Tag Archives: The Wedding Ringer

FIFTY SHADES OF MARKETING

17 Feb

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1. Fifty Shades of Grey/ Universal Wknd/$ 85.0 Total/$ 85.0
2. Kingsman/Fox Wknd/$ 36.2 Total/$ 36.2
3. The SpongeBob Movie/Par Wknd/$ 31.7 Total/$ 94.8
4. American Sniper/Warner Wknd/$ 16.5 Total/$ 304.2
5. Jupiter Ascending/Warner Wknd/$ 9.2 Total/$ 32.4
6. Seventh Son/Universal Wknd/$ 4.1 Total/$ 13.4
7. Paddington/Weinstein Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 62.2
8. The Imitation Game/Weinstein Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 79.6
9. The Wedding Ringer/SGems Wknd/$ 3.2 Total/$ 59.6
10. Project Almanac/Paramount Wknd/$ 2.8 Total/$ 15.8

LONELY MOVIE WEEKEND CHOICE #1
Fifty Shades of Grey opens at number one and this wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Make no mistakes, it’s bad (the very fact the lead character’s name, Anastasia Steele, is presented without a hint of humor or irony tells you that), but just as my definition of good is a bit higher than others, so my definition of what sucks is much lower. Despite its attempt to seem modern and edgy, the story of 50 Shades of Grey (and Twilight for that matter) is the same one your mother and possibly grandmother have been reading in Harlequin novels for decades: stories of bad boy princes and pirates who are inexplicably brought down by the virginal heroine (yes, Anastasia is a virgin, because god forbid a woman have some actual idea about her sexuality) they cannot resist her. Only now rather than be tormented by the events of Spanish Civil War or The Crusades or whatever tumultuous time period those books were set, she’s now tormented by the hero himself. While the literary ancestor of Anastasia Steel (a name which would fit perfectly in those), had to fight her way through various kidnappings and the fall of the czar as she made her way from Moscow to Venice, this one has to deal with a lover who won’t let her actually sleep next to him or know his past and insist he’s bad for her while stalking her cross-country. Oh, and there’s the occasional spanking. Somewhere, trapped by the sexy pirate Taggart McGirth on his ship The Thruster, Constance Hymen rolls her eyes in disgust. Now, there’s an old rule of thumb that bad books can make good movies because you can change things and if any book need it, then this was it was this one. Unfortunately for them the author (and I use that term loosely) has a background in the entertainment business and she knows what happens to books, so her deal gave her a certain amount of control over the film. The end result is a film so empty and devoid of any sex appeal I was on the verge of reading it despite the many, many, MANY negative reviews saying how awful it was. My curiosity as how something so bland could be so successful consumed me, but then it dawned on me that’s probably why something that started off as Twilight fan fiction (it suddenly makes sense now, right?) could find such an audience. Because it was awful and simplistic, not despite it. Since when are we surprised that ineptitude soars while quality sinks? Surely not in this post-Twilight-Nicholas-Sparks age. But as empty as the books seemingly were they became even moreso when the opportunity to merchandise it took hand and the result is a movie that it so ironically chaste that beyond the nudity there are exactly two uses of the word fuck and absolutely no sucking dick. They wanted the built in audience these books contained, but at the same time wanted to keep them safe enough so as not to put off anyone and draw in even more people (preserving those marginal percentages that only business majors know or care about). Now that makes no sense given the audience would know exactly what and was isn’t in the books (“Where’s all the dick sucking!?! Where’s that tampon!?!”), but the end result is whatever tiny edge they had was dulled and you get something that looks like it escaped from the Lifetime network and into theaters. There is more graphic and honestly arousing sex on your basic cable show, much less pay cable. I mean, I know it’s the Pacific Northwest, but is it really so cool and temperate that no one sweats when they fuck!?! Maybe in the two sequels to follow (it made almost $100M in a weekend from a $40M budget with another $150M overseas) they’ll address it.

LONELY MOVIE WEEKEND CHOICE #2
Now, if opening 50 Shades of Grey on Valentine’s Day was perfect programming to grab the lonely, sexually frustrated female audience, then opening Kingsmen: The Secret Service was equally perfect counter programming to get the lonely, angrily sexless male audience. Both were counting on an audience that would be dateless this lover’s weekend and both were right and rewarded. The difference this is actually entertaining and delivered on what its source material promised: comedic, silly ultraviolence. This is based on a comic book series by Mark Millar and the best description of his work that I ever read was that it was something an angry 15-year-old would love, which is to say he understood the heart of superhero comics better than anyone else around him: angry virgins. This wasn’t a superhero comic but it still applies and carries over to the film. Our hero is a smart, capable guy, but the world is in his way (not his own personal choices). His chances to be better are derailed by the fact he’s such a good guy and had to take care of his mother, while she’s married to a guy who is a low level thug and beats her. Typical bullshit, geek self-serving-pity. Fortunately for him his father was a recruit of a secret intelligence agency and died in the field so one of its top agents feels a debt is owed and our hero is recruited to be James Bond times ten. His training begins just as The Kingsmen stumble upon a plot hatched by an insane corporate billionaire to save the world by killing most of the people one it. The violence is graphic but exaggerated deliberately to maximum silliness and there’s actually metatextual commentary on how dour modern secret agent films are, as opposed to the wonderfully silly ones with would be world conquerors in the conversation between the cool, bespoke secret agent Colin Firth and the eccentric megalomaniac (he plans mass genocide, but hates the sight of blood, and has an assassin sidekick with blades for legs) Samuel L. Jackson. Needless to say this is clearly a love letter to the crazier Bond films though believe it or not, even more British. The movie is actually partially driven by the class awareness that still exists in England to this day (both our hero and his dad are working class and their recruitment is considered an “experiment”) and ironically gives it a depth that it’s desperately trying to avoid in favor of simply being entertaining.

