) be if not a prostitute? Banks is asked to provide everything from a lap dance to a boob flash to a happy ending to a song in exchange for help she never gets.Cops spew unsettling one-liners aimed at scaring the wayward “prostitute” which I think, as an audience, we’re meant to laugh at, yet accept as inevitable simply because she’s wearing a tight dress. What a misunderstanding! These repetitive jokes enter the dangerous territory of normalizing mistreatment of women based on her outfit.

The script also is full of sex worker bashing. There was a deluge of pejoratives ranging from “hooker” (said 9 times over the course of the film) to “hooker hoodlum” to “dumb hook;” “whore” to “crackhead whore;” “prostitute” to “deranged prostitute.” And let’s not forget “raggedy ass trip.” There’s even a scene on a bus in which an old woman literally yells “shame” at Banks for her outfit and inability to pay. Everyone cheers when the bus driver pepper sprays the supposed fallen woman after taunting her for being bad at her “job” if she doesn’t even have dollar bills to pay for a ticket.

And then there were the racial jokes, which began in the first five minutes of the film when a job interviewer asks Banks, a self-proclaimed voracious reader, if she liked Toni Morrison’s Beloved while obviously nodding at the one black man on the hiring team. But at least that racial stereotype of a character had a job that didn’t involve selling crack, which was the profession of practically every other man of color for the rest of the film. Banks winds up in a “ghetto crack den” as she puts it, with characters named Pookie, Scrilla, and Hulk. They prove to have hearts of gold because they give her career advice, threaten to hurt her ex-fiance, and give her a vial of crack as a gesture of good will. The sweetish scene is cut short by a shootout. Obviously. For diversity’s sake, the Mexican characters are crack dealers, too. Hasidic Jews are portrayed as repressed, sex starved, lechers who are so stingy they won’t give Banks a few dollars. And if you were an Asian actress in the film, chances are you worked in the Happy Ending massage parlor. (Banks pretends her name is Kim Jong Il and talks in a bad Asian accent when she pretends to be a masseuse while on the run from the cops. It’s complicated.)

On a positive note, Banks is never ashamed of or shamed for the act of having sex with Marsden (probably because he’s actually her future husband) and her friends are painted in a very supportive light. They even go to Marsden’s house to make sure he didn’t murder her. But even an empowering-ish closing speech about how Banks has embraced her matted hair and form-fitting dress, how she is done being a “good girl,” isn’t enough to save the film from its many offenses.

The movie was written and directed by Steve Brill who managed to get $15 million to produce this dud. Although Brill was responsible for The Mighty Ducks, he more recently dolled out box office bombs like Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds and Without a Paddle. Thanks Steve!

TIME Television

Katherine Heigl Stars in New NBC Drama

Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl Dan Steinberg—Invision/AP

Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl will return to primetime in NBC's new State of Affairs as a CIA attaché tasked with giving daily briefings on global incidents to the President, a role played by Alfre Woodard

Because you can never have too many fictional, blond CIA agents on television, NBC has picked up Katherine Heigl’s new drama series, State of Affairs.

Unlike Claire Danes on Homeland, the Grey’s Anatomy alumna won’t be recruiting assets for overseas intelligence missions—instead, she’ll give daily briefings to the President of the United States, played by Alfre Woodard. The women’s intertwined histories only add to the pressures of the job: Heigl’s character, Charleston “Charlie” Tucker, was engaged to the Commander in Chief’s son before a terrorist attack claimed his life, and she’s still searching for answers about his death.

The show will be Heigl’s first regular television role since the actress left Grey’s Anatomy in 2010, Entertainment Weekly notes.

[Variety]

TIME movies

Here’s Some More Bad News About Gender Equality in Hollywood

Amma Asante
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Amma Asante, and James Norton on the set of 'Belle' David Appleby—Fox Searchlight

There's been no increase in the number of women filling behind-the-scenes roles in the festival-film world

Here’s the latest surprise-free report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University: most people who make movies are men, even in the more open world of film festivals. The Center, led by Martha Lauzen, is the source of scads of research confirming what’s not so difficult to guess — that filmmaking is far from equal on the gender front.

Their latest “Independent Women” report, released May 6, looked at domestically and independently produced feature-length films (narrative and documentary) that showed at about two dozen American film festivals during the 2013-2014 festival season. The researchers counted up the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers.

