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Two and a Half Men

Two and a Half Off to a Myriad of Possibilities
It was great. I loved it. Admittedly, I have writing in my blood. I suppose the reason I loved the first episode of season nine and look to a bright future of Two and a Half Men is because of all the infinite possibilities now open to a show that had grown a little stale and aged with the presence of Charlie Sheen. It was not all Sheen's fault. The character of Charlie Harper was the same joke week after week. Now the bright and wonderful actors that are Two and a Half Men can shine with a brand new character of great potential in Ashton Kutcher's Schmidt.

Schmidt is a billionaire... meaning he can afford to do or buy almost anything... allowing great writing going forward in being able to do anything... hire rock stars... rent the Playboy mansion... close down Malibu roads for personal racing... attack Charlie and Alan's mom financially... pressure highly placed political figures in their town... etc.

Ashton is probably fresher and better looking than Sheen. His ability to attract women to the show's demographics is being capitalized on by the Johnny Depp pirate grooming of Kutcher's character. Kutcher does have a little to learn about comedy in delivering lines... but the writing is solid. This show has the possibility of bringing Sheen back if they really want to... Rose is no reliable source to Charlie's death... and Jim Morrison faked a death in Paris first. After all... the body supposedly was mangled beyond recognition. I believe Rose sent a bag of meat back to the United States from Paris as Charlie. This will be great as the season unfolds... trust and believe.

Two and a Half Men: Nice to Meet You, Walden Schmidt
Episode 1, Season 9

A Great Start... the Show is in Good Hands
Lighten up, folks. There are a number of things going on here. Remember Jim Morrison of the doors? (The guy who went to Paris and faked his death to prevent being put in prison by the FBI for numerous convictions in Miami)... well... Rose ALONE should be clue enough that Charlie Harper can be raised from the dead if the producers feel the desire to. Rose probably sent a bag of meat back to the USA as Charlie Harper... in yet another bout of ruse with Charlie...

Yes, Ashton made some mistakes. He lacked a little energy and he was not quite crazy enough... he came off more manic depressive and needs to tighten up his lines with other actors... his responses are the funny written ones... so his responses need to almost cut off other actor's lines.

The mother is a veteran of the show... and misplayed her opening lines badly. The entire show would have been hilarious with a little quicker responses and faster reads of the lines. Her playing of her grief of Charlie with bitter heartfelt renditions of the lines and then breaking into a household listing was a total abortion of the intention of the writers. She should have flat read the first lines and then ripped off the house listing after a couple beats of time... but she was not the only one murdering lines in the show.

The written lines could have been hysterical and deserved to be... they were excellent. Any flaws was strictly the fault of the actors. Everyone was a little slower in reading than they should have been. The girlfriends in the funeral should have tightened up their responses much more... you could have driven a truck through some of the holes in the lines as read.

All in all... excellent premise with great promise. A billionaire will allow almost anything to be able to happen in episodic fun. Alan will again be totally dependent upon the whims of Kutcher's character. The mother needs to remember this is a comedy. Angus Jones is again plodding along through his lines as any high school actor would.

Berta is hysterically funny and gives a dead on read. Nice touch with bringing back Dharma and Greg. They should live next door to Rose. Perhaps the Big Bang cast could visit... since it is the same setting for both shows. With Ashton as a website genius and the Big Bang crew as physicists, it seems possible to do some linking in the Lorre show productions.

Mr. Sunshine

Matthew Perry has built a perfect vehicle for himself...
Now all he has to do is find a talented director. The character of "Mr Sunshine" is a tractor beam to all of the nervous nerdy types who look for direction in how to handle social situations in life... from their television. I am one of these people. Obviously, Matthew is putting himself out there... and coming on as a somewhat more animated Bob Newhart character... and it works.