THAT 21ST CENTURY CAREER
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water is down to number three, followed by American Sniper at number four and Jupiter Ascending down to number five and starring in this is Mila Kunis who must have thought she grabbed the brass ring when she got the lead in a Wachowski big-budget science fiction action film. Clearly she didn’t read the script, which showed her as a princess who constantly needs to be saved along with a dozen other problems. While on one hand she’s actually having a somewhat successful career going from Oscar nominated, overrated indie fare like Black Swan to empty big budget vehicles like Oz The Great and Powerful to crass comedies like Ted and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (hell, she was even in the remake of Annie), on the other hand none of those were truly starring vehicles for her. She was the female lead alongside Justin Timberlake in Friends with Benefits which tanked (ironically her fiancée Ashton Kutcher’s version with Natalie Portman was hit) and now this where she is flat out the title character. Clearly it did not go well and while The Wachowskis are at fault, it won’t be the same black mark on Channing Tatum’s career (also equally varied) as it will be for her. You know, ‘cause she’s a chick and it’s an action movie. Forget they don’t actually allow her to be an action star, which is odd for them. Trivia: she played the younger version of Angelina Jolie in Gia.

YOU KNOW NOTHING OF THE CONTRACT YOU SIGNED, JON SNOW
The Seventh Son is down to number six is Seventh Son and also in this for about 5 minutes as a previous Seventh Son is Kit Harrington, limited as to the roles he can take when not shooting Game of Thrones as his contract doesn’t allow him to cut his hair! This is how he winds up here and in that Pompeii movie last year. Though I guess he could play a musician…or a poet…or just someone pretentious in the present day.

THE OTHERS
Paddington is down to number seven, followed by The Imitation Game holding at eight and The Wedding Ringer down to number nine.

CINEMATICALLY TRASMITTED DISEASE
Finally, Project Almanac closes out the top ten at number ten and this is part of a small genre empire Michael Bay is clearly building. He’s producer on this as he was on Ouija and The Purge films. Because their budgets are so low they’re pretty much guaranteed to make money, which means they will continue. He’s like a rash. An itchy ugly one that spreads the more you scratch it.

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FLASH! HE CAN STILL SAVE EVERYONE OF YOU!

8 Feb

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1. The SpongeBob Movie/Par                        Wknd/$ 56.0   Total/$ 56.0
2. American Sniper/Warner                          Wknd/$ 24.2   Total/$ 282.3
3. Jupiter Ascending/Warner                        Wknd/$ 19.0   Total/$ 19.0
4. Seventh Son/Universal                               Wknd/$ 7.1      Total/$ 7.1
5. Paddington/Weinstein                               Wknd/$ 5.4      Total/$ 57.3
6. Project Almanac/Paramount                    Wknd/$ 5.3      Total/$ 15.8
7. The Imitation Game/Weinstein                Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 74.7 8.
8. The Wedding Ringer/SGems                    Wknd/$ 4.8     Total/$ 55.1
9. Black or White/Relativity                          Wknd/$ 4.5      Total/$ 13.1
10. The Boy Next Door/Universal                Wknd/$ 4.1      Total/$ 30.7

I DON’T WATCH ADVENTURE TIME EITHER
The SpongeBob Movie opens at number one and I’ve never seen the show. That whole hipster moment totally passed me by. And while the trailer did look exceptionally funny I feel it’s a little late to hop onboard.

