Free Pants' Take: When robots become self-aware and enslave us, they will point to this movie and Jim Belushi's long career as the reasons for our demise. My heart sank after reading this synopsis. The questions that arise from this premise lead to incredulity if not madness.
There are five (5) credited screenwriters for this movie and one imagines the sad conferences where teams of screenwriters argued for and against James' urinating into a potted plant to garner the affections of Leslie Bibb. I imagined breathless calls to loved ones during lunch breaks. (Or, perhaps it was one of the few immediately agreed upon gags.) The only thing missing is additional screenwriter and suicide inducer Nia Vardalos to add some hilarious texting gags between a sexy college student, Kevin James, and a flatulent salamander.
The movie fails as entertainment, but it does succeed as a mass homicide note.
Unexpected Scene: James takes the advice of Bambi the Black Widow (voiced by the luminous Jennifer Tilly) and beds, murders, and eats Leslie Bibb.
Larry Crowne: -9 million out of 7 Golden Slacks
Synopsis (from imdb.com): After losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.
Joe's Take: I've read that one of the worst things in life is wasted talent. Not true. The worst thing in life is the movie Larry Crowne. I know. I just watched it. It is the brainchild of Nia Vardalos, who punished us with a never-ending sea of romantic comedies (and John Corbett), and its lack of human understanding and interaction makes it a study in insanity.
Here are the minutes from the screenplay conference where the script was written (in about 1/2 hour).
Producer: Hanks' character is broke, unemployed, and adrift in loneliness.
Nia: Yes! But then he meets a gorgeous 20-something who befriends him, rearranges his home, his hair, and his priorities!
Producer: Why would she do this? He's twice her age and he's boring and unattractive.
Producer: So Hanks falls for her, right?
Producer: Why not? Wouldn't a guy fall in love with a beautiful girl who paid so much attention to him?
Nia: NO! Because!!!
Producer: Who is the bad guy?
Nia: No bad guy! Everyone is earnest, truthful and nice. Just like in life!
Producer: Shouldn't we try to make it funny?
Nia: It is funny. Like in one scene, Hanks' professor confiscates his cell phone! OMG, hilarious!
[producer shoots himself in the face]
Unexpected scene: In a twist ending, it's revealed that Hanks' wife left him because he beat her. After Roberts kisses Hanks in the closing scene, he hits her and sends her into the hospital.
People will often tell you that a good marriage comprises selflessness, compromise, and patience, but those people are probably embroiled in what marriage counselor Pamela Haag calls a "mediocre marriage." Her solution: Counseling? Date night? Nah, just rename the behavior of single people so that it sounds like a marital compromise. It's all in the article on CNN.com entitled, Options for your Mediocre Marriage (full link below).
For example, she suggests struggling couples employ the following "stick-together" techniques:
1. Marital Sabbatical
Joe's Paraphrase: Abandon the marriage for 3 months (or until the rapture hits) while still retaining your eligibility for Wife Swap.
2. Divorce Cohabitation
Joe's Paraphrase: Enjoy the perks of divorce (e.g., crippling shame, depression) while maintaining a residence with the person whom you've fallen out of love. Check out the new twist on "date night" -- you each go out on dates with other people.
3. Practice "new monogamy"
Joe's Take: Basically, sleep with whomever you wish -- it's an open marriage. "Date night" can get even more complicated.
I think these are great ideas for turning your mediocre marriage into a spectacular divorce/suicide pact; however, I admire Dr. Haag's positive spin on such horrible ideas. I would love to see her rebranding of other horrible things. Luckily, she sent me a list.
Her suggestions are in parentheses:
1. Holocaust/ethnic cleansing (Laundry day)
2. Apartheid (Org chart)
3. Slavery (Unpaid internship)
4. Suicide (A "me" day)
5. Rape (Successful distributive negotiation)
That's pretty offensive, Pamela.
Full link here: http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/06/02/marriage.with.issues/index.html
Thor - 1 out of 7 Golden Slacks
Synopsis(from imdb.com):The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.
