Friday, June 26, 2009

Q & A: Appointment viewing...

Jordan and Sam discuss who in TV, Music, and Film they can't ever miss when they come out with something new.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oscar Policy Change Discussion

Ten Best Picture Nominees? What is this, 1943? As Sam and Jordan discuss the new Oscar policy, we would like it stated that we are both anti-Nazi. Here's looking at you, kids!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Hangover Discussion

Hey want to see Jordan and Sam bicker about things that a normal person would just brush off and go "whatever"? Check out the discussion in the comments section of this post.

Sam's Review: The Hangover

No one will confuse the new Todd Phillips movie, The Hangover, for high art. The man who directed Old School stuck to what he knew funny frat humor. The premise of the movie is that four buddies go to Las Vegas for an awesome bachelor party and that’s what they get. Except when they wake up they can’t remember a thing, and they can’t find the groom-to-be named Doug (Justin Bartha). So it’s up to his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and his future brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifinakis).

So the plot isn’t that deep, but it doesn’t need to be. The plot is perfect for comedy in that they have to retread their night and uncover the crazy shit they did the night before. They find out they stole a tiger, Stu got married to a hooker (Heather Graham) (oh yeah Stu has a “only in the movies” bitchy girlfriend at home), and loads of other wacky stuff.

While the main characters of the story fall into pretty standard archetypes (the uptight dentist who is his girlfriend’s whipping boy, the cocky jerk, the crazy guy) they all work. The character that probably made the film was Galifinakis’ Alan character who is just fucking nuts and an implied child predator. The part was clearly written for Galifinakis and anyone who is familiar with his stand-up act knows that he always seems to have the persona of someone who always seems not quite there. In fact this quality of Galifinakis makes him probably the most brilliant comedy force in the movie. It’s clear that Phillips gave his actors some leeway when it came to improvisation. Alan gives a speech on the roof of the hotel that is clearly improvised (and funny).

Ed Helms also does a great job as Stu, the dentist. Helms seems to be bringing a more vulgar and less socially challenged version of his character Andy Bernard from The Office. This is a welcome addition to the film. Bradley Cooper’s role I felt could have just as easily been played by Vince Vaughn and played to more laughs but it seems this is who they had in mind. He was chosen likely because he is great at playing an asshole (Wedding Crashers). Here though he is an asshole, who’s also a friend. There’s also some pretty decent cameos in the film like Mike Tyson which many people have seen in the trailer. There are also some less publicized ones like The Daily Show’s Rob Riggle, UCB’s Matt Walsh, Mike Epps, and an Apatow regular Ken
Jeong. They all are pretty successful in their short bits in the film.

These types of movies are not about how they end. The ending to this movie is perfectly predictable and how the character’s relationships change is also incredibly predictable. But that’s not the point. The fun of these movies is the ride you go on. My expectations going into to this movie were somewhere in the middle. I thoroughly enjoyed Old School but I was still wary. At the end of the day this movie provided a lot of laughs and provided a good time. It’s the type of movie that’s more fun to watch with a couple of buddies. So if you’re looking for a good time at the movies you should check out The Hangover.


Jordan's Review: The Hangover

The Hangover, the new film by Old School director Todd Phillips, tells the extremely original story of four guys heading to Vegas for a bachelor party. The gang is all there—The pretty flat, personality-less groom (Justin Bartha), the “player” who is just out to have a good time (Bradley Cooper), the weird guy (Zach Galifianakis) and the geeky guy trapped in a relationship with an overbearing woman and afraid to let go (Ed Helms). It’s pretty much the characters from Old School going to a bachelor party instead of starting a fraternity.

Sadly this movie lacks most of the things that make Old School such a great comedy. Bradley Cooper is clearly this film’s Vince Vaughan, yet he forgets to imbue his character with anything near the effortless charm that backed Vaughan’s performance and made his smarminess seem oddly lovable—by contrast Cooper’s Phil is just a douche bag who leaves his wife at home without a thought or a mention to get drunk, and likely get laid, by random women in Vegas. Ed Helms is obviously taking over the Will Ferrell role, yet where Ferrell’s Frank was lovably aloof, Helms’ Stu is often just annoyingly up-tight. And it’s not saying anything groundbreaking to suggest that Justin Bartha is no Luke Wilson.