CAREERS DESCENDING
American Sniper is down to number two, followed by Jupiter Ascending opening at number three. Now this was supposed to be one of the big summer movies last year, but got pushed back, which is never a good sign. That they chose to release it in February made it perfectly clear the studio thought it was a dud and unfortunately they were right. The Wachowskis (no longer the brothers as one has become a woman) have never made an unattractive film, but they’ve only made two actually good ones: Bound and The Matrix. The others range between messy but entertaining (Cloud Atlas, Matrix Reloaded Speed Racer) to flat out bad (The Matrix Revolutions). This sadly goes into that latter category, though like always is easy on the eyes. It thoroughly embraces the idea of eye candy in space opera which has basically been lost since 2001: A Space Odyssey utilized actual science in its production so the “look” science fiction space operas has been utilitarian ever since. Seeing this makes me wish they’d done an adaption of Flash Gordon instead as they could have brought the beautiful imagery of Alex Raymond’s work to life, all the way down to women in slutwear being a fashion universal. I never enjoyed the film more than when they just showing gigantic spaceships that basically looked like chandeliers flying through space. And honestly that’s all I had, because The Wachowskis once again utilize the idea of an ordinary person who is in fact a very special person who enters into a fantastic world that was around them all the time. The difference being while Neo became an actual participant in that world, Jupiter is always the spectator or the damsel to be saved. She’s the protagonist, but not the hero. The story would have been better told from the perspective of her savior, Channing Tatum, a human spliced with a wolf to be a better space soldier who tracks her down as a result of the inner struggles of a family space dynasty. Yeah, I make it sound more interesting than it is. Basically, she’s the genetic recreation of the matriarch and is now a pawn between the matriarch’s three children as she “owns” the earth, which would make her richer than all of them. Okay, it’s actually as dull as that sounded. It’s so ill conceived, that one of the siblings is totally dropped by the third act and you don’t even miss her, nor do we see what happens when one of them dies, which literally changes everything because the whole fucking movie is driven by sibling rivalry! I think it’s telling that Channing Tatum, who is best known for his body didn’t feel the need to get in top shape for this despite the fact that the movie has him shirtless for half-an hour for no real reason. A weak script isn’t worth crunches or dieting. And what’s the point of having reincarnation as a central plot point when the character is only the physical reincarnation and has no memories from their previous life?

THE MUSTACHE ABIDES
Opening a number four is The Seventh Son, another delayed film whose February dumping boded ill and once again that decision was dead on. This film is about Jeff Bridges’ mustache and a male model in their battle against Julianne Moore paying the bills so she can do Oscar-worthy indie film work. Yes, this is yet another attempt to create a franchise out of a Young Adult novel and yet another failure because they don’t seem to realize that unless it’s a mega success like Harry Potter or Twilight in print form it’s not coming with a built-in audience of millions. You actually have to but something behind it. This is just a waste of actually talented actors and a decent CGI budget because it lacks a better director who realizes you just can’t say there’s light in the villain and dark in the hero, you have to show it. That way you get fully realized characters. And if you want just a big cartoon (which is fine too) then you have to drop those concepts and amp up the pace. It does neither of those things. But it didn’t bore me like Jupiter Ascending did.

TO BE FAIR, NO ONE SAW HER MOVIES WHEN SHE WAS MRS. CRUISE EITHER
Paddington is down to number five and I suppose I should say something about this since it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Um, Nicole Kidman is in it. Clearly making movies her kids can see…or that someone, somewhere might even want to see.

THE MORE YOU KNOW
Project Almanac is down to number six, followed by The Imitation Game at number seven and that actually sounds like the title of a science fiction movie too, but it’s just about real science.

IF YOU WANNA BE A STAR, GOTTA ACT LIKE ONE
The Wedding Ringer is down to number eight, but has more than doubled its budget, so while not a runaway hit, it ain’t no failure either. Both Kevin Hart and Josh Gad have done better but Kaley Cucco needed it. Especially if she insists on hyphenating her famous maiden name with her less known rebound-married name. Courtney Cox did that for a hot second then realized her error and wound up dropping both it and the man it came from.

ONCE IS HAPPENSTANCE, TWICE IS COINCIDENCE, MORE THAN TIMES IS A CURSE!
Black or White is down to number nine and also in this is Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and while yes, the lack of change in her career is partly racial and partly sexist, I feel it’s mostly the curse of Best Supporting Actress. I mean, seen Melissa Leo lately? Marcia Gay Harden? Rachel Weisz? Mo’Nique? Jennifer Hudson? It even took down Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones after they won it. Tilda Swinton seems unaffected because she never gave a crap about mainstream success anyway, but Cate Blanchett is the only survivor of the last decade.

CRITICS DON’T PAY YOUR BILLS!
Finally, The Boy Next Door closes out the top ten at number ten. $30M from a $4M budget and JLo was also a producer. Make that money, girl.

