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Your Daily Edition November 13, 2019

Daily Edition

Spike Lee to Direct 1980s-Set Hip-Hop ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Tale ‘Prince of Cats’ (Exclusive)

Director Spike Lee is headed to the 1980s hip-hop scene with a 'Romeo & Juliet'-inspired tale, 'Prince of Cats.'

Spike Lee is headed to the 1980s hip-hop scene.

The filmmaker, who last directed BlacKkKlansman, has closed a deal to direct Prince of Cats, Legendary’s adaptation of a graphic novel written and illustrated by Ron Wimberly. Lee will also rewrite the script and work with Wimberly and scribe Selwyn Seyfu Hinds.

The project is described as an '80s-set hip-hop take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, with the tragic star-crossed love story seen through the eyes of Tybalt, Juliet’s angry and duel-loving cousin.

The film centers on Tybalt and his Capulet brothers, who navigate Da People’s Republic of Brooklyn, where underground sword dueling — including katanas — with the rival Montagues blossoms into a vibrant world. That world includes hip-hop essentials such as DJing, emceeing, breakdancing and graffiti.

Hinds wrote the initial script for the adaptation of the graphic novel that originated from Vertigo and was then reissued by Image Comics. Hinds' knowledge of the hip-hop world stems from his time as editor-in-chief of The Source magazine. Hinds also serves as a comic writer, having penned an episode of Jordan Peele’s update of The Twilight Zone.

Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions will produce Prince of Cats, with Legendary’s Jon Silk and Ali Mendes overseeing for the company.

Though originally slated to star, Knives Out actor Lakeith Stanfield is no longer attached to the project. 

BlacKkKlansman put Lee back on top of Hollywood studios’ phone sheet, netting him Oscar nominations for best picture and director and a win for best adapted screenplay. He is in postproduction on Da 5 Bloods, a thriller which counts Chadwick Boseman, Paul Walter Hauser and Jonathan Majors in its ensemble.

Prince of Cats returns Lee to telling sagas featuring his beloved Brooklyn, which has been the setting of many of his films, including She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, Clockers, He Got Game and Red Hook Summer.

Lee is repped by ICM Partners and Grubman Shire.

Mark Wahlberg in Talks to Join Tom Holland in ‘Uncharted’

Mark Wahlberg is in final negotiations to star opposite Tom Holland in 'Uncharted,' Sony’s adaptation of the popular PlayStation video game.

Mark Wahlberg is in final negotiations to star opposite Tom Holland in Uncharted, Sony’s adaptation of the popular PlayStation video game.

Travis Knight is on board as director of the project, which is being produced by Charles Roven and Alex Gartner via their Atlas Entertainment as well as Avi Arad and Ari Arad, who are producing through their Arad Productions banner.

The Uncharted video game series centers on adventurer and treasure hunter Nathan Drake. The last numbered entry in the series, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, broke sales records when it launched in 2016 on the PlayStation 4, selling more than 15 million copies worldwide.

Holland is playing Drake. Wahlberg will play a man called Sully, Drake’s closest friend who bails him out of trouble.

Rafe Judkins and duo Art Marcum and Matt Holloway wrote the script.

Wahlberg last starred in Instant Family for Paramount and is currently in production on Infinite, a fantastical adventure thriller that Antoine Fuqua is directing. He is repped by WME, Leverage and Sloane Offer.

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Amazon Studios Won’t Report Box Office Grosses for Some of Its Films

Taking a cue from Netflix, Amazon won't report grosses when 'The Report' opens Friday in select theaters across the country.

Don't bother asking Alexa if it knows what the box office numbers are for The Report, Amazon Studios' post-9/11 CIA drama starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening and John Hamm. Taking a cue from Netflix, Amazon won't report grosses when the pic opens Friday in select theaters across the country.

Until now, Amazon Studios' movie division has honored the theatrical window, but under the leadership of Jennifer Salke, it has decided to truncate the release of some titles in order to make them available to Amazon Prime customers almost immediately.

Amazon has suffered a string of film misses, including Late Night, which grossed $22 million domestically after being picked up for a hefty $13 million at the Sundance Film Festival in January. And that doesn't include a hefty marketing spend.

The Report, which is set to debut on Prime on Nov. 29, is the first of those movies, followed in early December by The Aeronauts.

