Screen Junkies » gugu mbatha-raw http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Sat, 13 Dec 2014 01:22:56 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 Gugu Mbatha-Raw http://www.screenjunkies.com/gallery/gugu-mbatha-raw/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/gallery/gugu-mbatha-raw/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2011 17:51:36 +0000 Screen Junkies http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=gallery&p=218762 British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw appears in 'Larry Crowne.'

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British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw appears in Larry Crowne. She recently had a starring role in the short-lived television series “Undercovers.” Next year, she’ll play a role in the film Odd Thomas.

A word from Gugu: On the similarities between theatre and film acting: “Both require stamina and the acting part is always the acting part. So it’s really just how it’s pieced together that’s different.”

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Review: Larry Crowne http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-larry-crowne/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-larry-crowne/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2011 06:58:33 +0000 Fred Topel http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=218583 It's like a highbrow 'Billy Madison'.

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I was all set to hate Larry Crowne. I thought it was trying to be a highbrow Billy Madison only it wouldn’t really have the balls to be that. It would have to be important and poignant, right? No, it actually is a highbrow Billy Madison! This is Hanks’ return to wacky comedies like Turner & Hooch!

Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) gets fired from U-Mart. He can’t get a good job since he skipped college to join the Navy, so he goes back to community college. Mercy Tainot (Julia Roberts) teaches his secondary level speech course so he learns to come out of his shell, along with the help of all his wacky classmates.

New 'Larry Crowne' Trailer Is Like A More Serious 'Back To School'

I’ll admit, the first impression is not good. It already looks bad on paper and even the first act just makes you defensive, like this movie’s going to annoy you with quirk. Damned if the quirk wasn’t genuine though. I know a lot of my colleagues hated it. Maybe they went to the bathroom during the part where it wins you over so they sat through the rest thinking it was still annoying.

Every oral report Tainot assigns is basically a sketch comedy montage. The characters do the rest. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is so adorable you forgive her having to play Talia as one dimensionally sassy. Talia’s so perky she names Larry Lance and gives him a new wardrobe. Talia’s biker boyfriend Dell Gordo (Wilmer Valderrama) snaps his fingers like West Side Story. Steve Dibiasi (Rami Malek) thinks clairvoyant is someone’s name. Dave Mack (Malcolm Barrett) always gives the funniest reports. His Star Trek fandom manages to be funny even though we’ve seen that joke before. It’s the context and sincerity.

Roberts gives her best performance in a decade. She embraces the bitter, burnt out professor, putting real character into Mercy’s dirty looks. Bryan Cranston infuses so much character into her husband Dean, three scenes are all he needs. Hanks plays it really goofy, slow talking and bumbling on his scooter.

I’ve been waiting for a movie to go loose with its plot and just focus on the experience. We all know the same old structure. Larry’s going to get together with Mercy, you don’t need to construct an Inception plot to convince us that it works out. Larry Crowne focuses on the individual moments. I know, Tree of Life did that too, but that was about an abusive father and this is about a middle-aged dude going back to college.

I think Larry Crowne captures the nostalgia Super 8 failed to. Larry’s nostalgia isn’t for early childhood, it’s for the college phase of starting one’s adult life. So Larry can’t repeat elementary school but they can cram all those random whimsical encounters into a young adult setting.

 

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Review: ‘Undercovers’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/review-undercovers/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/review-undercovers/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 “Undercovers” is all you could ask for in a TV show. It’s fun and exciting and funny and sexy. You’ll want to tune in for the spy action anyway, but...

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“Undercovers” is all you could ask for in a TV show. It’s fun and exciting and funny and sexy. You’ll want to tune in for the spy action anyway, but the characters are engaging and the basic premise can inspire endless seasons worth of episodes.

Steven (Boris Kodjoe) and Samantha Bloom (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) are the ones you go to when you need to get the job done. They already run a restaurant, which is a big job if you watch Gordon Ramsay. If Carlton Shaw (Gerald McRaney being all Major without the Dad) has to pull them out of retirement, then you know the situation is serious.