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THE OPPOSITE OF KIERA KNIGHTLEY

2 Feb

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1. American Sniper/Warner                           Wknd/$ 31.9    Total/$ 248.9
2. Paddington/Weinstein                               Wknd/$ 8.5      Total/$ 50.5
3. Project Almanac/Paramount                     Wknd/$ 8.5      Total/$ 8.5
4. Black or White/Relativity                           Wknd/$ 6.5      Total/$ 6.5
5. The Boy Next Door/Universal                   Wknd/$ 6.1      Total/$ 24.7
6. The Wedding Ringer/SGems                     Wknd/$ 5.7      Total/$ 48.1
7. The Imitation Game/Weinstein                Wknd/$ 5.2      Total/$ 68.0
8. Taken 3/Fox                                                  Wknd/$ 3.7      Total/$ 76.1
9. Strange Magic/Disney                                 Wknd/$ 3.4     Total/$ 9.0
10. The Loft/ORF                                              Wknd/$ 2.9     Total/$ 2.9

OH, I LOVED KEEN EDDIE SO MUCH
American Sniper holds at number one, which makes sense given this is the holy American holiday of the Super Bowl, but sadly getting lost in the controversy is the return of Sienna Miller. You remember her from the 00’s, right? Pretty, blonde, English actress slowly rising before sadly becoming most famous for boning Jude Law during his “moment” then being humiliated when he started boning his kid’s nanny. Not helping was an unremarkable indie film career. It’s one thing to do good work and go unnoticed, but she wound up in mediocrity both big (Alfie, Stardust, GI Joe: Rise of Cobra) and small (Casanova, Factory Girl, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh). This is her second go round and don’t think she doesn’t know it. I know she’s happy to be in a hit, but it’s got to be killing her that she’s making a comeback (she’s also in Foxcatcher) and no one is noticing.

TIME (TRAVEL) AFTER TIME (TRAVEL)
Paddington rises to number two, while Project Almanac opens at number three and once upon a time I would have been head first into this kind of thing, but as I’ve grown older nothing turns me off sooner than a time paradox movie. Honestly, I could not give less than a crap that the main character couldn’t exist unless he’d gone back in time and introduced his grandparents or the main character accidentally kills his dad before he’s conceived. They all think they’re clever and they rarely are (I’m looking at you, Looper, Interstellar, etc). Not to mention it’s another “found footage” film, which means it means instant nausea from the ironically named “steady cam.” Sadly it probably cost nothing so at the very least will probably break even thus insuring more of them are made. Sigh.

BUT I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU AS CRASH DAVIS
Black or White opens at number four and while this may seem like a timely film, the presence of Kevin Costner (who also financed it) means it’ll be about as deep as a saucer with nothing really to say about race relations in America. The trailers suggest hamfisted deliveries without the slightest hint of nuance. I sat through Losing Isaiah so I feel no need to go through it again here.

‘CAUSE THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS TO SLUTS, AMIRITE, FELLAS?
The Boy Next Door is down to number five and also in this is Kristen Chenoweth, so it’s just filled with women who deserve better but have bills to pay. Given this all about punishing a woman for sex (when was the last time you saw a movie about a guy who bangs a legal teenager and suffers for it?) and she’s the horny best friend, I’ve no doubt she dies a horrible death and I seriously don’t have time for that bullshit.

DOUBLE EDGED SUCCESS SWORD
The Wedding Ringer is down to number six, followed by The Imitation Game at number seven and Taken 3 at number eight. Probably my favorite commercial of the Super Bowl was Liam Neeson making fun of his new tough guy image as an angry online gamer. I know a few women who loved it a little too much…and by that I mean it’s become basically a 30 second porn film. Much in the way that other online gaming commercial with Kate Upton is for lonely, lonely, lonely dudes.

IT’S A GEEK’S WORLD NOW
Strange Magic is down to number nine while The Loft opens at and closes out the top ten and because I can only think geek, when I see a movie with Karl Urban, James Marsden and Wentworth Miller all I see is a movie about Judge Dredd, Cyclops and Captain Cold (the comic book characters they’ve played) getting an apartment together. Of course it’s going to end badly, what with the superbattles. And you may not know it, but there are actually five guys involved in the loft, but one is European actor you wouldn’t know and the other is Eric Stonestreet who plays Cam on Modern Family. Yeah, exactly. They’re not going to show the fat guy who’s probably better known than all of them put together. Poor Cam.

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CATCH A FALLING STAR. OR NOT.

26 Jan

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1. American Sniper/Warner                     Wknd/$ 89.5    Total/$ 92.9
2. The Boy Next Door/Universal             Wknd/$ 15.0    Total/$ 15.0
3. Paddington/Weinstein                          Wknd/$ 12.4    Total/$ 40.1
4. The Wedding Ringer/SGems               Wknd/$ 11.6     Total/$ 39.7
5. Taken 3/Fox                                            Wknd/$ 7.6       Total/$ 76.1
6. The Imitation Game/Weinstein          Wknd/$ 7.1       Total/$ 60.6
7. Strange Magic/Disney                           Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 5.5
8. Selma/Paramount                                  Wknd/$ 5.5       Total/$ 39.2
9. Mortdecai/Lion’s Gate                          Wknd/$ 4.1        Total/$ 4.1
10. Into the Woods/Disney                       Wknd/$ 3.9       Total/$ 121.5

BARBARIANS AT THE GATE
American Sniper holds at number one and I’m trying to wait for the controversy to blow over before I see it because I don’t want to be stuck in an audience of assholes seeing it for just that reason. Mainly because these assholes are usually assholes who have already made a decision about the film but don’t want to sound like the assholes they are by being forced to admit they haven’t seen it. Hurry up and see it, you assholes!

