Aside from being an action star and wrestling icon, John Cena is now part of the animated universe. as he lent his voice to titular character in Ferdinand. From the creators of Ice Age and Rio, Ferdinand heads to Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and DVD on March 13.
The story centers on Ferdinand (Cena), a giant yet kind bull who is torn from his home after being mistaken for a dangerous beast. Banding together with a group of misfit friends, Ferdinand goes on a quest to clear his name and return to his family. The flick, which also features the voices of Anthony Anderson, Jeremy Sisto, and Kate McKinnon, had a worldwide gross of over $238 million.
Each version contains the “Home” music video, a photo gallery and a plethora of featurettes (including “Ferdinand’s Guide to Healthy Living” with John Cena, “A Goat’s Guide to Life,” “Ferdinand’s Team Supreme,” “Spain Through Ferdinand’s Eyes,” and “Confessions of a Bull-loving Horse”).
ABC’s comedy Black-ish was very much inspired by the real-life situation of its star, Anthony Anderson. He grew up in Compton, California — yes, the “Straight Outta” hood — but his success as an entertainer has allowed him and his wife to raise their kids in much more lucrative surroundings. So, when the Black-ish kids face issues of cultural identity, they’re often mirroring the cross-cultural experiences Anderson’s kids have faced as they’ve grown up. As an example, Anderson told us the story of how his son, questioning his racial roots, wanted to celebrate his 13th birthday in an unlikely way. (Click on the media bar to hear Anthony Anderson)
ABC’s comedy Black-ish has been a critical success, with two Emmy nominations so far for Outstanding Comedy Series. The show’s star and executive producer, Anthony Anderson, has received three Emmy nominations, and his on-screen wife, Tracee Ellis Ross, has gotten a pair as well. Anderson’s happy that that show has been getting raves from critics and voters, but he’s even more pleased about the reception the show’s been getting from audiences worldwide, because he always felt the show would strike a chord with viewers. (Click on the media bar below to hear Anthony Anderson)
In another era, John Hawkes (The Sessions, Four Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri) would be a leading man who’d line them up at the local movie theater. But this isn’t the age of James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, or even Gene Hackman, and if one doesn’t have “movie star” looks that person plies his trade as a character actor .
But Hawkes is one example of how character actors often have more presence than the actual star of the project, and it’s great to see him front and center in Small Town Crime. Directed by brothers Ian and Eshom Nelms, the feature focuses on an ex-cop named Mike Kendall (Hawkes) who has turned his life into a living hell thanks to his alcoholism. Drinking like a fish on a daily basis, Mike often wakes up with no idea of his location, and his decision to go behind the wheel while drunk should irritate many a viewer.
Mike may have affection for his adopted sister (Octavia Spencer) and her husband (Anthony Anderson), who’s also his drinking buddy, but they can’t stop his downward spiral. Upon the discovery of a dying woman who’s abandoned on a deserted road, Mike immediately rushes her to the hospital but to no avail. Determined to find her killer in hopes of actually rejoining the force, Mike gradually becomes reengaged with life, proving that when halfway sober he’s actually a great detective. Daniel Sunjata and Michael Vartan play cops who don’t want Mike anywhere near the investigation, with Robert Forster and Clifton Collins Jr. helping Mike out as the victim’s father and an all too confrontational pimp. Caity Lotz (Legends of Tomorrow) also stars a prostitute who may be hiding a thing or two from Kendall.
Fans of such neo-noirs like Blood Simple, where the hard boiled crime is slightly tempered by comedic undertones, should gravitate towards Small Town Crime. Running a lean and mean 91 minutes, the effective thriller is powered by a charismatic and memorable performance by Hawkes. Credit goes to the directors for filling out their narrative with a talented ensemble, but unfortunately their ultimate purpose is to service the narrative’s top dog. That’s a minor quibble, as it’s great to see Hawkes anchor his own film for once, and the Nelms brothers prove they have no trouble delivering an engaging narrative.
Small Town Crime may not reach the big stakes level of some of its cinematic influences, but that’s just fine. If you didn’t already know Hawkes is a star, then Small Town Crime should lead you in the right direction.
The film hits select theaters and On Demand January 19.
The Emmy nominated comedy series Black-ish is one of the best comedies on television. The great ensemble cast, led by Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, put in great work every week.
Part of what makes the show so great are the universal and often humorous storylines that originate from the writers’ room. Anthony Anderson, who also produces Black-ish, told us he is very proud of that show has resonated with viewers. The actor, whose movie credits include The Departed and Scream 4, also says the feedback he is getting from show is what drives him to work hard every day and make great television. (Click on the media bar below to hear Anthony Anderson)
Black-ish returns for its third season Wednesday 9:30/8:30c on ABC.