Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hot and Cold-August Movies

A few ramblings about The Descent, John Tucker Must Die, World Trade Center, and Step Up.

HOT- Gooey Puddles of blood that british chicks and bat creatures come out of. Seriously, that scene was balls out creepy. In that movie, they were like, 'what are these creatures?' and they're in this cave, and one chick who wasn't Kelly Ripa is like, 'they use sound to hunt like bats'. And we all thought the same thing. BAT BOY!! Hopefully, they will evolve into Masterpiece Theatre loving well adjusted gentlemen.

COLD- All the previews before the movie. I need another stupid Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie like a need a chainsaw through my leg. That first one was student film level bad. I seriously think that a red-headed Fraggle could make a better movie. But Michael Bay has never made a bad movie!! And then, among all the horror movie previews, they show a trailer for Marky Mark's Invincible?? I think that was a mistake. That's like throwing the preview to Saw 3 before a matinee screening of Barnyard.

HOT- Brittany Snow in underwear. I know she played a Neo-Nazi on 'Nip and Tuck' as my mother calls it. But that girl is still hot in a attainable girl next door type way. And she's legal. Just like everyone else in that 'High School' movie. John Tucker aka Jesse Metcalfe is 27 for god's sake!!

COLD- Jenny McCarthy's face. So, apparently she's dating Jim Carrey now, and, fine, good for her. But seriously, her face is streched so thin it is frightening to look at. Everytime she came on screen I winced. Back in '96 in her Singled Out days she had some meat to her face. Now it looks like she's auditioning for the role of Skeletor in some He-Man remake.

COLD- And Ashanti in that movie was dressed like a pirate the entire time. Nobody dresses with bandanas, scarves, giant hoop earrings, a shirt that's basically just a bra, and mini skirt with platforms at any high school I know. Maybe in California. But I still don't think so. There may have been a dress code where you have to expose your midriff at all times. And I swear, that HS was the Sluts 'R Us high school, that apparently enrolls porn stars who are 30 years old. Everybody was just so horny and fashionable. And they never had to do school work. And all the teachers are buffoons. And they had some secret lair where they hatched out their plan. And.....

COLD- They didn't even want to KILL JOHN TUCKER! Don't call your movie John Tucker Must Die, if the worst thing you're going to do to him is make him wear a thong in front of the school. It would have been a much more interesting movie, if the did try to assinate him somehow. Get V for Vendetta to poison him or something. Run him over with a Hummer,. Slice the back of his ankles. Something! Instead, he learns a valuable lesson not to lie and use girls and blah blah blah, in a scene which somehow ends in a climactic food fight at his birthday party. Plus, Brittany Snow and her real love, John Tucker's brother (channeling 10 things I hate about You Heath Ledger), didn't even kiss at the end. What a Tease! I do like the poster though.

HOT- So apparently people would rather go see a movie about a borderline mental defective white guy learn how to dance, than World Trade Center. I guess I kind of agree with them. I mean, I'm sure WTC is good and powerful and meaningful and sad and cathartic. But I just am not feeling it right now. And it's not cuz it's too soon or that our world is in such a mess. But kind of like you have to be in the right mood to watch a documentary or a depressing movie. And I just don't think August is the time for that. Although I do enjoy Michael Pena, the locksmith from Crash. He may cancel out my annoyance that is Nicholas Cage. I'll probably check it out on video.

COLD- But then again, how did Step Up make so much money?? I guess after a month long break of 'chick' movies, girls got to drag their men to this Dirty Dancing, Save the Last Dance, Take the Lead, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Honey, Flashdance, The Company, Center Stage, insert dance movie here, retread. This time a manly man has to learn ballet!!?!?! But not before I'm sure he infuses his street cred to the dance!! I hope the couple end up together, though I'm sure they hate each other at first! And I bet one of them has a parent who disapproves! How original.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

My Summer Movie Report (or gripe list)

We've entered the doldrums of summer movies, and aside from the building anticipation of Snakes on a Plane, this summer has been, to say the least, dissapointing. From failed retreads to overlong pirate movies, the summer has lacked the punch one would hope for. Yes, I ended a sentence in a preposition. I mean, the best movies of the summer have been The Devil Wears Prada and The Descent. So I now have some suggestions for making the summer movie season more enticing.

1. No more PG-13 horror movies. From this summer's Pulse or Lady in the Water, to last summer's Dark Water or Skeleton Key, if you're gonna do scary, go all out. That's why Snakes on a Plane went back to amp up the gore. At least The Omen was 'R', and hey, it's made almost 55 mil.

2. Don't remake it if people still remember the original. You want to remake a movie that didn't find it's audience or feel is underappreciated? Fine. But not even Johnny Drama could stop the sinking ship known as Poseidon. Was anything terribly wrong with Christopher Reeve and Superman? And I think the only reason they remade The Omen was its release date, 6/6/06.

3. M. Night can't write his own movies. I think enough has been written by other people on this subject that I don't have to elaborate any more.

