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Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
"How's the sex?"
That's the line uttered by a an unbearably obnoxious female (?) character who just discovered that her friend is a lesbian. I think that sums up what's wrong with this movie.
Even more ridiculously, the friend says the sex is great, and the obnoxious supposedly-female character asks, "really?", to which the friend affirms.
That was so implausible and so stupid, I was in tears of laughter. Because if I one day I discover that my best ostensibly-straight friend is gay, the first thing I'll ask is "Wow you're gay Bob? So how's the sex?" Bob: "Oh it's great!" Me: "Really?" Bob: "Oh yeah absolutely! You should come watch us some time! Man I'm so glad you're so cool about this!" The movie has its smart and funny moments, but come on, it jumped the shark right there.
How many shows can say they're better than the Simpsons and get away with it?
Not many, mind you. Not many at all. Since its debut in 1989, The Simpsons has been a blessing: comedic work of extremely high quality. The Simpsons has had some of the best double entendres, sly shots at celebrities, tappings into pop culture personalities and events, genuinely funny and creative material and some of the most recognizable and lovable characters TV has ever produced.
Wanna know what Futurama is? Take those factors and double them. No, triple them.
I'm not kidding. It's really that good. Matt Groening is a certified genius, and his magic touch turns anything into comedy gold. He can take the most sinister and disturbing of subjects and have you split your sides laughing at them. Not many people can do that.
Futurama is one of my all time favorite shows. I rank it right up there with Scrubs, Arrested Development, Andy Richter Controls the Universe and Da Ali G Show. Again, it really *is* that good. Groening's work focuses a lot on building the characters of his shows, and where the Simpsons were one yellow family with distinct personalities and demeanors, the differences in Futurama are much greater, transcending not only gender and ethnicity, but even species and (heck) time itself! Let's take a look at the characters:
Professor Farnsworth: old and wrinkled. REALLY old and wrinkled. Unofficially trademarked the phrase "Good news everyone!" in his own trembling old man's voice, in a reference to some random invention he came up with in just about every episode. Morally ambiguous at times, and clearly immoral at others, he lives to invent lots and lots of weird, random stuff (to give you an idea: the smell-o-scope) that serves to be some of the episodes' background story.
Bender: one of the most popular TV characters of all time - an amazing feat since Futurama was mostly a cult favorite rather than mainstream. He's a robot that doesn't give a crap about you, anyone or anything. He's got attitude coming out his shiny metal wazoo. And speaking of that, search for the phrase "bite my shiny metal ass" and see how many results come up. (Great line at that)
Leila: one-eyed, purple-haired, sexy-in-a-tank-top, ass-kickin', human-lookin' alien. The leader and the brains of the group that Professor Farnsworth sends out to do some missions.
Fry: Beavis and Butthead's long lost cousin. Not really, but seeing how big of a dumbass he is, one might conjure up that guess. A lovable idiot.
Dr. Zoidberg: a big blobby crab, obviously the group's own doctor, even though he knows as much about medicine as much as Fry knows about...anything.
Captain Zapp Brannigan: ahh, here we go! Aside of Family Guy's Quagmire, I can't think of a funnier character on an animated sitcom. No, ANY sitcom at all, actually. One of the most HILARIOUS characters you'll ever see. This guy is just insanely funny. He's arrogant, he's self-absorbed, extremely egotistical, oblivious to his own failings and glaring incompetence, indulgent in pampering himself with metrosexual treatment every now and then, has an eternal (1) grin and (2) crush on Leila, and never stops torturing his poor alien subordinate Kif who (1) does the real work all the time, (2) gets credit none of the time and (3) takes the blame every time Zapp screws things up (which happens quite often). One of my all time favorites, and once you see this show, he'll be one of yours too. I GUARANTEE this! Too bad he's not a main character.
This show is pure quality. It's creative every way a show *can* be creative, and it's funny as much as any show CAN be funny. Sadly there are no more than 10 stars in IMDb's rating system, so I have to rate it verbally: I give it the highest possible recommendation.
The Drew Carey Show (1995)
In its heyday, much funnier than Seinfeld
The Drew Carey Show went off to a strong start in 1995 and kept getting funnier and funnier until it started to run dry right around 2000. Up until 1999, there was no funnier show on TV. PERIOD. The brilliance and wit of this show were criminally underrated. Yes, it was popular from the beginning but its popularity waned down until the show was forced to cancellation.
