Wednesday, August 27, 2008

2008 Summer Olympics: Let the Games End

The Olympics are officially over. I may be in the minority on this, but the Summer Games just didn’t do it for me. Yes, I watched a few events (swimming, track and field, basketball) and was mildly entertained. But for the most part, I usually changed the channel after 3-5 minutes. Everything was fine until I decided to express my opinion out loud to a few friends and strangers.

“Wow! The Olympics are really BORING!” You should’ve seen the looks I received. It was like I was burning the American flag. Could I be more un-patriotic? But I didn’t apologize. Besides a few side stories, the Olympics were actually pretty boring.

The Four Year Hiatus

The Olympics don’t really have an excuse either. They have four years to prepare for the games. Just imagine if the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Championship, etc. was played every four years. What would that mean? For starters, people would go crazy for it. Also, the New York Yankees could only attempt to buy a championship twice a decade. Even if you compare it to TV shows, it’s the same thing. When the Sopranos smugly took a year long hiatus, viewers expected perfection (and rightfully so) when it returned. What if it was a four year wait? Imagine if the next episode of Lost wasn’t until 2012. You’d lose your mind in anticipation. And when it arrived, it would be an incredible moment.

International Real World

Most people know the Olympics are every four years. But it’s not advertised until a month before the games begin. My idea to promote the Olympics is actually pretty basic. Why not have a reality show (an International Real World if you will) that follows the athletes (from around the world) as they train for the huge event? Just put them in a house together, and we can see how they train, what they eat, who hooks up with who, etc.

So when the games begin, we actually know more than just who Michael Phelps is. And if you want to spice things up, the show could mix in reality stars from The Hills, and other crappy shows that people watch. At least we’d know who some of the key players were, and there would be some added drama.

The following people are mad at me right now because they love the Olympics:

#1 WOMEN

Women love the Olympics because they can finally see sports on TV that they used to play. Women have to deal with men and their love of baseball, basketball, and football their whole lives. But every four years, women get a chance to brag about sports they know. Women can watch swimming, track and field, and gymnastics and live vicariously through their own athletic heroes. The tides finally turn as women even get to explain the rules to the men.

Women also love the Oprah-Winfrey type stories. You know those stories. It goes something like this. Athlete A has promised her mailman a gold medal because he only has one leg. And then there’s a ten minute cry-session about their relationship. A beautiful human interest story; women love that.

Women also love the Olympics because everybody wins in the end. It doesn’t matter who gets the most medals because, in the end, everybody’s a winner just for being there.

#2 PEOPLE WHO HAVE ATTENDED THE OLYMPICS

These people have a special tie to the games. You’ll notice that many people from ATL love the Olympics because they were a part of them just 12 years ago. Watching the Olympics on TV brings back those great memories. The Olympics are a lot like soccer and hockey in that respect—boring on TV, but lots of fun in person.

#3 NON-TRADITONAL ATHLETES

People that run iron-mans, triathlons, and marathons get to see the best at their craft perform in the Olympics. These are arguably the best athletes in the world and the Summer Games is a great forum for them to show off.

As far as some of the other sports, America is very narrow-minded. Growing up, your choices are mainly basketball, baseball, or football. Yes, there are other sports, but most kids don’t grow up and say they want to be a handball player when they grow up.

The Olympics gives these people a chance to be recognized. Since I couldn’t think of a better euphemism, these are called the “reject sports.” These include ping-pong, trampoline jumping, artistic gymnastics (doing flips with a hula-hoop), archery, handball, badminton, shooting, and canoeing.

How do you fall into one of these sports? Usually, their childhood went something like this: After missing your 20th lay-up, the coach comes over, pats you on the back, and gently suggests that you try the trampoline (“It bounces up and down…that could be fun for you.”) You can’t throw a football…“How about ping-pong?” You keep striking out in baseball…“Badminton is really fun…why don’t you try that?

These athletes resent the rejection, but soon learn that they are truly gifted in an underappreciated sport. You can taunt them because their sport involves a shuttlecock, or their game is usually played in someone’s basements, (ping-pong.) but they’ll kick your ass at the drop of a hat and prove they’re amazing athletes.

The Olympics provides almost all of the “reject sports.” Every four years, the non-traditional athletes have something to root for. These people are finally recognized for their trampoline jumping ability, talent with a hula-hoop, or wicked good ping-pong skills.

#4 "REAL" AMERICANS

The Olympics is another venue where Americans can prove its dominance over the rest of the world. Forget about our ailing economy, pitiful administration, weak health care system, and the never-ending war in Iraq—we still got the athletes! And the Olympics give us a chance to prove it. Now chug your beer, slam the horn on your pickup truck, and fire off a few rounds of your shotgun. U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!

Why are the Olympics so Boring?

There’s no real winner. The Olympics is like “little league” for the greatest athletes. As long as you try your best and have fun, that’s all that matters. That’s great when you’re 9 years-old, but come on. I want to see a clear winner and a clear loser. If I asked you what country won the Olympics, you wouldn’t have a response. Is it the country with the most medals? Most golds? Best flag? There’s no winner.

