“The Wolf of Wall Street” apparently didn’t howl quite loud enough to wrest the top golden popcorn trophies from the claws of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards Sunday at the Nokia Theatre, where "Catching Fire" claimed Best Picture, Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence) and Best Actor (Josh Hutcherson).
The always irreverent two-hour awards show seems to go by in a flash compared with other ceremonies, because of the fast pace of presenters and presentations along with exclusive previews of highly anticipated films -- which this year included looks at “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”
And, putting back some of the music in the moniker MTV and demonstrating its ongoing relevance, some headlining musical numbers from the likes of Eminem and Rihanna, dueting for the first time live on their new single “The Monster,” and Ellie Goulding and Zedd, who brought the “Divergent” soundtrack to life with their new hit single “Beating Heart.”
For the first time, taking a lesson from the VMAs, which has served to launch artists including Florence + The Machine and Young the Giant, the Movie Awards featured a music discovery slot called “MTV Artist to Watch.” The spot went to the band twenty one pilots, who delivered a riveting performance of their new single, “Car Radio," which immediately vaulted their album to #1 on the iTunes alternative album charts.
Hosted by Conan O’Brien, the 2014 kudocast was tamer than many of its 21 previous editions -- with several recipients including Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum reminiscing that they had watched the show as kids and either dreamed of or never thought they’d be capable of being up on stage accepting a trophy from MTV. Aww …
O’Brien got the party started with an opening video showing him accepting the challenge to get 50 celebrity cameos into it, which featured the late-night host in funny interactions with people ranging from Jack Nicholson to Andy Samberg, Taylor Swift and Jack White, none of whom appeared too pleased to be accosted by him -- especially White, after O’Brien grabbed the guitar out of his hands and trashed it.
With O’Brien stating that his goal was to make the show the best ever, more laughter ensued when he showed six-second Vine videos encapsulating the essence of two of the year’s top films, “Wolf” and “American Hustle” -- both culminating with Matthew McConaughey’s infamous chest-thump chant. Then, O’Brien showed an amalgamation of the awards for Best Kiss and Best Fight with him facing off in a passionate battle against Will Arnett.
Then there was his special, fake award for Best Product Placement, which went to "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," for a clunky Pepsi machine planted on Middle Earth.
But it wasn’t entirely fun and frivolity. The audience, which always includes a large mosh pit surrounding the stage that loudly shows its love, was stilled as Jared Leto gave a moving acceptance speech -- he won the trophy for best transformation for playing Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club” -- about eliminating not only HIV/AIDS but the stigma that still surrounds the disease.
Later, Jordana Brewster fronted a moving tribute to Paul Walker, whose “Fast and Furious” films have been an MTV Movie Awards mainstay. The video spotlighted not only the late actor’s on-screen scenes and remembrances from co-stars including Vin Diesel but also his humanitarian and charitable work.
Yet the awards, most of which are voted on by fans, are overwhelmingly light-hearted, with categories for Best Villain, which went to Mila Kunis, and Best Shirtless Performance, taken by Zac Efron.
That presentation featured a bit of a John Travolta/Idina Menzel moment, with Jessica Alba pronouncing Zac’s last name as “Eefron,” after which co-presenter Rita Ora ripped his shirt off to squeals and cheers from the audience.
Tatum was presented with the Trailblazer Award by his “22 Jump Street” co-star Jonah Hill, who ribbed the actor for blazing a trail as a “gorgeous guy who becomes a movie star.”
Seth Rogen’s mom took center stage when despite his protests and eventual acquiescence, the two engaged in a passionate kiss in a skit that saw two members of the audience running up on stage to first smooch his "Neighbors" co-stars Dave Franco and Zac Efron as they presented the award for Best Kiss.
After the award went to Will Poulter, the British actor’s acceptance speech was uncannily interrupted by a text from Jennifer Aniston, with whom he’d starred in "We're the Millers," which he read aloud. Presumably in all good fun, she called him a “doucher,” and said the reason she didn’t show up at the ceremony is that she never wanted to be near him ever again.
Mark Wahlberg was given the Generation Award, presented by “Entourage’s” Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrera and Adrian Grenier. In an f-bomb-infused acceptance speech, the former underwear model and onetime rapper commented on the honor by saying, "I know what this really means. Many people have gotten this award before -- Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston -- this is the you're too (expletive) old to come back award. This is 'you're f---ing done.' But you know what, it was a great run."
We doubt that Wahlberg is done, or too old for further MTV recognition, with the “Entourage” movie and “Ted 2” on the horizon.