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Role Models

Best Comedy in Years!
The premise of this film involves two co-workers who travel to various Los Angeles area schools doing anti-drug sales presentations for an energy drink manufacturer. Paul Rudd plays Danny, a somewhat-uptight veteran sales rep who is dissatisfied with his job and personal life. Seann William Scott plays Wheeler, a free-spirited, live-for-the-moment party animal who serves as the company mascot on these excursions. A bad choice of actions puts the two men on the wrong side of the law and to avoid jail they must volunteer in a Big Brother-like organization run by a former drug addict. Danny is paired with a nerdy outcast whose main hobby is participating in a medieval, role-playing combat game while Wheeler is given a foul-mouthed black kid who comes from a broken home and has driven away several other volunteers in a short amount of time.

At first things do not go well with these pairings, but eventually Danny and Wheeler are able to connect with the boys. This comes to an abrupt end due to a couple of errors in judgment that alienate the young boys and put Danny and Wheeler's freedom and friendship in jeopardy. During their time as mentors in the program, Danny and Wheeler both developed a sense of emotional maturity by putting the boys needs ahead of their own. They both got as much out of the experience as the boys did and are determined to make things right.

While the humor is often risqué, what really makes this a great film overall is the on-screen pairing of Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott. They worked well together even though their characters are polar opposites. I think anybody who sees Role Models will enjoy it.

Madea Goes to Jail

Worthless Waste of Time
I hadn't seen any of Tyler Perry's films before this one because I don't find drag comedy appealing. I didn't expect this to be a great film, but it was much worse than I could have imagined. The main reason is Madea herself. Madea is a rude, hostile, Ghetto cliché of a woman who as the opening credits demonstrated, has spent most of her adult life in and out of jail for various offenses caused by her inability to control her anger and need for revenge. After one particular incident the elderly behemoth must finally endure the consequences and serve time. Although this did not happen until about one hour into the film, I applauded because Madea is clueless to how bad her behavior is that even a trained professional like Dr. Phil couldn't get through to her. She needed to learn that she is not above the law as a sort of comeuppance.

Another reason this film was so bad was that it would frequently shift to a secondary storyline which had nothing to do with Madea. It was something of a "Pretty Woman" premise involving a legal clerk trying to rescue a childhood friend from drugs and prostitution. Every time this happened, it was like somebody getting a remote control and changing the channel. The ending does show a common thread for these story lines but it's not enough to save this train wreck of a film.

After watching Madea, I can't understand why people enjoy Tyler Perry films so much. The Ghetto factor may be the main reason people line up and pay good money to see this garbage. If that's the case, it's very sad that this is what 21st century America considers entertainment. I would have given this a minus rating if IMDb allowed it.

Baby Boy

Couldn't Be More Ghetto If It Tried
This is not an uplifting film, nor does it try to be. A young black man trying to survive in the hood and dealing with the mess he created. The typical stereotypes abound. Unemployed, illegitimate child and crime. The main character is always conscious of the possibility of being killed on the streets. Part of the plot is that a part of him wants to escape, but he knows no other way to exist.

You could sit in the passenger seat of a car driving through Compton or Watts, run a camcorder out the window for about 90 minutes and come up with the same thing.(Provided you survive the trip) There are a few strange twists in this film, such as the mother-son dynamic and the battle of good vs. evil featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg.

The Rules of Attraction

This Film Finds You
I was channel surfing when I first saw this film on cable. After about 5 minutes, I found it interesting enough to put down the remote to see how it ends. There is something about this tale of students at a privileged college who major in sex and drugs that reflects a part of our society that we don't want to admit is real but can't deny it either. College students and those under 40 will find the relatability factor is what captures their attention.

Portrayals of troubled people always make good drama because the intensity level is constantly high and there is no happy ending. With Rules of Attraction, the main difference is that there is no real beginning. It is similar to Pulp Fiction in this manner. The plot shows what lead to what is shown at the beginning. In other words, a full circle effect.

Since I first saw the film, I have watched it whenever I find it on cable. I wouldn't call it a favorite, but more of a guilty pleasure.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

So Worth It!
I almost literally counted the days until BORAT arrived in theaters, having become a fan through HBO's DA ALI G SHOW. I went on the day it opened and every expectation I had was fulfilled. This is by far the funniest, craziest comedy to come around in years. I knew I'd laugh my ass off, but so did everyone else in the theater. There is something familiar about the subplot: foreigner comes to US to chase a dream, the struggles that go along with it, then the heartbreak ending. This allowed us to see a more humane side of Borat that we never saw on ALI G.

I highly recommend BORAT to all true fans, as well as those who love physically-oriented slapstick comedy. Cohen is a comic genius, plain and simple. It was worth the wait. Even though DA ALI G SHOW may be history, Borat is here to stay.