And what is riding on the games? NOTHING! When the U.S softball team lost to Japan, what happened? A few women cried?! There are no stakes!

Here are a few ideas to make the games more exciting:

Gambling

There needs to be more riding on the games then just a gold medal. So to solve this problem, a basic bet needs to be arranged amongst all of the countries involved. For example, each country could bet a territory or region. “If we lose this event, Italy will gain control over Montana.” “And if we win it?” The U.S. will take over a small village in Italy.” That would be awesome; I love small villages in Italy!

If that’s too intense, there’s other ways to incorporate gambling into the mix. Even in the Super Bowl, the Governors of each region will wager their hometown’s traditional food (Super Bowl XXIX: New England’s clam chowder vs. New York’s fresh bagels.) Why can’t the Olympics do the same? The US could wager its homemade apple pie for China’s famous dumplings. Imagine the deliciousness and excitement.

Props

Why not use props in certain events? Maybe drop a snapping turtle into the pool. Perhaps a bear is chasing people on the track. Or a gymnast must do a triple flip over a crater of lava. This might seem absurd, but if Michael Phelps was swimming and there was a shark on his tale, everyone in the world would tune in for it. “If he wins this event, it will be a record 8th gold.” “And if he doesn’t?” “He’ll be eaten by that shark.” I’d be glued to my seat.

Cheerleaders

What happened to cheerleaders? Imagine if the best looking women in the WORLD were at the summer games? The entertainment value, and amount of (male) viewers would go through the roof. Just because these women are beautiful, doesn’t mean they’re not great athletes. They should get their opportunities to shine as well.

What the hell is a sport?

This brings me to the confusing “what is a sport?” debate. Ping-Pong and Handball are Olympics sports but car racing and golf (both widely popular and supported) are not. So what’s a sport? I pulled some relevant dialogue from one of my favorite movies, Big, to see if that would help.

Josh: I’m much better at video hockey.
Paul: That’s not a sport.
Josh: It requires hand and eye coordination.
Paul: It’s not a sport if you don’t sweat.
Josh: What about golf? It’s a sport and you don’t sweat.
Paul: It’s not a sport if you let a machine do all the work.
Josh: What about car racing?
Paul: Shut up, Baskin.

If you want to have a never-ending conversation, continue this discussion with your friends. You’ll realize that there’s no way to define a sport, and you’ll soon hate each other for it. I don’t know what a sport is, but if the Olympics included these events, I’d watch ‘em:

In the first Olympiad, there was actually a tug-of-war. Let me repeat that: a TUG-OF-WAR. How cool is that! Unfortunately, it was allegedly removed from competition because athletes were complaining of rope burn.

Other great sports that should be included in the Olympics are:

Capture the Flag: I still remember playing at my camp for color war. They split the entire camp in two and we had a vicious battle. I was 9 years-old and vividly recall competing against teenagers. I also remember skinning my knee. Even though it bled profusely, and I cried my eyes out, I eventually retuned to action. I became a man that day and I remember thinking: Capture the Flag is the best!

Dodge Ball: People have many different beliefs, but there’s one thing we can all agree on: Dodge Ball is awesome! Whether you’re a kid or an adult, dodge ball is one of the most action-packed, intense, enjoyable sports of all-time. When your gym teacher or camp counselor announced the sport of the day was Dodge Ball, everybody cheered (well, except for the geeky kid who was about to get destroyed.) Great sport!

Kickball: This is clearly a sport. I still remember my days in elementary school as one of the best kickers in the game. It elevated me to top popularity (though it has since declined steadily.) I deserved a chance to earn a gold medal for my kickball skills.

Tag: How idiotic would it be if this was an Olympic event. Imagine people training their whole lives for such a simple game. It would be fun seeing athletes take such a stupid game so seriously.

Elimination Newcomb: Created at Camp Tel Noar in the summer of 1995, elimination newcomb soon became one of the most popular sports in camp history. Newcomb was like volleyball, but instead of hitting the ball in the air, you could catch it and throw it back. “Elimination-style” meant that if you dropped a ball or threw it in the net, you would be “eliminated.” The last one remaining would usually receive candy (such as the green Slimer goo which was popular circa 1995.) The Olympic version would be the same, but instead of candy, the winner would get a medal.

Fly’s up (500): Remember the game where someone would throw/kick a ball high into the air, and then 10-20 people would try to catch it? It was like a Hail Mary in football over and over again. Usually, someone would make a sick catch after it deflected off of fingers, arms and even heads. There would be 3-5 injuries/game. Kids would get carried off in pain, but they usually came back for more. I would definitely tune in for this. Make it an Olympic event!

Frisbee Games: Frisbee Golf or Ultimate Frisbee takes a lot of skill and athleticism. Let’s get these competitors recognized. The petition starts now: Frisbee Games for the 2012 Olympics!

Other games that just barely missed the cut: Golf, billiards, air hockey, beer pong, flip cup, whiffle ball, and sandcastle building.

