Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Movie Series: My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper

Warning: Do not let the smiles fool you! This is NOT a comedy.

I went into this movie prepared to cry my eyes out, but my first emotional reaction to the movie was not sadness, but surprisingly, annoyance. The style of the first half of the movie was very off-putting to me for two reasons. First, they use voice overs from all of the main characters to help set up the story. Anna's (Abigail Breslin) is first, and is actually okay because it explains how she was genetically engineered to be a perfect donor match for her sister. It's short and occurs during the credits, so it isn't very intrusive. However, the voice overs continue as the movie begins with each person taking their turn. It seemed so unnecessary to me, especially the way they had a person's name pop up on the screen when they talked. It's easy to tell who is talking, and the person's name is said several times before. I didn't need written help.

The second reason I was annoyed was the random ordering of the scenes. The movie doesn't start at the beginning of the family's story. It starts at the main action. Then it goes back to when the leukemia started, and then skips ahead again to Kate suffering as a teenager with cancer. You can follow the scenes, but it becomes tiresome to figure out what occurred when.

But have no fear, the movie is saved about halfway through with the introduction of the world's perfect boyfriend: Taylor Ambrose. I felt Sophia Vassilieva and Thomas Dekker did a great job portraying their characters in this particular sequence because they were able to show how even though they both had the burden of dealing with cancer, they found hope and love in each other.

Cameron Diaz is narrating a little at this point and has a great line that went something like this "While cancer was bringing Kate down, Taylor was building her up." Taylor is the perfect boyfriend. He is loving and patient, and sits happily with Kate through her chemotherapy despite her nausea saying "Don't worry. Tomorrow it could be me." I was so glad that they didn't have the parents get in the way. They weren't overprotective about their daughter dating, but instead were happy she had found love. It is a short and sweet romance, but in my opinion, also the best part of the movie. Kate looks so beautiful when she goes to the dance with Taylor near the end of the sequence, and the scene even turns playful with the women in the family taking numerous pictures as the couple leaves while the dad just looks on lovingly. This is soon followed by the line "Do I look pretty Daddy?" that is seen in the trailers. Ah, so perfect.

The movie after the Taylor/Kate saga stays pretty good, but keep in mind it just keeps getting more and more sad. They really used everything they could do to make you cry. The worst was the scene where the family goes to the beach for Kate. They play "Feels Like Home" in the background, and I was constantly swallowing the lump in my throat that had me on the verge of sobbing.

But I'm getting away from the main point of the movie. Anna decides in the beginning of the film that she is tired of donating to her sister after 11 years of doing so because it is taking a toll on her own well-being. She hires a lawyer, played by Alec Baldwin, to defend her case in pursuit of medical emancipation (a term used way too many times in the film). Her mom doesn't take to this case very well, and fights back hard. Cameron Diaz comes off kind of bitchy a lot because of how much she ignores her other children to focus on Kate. She even alienates her husband as he starts seeing Anna's point of view. A lot of people criticized Diaz' acting, but I think she was sufficient. She succeeded in making me hate her character most of the movie, while also sympathizing with her a tiny bit by the end. I think a lot of parents would do anything to prevent the death of their kids, but it brings up an interesting question of ethics about hurting one child to save the other. Don't think you have the movie figured out, because the end might just surprise you when there is a revelation in the court room. It seems like everyone has something to hide, even Baldwin's strong lawyer character.

The ending is also different from the book. I didn't read the book, but I looked up the main ending of it and realized fans of the novel might be disappointed. Apparently the movie is less sad than the book, but that is hard to believe when I've only seen the film. Don't go see this movie for entertainment. You definitely have to be in the mood for it to like it. I would probably give it 2 stars. As I said earlier, I didn't enjoy the first half of the movie. Once they got past the voice overs and stayed with a logical progression, the movie's heart finally came out.

The movie doesn't sugar coat anything, but Kate is able to find happiness amidst all the suffering. That makes the movie work, and I think Sophia did a great job in this role. It's her first major role, and she is able to pull off a teenage cancer patient dealing not only with disease, but also with the normal stresses for a girl her age. No matter what happens with the other characters, you are always rooting and loving Kate. Her optimism and peace leaves you feeling hopeful, despite the hour and a half tragedy you just finished watching.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Movie Series: Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Optimus Prime's reaction to damaging The Sphinx's nose..."My bad."

I loved the first Transformers. I went to it slightly against my will during my time in D.C. and came out feeling Optimus Prime was my hero and thinking every car, truck, and plane I saw was a robot in disguise. So, like everyone else on the planet, I was very excited for the sequel. My first hint that it might not be as great as I had built it up to be was the review I saw in The Orlando Sentinel. Roger Moore gave it one star. Except for absolute crap movies you don't even bother to see, it is rare to see a film get one star. I read the review and it seemed that he felt Transformers 2 was all explosions and CGI effects and no substance. For the most part, I agree.

The movie starts out two years after the first one, with Sam on his way to college, and the Autobots fighting with the US Army against rogue Decepticons. Bumblebee still guards Sam, and has to step in early on in the film to stop an army of kitchen appliances brought to life by an Allspark shard. The parents apparently know about Autobots and handle the incident pretty well. Sam's mom seems more upset about her son going off to college than her house being blown apart when the attack occurs.

