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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Friday, January 30, 2009

A Warning about AMC's Best Picture Showcase


For those of you still interested, here's my story:

As of today, the Best Picture Showcase tickets are on sale at select AMC locations. The Showcase, currently in its third year if I'm not mistaken, is a chance for the public to see the current five motion pictures nominated for the honor of Best Picture at the Academy Awards. This year though, AMC decided to do something different. As a reward to their MovieWatchers' club members, they offered tickets at the rate of $25.

Now, Five films for $30 isn't bad, but for $25?! That's damn near irresistable for a movie buff like myself. PLUS unlimited popcorn and unlimited refills all day?! Awesome. However, this is where the problems start. You see, I went to Fandango today to preorder the tickets online. As usual, you can input your MovieWatcher's number to rack up some well deserved movie rewards points. BUT, and this is a big but, YOU CANNOT ORDER YOUR TICKETS AT THE ADVERTISED MOVIEWATCHER'S RATE OF $25 ONLINE!

See this? This is the disclaimer block on the official website for the showcase. Nowhere on there does it say, "MovieWatchers Please Note: You will NOT be able to order your discounted tickets through Fandango.com. If you are interested in the $25 Showcase tickets, YOU MUST PURCHASE THEM AT THE BOX OFFICE."

That's right folks, in addition to the stupid $1 convenience charge, you're losing out on an extra $5 because Fandango somehow INconveniently does not have the advertised rate. The rate, I must reiterate, for their "valued customers" in the MovieWatcher's Club. I called Fandango to see if maybe they could help solve this glaring error. Nope, not in the least. They have no control over the data they input, and do not offer to refund you the $5 difference or anything. However, they'll refer you to the AMC Help Line.

So I called the AMC Help Line and talked to their MovieWatchers department. They were equally as helpful, and on top of that they tried to refer me back to...surprise, FANDANGO! The only other option they had for me was to call ANOTHER AMC Customer Service line. So, I called that line and once again, there was no information they could provide. However, they did offer me the chance to submit an official report to their Upper Mangement representatives. I rejected this at first, thinking I could email AMC and get the job done faster.

Again, they have failed their customers, because the only methods they believe are effective when it comes to Customer Compliments/Complaints are snail mail or personal appearances. Apparently, AMC doesn't believe in the email correspondence approach. So, I had to call AGAIN and file a formal complaint with their customer service reps.

This story has a somewhat happy ending though. Around 3 PM this afternoon I received a call from one of their Upper Management Reps and he said that in order to recompense me they would send me concession coupons to make up for the $5 difference in tickets.

Look, AMC, if your chain wasn't the only one in town, I might actually go to another theater chain after this. But frankly, the two closest movie theaters to me are both AMC and I have no choice in the matter. So, I will simply leave this little notice up for all to see. We are in a recession, and money is tight. If you put a deal like this out in the open, you've gotta make sure it goes off without a hitch. I know it was a technical snafu, but that's no excuse. Stop selling tickets if there's a problem, and then just start selling them again when everything's hunky dorey. Otherwise, prepare to lose some MovieWatchers. Rest assured you'll still have my ass in the seats, but only out of despairation and lack of options.

Song and Dance, Stanza 3

The muse has seized me once more. Here's a jaunty tune to remind you all to go see "Taken" this weekend. Also, greatest respect to Roger Ebert who used this very gag (and very song) in his review of "Wet Hot American Summer".

(to the tune of Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah)

Liam Neeson's
daughter's missing.
His great anger,
will leave you pissing.

In your pants or,
in a diaper.
If you hurt her,
he'll kill your ass like a viper.

He does not know,

who you are.
But he'll leave you,
with some scars.

On your face or,

in your anus.
Then you bleed to death,
and it will entertain us.

See this movie,
and enjoy it.
Liam Neeson,
need employment.