The Curse of the Bambino

Read the Book
If you liked the documentary, I suggest that you read the book by Dan Shaughnessy from which it is based. There is a lot more detail to the history of the Red Sox than what was depicted. Red Sox fans have been lead to believe that former owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees simply to put on a Broadway musical. Although Ruth was a great player, he was not a team player. He was difficult and often abandoned the team to pursue his own interests. Frazee did not want to sell Ruth, but did not want a "one-man" team, which he saw the Red Sox turning into. This transaction changed the fortunes of two teams as the Yankees, who had never won anything before 1919, became contenders and champions almost overnight, while the Red Sox became forgettable. There is more to the Red Sox inability to win a championship than the sale of Babe Ruth. For example, the Red Sox had the opportunity to become the pioneers of integration when in 1945, Jackie Robinson and several other negro league players went to Fenway Park for a tryout and were soundly rejected. A few years later, Willie Mays was also rejected. In fact, the Red Sox did not have a black player until 1959. The hesitance of former owner Tom Yawkey to sign black players may have contributed to the Red Sox championship drought, as well as the fans obsession with the Yankees. Each chapter of the book covers various periods of Red Sox history, including the 4 World Series lost in 7 games and the strange occurrences in between, as well as the rivalry with the Yankees. I recommend the book to all baseball fans so that fact can be separated from hearsay.

My Super Sweet 16

Lifestyles of the Bitchy and Ungrateful
The subjects of this series are overprivileged girls from well-to-do families who think they are entitled to the party of a lifetime simply because they turn 16. What I noticed right away is that while their parents have given them any material thing they want, the parents failed in a more serious way. They failed to teach these girls about manners and how to treat people, as well as to appreciate what they have. This combination has reared some rude, conceited, bitchy girls who believe the world revolves around them. These girls think we all really care about their parties and that we're jealous of them. Yeah, right. What is sad is that there are some decent kids out there who get good grades in school, treat their parents with respect, and are good people. Their parents would love to give them a party like the ones on this show, but don't have the money or resources. They don't act as if it is their birthright like the girls on this show. It just goes to show that money can buy a lot of things, but it can't buy class.


LA Controversial
I like films which depict real-life events, and this was among the better ones because it didn't hold back. The film is told from the viewpoint of a Latina high-school student, Paula, in a predominantly-Mexican part of Los Angeles in 1968. She falls in with a radical group known as the Brown Berets, headed by an anti-establishment teacher, who are dedicated to fighting for equal treatment in the schools where Latino students were subjected to spankings, assigned janitor duty for minor offenses such as being late to class, denied restroom access and not being allowed to express cultural pride, i.e. speak Spanish. It seemed like to schools tried to sweep them under the rug, but this group was smart enough to know that the schools needed them to maintain economic funding, so they decide to protest by coming to school one day, then leaving as soon as class begins. The police became involved, and it showed that these students were indeed second-class citizens. I wasn't alive yet when this actually occurred, but I have no doubt that the police brutality was as real as depicted. I wonder if Edward James Olmos was among those involved or if he knows those who were. It was a good idea to make this a cable project instead of a feature film because they often distort details of actual events to make them more marketable. I also give props to a portrayal of Latinos which shows them as intelligent rather than focusing on negative stereotypes.

Fever Pitch

Interesting Love Story
After watching this film, I think it is one that both men and women will enjoy. It is romantic without being a "chick" flick, which I liked. The story centers on a quirky high school teacher who meets the woman of his dreams. They are complete opposites, Ben is laid-back and somewhat immature, while Lindsay is a driven career-woman, but they hit it off. When Lindsay finds out that Ben is a HUGE, and I do mean HUGE fan of the Boston Red Sox, at first she is OK with it, but soon his love of the team comes between them. Ben is then forced into a dilemma of deciding what is really important to him, leading him to make a drastic decision no die-hard sports fan would ever want to make. When Lindsay finds out what Ben is willing to sacrifice to prove his love to her, there is a happy ending for them as well as Red Sox Nation. I've read the book "Curse of the Bambino" and this film is complete with many details from the book, including the Yankee rivalry, and the fan devotion could not have been depicted better.


Still Great After All These Years
I recently saw "Heathers" after having not seen it for several years, and immediately remembered why I like it. This film so perfectly portrayed the high school social scene of its era. Anybody who was in high school in the late 80's can say that they recall people who were like the characters in this film. The members of this core clique, especially its merciless leader and the sex-crazed football players who thought the world revolved around them still linger today in most schools. Most of us who were not as popular in high school want some kind of karmic justice and this film is a visual gratification of that desire. Even though it goes to the extreme that it does, It is still worth watching. Unlike other teen films of the 80's, "Heathers" does not try to pleasantly resolve its conflict toward a happy ending. As for the casting, Winona Ryder became a star for her portrayal of Veronica, the new clique member who is trying to get back what she lost in order to be part of the crowd, her own identity. Christian Slater was the driving force of the film, and he will never duplicate this terrific performance. The two of them had great chemistry. I'm sure many guys could relate to J.D. and his demons. Kim Walker played the power bitch Heather Chandler to perfection. Her performance from the opening shot to her sudden demise will live on even though she is no longer with us. Shannon Doherty was great as the bitch-in-training Heather Duke. I strongly recommend that today's youth who has seen "Mean Girls" also see this film which more fully lived up to that name.

