Tag Archives: funny

With the odds stacked against it, I was happily surprised (50/50 – 2011)

An excellent buddy film, enjoyably comedic with seriousness becoming of such a dark topic.  Recommended to all age-appropriate audiences.

To my adoring public:

Okay, despite my grotesque amount of soon-to-be-due homework, I decided to go out and see a movie this morning.  That’s right, I love you webizens so much that I’m willing to sacrifice my education so that you can remain an informed movie-going public.  Well, that and I really wanted to see something.  So it was a toss-up between Moneyball and 50/50. 

Now, I had originally planned on seeing Moneyball.  It looks excellent and I’ve never had much faith in Seth Rogen.  However, on the way to the movie theatre, I had a change of heart.  I decided that I had at least ought to make the attempt to remain current, so I chose this week’s major release.  Ergo, today we’re looking at 50/50.

Now, a brief point before I begin, I’m moving away from the good-bad-ugly format.  It seems too rote for art and thereby limiting the message I can convey or forcing me to make points where I don’t feel they’re relevant.  So we’re just going to roll through this thing freely.  Let’s get started:

The best place to start is where I had the least faith.  Seth Rogen plays a surprisingly enjoyable character, Adam’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) friend, Kyle.  Despite being a repeat of the obnoxious frat boy we’re accustomed to, the character grows more appreciably serious towards the end.  The exemplary friend, though thickly veiled by the boisterous exterior, is both alluded to and later evidenced by the way he deals with the final moments preceding and following Adam’s surgery.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, though not as enjoyable as his role in Inception, performed well in his character, Adam Lerner.  Acting as a real cancer patient cycling through periods of numbness, anger, and depression, he puts up a believable face in spite of the heavy comedic influences.  Standing out firmly from the rest of the film is the scene in which Adam has a nervous breakdown in Kyle’s car.  Gordon-Levitt thrashes about a bit, but makes the scene truly memorable with an incredibly startling and primal scream. 

The plot of this film (cue Tom’s rant on the writing) was actually excellent.  I went in without expecting much and was taken aback by how enjoyable and true the character development seemed to be.  With Adam progressing through the stages of grief, a young psychiatrist learning her technique, and the friends and family attempting to cope (in many different ways) with the possibility of losing Adam to cancer, it’s both a simple and implicitly complex tale.  Still, it easily wraps itself up at the end, leaving only a few unanswered questions, those these are easily dismissed for what we’re shown.

That’s not to say that this film was perfect.  The blossoming of the relationship between Adam and his psychiatrist, Katie (Anna Kendrick), seems unlikely and added only for the movie to end on a more enjoyable note.  Scenes with the cheating ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard), are grossly foreshadowing their impending break-up and then over-the-top in Adam’s cathartic revenge.

However, despite it’s minor problems, the film did well.  Something as off as old men eating cookies laced with marijuana, though at first seeming uninspired, actually goes on to surprise as one of their deaths proves a major  emotional turning point for Adam.  This reality mixed with the fantasy go on to give the film a great balance and leads me to recommend 50/50 to anybody who enjoys dark comedies and playful dramas.

FRIGHT NIGHT

Well, it’s been at least two weeks since I last reviewed a film in theaters.  And now, nearly a week after having seen it, and more than a week since it was released, I’d like to tell you what I thought about Fright Night.

THE GOOD

All of the characters in this comedic horror film were very funny.  The actors were completely believable in their roles and no suspension of disbelief was required in accepting that the characters portrayed could be real people.  (Oftentimes, comedies present you with a number of strawman characters because it’s easy to make them do funny things.  This film employed real personalities whose comedic value were brought about by situational humor and witty dialogue, comedy that I value highly.)  Favorite actors were Colin Farrell and David Tennant as the former portrayed a modern-day vampire as I’d hoped and the latter as being a stupendously ridiculous character, yet still acceptable as a human being.

Beyond the characters, I was a fan of the story.  In my many years, I never got around to seeing the original Fright Night, and have no immediate plans to do so.  (I find that watching original films, after impressive remakes, usually leaves me disappointed in the quality of the original.)  So I can only speak of the most recent Fright Night and commend it for both portraying vampires in a way that I can appreciate (take that Twilight), and for being clever with what a vampire entails.  Aside from the standard, goes out only at night and avoids garlic omelets, the Fright Night vampire, Jerry, is clever about his host city (Las Vegas), the construction of his house , and the way he works.