The One Big Story: Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps needs to be congratulated for earning 8 gold medals and bypassing Mark Spitz as the greatest swimmer of all-time. At first I felt bad for Spitz, but then I realized he has something that Phelps will NEVER have…a really cool 70’s moustache.

Phelps was the only athlete I followed throughout the games. He was so successful that even I tuned in. Why? The Tiger Woods Rule. When one athlete is so dominant in a sport (especially if it’s individual) you can’t help but root for him/her. You want to see history. Phelps now fits into the elite category of Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and Air Bud.

See you in London in 2012

I hope the International Olympic Committee reads my post and considers my suggestions on how to improve the games. Four summers from now, if we see cheerleaders rooting on the U.S in a game of Dodge Ball for the right to take over Barcelona, you’ll know they read The Corner.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tropic Thunder


Tropic Thunder is crude, over-the-top, absurd, crass, inappropriate and uneven, but it is funny as hell. It’s the first comedy of the summer where I laughed my butt off.

The Big 3

When I first heard of Tropic Thunder, all I could think of was Three Amigos with Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Marin Short. It’s not a re-make, but it basically has the same plot. A group of actors are mistakenly thrown into a real war situation. While Three Amigos was cute and had a few funny moments, (“In-famous is when you’re MORE than famous. This man El Guapo, he’s not just famous, he’s IN-famous! ”) Tropic Thunder is hilarious. This time the three stars are played by Robert Downey Jr., Ben Stiller, and Jack Black. The big 3 work well together; they each have their own style, and in the end, they provide us with the top comedy of the summer.

Tropic Thunder sets things off the right way by spoofing generic Hollywood movies. Do not miss the trailers or you will miss 10 laugh-out-loud minutes. There’s even an advertisement for “Booty Sweat”—a Red Bull-like drink brought to you by the fictional rapper, Alpa Chino. The comedic energy comes at you so quickly that by the time the real movie begins, you can’t wait to watch it.

One of the reasons Tropic Thunder is so enjoyable is because the movie within the movie is actually interesting. The action scenes are fun and feel like they’re part of a real war film. There are a few scenes that lack laughs, but at least they keep the story moving along.

Stiller plays the main character, but he shares plenty of screen time with the big 3. In many of his films, Stiller tries way too hard to entertain us. But in Tropic Thunder, he is busy directing so he allows the actors to step up and carry the load. He has the ideal cast to let everyone do their schtick. Downey Jr. is as funny as he seems in the previews, Jack Black’s physical humor provides some of the biggest laughs in the film, (look for the scene where he’s tied to a tree half-naked.) and Stiller has some choice lines. All of it makes for a grotesque and hilarious comedy.

That’s Offensive

Apparently, people were protesting Tropic Thunder because it was deemed offensive towards those with special needs. Are you kidding me? If you’re gonna protest a movie, protest Eddie Murphy newest bomb, Meet Dave. That movie is offensive. Why can’t Eddie Murphy make good movies anymore? Classics like Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, and Coming to America have been replaced by Norbit, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, and Meet Dave. Now that’s what I call offensive.

In Tropic Thunder’s case, some are upset because one of Ben Stiller’s character’s is a special boy named Simple Jack; he is simple and he is hilarious. The joke isn’t on those with special needs. The joke is on the Hollywood actors and movies that cover the subject and fail miserably—think Cuba Gooding Jr. in Radio. I’m a pretty sensitive guy, and I wasn’t offended. I actually loved the character and could not stop laughing. Comedy is pretty simple in that way: if something crosses the line and makes you laugh, it’s funny. If something crosses the line and it doesn’t make you laugh, it’s offensive. I laughed so it clearly wasn’t offensive.

Finally, There are Straight Men

There are five actors/soldiers in the movie. Besides the Big 3, there is Brandon Jackson as the rapper Alpa Chino and Knocked Up’s Jay Baruchel as the skinny, geeky guy. These guys do a nice job of playing it straight so Downey Jr., Black, and Stiller can use their own unique over-the-top style humor whenever they want. It keeps things fresh and makes room for more antics from the Big 3. It also helps that the characters aren’t complete idiots. They slowly figure out that something isn’t right with the “movie” they are in. This prevents Tropic Thunder from resorting on the same gag again and again. As a result, the film uses a variety of jokes and dialogue to keep the laughs coming.

Inside Hollywood Jokes

Tom Cruise plays the big Hollywood producer. I didn’t realize it was him until the credits came up. He is a bit excessive as the stereotypical, money-hungry, unethical movie mogul. His antics provide a few laughs, but aren’t anything special. Considering Cruise is a top-billed actor, it is cool that he played the part and it wasn’t publicized at all.

Nick Nolte has a small but memorable role as the war vet in which the “movie” is based on. He makes the most of his part, and is yet another funny character to add to the mix.

Matthew McConaughey plays a bit part as Stiller’s agent. He plays a nice guy version of Ari gold from Entourage. There are some inside comedic bits about the Hollywood scene, but overall his character doesn’t add much. But he does offer the ladies someone to look at during the few scenes that aren’t funny.

