I am a perpetual rooter for the underdog. In any given situation, if there is an underdog, you’d better believe I’m in his corner. While this is usually a benign trait, there are times that it causes trouble. For example, I’ve recently read the Hunger Games trilogy (which I’ll write about soon, I promise) and very early into the first book of the series, I found myself drawn to a character I was 95% sure would not live through to the end of the series. By the end of that book, I resisted the urge to quit reading in an effort to spare myself the disappointment I knew I’d feel when that character eventually met his end.
Films like “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Stranger Than Fiction,” wherein the underdog is the main character and likely to end triumphant, are destined to be favorites of mine (and they are). But even in others, several romantic comedies, for instance, I go for the character you know will not win the girl. I rooted for Duckie over Blane in “Pretty in Pink,” Mr. Crawford, the charming rake in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, over the sweet but clueless Edmond and, though I’m not really a fan of the Twilight series, I did read it and was team Jacob from start to finish, knowing full well he didn’t stand a chance. I swear, I probably would’ve even chosen the geek over Jake, the hunk, in “Sixteen Candles.”
Why do I always side with the one least likely to succeed? It’s irritating as hell because I predict my inevitable disappointment early on but still hold out hope that somehow, my guy will pull through (though he rarely, if ever, does). What about you – do you usually go for the safe bet? Or, like me, do you root for the unlikeliest of heroes?
Didn’t think I’d be writing a post praising a mid-season pilot that wants to be this generation’s Friends, but I am solidly enjoying the new ABC show Happy Endings. Honestly, when I woke up on the couch after randomly falling asleep at 9 o’clock, I didn’t even know what it was. So as I groggily stared up at my TV, and started laughing, loudly, I was a bit surprised. Then they aired another episode immediately after the first, and I was wide awake, laughing regularly.
It’s the Friends formula, remixed with Modern Family. A group of 30-ish friends try to deal with the breakup of two members of their group (Elisha Cuthbert and Zachary Knighton). She left him at the altar, and now they’re trying to be friends again and keep the group friendship intact. I realize that sounds heavy or maybe even incredibly stupid, but it’s actually become almost an afterthought by the 4th episode. The cast itself has pretty great chemistry. Besides Cuthbert (who I like because of Girl Next Door – that’s right) and Knighton (who I liked from the woeful, defunct Flash Forward) there’s a Wayans descendant (I must be totally clueless to not have realized that Damon Wayans was old enough to have a Jr. who is a grown-ass man), Casey Wilson as an always-single goofball, and someone named Adam Pally who just might be my favorite on the show. He’s the “gay one”, and the writers make a big deal about the fact that he’s not a “typical gay guy”, and go to great lengths to make him seem like a jock/frat boy/jokester who just happens to be gay. And he’s not typical, at least on TV. So that is refreshing. And speaking of the writing, it’s fast and whip-smart. Not Gilmore Girls-level of speediness, but close. Most importantly though, it’s FUNNY.
I hope it continues to be as witty and clever as this first handful of episodes was. I don’t know if it’s doing well; I have no clue if it is already on the chopping block or looking at renewal, but it’s earned a spot in my series manager simply by being good on its own merits.
James Franco, Danny McBride & Natalie Portman: honestly, what were you thinking?! I so wanted to like this movie (I’m a big fan of both Franco and McBride) but I simply could find no saving grace. It had a handful of funny lines but was otherwise completely ridiculous. And not in a good, “Dumb & Dumber” kind of way. More like if the guys who wrote “Hot Shots Part Deux” had written “Lord of the Rings.”
The story is faulty enough. McBride and Franco are brothers, sons of the reigning king, but could not be more different. Danny McBride plays Thadeus, a ne’er do well who parties all the time and seduces fair maidens while his brother and heir to the throne, Fabious (Franco, of course), kills evil adversaries and wins the heart of the lovely Belladonna (played by a vapid Zooey Deschanel), whom he rescues from the sorcerer Leezar. Before he can marry her, she is taken captive, again, by Leezar who plans to rape her during a lunar eclipse so they could conceive a dragon (like I said, ridiculous). Thadeus is forced to join his brother on the quest to rescue her, again, and along the way they encounter many trials and tribulations, which, eventually, lead to Thadeus’s growing up and acting like the valiant prince his brother always knew he truly was. I’ll bet you’re racing to the theater now, aren’t you?
Funniest moment: Zooey Deschanel asks her captor (shortly before the aforementioned rape) how he even knows if his penis works. His reply: “I’ve tried it. If your vagina is anything like my hand, there will be no problem.”
Look, I love profanity and crude humor, which are both rampant throughout this flick, but there’s just no compensating for the shit plot and the absurd 80s-style visual effects. (Not enough money for CGI, or a throwback, perhaps? Either way, it didn’t work.) McBride and Franco were their usual charming selves, yet the whole time, I couldn’t help but wonder why the hell they chose to add this film to their resumes. And Natalie Portman, seriously, this is your follow-up to “Black Swan?” (I guess “No Strings Attached” immediately followed “Black Swan,” but still.)
I hate to beat up on it because I certainly have seen worse. But I’ve seen what these guys are capable of – “Eastbound & Down,” “Pineapple Express,” just to name a couple – and I expected better. This time around, they sold themselves far short. I’m still a fan, just a disappointed one.