And besides it

surely will be,
the only Fox release this year
that's audience worthy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sudden Halt In Talent Syndrome - A Case Study

I was reading a story on Pajiba yesterday involving the trailer for Big Stan, Rob Schneider's next cinematic opus and someone had said they thought Mr. Schneider was dead. Knowing that this wasn't true, while at the same time being somewhat true, I decided to try and help clear the air around just what Rob Schnider's been doing lately. Using my medical (not-so) expertise, I devised a new syndrome that I'll be proposing to the medical experts everywhere. The following is the description I provided for the fine folks at Pajiba, with a couple of edits. Also, to enhance medical credibility, I'd like to suggest that you imagine the following being read by David McCallum in the role of Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard from NCIS. (Trust me, it sounds cooler that way.)
Sudden Halt In Talent Syndrome

A Case Study by Dr. Michael Reyes

Lately, there's been a condition floating around Hollywood that's caused the demise of many a career: Sudden Halt in Talent Syndrome, or "S.H.I.T.S." as we call it in the medical community. It's when someone who was once seen as talented or "hot stuff" just all of a sudden starts to lack the spark that propelled them into the either of Public Consciousness. The latest victim of which, is one Rob Schneider. Once a semi talented, catchphrase worthy comedian of the early 90's, he was able to make the fratboy/immature kid in all of us laugh. Since the beginning of the late 90's though, his career has been on the decline, and this lead to many thinking he was or would be dead in a very short matter of time.

Well, in a way those people are right. If I may, I would like to pose the following theory: he died a stripper's death. You see, a stripper's death is just a trumped up way of saying the soul is dead, but the body and a bitter shell of the brain allow only the most basic and watered down versions of previous life functions. Some have confused this with the existence of "zombie strippers", which is flat out bullshit. Such things do not exist, and if they did no one would go near them. Plain and simple.

The S.H.I.T.S usually occur in four phases:

Phase 1: Commonly known as "going through the motions", which is what cause Mr. Schneider to make such films as The Animal, The Hot Chick, and The Stapler, though for legal and ethical reasons that last film will never see the light of day. While in this phase, the subject still carries some modicum of self respect, which limits the effects to a lower yield than future stages.

Phase 2: The subject becomes self important, the ego being swollen to irrepairable lengths. Fits are thrown, vanity projects are lines up like dominos, and ill advised ventures are pursued. It is at this time that the subject will also latch onto whatever vestiges of fame propeled them into stardom in the first place, and ride the hell out of any good will left in them. (This explains all of the Happy Madison cameos.)

Phase 3: The final and ugliest phase, is when the deadness sets into the brain, thanks to extreme repitition and bad decision making. The brain becomes unable to come up with any new ideas. Whatever "unique" ideas the subject comes up with are usually comprised of elements from successful past works and other works by more successful artists. If you look at Mr. Schneider's eyes, you can see they look particularly dead, as if he just doesn't care if his career goes into the tank and his body is violated. So long as he's paid copiously, he'll do anything you ask of him. Much like a stripper.

Phase 4: The subject, finally run down and haggard beyond all recognition, becomes a waitress at IHOP, because IHOP is where strippers go to die. Their flesh, wrinkled and ultrasensitive to prolonged ultraviolet exposure, can best withstand incandescent lighting over long stretches of time. Hence, their employment/residence in the rest rooms at IHOP. This is where they go, surly and jaded beyond any normal human means, and await their final repose. Note: Be careful not to be bitten by one, you never know what they might try to pass on. (Special thanks to fellow scientist Marra for her discovery of this until recently unknown phase.)

Vin Diesel has been rumored to be a long term Phase 1 patient, but reports are inconclusive. Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag have also been rumored to be afflicted by this, but doctors have ruled that possibility impossible because Phase 1 dictates that there's some sort of self respect present to destroy in the first place. Strangely enough, the only other confirmed case in Hollywood is one Gibert Mc Taintlick, who is currently writing such future January classics as Paul Blart: Zoo Cop and Deuce Bigolo: Congressional Gigolo.

Here's hoping Mr. Schneider can pull his career back out of the gutter, otherwise his career looks like one big case of the S.H.I.T.S.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First Gentleman, First Bad-Ass! (Warning: Some Spoilers for 24)

This is Henry Taylor, husband to President Allison Taylor. He is a kind man. A man of great warmth, loyalty, and compassion. He is also a man who will KILL you if you even think of getting in the way of his quest for the truth. If you even THINK of trying to poison him, he'll take you out. If you watched 24 last night, you'd know that Mr. Taylor is the person responcible for the first badassed moment of what has been, so far, a season of weak sauce leftovers. I almost lost faith, but this man restored it. It is with great thanks and praise that I submit Henry Taylor to you all as the "B-Story Hero" on 24. I wonder who he'll fight next, maybe...

