Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Pledge Allegiance To The United States of Tara

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com:

The United States of Tara starts on Showtime a week tonight (on Sunday, January 18th at 10pm) and they are having FREE screenings in cinemas across the States on Tuesday, January 13th (with free drinks and snacks!) starting at 7pm which will show the first 2 episodes! (Details below or in the link).

The United States of Tara is the new show created by Diablo Cody (Juno), produced by Steven Spielberg and stars Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine, In Her Shoes, Muriel's Wedding) as Tara, a mother with multiple personalities who come out fully in real life, all while the family (including John Corbett (Sex and the City, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Tara's husband and Rosemarie DeWitt (Mad Men, Rachel Gets Married) as her sister) must cope with appearances by "T" (a slutty teen), "Alice" (a 50's housewife) and "Buck" (a white trash dude).

I've seen the first four episodes and while the pilot has too much exposition disguised within Diablo Cody-speak, give it some time and it'll start flowing nicely and won't seem like it's trying too hard to sound smart and cool.

Toni Collette, who is always a fantastic actor anyways, is given a fun role to completely transform herself in SEVERAL ways and it sort of screams Emmy Award (and I would be annoyed if Collette didn't totally grab the role and run with it). John Corbett, who I'm not a screaming fan of (I don't mind him but I was a Mr. Big man, not an Aiden man), reminds me that he has this strong but chilled allure. Rosemarie DeWitt's sister Charmaine seems a bit too designed to be Tara's counterpoint in the early episodes but by the fourth episode, it seems like there will be more growth in the sister relationship and DeWitt already turns a glorified side character into something more, so there's a lot of potential in future episodes.

It's the two kids though, Kate and Marshall, played respectively by Brie Larson and Keir Gilchrist who really impressed me and hold their own against Collette (not an easy feat). Kate's character is a bit too "wild" by design and her pop goth punk look feels at odds with Larson's natural beauty (and her boyfriend in the pilot is WAY too cliched and makes no sense to the character but is solely designed for a comedic showdown at the ends climax) but Larson really adds a depth and humanity to the spoiled brat blonde pretty girl character.

Keir Gilchrist plays the younger son Marshall and while I'm not sure how open his character is about being gay, he does start pursuing a crush Benjamin (Shiloh Fernandez) who happens to be a school jock AND a crazy Christian. Gilchrist is amazing as Marshall and while Collette gets the showy role(s), Gilchrist and Larson really keep the series grounded and emotionally compelling.

Based on the first four episodes, this is definitely on my must see list and I'm giving it ****1/2 stars (out of 5) at this point.

The pilot is also available online for free (to those in the states) in case you can't make it to a screening (details after the jump):

Screening begins at 7:00pm. on Tuesday, Jan. 13th 2009

NOTE: This screening has been overbooked to ensure auditorium capacity. This invitation is NOT a guarantee of admission to the screening. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, so please arrive early.

Theatre Locations
1. Atlanta Midtown Art Cinema 931 Monroe Drive
2. Austin Dobie Theatre 2025 Guadalupe Suite 268
3. Baltimore Landmark's Harbor East 645 President St
4. Berkeley Shattuck Cinemas 2230 Shattuck Avenue
5. Boston Kendall Square Cinema One Kendall Sq Bldg. 1900
6. Chicago Century Centre Cinema 2828 N. Clark Street Century Shopping Centre
7. Dallas The Magnolia 3699 McKinney Avenue Suite 100
8. Denver ChezArtiste 4150 East Amherst Avenue
9. Denver The Landmark 5415 Landmark Place
10. Detroit Maple Art Theatre 4135 W. Maple Road
11. Houston River Oaks Theatre 2009 West Gray
12. Indianapolis Keystone Art Cinema 8702 Keystone Crossing, #201A
13. Los Angeles The Landmark 10850 West Pico at Westwood Blvd.
14. Milwaukee Downer Theatre 2589 N. Downer Avenue
15. Minneapolis Lagoon Cinema 1320 Lagoon Avenue
16. New Orleans Canal Place Cinema 333 Canal Street Suite 329
17. New York Sunshine Cinema 143 E. Houston Street
18. Philadelphia Ritz at the Bourse 400 Ranstead Street
19. San Diego Hillcrest Cinemas 3965 5th Avenue #200
20. San Francisco Embarcadero Center Cinema 1 Embarcadero Center Promenade Level
21. San Francisco Lumiere Theatre 1572 California Street
22. Seattle Metro Cinemas 4500 9th Avenue N.E. Suite 200
23. Seattle Varsity Theatre 4329 University Way N.E.
24. St. Louis Plaza Frontenac Cinema 210 Plaza Frontenac
25. Washington D.C. E Street Cinema 555 11th Street NW

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