Sam is quite happy to finally be free from all the robot drama since he is going to college, and he even refuses to bring Bumblebee with him. This was very disappointing. If I had an Autobot that turned into a sleek car, I would not chuck it away. I don't care if it drew attention. It's a freakin' Autobot, people! I digress. The move in to college is a bit ridiculous. Sam's mom is crazier than she needs to be, as is Sam's roommate, Leo. Leo is in most of the movie, but he doesn't ever seem too important. Mikaela is still dating Sam, but their relationship turns into long distance when she decides to stay at the auto shop with her dad. Megan Fox is shamelessly used to heighten the sexuality of the movie. Every shot she is either in a low cut top, hot pants, short skirts, or leather. Ridiculous. Unfortunately, Mikaela has some competition when this psycho comes into the picture:

Let's just say, this chick is the definition of the Transformers' slogan "There's more than meets the eye." Sam can't escape his destiny for too long, and after only two days, he is thrust back into the fight between the Autobots and Decepticons. Sam is imprinted with the Allspark's information of where a great source of power is, and somehow all the Decepticons figure this out and hunt him down. The Autobots defend him as long as they can, but some sacrifices have to be made. Reaching this powerful device before the Decepticons seems to be the main (and basically only) plot of the movie. Mikaela and Leo join Sam on his journey, along with Bumblebee and The Twins, two new Autobots who come off as offensive racial stereotypes in the movie (They are funny, though). Agent Simmons also ends up joining the group, making up for his incompetence in the first film. He still brings humor to this movie, but this time, he adds heart, too.

The movie was okay. It could have used a lot more plot, and I would have appreciated more scenes without the robots. The first movie took a lot of time to develop relationships between the characters, and even managed to give the pointless Mikaela a back story. There is rarely a scene in this installment with just humans, and the robot's have less personality simply because there are so many in the film. I feel like Michael Bay just wanted to spend all his money on making as many different CGI robots as possible. Granted, the robots looked fantastic. I especially liked all the older decepticons that had little feather things around there mouths. They reminded me of piano keys for some reason the way they moved so methodically.

I had a really hard time telling apart Autobots and Decepticons. I'm grateful that most of the Autobots are colorful, but Ironhide and a few others are dark and hard to pick out. It makes it difficult to decide which side is winning (especially when some of them start switching sides!). My favorite robot was this one:

It made me think of when Boo says "Kitty!" in Monster's Inc. This Decepticon is nothing too special, but I always could pick it out of a group. It reminded me Beast Wars for a second, which made me a little nostalgic for those mornings I tried to figure out that complicated kid's show. I also liked Wheelie (the robot that Mikaela became attached to), but you don't really know what happens to him because all of the sudden he isn't in the movie anymore. That happens with the parents, too, but right when you remember they exist, they are thrust back into the action (literally).

I gotta point out I was very impressed with Shia LeBeouf. He injured his hand in a car accident during the film (off set), and was highly recommended to stop shooting until it had healed. He knew the film was dependant on him, so he sucked it up and continued anyway with a bandage. You can see this bandage in the film after they fall teleporting. Shia would have had to amputate fingers if he hurt his hand again, and with all the running and explosions in the end of the movie, I think it is a miracle his hand made it out in one piece. That's dedication.

I won't tell you whether or not to go see this movie because most of the world has already seen it anyway. I would give it two stars. It was poorly written without enough dialogue and character interaction, but it was exciting to follow. The special effects are always intense and loud, so be prepared. People in the theater I went to had babies that cried a lot towards the end prompting me to wonder why anyone would bring infants to a 2 1/2 hour action movie. Please don't be that kind of parent.

Oh! One final compliment. In my first post of the blog, I mentioned I loved Green Day's performance of "21 Guns" on the SNL finale. That song is played for awhile in the beginning of the film, and I believe it plays in its entirety during the credits. Great song. Stay and listen if you can.

New TV Series: Make It or Break It

Make It or Break It premiered this week on ABC Family. It runs on Monday nights at 9 pm. With Greek on hiatus, and my disinterest in Secret Life of An American Teenager, I was eager to find a new show to fill my ABC Family void. This one is about hardcore teenage gymnasts who are just as catty as regular girls, only they dis each other's leotards instead of the usual bad outfits.

The plot starts with Emily Kmetko, a fantastic gymnast who just happens to be dirt poor, joining an established gym that trains Olympic hopefuls. She gets in on a scholarship, and struggles to make time for both training and her part time job at a pizzeria to help ends meet at home. Emily's mom is forgetful and a little trashy, but you can tell she cares about her daughter a lot. Emily also has a brother in a wheelchair. We don't know much about him or their relationship, but he's around for now.

The gym has three stand out gymnasts, Payson, the focused leader in skill, Kaylie, the smiling crowd favorite, and Lauren, the rich bitch. When Emily shows up, they are all threatened by her talent because she could knock anyone out of the top three headed to nationals. Lauren leads a freeze out, which the other girls go along with despite not being as mean, and even though this disturbs Emily, she keeps her focus and does her best at the qualifier. Unfortunately, Lauren has more than bitchy tactics on her side, and gets down right dangerous at one point. I think she reminds me of Tanya Harding a little...

