She’s at it again…
She’s at it again…
It used to be that Thursday night was my favorite TV night. The only night I bothered to watch any television program as it aired rather than record it and watch a day or two later when I could fast-forward through commercials. Thursday at 8pm, I was on my couch, my TV tuned in to NBC. It began with Community, moved on to 30 Rock, then Parks & Rec and ended with The Office. Hell of a line-up, am I right?
Then NBC started screwing with Community’s schedule, splitting each season in two, airing its episodes seemingly randomly with little or no promotion. Then 30 Rock reached its close, soon followed by The Office. Now, Parks & Rec is the only one of those shows still on air (I have no idea what happened to Community. It was never officially canceled nor, as far as I can tell, is there any plan to put it back on air. Wtf, NBC?) and while I do faithfully watch and love it, Thursday has become just another one-show night.
Not to worry, though, my dears, because as one door closes, another one opens. Case in point: Tuesday night programming on FOX. I have come to look forward to Tuesdays as I once did Thursdays and it’s all thanks to FOX’s current line-up. At 8:30pm, Brooklyn Nine-Nine kicks off the night (I watched one miserable episode of Dads and will never put myself through that again), New Girl follows and The Mindy Project wraps it up. That’s right: Tuesday is the new Thursday.
I know some folks think Andy Samberg is just a bit too much. Too loud, too silly, too over-the-top. If you fall into that category, allow me to set your mind at ease. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is very much an ensemble show. While Samberg is the star, his presence does not dominate every episode. More than that, his trademark ridiculousness is fairly toned down here. And he and the ever stoic Andre Braugher play off each other to utter perfection. Every single episode elicits a few hearty laughs, some from Samberg’s goofy antics and many from others in this excellent cast, and they’re only getting better as the season progresses.
I admit I came late to New Girl, having just started watching this past summer, but once I began watching, I couldn’t stop until I was entirely caught up. Zooey Deschanel has slowly won me over and now I am entirely hooked. Like all great sitcoms, the cast as a whole is the real star here and every key player shines. I’ve developed a full-on crush on Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield is one of the funniest comedic actors on TV right now. Lamorne Morris can make even the most absurd plot line work for him and now, Damon Wayans, Jr. has come back to reprise his role as Coach, a character who’s been missed since the pilot, his one and only episode before this season. His chemistry with the rest of them is so easy and charming, it’s like he never left. Seasons 1 & 2 are currently streaming on Netflix, which means you have no excuse not to watch.
Finally, The Mindy Project may arguably be the weakest of the three but it has been getting increasingly better since it first aired last year. Mindy Kaling is hilarious and charismatic and Chris Messina in the male lead plays the sensible and pragmatic curmudgeon to her moody, pop culture-obsessed girly girl. Ike Barinholtz, while occasionally creepy, often gets a laugh as the sweet but dopey nurse Morgan and Xosha Roquemore has been a great addition. I wish Betsy would disappear (sorry Zoe Jarman – it’s the character, not you) but otherwise, the cast has pretty much found its groove. Kaling and Messina have a fun “will they, won’t they” thing going on and thanks to Kaling’s many Hollywood connections, both seasons have been rife with awesome cameos. (Mark Duplass needs to be permanently added to the cast; his hippie midwife rival character is too good and should be fully utilized.)
I don’t know what else you’ve got going on every Tuesday night, but I’m sure it can wait. Forget reality TV and network dramas – thanks to FOX, the sitcom is making a comeback.
Confession: I have watched Pitch Perfect at least five times now and all within the past couple of weeks. It’s like I just can’t stop. I saved it on my DVR and have been watching it in pieces ever since my first full viewing more than two weeks ago. It’s gotten to where I fast-forward through the non-singing parts, repeatedly watching the song performances, especially the final two. I never watched Glee, not for any particular reason, so I am unable to make the obvious comparison there. But I do generally like musicals and Pitch Perfect manages to combine some really excellent musical numbers with a plot as aloof and relatable as that of Bring It On. Just as any non-cheerleader could enjoy the shenanigans of Bring It On, you need not be an a capella enthusiast to enjoy Pitch Perfect. It’s a sweet, feel-good flick with likeable characters and some really fun music.