SUCCEEDING WHERE GLOBBING ONTO IGGY AZALEA FAILED
I understand Jennifer Lopez has two kids and Mark Anthony to support, but honestly? The Boy Next Door!?! Has it come to this already!?! MILF movies!?! At least you could have gotten and up and coming star. A Hemsworth brother or something instead of this nobody. What YA film adaptation has he been in? You don’t see Cameron Diaz doing this shit and she’s doing some lousy shit. Then again, the biggest hits of JLo’s career were suspense thrillers (which I maintain are the female action movie) and since Jodie Foster has shown no interest in hanging onto her throne as queen of them I guess it’s open season on the crown with any crap you can find. But it is a hit for her. It only cost $4M to make and made $15M the first weekend, so it’s all gravy from here on out. But if she were up for an Oscar this would have killed her chances the same way Eddie Murphy’s crappy film cost him a shot. I mean he wasn’t probably going to win anyway, but he probably didn’t even come close as a result of Norbit.

THAT WHITE HOUSE SITCOM IS BETTER OFF FORGOTTEN
Paddington holds at number three, followed by The Wedding Ringer at number four and how successful was Frozen? Josh Gad (who is the hapless groom here) was the voice of the snowman and he’s a B-level star now. I’ll say that again: being the unseen voice of a secondary character has elevated him more than all his other live action performances put together. Including this one.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, NAILED IT SHUT
Taken 3 is down to number five, followed by The Imitation Game at six and somewhere Derek Jacobi is rolling his eyes and sighing, “Whatever, bitchez.” See, he played this role on Broadway and later on a TV film adaptation.

TAINTING THE GREAT ELO SONG WITH THIS IS UNFORGIVABLE
Strange Magic opens at number seven and I almost feel sorry for George Lucas who clearly thinks he has more to offer the world creatively and the world clearly feels differently. Sorry, but there’s just no getting over those godawful Star Wars prequels…and all the other non-Star Wars shit. Let me put it this way: this week he revealed that his ideas for the upcoming sequels were all rejected. Oooh, you want some midichlorians for that burn?

CALL IT THE “THE REASON WHY YOUR PARENTS THINK YOU’RE UNGRATEFUL BECAUSE THEY LIVED THROUGH SOME SHIT” SERIES
Selma is down to number eight and also in this is Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King…again. Yes, she’s played this role before in Boycott, an HBO movie in 2001. You know what would have been awesome? If Denzel Washington came back to play Malcom X who also appears here. Just tie them all together.

ANOTHER NAIL IN THE COFFIN
Mortdecai opens at number nine and is the bullshit myth of Johnny Depp finally over? I never understood how he created this iconoclast persona when he went from a hit teenybopper TV (on Fox no less) to mainstream films and dated actresses and supermodels. His only “rebel” behavior was in that he didn’t do more traditional leading man stuff like crap romcoms, but it’s not like he was doing indie films either. I mean, what kind of “rebel” does a movie based on a Disney ride? Well, thankfully his mid-life crisis has finally served to take him down. First the end of his near 20-year relationship with Vanessa Paradis to turn around a date a model/actress half his age and now a string of stupid, money-grabbing mainstream flops (The Tourist, Dark Shadows, Lone Ranger, Transcendence) and some dumb public statements (“Critics killed The Lone Ranger”) have taken the bloom off the rose. AND his looks are finally starting to fade. You ain’t pretty no more, bitch! As for the movie, my biggest sign of what will suck is if my dad likes the commercial and he laughed out loud at this. I wasn’t going to see it anyway, but thanks dad.

BOOM! IN YOUR FACE, DEPP!
Ironically enough, Depp is also in Into The Woods closing out the top ten at number ten. He’s not a major character so he gets no boost from it, unlike say, Josh Gad.

TV
It’s been awhile, but the New Year did bring more of the most wonderful thing on earth: new TV shows to watch. Let’s get started…

State of Affairs: Now you knew this was going to be crap the moment they pushed it as being from “the director of The Blacklist” as if that’s a sign of quality. But I gave it a shot because I do like Katherine Heigl. Oh, go fuck yourselves. She didn’t say anything about Gray’s Anatomy or Knocked Up that wasn’t true. The problem is when she was in charge (she and her mother run her production company) she didn’t do anything better. This continues that trend. Making the head of the CIA a complete moron in order to make Heigl’s character look smart was just it for me. That he could be wrong was fine; making him too stupid to be in the position he was in was just too much. And having her picking up men in bars then kicking them out because she’s trying to dull the pain of losing her fiancée (who was the president’s son, no less) was just too hamfisted and she simply doesn’t sell self-loathing sex well at all (I am available for lessons). Sigh. I remember when I thought Joe Carnahan was someone to watch. Now he’s someone to be avoided.