The qualifying match gets ugly, but there is a hopeful resolution to it all. However, another evil plot twist isn't too far behind, and the show ends with a cliffhanger. I feel like this show would make a good movie (for TV), but I'm not sure how it will survive as a series. I think they would need to tone down the gymnastics a bit and crank up the drama to succeed. Although, I loved seeing some of the athletic parts. You can't help but hold your breath for a second when you see one of them about to do a vault, or let out a huge OH! when someone falls. It's very exciting.

The character development is really weak right now, but the pilot did a good job of getting the main personalities across. They made you feel for Emily and hate Lauren, while also making you wonder how Payson and Kaylie will develop. I have a feeling they might go back and forth between good and evil. ABC Family does short runs of episodes, so I'm sure I'll watch this one throughout the summer before it goes off air in the fall. I'll keep you updated on it's progress.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New TV Series: Hawthorne

On Tuesday, June 16th, TNT premiered their new series, HawthoRNe. The show centers around Christina Hawthorne, a Chief Nursing Officer, widow, and single mother of a teenager. Jada Pinkett Smith plays Christina so that she is really likable. She is an excellent nurse because she is both intelligent and compassionate. She is definitely not weak, and mouths off at more than one individual in the pilot episode. I kept thinking while I watched this pilot, wow, what a great female character. However, the show for some reason is really boring. It's not that they don't try to keep it exciting. In the first two episodes alone there was attempted suicide, notable guest stars, chase scenes, patients almost dying because of wrong prescriptions from doctors, suggested hand jobs, and, just for good measure, an artificial leg. Maybe that is the show's problem. Maybe it's trying too hard.

One thing I do like about the show is the character, Kelly, played by Stick It's Vanessa Lengies. Kelly seems to be fresh out of nursing school and is struggling with getting used to an emotionally challenging job. She is endearing in the pilot as she adjusts to all the stress, and she gets pretty funny in the second episode when she gets overdramatic over an impossible patient (ironically, Cloris Leachman). I think she adds a lot to the show by addressing a younger audience. It shows the contrast between those who have been in the field awhile (desensitized, but still care), and those who are just starting out (care about everything and everyone).

Aisha Hinds (Miss Jeanette from True Blood) plays a new mom who has been a homeless friend of Christina's for awhile. Christina helps her with the baby, but is conflicted between whether or not the mom is capable of taking care of the child. I feel a difficult choice to call social services is coming up...Michael Vartan is in the show, too, as Chief of Surgery. He doesn't really do much, but I guess they are trying to build a romantic relationship for Christina? This show confuses me.

I will watch at least one more episode because I made myself a small rule called "the three episode test." If I choose to watch a pilot, I have to watch at least three episodes before giving up (unless it is REALLY bad). I didn't do this with Heroes, and I ended up giving up on it right before it got interesting. Oh well. If it gets better, check back for more posts on the show's unfolding drama.

Summer Movie Series: The Proposal

The Proposal

So, we finally find out Oscar working at "The Office" is only his day job...

The Proposal was a movie I wasn't too excited about. The trailer moderately held my interest, and I figured I'd see it if nothing else was playing at the time. Once reviews started coming out, though, they all praised the movie much more than I expected. Grant it, no one said it was amazing, but most critics enjoyed the actors' chemistry and said it was a good summer chick flick, so I saw it.

The movie starts out with Sandra Bullock doing her best impression of Miranda from Devil Wears Prada. Margaret is an uptight, inconsiderate, powerful executive, who mistreats everyone, especially her assistant, Andrew. When she enters the office, everyone send out IM's to each other warning "The witch is on her broom!" I thought this was a bit over the top, especially since the office is full of cubicles, and everyone can see her coming. I hate when movies point out new technology so obviously as if they are trying to prove to younger viewers that they understand how it works.

Anyway, Margaret finds out she violated the terms of her visa and is being deported to Canada. She ropes Andrew into playing her fiance by explaining that without her, he will get fired by Margaret's replacement. He blackmails her back by adding a promotion to their terms, and then lies for her at the immigration office. To keep up the facade, they go out to Alaska to meet Andrew's family and tell them the news. The family adds good supporting characters by having the eccentric grandmother, sentimental mother, and overbearing father. As stereotypical as their roles are, they work for the film.

The family is wary of Margaret because she seems so wrong for Andrew, but they welcome her with open arms anyway and their warmth eventually begins rubbing off on her. The movie spends a lot of time on scenes with Margaret and the family, and less on Margaret and Andrew together. I would have liked to see more romantic scenes to kind of build up their relationship, such as them maybe going out to a dinner the parents made them reservations for. The two have a couple cute scenes together, including the naked run in we saw in the trailers, and also a cute conversation about who Margaret really is behind her tough skin. But, it doesn't feel like enough build up to explain the ending. The finale of the film gets a little hectic and turns the film dramatic rather quickly, but I suppose it was okay. There are a bunch of little interview scenes during the credits (the credits are basically over when the scenes are), so make sure you don't run out. They are pretty funny, and you get to see Kevin again.

OMG Kevin. Kevin is the cutest puppy ever, and is a born scene stealer. He plays the newly adopted puppy of Andrew's family, and his parts are adorable and hilarious. The scene where Margaret has to decide whether or not to protect him gets a lot of laughs, especially when she gets to running around and holding him up in the air.

Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock are pretty great. They play off each other very well, and I feel whomever did casting for this movie knew what they were doing. Casting the guy from "The Office" for the stripper/waiter/reverend/store owner was fabulous as well. He reminds me of Kirk from Gilmore Girls because of all the different jobs he has.

I would check this movie out if you are in need of a light-hearted romantic comedy. There aren't that many out there right now, and it is definitely a good break from all the other blockbusters. I would probably give it two stars, because even though it was good for what it was, it didn't blow me away. To be fair, though, I will amend my two stars and add a third for the following reason:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Highlights

I've heard a lot of people complain about Jimmy Fallon on Late Night, but I happen to like him. This is probably because I loved him on SNL, but I just think he is a good guy, and it's nice to see him be successful. I agree he isn't a Leno or Letterman, but he just started. At least give him time to get the hang of it. I compiled a few of my favorite moments from the past few weeks to give you a sample of what you're missing if you don't watch. The show definitely has it's moments.

I recently discovered that I love when late night talk show hosts have animals on their show. They get all uncomfortable that there is something on set that can bite them, but they try to keep their cool and go along with it. This past Friday's episode had Jarod Miller on with a handful of different creatures. My favorites were the baby grizzly bear and the wallaby. The wallaby came out first in a pouch so we couldn't see him. Miller slung the pouch over Jimmy and then pulled the wallaby's head out so he could see the audience. He eventually pulled the wallaby out of the pouch completely, but the wallaby didn't really like being on display. In less than 30 seconds, he turned around and dove back into the pouch. He peeked out once he was snug and I almost died from cute overload.

The baby grizzly bear was up next and had one of the weirdest mannerisms I had ever seen. It sort of suckled on Jarod Miller's hand and eventually moved up his arm. He wasn't hurting him, but it looked so odd. At one point the bear looked like he was gnawing on a corn on the cob. It was pretty adorable. Nom nom nom.

This week I was SHOCKED when Horatio Sanz came on. I figured, cool, old SNL cast member. But when he came out, I thought they were pulling a prank and bringing in a stand in. Um no. Apparently that is the actual Horatio Sanz. I didn't really believe it until the end of the segment. He has lost 100 pounds and looks fantastic. It makes me feel uber lazy. See for yourself. The first picture is of Horatio and Jimmy doing a sketch a long time ago on SNL, and the second is a shot of them talking on Late Night this week. Is anyone else surprised?

The last highlight I'll mention is the one everyone has probably already heard of anyway. Mark-Paul Gosselaar visited the show and acted as if he was Zack Morris. Gosselaar has usually turned away from Saved By The Bell references and has avoided bring up Zack Morris for years. I don't know how NBC got him to agree to this.

He came out and did a monologue to the camera like the old Zack Morris, and also did the usual show gags, like pulling out a ginormous cell phone, pulling down a life size poster of Kelly (who he claims moved to a new zip code, referencing Tiffani Amber Theissen's role on Beverly Hills, 90210), and doing a time out on set (all the crew members froze to play along). It was great for hard core fans of Saved By the Bell.

Jimmy Fallon has been trying to do a Saved By the Bell reunion on his show and is keeping track of which stars have agreed to go along with it. So far, Mr. Belding, Lisa, Slater, Zack, and Jessie are all in. Now if only Kelly and Screech would come back....I can't believe Dustin Diamond would turn down an opportunity to make money. He did so many trashy reality shows on VH1. If you want to see the old gang together, you can sign a petition on Jimmy Fallon's website over at

Last Two Episodes of Greek: Recap and Review

Before I talk about this week's season finale, I want to quickly comment on last week's episode, "Tailgate Expectations." I was trying to wait for my screen cap site to upload pictures, but they haven't uploaded any for the last two episodes. Oh well. I did some searching and YouTube pausing to get a few shots.

In Tailgate Expectations, it was great to see Heath again! Heath used to be Calvin's boyfriend (sort of), but as Heath points out, Calvin liked sports and he didn't. So, they didn't work out. Heath approaches Rusty and volunteers to help with the float competition all the Greek houses are participating in. The Kappa Tau's are paired with the ZBZ girls, and both houses have their reasons of why they want to win. Kappa Tau's enthusiasm for the project comes from Rusty, who wants to win the competition money to rebuild the fallen Vesuvius (a volcano that was able to make it rain beer). Heath wants to help because he wants to leave his mark on Kappa Tau history before leaving for medical school. It was nice to hear he was going to medical school since a lot of the frat guys are just silly and random in the background. It was like the writers were making the not-so-subtle statement, "Slackers have goals, too."

The float competition forces Casey and Cappie to work together despite vowing to stay apart. They manage to avoid each other pretty well, but when the float breaks down on the way to the competition, Casey turns to Cappie for help. He calls her out on always dragging him into her life as he tries to move on and they get into a shouting match on the street. We never see where the argument goes because the tow truck guy finally comes and breaks it up. At the end of the episode, Casey admits to Ashleigh how much she misses Cappie (not so much of a shock) and we're left wondering how she is going to deal when Max comes back to CRU. I felt this plot line was pretty much a bridge to the finale. There wasn't much depth, but it was necessary to set up the next episode.