Joe's Take: Most of the time when people illegally enter the country, they don't save us from epic interplanetary battles; they merely draw the ire of Bill O'Reilly. Thor apparently comes from a species who can conjure up magic and otherwordly powers yet who seem to exist in a primitive time where twitter and yelp.com aren't available. This is essentially a battle between good and evil waged by a warrior who is handsome and capable -- it's a wish-fulfillment fantasy for fat nerds who read comic books while other guys (who ironically look like Thor) steal their lunch money and girlfriends.
Unexpected Scene: In another unwise cross-promotional move with CBS, Thor takes a break from interplanetary war to be a contestant on The Price is Right and after overbidding on a toaster, murders half of the audience.
The Beaver - 8 out of 7 Golden Slacks
Synopsis(from imdb.com): A troubled husband and executive adopts a beaver hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating.
Joe's Take: Some things in life are better left unseen. One of them is the meeting during which the idea for this screenplay was pitched. How this was made into a feature film falls into a box of unexplained phenomena with the Bermuda Triangle or Rosie O'Donnell's career (despite my complaint letters to God).
This movie strains credulity. Gibson, a successful executive and father, stumbles into a deep depression for reasons unexplained (perhaps he just saw Something Borrowed), and turns to a beaver puppet for therapy. If you were to go work with a beaver puppet on your hand, you would not be heralded as a genius; you would be robbed and pushed onto the sidewalk. Rather than continue trashing the film, I've made a list of ways to effectively use a puppet beaver in your own life.
1. Become a proctologist. Use the puppet for examinations.
2. Videotape the previous point and send it to Jeff Dunham.
Unexpected Scene: After losing the beaver in a high stakes poker game, Gibson's character uses a live scorpion (or dead baby, if available) to dole out therapy (and bite unsuspecting passersby).
Something Borrowed -- -90 out of 7 Golden Slacks
Synopsis(from imdb.com): Friendships are tested and secrets come to the surface when terminally single Rachel falls for Dex, her best friend Darcy's fiancé.
Joe's Take: This is dark material. For some reason, romantic comedies have conditioned us to find a situation heartwarming even if our reaction to something similar in real life would lead to alcoholism, depression and beaver-talking therapy. I want you to put down your Lady Gaga CD and imagine your wedding day. Then, I want you to imagine that your best friend and fiance revealed their love for each other. According to the movie, you would be mildly upset. Then, after seeing it from their point of view (they're such a great-looking couple!), you would be the first to champion this new-found love. A similar thing happened to a friend of mine, and he put on 50 pounds, lost his job, and narrowed his eyes at all women (even -- and especially -- cartoon characters on television). It makes you wonder how the director and writers would handle the Holocaust.
Unexpected scene: When Kate Hudson learns of the cheating, she throws battery acid into her best friend's face, blinding her for life. She says, "Now I see who you really are. And you can never see again!"
Have you ever used a public bench and thought to yourself: "This is too comfortable." If so, then you should move to Philadelphia. At SEPTA stations you'll find a bench specifically designed by the people at Veyko to be "resistant to damage and vandalism." Below is a sample of the bench.
Apparently the strategy for reducing vandalism and damage is to make a bench so uncomfortable, no one will actually use it. Unfortunately, the city has contracted Veyko to give other public mainstays their "vandalism-proof" treatment. I have a list of the proposed changes. Take a look.
Costly institution: Public Park
Veyko Solution: Install Nooses.
Costly Institution: Public Drinking Fountain
Veyko Solution: Random boxing gloves to the groin.
Costly Institution: Public Pay Phone
Veyko Solution: Phone automatically dials Meryl Streep who talks about the craft of acting in between songs from the hit musical and motion picture Mamma Mia!
Costly Institution: Public Fire Department
Veyko Solution: Replace fire crew with the cast of Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Even if people have legitimate fires, they will be hesitant to invite the clan into their homes.
Costly Institution: NPR
Veyko Solution: None. It's too important to tear down.