The shining star of the cast is without a doubt Galiafianakis, whose Alan is eccentric beyond belief, and has no idea how to fit in with the frat-ish antics going on around him. He defines himself as a “lone wolf” who has now made his pack three wolves larger. He’s far too oblivious to see that he was brought along to be nice, and Galiafianakis allows him to be in equal parts endearing and creepy, lovable and utterly insane. Without Alan, the movie would easily sink into a cesspool of obviousness and telegraphed jokes.

The plot really gets started when Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up in their suite with a chicken, a blow up doll, a tiger, and no Doug. Their friend is missing, his wedding is in one day, and they have no memory of the previous night. The set-up is pretty much Dude Where’s My Car? in Vegas and with an extra guy along for the ride. What the film lacks in originality it attempts to make up for in flat out hilarity, and in succeeds in places. A subplot involving a baby found in the room (and dubbed “Carlos” by Alan), his stripper/escort of a mother (played humorously by Heather Graham) and her marriage to the “unlikeliest” character brings far more laughs than another involving two taze-happy cops which feels like the most predictable string of jokes imaginable. I also have to confess to enjoying a cameo-cum-subplot from Mike Tyson more than I probably should have.

Another of the film’s flaws is that Phil, Stu, and Doug never feel like the lifelong friends we are meant to believe they are. Additionally, Stu’s shrew of a girlfriend (Rachael Harris) feels every inch the cliché she is—there is no conceivable reason for her to be such an emasculating bitch except for to allow Stu the chance to grow as a character in the film’s single most predictable arc (which is saying something).

That’s not to say there is no good, however. The film keeps the laughs coming pretty regularly throughout its running time. There is never a dull moment, even if some of the jokes do feel a little stale. And while the movie doesn’t have a whole lot to love, there isn’t much to hate there either—while it doesn’t always succeed, it does always try convincingly and it deserves some credit for that. I consistently laughed throughout the movie, more than I expected to, and maybe more than I’d like to admit. The movie is predictable, poorly developed, and pretty funny on the whole. It may not light your year on fire, but it’s definitely not the worst thing you could do with 100 minutes on a hot summer day.

Grade: B-

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sam's Review: The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien

Conan O’Brien is the host of The Tonight Show. I’ve been waiting a long time to say that. Or in this case, write it. Anyway, the big question about Conan is how he would change with his move to LA and to a timeslot that’s an hour earlier. Guess what? None of those questions were answered in the premier, and the really couldn’t have been answered. The first week of Conan’s Tonight Show will likely be aimed largely at getting new viewers. I’m sure the producers behind the show are well aware of the die-hard Conan fan-base (which I am proudly apart of) that will gladly move to the earlier hour. Conan’s job at during the infant stage of his show is to let people in on the secret and that most likely means, turning down the crazy, just for a bit.

The show opened with a great bit where Conan is twenty minutes from the start of the show when he realizes he forgot to move to LA. So naturally when he can’t catch a cab, he decides to run the length of the country, in 20 minutes. I think watching Conan run, who is comprised of 75% legs and 25% hair, is comedy gold on its own. This is really an introduction to the wild world of Conan O’Brien. I’m not sure if there is any recorded evidence of Jay Leno running anywhere. Conan let people know he’s different. He’ll run across the country, he’ll swim with his suit on and run across Wrigley Field.

The rest of the show seemed to also be an intro to what Conan does best. He started with an awkward monologue (always Late Night’s weakest part) where Conan would often be self deprecating. He showed his shitty 1992 Ford Taurus (which fans of the show have seen on numerous occasions), he showed his shitty seats at the Lakers game and he showed how absurdly stupid it was to steal the D in the Hollywood sign (which turned from a shitty joke to a funny joke when they broke the D, the faces were priceless). Max Weinberg returns with the same band but now they’re Max Weinberg and The Tonight Show Band. You can tell the show is taking it slow with introducing everything because there was really zero banter between Max and Conan or Andy and
Conan or quips about La Bamba (be patient, it will come).