Very few shows were able to compete with the genius of this show. I'd say Frasier was the most powerful competitor (along with 3rd Rock from the Sun in its first two years), but at the end of the day, the Drew Carey Show came ahead. Friends was funny and consistently well-written. Seinfeld had quite a few brilliant Larry David moments (and Jerry's usual hilarious comedic banter). But not one show in my opinion ever came close to the Drew Carey Show's constant rapid-fire succession of killer lines and situations. Line after line after line, this show had some of the wittiest, funniest, cleverest, most brilliant content EVER. The show was just way ahead of its time.
Where does one start with this show? I'd say with the characters. This is a heavily character-driven show. Let's see:
Drew Carey (played by Drew Carey): lovable, overweight and in a rut. Those sum the poor man's life. He's been in the same stinkin' job for over a decade. To give you an idea how bad it is for him, his position is "assistant director of personnel", but there *is* no director of personnel, so had the job of both but without the perks or paycheck of the director. He has a hellish co-worker (Mimi) whose non-stop pranks, schemes and put-downs never seem to take a break, not even when she's pregnant or nursing her child. Drew deals with his life with laughing and making jokes, sometimes at his own expense. It's what gets him through life (oh yeah, and beer - lots and lots of beer). That and his friends. He does badly on relationships, but he doesn't quit, giving us endless joy and laughter in one trainwreck of a relationship after another. You can't help but love Drew. Something feels so homey and close about him.
Lewis Kinisky (played by Ryan Stiles): tall, thin and creepy. Lewis works in a shady drug company with a history of questionable practices and suspicious experiments. But, he doesn't care one bit. Why should he? He's 40, still single and still a janitor. He's got nothing to lose. So he's pretty trusted there, shifting up from his janitorial position at times and then demoted back because he screws it up somehow (he's not the smartest janitor out there). Ryan Stiles is absolutely hilarious in this part. An improvisation master, he had a cult following among the fans especially because of his improvisational comedy abilities on the British "Who's Line Is it Anyway?". Presumably, many of his lines on the show are also improvised.
Kate O'Brien (played by Christa Miller): she's the cold-blooded witch from Scrubs (Dr. Cox' ex-wife), but here she's just adorable. She's cute, she's funny, she's the second of Drew's close friends. Oh yeah, she's kind of a slut too. Absolutely shameless when it comes to sex and masturbation, she's quite liberated from society's judgments. She just doesn't care.
Oswald Lee Harvey (played by the supremely-versatile Deidrich Bader): the third of Drew's friends, he's Lewis' best buddy and arguably one of the dumbest people to ever appear on a TV show. Played to perfection by Deidrich, very rarely has dim wit and stupidity been played this good on TV. Let's see, Gob from Arrested Development, Bridget from 8 Simple Rules, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, I'd say those five are on anyone's short list for "funniest dumb characters in TV history". This character is absolutely hysterical.
Mimi Bobeck (played by Kathy Kinny): a nightmare on feet, she's Drew's arch nemesis in the office (and often times in real life). She puts him down endlessly about everything, she hatches evil plans all the time, she made him the victim of countless pranks, her mission in life is to ruin his. She was never intended to be a recurring character, but thanks (many thanks) to popular feedback from the audience, she was kept.
Nigel Wick (played by Craig Ferguson): Drew's English boss. He's my favorite character on the show. Played to extreme comedic heights by Ferguson (who's Scottish), you'll be amazed how well he gets the English accent. Compare his English accent to Americans doing the accent. God, so embarrassing. Craig gave me the surprise of a lifetime when he spoke his true Scottish accent one time. I was shocked. I could've sworn he was 100% English. Wick constantly ruins Drew's life, albeit not always on purpose. He's cold-hearted, selfish, self-centered, he's the epitome of the Machiavellian approach. Every line is a classic. Every scene is hysterity. One of the main reasons I watched this show.
The show only kept getting better until 2000, then it started to go downhill, unfortunately. Drew lost his trademark (and funny) weight, the comedians lost some of their glare, bizarre - and utterly disgusting at times - plots were hatched (the low point being the very old gay couple living with Drew, describing some "intimacies" that include waxing each other, ugh), and very sadly, the show was not what it once was. But from 1995 to 1999, there was arguably no funnier show on TV, not even Seinfeld. Sure, it was more popular, but by no means better. The Drew Carey Show blew Seinfeld out of the water. Now we just have a sad and fond memory of a brutally funny and well-written show that is no more.
