REVIEWS: ‘AbFab,’ ‘Star Trek Beyond’

Joanna Lumley as "Patsy" and Jennifer Saunders as "Edina" in the film ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE. Photo by David Appleby. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights ReservedEarlier this summer, I heard some movie pundits sniff that when Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie came out, it would be a flop, because it wouldn’t have a laugh-track like the series does. Well, guess what geniuses? It does have a laugh-track: We call it an audience. The chuckles came fast and furious during this 90-minute, surprisingly gorgeous and whiz-bang confection, which relies on comedy largely provided by two ladies — one age 58 (Jennifer Saunders, who also wrote the screenplay) and another (Joanna Lumley) age 70. 70! And still with the comic timing of Amy Schumer.

Now, it probably doesn’t hurt to be familiar with Edina (Saunders), a public relations professional, and Pats (Lumley), the fashion editor at a high-end magazine, and how they have boozed their way through 35 years of friendship. They’re both terrible parents, terrible role models, alcoholic narcissists … and endlessly entertaining. All they lightness of their lives, however, come crashing down when Eddy’s clients dry up, her ex-husband stops her alimony and she, well, possibly murders Kate Moss.

The plot, though, is hardly the point. It’s the physical humor and absurdist digs at pop culture (Jerry Hall, talking for hours about Chanel on the red carpet; Jon Hamm, regretting losing his virginity to Pats 30 years ago, yet still unable to resist her; Pats again, dressing up as a man … and looking remarkably like Pierce Brosnan in the process) that fuels the fun. Even those unexposed to AbFab (especially gay audiences, for whom the tone seems perfectly tailored) should enjoy this breezy summer delight. Drink up, darlings! (Read our interview with Saunders and Lumley in this week’s Dallas Voice.)

Left to right: Karl Urban plays Bones and Zachary Quinto plays Spock in Star Trek Beyond from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm EntertainmentFrom one absurdity to another, and once again written by a cast member. Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, scribbled out the screenplay for Star Trek Beyond, the third in the rebooted movie franchise, based on the cult series (which turns 50 this year). There are jokes here, too, but not enough to really distract us from the sloppiness of the production, a visually muddy and convoluted mess that does a disservice to the series.

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the reboot anyway. The first one, called just Star Trek, restarted all the characters on a brand-new timeline (never one of my favorite gimmicks), which meant they could reinvent the characters any way they wanted (Spock dates Uhura!), but still get the benefit of Leonard Nimoy cameos. The second film, Into Darkness, merely was another timeline trick, basically remaking Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which was itself based on the TV series. Beyond also treads old ground … this time, sort of mirroring the plot of the Next Generation film, Insurrection (which, like Khan, depends on a madman who spends decades seeking revenge while bathing in the fountain of youth). The original series managed 76 episodes without really repeating itself; can’t the movies get through three?

Justin Lin is the director this time out, and exposition isn’t one of his strong suits. He overloads the screen with so many crazy camera angles, accented by ear-splitting sound effects that drown out much of the dialogue and an underlit set that makes the film seem murky and confusing, that you can’t really follow what’s going on. Something about an ancient relic. Something about an amazing weapon. Hard to follow. But ask me to summarize the plots and motivations of any of the original six films, and I can cite you chapter and verse.

And yet… I won’t say “Don’t see this.” The characters have become iconic over the decades, and there’s something to be said for discovering things still. (Sulu, we find out, is gay and has a daughter.) Chris Pine’s Capt. Kirk seems more diplomatic than hot-headed Shatner, and Zachary Quinto’s Spock is always fun to explore. Trekkies — and trust me, I am one — will think of it like returning to visit old friends. But that’s something that happens at reunions: A dozen times in, and you realize you’re all telling each other the same old stories. It gets boring.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Who said that? Our 20 favorite celebrity quotes of 2015

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Ricky Martin

Jane Fonda was so moved by a question she cried. Josh Groban recalled the moment he learned about his big bear following… and how he mistook them for a sports team. And Sarah Paulson opened up in a candid conversation about her sexuality. We interviewed a ton of celebrities in 2015. Here’s a look back at the most memorable words from some of Hollywood’s hottest gay-adored celebs:

“When I sent that tweet a few years ago just letting people know that I am gay it was the most amazing day of my life after the birth of my kids.” — Ricky Martin

“I’m so excited. What a big day. It’s a huge step toward equality. Everyone should be able to be who they are, love who they want and marry who they want. It’s 2015; for us to still have judgment about people being gay is ridiculous, so I can’t believe it’s taken this long. It’s definitely a big day in history, and I’m just so excited.” — Hilary Duff, on June 26, the day the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality

“I find the question so moving that it makes me cry. I had never thought of it before, and it makes me so moved.” — Jane Fonda, when asked why there’s always been a place for older women in the gay community

