There are some questions you shouldn’t ask. Read the rest of this entry
“12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer” is the third episode from season three of Inside Amy Schumer and it’s one of the most effective parodies I’ve ever seen. Read the rest of this entry
I believe it’s accurate to say that Pitch Perfect is universally liked, if not loved. 81% of reviewers and a 83% of the audience gave it a positive review (Rotten Tomatoes), so that’s at the very least a consensus that people on earth like this movie… and I have no idea why. Read the rest of this entry
I don’t want to drag you through my whole Cracked.com original programming spiel, so here’s a quick recap: I liked it when the folks at Cracked would site around and complain about things, but when they started branching out into more situational episodoic stuff, I got all kinds of leerie. Shows like Rom.Com and Adventures in Jedi School just weren’t doing it for me, but then Welcome Back, Potter emerged as a breath of fresh… Aguamenti (that’s Harry Potter speak for water, not air, bug you see what I”m saying), if you will. It kinda fizzled out at the end, but Monster Management is the real deal. Read the rest of this entry
The Cinema Sins YouTube channel has over two and half million subscribers, of which I myself can be counted as a member. Over the years, I’ve seen people chatting/tweeting/blogging about Cinema Sins (CinemaSins? One word? I have no idea.) and it’s influence on Film Criticism. I’m aware of at least two articles on the topic, both specifically stating that their brand of criticism is ‘the very worst’ and things to that effect. (Here’s one from 2013 and another one from this year.) As a prolific (though incomplete) watcher of these videos, I can tell you for certain that Cinema Sins is not film criticism. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Read the rest of this entry
If you’re new to the Attention Must Be Paid feature, here’s the deal: when I run across something that I think is great and isn’t getting the props it deserves, I write it up in this space.
Sometimes, we must look beyond our own borders for entertainment, and I understand that to Americans, this might sound crazy – after all, isn’t the USA the capital of TV and Film? We’ve got Hollywood! But in a landscape of network programming still largely dominated by reality shows and unappealing dramas, it’s necessary to call in the Britsh and have Channel 4 hook it up – enter The IT Crowd.
Available here in the good ol’ USA via Netflix streaming, iTunes and broadcast on the IFC network, The IT Crowd is a situation comedy unlike any I’ve seen before. Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson), Maurice Moss (Richard Ayoade) and Roy Trenneman (Chris O’Dowd) make up the IT department of Reynholm Industries, which operates out of the building’s basement, out of site and out of mind – accept when they’re needed, of course. The first season has a running gag which entails Roy answering support calls saying, “Hello, IT; have you tried turning it off and on again?” before the person on the other end can say anything. In the second season, Roy answers the phone, “Hello, IT; have you tried – forget it, I’m sick of saying that.”
It’s that kind of show; brilliant in it’s simplicity and yet extravagant in its situations while the dialogue flows with an elegance not yet realized in American comedies. I enjoyed an episode in the third season during which Roy had to tell a woman he wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with her; he wanted to do this over the phone, but Jen insisted he do it in person. Roy complained she wore so much eye makeup that when she cried, she looked like The Joker, which was hilariously true. After their boss, Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry) had taken a beating, he too looked a bit like The Joker with his black and blue eyes and bleeding lips. He approached the sobbing woman and asked, “Why so serious?” Again, brilliant – as they say on that side of the pond.
Jen and Roy are both fine characters; Roy’s slacker attitude and t-shirt collection would be easily understood by American audiences, but I have to wonder what middle America would make of Jen. She might be a bit too independent for some of the more conservative folks, but how can you not be on the side of a woman who rejects a man for looking too much like a magician? Very Seinfeldian, but I wonder whether or not Americans are ready for Jen – a sad bit of musing, but I feel a true one.