While Casey and Cappie are having their own issues, Rusty, Heath, and Ashleigh plot against the Omega Chi and IKI float and attempt to sabotage it. The float was of Marc Antony and Cleopatra, and it was rigged so that the figures hugged each other. Heath and Rusty find a way to re-wire the float so that Cleopatra is the only one moving in for a hug and ends up in an interesting position. Once she is in place, the float exploded with beer. Ashleigh was really excited with their victory, especially after she got to see Frannie drenched by her own float.

The float gag was genius. I was glad Heath finally got the credit he deserved for pulling off one of the biggest pranks in Kappa Tau history. He even got a nickname, "Doc." I'm glad Calvin and Evan weren't upset with the float and just rolled with the punches. It's nice to see Cappie and Evan getting along for a change. Evan's new friendship with Rebecca was also a good move by the writers. I didn't see how much they could relate to each other from their family backgrounds, but now I get how they would uniquely understand each other. Ashleigh's little side plot with her boyfriend was okay, but I don't ever think it's that dumb to run around with body paint at college. That takes forever to do, and the Garnet and Gold guys were a huge part of FSU culture. You gotta show those guys respect for their craziness, not be embarrassed by them.

Okay, on to the big one...the season finale. "At World's End" centers on Casey's decision to finally choose once and for all between Max and Cappie (It was cute that Ashleigh compared her to Joey Potter and Felicity to give a shout out to other teen dramas!). Max comes back early from England to surprise Casey, and immediately pick up on the weirdness between her and Cappie. He is kind of an ass to Cappie, and is surprised when Cappie doesn't come back at him with the same attitude. This made me sad because Max is so polite, and I hated that the writers made him come off bad in this episode to make you root for Cappie. I think the whole audience roots for Cappie anyway. We don't need more reasons. Casey eventually realizes Cappie is the one for her and tells him at the Kappa Tau's end of the year bash. He tells her she isn't thinking straight and turns her down. Max sees them together, and even though Cappie covers for Casey, she decides to break it off with him anyway.

While all the usual Cappie/Casey drama is going on, Dale and Calvin devise a plan to battle their temptations. They decide to start a new purity pledge so that Dale can ward off his cougar girlfriend, and Calvin can avoid letting anything happen between him and his hot, gay roommate. The support they offer each other is awkward and humorous. Dale pretends to be Calvin's boyfriend when he catches him with his roommate, and Calvin returns the favor when he walks in on Sheila all over Dale. With barely any emotion he says "Sheila stop. Dale is my boyfriend." It's pretty funny. They end up giving into their desires anyway, and there's a great moment where Calvin throws his purity pledge ring aside and Wade picks it up and utters "My Preciousssssss." Haha, I love Lord of the Rings references.

The episode ends with the cliffhanger we all saw coming. Ashleigh joins Cappie up on the roof and tells him that Casey's attraction is sincere. She then asks him what he is going to do now that is is the "end of the world." He just looks up, and it fades to black. Will they get together? I don't know. I still stand by the idea that they won't get together until the show ends, although I'd really love to see them as a couple for a bit. I guess we will find out in later. Greek returns August 31st at 9 pm. Set your Tivo's now, people.

Pushing Daisies Series Finale

Sadly, this past Saturday marked the last episode of Pushing Daisies. The episode started out with everyone celebrating Chuck's half birthday by going to the Aquacade, a show combining all different types of water acts, including a stunt show with a shark and a famous pair of sister synchronized swimmers. Chuck's aunts used to take her because of their past involvement with synchronized swimming, so they agree to go (in the present) in her honor. Chuck really wants to go again, too, so Ned agrees to it as a half birthday present (but keeps watch for her aunts so they don't get caught).

The fun outing soon turns bad when one of the sister swimmers gets swallowed by a shark. Both the shark and the sister die, eliminating two acts from the show. Emerson is hired by the shark's trainer to clear his name in the murder. The whole gang goes undercover (minus Chuck) as Lily and Vivian's entourage after the sisters agree to become the Aquacade's new opening act, and they dive right in (pun intended) to solving the mystery. They first suspect a jealous acrobatic swimmer, but he denies his motive and points his finger at the sister who is alive. While this leads the group in the right direction, they soon discover there is one more suspect they haven't cleared who just might be behind the whole thing.

The episode was fun as usual, and like the other recent episodes, it focused on the past of a supporting character (well in this case, characters, since it was about Chuck's aunts). I like how everyone was in a bunch of scenes together and weren't as scattered as usual. The aunts got more screen time, which added a lot to the show. Lily finally discovered Vivian's secret about being Chuck's mother, but just as she was about to throw her out at the end, a suprise visitor came to ease their feud.

The show's crew must have retouched this episode after finding out they were going to be cancelled because it wrapped with a hasty rundown of how all the characters ended up. Everybody somehow got their happy ending despite barely starting out on achieving it, but I think the writers wanted the audience to feel like there was a purpose to the show instead of leaving with a cliffhanger. I appreciate the effort, but it was so rushed that I felt it might have been better without it. Oh well. At least we know all will be well in Coeur d'Coeurs even if we can't keep an eye on it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

10 or Less: Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman

Okay, admit it. You remember this show. Whether you were old enough to watch it live or caught reruns on TNT in the mornings, you've seen the cheesiness that is Lois and Clark. I vaguely remembered watching the reruns as a kid, but once it came out on DVD, I thought I'd spontaneously buy them and watch all the episodes. I was definitely not disappointed.