My guess is it will take about a month before this show can really be defined. This show had the luxury of a funny guest (Will Ferrell) and Conan did not need to show off his aptitude for quick thinking funny interviews. Conan did a pretty funny remote segment where he went on one of those stupid tram rides at Universal. I’d say the bit was pretty funny. I think it will take some before the show seems less like a television event and more a part of the week. I felt as though I was watching Conan host an awards show or some sort of anniversary special. For it to fell commonplace like with the old show it will take a bit. The show’s first musical guest was Pearl Jam and I didn’t really care at all (as I often don’t for musical guests on talk shows). So to give the show a grade seems a bit ridiculous because this was a special episode it has been planned for months and doesn’t feel really natural yet and Conan is still introducing himself to the rest of America. I think we should review the show a year from now to see how it’s grown but since we grade here, this is what I think:


Notes: Man, has Andy been working on his announcer voice, he sounded nothing like himself in the opening. When he started talking to Conan he went back to that kind of child-like giggle voice he has.

-Can’t wait for the standards to come back (Triumph, Masturbating Bear I hope, random F-List celebrities making appearances this was previously Abe Vigoda’s job)

-That new set is fucking gorgeous; they hit it out of the park.

-Liked the classic NBC peacock at the beginning I hope they keep that.

-I also was expecting a different opening song for the new show but it is kinda comforting to hear the old song.

-As stated before, patience is important. I believe Conan is gonna tone it down to reel some people in and then he’s gonna be able to do more of what he wants.

Jordan's Review: The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien

Since 2004 I have been waiting for Conan to ascend from Late Night to his rightful place atop the throne of after hours entertainment: The Tonight Show. Last night I finally got my wish. Conan stepped up to the plate, and true to form, he didn’t disappoint.
The show opened with a humorous, if expected, montage of Conan charging from New York, across America to his new home in Los Angeles, to the tune of the surprisingly apt “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. Conan assured us from the very first moment that he would not “give himself away” just because he was on an hour earlier. No, Conan is going to be as wild and wacky as ever, and middle America can just learn to deal with it.
After a bit of classic Conan monologuing (with his standard “zany motions”, dancing at the crowd before mocking their zeal) he brought out another classic bit in which he gives some Universal Studios attendees a tour, Conesy style. With his hilarious overreactions, excellent chanting of “Circle!” and awesome drive through the streets of L.A. this sketch showed an example of what I hope the new tonight show will be.
Not every one of Conan’s bits tonight fired on all cylinders, however. The Lakers game gag was tired and expected, and I cringed when he made an octomom joke (I don’t think she was ever funny, or really deserving of news coverage. A great number of people aren’t very good at birth control and they don’t get months of fame and bad late-night jokes), yet I was willing to forgive his misses because they were absurdist in a classic Conan sense. I didn’t care that they weren’t the funniest things he’d ever done, because they were done in his way, and that’s the most important thing about the first show: Conan more than proved that he is going to be doing things his way.
His guest on the show was Will Ferrell, who can always be trusted to be a great guest, and he was in rare form tonight. From calling Liza Minelli a commie to giving Conan ridiculous tips about life in lala land, Ferrell worked hard to “not upstage Conan.” Fortunately, Conan can keep up with, and really, surpass, any guest he has, and he met Ferrell quip for quip, showing any new watchers what a capable, and hilarious, interviewer he is.
I usually detest “musical acts” on late night shows, and unless a band I love is on I generally fast forward through them. But tonight I watched Pearl Jam for you, gentle reader (if there is still one of you out there) and I was not too disappointed. They sang a decent (though far from earth-shattering) song and Conan wrapped up the show nicely by thanking friends old and new.
Announcer and side-kick Andy Richter didn’t have a lot to do this first time out, yet he was easily able to coast by on sheer chemistry with Conan, and I’m sure greatness will come out of this duo in the future. And that actually sums up the show for me. While parts of it were less than brilliant, each bit gave me faith that the Conan I have loved for so long would be inhabiting The Tonight Show for years to come. He will still be absurdist. He will still make jokes about his lack of facial hair and his pompadour. He will still focus on bits over a monologue and even over guests. He will still be Conan O’Brien. And at the end of his first show, that is all I could ask for.

Grade: A-