But other Amazon awards contenders, including Shia LaBeouf's Honey Boy, which launched over the Nov. 8-10 weekend to glowing numbers, are getting a traditional release and reporting grosses.

"Maybe Amazon is being emboldened by Netflix to decide when, where and how they report theatrical box office grosses," says Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

While Netflix and the major theater chains remain at odds, exhibitors so far aren't criticizing Amazon. But they won't play The Report or other films that won't adhere to the 72- to 90-day window. So, like Netflix, Amazon will have to pay a handsome fee to indie theater chains to rent space, known as "four-walling."

Amazon insiders say the new policy ensures that a film is made widely available to both moviegoers and Prime customers. The Report, for example, is slotted to open in theaters in the top 25 markets.

As Salke noted of the pic's release plan during The Hollywood Reporter's Oct. 30 Executive Roundtable, "It's a case-by-case situation."

Netflix movie chief Scott Stuber also participated in the roundtable, during which several studio heads expressed frustration over hinging a movie's success — or failure — on box office grosses.

So far in the U.K., The Aeronauts, starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, is turning in dismal numbers at the box office — less than $1.3 million since its Nov. 4 launch — affirming Amazon's decision for its U.S. release plan. The period adventure pic is set to bow in select theaters on Dec. 6, two weeks before premiering on Prime.

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Disney+ Warns Users About “Outdated Cultural Depictions” in Titles

At the bottom of the description for Disney's 1940 classic animation 'Fantasia' on the studio's newly minted Disney+ service, there is a line that is garnering attention from viewers: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions."

At the bottom of the description for Disney's 1940 classic animation Fantasia on the studio's newly minted Disney+ service, there is a line that is garnering attention from viewers: “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions."

The disclaimer can be found in the streaming platform's synopsis of many of Disney's classic animated titles, including 1941's Dumbo, 1967's The Jungle Book, 1953's Peter Pan and 1955's Lady and the Tramp, as well as other offerings like 1960's Swiss Family Robinson and 1955's Davy Crockett. 

Disney+ features the studio's massive library that dates back over eight decades, and the verbiage serves as a caution against some racist and culturally insensitive depictions and references in Disney's older offerings.

While Lady and the Tramp features Siamese cats depicted as East Asian stereotypes and Peter Pan includes a song titled “What Makes the Red Man Red?,” it is unclear what the criterion is for Disney titles to receive the "outdated cultural depictions" disclaimer. Aladdin, which has been critiqued for its racist depictions of Middle Eastern and Arab culture, does not feature the disclaimer in its synopsis.

Disney has not returned The Hollywood Reporter's request for comment.

One feature entirely absent from the streaming platform is the 1946 live-action animation hybrid Song of the South. The movie, which inspired the Disneyland ride Splash Mountain, has been widely criticized for its portrayal of African-Americans and apparent glorification of plantation life. It has been the studio's policy to keep the film from theatrical and home entertainment rerelease. 

During a 2011 shareholder meeting, Disney chief Bob Iger said that it "wouldn't be in the best interest of our shareholders to bring [Song of the South] back, even though there would be some financial gain." He added, “Don’t expect to see it again for at least a while — if ever.”

Prior to launch, it was reported that Disney+'s version of the animated Dumbo would not include its Jim Crow sequence, which features an animated crow as a reference to the state laws enacted during Reconstruction that allowed segregation in Southern states until 1965, but the version currently on the streaming platform does include the scene. The film's synopsis includes the "outdated cultural depictions” disclaimer. 

Disney+, which bowed Tuesday and was plagued by early technical issues, hit 10 million subscribers within its first day of launch, according to the studio.

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Sarah Michelle Gellar to Star in Fox Thriller From Ellen DeGeneres

Fox is doubling up on Sarah Michelle Gellar. The network has put into development a second project starring the Buffy the Vampire Slayer favorite. The indie broadcaster has handed out a script commitment (with a penalty attached) to the dramatic thriller Sometimes I Lie — originally packaged and shopped in January — starring Gellar and […]

Fox is doubling up on Sarah Michelle Gellar.

The network has put into development a second project starring the Buffy the Vampire Slayer favorite. The indie broadcaster has handed out a script commitment (with a penalty attached) to the dramatic thriller Sometimes I Lie — originally packaged and shopped in January — starring Gellar and produced by Ellen DeGeneres.

Based on former BBC journalist Alice Feeney's novel of the same name, the limited series revolves around Amber Reynolds (Gellar), who is in a coma and can't remember how she got there — but knows it wasn't an accident. Terrified and trapped in her own body, she tries to piece together her memories of the past week. With a husband who no longer loves her, a sister hiding a dangerous secret and an ex-boyfriend who can't let go of her, Amber knows someone is lying — and that her life is still in danger.

The potential series alternates between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident and a series of childhood diaries from 20 years ago. The psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it's the truth?

Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) will pen the script and executive produce alongside Gellar. Sometimes I Lie hails from DeGeneres' Warner Bros. Television-based A Very Good Production banner. DeGeneres and her production company topper Jeff Kleeman will also exec produce. The potential series is a co-production between WBTV and Fox Entertainment.

This is Gellar's second scripted project in the works at Fox. In August, the network handed out a script commitment for Other People's Houses, a dramedy based on the novel by Abbi Waxman that reunites the actress with Ringer creators Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder. That project, from Universal TV and Fox Entertainment, is described as a mix of Big Little Lies and Catastrophe centered on nine people who live in Los Angeles' Larchmont Village neighborhood. Through the lens of social media, the characters navigate the emotional ups and downs of being parents, partners, neighbors and friends. Gellar would play one of the two women.

Should either (or both!) projects move forward, it would mark Gellar's first series regular role since she starred opposite Robin Williams on CBS' David E. Kelley comedy The Crazy Ones.

Gellar is repped by ICM Partners and Brillstein Entertainment.

Amy Thurlow Elevated to President of Dick Clark Productions

Dick Clark Productions has elevated longtime COO and CFO Amy Thurlow to president, a move that will see her take leadership reins in the second quarter of 2020 when current CEO Mike Mahan segues to vice chairman.

Dick Clark Productions has elevated longtime COO and CFO Amy Thurlow to president, a move that will see her take leadership reins in the second quarter of 2020 when current CEO Mike Mahan segues to vice chairman.

“Amy is an extremely talented and dynamic executive, who is poised to drive continued growth and exciting accomplishments at DCP,” Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu, co-CEOs of Dick Clark Productions parent company Valence Media, said Wednesday in a statement. “She is also surrounded by an incredible group of leaders and colleagues who we have the utmost confidence in. We are thankful to Mike, whose leadership and creativity helped drive record growth at DCP during his tenure. Luckily, we’ll continue to work closely together and we look forward to supporting his next adventure.”

Mahan’s decision to step down from day-to-day at DCP comes after a six-year tenure at the company behind some of the biggest live events in U.S. TV. Prior to his time there, he served as president of the late TV Guide Network, where he also worked alongside Thurlow.

"I am incredibly grateful to have led such a special organization and thankful to all of my hard-working and talented colleagues for their support,” said Mahan. “I am excited to pass the reins to Amy, who I have had the privilege of working with for more than 10 years, as I know she will successfully steer the company to new heights well into the next decade.”

Prior to her tenure as COO and CFO at DCP, Thurlow was both CFO and executive vp sales strategies at TV Guide Network. Then a partnership between CBS and Lionsgate, Thurlow was integral in the sale that made CBS sole owner of the network, paving the way for Pop. Thurlow previously held roles at NBCUniversal after starting her career at General Electric.

“I am so thrilled to step into this role and lead such an incredible and dedicated team as we continue to produce best-in-class live entertainment,” said Thurlow. “I am indebted to Mike for his leadership, mentorship and friendship. While he will be greatly missed, we are happy that he will remain part of our DCP family in the vice chairman role.”  

DCP’s deep bench of live shows includes The Golden Globe Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, American Music Awards, Streamy Awards and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest. On Tuesday, DCP and the HFPA announced that Ricky Gervais will return as host for the 2020 Golden Globe Awards; the comedian last emceed the show in 2016.

Dick Clark Productions is owned by Valence Media, which is also the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.

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Abrams Artists Agency Signs Writers Guild Code

Mid-tier talent firm Abrams Artists Agency has signed the Writers Guild of America code of conduct, the agency announced Wednesday, joining such agencies as Kaplan Stahler and Buchwald in breaking ranks with the Association of Talent Agencies.

Mid-tier talent firm Abrams Artists Agency has signed the Writers Guild of America code of conduct, the agency announced Wednesday, joining such agencies as Kaplan Stahler and Buchwald in breaking ranks with the Association of Talent Agencies. Two other agencies firmly in the writer business, Verve and Culture Creative Entertainment, are also signatories but not ATA members. Most of the other 70 or so signatories do not represent significant numbers of writers.

The code prohibits packaging and affiliate production, but those are concerns primarily to the four largest agencies, WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners, and to a lesser extent Paradigm and APA. But Abrams and other agencies have concerns around client confidentiality, since the code requires data sharing with the WGA. However, Abrams said the guild had addressed those concerns in a negotiated revision of the code.

“The writers had elections, and they overwhelmingly reelected David Goodman, one of the leaders of this strategy,” said Abrams chairman Adam Bold. “We feel that it is time to put the writers back to work, as well as our agents. The code of conduct as it stands now, is a much better document than it was before. For that reason, along with some of our negotiated changes, made it an agreement that we can stand behind.”

Abrams had previously tried to negotiate with the WGA in July but was unsuccessful at that time; three lit agents subsequently left to form Culture Creative. Two weeks ago, the guild said it was having “useful discussions with several individual agencies,” but didn’t name the firms.

More than 7,000 writers fired their agents in April, and the guild is locked in litigation with the three largest agencies, CAA, WME and UTA.

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CAA to Raise $393 Million to Buy Equity From Employees

CAA is in the process of raising about $393 million largely to buy back equity from agents and top executives.

CAA is in the process of raising about $393 million largely to buy back equity from agents and top executives, The Hollywood Reporter learned Wednesday.

Sources say the agency's goal is to borrow $1.15 billion in a seven-year loan in order to refinance at more favorable terms $757 million in debt while banking what remains to be used in a one-time share repurchase of employee shares.

The move represents a potential liquidity event for top earners at CAA in a similar fashion as an IPO might have, since the company has no plans to go public in the wake of rival Endeavor's failed attempt to do so.

Those who are familiar with the plan say that employees with equity will be able to sell less than half of their stakes in CAA but are under no obligation to sell anything.

Arrangers of the deal include current stakeholder TPG along with Bank of America, Credit Suisse, UBS and others.

The event is similar to those in 2010 and 2014 when TPG invested in CAA and top stakeholders took some profit. CAA has some 2,000 employees and Bryan Lourd, Richard Lovett and Kevin Huvane will presumably be able to sell shares along with many more, though the bulk of the employees have no equity to sell.

CAA and TPG declined to comment.

‘Dollface’: TV Review

THR review: 'Dollface,' Hulu's new female friendship comedy, gives Kat Dennings a welcome return to form, but can't measure up to 'Shrill' or 'PEN15.'

Hulu's new comedy Dollface seems to be going after a specialized demographic — namely, women in their twenties with perpetual social media access and an encyclopedic knowledge of current popular culture, who somehow don't watch enough TV to recognize how derivative Dollface is at every turn.

There are things to like about Dollface. Important things. It's a triumphant return to form for Kat Dennings after all of those years trapped under the broadcast hackery of CBS' 2 Broke Girls and an appealing showcase for the generally ill-used Brenda Song, the generally underrated Shay Mitchell and for exceptional scene-stealer Esther Povitsky. The entire cast, right down to a tremendous string of guest actors, is so great that the prevailing feelings watching the first season's 10 half-hour episodes are occasional mirth and consistent certainty that they could all be put to better use.

Dennings plays Jules, who does something nebulous and irrelevant in web design for Woöm, a Goop-esque female empowerment brand overseen by the Gwyneth-esque Celeste (Malin Akerman). As the Jordan Weiss-created series begins, Jules is being dumped by her boyfriend of five years, Jeremy (Connor Hines). Their apartment is really his apartment. Their social engagements and plans largely stem from him. Jules is surprised to discover how little in her life is actually hers, highlighted by lapsed friendships with college chums Madison (Song), nebulously involved in publicity, and Stella (Mitchell), nebulously unemployed. Jules struggles to carve out her own identity, as her friendship circle grows to include co-worker Izzy (Povitsky), so identity-starved herself that she's been pretending her name is "Allison" to share a name with two confident colleagues.