Lois and Clark was unique because of how innocent and family friendly it was despite it's hour long prime time slot. It reminds me of Pushing Daisies because of how playful it is. The villains were always more dumb than evil, and the romance was always witty and cute rather than sexual (Note: Dean Cain definitely hit his prime with Lois and Clark. Sadly, he hasn't looked as hot since). I think it didn't last because once Lois and Clark finally got together, there wasn't that will they or won't they aspect that added so much chemistry between the actors. As you can see from my list, only one of my favorite episodes is after they get married, and even then, it barely made the cut.

Despite losing it's appeal, my heart still skips a beat when I hear the theme song. I have always loved the Superman lore, and adding on a great cast and cute writing only made this show more of a hit for me. I think it was great in the 90's, and while it could never be appreciated with today's audiences, those who watched it then I think will always have a soft spot for it.

10. Soul Mates
Season 4, Episode 4

As mentioned before, this is the only episode from season 4 that I included. In this episode, Lois and Clark have finally found time to actually celebrate their wedding night after many roadblocks in previous episodes. Unfortunately, they have one more big one to overcome. H.G. Wells (you'll see a lot of him in this list!) visits Lois and Clark to warn them that if they sleep together, Lois will die because of an old curse put on the couple. In their previous lives, a former Tempus (you'll see him a lot, too) wanted Lois for himself, and when he couldn't have her, he had them both cursed to make sure Lois and Clark could never be happy. The couple agrees to go with H.G. Wells to sort out the mess and ends up in a medieval era with Lois as a Maid Marion-like figure and Clark as Robin Hood. They try to fix things, but end up having to jump forward in time to another period to really make everything right. The second time jump takes them to the wild west, and Clark finds out that even in past lives, he always had a secret identity. As they live through the fairy tale settings, Clark manages to always get the girl, and once the curse is prevented, Lois and Clark finally have the wedding night they have always dreamed of. Dean Cain's spin into sexy night clothing is not to be missed.

9. Virtually Destroyed
Season 3, Episode 10

A mysterious billionaire shows up in this episode and invites Lois and Clark over to test out a new virtual reality game he created. We learn that the billionaire is none other than Lex Luthor's long lost son who is trying to get a hold of information on his father from Lois. He tries to separate Lois and Clark, and eventually succeeds in booting Clark out of the virtual world. Clark has to enlist Jimmy's help to get back in and rescue Lois from X, the villain existing in the game. Clark doesn't have his powers in the virtual world, but they manage to outsmart Lex's son and escape with Jimmy's help. The special effects are horrible, but in an awesomely bad kind of way. There is a scene where Lois, Superman, and Jimmy are floating around in a purple cyberspace that looks RIDICULOUS, but you are laughing so much through it that it doesn't bother you. I liked that Jimmy saved the day a bit in this episode because he was underutilized a lot in the series. Justin Whalin was great, and I loved episodes that showcased him more. I also love that you find out Clark is a virgin in this episode. It's cute and plays into the whole innocent vibe of the show. Lois' reaction to this news is priceless as well.

8. Tempus, Anyone?
Season 3,
Episode 14

Tempus strikes again, but this time, he strikes an alternate universe. Lois is taken to this alternate universe and meets up with H.G. Wells, who fills her in on Tempus' past indescretions. The alternate reality has no Superman, but Clark Kent still exists. Lois confronts him and encourages him to become the world protector he was meant to be. She helps him find the courage to step up to the job, and even though he is dating his high school flame, Lana Lang, he falls for Lois. Lois can't be with him, though, because she belongs to her own Clark back home. There is a sad moment where the other Clark is addressing a crowd as Superman, and has to nod a goodbye to Lois in the background. She feels sorry that he is alone, but H.G. Wells assures her she did the right thing by helping him achieve his destiny. I like the Superman song they play while Clark is learning the ropes to his superhero status from Lois. It seemed very fitting. I also enjoyed the plot because it addressed how Clark's life wouldn't be better without his other identity. And, of course, I love Tempus as the villain.

7. Don't Tug on Sup
erman's Cape,
Season 3, Episode 6

Superman vibrates fast enough in this episode to escape a rigged electric fence. No seriously. This happens. Refer to the picture. Superman and Lois are kidnapped and put in little electric boxes to be part of some crazy couple's collection. Clark refuses to live with the idea of him and Lois in a zoo, and decides to risk his own life (as always) by vibrating his molecules (not always) enough to break them apart and reassemble them on the other side of the wall. It gets pretty intense in the cheesiest way possible, but you gotta love the solidarity between Lois and Clark as they refuse to leave the other behind. The villains are eccentric, the romance is strong, and the escape plan is completely out of left field. What else can you ask for?