Hindsight: Yes, we’re at the point where the 90’s are a point of nostalgia. I’ll admit I suffer from it mainly because of it was the last good decade of R&B (not to mention the existence of actual rock bands) and a large-breasted Lara Flynn Boyle lookalike co-worker that I missed out on, but that’s a story for another day. This is about a woman who is having cold feet on the day of her second wedding then passes out in the elevator and wakes up the day of her first wedding 20-years earlier, which she then runs out on to try and change her life. Now, I won’t get into how none of these people look like the 40-somethings they’re supposed to be at the beginning and barely the 20-somethings they have to be for the 90’s but it does stink of production laziness. Was a little aging make-up not in the budget? No, what turned me off instantly was the appearance of a minority dispensing sage advice as if they—gasp!—knew what was going on in the character’s mind and were some kind of guardian angel. Yes, once again we get the Magical Person of Color to see the lead White character through their time of need. Just…no. Not helping is the elephant in the room, the thing that happens once the 90’s ends: 9/11. How can she not say anything or do anything? This is like setting a romantic comedy at Pearl Harbor in the late ‘30’s. How can you enjoy it when you know what horrible event is going to happen!?! And speaking of the future, given the jokes about NY real estate going up and iPhones, how is she not investing in all this? Usually the characters in these types of stories are either only back for a specific time or purpose or “everymen” and can’t afford to, but she comes from a well-off family on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and is apparently staying. She can afford to buy some stock. It would be better if the Magical Black Man (who also shows up in the past and vanishes mysteriously when she’s talking to him) just flat out revealed himself to be an angel or something and given her a set of rules regarding what she could and could not do so it’s just off the table and out of our minds. Finally, the show unabashedly promotes the music played the 90’s, which is fine, but it’s only the most overplayed stuff of that decade and even Upper West Side blondes listened to hip-hop in the 90’s, but not on this show. The best part? A 30-second breakdown of 90’s fashion when she goes through her clothes: “Mock turtleneck baby-tee?”

Marco Polo: This debuted on Netflix and is the first show of its kind that I’ve actually watched and by that I mean where the entire season is just flat out made available. No waiting. And much like my choice of King Arthur on Starz rather than Game of Thrones on HBO, I’ve made the less popular, clearly less accomplished choice. Sorry, but I simply don’t care about Orange is the New Black or House of Cards. I’m sure they’re great, but I’ve no interest in hopping on the bandwagon. In fact, I only starting watching this out of boredom while on my lunch hour at work. I had no interest to begin with and the reviews had sealed that coffin. But watching it I was and thanks to low expectations, I found it somewhat enjoyable. Yes, the lead character is boring, but that’s fine. Kublai Khan, a Mongol ruling China balanced between a culture he covets and the one he comes from should be more interesting. As well as the Prime Minister of the one city the Mongols cannot conquer. As well as the Khan’s son, raised Chinese but needing to be more Mongol to hold the throne and a half dozen other characters. For the valid criticisms of Asians who speak in stilted tones, you’re not going to find this many Asians (as well as other races) with speaking roles of with this level of complexity anywhere else (good to see you again, Joan Chen). Sad but true. The one character that does speak that way is, of course, the blind martial arts instructor, but at one point Kublai Khan himself mocks him for it and says he’s drunk. And he is! However, the martial arts instructor provides the moment that might actually justify the existence of this show, which is a definition of “gung-fu” or “kung fu.” Kung fu is not a martial art. Wushu is the name for martial arts. Kung fu is the discipline it takes to achieve excellence so a great chef is a master of kung fu the same way a great tailor is. It has nothing to do with martial arts. This of course was followed immediately by the most annoying and ridiculous part of the show: gratuitous female nudity in a scene I can only call “Mongolian Idol” wherein candidates who wanted to be in the Khan’s harem were lined up to compete. Totally naked of course. And how do courtesans compete? Why, by having sex with one another of course in front of the judges! But nowhere was this more ridiculous than in the scene where the Prime Minister tells three soldiers they could have the courtesan of the late emperor (she’s his sister, by the way). Her response is to kill them all using her martial arts skill…while totally naked. Now, I’ve got nothing against ridiculous martial arts scenes or gratuitous nudity, but if you’re going to do it, go all the way. Everyone should have been naked. After all they were wearing armor. It would have actually made some kind of sense if she convinced them to get naked first then broke out her Bruce Lee skills. Even when a princess commits suicide she disrobes first. It’s ridiculous. Yes, you get an actual penis in episode five but nly after countless nude women. It’s only 9 episodes so I’m going to stick it out to the end, but I won’t be returning for the already greenlit second season.