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Josh Groban

“I was at some kind of shop, and I was walking around with someone — it was probably my girlfriend. And this guy comes up to me and goes, ‘Hey, I just want you to know, the bears love you.’ I’m like, ‘Excuse me? What?’ And I didn’t know what that meant! I’m like, ‘Are you a baseball team?'” — Josh Groban

“All I can say is, I’ve done both, and I don’t let either experience define me. I don’t let having been with a man make me think I am heterosexual, or make me want to call myself that, because I know I have been attracted to women — and have lived with women. So, for me, I’m not looking to define myself, and I’m sorry if that is something that is seen as a rejection of or an unwillingness to embrace [my sexuality] in a public way, but it’s simply not. It’s simply what’s true for me, and that’s all I can speak to.” — Sarah Paulson

“It was the LGBTQ community that inspired me to be the kind of person I wanted to be. I wanted to be authentic and courageous, and for so long I wasn’t.” — Judith Light

“I think everybody does, no matter who they are. I do, yeah, of course. Absolutely. I think it’s healthy to gain a perspective on who you are deep down, question yourself and challenge yourself; it’s important to do that.” — Selena Gomez, on questioning her sexuality

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Matt Bomer

“For me, having kids and being married, it was important to maintain the integrity of those relationships and not teach my kids that this is a shameful secret and that my husband has to be waiting in the wings all the time.” — Matt Bomer, reflecting on coming out

“What a child needs when they’re growing up is support and love, mainly love. … And if they do happen to be gay, that’s going to be a harder hurdle to get over. What a parent needs to do more than anything is jump in there with love and support. You made ’em. They’re a gift from God. Love ’em as they are.” — Reba McEntire

“I just hope she finds love. It took me a while, man. And there was a lot of heartache throughout those years. You know, as long as she’s happy, I don’t care either way, and neither does my husband. And we have two other kids as well, and we don’t care either way for all of them.” — Kelly Clarkson, on how she’d feel if one of her kids were gay

“I do feel like I occupy — not in any self-aggrandizing way — a space where I have looked to my peers and looked around me and said, ‘Well, who else can I look to?’ And there isn’t anybody else. That to me is significant and personally gratifying as I consider my own journey to self-acceptance.” — Zachary Quinto, on the lack of LGBT action heroes

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Kelly Clarkson

“You always have to take their stories with a grain of salt. It’s like when there’s a traffic accident and you ask five witnesses and they tell you five different stories.” — filmmaker Roland Emmerich, on the Stonewall film controversy

“I would like to think I changed lives — I mean, I get lots of emails saying, “Seeing Torch Song changed my life, seeing this changed my life,’ and that’s wonderful. But I don’t need to worry about if I’m gonna be remembered. I ain’t gonna be here to know if I’m being remembered or forgotten!” — Harvey Fierstein

“When we got marriage equality and there was a celebration for that in New York City, it was an honor to be a part of that. I can’t explain it. There are some performances that you do and you’re like, ‘That was cool, that was fun.’ That one was different fun. It was so memorable and an incredible thing to be a part of.” — Carly Rae Jepsen

“[Doing The Danish Girl] was extremely educational for me. I went to ballet school for nine years, so I did have a lot of gay friends coming out during my years there. [I would use] my fake ID with my gay friends [to get] into gay club and I met [trans people], but before we started to film, I didn’t have any close friends in the trans community. Learning the vocabulary [was very important].” — Alicia Vikander

“I’m searching for something that can alarm me, that can astonish me, that can make me think of something in a different way and surprise me, and that sometimes is shock.” — John Waters

“I’ve had sex scenes with girls, and I feel very relaxed because I’m not worried about anything popping up — I’m just worried about her world and making sure she’s comfortable.” — Russell Tovey

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Lea DeLaria

“What I like to say is that being unique and original is what makes me happy, and I think that rubs off on them. My sons did nails just the other day, and the only reason was because their nails were so disgusting! Like, they were in the mud and I was like, ‘We have got to do your nails!’” — Gwen Stefani

“I think because she hasn’t been a member of our community, actively involved like Laverne has been her entire career and life, it’s gonna take time for her to get to that sarcastic funny queer community way of dealing with things. Although I have to say she started out with that fabulous joke about the nerve-wracking experience of trying to pick out a gown. Brilliant.” — Lea DeLaria, on Caitlyn Jenner’s controversial statements

“I would like to think that Madonna would most definitely approve of my career and name. We’re both over-the-top performers who constantly push the boundaries of dance music and performance. We’ve both probably reinvented ourselves numerous times in our careers as well.” — DJ Kidd Madonny, on the source of his stage name

 — Compiled by Chris Azzopardi

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—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay night in America: The Tony Awards

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Billy Porter in Kinky Boots

Sunday was the gayest night of the year — no, not the Ryan Seacrest-Tom Cruise-John Travolta pool party, but the Tony Awards. Doubt me? Here’s the proof:

• Out actor Neil Patrick Harris was the host (for the fourth time). He performed, as we have come to expect, several musical numbers, including one about stage actors moving to TV with fellow gay sitcom star Andrew Rannells (as well as Smash‘s Meg Hilty and Laura Benanti).