The Sing-Off got me into a capella (well, not counting those years in junior high when I adored Boyz II Men) and generally primed audiences across America for this movie. It centers around Beca, played with irresistible charm by Anna Kendrick, a college freshman who has no actual desire to attend college but is giving it a shot to appease her father. She wants to move to LA to start paying her dues in the music industry, hoping to make a career out of DJ-ing. With much coaxing by her dad and a senior named Chloe (the adorable Brittany Snow), she reluctantly auditions for the Bardon Bellas, an all-female a capella group on campus who have an intense rivalry with the all-male group, the Treblemakers. Beca earns a spot with the Bellas and slowly brings new life to their stale routine.
While Kendrick is undoubtedly the star of this flick, it is very much an ensemble movie. Senior and leader of the Bellas, Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp), Chloe and Beca probably get the most lines but supporting characters Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson stealing the majority of her scenes), Cynthia Rose (Ester Dean) and Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) hit every mark… and note. (Sorry – couldn’t resist.) The boys make the most of their screen time as well, especially Beca’s love interest, Jesse (Skylar Astin), his nerdy roommate Benji (Ben Platt), and two of the Treblemakers, Bumper and Donald, played by Adam DeVine (of the hilarious series Workaholics) and Utkarsh Ambudkar, respectively. There’s competition, friendship, romance and loads of music but there is also an abundance of humor. Pitch Perfect never takes itself too seriously. In fact, it gets rather silly at times. The vast majority of jokes land and there’s even a big throwback to a certain ’80s icon of pop culture that warms the cockles of my heart.
Of course, as I’ve already hinted, the music itself is what drives it home. The lulls between songs are relatively short and each performance not only plays a relevant role in the central plot but adds a guilty pleasure level of enjoyment, leading viewers like me to watch repeatedly, never tiring of the actors’ unprocessed and natural voices or the fun, practiced choreography. There are even a few cameos the likes of Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins and Donald Faison. That’s right – Turk makes an appearance and anything that lets me watch Turk sing and dance is okay by me.
There isn’t anything terribly original or unpredictable about Pitch Perfect but every minute is amusing, there are loads of laughs and at least 30 solid minutes of fun musical performances. Need more? 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon wrote it. I knew that would hook you. 😉
I don’t know if you feel this way but there are few things sexier than a high IQ. Well, a high IQ coupled with the ability to speak coherently, to express oneself with a relative amount of poise and grace. Add to that a healthy dose of humor, and that’s what I call the jackpot.
Case in point is a celebrity I’ve never found particularly attractive but who recently demonstrated his intelligence by responding gracefully to the rudeness of a few talk show hosts. I’m speaking of Russell Brand and if you don’t already know about this incident, don’t feel bad – neither did I until earlier today. I’ll fill you in. About a month ago, Brand was out promoting his new stand-up tour and interviewed with the folks on “Morning Joe” over at MSNBC. Five minutes into the segment, the three hosts began talking about him as if he weren’t sitting at the table with them, referring to him in the third person and talking about his accent and his outfit rather than, you know, interviewing him about the tour he was there to promote. They were obnoxiously rude and Brand rightly called them out on it. And he did it with style, with humor and wit and a little commentary on the absurd topics that can be called “news” by the media. He spoke intelligently, revealing to anyone listening his sharp wit and clever mind and for the first time ever, I found myself attracted to the man.
He spoke so well, I think he embarrassed and maybe even somewhat intimidated host Mika Brzezinski, who became so nervous she could barely form a sentence. If you want to get right to the rude bit, skip to minute 5:00. Otherwise, if you have 8:34 minutes to spare, I suggest watching from the beginning.
See… he looks kind of hot now, doesn’t he? I said it before and I’ll say it again: there are few bigger turn-on’s than intelligence.
After reading IMDB’s list of the “Top 10 Funniest Actresses of the Past 10 Years,” I thought it was a joke. The list definitely includes some women who belong on it, women like Tina Fey, Kristin Wiig, Amy Poehler, Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Anna Faris. HOWEVER, Sandra Bullock? Sure, she was cute in Miss Congeniality and The Proposal was all right but I certainly can think of several actresses who are funnier. And Emma Stone in the no. 3 spot? Emma Stone, funny? She’s adorable and charming and beautiful and a truly talented actress, but she isn’t a comedienne. And guess who got selected as the 2ND FUNNIEST WOMAN: Meryl Streep! Yeah, you read that right. Look, I love Meryl Streep. LOVE her. She’s amazing and exceptional in countless ways but she hasn’t exactly made a career out of comedic roles.