Tropic Thunder continues its satire on Hollywood until the very end. It pokes fun at several movies including Apocalypse Now (and Heart of Darkness.) The deeper Stiller’s character falls into madness, the funnier he is.

Conclusion

I was surprised how much I liked Tropic Thunder. I’m not a huge Ben Stiller fan especially when he plays quirky characters (Zoolander, Dodgeball), but this movie was very entertaining. The movie gives us tons of comedy, action, and even a story.

It definitely hits high on the movie scale because I still laugh when I see the previews on TV. I plan on seeing the movie again and am looking forward to re-watching it on cable countless times. It’s a bold prediction, but it may even break my top 150 favorite movies. It’s got stiff competition so we’ll see…but it’s definitely the best comedy of the summer of 2008.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

J-DATE 202

For those who don’t know, J-Date is a Jewish online dating website. My first experiences are chronicled in the February archive: J-DATE 101. Definitely check that out first—it’s one of my favorite posts:

http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/02/j-date-101.html

I’ve been meaning to write a follow-up for months now so most of these experiences are a little dated.

What Happened Last Night?

Signing up for an online dating site is a lot like the drunk phone call to an ex. You usually do it while intoxicated. You usually do it after an unsuccessful night of trying to pick up the ladies. You’re drunk, lonely, and not thinking straight. The next morning, you wake up and feel awful. You rub your eyes, and then see your credit card lying next to your computer. You shake your head and click on the computer and the screen says: “Thank you for signing up with J-Date.” Then you think to yourself: What happened last night?

I tried J-Date in the past and I was not a big fan (once again, check out J-DATE 101: http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/02/j-date-101.html ) But I’m a big believer in second chances and that’s one of the reasons why I signed up again (that and alcohol.) One of my best friend’s met his wife on here, so why not.

I was proactive on the site: I exchanged a few emails, instant messages, and phone numbers. I went on some mediocre dates, but there were no sparks.

Let’s Get Married

Then J-Date started pissing me off. Most of the girls I met were overeager to talk about marriage and babies. That’s not a huge turn on for me. Here’s a real IM exchange—I’m BillyMadison. I’ve slightly altered both names to prevent stalking.

BillyMadison: how do you like jdate?

loriFF: i never liked it before, but now i have a new perspective… i am using it for what it is, and thinking only positively

BillyMadison: its always good to think positively

loriFF: agreed… i always thought so poorly of it and when i went on dates, i thought like that…how do you like it?

BillyMadison: it's ok…this is actually my last nite as a member

loriFF: think positively we may get married…haha… :)

It’s safe to say that we did not get married.

The Screen Name

Being obsessed with TV, I initially based all my profile names on well known television characters. Here were the results.

Alex P Keaton (Family Ties)…too obscure. Most girls didn’t recognize this reference, and those that did, assumed I was a republican.

Kevin Arnold (The Wonder Years)…too cute. Girls knew this one, but for some reason, it didn’t get many responses. Maybe they thought I’d only date brown eyed girls named Winnie.

Seth Cohen (The O.C.)…too real. Considering this is a generic Jewish name, girls actually thought my name was Seth Cohen.

Doogie Howser (Doogie Howser, M.D.)…too inaccurate. Girls liked this because they thought I was a rich doctor and a genius. They responded to my emails until they learned that I was neither a physician nor a child prodigy.

I finally settled on Billy Madison…girls seemed to respond favorably to this one. It worked well because girls could use movie quotes as ice breakers. And anyone that tells me that chlorophyll is more like Bore-o-phyll scores at least a few points with me.

Please Stop E-Mailing Me

One day, I received an E-card from this nice Israeli girl. It was a picture of two champagne glasses toasting and it read: “We should chat sometime.”

I looked up her profile. Despite the fact that she couldn’t spell, she was cute, and I was excited. I sent her a short response saying that I’d love to chat.

The next day I received the same E-Card from the Israeli girl. “We should chat sometime.” I wrote back: “That’s cool. Just e-mail me.”

The E-cards kept coming every day. My warm replies turned into agitation: “Stop e-mailing me.” “Leave me alone.” “I dislike you.”

After receiving 7 more E-cards with the same message, I resorted to a first. I wrote to J-Date headquarters and reported “abuse.”

This was the response from J-Date:

Hi BillyMadison, Thank you for your report of member 112917872. In review of this profile, I have found that it is in violation of our terms of use and has been removed from our site. Thank you for your help!

Karen G

This Isn’t MySpace

The whole incident reminded me of MySpace when you get random friend requests from hot girls wearing nothing. My first scantily clad friend request on MySpace was from a girl named Amanda. I looked at the pic (a blonde posing in a thong), and thought to myself: I knew an Amanda way back in the day, and maybe this is her (and man, she looks really good.) Yes, I am slightly naïve. So I approved her as a friend but nothing happened. A few hours later, I got several phone calls from friends letting me know that I had sent porn to everyone. Good old MySpace.