Moss, on the other hand, is the lovable runt of the litter. How anyone could dislike Moss’ boyish charm (he drinks milk at bars), difficulty with social skills and fantastic fro – no, I reject the idea outright. Moss is the greatest, no one could dislike him. Whether he’s getting harassed by teenagers at the park (he showed them: “I’ve got a flipping gun!”), increasing the vibrating capacity of a cell phone by one hundred times or inventing the most comfortable bra ever, Moss is a lovable force to be reckoned with.
The only bad thing I can say about the IT Crowd is the seasons are too short, with only six episodes to their credit. Happily, the show doesn’t appear to be anywhere near being canceled, and I assume the fourth season will be available here in the US soon.
Check out the IT Crowd – you’ll be glad you did, and maybe it will help you come to appreciate the folks at your office who fix the technology… just a little bit.
I guess NBC really did try to do an American version of the IT Crowd, which included Richard Ayoade. Shockingly enough, this didn’t work out and suffered the same fate as Coupling and Absolutely Fabulous. Maybe Comedy Central will pick up the Channel 4 version at some point. When are American TV Executives going to just give up and import the original show directly? The Office is the exception, not the rule!
NOTE: My Dinner for Schmucks movie review contains spoilers.
Dinner for Schmucks is a remake of a French film of the same name – or so I’ve read. While the American version has a soft side to it, my understanding is that the French version is brutal. Paul Rudd stares as Tim, who is trapped in middle management but sees an opportunity to move up, but playing with the big guys upstairs means going to a dinner. For schmucks. Oh, and its BYOS, by the way.
It’s not that simple – and Ron Livingston is in this movie, who I’m a big fan of; but he’s not in it that much… Anyway, Tim meats Barry, portrayed by Steve Carell, while he’s driving and texting and hits Barry with his car. Good message for the kids: don’t text and drive. I like a little message with my silly comedy.
If you didn’t see it coming, Barry quickly reeks havoc on Tim’s life by instant messaging with his ex Darla (Lucy Punch) and inviting her over (which leads to a ridiculous sequence of Barry and Darla chasing each other around Tim’s apartment and destroying it in the processes) and then mistaking his current girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) for his ex, and essentially ruining their relationship and Tim’s business lunch set for the following afternoon, which leads to additional hilarious circumstances. OK, not really. But when crazy ex girlfriend Darla (posing as current girlfriend as per Barry’s instructions) hands Tim a napkin that reads, “I’m wet,” at the the table, I had to laugh. That was good stuff.
In the middle of all this is Tim’s insecurity about Julie’s relationship with her crazy and famous client, Kieran (Jemaine Clement), which is completely groundless and impossible to take seriously. It just makes Tim look crazy, which doesn’t fit with his character. He’s constantly trying to do the right thing and have it all at the same time, not be crazy… I guess you could argue that this is making him crazy, but he’s jealous of Kieran from the start, despite that he’s clearly a freak and Julie isn’t interested in him. At all. Kieran is a less interesting, less funny version of Russell Brand‘s hilarious Aldous Snow of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek fame. Tim’s conflict with Kieran is similar to Barry’s conflict with Therman (Zach Galifianakis, who I’m already sick of – he has a beard, I get it; I liked him better when he was conducting his all ex girlfriend choir), except their conflict is not imaginary as Barry’s wife left him for Therman.
The climax of the movie is, of course, the BYOS dinner, which also features the final showdown between Barry and Therman, which is mildly amusing… the blind fencer was pretty funny. He also enjoys painting. Someone asked him, “Are you any good?” and he answered, “I don’t know.” That was also good stuff. But for a scene you wait the entire movie for, it’s not that great.
There are some laughs in here, and the movie doesn’t drag. The cast delivers fine performances, but there just isn’t much to work with here. Paul Rudd, as always, does a great job of making you care about his character, but we’ve seen this sort of movie before; we know it’ll be OK in the end, and we never get a sense that it won’t be, which the second act is lacking.
The Take Away: I’m not sorry I saw this movie, but I wouldn’t watch it again.