4. Sandler- get a new idea. Was Click anything more than a big budget remake of the Jesse Bradford classic Clockstoppers?? Sandler is best when playing a man-child, or having someone like Jack Nicholson to riff with. (another preposition, I know). And I don't even mind Spanglish starring Sandler. Just no more implausible situations, where your every-man goes wild.

5. No American accents for Colin Farrell. It's atrocious. Why is he a movie star again?? Has there even been a movie where you've said, wow, that Colin Farrell was really good. S.W.A.T.? The Recruit?? The New World??? Didn't think so.

6. NO more computer animated movies about assimilated animals or bugs. Hmm, why did the Ant Bully tank?? Cuz we've already had 5 billion movies about animated insects. Or 2. Still. And Barnyard?? Was that necessary? The best cartoons were Cars and Monster House, and guess what, they were original ideas. Plus Monster House was 3-D. Always a plus.

7. No doing publicity for your movie until the week of its release. Da Vinci, MI3, The Breakup. I'm sure I saw stars doing the rounds for these films months before the opening. Did you konw that Aniston and Vince are a couple? But they won't talk about it. Or that the DaVinci Code is controversial?? Or that Tom Cruise is crazy? I'm just trying to keep things under wraps. Anything to keeps Tom Cruise off of BET.

8. If a movie makes less than 100 mil or you can't get its star, you can't make a sequel. Garfield 2, Fast and the Furious 3, Clerks 2. What void did the first Garfield leave us?? No Paul Walker? No Dice! Kevin Smith, please don't make Jersey Girl 2. Actually, I am a Jersey Girl fan. I think it got improperly shit on. J-LO is barely in it. Liv Tyler doesn't annoy the piss out of me. Besides, any movie with a climactic scene involving a Sweeney Todd recreation is A-OK in my book.

9. Stick to action movies, Keanu. But he and Sandra Bullock reunite!! In a movie about a magical mailbox!!!! What about Trinity?? You blew it Neo!

10. If the best part of your movie is its title, that's a bad thing. John Tucker Must Die, Nacho Libre, You, Me, and Dupree. Good titles. Not good movies.


11. NO MORE WAYANS MOVIES. They are killing my soul.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Buy me some peanuts and overpriced Aquafina

When you get a call late Friday night to go to a Cubs baseball game on Saturday, you take it. I mean, Wrigley Field. What's better? The ivy covered outfield wall. The sights and smells of the crowd. The triple A ball club that plays there. It's a tradition unlike any other. Sorry, CBS. So my friend Brian and I ventured to the Windy City yesterday afternoon amongst the heat and traffic.

One of the only radio stations that we could get in the car was the sports station that focused on the crosstown White Sox. And all they could do was bitch and moan about their team. How the pitching sucked, the bench sucked, they GM sucked. That the Tigers "just had" to stop playing well. God, I'm thinking, stop whining you effing babies. Just in case you've forgotten these are the same White Sox that won the world series last year when no one thought they would. The same White Sox that everyone is still picking to come out of the AL. The same White Sox who, if not, for the unbelievable season Detroit is would surely be in first place. Oh, and they've beaten the Tigers 6 out of 9 this season. Shut up radio guys!! Rule: You can't bitch and moan about your team the year after you win a championship. That's just greedy and selfish. I mean, when the Pistons lost to the Spurs, it's like, yeah, I wish they would have repeated, but I didn't get to mad. How can you? You just won the championship. That's why Yankee fan can never bitch. They've won like 30 World Series.

At the game, the people watching is great. It's such a fascinating cross section of human life. People decked out in their Chicago Cub regalia. Parents with their kids taking them to their first game. The old timers who 've been there every year. Crazy punks who are in town for Lollapalooza. And even folks in their Pittsburgh Pirates MLB authentic All-Star Game uniforms. Really?? You're a diehard Pittsburgh fan?? Traveling to Chicago? To see a meaningless game between the two teams with the two worst records in the league?? That's like traveling all the way to Walled Lake Western after districts to watch a prelim round of Poetry. If it's not your kid, what's the point?

One thing that has changed about baseball over the years, is they have a sponsor for everything. At first it was Budweiser is the official beer of the Chicago Cubs. Then National City is the offical bank. Yesterday I saw ads for Walgreens the official pharmacy of the Chicago Cubs. Cingular Wireless official phone company. Pretty soon they'll have Trojan is the offical condom of the Chicago Cubs. Or Tampax the official Tampon of the Chicago Cubs. Mark Prior says its what he needs on his heavy flow days. Side note: There was Wi-Fi in Wrigley Field, so I could have brought my laptop there and live-blogged the event straight from right behind the first base dugout. But seriously, who is bringing their cpu into Wrigley Field? You'd have cheap/expensive Old Style Light Beer spilled on it in two seconds.

As for the game, the Cubs did win despite being picked off twice, giving up homeruns to guys named Ronny Paulino and Nate McLouth, and using six pitchers. What a team! And it was Free Cubs hat day! Thanks again for the tix Brian, and don't lose to much moolah in Vegas.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Oh, What a Night

Every August my family travels up north for about a week for a little vacation with my detroit relatives in the little village of Charlevoix. It's a relaxing week where we get to spend quality time with each other. And we have many traditions that we share. Among them:

-Where we go to eat.
-Arguing over where we go to eat.
-Taking a long time to decide where we go to eat.
-Arguing over how long it took us to decide where we go to eat.
-The gas we inevitably get from where we go to eat.