I still get the myspace spam emails, and now I almost always delete them immediately (although sometimes, I do look at the picture first.) But to get crap like that on a pay site is unacceptable. MySpace is free. J-Date is actually pretty expensive. And if J-Date is gonna let it happen, at least make the girls really, really hot.

The Real “Fake” Profile

I knew I had to get off when I was receiving a series of obvious fake emails. Every day I signed in, I had a new “flirt” from an 18 year-old model from either Los Angeles or San Francisco (and I live in NY.) I’m a decent looking guy so a few of those might have been real (insert joke here), but we’re talking about 15-20 girls. Their profiles would clearly make no sense.

There would only be one picture and it would display a gorgeous, ethnic beauty. I guess making her exotic pulls the Jewish guys in even more. For some reason, she’s always posing by the beach or somewhere outside. She’s super hot; almost like she was cut out of a magazine. (i.e. George Costanza’s “dead fiancee” picture that gets him into the “forbidden city.”)

Here are three real “fake” accounts. (If you want to see the pictures, go to Jdate.com, and search for the profile number below.)

Example #1

Profile: 113468836

About me: I am new to this; I'm 5'4, bi-sexual (Prefer men) with blown eyes, brown hair and a HUGE libido!

I keep Kosher: At home and outside
I go to Synagogue: Every Shabbat
My ethnicity is: Mixed Ethnic
My Religion: Modern Orthodox

This girl is perfect. Not only is she bi-sexual, have a huge libido, and have a mixed ethnicity (did I mention she’s bi-sexual?), but she also keeps a Kosher home. Amazing!

Example #2

Profile: hawa1008

About me: My name is hawa. I am single and looking for a serious .I have no kids and i am alone.I am kind,caring,sincere, gentle and honest.

At least she’s honest. Sure, she can’t construct a sentence. But check out that picture. What an exotic beauty!

Example #3

Profile: 113967897

About me: I am sweet, and sensitive. I am all about fun!!! I am honost, and fun! I am unique and fun loving.

I keep Kosher: To some degree
I go to Synagogue: On High Holidays
My Religion: Another Stream
My Education: JD/Ph.D/Postdoctoral
Occupation: Fashion/Style/Modeling/Apparel/Beauty

I think this girl is FUN. She only mentions it 3 times. If you look closely, you’ll notice she occasionally keeps kosher and goes to temple. Of course, she also follows another stream of religion. That must get hard to balance. And the best part about this girl: she is a model and has a P.H.D. She’s perfect!

An Anomaly

I have to admit that I did meet one amazing girl on J-Date. It didn’t work out romantically, but I now consider her one of my good friends.

Now I’ll go back to bashing the site.

Time To Go


After all of the experiences from above and from J-Date 101, my patience ran thin. I was tired of meeting girls who openly spoke about marriage and babies. I was tired of examining false profiles and receiving fake e-mails. I was tired of spending $40/month.

I decided that I was done with on-line dating. All was fine until a few months ago. I was in a dry spell with women. I went to a bar, drank a little too much, and got rejected by several women. I got home and passed out on my bed.

When I woke up, I saw it again. My credit card rested comfortably next to my computer. I clicked on the screen and it read: “Thank you for signing up with Match.com.”

Here we go again…

Pineapple Express


Dear Potheads,

Please don’t attack me with your bongs, spray me with Visine, or throw ultimate Frisbees at me. I didn’t love this movie. Although I laughed and was mildly entertained, I just didn’t get it. And the most frustrating part was how good it could’ve been.

The Intro

Here’s a brief summary which I stole from imdb.com: A stoner (Seth Rogen) and his dealer (James Franco) are forced to go on the run from the police after the pothead witnesses a cop commit a murder.

I really enjoyed the first ten minutes of the movie. You may think you’re in the wrong theatre because it’s in black and white, but don’t worry, you’re fine. You’re gonna laugh, and you’re going to look forward to a fun ride. But unfortunately, the rest of the movie is actually pretty slow, has scattered laughs, and makes you wish you partook in illegal activities before you arrived to the theatre.

I Don’t Get It

There were so many aspects of Pineapple Express that I just didn’t understand. Here were some of the quirks that didn’t do it for me:

1) Danny McBride plays a drug dealer who eventually befriends Franco and Rogen. The twist on him is that he can never die. I didn’t get it. Maybe if I was high, it would’ve been perfectly hilarious. But being sober, it just felt like a plotline from an episode of Lost. It didn’t fit into the movie at all, and it really wasn’t all that funny.

2) Seth Rogen’s girlfriend is in high school. They use about 20 minutes of screen time dedicated to this off-the-wall premise, and it doesn’t garner many laughs. I guarantee Rogen was thinking: wouldn’t it be funny if my character was such a loser, he dated a high school girl...then what? Well, that’s it. That’s the joke. I didn’t get it.

3) Rosie Perez (Gloria from White Men Can’t Jump) and Gary Cole (Office Space) play drug dealers and the main antagonists. Cole, who is hilarious in Office Space and several other movies, has nothing to do. Why Rosie Perez is even in this—I have no idea. They take up space and add nothing to the movie.