American Chopper: The Series

Enough Already
I saw this show a few times and have had enough. The Teutels 15 minutes were up long, long ago. The only reason people watch is for the conflict between Paul Sr. and Jr. because if you want to learn about building motorcycles, you will be disappointed. Some people think that Paul Sr. overacts for the camera, but I disagree. He likes to show off his tattoos, and he looks like a Mafia bodyguard plus his New York attitude. If anything, he tones it down for the cameras. This show is nothing more than a masculinity's soap opera. The drama level is always high and I just want to see Paul Jr. beat the crap out of his dad so that this show can have an appropriate ending.

Two and a Half Men

Can't stand the kid!
Jake, the 1/2 man of the show's title is the most annoying sitcom child that I've seen in a long time. He's a fat, lazy, lethargic slob who makes Bart Simpson seem like Harvard material. I have never been a serious fan of the show, but Jake is completely unlikable. It is irritating when Jake tries to be a Charlie clone, as we all know that will never happen. Jake is very disrespectful to his father Alan, and walks all over him. Has anyone noticed a resemblance between Jake and Charlie's maid? She could be his mother, which would be more realistic. Maybe, when the series finale comes, it could be revealed that the maid is really Jake's mother who had a one-night stand with some Hell's Angel and that Alan and his ex-wife adopted him. This kid would have been a better fit as Roseanne's son if that show were on now. He could be the poster child for Planned Parenthood. A picture of him in an ad targeted at teens would help cut down the teen pregnancy rate in America.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Why We Watch Curb
Let's be honest, one of the big attractions of this show is Susie Greene. We all wait for her to be standing out in the driveway with her arms folded, dark glasses on, then hearing that showdown theme. We all know this means that Larry and Jeff are in for it because of their misdeeds. While we know the profanity-laced tirade is coming, Susie always exceeds our expectations with the creativity she puts into it. I start laughing before she starts yelling. Her scene from The Doll episode is classic. Also the scene after she came home to find her daughter drunk and Oscar the dog missing was so over the top that if you try saying these lines out loud, you will bust out laughing. When I first watched the show, I thought Susie was just an angry bitch with a New York attitude, but like everybody else, I keep wanting more.


Piece Of Crap
I saw this film on cable and believe me, once was enough. It is at best a character study of a disturbing father-daughter relationship. At worst it leaves a strong impression of incest, and shows the destruction that passive parenting can create. It is very clear from the start that Ariel, the daughter, is angry at the world. When her father, a prominent doctor, invites his new girlfriend home for dinner, Ariel makes every effort to sabotage the evening. She finds faults with this woman which exist only in her demented mind, as she wants her father all to herself. The evening ends with Ariel punching this woman in the face and screaming like the mental patient she is.

In my opinion, Ariel is clearly the villain. When the victim's sister(a topless female boxer)enters the scene, Ariel does what every bully does: rationalize her actions by claiming that the victim brought it on herself. Ariel walks all over her father, treats him like dirt, but he is to blame because he let it happen. The female boxer makes an effort to understand why Ariel is the way she is, but to no avail.

The intervention of the boxer was like a form of therapy. Ariel needed to be put in her place, and her father sure wasn't able to do it. I cheered the climactic ending as Ariel got a taste of her own medicine, because I could not muster up any sympathy for this rotten bitch.

Mean Girls

Reminisent of "Heathers"
I saw the film "Mean Girls" on cable recently, and in some ways it reminded me of the late-80's classic "Heathers". Each of the girls in the Plastics clique in this film reminded me of the girls in the clique in that film. Regina, the leader reminded me of the conceited, power bitch Heather who bought the farm after drinking drain cleaner(or whatever it was)and crashing through a glass tabletop. Gretchen, reminded me of the Heather played by Shannon Doherty, pretending to like the clique leader, but waiting for the chance to take over. Karen, the dumb Plastic, reminded me of cheerleader Heather, neutral and unassuming. Lindsay Lohan's character, Cady, reminded me of the Winona Ryder character in "Heathers", the only one not named Heather. Both were not happy being in the clique, and wanted to have normal lives, but were sucked in by what being in the clique had to offer. Popularity. That is pretty much the only goal in high school. Both films illustrate this point strongly. Only the times have changed.

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