You get the picture. But something happened last Monday night. While the rest of the family decided (with some reluctance) to go to dinner at Grey Gables (a tradition that has worn out its welcome with everyone but my grandmother I think), myself, Adam, and my cousin Alex traveled out to Boyne Highlands for a special treat.

Not dinner.
Not theatre.

After spying an ad in a local newpaper while waiting for a table at the Pancake House promising songs from The Color Purple, Rascal Flats, and (OMG!) High School Musical, we traveled with apprehension to the show. It was entitled "Young Americans" and seemed like a cabaret type production. But at 40 bucks a pop this better be worth the price of admission.

You think you know, but you have no idea.

The three of us were worried. Worried that this would be worse than a Julie Stamos American Idol audition. Worried that we would be the only ones there while 25 peppy college kids sang "We Go Together" solely to us. Worried that we might be the youngest people in the audience by 60 years.

Our fears where soon met at 6:30 when 3 "young americans" greeted us with a "Hey guys! Welcome to the show!" as they held the doors open for us with a Mickey Mouse Club smile. Once in the lobby, and met with platters of cheese, vegetables and popcorn shrimp, our apprehension subsided as the uber-friendly staff took our drink order and mingled with ever-increasing audience. Adam hoped that the cash bar wouldn't bleed him dry. Alex hoped that the piano player in the room would play "Dancing through Life". I just hoped they didn't involve me in uncomfortable conversations. Luckily the only thing a "Young American" did ask me was, "Are you through with that plate?"

Still in the lobby, and gathered around the piano the kids began to sing their little hearts out amongst the chicken wings and fondue. Choral versions of "Shenendoah" and "Danny Boy" were followed by a rousing edition of "Circle of Life" from The Lion King. It was phenomenal. One particular Young American, "O", a big black guy wailed hardcore on the "AAAH SEE VEN YAAAHHH!" part in Circle of Life. He was ready for Broadway in my opinion. They then sang a corny song about how it was time for dinner, and they led us into the ballroom complete with 20 tables, stage, soundboard, and spotlights.

We were seated in the "Mango" section, where our waiter was a happy fellow named Andy. Damn! We weren't in O's section. At least we weren't in Brett's section. Brett was the half man, half midget who proceeded to get tossed around by his fellow YA's. He was like thier mascot.

At around 7:15, one of the YA's got on the mic, and asked what time it was. Um, 7:15. No, he said, WHAT TIME IS IT?? And someone shouted: It's Time for Salad!!! And before you could say, what the hell? A chorus formed on stage and starting belting out "TIME FOR SALAD! TIME FOR SALAD!" to the tune of the Hallelujah chorus. Within seconds, bowls of salad were placed in front of our tables along with dinner rolls, which also got their own solo, after being part of a juggling act. Do I really want dinner rolls after they've been balanced on someone's head and been tossed 10 feet in the air?? Answer: Yes. They were delicious. Needless to say, the whole thing was the trippiest 4 minutes of my life. The three of us stared at each other not sure whether to laugh or cry, although basically just thinking: WTF!

After our dinner was complete (Adam and I had the Prime Rib, Alex had the chicken) the show began to start. It was "Best of 2006". And the first act had songs from everything from Jersey Boys to the Curious George movie to the revue show Lennon. And they were all supertalented. They had a band in which they all played, the kids ran the spotlights and soundboard, they did numerous costume changes, and all sang and dance with tremendous energy. The Act One Finale might have been the highlight of the night: Songs from High School Musical. Dressed in Basketball uniforms, cheerleading outfits, and sassy white hats, they 'got their head in the game' with flair. It was a sight to see for sure. Or as Alex put it: "Two words: So good."

The second act was more of the same. They did a Drowsy Chaperone number, a Dreamgirls song, and closed with a Wedding Singer quasi-medley mixing songs from the musical with wedding staples.

The thing that made the evening "so good" were these kids. O was one of the best live singers I have ever heard. Brett the midget might as well try out for American Idol. He would definitely be a fan favorite, way more likeable than Bucky or Ace. And they all had the energy of a pigtailed storyteller on speed. We asumed they were kids from different theater programs across the country that got jobs up here just for the summer. But apparently the "Young Americans" is their school. They travel across the country doing shows for kids programs and schools, while taking performance and education classes on the weekends. Why? We're not sure. They could easily get into normal undergrad programs like U of M or even Julliard. We have a suspicion in might be christian-y. You can check out their website at A side note: The Young Americans aren't even all American. There was one guy from Canada and another from England. False advertising!

For Adam, Alex, and me, it will not be a night soon forgotten. And we raved to the rest of our family. So we may have started a new tradition up north. And this one didn't give us indigestion. However I can never just eat a salad any longer. It will always be "TIME FOR SALAD! TIME FOR SALAD!"