Chandler Bing lives, indeed, in the character of Ben Donovan. This would be him some years later... after the young adult stage of marrying Monica, etc. He is the caring, passionate general manager of a sports stadium in San Diego. Fortunately for us, the audience... none of his staff or the owner gives a damn about their job! He is the one sane man in the character list of the show whose last nerve is being stepped on minute by minute by the crazies who surround him in his life.

Those who feel paranoid about life being out to get them will feel at home and identify with this man surrounded by demonized nutsoes who live to make his life hell! (Fortunately for us, again!) ...As Larry David responded to Jason Alexander of Seinfeld upon questioning the believability of the show scripts for Seinfeld, "Yes, this all can happen. I know...these scripts are based on true events from my life...I lived it!" Perry must be ADHD, as I am. The funny lines come so quickly you will really need to set your VCR to play this back again to see things that you missed.

My one criticism and caveat with the whole show is the direction. The verbal deliveries and timing of some of the lines is sometimes sloppy. Funny can be lost in sloppy editing and direction. A second or two too long in a shot after a line can destroy a good joke. Too quick of a response to a question by a character can destroy the credibility. Too low of a volume level on a punchline by one of the main characters can make a joke non-existent.

The writing is funny, and flawless. Kudos to Mr Perry and company. Translation to proper acting and character direction is crucial in getting "funny" across to the audience. The direction appears amateurish. I noticed on several occasions (with two episodes broadcast so far) that camera shots are too tight. In older classic sitcoms you will notice most of the time a tight shot does not serve comedy well. Tight face shots work well in drama and soap operas, not comedy. Witness the original sitcom of Perry, "Friends." It is much funnier to see the whole room of characters in a scene all respond to funny lines than it is to just see a tight shot of the character speaking. (Pull the cameras back a little.)

Comedy is a group thing because the moment we are laughing is usually because the character is in a situation where he is not laughing. There is tension and stress on the character... but we are convulsing wildly on the floor gasping for air. Would love to see a James Burrows or a James Widdoes directing this sitcom. The writing and brilliant creation of Matthew Perry here certainly deserves it.

Mike & Molly

Oh God, no... not another bad sitcom!
Well it's better than having to watch one of the 1000 CSI type of murder crime shows on all the networks. But, not much. If you like formula me-too unoriginal sitcoms with lackluster casts and average writing... this may just be the show for you.

Chuck Lorre seems to be running out of gas..."Two And A Half Men" was good for a couple it's just all about torturing Alan. The "Big Bang Theory" is still working, but then again the script lines are now just all about nerds getting women. Two and a Half Men was about being the new "Odd Couple". Alan is Felix and Charlie is Oscar...only it's on the beach in Malibu instead of in an apartment in New York City. we go. Take two dull, Biggest Loser reality show candidates... and take the best comedy director on television ever... Jim Burrows...(talk about wasting talent)... and throw in some scale writers with nothing better to do. Bang... you have a talented director trying to push horse$#*! up a giant mountain. There are moments... but mostly the female end of the cast fails badly. If only "Victoria" could do nude scenes...then it would just be a bad porn movie. Mike's mom... Peggy is just a cranky old lady. Swoosie Kurt's "Joyce" is a rather bad two dimensional stereotype of southern trailer trash. And her lines are not funny. Nor is her character believable.

Mike's partner...Officer Carl (Reno Wilson) is a good actor, and has funny lines. Go figure. "Samuel" the restaurant waiter character is real enough and has some good lines. That's about it. Mike and Molly's "aw gee" romance lines are hacked reruns of every bad romance comedy you have ever seen. Situations are predictable. Emotion is badly lacking in both the actors and the audience. This series would not work if the two main characters were normal weight. A couple good bit parts and some lines, an ace director, and a very average group of writer's and actors. Yawn. Time to play on the internet.