The Office (2005)
Immeasurably superior to all else
What can a person say about a show like this? To shower it with praise is to underestimate it with every passing line of text. This is sheer genius at work. Pure, unadulterated humor. 24-carat comedy gold. This show is the essence of everything that is right about TV. Many people won't get this show. This is normal. In fact, it's a good sign. The majority of TV viewers are morons. Keep in mind that this majority is responsible for Arrested Development struggling in the ratings for three seasons (eventually forcing it to be discontinued), yet gave a crap-fest like "Yes Dear" a free ride for six years. Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Titus, 8 Simple Rules, Futurama, all gems, yet cancelled because of poor ratings. Thus, it's become wise nowadays to judge a show's quality by how it fares with the majority of TV viewers. I think that this show will face a similar fate to its predecessors-in-greatness. The show is just too funny and smart to be appreciated by the average dolt. It requires a bit of thinking; the humor is subtle. Thus, the Einsteins of today will surely dislike it. The average viewer wants something very obvious to laugh at, and 'obvious' this ain't. Luckily, it survived so far. I hope it gets even more success over time.
This show is about the day-to-day life in corporate offices in a documentary-style, something close to home to the majority of people. The characters talk to the camera throughout the show, as if answering questions from someone. That's one of the reasons this show's so great: it's so real (much like Mike Judge's Office Space). You see the types of people there all the time in your office. We all got SOME kind of unnecessary training (sexual harassment, racial equality, etc.). We all have had some bosses who are seriously under the impression that they're funny. Everybody's day was ruined at some point with someone from the corporate head office paying a visit and showing their face at any given day. What The Office does is present those in an ingeniously funny fashion. The humor is hypodermic. It's subtle; you need to look beneath the surface a little bit to appreciate it, and once you do, trust me, there's no looking back. You'll be hooked. The type of humor is ridiculously powerful. It's laugh out loud, bust-a-gut laughing. Absolutely killer. Jokes you'll laugh at over and over again in your head, then over and over again when you watch the episodes again, all in an infinite loop of joy and humor. Tell me you didn't puncture a lung laughing at any exchange between Michael and his "assistant" Dwight. There's an insanely hilarious debate between them over Dwight's title: he says one thing, Michael says another. The debate is ongoing at all times. Michael's awkward moments everywhere, another hilarious part. The awkwardness is just so thick. I would mention some specific lines and moments but I think this would cheapen them when taken out of the full context. This is a whole narrative of genius. Rarely does a show achieve such incredible heights of review value; that is, you feel the urge to view it again and again, and each time feels like the first time. This is an insanely difficult achievement. But they pulled it off. Perfectly.
Probably the best show on the air today (the date of this review), and that's - sadly - enough reason for network executives to cancel a show. They want something popular; quality is at the bottom of their priorities. But, it survived three seasons so far, so here's hoping...
An overlooked masterpiece
8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter had an auspicious start. The supremely-talented Tom Shadyac was involved in the project. This meant that the comedy would be nothing less of spectacular, and that's exactly what happened: the show remains one of the freshest, funniest, wittiest shows made in a very long time. Every line, facial expression, casting choice, scene, all wreaked of perfection. There was not one episode after which I thought, "Man that wasn't as good as the rest". Each one was a standout. Again, this is the kind of perfectionism that we've come to expect from Tom. For those who don't know, Tom Shadyac is the director of Ace Ventura (first movie), The Nutty Professor (first one) and Liar Liar. Quite a résumé. He's a producer here not a director, but his magic touch is felt in every episode.The family consists of:
The Father: Paul Hennessy (John Ritter): nice, slightly neurotic, can be a pushover from time to time, works as a sports writer. John unfortunately passed away in 2003 leaving a fond memory and near-sure cancellation contemplations by the suits.
The Mother: Cate (Katey Sagal): come on, who didn't fall in love with Katey when she played Peg on Married With Children? Al Bundy was our hero. We viewers gave him the respect and love he never had. But without Peg's nonchalant, parasitic, lazy lifestyle, Al would've probably been just another Chicago dad instead of the mess that Peg (life, actually) caused him to be. Katey was a MILF back then and still is: a brune now (instead of a redhead) and just as buxom as ever. Cate is the conservative mom and loving wife. I know it sounds boring, but comedically, she fits perfectly.
