Richard Roeper Blog

Archive for February, 2009

Katie Stam is Miss America, but Freida Pinto is Miss Universe

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

If you had 7-7 for a halftime score in your pool, BOY did you get lucky

Monday, February 2nd, 2009


According to a few headlines I’ve seen, Super Bowl ratings were “down” this year.

Technically, that’s true. The numbers for Super Bowl XXIII were slightly below the rating for last year’s Super Bowl, when the Giants shocked the undefeated Patriots. But last night’s Super Bowl was the THIRD HIGHEST RATED SHOW IN TELEVISION HISTORY, behind only Super Bowl XXII and the final episode of “M*A*S*H.” An average of about 95 million viewers saw the game; NBC estimates that 147 total viewers watched at least some of the game. In the New Age of communications, that’s astonishing.

As a television production, the Super Bowl was first-rate. Bob Costas is a Hall of Fame host, and Al Michaels and John Madden are still the best one-two booth combo in all of sports. The camerawork was stellar, with the replays confirming most calls and spotlighting a few glaring errors. (As Madden correctly pointed out, the Steelers’ James Harrison should have been tossed from the game for his fourth quarter cheap shot.)

The show business element was typically mainstream. Faith Hill and Jennifer Hudson did fine with their (pre-recorded) performances, while Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band electrified the stadium with a hammy but infectiously goodnatured 12-minute mini-concert. I don’t know if customizing the lyrics to “Glory Days” really helps the song, but you can’t say the Boss phoned it in.

Some are saying this was the greatest Super Bowl of all time. The play on both sides was much too sloppy for Super Bowl XLIII to earn that designation, but this was indisputably one of the most exciting Super Bowls of all time, on a par with last year’s monumental upset. But as a 60-minute contest, it wasn’t nearly as well-played as the Patriots’ 32-29 victory over the Panthers in 2004, the 49ers beating the Bengals 20-16 in Super Bowl XXIII or the Rams’ 23-16 victory over the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, in a game featuring teams with a combined record of 31-6.

As usual, there was nearly as much hype about the ads as there was about the game. And as usual, most of the ads tried far too hard and fell short. Wacky animals, shots to the crotch, Clydesdales, busty gals in juvenile ads for—-we’ve seen this movie before. Conan O’Brien did a funny takeoff on Euro-commercials and a few of the Coke commercials were creative and fresh, but there wasn’t a single ad that will endure as any kind of an advertising classic.

By the way, if you followed my advice for the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, you would have won ALL of your bets. Not that you’d be able to bet if you weren’t in Vegas, right?

If you had one of those “square pools” with your buddies or at work, there was probably a lot of talk today about the halftime score. With just seconds to go and the Steelers up 10-7, the Cardinals were knocking on the door. If you had 0-0 or Steelers 0, Cardinals 4 in your pool, you were looking strong. Either the Cardinals would score a TD to make it 14-10 at the half or they’d kick a field goal, resulting in a 10-10 tie…until Harrison stepped up and made that interception and runback, prompting thousands of squares-playing fans to scream “NOOOOOOOOOO!” while others said, “Wait a minute, do I have 7-7, HOLY SHIT I HAVE 7-7, go go go go go go go!”

Talk about a game-changing play, on so many levels.

“Slap Shot”

Monday, February 2nd, 2009


I just gave a phone interview to an author who is doing a book on George Roy Hill’s “Slap Shot” (1977), one of the most enduring sports-comedies of all time. The writer, Jonathan Jackson, has talked to virtually every surviving key player involved with the film. Could make for a hell of a book.

“Old time hockey! Eddie Shore!” Some of three decades after the release of this consistently crude and in some ways hopelessly outdated film (dig those fashion choices and that music), “Slap Shot” continues to sell well on DVD and has become a perennial favorite of jocks and sports movie fans. I know some moviegoers who weren’t even born when the movie was released, but they love the Hanson brothers like they love other classic comedic characters from the 1970s and 1980s, e.g., Carl Spackler from “Caddyshack,” Bluto from “Animal House” and Thornton Melon from “Back to School.” (And how scary is it that I didn’t have to look up the names of any of those characters?)

“Youngblood” and the “Mighty Ducks” films notwithstanding, “Slap Shot” is perhaps the greatest hockey movie of all time. It captures a long-gone era of minor league hockey when it was populated by bare-knuckled brawlers, broken-down lifers, has-beens—and the occasional rising star. Written by Nancy Dowd (who had more than her share of bare-knuckled battles with studios and directors in her career), “Slap Shot” stars Paul Newman in one of his best and most complex performances as Reggie Dunlop, the truth-bending roustabout/player/coach of the Charlestown Chiefs. When Dunlop learns the Chiefs will be folding at the end of the season, he unleashes the thuggish Hanson brothers on the league—-and the Chiefs go on an unexpected hot streak as Reggie perpetuates the myth a buyer in Florida is going to scoop up the team and move them out of their bleak, mill-town surroundings.

By the mid-1970s, Newman was going gray and was past the “Butch & Sundance” phase of his career. He was only five years away from his masterful performance as the aging, alcoholic attorney Frank Galvin in “The Verdict.” In “Slap Shot,” Newman’s still easily capable of racking up the conquests, but he’s no longer the young stud in the bar. He goes for women of a certain age. He pines for his estranged wife even as he beds others, including the bisexual wife of a rival player. (Information he’s not above using in the heat of battle.) Reggie Dunlop is a vulgar, hard-drinking, manipulative S.O.B., but Newman had earned such goodwill with audiences that he was able to make Reggie empathetic. If Burt Reynolds had played Dunlop, he would have done so with a wink to the camera, as if to say, “Come on. We all know I’m a good guy.” Newman engages in some priceless double-takes and at one point almost seems to be looking at us in one scene—-but he never shies away from Reggie’s numerous failings.

Newman said Reggie Dunlop was one of his favorite characters. One can understand the appeal and the challenge of the role. With Dowd’s script and Hill’s straightforward, confident direction, Newman created one of most surprisingly appealing characters of his magnificent career. I hope they never remake “Slap Shot.” It would be like some young hockey player proclaiming himself the next Golden Jet.

More information on the Oscar viewing night party

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Watch the Oscars with Richard RoeperHub 51 throws Oscars bash


Updated 7:19 PM CST, Thu, Jan 29, 2009

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Richard Roeper

Who better to watch the Oscars with than the foremost authority on movies?


If you’re going to watch the Oscars next month, why not do it with one of the foremost authorities on movies?

OK, we can’t guarantee you any one-on-one time with Richard Roeper, but the renowned movie critic will be hosting Hub 51’s Oscars party on Feb. 22.

Several projection screens will be set up throughout the restaurant and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served. We’re hoping those will be free, because tickets are $125 each. Raffle prizes will also be given away and valet parking is free.

Organizers say the suggested attire is “Chicago/La Fashionista cool,” which we’re guessing is boots, parkas and gloves this time of year.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Columbia College Film School Scholarship Fund.

Click here for ticket information.

Slumdog takes DGA

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

“Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle was the winner at the Directors Guild Awards on Saturday night in Los Angeles, adding further fuel to the momentum for the film heading into the Oscar stretch run. At this point, it will be considered a huge upset if “Slumdog” doesn’t win Best Picture—although some are saying Boyle might not win Best Director. One scenario has David Fincher winning Best Director for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

But how can you be the best director but not the director of the best picture?

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