THE BAD

This movie only suffers when it attempts to reinforce itself.  Truly, it’s almost a curse of humility where the writers, director, and special effects staff must’ve thought they’d not produced a funny enough film so they had to go above and beyond.  In that pursuit, we find a scene reminiscent of An American Werewolf in London, in which our protagonist’s friend is turned into a vampire and is nearly decapitated after losing an arm.  But he remains alive, so now our protagonist is attacked by a one-armed, head hanging vampire that now not only reminds me of the zombie from AWIL, but the Black Knight from Monty Python.  ‘Tis merely a flesh wound. 

THE UGLY

My sole qualm belonging in this section is the special effects work done in this film.  Blood effects seem overdone and Jerry’s transformation in times of extreme physical threat is a bit off-putting, with the transformed image looking poor in comparison to everything around him.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was a greatly enjoyable film.  Though it is no cinematic masterpiece, it will likely become a modern cult classic, succeeding its predecessor.  I recommend this film as a comedy more than anything else because that’s what it did best.  It has mild thriller elements and a classic monster story, but you’ll probably want to see it for the laughs more than anything else.  (Well, the laughs and the scene in which our protagonist lights himself on fire to grapple with Jerry.  That was brilliant.)

A TRANSVESTITE WIN (REVIEW OF TOOTSIE)

For the uninformed, I have a cinematic curse following my romantic relationships.  My first date is invariably to see a movie (don’t judge me, I want a girl who enjoys film) and I let the woman choose the title.  Before Cate, my previous girlfriend chose the film He’s Just Not That Into You.  (While the film didn’t hold any significant message for our relationship, it was a foreboding experience).  As I said in an earlier entry, Cate and I saw Bad Teacher.  While not breaming with negative connotations, it was far from my favorite film. 

Now, what does this have to do with a film that was released before my birth?  (It’s nearly thirty years old, having been released in 1982.)  Well, on our second date, after watching X-Men: First Class (for my fourth time), we went back to her house and watched Tootsie, a surprisingly enjoyable film about an actor cross-dressing to find work.  I say surprising because often cross-dressing comedies are just slightly better than those employing solely sexual and scatological jokes.  In this case however, the characters are believable (enough) and you’re quickly drawn into their drama. 

Now, while the film was good, it deserves a longer review than what I mentioned above.  Let’s get started.

THE GOOD

I’ll try not to start by praise the writing as I have in earlier posts, so I’ll start with the acting.  While there was a small cast and they all performed admirably, the acting of Dustin Hoffman was far above my expectations.  Unlike many other films using a transvestite as a major, comedic plot device, Hoffman’s characters (both male and female) serve to bring drama in along with the laughter.  Furthermore, this film requires a much less severe suspension of disbelief than other films with similar stories.  (In layman’s terms, Hoffman is a rather convincing woman.)

Aside from Hoffman’s impressive ability to portray both sexes, what did I enjoy from this film?  If I’m writing positively, it must be the writing.  And more specifically, the dialogue.  The film revolves around Hoffman’s most recent acting gig, a recurring role on a daytime soap opera.  The stereotypical cheesiness of the soap’s dialogue provides an excellent juxtaposition to the dialogue and acting off the set.  The weaknesses of the former serve to emphasize the clever word exchanges between cast members and the excellently pithy one-liners of Bill Murray.

THE BAD

While the suspension of disbelief was minimal for Hoffman’s female character, the same cannot be said for his/her romantic suitors.  Throughout the film, his female character (Dorothy) is courted by two men, a cast member from the soap opera (John Van Horn, played by George Gaynes) and the widowed father of a friend (Les, played by Charles Durning).  The former fails because his character is purely comical and his advances simply grotesque.  The latter fails for being a dim-witted character, knowing Dorothy for a week before proposing to her.  I detested the first for being a stupidly simple character, and the second for simply being stupid.