The Ditzy Blonde Daughter: Bridget (played to perfection by Kaley Cuoco): almost never has an idiot been played so well. Aside of Gob on Arrested Development, Bridget may well be a shoe-in for any awards given to this archetype. Bridget is shallow, self-centered, not very bright and a tad slutty in his look. She plays the dumb blonde role better than absolutely anyone IMO. Perfection. One of the high-points of the show.
The Overlooked Geeky Daughter: Kerry (Amy Davidson): a brune and a geek, she gets no love from life or circumstances. Feels overlooked, under-appreciated and neglected most of the time. She's Bridget's younger sister (in reality she's older than her) and the two's extremely opposite personalities and brains cause endless clashes, to much of our amusement.
The Son: Rory (Martin Spanjers): was the second funniest character IMO before the passing of Ritter, then John passes, new characters come and Rory is not the wise-cracking verbal-trouble-maker that he used to: that went mostly to David Spade's character.
Those characters were the main ones at the time of John Ritter. Unfortunately enough, the insanely hilarious Larry Miller (one of my favorites) did not get lots of screen time. He played Paul's co-worker/competitor. After an aortic dissection cost Ritter his life in 2003 (September 11th), the show was on hiatus for a while. No one thought it could come back, but it did later on, with a couple of new additions. This began the second phase of the show, and the new characters were:
The strict, confident school principal: Ed (Adam Arkin): I saw Adam here and there on talk shows. This was the first time that I saw him do anything. Impressed, is the word I use. His performance was very impressive. Sad he wasn't brought in earlier. He also plays Cate's potential love interest after Paul passes. The gradual progress towards this point (which would've sounded crazy at the beginning) earns the creators lots of praise. It was done slowly, carefully and excellently, with constant respect paid to the Paul (Ritter).
The Attitude Grandpa: Jim Egan (James Garner): a surprisingly welcome addition to the series, he was cannon fodder for endless 'old' jokes, mainly by...
The 35-year-old unemployed wise-cracking half-brother of the mom: CJ (played to insanely funny heights by David Spade): I knew Spade was funny, I just didn't know he was THIS funny. Somehow, Spade's very familiar presence is sensed inside his character (as opposed to a separable character), which is understandable, since he's a comic and he's on a comedy show. This eerie feeling is kinda like seeing someone borrow lots of material from David Spade's appearances in movies, talk shows and functions (award shows, etc.) and delivering a superb impersonation of Spade's voice and comedy style, except, that it IS Spade. By that I mean you realize he's not trying to play someone else, or a whole new character: he's being the goofy, funny Spade we've come to know, and he takes this pleasantly humorous formula to the absolute top. Every line he uttered, every sarcasm he begot, all classics, literally. Spade was CRAZY-funny; so, SO funny.
The show's humor and drama were both upped after the show was back, but audiences thought, "John passed, it ain't gonna be the same anymore". This is understandable, considering we are talking about a group of people (American viewers) who gave 'Yes Dear' a free ride but caused Andy Richter Controls the Universe to be cancelled in no time. As the show's quality increased, its ratings declined. Soon it was no more, sadly.
And I saved the best for last: fans of Married With Children are in for a treat. And boy, what a treat it was. I still shiver just remembering it. It's a surprise so good that it would be crazy for me to spoil it, even if I legitimately do it under the "spoiler..." pretext. Suffice it to say that it's something you'll NEVER forget. I know I won't :-)
Married with Children (1987)
It just makes you feel so good...
It's hard not to fall in love with this show. It's not terribly deep, yet still there's something about it. The main reason is because the characters are pretty entertaining:
* Al Bundy: politically incorrect, "sexist" (so to speak), bitter, he's the lovable dad. But not lovable in the same sense Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson are lovable (fat, dumb & nice), Al is actually fit, fairly intelligence and rude at times. But that's why we love him: he's not rude because of a sinister intent, he's rude because his life is screwed up enough to kill any desire he might have to be polite or diplomatic. And why wouldn't he be so bitter? He's in his 40's, he's a shoe salesman in a forsaken mall, his pay is next to nothing (worse yet, he gets paid in Pesos), he has a lazy, useless, nagging wife who always puts him down, a viciously stupid blonde daughter who's promiscuous and nearly proud about it, his son is smart but he's kinda short and is a miserable failure in his love life, yet the son is always confident in his abilities to get girls. Not only that, but he seems to have the worst luck in the world. He just can't get a damn break. To top it all off, his neighbors annoy the hell out of him. Al is revered and loved by every guy on Earth, and loathed and feared by every woman.
* Peggy Bundy: enormous red hair, constantly-worn high heels (causing her to walk funny), super lazy, can't cook, can't do dishes, can't do laundry, can't do anything at all. Or doesn't want to. Either way, her main hobby (other than sitting in front of the TV all day watching Opera and Soap Operas) is to put Al Down about his lousy job, laughable income, crappy car and miserable life. Al is always down on himself and fed up with life, so he doesn't have time for her, thus she's almost always in heat. But Al does not desire women anymore (well, not the ones who are married to him, at least), so he always finds ways to circumvent those requests of hers, even though Peggy *is* one helluva gal: sexy, fit and beautiful.
* Kelly Bundy: a legendary TV character, Kelly is worshiped by guys all over the world. She's the epitome of sexiness: glaringly bright blonde hair that flows like a platinum-gold waterfall, a curvy, staggeringly sculpted body, creamy-white, silky skin, and killer legs, topping it all off with an angelically beautiful face of luscious red lips, dazzling white teeth with a cute little gap in the front and mesmerizing eyes. Kelly (played by Christina Applegate) is the dream of every guy, every age, any taste. Despite her physical credentials, she's horribly stupid, to much of the agony of her dad, seeing how her idiocy comes at the worst possible times (she was a witness once for her dad). One of the reasons to watch the show. Of course, many other shows have had (and will continue to have) characters that might come close, but there will always be one Christiana Applegate. Those who saw Christina only in recent work (Anchorman, etc.) will be shocked to see how even MUCH sexier she was back then. Cracks non-stop jokes about her brother's lousy love life and bad skin.
* Bud: cracks non-stop jokes at his sister's promiscuity. He'd joke about her stupidity too, but doesn't, knowing she won't get them. Bud is pretty damn funny with sarcastic comments and endless trainwreck relationships.
The interaction of these characters, the situations they put themselves in, the crap that life throws at Al, all reasons to get addicted to the show. I still watch reruns and taped episodes.
The one big flaw of this show came later on: the audience. The laughter is alright, but they applauded EVERY character, EVERY episode. Every time a character walks in, they applaud. It's a waste of time. First it was Al and Kelly (which is just fine by me, I still applaud them every time), then it extended to the rest of the family, THEN the neighbors (Steve and Marcy, then Marcy and D'arcy). It was pretty damn annoying. Another smaller annoyance is 'talking' for Buck the dog. WTF? The human characters are fine, thank you very much. But those are more annoyances than they are problems. Four words sum up this show: thoroughly enjoyable, hopelessly addictive. You'll fall in love with this show in no time.
Perfection presented in a tangible state
...which is hard to say. This is one of those all-too-rare moments where the praise showered upon a movie truly lives up to its hype. The accolades and critical acclaim this movie has been receiving (and will continue to receive) are truly deserved. Teenyboppers, however, don't attend, please. Anyone who was dying to watch Britney's Crossroads movie: steer clear, otherwise you'll feel a compelling urge to come here on IMDb's board and voice your idiocy to the whole world in the ever-so-repetitive: "THIS MOVIE IZ OVERRATED".
Here are the reasons this movie is considered by me and many others (including critics and movie buffs) to be one of the greatest movies ever made:
(1) Martin Scorsese. He's the director, and he's the number one reason this movie is so, so good. There are three factors that make Marty a master of his craft (in no particular order): first, he has vision. Talent. The stuff. He has what it takes to be a director. He knows what to do, where to do it, when to do it and how to do it. He knows what works and what doesn't work. He knows when something is almost good (hence push it to be good) or overdone (hence take it down a notch). That's the first factor of his greatness: talent, and skill. Second, his amazing attention to detail. In his movies, everything has to be just PERFECT. 'Nuff said about this. Third (and his one sets him apart from the majority of the great directors), he has a rare (perhaps perfectly unique) ability to direct the WORST actors and absolute novices and turn them into acting gods and goddesses. I do not think there has been any director, past or present, that has this ability. Marty ensures that every single line, body movement, facial expression, voice tone and what have you are convincing...to the extreme. The realism of it, in fact, can be so creepy (seen Taxi Driver?). Sharon Stone's first nomination came late in her career (in 1995) when Marty directed her. Marty directed a new actress (Cathy Moriarity) in Raging Bull and had her nominated for an Oscar. The same for Joe Pesci in the same movie (he was new back then). When Pesci won his first Oscar, it was Scorsese who directed him (in this very movie, Goodfellas).
(2) The cast. This is the second reason this movie is so great. Joe Pesci is a psychotically violent thug, Ray Liotta as the lead in this biographical picture (mostly biographical, with quite a few artistic liberties), DeNiro as Liotta's take-no-prisoners boss, and most importantly (for me anyway), Paul Sorvino, as the capo regime for the big crime family he's working for. He heads this group of thugs and they all report to him. Sorvino delivered one of the scariest, most intimidating performances EVER, in any movie. The terror he strikes into your heart as the feared, imposing mob boss is matched by very few in other mob movies. Even Don Vito Corleone had a softer, more courteous, more diplomatic side. Paulie Cicero (Sorvino's character, based on a real mobster called Paul Vario), however, is terrifically intimidating. I remember an interview with Paul Sorvino (a few years ago) in which he says some Goodfellas fans tremble when they meet him, still shaken up by his dead-on performance. And, I don't blame them. Incidentally, let me combine the first point and the second point to produce this little back-up trivia: during the course of the movie, Sorvino improvises a slap to Liotta's face, which he receives with a stunned, surprised look against Sorvino's static, icey face. That slap was real, and Liotta didn't know it was coming. Scorsese left it in the movie because of that reason. That's a demonstration of point 1 (Scorsese's brilliance and attention to detail) and 2 (the cast, i.e. Sorvino's emotionless, scary look in this case).
(3) The story. The story this movie is based on is real. However, not every single thing in this movie happened. There were some liberties taken; some improvisations and some modifications. In any case, the story is superbly immersive and interesting. To top it all off, the movie runs at past 2 hours, so you get a heavy dose of movie pleasure.
(4) The music. The period music was used to perfection, although this can belong to point #1, but I thought it deserves its own point. The first song you hear (along with a paused shot of Ray Liotta's face) is "Rags to Riches" by Tony Bennet, which really sets the mood for the movie at its beginning and adds a little preview at the same time (the story is about Henry Hill's rise to power from a small, underprivileged family). The songs are matched brilliantly to the scenes and chosen with utmost care.
So, dear reader, these are the four main points that I believe made this movie what it is: a cinematic masterpiece and one of the greatest movies ever made. Inevitably, and because of the movie's supreme power and brilliance, it will always be compared to the Godfather, but the two are essential different. Whereas Goodfellas is the story of one man's journey through crime, the Godfather is about a whole family's ups and downs. The term "mob movie" is applied very loosely to the two. It's just a general label. So, it's futile to compare them, because they're two superb pictures. But a personal observation of mine is that the Godfather is great as a whole, whereas Goodfellas outshines it in many little details that make it more than the sum of its parts. Beyond that, they're both great and neither is better than the other, so to speak.
The movie's violent though, so it ain't for the squeamish. But that's all irrelevant. Those are just little post-it notes on the back cover of a whole book on how to make movies that time will eternally remember.
My Name Is Earl (2005)
Fresh, funny and lighthearted
With the plethora of repetitive and derivative sitcoms jamming fall, summer, winter and spring line-ups, it's nice to see a show that sets itself from the lot in more than one area.
'Earl' takes an unusual approach. It's not about the "daily musings of an eccentric family" (zzzz..) nor about the other boring stuff you see everywhere in sitcoms. The show is about this small-time white trash thief (Earl) who scratches off a lottery card and scores big time. Right at that moment, 'Karma' took it away from him. Overtime, he learns that that unusual incident was probably because of all the bad things he's been doing, so he sets off on a mission to right every wrong he ever did and he's got all his deeds on a paper.
This is a brilliant premise for a sitcom. Thankfully, it landed in the right hands. The execution of the show produces extremely satisfactory results: you get an innovative comedy that is genuinely funny and really touching at many times. You can't help but fall in love with Earl's sincerity and steadfastness, Randy's simple mind, good heart and observations on life, Joy's wild, flamboyant personality and Darnell's mellow, chillin' demeanor that really endears him to you very easily.