Among the movies considered, the gender breakdown was:

  • Producer was the most equal — one-third are women. (Cinematographers, at 10% female, were least.)
  • Women made up 23% of directors considered and 22% of writers, both down slightly from 2011-12 and up from 2008-2009.
  • Though the percentage of women working on documentaries decreased from 2011-12 in most roles, the world of documentaries is still far more equal than the world of narrative film. Among directors, for example, 28% of the documentary directors were women (the same number as in 2008-9) whereas 18% were women among narrative directors.

Even though the numbers aren’t all that impressive — women only made up about a quarter of those people when taken all together, which is no improvement from the 2011-2012 season — the results were dubbed “stunning” (in a good way, based on the context) by the Center when compared to mainstream, high-grossing films. Among the directors of those blockbusters, for example, only 6% were women.

As Lauzen pointed out to The Hollywood Reporter, only one of this summer’s upcoming studio movies (Jupiter Ascending, from the Wachowskis) was even co-directed by a woman — and festival movies don’t always get seen by larger audiences, which isn’t good for the women who are making a dent in these figures.

But some festival movies directed by women are making it to theaters in the next few weeks, and so audiences who want to endorse female filmmakers can keep an eye out for titles like these:

Belle: In theaters now, directed by Amma Asante

Palo Alto: In theaters May 9, directed by Gia Coppola

Fed Up: In theaters May 9, directed by Stephanie Soechtig

Night Moves: In theaters May 30, directed by Kelly Reichardt

Obvious Child:In theaters June 6, directed by Gillian Robespierre

TIME movies

REVIEW: Neighbors, When the Outrageous Becomes the Cliché

Film Title: Neighbors
Glen Wilson—Universal Pictures

This new comedy, with Seth Rogen and Zac Efron as the warring Ego and Id, tries anything for a gross-out laugh — but feels oh-so-familiar

At Braxton College’s Delta Psi Beta fraternity, the members love their members. Pete (Dave Franco) can build an impressive erection just by concentrating for a few seconds; he says his gift is “a blessing yet a curse.” Another brother, skinny Scoonie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), is defined only by his legendarily large penis. Led by their satyric president Teddy (Zac Efron), the guys raise needed funds for Delta Psi by selling plaster casts of their not-at-all-private parts to the women on campus. And when Teddy gets into a fight with his older neighbor Mac Radnor (Seth Rogen), he forces a brightly colored dildo into his adversary’s mouth.

The frat boys’ penis fixation, in the enervating comedy Neighbors, could be an expression of their homoerotic bonding to the virtual exclusion of women — their mantra is “bros before hoes” — or a clue to an infantilism these boys never outgrew. Teddy is barely more mature than Mac’s several-months-old daughter Stella, who sits on the front lawn about to taste a used condom tossed there by one of the Delta Psis. When Mac and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) frantically whisk their child to the hospital for tests, a doctor tells them, “Your baby has HIV.” Like the rest of the movie, he’s just kidding.

At this point, a weary viewer may mutter, “Oh, outrage — how I miss you!” These days, indignation is mostly political, stoked by the easily infuriated pundits of Fox News. And the only thing forbidden in most current movies is subtlety. That’s what happens when the outlaws become the in-laws.

(READ: Remembering the brunette bombshell Jane Russell)

Not that we miss the old days: the battle for freedom of the screen was long, difficult and well worth waging. But winning takes its own revenge on social norms. What was sensational was soon codified, as transgression devolved into genre and audiences built up immunity for shock tactics in horror movies and in R-rated comedies of the Judd Apatow stripe. The problem is this: A movie can’t have the purgative power to upset and astound, by terror or laughter, if viewers don’t take offense. And few do. But they also can’t take much pleasure in variations on the same visual and verbal affronts they’ve consumed for decades. So instead of getting as mad as hell and picketing the theaters, they sink into their seats and sigh at the clichés that pass for the Shock of the New.

Directed by Nicholas Stoller (who helmed the Apatow-produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement and Get Him to the Greek), Neighbors bears some similarities to the 1981 film of the same name. There, meek homeowner John Belushi and his wife Kathryn Walker get terrified by the loud, pushy couple, played by Dan Aykroyd and Cathy Moriarty, who have just moved in next door. This time, Rogen is more or less the Belushi character from the old film and Efron the wild-man Belushi from Animal House. Anarchy impinges on propriety. Which will triumph? Whom will you root for? If either.