4) There are countless jokes about drug dealers/killers hoping they can get home in time to have dinner with their wives. Pretty funny, huh? I didn’t get it.

5) The last 15 minutes provided us with the big action sequence. It was either some of the worst filmmaking you’ll ever see (like a junior college short film) or it was brilliant satire. Unfortunately, I think it was really bad film making. I’m not a director or experienced in that area, but even as a novice, things did not seem right. I felt like I was watching a really bad commercial—that was the overall feel of it. Once again, I just didn’t get it.

The Pace

There is dialogue that’s gonna make you laugh out loud. But there is also so much dialogue that it’s going to make you check your watch. Some of the scenes dragged on for so long that it killed the pacing of the entire movie. I expected a True Romance—a fast-paced action-comedy revolving around drugs. Instead, it was really slow. Franco and Rogen would pepper in a few funny lines, but the hit-miss ratio was way off.

Even in the end, when the pace picked up, the editors decided to throw an unnecessary scene in the middle to slow it down again. It created a choppy flow and made you wish someone looked this over before they finished the final print.

Pet Peeves

One of my pet peeves about Judd Apatow movies is that every character is over-the-top. You’ll notice in all his movies that the side characters are inexplicably vulgar to get a laugh. (40 Year-Old Virgin—the fathers at the Sex Education Meeting, Knocked Up—the Doctor, and in Pineapple Express—the father of the high school girlfriend.) Someone needs to tell him that not every character has to curse or be over-the-top in order to get a laugh.

Pineapple Express also loves the “gay joke.” There’s a ton of homoerotic undertones. (Daryl from the Office plays a gay hit man. The relationship between Rogen and Franco is a little like the ambiguous gay duo, or Bert and Ernie, or Damon and Affleck.) Some of it is hilarious (like the escape scene near the end), but eventually it gets worn out. It was like my roommate from years ago who would make a “gay” joke every ten minutes. “You’re eating lunch right now? That’s pretty gay.” “Going to play basketball…gay!” Going on a date with a girl…gay!” It got so bad that I started making “hetero” jokes just to balance it out. But, that’s what happens when you get a group of guys hanging out together. They’re gonna joke around and inevitably, the “gay” joke is going to come up again and again. It just would’ve been nice if they balanced it out a little more.

Franco Saves the Day

Despite all my criticism of Pineapple Express, there is one reason why this movie is watchable: James Franco; he carried this film! If he wasn’t in it, this film could’ve been a dud. His tone, mannerisms, and dialogue save this movie. He is absolutely hilarious! Ignore the flimsy plot, the annoying side characters, and the mediocre Rogen performance. Instead, enjoy Franco’s awesomeness with quotes like this: “I just got a shipment of Pineapple Express, the dopest dope I've ever smoked. Smellll it. It's like... God's vagina.”

Huey Lewis and the News

On a side note, Judd Apatow and the gang must love Back to the Future. In Knocked Up, there’s an entire scene where they talk about Doc Brown and the DeLorean. (Paul Rudd: “Where we're going we don't need roads.”)

And now, Huey Lewis, the main contributor on the Back to the Future soundtrack in which he also had a cameo, now sings the theme song to Pineapple Express. It sounds like Hip to Be Square, but it’s really about weed. Something about Huey singing about pot just does not seem right. But I guess it’s cool to have him back in the movies.

Conclusion

I love comedies, I love Rogen, and I love Apatow, but Pineapple Express just didn’t meet my expectations. It is mildly entertaining, but it’s very frustrating. It’s one of those movies you can really bash because it could’ve been great. It seemed like Apatow and his friends made the movie to make each other laugh. It just would’ve been nice if they let us in on the jokes as well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

IN DA CLUB

Last Saturday I went to a club for the first time in a long while. I made the exception because it was my friend’s bachelor party. I normally try to stay far away from clubs as I believe I may be allergic. Somehow, things always turn into a disaster. I have to deal with the bouncer, waiting in line, (and when you get in, it’s practically empty) the pretentious girls, the cool guys, the grumpy people, the harmonious techno music, the overpriced drinks, and finally the impossibility of trying to meet someone. It usually just does not work out.

The beginning of Saturday night was no different. My friends and I waited for a while in the obligatory line even though we were on the “list.” The bouncer ignored us (although he was not as brutal as usual…more to come about that soon.) And the girls behind us thought they were better than us…

…there were 6 of them for a bachelorette party. I jokingly said that 5 of them seemed really cool. They were heavily insulted by my playful comment, (“How dare you…”) and decided to treat me like crap the rest of the time. At least I have a new category for my dealbreaker’s list…if you can’t take a joke, see you later! For the complete dealbreaker list, click on: http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/06/deal-breakers.html

Then something weird happened. We got in faster than I thought. The girl-guy ratio was amazing, and they even gave us a table with a complimentary bottle of champagne. The drink prices were reasonable, the music was decent, and we even found cool girls to dance with. And most importantly, the bachelor had a great time.

Saturday broke my streak of terrible experiences at clubs. But it still hasn’t changed my overall view of them. Here is the breakdown of what usually happens when a nice guy like me tries to party at a club.