THE UGLY

The only note that may strike an off chord with some viewers is that the conclusion doesn’t satisfy all of the possible plotlines that were begun throughout the film.  The most notable of these is that Hoffman’s male character never truly solves his romantic issues, though it concludes with he and his current interest walking home on good terms.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The film is most enjoyable and worthy of multiple viewings.  It’s a light comedy with dramatic and romantic aspects.  Altogether, I thoroughly recommend that anybody watch this film at least once.

A DAY LATER DOESN’T MAKE A MOVIE ANY BETTER (REVIEW OF THE CHANGE-UP)

Okay, guess who accidentally saw The Change-Up yesterday?  That’s right, this guy.  And, to defend the illusion that I have good taste, I’d like to say that I was not the person who chose this film (nor was it Cate), it was my oldest friend, Andy.  As I rarely see him, being a student on the other side of the country, I felt like obliging him yesterday afternoon when he asked if I’d like to visit a mall with him.  We went and eventually ended up outside an AMC theatre and I let him select a film.  I’ve learned never to do so again.

THE GOOD

It’s fair to say that I’m a fan of comedy films.  If I want to watch something that will distract me from the troubles of the world, or create noise as I’m writing these posts, I’m likely to play Rush Hour or The Proposal.  So, I enjoyed a few comedic moments of this film.  Sadly, they were almost every laugh was brought on purely by shock, existing in cringe moments where the only alternatives are to lie in the fetal position or leave the theatre in shame.

Upon review of the last paragraph, I had painfully little to say about this film’s good points.  To not seem like I’m being intentionally mean, I’d like to say that Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds, along with most of the other cast members did their jobs well and portrayed their poorly-written caricatures of human beings satisfactorily. 

THE BAD

The plot, dialogue, and most of the images.  Well, virtually everything I saw.  It was all kind of terrible.  However, choice moments will be saved for THE UGLY.  So, what was my issue with this film?  Probably that it was an R-rated comedy.  I find that R-rated comedies, like Step Brothers, rely upon gratuitous cursing and sexual acts/references in lieu of actual comedy.  They write to the lowest common denominator, going on for nearly two hours before they permit you to leave the theatre feeling dirty.  

THE UGLY

Now for the fun part.  Er, the antithesis of my enjoyment, but fun to decry.  Among the ugliest scenes we have the following:

a. Ryan Reynolds about to have sex with a nine-month pregnant woman (whom we see completely naked).  Luckily, they do not consummate the evening, though we do see the child kick at one point.

b.  An infant projectile defecating a greenish-brown sludge, three feet in Jason Bateman’s mouth as Bateman is trying to change the child’s diaper.

c.  Jason Bateman leaving the bathroom naked, into the presence of Ryan Reynolds and Leslie Mann, and shouting something along the lines of “Dude, I have freckles on my taint.  This is awesome!”

d.  Leslie Mann using the toilet in view and making a number of noises either unnatural or horrifying.

While there were many others, I feel I’d give away the only reason anyone might see this film if I continue.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This movie is dismal.  I feel that most of its viewers will agree with my opinion.  Like most R-rated comedy films, I recommend this film only to the lowest common denominator of comedy lovers or general film viewers.

I’m only eleven years late (Kitchen Confidential book review)

jody-bourdain-7996841I’d like to start this book review by noting that at one point in his long, miserable life, Anthony Bourdain was a wreck of a human being.  And, while he may be upset that some random college student is saying this, he cannot disagree.  That said, I would like to follow it up by saying that I truly like Bourdain.  I find him funny and believe that his cooking and attitude is deserving of his celebrity status and notoriety.

But that’s the man.  What of the book?  Well, the book is the man.  Often touted and cited as a guide to life in commercial kitchens or an insider-exposé of what goes on behind the counter, Kitchen Confidential is truly the memoires of a middle-aged Anthony Bourdain.  x4800

Beginning with the tales of a childhood trip to France, inspiration for his lifelong love of food, we’re presented an alien Bourdain.  Beside the obvious age difference, this child dislikes foreign food, commenting distastefully especially on the cheesy butter served in the French cities.  All this comes to a head though, when his parents abandon him and his little brother (in their car) whilst dining in on of France’s most acclaimed restaurants.  Bourdain decides to turn this on his parents by being the first in his family to eat a raw oyster, offered to him by his uncle. 