• The list of presenters and performers seemed to be culled from a mix of Grindr profiles and diva wish lists. It started with Zachary Quinto, and also included onstage appearances by Rannells, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, David Hyde Pierce, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver, Cyndi Lauper, Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters. (My favorite subtext event? That LuPone presented the second-to-last award for revival of a musical and her longtime rival Peters presented the last award, best musical).

• The winners were just as gay. The major nominees all have some gay content on cross-dressing, from the man-dressed-as-a-woman villain in Matilda to the big winners of the evening, the musical Kinky Boots (about drag queens, including wins for out actor Billy Porter, pictured, choreographer Jerry Mitchell and producer Hal Luftig, which won a leading six awards) and the play The Nance (about a gay burlesque performer, with three). Best play author Christopher Durang, winning his first Tony, thanked his partner of 25 years. Featured actor in a musical winner Gabriel Ebert thanked “Scott,” which sounds pretty gay to me, though who knows? And controversial AIDS Larry Kramer won the Isabella Stevenson Humanitarian Award. (More on the winners after the jump.)

• The musical performances and acceptance speeches? Queer, queer, queer. We got to see numbers from Kinky Boots, Bring It On! (which has a trans character), Cinderella (written by gay scribe Douglas Carter Beane with campy attitude), Pippin (with lots of hot men in tights), Matilda‘s Bertie Carvel and Jane Lynch as Miss Hannigan in Annie. The “in memoriam” tribute was set to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” which of course is the name of her gay outreach program. Even the straight folks thanks lots of gay folks: Featured actor in a play winner Courtney B. Vance gave a shout-out to his director, George C. Wolfe, and featured actress in a play repeat winner Judith Light and actor in play winner Tracy Letts both named their shows’ gay playwrights. (Nearly all of the play winners, in fact, were written by gay men. Go figure.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’

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In Star Trek Into Darkness, opening today, the crew might as well have rechristened the Enterprise the U.S.S. Kitchen Sink; certainly that’s what they filmmakers have thrown into this, the second film in the reboot of a series rebooted so much, it might have been designed in a cowboy footwear store.

One of the fun things about a reboot is that you get to experience old things as new. This incarnation of the series — which follows a “new” timeline of the original crew — makes ample references to iconic items from the original: There are references to Klingons, tribbles, Dr. Carol Marcus, Khan, photon torpedoes, “the needs of the many” and the Enterprise’s famous “five-year mission.”

It also, sometimes, makes the film unintentionally comic, as recycled lines (especially Dr. McCoy’s penchant for homespun aphorism) sound suddenly cliched. There’s also the problem that the ad campaign promises that “nothing can prepare us” for what happens, though of course, it’s easy to prepare: Just watch Star Trek II.

Another downside is that the screenwriters (here and in Star Trek) have seemed more interested in reinventing most of the characters for their own uses, and sacrificing what we have come to love about them. The most awkward fit of these is the relationship between Kirk (Chris Pine, pictured right — who is, sadly, shirtless only once) and Spock (Zachary Quinto, pictured left). The original actors, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, invented the ultimate bromance, two men who occasionally argued but were never disrespectful of the other. Here, they snipe like cats in a bag. And the plot changes focus so much, it’s difficult to tell the good guys from the villains.

Still, such quibbles aside, director J.J. Abrams has concocted a rip-roaring sci-fi action picture with great special effects (the 3-D is well used) and a touching, keenly played performance by Quinto. It’s hard when you’re supposed to be the only emotionless character on screen to show the heart of a picture, but Quinto does it. And, considering his all-out brawl with the bad guy (Benedict Cumberbatch) on the streets of San Francisco, it’s to his credit that the audience experiences it as a duel, not as a gay-bashing.

In wide release.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Mr. Spock is gay… sort of (Zachary Quinto comes out)

I pride myself on pretty good gaydar, so I was slightly surprised today when I heard Zachary Quinto — who played Syler on the cult TV show Heroes (which I didn’t like) and was cast as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek reboot last year — has officially come out as gay.

I know quite a few gay men who will be excited by this news.

Quinto’s next onscreen roll is the lead in Margin Call, a drama about the economic meltdown, due out Friday. Good timing.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones