In the suprisingly enjoyable teen comedy Easy A, Emma Stone is wry and witty as Olive, a high school student who traps herself in a slutty lie. But let’s turn our attention to the strange case of Amanda Bynes, as Easy A marks her first major film appearance since Hairspray in 2007. (I’m not counting Sydney White, since apparently no one did at the time.) Playing a tightly wound evangelical Christian on a rampage against Olive’s alleged behavior, she isn’t given much to do but shoot Jesus lasers from her eyes, but she slapped on a prissy headband and went for it anyway. Bynes has always exhibited less vanity than her fellow teen stars, a willingness to go for the punchline that evades lesser comedians. So I gotta ask: Amanda, what is up with all this retirement hoo-ha? It was back in June when Bynes announced via Twitter that she’d retired from acting because she no longer loved it. One month after that, Bynes tweeted that she’d unretired. And a couple of weeks ago, Bynes deleted her Twitter feed entirely. I’m trying not to read too much into it, but I hope it doesn’t mean that she’s un-un-retired. (Bynes had no comment about her current status.)
In the Age of Lohan, I have nothing but respect for the way Bynes has conducted her transition from child star to young adult: no scandals, no arrests, no seriously embarrassing boyfriend drama, just the one (relatively modest) Maxim cover and a smattering of well-played parts. And while it is her right to decide what to do with her own future, I wish she wouldn’t give up on making people laugh. We’ve got waaaaay too many generic ingenues around here already.
Review: Why we love Halo: Reach
Over the past decade, the Halo games have turned Starship Troopers-style outer-space militarism into a hugely enjoyable shoot-‘em-up experience. Halo: Reach, which was released last week and took in more than $200 million in sales worldwide in the first 24 hours, is the last game in the series from original developer Bungie. The multiplayer has a few nifty add-ons, like level-building and armor customization. But Reach is really all about the simple pleasures of plasma grenades, rocket whores, and that thwack sound when you melee a victim. For gamers of a certain age, Reach will be the nostalgia trip of the year. B+ — Darren Franich
The Battlestar Galactica cast: Where are they now?
With Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0) and Katee Sackhoff (CSI) moving on to more solid ground, we took a look at what the rest of the BSG crew is up to.
Edward James Olmos Adm. William Adama
Olmos will play opposite Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet (out Jan. 14) as Michael Axford, the dogged pursuer of the title hero.
Jamie Bamber Lee ”Apollo” Adama
Bamber stars on Law & Order: UK (he plays the Chris Noth-type role), which just started its third season. Yes, there’s even a British version of Law & Order.
Mary McDonnell President Laura Roslin
She recently reprised her role on The Closer as a cop unafraid to butt heads with Kyra Sedgwick. She’ll appear in Scream 4 next April.
Tricia Helfer Number Six
A go-to TV guest star (Chuck, Warehouse 13, Human Target, Two and a Half Men), she now stars opposite Dylan McDermott on the TNT cop series Dark Blue. — Adam B. Vary
Tips for Jennifer Lopez, Idol judge
We’re optimistic about Jennifer Lopez joining the American Idol judges’ panel (you can find all the latest Idol news here). In that spirit, here are three tips for success.
1 Honesty is the best policy.
J. Lo needs to realize that the greatest gift she can give to the next generation of Kelly Clarksons and William Hungs is brutal honesty. There are worse fates than finding out you don’t have what it takes to become a professional singer.
2 Authority always wins.
If Lopez wants to connect with the audience at home and help the contestants, she must learn how to instantly formulate an opinion about a performance — and then stick to that opinion regardless of what her fellow judges say.
3 There’s no substitute for keeping it real.
If she remembers that Idol is about finding the next big talent, not foisting a contrived, ”look at me!” shtick onto the public, she could begin a new chapter as the woman who helped breathe new life into the nation’s No. 1 TV show. — Michael Slezak