Shows about morbidly obese people have worked... witness actor Jackie Gleason with "The Honeymooners", "Roseanne", and the series "The King of Queens." But this one does not. And it seems now every Chuck Lorre show on TV has to have at least one vomiting scene during your evening snacking time. Hmmm. I love Chuck Lorre's creations usually... but week after week the writing has to stay strong. Looks like this Producer might have lost his wind, or else he is not minding the store.

Throw Momma from the Train

Murder Can Be Hysterical!
Owen is a little nuts. His mother drove him there. Larry is distraught. His ex-wife stole his award winning manuscript. Owen wants Larry to do a little favor for him… Larry wants his life back. So begins one of the classic comedies of modern times. Excellently done in all aspects with absolutely nothing lacking. If you are a writer… if you have ever been screwed over by a girl… if you had a dominating bitch of a mother… if you love Woody Allen movies… you will LOVE this movie.

The chemistry of this brew that makes it all work is casting, writing, direction, and TALENT! Something sadly lacking from most modern movies. Stu Silver wrote the TV sitcom "Soap" in which Billy Crystal also starred, so Silver's framed sampler-worthy lines are perfect for Crystal as Larry Donner, a writing class professor whose ex-wife has done him dirty. DeVito is perfect for his role as the harried Owen Lift… son of the queen of all bitter controlling mothers. Unlike most movies…there is not one square peg in the cast. Anne Ramsey makes the whole plot believable. It is hard to imagine the movie being so "right" with any other actress.

Silver never forgets the cardinal rule of comedies… you never mix genres for the purity of a perfectly crafted movie. Serious danger does not belong in a comedy. You may take the audience on a roller coaster ride while making them laugh, but you never let the coaster leave the tracks. Everybody gets back safely for another ride in an amusement park… and this is an amusement park ride of "E" ticket quality!

$#*! My Dad Says

Out of the Ball Park!
Shatner pulls another one out of his... @$$. Of course with the executive producers from Will & Grace, things can only be first class. Well... mostly. The funny lines of Shatner and his own comedy talents make up for the short falling of the rest of the show. Ideally, nothing is ever perfect. (In a perfect world, William Shatner would not have to buy hair...) Expect lots of star cameos and witty writing. Expect a lot of stepping on political correctness and spanking it's @$$. After all, that's what this series is all about... PC meets Old School.

Shatner does not look 79...more like 59... and "Henry" looks to be in his thirties...which he is (31). Therefore, the premise works, unlike "Retired at 35". Sadowski is superior to McClain by far...although we could have hoped for Zach Braff to take the lead role of "Henry". Second string ain't bad...but the snap of a seasoned star like Braff would have helped tremendously to support the wit of the lead "Ed" played by Shatner...brilliantly as usual.

The writing is coming along to support the premise and the main characters...but has not yet bloomed into its potential. Bottom line...the best new show of the season on any network. Perhaps the best show on any network... period. Including "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory." My VCR is set. I never miss it.

The New Adventures of Old Christine

Mostly Excellent... In a TV Universe of Mediocre
This is the kind of sitcom that grows on you... it starts out as a subtle chuckle in your soul... and after a few weeks you just fall in love with the cast and premise. It's not perfect... but no television show is. All you can hope for is that they use what they have to work with to the best of their abilities. They mostly do. An excellent product from the Will & Grace producers.

A note about the lead actors. Clark Gregg seems to have the potential and the low key deadpan acting abilities of a young Bob Newhart. Hopefully some executive producers will notice this and use it as a gift to the television audience. I could plug Bob Newhart in mentally into his role and the lines work as written. Clark's direction obviously was not to do a deadpan buttoned down role. Too bad. He would have been great. This was a role in which less would have been so much more. Clark Gregg needs to dress up, take authority, and remove all emotion from his delivery. It would work.

Retired at 35

A fist full of... crap
The premise is a young executive son moving back in with his parents. The cast is wonderful... with the exception of one actor... the lead (Johnathan McClain) who is just God awful in comedy... it just does not work. And what a wonderful backing cast... all with talent, all who CAN act. McClain lacks the interpretation, the timing, the physical comedy cues that make a great lead actor in a great sitcom.