Steven and Samantha have good banter. Whether they’re talking about the kitchen, their marriage or the enemy, they have a rhythm where there’s a double punchline. They have inside jokes they let the audience in on and they do love each other. That ideal will be threatened but it’s nice to see a good relationship on television. There’s a lot of fast talking so they pack a lot of wit into the dialogue.

Shaw gets into it too. A grizzled Shaw in his boxers fields calls from Steven, while Samantha solves a crisis with her kitchen staff. It’s just a little bit cleverer than the usual formulaic double talk. The comparison would be Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which it obviously is in broad strokes, but the positive view of a relationship, and the cooperation of the two leads makes it more sustainable long term.

Once they go on the mission, the Blooms execute the full range of spy capers. The break in, they set up decoys, they use technology. The action is crazy, the way I like it. There’s a bazooka involved. A rooftop fight has an intense choreography of moves. Steven and Samantha cooperate in some of the action so they use the timing and compatibility of relationships in that context too. The opening sequence on the side of a hotel would be epic in a movie, only movies aren’t that nuanced anymore so we turn to TV. It’s “Alias” with NBC money.

Since it’s a J.J. Abrams show, of course Samantha is the nex kick-ass heroine. Boy, does she look sexy in an evening gown or lingerie. Steven has some beefcake shots for the ladies too, but the point is, it’s one of those shows. It’s tantalizing, but when the Blooms connect with each other, it’s sweet. You believe them in this ridiculous spy story. The music helps too.

The scene transitions through postcards that begin the scene. It’s an excellent way to make the show feel international, even though they’re faking it. They fake the exotic locations really well. If you were an “Alias” fan, you know they could make the Disney lot look like Egypt, so rest assured downtown L.A. = Madrid.
 
“Undercovers” can go anywhere. They could tell epic stories but I understand the plan is to keep it “mission of the week” and that’s fine too. We’ll like the characters on any mission, so there’s no need to make it more complicated. I’ll still watch every week regardless.

"Undercovers" premieres tonight at 8/7c on NBC.

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NBC Picks Up J.J. Abrams’ ‘Undercovers’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/nbc-picks-up-j-j-abrams-undercovers/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/tv-news/nbc-picks-up-j-j-abrams-undercovers/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 NBC is taking a chance on a J.J. Abrams project. I know, right? Buncha stupid-heads over there, and no I won't watch my language. The Peacock has greenlighted "Undercovers," a spy drama from the mind behind the plastic, black eyeglass frames of Abrams himself."Undercovers" stars Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Steven and Samantha Bloom, a married couple who run a Los Angeles catering company. Five years earlier, though, they were a pair of the CIA's best spies. Now, when their old espionage buddy goes missing, they're reactivated by their boss Carlton Shaw (Gerald McRaney) and thrown back into the field. Not surprisingly, they discover they missed The Life.Sounds like my experience as a blogger. The catering racket just couldn't appease this wild child. Abrams wrote the "Undercovers" pilot with Josh Reims and also directed it, making this the first pilot he's gotten behind the camera for since "LOST." You took a gamble on this one, NBC, but hopefully it'll pay off. Abrams seems to have a decent enough reputation around town. Now thank whatever god you sacrifice to for granting your flailing company such a wonderous bounty. (EW)

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NBC is taking a chance on a J.J. Abrams project. I know, right? Buncha stupid-heads over there, and no I won’t watch my language. The Peacock has greenlighted "Undercovers," a spy drama from the mind behind the plastic, black eyeglass frames of Abrams himself.

"Undercovers" stars Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Steven and Samantha Bloom, a married couple who run a Los Angeles catering company. Five years earlier, though, they were a pair of the CIA’s best spies. Now, when their old espionage buddy goes missing, they’re reactivated by their boss Carlton Shaw (Gerald McRaney) and thrown back into the field. Not surprisingly, they discover they missed The Life.

Sounds like my experience as a blogger. The catering racket just couldn’t appease this wild child. Abrams wrote the "Undercovers" pilot with Josh Reims and also directed it, making this the first pilot he’s gotten behind the camera for since "LOST." You took a gamble on this one, NBC, but hopefully it’ll pay off. Abrams seems to have a decent enough reputation around town. Now thank whatever god you sacrifice to for granting your flailing company such a wonderous bounty. (EW)

 

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