(READ: Does Nichols Stoller’s Get Him to the Greek have too many suppository jokes?)

The new Neighbors seems to set up a war of the generations: parents Mac and Kelly vs. Teddy and the frat boys in the adjacent home. That doesn’t really take, since Rogen was born in 1982, just five years before Efron — but it really doesn’t matter either, since Mac, suddenly saddled with a father’s responsibilities, is bummed out that “All the things I used to do, I can’t do anymore.” Annoyed and then angered by the frat’s pranks and all-night parties, he is also avid for a second chance at reckless youth. The inner Mac wants to follow the advice stitched on his couch pillow: “Carpe That F-cking Diem,” except that the pillow actually has an u where I put a puritanical dash.

Screenwriters Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien (who worked in minor capacities on Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin) are fascinated by things that can expand to the bursting point — air bags, a mother’s breasts — but show no interest in plot plausibility. The script does the briefest handsprings to show why Mac and Kelly can’t rely on the campus cops or the other neighbors, but it utterly ignores baby Stella’s welfare. With her parents spending so much time over at Delta Psi, the child must be her own sitter. Her only function is to be prop comedy, as in the condom gag.

(READ: Rethinking Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up)

Running just 96 min., Neighbors seems longer because it employs the improv techniques of old John Cassavetes dramas. Certain lines are repeated four or five times to give the feeling of spontaneity, but thanks, we got it the first time. It’s as if any joke made on the set was incorporated into the movie, like the remark about the nerdy pledge, nicknamed Assjuice (Craig Roberts), that “He looks like J.J. Abrams.” The drug humor piles up — the combination to one wall safe is 420 — as the narrative escalates into a home-invasion thriller gone berserk: fat Mac tangling with six-pack Teddy.

The movie’s only special effect, its sole sexual allure, is Efron’s inverted-trapezoidal torso, which Rogen describes as “basically a giant arrow pointing to your dick.” Efron honed that perfect body at the Disney gym in his High School Musical years and probably in the workout room at the drug and alcohol rehab center he entered last year. (The star says he’s now sober, so his turn as the hard-partying Teddy must be actual Acting.) He certainly provides a stark contrast to Rogen, who is no less eager to display his pudginess shirtless and pantsless.

(READ: Does Zac Efron wish he were 17 Again?)

Among the usually clothed performers, Byrne plays a nice balance of threatened and enticed. Franco — James’s younger brother — brings occasional clarity to the rambunctious but studious Pete, and Lisa Kudrow has a couple of sharp scenes as the Braxton dean. (Andy Samberg and his Lonely Planet pals show up in a flashback cameo.)

Toward the end, the film makes the salutary point that Teddy’s priapic prime at Delta Psi was not a preparation for his postcampus life but pretty much his entire career, and that for this fraternity’s hardest partier there may be not much life after college. That leaves the previous hour and a half to assault you with Teddy’s idea of fun. Mac and Kelly can’t leave their home because the existence of Delta Psi has demolished property values, but moviegoers do have an option. When Neighbors moves in, audiences can opt out.

TIME movies

Here’s the New Poster for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar

Interstellar

"Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die here."

A new poster teasing Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated Insterstellar was released Tuesday.

Although plot details are still sparse, the poster does reveal a tagline: “Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die here.”

The film — the director’s first film since The Dark Knight Rises — is set to premiere Nov. 7. It boasts an all-star cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, John Lithgow and Casey Affleck, to name but a few.

Fans who want more information will have to wait until May 16, when a new trailer will be released in front of the upcoming Godzilla film.

Until then, you’ll just have to keep re-watching the ambiguous original trailer:

TIME

Hayden Panettiere Postpones Wedding Over Ukraine Crisis

Actress Hayden Panettiere says the ongoing strife in her fiancé Wladimir Klitschko's home country has led the duo to put their impending nuptials on hold

+ READ ARTICLE

Hayden Panettiere has postponed her wedding to the Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko, due to the current fighting across the country. Wladimir’s brother Vitali Klitschko, also a former boxer, is one of the new government leaders dealing with the current conflict.

“Everything that’s happening in Ukraine definitely put a hold on things. But we have time,” Hayden explained, when speaking to Parade magazine.

Back in October 2013, the Nashville actress announced her engagement to the professional boxer. As the conflict in Ukraine began to boil, the couple even visited the country to speak with protestors.

“Keep fighting. I love you all,” Hayden said to the group.