Just kidding. The House of Representatives came up with the real solution: they voted to kill its federal funding. Thanks anyway, Veyko.
Something is bringing more happiness to people than news of Katie Couric's departure from the CBS News desk -- it's the death of Bin Laden. Those dry-humping frat guys in the streets aren't celebrating a Celtics' win; they're high-fiving because America beat terrorism. Everyone knows that without Bin Laden, other terrorists will feel dejected and say things during group therapy sessions like, "Well, we gave it a shot" or "I guess we could finally start that bowling league Atwah was talking about."
The celebration has caused a bit of controversy; yet, everyone is taking part in it. CNN.com released a photo of Obama and his cabinet watching the gruesome murder of Bin Laden (the photo depicts a somber and tension-filled War Room).
Here's the unphotoshopped version. Look at it with your favorite Kardashian.
Note: today was the annual running of the Boston marathon. For those of you who don't live in Boston, here's a breakdown of how things work:
1) people gather around the route and support the runners by drinking, yelling, and throwing up on sidewalks.
2. Later in the day, they decide to start training for their own marathons, regardless of physical capability
3) Then, they give up, go home and watch/create hilarious mash-ups of Gadhafi and Charlie Sheen.
In between porn-watching sessions, I'll often browse cnn.com for fodder. The living section, a favorite of mine, featured an article about murder mystery/cooking novels that were becoming popular (http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/04/13/culinary.mysteries.gain.popularity/index.html).
Apparently, the characters in the books would mull over murder cases while making a delicious ham. Sounds delightful, but this trend of food mystery novels is not new. In fact, I traced it back all the way to the pioneers of food/mystery novel. Below are examples from trailblazers of the genre. Don't read it on an empty stomach -- your mouth will water.
2. David Berkowitz
I think we can safely say that the difference between a hilariously awkard sexual moment on Seinfeld and a lawsuit/criminal court case is the absence of a laugh track. In what sounds like a classic Seinfeld moment (which would be discussed ad naseum at the coffee shop), a Los Angeles woman is suing match.com for setting her up with a convicted sex offender who allegedly raped her. Add a laugh track and a clever nickname, and this guy would be part of water-cooler conversation for weeks (or until another dancing wedding video went viral), but without these things, it's all serious litigation.
According to her lawyer, "Because match.com has failed to 'undertake a basic screening process [emphasis provided] that disqualifies from membership anyone who has a documented history of sexual assault, Match and sexual predators benefit, while female members ... are endangered.'"
In response, the President of Match.com issued the following statement: "We use industry-leading technology and have staff members dedicated to monitoring the quality and integrity of the membership pool."
That's true. In response to the sexual assault, below is match.com's new screening process:
I think the real question is this: aside from the alleged rape, was it a good match?
If you've ever thought to yourself: "I wish people would take less responsibility," I have good news for you: pedestrians and murder victims are now using twitter and other social networking sites to broadcast messages of despair in lieu of simply calling 911. To be fair, I think the idea of creating a buzz about your imminent rape on facebook is much more entertaining than simply begging for help. I'm glad people are showing more self-control in their lives -- desperation is unsexy.
According to an article on CNN.com, here's how it works: A man witnesses a woman being assaulted on a street corner. Rather than break up the fight himself or call the police, he simply tweets: "Need police/ambulance on corner of Jefferson and Lincoln." Let's hope that he's following the local 911 dispatch on twitter or that someone chooses to retweet that message and not his thoughts on cheese sandwiches.
I see benefits to this new version of good samaritanism: 1) you can avoid confrontation and unpleasant conversations with rapists/muggers and 2) you can simply tweet about the problem and still make it on time to catch the 8PM showing of Arthur. By the time the movie ends, the woman who you witnessed being murdered may have received help, but if she didn't, you can't blame yourself -- you already tweeted about it. What more can be asked of you? Besides, you're too tired from laughing at Russell Brand's antics for two hours to even care.
If you're still confused, here's an example of social media-as-crime-fighter in action:
At least we can point to a moment in time when humanity began its downfall: The remake of Arthur