Bouncism

I hate bouncers and they hate me even more. A picture of me must be presented at the annual Bouncer’s Convention labeled: “Treat him like shit and do not let him in.” No matter where I go, I always seem to have a run-in with one of these muscle heads (my friends know exactly what I’m talking about.) I’m never on the right list, wearing the right clothes, or know the right people.

I try to be friendly and treat the bouncer like a human being: “So how’s the night going? Where are you from? Did you see that game?” Nothing. No response. It’s like they are programmed to be sub-human.

I try to keep my cool as hot chicks cut me in line. I guess it makes sense; they’re hot. But when I see D-bags with gelled hair and gold chains skip in front of me, that’s when I start to lose it.

When it’s finally my turn to enter the club, I have to deal with being judged by the bouncer. I endure the ridicule as he teases me about my clothes, hair style, and lack of dope jewelry. Sometimes I ignore it, pay the absurd cover, and then walk in. But sometimes they don’t let me in so I snap. I criticize the overgrown man for being narrow-minded and irrationally threaten to sue him and the entire club for sexism. That’s when more bouncers/security guards come out, stare me down, and tell me to go home. As I walk away with my tail between my legs, one thought comes to mind…

I am a Bouncist. I have no problems with people of different ethnicities, races, sexual orientation, age, height, or religion. But I do have a problem with bouncers. It is not fair to stereotype or generalize, but all bouncers are evil and terrible people. I am a full-fledged Bouncist. I think bad thoughts about them and if there were rallies against bouncers, I would probably attend. Maybe I am ignorant. Maybe there are nice bouncers out there. But until I meet one, I am committed to my beliefs, and will embrace my bouncism.

Doing the Dance

When I do get in, I must face this challenging question: How do you meet a girl at a club? Obviously, you can’t talk to them because the music is too loud. This kills the nice guy who depends on charm, intelligence, and sense of humor to meet a girl. Instead, everything is based on physical looks and dancing ability.

I don’t know who started this courting ritual, but there is only one method that is used in a club setting. And that is…trying to hump a girl on the dance floor. This has to be one of the most bizarre and awkward scenes you’ll ever see.

This is how it works. The man, usually intoxicated, will shuffle through the dance floor looking for a flock of single women. If he sees hips moving and possibly a smile, he will approach her like a shark to its victim. Slowly, slowly, and then attack. He comes in from behind and performs pelvic thrusts against the woman. The woman cannot see him so she must turn to her friend and use her as a mirror. The woman gives her friend the look: “Should I be dancing with this guy?” If the friend rolls her eyes and gives the look of death, the woman distances herself from the man. The man usually attempts to hump her 2 or 3 more times before he gives up and moves on to the next girl.

Here’s the crazy thing. Sometimes, the humping method works. If the girl is equally intoxicated or the friend gives her the thumbs up, she then rewards the man by shaking her butt. She takes his hands, wraps them around her waist, and they grind for several minutes. Once they are sweaty, she turns around, and then they make out.

Women often complain about the humping method. Why would men think that’s a good way to meet women? Well, blame the guy/girl from the 2nd example. When guys see it work once, they try to emulate it. The problem is that they have no idea what they’re doing, and it becomes a disaster for everyone involved.

My Personal Experience

I am terrible at the humping method. I am timid with my approach and resemble more of a puppy then a shark. Girls, like bees and dogs, have the innate ability to smell fear. I am nervous and uncomfortable and they know it. I hold my drink in one hand and gently try to place my other hand on the girl’s waist. Meanwhile, the girl is moving to the beat which usually causes me to spill some of my drink. I have hardly any rhythm so my humping motion looks more like a seizure. The girl turns to her friend and I almost always get the look of death. The worst part is that I can see what the friend does. I feel like a reject on American Idol. I swear I’m a good guy. I’m cool. I just don’t know how to hump your random friend on the dance floor. Cut me a break. By then, the girl and her friends have all moved on to the opposite side of the dance floor, and I am dancing by myself.

Old-School Rap

There is one personal exception where I feel cool on the dance floor. And that’s when old-school rap blares from the speakers. I have a newfound confidence when I can sing the words while I dance. If the Humpty Dance, Baby Got Back, or Bust A Move start to play, I’m suddenly the man. I have no inhibitions, and even have a little rhythm. I’m so enthralled with the music that I don’t even realize I am successfully performing the humping method. Confidence goes a long way on the dance floor.

Music

Unfortunately, not every club plays old-school rap. The clubs now love to play the techno/house music although I have the slightest idea why. Techno/house music is the equivalent of modern art. Neither of them make sense, are enjoyable, and they both make you think: “How is that music/art if a kindergartener could create the same thing?”

Miserable People

You ever look around in a club and see the miserable people sitting on the couches? It’s like a middle/high school dance with the sad, lonely outcasts on the bleachers (think 16 Candles.). At the club, these people take solace in their cell phones or just stare straight ahead at no one in particular. It’s really sad. And when you try to cheer them up, they snap at you, and pretend they are fine. They don’t want to be consoled; they’d rather stew in their own misery. Obviously, their decision making skills are also weak as they probably should not be in a social, interactive environment. They would be better suited at a library, funeral, or possibly a therapists’ office.