When you combine the show's innovation with its genuine humor, good heart, interesting characters and well-written dialogue, you really have a keeper. With shows like this (and the incomparable "The Office"), NBC is obviously on to something. Did they finally free a cubicle or two for quality assurance? Let's hope so. And let's hope for more quality shows like these will occupy the line-ups; shows that'll make both us TV viewers and NBC executives stop crying over the long gone days of NBC's golden days (Frasier, Seinfeld, Friends)
Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
The most fun of all the teen movies I watched
For a teen movie, this picture's got a nice re-view value. I watched it numerous times and it was fun every time. The reason I watched it in the first place is because I've always been a huge Jennifer Love Hewitt fan, mostly for her aesthetic value. What sets this movie apart from most teen movies is the lack of anything heavy or depressing. Some directors think that sad stuff are "catches" the grip you and make you more interested. No, they just put a damper on the experience. The story is nice, the performances are humorous and interesting (props for Lauren Ambrose and Peter Facinelli for two memorable ones). The songs are nicely chosen (Paradise City, ah, the memories). And the movie's got every possible archetype you could think of: the geek, the jock, the jock's buddies, the wigger, the prom princess, the wise-cracking outsider, and a plethora of others.
All in all, this is the movie to watch if you're looking for something fun, lighthearted and upbeat. Plus you get to see a young Jaime Pressley before she scored big with My Name Is Earl.
How bad is suicide, really?
What's REALLY bad about it? Is it just because it involves taking the life of a human? Well, that's not enough reason for society to be so negative about it. Wars, diseases, murders, they're all around us. Death is a natural, normal thing. Why would you oppose someone trying to take their own life? Isn't it HIS life? What do YOU have to do with it? I say that because I just watched this "movie". For fear I might put those questions of mine into practical use, I'll stop any other references to this...thing. Not for me, but for the ones who love me and depend on me.
Perhaps it's religion-influenced cultural convictions. Maybe it's the delicacy and squeamishness of the average person. Maybe another reason. In the end, suicide is not that dramatic or Earth-shattering a disaster as some think it is. By exterminating humans on a constant basis, death is giving life to this planet. Otherwise, there would be no place for a foot and we'd have to look for other planets. It's all part of a grand-scale cycle of life. We really should not think of death (particularly suicide in this context) as but a way for more life to exist.
Anyway, if you want thoughts like mine, go ahead and watch this thing. *Googles the net for least painful way to die*
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Typical Spielberg: All Frosting, No Cake
In a historic and artistic context, here's a question that would bother Spielberg if he thought about it for a second: what if there was no such thing as special effects? If we take the special effects from his movies, would they still be great? What, you're waiting for an answer? Just like every Spielberg movie, we find Steve desperately clinging to special effects like a fish to water. Like Bush to oil. Like Uwe Boll to a video game-to-movie conversion (last one is not necessarily bad, by the way).
Just like everybody else, I was amazed by the "realism" of the first 5 minutes. Once you get past the battle scenes, there's not much to work with. I'm glad people (as manifest in the growing number of low reviews here) are starting to realize this.
Let's set aside the absurdity of the "plot" (I use 'plot' very loosely). That's just a vehicle; a pretext; an excuse to use special effects (Spielberg's one and only leverage). The main plot is that a mother lost a number of her sons, so the general (or whatever his rank was) thinks she shouldn't lose her last remaining son, Ryan. He reads a letter Abraham Lincoln sent to a mother who went through a similar experience during the civil war. Using musical cues and closeups, Spielberg is not trying to tell us how to feel; he's practically *begging* us to do so. After all, he knows better than anybody that people will - during the course of the movie - realize that the battle scenes aren't that numerous or long, so there better be some story to back the movie up.
Since he knows that he's addressing a crowd that made movies like Armageddon and Independence Day box office hits, he (correctly) realized that the script needs to be comprised of one element only: text. So long as the script contained text, it was good enough. And he was right. With enough flash and special effects, he was able to appeal to the idiocy of the average American, a tactic mastered by Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay and their likes.
Now, back to the 'plot': once you set it aside, you'll realize that this movie is trying to instill many ideas into the minds of the movie goers. When he shows German soldiers, he shows them from a distance, so by not giving them a face, a human side, he teaches us that it's totally OK to thrill at killing them. Bad German bad! After our heroes free a German, Spielberg makes is very clear that he came back later to kill Tom Hanks. Spielberg is saying: they should've killed him the first time. The only good German is a dead one, apparently. Astonishing dishonesty and malice on the part of Spielberg. Not a trick was a spared to demonize every single one of them.