I wouldn’t care about Bullock, Streep and Stone making this list if there weren’t several comedic actresses who really do belong on it. But there are. So, I made my own list of women who should have been on that list and weren’t:
Mindy Kaling, The Office, The Mindy Project
Angela Kinsey, The Office
Maya Rudolph, SNL, Bridesmaids, Friends With Kids
Jenna Fischer, The Office, Blades of Glory
Sarah Chalke, Scrubs
Wendi McLendon-Covey, Reno 911!, Bridesmaids
Betty White, countless comedic roles over the past 60 years
I rest my case.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get political. That’s not what this blog is about. It is a pop culture blog, though, and as such, I feel it imperative to share with you things I find relevant to our current culture. The video I’ve embedded below is relevant for a couple of reasons: 1) it is damn funny (and what more do you need?) and 2) it reflects the current state of our news media – the fact that not one single journalist/news broadcaster out there in America today gives a shit about giving an unbiased perspective on current events. Every single one puts a slant on every single story (whether it be their own personal opinion or that of the network that sponsors them) so much so, that FACTS just don’t exist anymore. People literally make it up as they go, believing whatever happens to serve their argument, paying no mind to concrete evidence or universal truths. I am relatively young and didn’t pay much attention to the news until the past decade, so maybe it’s always been this way and I just didn’t know it. Regardless, I think it’s a damn shame. My thanks to Jon Stewart for making it funny, at least.
I remember seeing a trailer for this movie about a group of thirty-something friends who decide to engage in an orgy and I thought it looked like the kind of broad comedy whose only funny moments were those shown in the trailer and that probably lacked any depth of plot but tried to make up for it with sex and/or nudity. Some months (maybe a year?) later, I saw that A Good Old Fashioned Orgy was streaming on Netflix and, with nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon, I hit play. An hour and a half later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really liked the movie, much sweeter and deeper than its trailer implies, and way funnier.
Orgy begins with one raucous, outrageously-themed (white trash/hillbilly theme? One word: insane) party. The host is Eric (Jason Sudeikis), the adult son of the home’s owner and a grown man suffering from Peter Pan syndrome. His close group of friends is there and all are immediately introduced: the vaguely uptight engaged new parents Kate and Glenn (Lucy Punch and Will Forte), annoying know-it-all therapist Alison (Lake Bell) and her pretentious-as-all-hell boyfriend Marcus (Rhys Coiro), the formerly fat, insecure Laura (Lindsay Sloane), the one who casually dated Eric and has since harbored unrequited feelings for him, Sue (Michelle Borth), the affable, chubby one, Mike (Tyler Labine), the wanna-be rock star Doug (Martin Starr) and his girlfriend Willow (Angela Sarafyan) and the nerdy germophobe Adam (Nick Kroll). All are present at the balls-out, riotous party as well as roughly a hundred other people. And this, apparently, is what this group of friends does every weekend: have humungous, fantastic parties at Eric’s father’s beach home in the Hamptons.
So when Eric’s dad decides to sell the place and the group realizes they’ll soon have to grow up, what else would they do but decide on one final blow-out. The theme for the final bash? You guessed it: an orgy. No other guests, no unwilling participants, no modesty or indiscretion. Just eight long-time friends exploring their sexuality and enjoying each other in previously uncharted ways. It sounds absurd and in all reality, I don’t know that any such group of friends could pull it off and remain friends. Awkwardness, jealousies and insecurities would inevitably rear their ugly heads but for the sake of the movie, it actually kind of works. Because the truth is, Orgy is much less about the actual orgy than it is about a group of young adults who finally accept that they’ve got to grow up. The inhibitions that melt away during the planning and execution of the orgy also reveal a number of previously unfaced truths and the bonds between them are strengthened.
While all major players deliver convincing, endearing performances, the stand out in Orgy is Tyler Labine who plays the overweight bff to Sudeikis’s charming man-boy. Labine’s Mike is obliviously crude, delightfully amiable and irresistibly likeable. The chemistry between all eight friends is believable and easy but that between Mike and Eric feels genuine, just like two besties from way back whose friendship has progressed to a full-fledged bromance. I laughed out loud repeatedly during the film’s 95 minutes and the majority of those laughs came from Labine. He shined in this flick and I truly hope he gets more (and good) comedic roles.
Look, if you don’t appreciate humor of a sexual and/or crass nature or if you are easily offended, then Orgy isn’t for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend it. It won’t change your life or deepen your understanding of the human condition but it will make you laugh and it might even make your heart swell with its unorthodox but sweetly good-natured take on friendships and the bonds that make and keep them.