Adding flavor to this pursuit of independence — or at least a different kind of co-dependence — is Weiss' decision to capture Jules' moments of desperation in fantasy sequences, like when she departs her awkward breakup in a bus of sobbing newly singles driven by a woman with the head of a giant cat. The Cat Lady (voiced by Beth Grant) makes regular appearances among Jules' inconsistently depicted hallucinations, which will call to mind FX's Man Seeking Woman, except that FX comedy appears to have had a higher budget, a far greater latitude for whimsy and a more consistent application of the bit.

Nobody would ever accuse Dollface of copying or borrowing from a show as underviewed as Man Seeking Woman — and before you say, "But that was the male gaze and this is… not," MSW did some of its best episodes, and half of its final season, from the female perspective. But if you've seen both shows, the comparison is verging on unavoidable and only exposes how flimsy the Dollface fantasy sequences are and how rarely they add to the show's experience in terms of either understanding its main character or expanding its visual language.

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They're mostly useful as a hook for describing the otherwise indistinctive show. Everything from the major episodic plotlines (the girls suggest that Jules needs a little casual sex, but she inevitably makes the fling into a relationship) to the littlest of gags (Gal pals obsess over The Bachelor! Gal pals go to the bathroom together!) feels recycled. Maybe we're just in a Golden Age of comedies about female friendship or maybe there have just been a handful of recent great examples, from Comedy Central's Broad City to Netflix's Tuca & Bertie to Hulu's very own PEN15 and Shrill, but Dollface is masquerading a lot of knockoff geegaws as boutique accessories and hoping its target audience skipped all of those shows to, instead, Instagram brunch.

The best thing I can say Dollface is doing is directly discussing the potential mixture of nourishment and toxicity that can be found in female friendship in your late twenties, which is to say that it takes the subtext of generally better shows and turns it into text as its impossibly attractive characters living in impossibly nice apartments make their way through impossibly scrubbed-clean parts of Los Angeles. Every possible rough edge of gender, sexuality, race and class has been sanded off of these characters and this story.

Yet Dollface stays consistently watchable and even its familiar punchlines often hit thanks to this cast. Dennings spent years having her unique sing-song deadpan rhythms blunted by the multicamera calcification of a successful CBS sitcom and after that unavoidable broadness, it's a treat to see how much she can do with a withering one-liner, a wordless sound or eye-roll. When she isn't being lazily utilized as a fetish object — I'm looking at you, Fox's Dads — Song has a razor-sharp comic precision honed over her years on the Disney Channel, which pairs well with Mitchell's unexpected silliness as she continues to prove, after last year's You, that she's the best of the Pretty Little Liars. As the painfully awkward friend prone to inappropriate non-sequiturs, Izzy is the character most prone to slipping into stereotypes, but Povitsky keeps her endearing and more grounded than she should be.

Also maintaining interest in Dollface is a strong rotation of guest actors, starting with Akerman's amusing Paltrow-trolling and going through the season's string of potential love interests, questionable boyfriends and bad dates played by the likes of Matthew Gray Gubler, Goran Visnjic and, memorably, Macaulay Culkin.

The elements are there for Dollface to become a much better show if it moves forward. There's lots of room to do something smarter and more imaginative within this structure and story. The cast is already at that next level, waiting for the series to catch up.

Cast: Kat Dennings, Brenda Song, Shay Mitchell, Esther Povitsky
Creator: Jordan Weiss
Premieres: Friday (Hulu)

‘The Good Liar’: Film Review

THR review: In 'The Good Liar,' Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren play a con artist and the wealthy widow he targets.

The first-ever onscreen pairing of British acting titans Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen — an enticing prospect on paper — alas proves anticlimactic in The Good Liar, the proficiently crafted but underwhelming new thriller from Bill Condon.

An example of the kind of middlebrow, classily accoutered “cinema for adults” that’s grown rare in the Age of Marvel, the film may pique the interest of viewers of a certain age; there’s a comfy pleasure in watching these two pros patter back and forth in plummy accents, clutching mugs of tea or sipping flutes of champagne.

Yet The Good Liar’s sophistication is nothing if not skin-deep. For all its nasty twists and turns, its fake-outs and flashbacks and cheekily preposterous pile-up of double-crosses, this story of an elderly con man and the wealthy widow he targets feels fatally devoid of danger. Square, tame and tidy as the London-area house kept by Mirren’s primly elegant, creamy-complexioned septuagenarian, The Good Liar is a work of skill but little spark.

Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher (Mr. Holmes) from Nicholas Searle’s 2016 novel (which, admittedly, I haven’t read), it leaves you with the nagging impression that not every halfway-decent book should be made into a movie — surely not the takeaway Condon and co. were aiming for. The Good Liar is far from a disaster but it often comes off as something equally dreaded, and considerably duller: inconsequential and unnecessary.

Condon kicks things off cutting back and forth between Roy (McKellen) and Betty (Mirren) as they set up their respective online dating profiles. The two match, meet at a restaurant and hit it off in that polite, oh-so-English way. Both have survived their spouses and are looking for companionship. Betty, a sweet-tempered retired Oxford professor, finds Roy witty and well-mannered, and he seems harmless enough — which, I suppose, is meant to explain the fact that she’s comfortable inviting him to stay in her guest room when he injures his leg.

That development doesn’t go over well with Betty’s protective grandson, Stephen (Russell Tovey of HBO’s Looking and Years and Years, doing his darnedest in a thanklessly conceived part). As Roy disarms Betty with his twinkly smile and chivalrous attentions, Stephen smells a rat. And lo and behold, we quickly learn that Roy is a seasoned scammer with his eye on Betty’s bank account.

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Betty appears to be the ideal mark, allowing Roy to come and go as he pleases, no questions asked — though she draws the line, at least initially, at allowing him into her bed. With the help of his longtime partner in fraud (played by Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter), Roy is soon arranging for Betty to place her ample savings in a joint fund that he can access.

But is Betty as credulous as she appears? What’s the deal with the sinister-looking bloke who periodically shows up in a car outside her house? Who is conning whom, and why? (If you find yourself wondering how a former academic played by Mirren — an actress of sublime slyness and poise who, as any Prime Suspect fan knows, naturally conveys a bristling braininess — would be so easily taken in, you’re too smart for this movie.)

A major swerve in the plot around the halfway mark prompts a series of flashbacks reframing everything that’s come before in a way that could most generously be described as, um, unpersuasive. To disclose more would risk “spoiling”; suffice it to say that the second hour is crammed with revelations and emotions designed to give the film a weight and darkness it hasn’t remotely earned. 

The Good Liar is clearly going for something along the lines of Hitchcock, Highsmith or le Carré, but never delivers the shivers of ambiguity and tightening noose of suspense one associates with those names. Part of the problem is that the film telegraphs, rather than foreshadows, its tale’s creepiness and dysfunction, from the overly deliberate dialogue to Carter Burwell’s apt but unsurprising score. For a thriller about dirty secrets and hidden agendas, there’s little stealth to the storytelling, or the style; everything is laid out, nothing teased or coaxed or dangled. The result is watchable but not much fun — a “smart” movie for viewers who don’t want to do any work.

Though Condon has capably — if never brilliantly — shepherded studio product (Dreamgirls, a couple of Twilight entries, the recent live-action Beauty and the Beast), his finest work (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey) has been more intimate, more curious, peeking into corners of human idiosyncrasy and desire. The Good Liar, on the other hand, never bothers, or perhaps can’t afford, to draw us too close; the film’s shaky narrative relies on the director keeping things moving so we don’t notice the glaring giveaways or gaping holes in credibility.

If the movie holds your attention, it’s thanks to McKellen’s mischievousness and Mirren’s peerless elegance — qualities these two actors project and embody without the tiniest trace of effort. Technical contributions, meanwhile, are smooth right down the line. The Good Liar is a well-oiled machine with no real function.

Production companies: New Line Cinema, Bron Creative, 1000 Eyes Production
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Bill Condon
Screenplay: Jeffrey Hatcher (based on the novel by Nicholas Searle)
Cast: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey, Jim Carter, Mark Lewis Jones, Laurie Davidson, Phil Dunster
Producers: Greg Yolen, Bill Condon
Executive producers: Richard Brener, Andrea Johnston, Aaron L. Gilbert, Jason Cloth, Anjay Nagpal, Jack Morrissey, Nick O’Hagan
Director of photography: Tobias Schliessler
Production designer: John Stevenson
Editor: Virginia Katz
Music: Carter Burwell
Costume designer: Keith Madden
Casting: Lucy Bevan

Rated R, 109 minutes