Two Success Stories

#1

Years ago, I was in Vegas for a bachelor party. We went to Studio 54 in the MGM Grand. I was young, drunk, and somehow ended up by myself. I met a nice girl on the dance floor who seemed to enjoy my awkward dancing. Soon it become more passionate and we began to make out. After a few minutes, we went outside to get some air.

We finally spoke and introduced ourselves. I was very interested in getting to know her especially since she had a tongue ring. She told me the following: she was married, had 2 kids, and her very large husband was somewhere in the club. Apparently, he had pissed her off so she thought she would make out with some random guy. When I asked if he was bigger than me, she nodded enthusiastically. I immediately sprinted back to my hotel room, and double locked the door. I slept with one eye open and clutched my tennis racket for protection just in case there was a knock at the door. Fortunately, I survived the night.

#2

My buddy brought me to a club in LA. I performed the humping method and actually met another nice girl. We kissed and danced; and danced and kissed. It was nice. When we stepped outside, she literally had nothing to say to me. I introduced myself and asked questions, but she was silent. She LITERALLY had nothing to say to me. She was DEAF. Although she was very nice, there seemed to be a communication barrier, so we both agreed to move on.

Lesson Learned

Clubs are just not the right place for me to meet women. It’s loud, pretentious, uncomfortable, unpredictable, and it’s just not my scene. Saturday night may have been a fun experience, but I’ll stick to meeting women the old fashioned way: going to strip clubs.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Step Brothers

This Is How We Do It

I have to admit that the kid in me was kind’ve excited to see this movie. There was one scene in the trailer that made me laugh every time. John C. Reilly sings “This is How We Do It” and then crushes Will Ferrell in a bunk bed. How can that not make you laugh!

Before you knock the idea of how stupid it is to see adults act like kids, let’s take a look how that idea has worked over the years.

Homer Simpson

Homer Simpson may play an adult, but in reality, (or in cartoon world) he is a big, dumb, stupid, and, at times, likable kid. His escapades have made audiences laugh for the last 20 years (although I can only watch seasons 1-10.)

One of my favorite Homer quotes: “Marge, don't discourage the boy! Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel.”

Peter Griffin

Peter is also a big, dumb, stupid kid in an animated adult’s body. He crosses the line for two reasons: he doesn’t know any better, and he’s an idiot. He shines in the episode “Mother Tucker” where Tom Tucker becomes his surrogate father, and Peter reverts back to behaving like a little kid.

One of my favorite Peter quotes: “Kids, promise me you won’t go swimming without a lifeguard. It’s my duty as a parent to make sure you’re safe…..hehehehehe….doody…..hehehehe….diarrhea. Hey, Lois….diarrhea.”

Billy Madison

Shampoo is better. I go on first and clean the hair. Conditioner is better. I leave the hair silky and smooth. Oh, really, fool? Really. This movie is awesome. O’Doyle Rules!


Dumb and Dumber

One of the best comedies of all time. If you disagree, I’ll have SeaBass kick your ass.

Big

I don’t get it. I don’t get it. If you don’t like Josh Baskin, something’s wrong with you.


Elf

Will Ferrell acting like a kid? That sounds familiar. Good, underrated movie.


A Night at The Roxbury

Wait, Will Ferrell again? Seems like a theme. A pretty stupid movie, but I bet you laughed at least a few times.

Step Brothers

Now we come to Step Brothers. Reilly and Ferrell follow the same procedures as above. They are childish, stupid, belligerent, and annoying. Not all the gags work, but at least some of them will make you laugh out loud. Their facial expressions alone cracked me up.

The rest of the cast is mediocre and the storyline is very basic. Reilly and Ferrell are both washed up 30-somethings who still live at home with their single parents. When their parents fall in love and get married, Reilly and Ferrell become step brothers and have to learn to live together in harmony and maybe, at some point, grow up.

One of the flaws of the movie, besides the paper thin plot, was the side characters. Too many characters are “over-the-top” which makes some of the comedy muddled. It would’ve been nice if Ferrell and Reilly did their bits, but the rest of the cast played more of a “straight” role. (They try with the Mom and Dad, but it’s very inconsistent. Plus every side character has a bizarre quirk that’s a little too weird.) As you read from the examples above, most of the funny characters are surrounded by normal people which allows the “big kid” to shine (i.e. Marge to Homer, Veronica to Billy Madison, Mary Swanson to Lloyd and Harry, etc.)

But overall, I actually liked the movie. It’s important to see it in the right frame of mind (no, I’m not talking about drugs although…) If you go in without taking any of it too seriously, you’re going to laugh through a good chunk of the movie.

So if you like the above tv shows/movies, Step Brothers will be entertaining for you. It’s not a classic like Billy Madison, Dumb and Dumber or Big, but Step Brothers has enough childish antics to put a smile on your face (and possibly make you regress into a little kid.)