McClain appears about 20 years too young for the lead role of "Dave." George Segal, playing his father, looks about 40 years older than the son... too bad they did not cast Clark Gregg from "New Adventures Of Old Christine" for example in the role... a Bob Newhart kind of character actor who could carry this role off. Matthew Perry would of course be the perfect ideal lead actor in this series, but I imagine his asking price is about a million an episode as of this writing. Average sitcom writing, great acting by all except for the atrocious McClain.


Garbage. Not funny. Not smart. Profane, violent, insipid.
You are supposed to care about the main characters... the "heroes" of a keep the viewer interested. Not here. I rented this based on professional reviews... that'll teach me. I found myself hoping in the beginning these two guys get murdered by the end of the a painful and slow death.

If your idea of "funny" is two guys from Jersey saying the "F" word every other syllable with gratuitous fight scenes by small IQ characters, then this movie might be just the one for you.

Violence, profanity, and very little humor. The obnoxious Ricky Slade character is over the top obnoxious. Not a Jim Carrey "Dumb and Dumber" obnoxious-cute-likable funny. More of an Andrew Dice Clay obnoxious without his wit, humor, social graces and charm. And I like Andrew Dice Clay's work.

The box is designed and commented to get your rental money. Covered with favorable comments. Mafia characterizations are just that... although Peter Falk is excellent in his bit part, as usual for him. New York attitude and two "a" holes get together here... Jim Carrey would have "made" the part of Ricky Slade...not Vince Vaughn.

I suggest Favreau live life a little more, grow up, and add some dimension of experience to his resume before attempting to write again. Halfway through the movie Favreau's script finds another character to give the "F" word charm to... Sean Combs' "Ruiz". Also not funny.

This story is about two losers messing up their jobs royally and fighting each other while attempting a fresh start in organized crime. This is not either funny or a realistic depiction of the mafia. John Gotti was smarter and a gentleman. None of this cast is either. I think Favreau owes an apology to New Jersey, the mafia, the film industry, and actors everywhere.

Lost in Translation

Garbage, Coppola Style
Bad direction. Awful writing. Plodding, tiring, waste of top comedic talent...this is a chick flick for a lower intelligence, average, shallow woman to waste an afternoon with.

As to anyone else's bad comments on this piece of dreck...I heartily agree. Bad career move for Bill. He may have felt pressure to interconnect and make "nice" with the Coppolas... they are pretty powerful Hollywood stuff. What with Sophia's daddy doing the Godfather and Apocalypse Now and other drama action pieces. At least the Godfather had something to say...and did it with power...about a serious subject.

This movie, Lost in Translation, has NOTHING to say, and does it with wimpy suggestiveness; long moments of no speech or action, nice photography with bad writing. Kind of like your brother's videos of his trip to Tokyo, only without any useful information, or your brother's pizza and beer.

The characters are undeveloped. The king has no clothes. This thing is a stinker, and in my opinion nails shut the awful record of Ebert and Roeper who actually gave this not just Two Thumbs Up, but... are you ready for this?... Two BIG Thumbs Up. Never again! My best thoughts on the analysis of how a train wreck like this is conceived in the mind of the Writer / Director, Sophia Coppola, is she is a fan of Woody Allen, a genius without saying it, a true innovator of style, comedy, and philosophic insight set to comedy. However, whereas Woody Allen has talent, and a funny observational humor, Sophia has apparently the ability to hold a camera and watch a man on a business working trip to Tokyo, doing nothing spectacular.

The Woody Allenish aspects of this movie are the commentary, and the relational aspects of male and females in marriage and dating... only this movie makes no witty commentary. Just pictures of two boring people. Sorry Bill. I really am a huge fan of his work, including Groundhog Day, Stripes, SNL, etc. But, this movie was beneath him for whatever reasons he did it.