Unlike masters of movie making (a title Spielberg will never come close to) like Scorsese and Coppola, he desperately needs musical cues to tell when to feel sad, fearful, excited, etc. His approach to emotion is so utterly sappy, shallow and downright laughable that it's virtually impossible for him to let the scenes and the story speak for themselves. He must have very clear cues to give the viewers signals. The music is like a slap in the face. Spielberg manifests in moments like "tell me I lived a good life", grabs you by the throat and ORDERS you to shed a few tears. Insulting. Pathetic.
The only good part in the movie is the whole scene of the mistaken identity, where they realize this whining little weakling crying his eyes out is not the Ryan they wanted. Other than that, and looking at the chutzpah of the musical cues, the absurdity of the plot, the dehumanization of the Germans and the hilarious warfare errors, the movie is only good for another laugh, albeit not one Spielberg was aiming for.
Garbage. The bad kind of garbage.
There ARE good kinds of garbage (e.g. Gigli) that are so, so bad that they actually become watchable. But Philadelphia is the kind of garbage that is so, so bad in a BAD way. The movie just takes itself so seriously it's simply laughable. The director likely believes that the film is a humanitarian message.
Let's get this out of the way: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington gave GREAT performances, especially Denzel. . Now, to the movie: the movie is so overly indulged in 'emotion' and musical cues that it becomes so embarrassingly sappy and unwatchable. I take solace in knowing that there are OTHER innocent people who were abused by such cringe-inducing scenes like the opera/red light scene, which counts as one of the most hideous abuses of "director's privileges" ever; an utterly embarrassing scene to watch any way you look at it. The movie is literally STUFFED with rubbish like that, like the defense attorney looks at Becket for a couple of seconds before saying, "Andrew Becket is dying", or the whole scene near the end where Becket has to take his shirt off to show the jury his lesions. The music, the bosses turning their heads away, the look on Hanks' face, Wow. The director is begging us to cry. Oh, I did feel like crying, but for a completely different reason. The only reason I feel content giving this movie one star (as opposed to the much sought-after zero stars, which exists in review titles only) is because of Denzel's performance. Avoid this piece of feces at all costs.
Three Reasons to be Excited About This Show...
(1) The show will shatter many expectations. It certainly did mine. After all, since when was Pamela Anderson known to be a comedic attraction? I mean she HAS been an attraction for many years now, but not once for humor-related reasons. Many times, it's very difficult for humans to let go of prejudgments or prejudices, and I am no exception. To be honest, the first moment I heard Pamela Anderson was in a sitcom I thought, "Hmm, I give it a week". Hopefully, and very hopefully, this is nowhere close to what will happen. If audiences give Stacked just one chance, I feel the show will stay on the air for a very long time. And that's the first reason to be excited about this show: it's a lot, lot better than you thought it would be. Forget your prejudgments. Forget anything about Pamela. This show is very funny. It's very, very funny. It's no "Scrubs" yet, but it's surely on the right path. That's the first reason to be excited about this show: it's funny, a lot funnier than you would expect it to be. From the very first few episodes, the show steered clear from the usual cliché's that many new shows have to start with as some sort of much-unneeded TV ritual. The show is a bit original in its plots, which is hard to say these days. Case in point: the episode about being a 'groupie' and being 'passed around'. Interesting, and funny.
(2) The second reason to be excited about this show is that Elon Gold, one of the primary cast members, finally has a show to star in. If you're not familiar with Elon, I advise you not to miss any chance to see his standup comedy routines. I've seen him only ONCE on the Tonight Show and he had me rolling on the floor with laughter. His material was excellent and his impersonations of David Schwimmer and Jeff Goldblum should not be watched by those who had any recent abdominal surgeries. I feel he's going to be a major comedy star one day. And this is the perfect start to spring from.
(3) The third reason to be excited about this show is a 'new' cast member I've never seen before: Brian Scolaro. This is the first time I've ever seen him, and I would be surprised if someone blamed me for prejudging sitcom newcomers as mostly amateurish, predictable and overly self-burdened with one cliché after another. This guy is totally awesome. He's an amazing deadpan comedian. Personally, it's slightly annoying if a sitcom comedian smiles as he/she delivers the line. A serious face (especially when delivering an annoyed, sad or fearful line), a deadpan face, that's good comedy. And he makes you laugh with his deadpan face (since he's annoyed and harassed most of the time by the unfairness of life, the old guy, and other things) as much as he does with his well-written lines (a classic already is the last line in the 'Groupie' episode).
My advice to all you TV, comedy, sitcom, whatever fans out there: watch...this...show. You'll be pleasantly surprised.