Currently, the actress has not stated when the wedding will be rescheduled.

MORE: Top 10 Celebrity Protestors

MORE: 10 Questions for Wladimir Klitschko

MORE: Ukraine’s Opposition Leader Klitschko Drops Presidential Bid

TIME Television

Spike Lee and She’s Gotta Have It Make TV Moves

She's Gotta Have It
John D. Kisch / Separate Cinema / Getty Images

Showtime is developing a half-hour series based on the 1985 film

Last night, Deadline broke the news that Spike Lee and Showtime are working to develop the filmmaker’s debut She’s Gotta Have It into a half-hour series that would be written and directed by Lee. The project, as described by Deadline, would be a “contemporary look” at the characters introduced in the film — a young woman in Brooklyn and the three men with whom she’s involved — that would explore issues of “race, gender, sexuality, relationships, and the gentrification in Brooklyn.”

Should the series make it to TV, it will join a wave of movie-to-television projects that have surfaced in recent seasons. Though the concept of basing a TV show on a preexisting movie is nothing new — take M*A*S*H, for example — this spring’s Fargo series on FX is an obvious point of comparison. It has respected auteurs who are involved in the TV version (the Coens are executive producers on Fargo), a respected movie inspiration and a substantial gap of years between projects (unlike, for example, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D). That bodes well for She’s Gotta Have It: the Fargo project has been well-received by critics, and its relationship to its source material could provide a working model for Lee and Showtime. Without remaking or rehashing a movie that many fans hold sacrosanct, it uses references, concepts and settings that have already proved their worth on the big screen.

Off the screen, She’s Gotta Have It has something even Fargo doesn’t. Though the Coens haven’t made a habit of getting involved in Midwestern politics in the years since they set a movie in the region, Lee is inextricably linked to his Brooklyn setting, and we already know that he’s got lots of ideas about the gentrification of the New York City borough that he plans to explore on the series. Earlier this year, he made waves with two separate anti-gentrification “rants,” once at a Pratt Institute lecture about how an influx of white New Yorkers have been “bogarting” his old neighborhoods and later in an open letter responding to criticism of his initial statements.

But Lee and Showtime better move fast if they want to stay “contemporary”: we’re already hearing that Queens is the gentrification spot of the moment.

TIME celebrity

Jay Z Pretending to Propose to Beyoncé Proves They’re the World’s Cutest Couple

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala
Jay Z and Beyoncé attend the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy / FilmMagic / Getty Images

The sweetest moment at this year's Met Gala

While Beyoncé was making her way down the red carpet at the annual Met Gala Monday night, one of her rings fell off her finger. Luckily, her devoted husband Jay Z located it and knelt down to retrieve it. Then he slipped the ring onto Bey’s finger in a mock proposal, much to the delight of the many photographers hovering nearby.

Everyone loved this gesture, because it was Jay Z literally putting a ring on it! And also because it was adorable and proved once again that Jay and Bey are the most perfect, gorgeous, wonderful couple. And if you disagree, you might want to keep it to yourself, or else the Beygency will come after you.

TIME celebrities

VIDEO: The Met Gala Red Carpet in 1 Minute

Kim whispering in Kanye's ear, Lena Dunham's quirky pose, and other red carpet moments

+ READ ARTICLE

Arguably fashion’s biggest night, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Gala brought together some of the biggest stars, decked out from head to toe.

From People’s “Most Beautiful” Lupita Nyong’o, to TIME 100 honoree Beyoncé, take a look at how the celebrities meandered down the red carpet.

See TIME’s gallery from the red carpet here.

TIME Culture

Why We Cheer for Mindy Kaling Despite Not Loving Her Show

THE MINDY PROJECT: Mindy (Mindy Kaling, R) endures a crowded train ride in the "An Officer and a Gynecologist" episode of THE MINDY PROJECT airing Tuesday, April 22 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Beth Dubber/FOX
Mindy Kaling in The Mindy Project Beth Dubber/FOX

Even as The Mindy Project stumbles, I keep watching

Tonight I will dutifully watch the season finale of The Mindy Project, Mindy Kaling’s Fox sitcom about a romantic comedy-obsessed Ob-Gyn in New York City. I say dutifully because I don’t particularly enjoy watching the show. But I keep tuning in because I want Mindy Kaling to succeed so badly. Why is that? Kaling is more than your average actress — she’s also a role model, a talented comedy writer and one of the few women on TV with her own show.

