MTV awards' silly season

by Geoff Boucher

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

6 June 2011


LOS ANGELES — The MTV Movie Awards are built around categories that are proudly popcorn — they hand out trophies for best kiss and best villain, after all — but it makes an acceptance speech a bit of a challenge for the pretty young faces. It’s even harder when, like the stars of “The Twilight Saga” franchise on Sunday, they need to deliver a handful of speeches.

“Oh, man, this is silly,” Kristen Stewart said as she accepted the award for best female performance at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

And her co-star Robert Pattinson, picking up the award for best on-screen fight, looked at fellow winner and soon-to-be-mother Bryce Dallas Howard and quipped, “I ripped your head off and now you’re pregnant.”

Pattinson also won for best male performance, and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” was named best movie.

“Twilight,” “Harry Potter” and Justin Bieber were the brands to bet on in the awards categories, and no surprise, considering the fierce loyalty and online power of young girls. But the least important thing at the show, really, is the competition. The categories are delightfully silly, and winners are determined by vote-as-often-as-you-want fans.

They gave out an award for “best jaw-dropping moment,” and Bieber won (for singing in a movie about his life, “Never Say Never”), beating out James Franco (for cutting off his arm in “127 Hours”) and Natalie Portman (for mutilating her hand in “Black Swan”). And 11-year-old Alexys Nycole Sanchez won best movie line for her declaration in the Adam Sandler comedy “Grown Ups”: “I want to get chocolate-wasted!”

The “MTV Movie Awards” are spiky, slinky and shiny but never really scruffy — if you’re looking for rebel blood you want to try the show’s older sister, “The Video Music Awards” (but you’re probably about two decades too late).

“The Movie Awards” are bratty — lots and lots and lots of sex jokes — but they are as calculated in their raunch as the sequel to “The Hangover.”

The perfect example was the arrival onstage of Jim Carrey, the veteran rubber-faced comic star, who wore a shirt, suit and shoes of uninterrupted emerald. It was a green-screen suit, and as he delivered a deadpan introduction for the band Foo Fighters the audience saw images projected onto the digital canvas of his clothes. The image they saw the longest? Two bulldogs engaged in canine copulation. Big-name star, top-tech wizardy and humping humor: It could be a mission statement for the franchise.

Every year at the “MTV Movie Awards” there’s a designated celebrity pinata — Lindsay Lohan, for instance, sat in the audience one year and endured witheringly cruel and lewd jokes — and this year the target was Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former governor’s future as a bankable movie star is in doubt, but he was money on Sunday night when it came to monologue material for host Jason Sudeikis.

Sudeikis, a regular on “Saturday Night Live,” told the crowd that the full balcony was the designated section for the scandalized politico’s offspring. He also said the new film “Bridesmaids” got its title from the two groups of people who sleep with the “Terminator” star. Sudeikis got a few laughs at first, but the audience started to groan — hearing the name of Maria Shriver in one gag might have reminded them that pointed jokes sometime injure the innocent.

Early in the show, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis came to the stage to present the award for best male performance. They told the audience that they had never dated, that their relationship was like that of brother and sister. Timberlake, the pop star and actor, stepped behind the actress and said that was why he could do this — at which point he reached around to cup her breasts. And she, with an unfazed smile, said she could do this, putting her palm on his crotch.

They smiled into the camera, perfectly positioned for 2011 cable-ready entertainment, and presented the list of nominees.

Amid the raunch, the most interesting moment was the speech by Reese Witherspoon, who was given this year’s Generation Award — yes, for MTV, Witherspoon is like the Katharine Hepburn of the Facebook era. The 35-year-old star of “Water for Elephants” actually introduced a serious comment into the parade of the prurient.

She said in her acceptance speech that she was “trying to make it cool” to be a “good girl” and pointed out that hard work, talent and persistence are better than scandal when it comes to making a reputation. “It’s possible,” she said, “to make it in Hollywood without a reality show.”

But then, Witherspoon also used a variation on the F-bomb during her speech: These are the mixed messages of a complicated age.

The most memorable moment? That’s easy. Pattinson and Stewart won for best kiss (just like last year). But instead of giving the audience an in-person encore lip lock, the lanky 25-year-old British heartthrob abandoned Stewart and bounded off stage. As the crowd cheered, he found Taylor Lautner (who plays his on-screen rival for Stewart’s affections) and gave him a long, messy smooch.

Just as the MTV trophy show once gave us same-sex snogging between Madonna and Britney Spears and, more recently, Scarlett Johansson and Sandra Bullock, the pop-culture outlet has now given us a guy-on-guy kiss — or should that be a vampire-and-werewolf kiss?

Love is everywhere, especially when there’s popcorn to be sold.

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