Agent Carter: I will have to give Marvel credit. They realized the mistakes they made with Agents of B.O.R.E.D.O.M. and started this show off right with scenes from Captain America and referencing it constantly, not to mention having Howard Stark return as a character. It sets the foundation before even trying to move on its own. After that, however, it hits the ground running. One nice aspect of the show is that despite being about secret agents and super-science it nonetheless deals with the sexism of the 40’s, especially the women who are being forced out of their job and back into the home by returning men. Clearly the freedom they fought for wasn’t for dames. More than once is Agent Carter called little more than Captain America’s whore, which she has to grin and bear despite the fact she’s twice the agent of anyone in the room. Because I’m a geek they basically had me when they introduced Edwin Jarvis. In the movies, Jarvis is the computer that runs Tony Stark’s home. In the comics he’s the flesh & blood butler. Basically the Alfred to his Batman. Here Jarvis is Howard Stark’s butler and his partnership with Agent Carter as they work to secretly clear Howard of treason charges is nothing but fun. Also, they only have 8 episodes so there’s no time to tread water. It has to move and move it does.

Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce: I loves me some Lisa Edelstein. She fits the “type” I only now realize I have and no, I’m not going to tell you what that entails. I only watched House to see her as the most inappropriately dressed hospital administrator ever and stopped watching when she left. Her with her own comedy drama show about being a divorcee is as welcome to me as when Sarah Jessica Parker got her own show, which is appropriate because this is honestly just another Sex & the City clone (we even learn that Edelstein’s character is originally from NYC). You’ve got your Semitic writer as the center surrounded by her extreme-behavior gentile friends. You’ve got the free-spirited promiscuous one model (played by ex-model Beau Garrett whom I’ve loved because never fixed her teeth) and you’ve got your no bullshit attorney played by Janeane Garofalo. So you’ve got your Samantha, your Miranda and your Carrie—if Carrie wasn’t such a narcissistic asshole. I loved the show but she was. No, there’s no Charlotte but is that really a loss. But hold on! In some of the most awkward writing since Suzanne Sommers left Three’s Company and Shannen Doherty was booted off 90210…and Charmed, Janeane Garofalo, the other person I was thrilled to see weekly has left the show. Totally off camera with an awkward, unbelievable bullshit expository phone call. Now, suddenly Lisa Edelstein gets a best friend she hasn’t spoken to in years, who is short and abrasive. Hmmm. Guess we can only rewrite those scripts so much. In addition, Garofalo played a lawyer and the lawyer who was her nemesis at work who was tall, thin, conventionally pretty and very girly-girly, basically everything she’s not is now the fourth member of the group. Guess they had some legal plotlines they couldn’t write out as well. The only advantage to the change is that with her being Indian the primary group is no longer all-white, though we do get another woman of color who seemingly never dates men of color. Baby steps, people. But the show won me over almost instantly when Edelstein has a scene where she got drunk and took all her clothes off to dance around the house. It’s like they wrote it just for me.

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SAD, IRONIC OR BOTH?

20 Jan

chris-hemsworth-768
1. American Sniper/Warner                              Wknd/$ 89.5   Total/$ 92.9
2. The Wedding Ringer/SGems                       Wknd/$ 20.6   Total/$ 20.6
3. Paddington/Weinstein                                  Wknd/$ 19.0   Total/$ 19.0
4. Taken 3/Fox                                                     Wknd/$ 8.8    Total/$ 63.4
5. Selma/Paramount                                           Wknd/$ 8.8    Total/$ 26.4
6. The Imitation Game/Weinstein                   Wknd/$ 6.8    Total/$ 50.4
7. Into the Woods/Disney                                  Wknd/$ 6.8    Total/$ 114.5
8. The Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies             Wknd/$ 4.9     Total/$ 244.6
9. Unbroken/Universal                                      Wknd/$ 4.2     Total/$ 108.5
10. Blackhat/Universal                                      Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 3.8

WHY CAN’T IT BE BOTH?
I don’t know if it’s sad or ironic or that on MLK Day weekend the number one film is about a sniper. A holiday for a champion of non-violence and opposer of the Vietnam War who was killed by a sniper’s bullet and America goes to see the movie about the most lethal sniper in US history. Goes to prove the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity as the veracity of the sniper’s claims are being questioned, especially when claimed he and a buddy killed over two dozen Americans during the flood of New Orleans and once punched out Jesse Ventura in a bar. There’s absolutely no proof of the first and Ventura just won almost $2M in a defamation suit against the late sniper’s estate (in more irony the sniper himself was killed by another vet at a shooting range). It’s nominated for a few Oscars so I guess I’ll have to see it, but given it’s Clint Eastwood directing I’m in no great rush. You know how far too many directors are all style and no substance? No one will ever accuse Eastwood of that. “Laconic” is the term most often used to describe his “style.” I prefer “dry as fucking toast.” Just as too much of a spice can kill a dish none at all can leave it equally unappetizing. I mean if you’re going to go that way why not simply make a documentary?