6. Fly Hard
Season 1, Episode 1

This is a great example of an episode that utilizes it's whole cast. Lois, Clark, Perry, Jack, and Lex get held hostage at the Daily Planet while random criminals come in looking for a secret vault hidden from a previous era. Jimmy is at the Daily Planet at the time, but manages to evade the criminals and try to go for help. He doesn't do a very good job, but his attempts are amusing to watch. I love how everyone tries to help in their own way, and how Clark could easily save everyone, but struggles not to because it would mean giving up his identity. I chose the picture for this episode because of how much it screams 90's. In the middle of an escape attempt, Perry plays with Jack's old Gameboy , which is just short of being the size of a Harry Potter book. I can't believe how chunky those things used to be. The episode keeps it's momentum and has you laughing and in suspense most of the time. I didn't love the flashbacks to the 20's era, but the present day shenanigans made the episode great anyway.

5. Ordinary People
Season 3, Episode 2

Oh Spencer Spencer. You are definitely voted most ridiculous villain. Spencer Spencer is a head in a box that plans to kidnap Superman to use his body for his own. He lures Lois and Clark over to his private island under the pretense of a romantic getaway, but he is counting on Superman showing up to save them when the weekend turns out to be a trap, complete with tigers. Lois and Clark don't realize how much danger they are in because they are having their own personal troubles. Lois claims she wants a normal relationship and begs Clark to be human for a bit. He agrees to her wishes, which she soon begins regretting upon getting stranded on the island. Clark keeps his word despite Lois' pleas to fly them home, and they have cute couple moments as they talk about their future together. Spencer Spencer can't even remotely be taken seriously (he drives his box by hitting a switch with his head....), so even when he is "winning" you don't worry. Lois has to come to Clark's aid a bit for once, but they manage to escape and dash Spencer Spencer's hopes of ever having a body to go with his annoying head. I liked this episode for the Lois and Clark moments. It was right after they got engaged, so it was nice to see them finally talk freely about Clark's identity (keep in mind, Lois had only figured it out a couple episodes before).

4. Honeymoon in Metropolis
Season 1, Episode 11

This episode chronicles the early romance of Lois and Clark. Lois sneaks away to a luxurious hotel to take some time to relax, and ends up witnessing a crime while looking out her window. To investigate, Perry orders Clark to join Lois and pretend to be a couple on their honeymoon. The facade ends up blurring a little bit with reality as the two become a little overwhelmed with being in such close quarters. There is even a passionate kiss in the middle of the episode, and even though it is done to keep their cover, I still squealed as it happened. Definitely made me add "Kiss 90's Dean Cain" to my life goals list. There is also a little montage of Lois and Clark playing board games to pass the time, and this was poignant to me because of my own love for board games. They tease each other as usual, but the actors are great at making you feel the chemistry between the characters at the same time.

3. We Have A Lot to Talk About
Season 3, Episode 1

This was a great season opener. Season 2 had ended with Clark proposing and the audience aware that Lois had figured out his secret. As the episode opens, Lois turns Clark down temporarily, and admits she knows he is Superman. She claims she needs time to adjust, and as the couple struggles, Clark's parents make a visit to Metropolis to talk to the couple one on one. They assure them that their love is true, and that it is worth the obstacles ahead. As the couple prepares to reunite, a new villain steps into the picture, and plants a bomb under a table at a crowded social event. It is rigged to go off if Superman goes past a certain point, so he must yell to Lois how to defuse it. So they don't alarm guests, they create a code in which saying "Lois" means yes and saying "Lane" means no. Clark begins shouting both names left and right as Lois tests the wires, and this confuses Perry beyond all belief as he tries to talk to Clark. The couple pulls off the rescue and Lois finally says "yes" as they have their own private moment above the clouds. This was one of the few episodes my sister could remember, mostly because of the silly scene with the bomb. Having Clark's parents around was a refreshing change, too, and it was nice that they didn't draw out the proposal too long. I'm glad Lois said yes by the end of the episode, and that they moved along with the relationship.

2. Season's Greedings

Season 2, Episode 9

This was very close to being my number one pick. Seaso
n's Greedings has some great moments in it that always make me giggle, but the villains do weaken the plot a bit. The story for this episode starts with Mr. Schott, an out of work toy maker, creating poisonous space rat action figures that spray a toxin that makes children greedy and adults act like children. The toy maker (The Jefferson's Sherman Hemsley) is mad that children don't appreciate his classic teddy bears, so apparently, this is fair payback. Clark, Lois, and Jimmy are sent to report on the popular toy and get infected by the spray. They come back to the Daily Planet and begin acting like bratty children, tripping each other, consuming large amounts of candy, and racing each other in office chairs. Perry puts a stop to the behavior, but soon becomes infected himself. It is only when Clark's parents come to the Planet that they set Clark straight and convince him to detox the others. Once Lois is back to her usual self, the two track down Mr. Schott and stop his plan to not only infect the toys, but also infect the city's water supply. Mr. Schott has a last minute change of heart anyway, and voluntarily goes to jail to atone for his crime. Lois tries to have her own Christmas dinner throughout the episode, but is left alone as everyone has other plans. Luckily, Clark forgoes Smallville and surprises Lois on Christmas Eve. The episode ends with an aww moment of the two looking out at carolers on the street and snuggling against each other by the window. Lois and Clark romantic moments didn't occur too often before this point, so this was a special treat for those loving them together (a.k.a. me). Most of the love scenes prior to this were between Lois and Superman.