If I were Nicolas Cage, I would disavow any relationship to Sophia Coppola.

No plot. No direction. Nothing to say. No arc. Attempted humor lands on its face much like your stilted Aunt attempting to quote Jerry Seinfeld. Even the mispronunciation in the speech of the native Japanese unable to say their "L's" falls flat on its face. The Japanese hooker yells at Bill to "Lip her stockings" meaning "rip her stockings." Phhtt. Listen to the echoing silence.

Any hack writer in Hollywood could have punched this thing up. Should have considered hiring a comedy screenwriter... or perhaps taking direction from Bill Murray and listening to his creative instincts. Obviously, he had little input into this smoldering pile.

I wonder how long Sophia had to pound daddy's desk in order to get him to put out the money to fund this film.

The Whole Ten Yards

Matthew Perry is a Comic Genius...
Rent it, buy it, just to see the classic comic performances, timing, and natural talent of Perry. Really, this guy's reactions to all things nerve wracking had me on the floor. Watch carefully as you put yourself into HIS shoes while watching this movie...hard to identify with a contract killer, played ably by Bruce Willis. Bruce is the straight man and does his part, while the role reversal in the opening scenes is a natural scream.

I felt technically there were a couple of problems to nit pick in the direction and editing areas. Some of the comedy bits were OVER played and lasted too long...not the actor's faults...that is editing or direction. The actors did a marvelous job. But, heavy talent, and a VERY funny script must be seen. Pollak overdid Lazlo...the heavy overdone accent clipped out a lot of funny lines for me, and the closed captioning was not working correctly. I think Pollak could have been much more effective, funny, and convincing in his part if he did not add the Jerry Lewis overacting style to the part. It detracted from what was and is a VERY funny script, excellent acting by ALL the rest of the cast, and a great job by the director of photography and most of the crew.

How funny is a contract killer as an obsessive compulsive cook and homemaker? Very! How great was Mat Perry in the part of a good "Joe" all American who has to deal with dangerous underworld people...? Hysterical. Gagging and sucking for air on the floor pleading for mercy funny. Really funny. Love to see more good scripts for Perry.

The Château

Don't Waste Your Time
This is it. If you have been studying film, and want to know which of all mass released movies (MGM) is the WORST one ever filmed, this is the one.

See it just once just to know what BAD REALLY is... if you can think of or name a CATEGORY of film-making, this one deserves a manure award for that category.

Photography...awful...grainy... Sound...poorly miked, garbled Acting...nothing funny here...just two punks saying the "F" word every ten seconds Direction...Could a movie be MORE segmented, unfollowable, and had a worse scene coverage than THIS one...? Don't think so. Writing...or more like, WHAT writing...most of the movie consists of poorly filmed shapes saying "Hello" to each other. NOTHING funny here.

Save the money if you need it. If you want to study BAD film-making, study THIS ONE! Calling this movie crap gives a bad name to the word crap.


Casting was the only problem...
Too bad Steve Martin did not take the part of Kit Ramsey...I believe as Steve Martin wrote the screenplay, he wrote the part taken by Eddie Murphy in a style best befitting Steve Martin... not Eddie Murphy.

I can easily see Martin doing all the lines and visual facial expressions better. The part of Bowfinger in the movie could have been played by either Bill Murray or Chevy Chase. Need that kind of a believable half-wit character type.

What do you think?

A starving desperate screenwriter / producer named Bowfinger played by Martin, trap-shoots a movie (by ambush) featuring a hot actor in Hollywood ... Kit Ramsey. Great writing. Unfortunate waste of talent with miscasting. Illegal aliens and borrowed credit cards might get his movie made yet! Steve Martin is a gifted screenwriter...and very capable of doing the parts that he acts in. Just a terrific premise...would like to see it redone with Martin and a new cast...and punching up some of the scenes...this is a deep can come back and remake this movie a few more times!

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