GET IT? HE’S LITTLE
The Wedding Ringer opens at number two and Kevin Hart isn’t just striking the iron while it’s hot, he beating down into pennies with this onslaught on the theaters of America. But can you blame him? Being the hot comedian of the moment has a shelf life of the average fruit fly. Remember Dane Cook’s moment? Granted Kevin Hart is actually funny, something that Cook was unburdened with, but these movies look as generic as anything he put out. And you know any moment now he’s probably going to make the mistake they all make and attempt to be the lead in a romantic comedy, not realizing no one wants to see him kiss anyone. I gave this a pass, as I will all his films, because like Jack Black and others before him, he’s a sidekick, not a lead. A little goes a long way. Yes, that’s a deliberate play on words.

OR THE CLASSIC “GO, DOG! GO!”
Paddington opens at number three and I never read the books so we’re done here. When they make a movie about Richard Scary’s work I’ll be front and center.

ALSO MOMMY DRINKS BECAUSE YOU CRY
Taken 3 is down to number four and what kind of life can his daughter have after this? Her best friend and her mother were both murdered because of a trip she took to Europe. If she just went to Cabo like everyone else none of this ever happens. Then again, Liam Neeson shut down a European sex slavery ring as a result saving untold numbers of girls so I guess there’s a greater good to look at.

THE ACADEMY DIDN’T SEE SO WHY SHOULD YOU, RIGHT?
Selma is down to number five and this actually lives up to the hype. Very few films do, but this is like Lincoln in how it shows a particular moment behind an historical event and gets “warts and all” with it being honest about the fact the goal was to beaten up in front of the cameras to show the honesty of racism. Also it means bringing up MLK’s infidelities and how J. Edgar Hoover tried to destroy him with them. While some have found fault with a less-than-favorable portrayal of LBJ, it’s par the course for historical drama. To cite Lincoln again, that film completely falsified his viewpoint on Black people. He didn’t believe in slavery, but he didn’t believe in an integrated society either. He was going ship every Black person back to Africa. I question both decisions in films that are seemingly afraid of showing that great men are still just flawed human beings. But honestly how the hell do you not go see a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. on his holiday weekend!?! He’s the reason you’ve got three days and you can’t spare two hours!?! Bet you saw freaking Lincoln on President’s Day weekend, ya sorry muthafuckas.

MODERATION WAS NEVER HIS STRONG SUIT
The Imitation Game is down to number six, followed by Into The Woods at number seven and also in this is Johnny Depp. And this isn’t as surprising as you might think when you remember that he was in the underrated Sweeny Todd. Also, Depp was in a band before his big TV break. Oh, and then there’s Cry Baby from John Waters so Depp is no stranger to the musical, which makes sense given they’re over-the-top which is where he likes it.

HONESTLY, HITCHCOCK COULDN’T MAKE TYPING ON A COMPUTER SUSPENSEFUL
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is down to number eight, followed by Unbroken at number nine and finally Blackhat opens at number ten which may be too good for it. Initially I was surprised to see a Michael Mann film opening in January, which is the dumping ground for the studios because he’s a major league director, but then again he cast Chris Hemsworth as a hacker which is your first clue things are not quite right. That actually surpasses previous ridiculous hacker castings such as Hugh Jackman, Angelina Jolie and Sandra Bullock. And what do three out of those four have in common? They get topless (Bullock’s the prude). In fact, Hemsworth surpasses the shirtless screentime of Jackman, Jolie and both Thor movies. The film stumbles right out of the gate as Mann, undaunted by previous failures to make the inner working of a computer seem interesting gives it his shot as we watch path of electronic impulses that make their way though a system and cause the failure of a nuclear power plant in China. It’s even more boring than I make it sound. Do you know what the difference between this and Selma? There is actual levity in Selma. Even when dealing with life and death issues and the future of a nation, humans still find humor to make it through. Not so with Michael Mann. I don’t think there’s been a deliberate attempt at a laugh since Pacino messing with Hank Azaria in Heat 20 years ago. This is no exception. This painful somberness forces you to take the film completely and utterly seriously, which I suspect is Man’s, but winds up as its undoing when ridiculous things happen, starting with the FBI, which put Hemsworth in prison for hacking not knowing his college roommate is the same guy who handles China’s cyberterroism problem who comes over to work on the case with them. They know everything about him, except that piece of information, which should have been glaring. Then there’s the SWAT team that doesn’t notice the claymore clearly on the walls of the tunnels they’re chasing the bad guys through. Finally, there’s the matter of the characters who might as well have countdown clocks over their heads like that horrible Nickleback video. You know they’re going to die and die they do, which is a problem when they’re all more interesting than the main character. While I like that Mann is unlike other directors and not wasting his time bitching the loss of film and just jumping right into digital, he loves to shoot at night which is not a friend to it. Either get more lights or let it go because pixelated and grainy are not a good film style. The final nail in the coffin has to be when Mann pays homage to himself by having Hemsworth all but quote a William Petersen line from the great Manhunter. It’s not good to remind us you were once better than this.

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