1. Tempus Fugitive
Season 2, Episode 18

"How dumb was she?!?!" I love Tempus. In this episode, H.G. Wells makes the mistake of taking Tempus from a future time and bringing him back to the past. In the future, everyone is at peace because of Superman's efforts. Tempus doesn't like how boring it is, so he takes control of the time machine and goes back in time to kill Clark as a baby in Smallville. H.G. Wells manages to tip Lois and Clark off to Tempus' plan, and the two join forces to go back in time and stop him. Lois finds out Clark's secret when Tempus confronts her and asks how she could be so blind. She becomes furious at Clark, but overcomes her anger when Clark falls ill due to his past being erased. The two manage to finally catch up with Tempus and save the adorable baby Clark. H.G. Wells gets rid of Tempus in an old western asylum, and he returns Lois and Clark to right before he interfered in their lives. This way, Lois won't remember the secret she learned. Unfortunately for Clark, he doesn't remember either. This is bad because Lois actually understood and the truth actually brought them closer. He is left in fear that his identity will be revealed and when he sees a note saying "Clark is Superman" in Lois' hand, he quickly destroys it before she can read it. The audience is hugely disappointed, and the phrase "it was fun while it lasted" has great meaning again. Introducing Tempus and H.G. Wells is fun, because they show up later and always make good villains/heroes. The plotline is also good because we finally see someone tease Lois for being so oblivious. It's only a pair of glasses and a suit afterall.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer Movie Series: The Hangover

The Hangover

No one told Baby Carlos that oversize sunglasses are sooo last season.

So, this movie came out Friday and I have already seen it twice. It's pretty great. I usually don't like this genre of films (stupid funny, Apatow-like), but I laughed through most of The Hangover. I think this was because it didn't have too much nudity, language, or disgusting dialogue. It was a little bit of all of that, but never too much. That stuff usually overpowers a movie in favor of cheap laughs, but the laughs in this film were quite genuine.

The movie starts out with a flash forward of Bradley Cooper's character, Phil, calling Doug's (the missing groom) wife. He tells her they messed up and lost Doug during their bachelor party in Vegas and that they won't make the wedding. The film then flashes back to two days before with the guys leaving for their night in Vegas. Doug is accompanied by his friends Phil and Stu (The Office's Ed Helms), and his future brother-in-law, Alan (Tru Calling's Zach Galifianakis). Phil is an over-confident schoolteacher with a wife and son, Stu is a quiet dentist with a mean controlling girlfriend, and Alan is an awkward lone wolf that is apparently the ugly child of the family. The guys quickly upgrade to a deluxe suite upon their arrival and toast to a great night on the roof of Caesar's Palace (Alan's speech is hillarious!). Then we see three of the four guys wake up to a destroyed room with no memory of the night before, and the movie truly begins. Besides the mess, Alan has lost his pants, Stu has lost his tooth, Phil has a hospital wristband, there is a tiger in the bathroom, and a baby is crying in the closet.

The guys decide their main objective is to find Doug and start off at their first lead, the hospital. A busy doctor gives them their next hint on where to check when Doug isn't at the hospital, and Stu is soon in for a big shock when he finds out what HE did last night. Each stop along their search leads to new problems and questions, including how they all got drugged and why the valet pulled up with a cop car instead of the car they came in.

One of the more difficult situations the guys get in is when they end up at the police station. They are able to talk there way ou of jail time, but their punishment is almost worse. As the movie progresses, you kind of end up rooting for the three guys despite finding out all the stupid stuff they did the night before. Towards the end of the movie, the guys start turning their luck around when they look to gambling to make some fast cash. Alan's entrance on the escalator is priceless, and just watching him come in had me laughing for about 5 minutes.

You are excited to piece together the mystery of where Doug is with Stu, Phil. and Alan, and when they finally figure it out, you are almost more happy than the characters. The acting is great, and I was especially impressed with Zach. He was okay on Tru Calling, but I didn't realize his forte was comedy. His character is that typical tag a long guy that always takes a joke too far and makes it awkward, but like Stu and Phil, you quickly get past the awkwardness and find him funny and endearing. Heather Graham is cute as usual as the stripper mom and basically plays the same character as she did in Austin Powers. Ken Jeong does his usual over the top comedy (think Role Models), but puts a fresh spin on it by playing up the gay part more. His lines were lame, but the way he said them made it work.

I also must compliment the music choices. They play a lot of the cheesy guy party music, like Usher's "Yeah" and Flo Rida's "Right Round," but it fits the movie really well. "Right Round" plays during the credits as a montage of photos from the night scroll by. This montage is practically the best part of the movie. They go through about 75 photos or so of some really inappropriate events of the night, but it goes so fast that none of the photos can be too offensive. You've also pieced together the night already from the rest of the movie, so the photos just fill in the visual details for you. Make sure you stay for this part. I promise you'll be laughing the whole time as each photo is more shocking than the next.

As I mentioned about three times, go see this. It's probably the best comedy I have seen in a long time and it is getting great reviews. I would give it 5 stars for simply being such a surprise hit. It's definitely not one of those movies where only the funny parts are in the trailer. There is much more to come in the movie.