So what makes me so torn about the The Mindy Project? The show itself is a bit of a mess. The cast is constantly in flux, and as a result it’s hard to care about any characters other than the two leads, Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Danny Castellano (Chris Messina). As with many rom-com couples, Mindy and Danny are ostensibly supposed to end up together, but can’t until the end of the series. It’s not an inherently problematic setup: Shows I love like Friends and New Girl rely on tension-filled ‘will they or won’t they’ story lines to move the plot forward. But on The Mindy Project there’s no Chandler-pranks-Joey side plot or Schmidt-Cece secondary romance. So as we wait for Danny to come to his senses, all that is left to watch is Mindy dating every man on the island of Manhattan.

The show’s structure means she has a new boyfriend in almost every episode, which quickly becomes exhausting. Sometimes it feels more like Kaling is showing off her rolodex of comedian friends than adding anything to the plot. Boyfriend guest spots have included Mark Duplass from The League; B.J. Novak from The Office; Glenn Howerton from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; Ben Feldman from Mad Men; Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live; Seth Meyers from Late Night with Seth Meyers; Ed Helms from The Office; Timothy Olyphant from Justified; Anders Holm from Workaholics; Max Greenfield from New Girl; and Seth Rogen from, you know, all the comedy movies…to name a few. And let’s not forget non-boyfriend guest stars like James Franco.

There’s definitely something refreshing about the way her romantic relationships shape the show, but it feels like she’s covered a lot of ground in only two seasons. She even managed to find time to be engaged. It was a huge relief when she found time to ban dating from her life this season…for one whole episode.

THE MINDY PROJECT: Mindy (Mindy Kaling, L) and Danny (Chris Messina, R) share a moment in Part Two of the one-hour "French Me, You Idiot/Indian BBW" Spring Premiere episode of THE MINDY PROJECT airing at a special time Tuesday, April 1 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr:
Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina on The Mindy Project. Jordin Althaus/FOX

And then there’s the way the show deals with Kaling’s curves. As the showrunner, Kaling walks a fine line between being honest about her body and being too-self deprecating. Off camera, Kaling has spoken again and again and again about her body, always with poise. But every episode of Mindy Project tends to include a joke about Kaling eating a donut off the ground or not being able to work out or even a chair breaking under her — these are fat jokes, not curvy jokes, and there’s an awful lot of them. That’s especially disappointing considering she struck the right balance in her book:

I fall into that nebulous, quote-unquote, normal American woman size that legions of fashion stylists detest. For the record, I’m a size 8 – this week, anyway. Many stylists hate that size because I think to them, it shows that I lack the discipline to be an ascetic; or the confident, sassy abandon to be a total fatty hedonist.

And yet I watch every week. Why? Mindy Kaling is incredibly likable. She joined The Office writing staff when she was just 24 — the only woman in the writers’ room. She also took an onscreen role as Kelly Kapoor and even mined her personal life for comedy: She and B.J. Novak’s character dated on-again, off-again both on The Office and in real life. Kaling went on to publish a hilarious book called Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) in the vein of Tina Fey’s comedic memoir Bossypants. It was hilarious and full of truisms, just like her popular Twitter feed and her show.

Her vision for the show is unique: She’s taken her vapid Kapoor character from The Office (someone obsessed with celebrity gossip and fashion) and made her an accomplished doctor, proving that women don’t have to be one type or another. And even though most empowered female characters on TV compromise their work for love at some point, Mindy has yet to make that mistake.

And, let’s face it, she doesn’t look like your typical Hollywood success story. She’s the first woman of color to run and star in her own show, and she isn’t that size-0 star we typically see on TV. While the parade of guest stars can be annoying, their endorsements suggest that people in Hollywood really want Mindy to succeed too. Even Fox chairman Kevin Reilly seems to be having our same struggles in wanting desperately for the show to succeed while recognizing all its flaws. As he told Grantland’s Andy Greenwald on the TV critic’s podcast:

“On some level there are other shows that I have not stuck with that are higher rated, and I’m sure those producers are like, ‘What does she have on him?’ I’ve believed in her voice…I think we got off to a really shaky start in the first season. The first batch of episodes was a little all over the place…I think it turned into a fantastic television show, a particular audience loves it…It’s the kind of show I want to stick behind.”

So I will continue to lend my Hulu click to The Mindy Project and pray that she sorts out the show.

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