Thus began his relationship with food.  That said, it would be long before he became a chef.  Rather, he was a delinquent for the younger years, up through college, and then some.  However, at some point in his degenerate life, he went to a beach town over the summer and was forced to work lest he starve to death.  So he got a job washing dishes at a rusty spoon called the Dreadnaught.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Actually, it’s the next two hundred and fifty pages of this three hundred page book. 

So what’s the rest of it?  Well, a lot of it has to do with Bourdain’s addictions to pot, heroin, and a slew of other controlled substances, tales of sexual antics and gratuitous acts of violence, all while travelling through various kitchens up and down the eastern seaboard.  Their are anecdotes of hilarious hijinks and tales of his mentors, interspersed with tips on professional cooking and advice to never join the restaurant industry. 

Final judgement:  The book is certainly funny and engrossing for anybody who enjoys biographies or food.  Bourdain’s flippant tone and acts of self-deprecation help to lighten what could otherwise be a dark recounting of a life that’s seen some great highs and disappointing lows.  I recommend it for anybody who has enjoyed one of his shows (or never wishes to eat again in a restaurant).

Rolling Intoxicated

Now I know what you’re thinking:

TOMMMMMMMM!  You should know not to drive under the influence…  You’ve seen the commercials…  You know that the cops are cracking down on drunk driving…  Besides, since when the hell were you a heavy drinker?!?  Yeah, that’s not okay.  I’m telling mum.

But that’s not the case.  Mostly because I don’t drive.  Well, I don’t drive where I’m currently living.  Yeah, that’s one of the great things about Washington, DC: The Metro.  (Which is really code for:  Driving in DC is miserable.  You should not own a car here; it will only make you unhappy.)

So, what the hell does the title mean if I didn’t get busted for DUI?  Well, it’s a bit of a confession and a public service announcement.  …I just realized that I’m still not getting away from this drinking and driving thing… 

–Spoiler Alert: This post is about Rooster Teeth Productions’ Drunk Tank Podcast–

FIXED.

Allow me to elaborate.  The Drunk Tank is a periodically-released radio show hosted by the Rooster Teeth staff members (often Burnie Burns, Gus Sorola, Geoff Lazer Ramsey, Joel Heyman, Jack Pattillo, and Griffon Ramsey) and is distributed on both the Rooster Teeth website and iTunes.  I am currently subscribed to the podcast which updates every Wednesday.  While that would have provided a relatively low level of entertainment for the last two weeks without becoming grossly repetitive, they are currently on episode 103.  Ergo, there is about one hundred hours of podcast to listen through before I start repeating.  I am currently on episode 60.  And I am loving it.

The podcast is the Rooster Teeth staff, a web-based entertainment group known for “Red vs. Blue” (RVB), discussing videogames, current events, food, and office/family matters.  Their discussions are both hilarious and informative, as well as surprisingly current despite my listening to podcast from about a year ago.  While Rooster Teeth Productions is grossly entrenched in videogames, being bread and butter of their company, it’s still entertaining to non-gamers.  When I began listening, I was almost vehemently anti-gaming (having not been immersed in a console game for at least four years and generally staying far from PC games).   However, listening to Geoff, Gus, and Burnie be genuinely excited about videogames, I’ve been converted.  Er, rather,reverted back to my old, gaming self.

Question: Why does this matter?  Answer: It doesn’t.  Next question: Why are you telling me this? Because it’s awesome.  And if I can help the Drunk Tank get more subscribers so that Rooster Teeth continues to put out these podcasts, I feel that I’ve justified my consumption of entertainment that they release for free.

Last question: What am I supposed to do now? 

Final answer:  Open up iTunes> go to the iTunes store> type “Drunk Tank” into the search bar> search> click on the Drunk Tank podcast> begin downloading episodes> Enjoy.  Alternatively (if you’re anti-Apple/iTunes/weirdness), click on the link: http://roosterteeth.com/archive/?sid=dt&v=more.  If the podcast does not begin playing immediately, go to www.roosterteeth.com , and look over the homepage for “Podcast”.

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