Ethan Kanin, President Taylor's Chief of Staff, and bound to be future pain in the ass bureaucrat. I would wager that by the end of the season, these two men will have duked it out on top of the Capital building in a shirtless, bare knuckled brawl, whilst DC burns all around them. (Or at the very least, an intense conversation about loyalty and not interfering with the President's foreign policy agenda.) At any rate, I'd like to say welcome back 24! I'm glad to see you back on television. Asses will be kicked, judgement shall be rendered, and all thanks to America's greatest living hero (besides Batman) has returned.

The Cannonball Read: Entry 7a - "Wanted" by Mark Millar/J.G. Jones/Paul Mounts

Before I delve back into the depths of Twilight (I'm halfway through it), I’d like to first share with you the first review that DOES NOT count for my official Cannonball Read count. It’s a graphic novel, and it’s stipulated in the rules that Graphic Novels don’t count. (I am trying to push for Watchmen though, and might just review it as my 101st book.) For now, here’s my “unofficial” review of Wanted.

As usual, if anyone has suggestions, requests, or dedications, feel free to post them on the Comments Board. Also, for the uninitiated, here's where to go for all the background you need on this epic quest,
http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm . Once more, special thanks to Brian Prisco for allowing me, and all the others, to participate in this clusterfuck of literary wonderment. What? You want to sign up? Start here: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/ Who knows? You might just get your review published on Pajiba.

By now most of you have seen/heard of the film adaptation of the graphic novel Wanted. You know, that one with Angelina Jolie curving bullets and Morgan Freeman swearing? (Yeah…I thought you’d recognize it once I mentioned that part.) That was a fun movie and all, but if you read Wanted before you actually watched it, you might have been a little more disappointed.

This is one of the most extreme cases of the book and the movie being different, in fact the movie is so different from the book that really it should have changed its title. The only thing the book and movie really share are the same basic plot structure. Caution: Spoilers Throughout From This Point On:

- Guy is stuck in dead end life with a sucky job, cheating girlfriend, and deadbeat daddy.
- Said daddy is really a trained killer, was recently iced.
- Guy trains in the family trade.
- Guy kills for revenge.
- Dad is really alive, Guy kills dad.
- Guy goes after the true bad guys, becomes big shot at the end.

Think of it as Harry Potter, but with an R Rating's worth of killing, sex, and foul language. How these points are hit is a little more complicated. In the graphic novel, we’re introduced to a league of Super Villains who decided to whack all the superheroes in the 80’s and rewrite reality so we don’t know about them. The Super Villains run the worldwide network of organized crime, and have split into five families a la The Godfather, with Professor Solomon Seltzer being the Don Corleone of the bunch. At about the same time this organization is stressing once more about going public or staying in the shadows, Wesley Gibson (who bears a striking resemblance to Eminem) finds out that his father (who bears a striking resemblance to Tommy Lee Jones) was one of the best “superfucks” of all time, “The Killer”. He is informed of this by The Fox, another super villain who was the final lover of his father.

Throw in a couple other “out there” baddies, a quick trip to another dimension, plus the bloodiest comic book coup ever, and you have a gist of how Wanted the graphic novel plays out. The end result is something that NEVER would have been made into a film, which is a sad state of affairs because if they were super villains instead of assassins it would have probably helped all of the film’s hyper kinetic action make more sense. Simple dialogue fix: “We’re a fraternity of superior marksmen, gifted with powers of perception and accuracy no one else can hold above us. We are the assassins of Fate.” You even get to keep your loom dingus in the picture; it’s not that hard really.

The book still maintains the Fight Club message of “fight the machine”, but instead of the more “heroic” finale at the end of the film we’re left with a world where the hero is still one of the bad guys…he’s just a bad guy who’s motivated by money instead of violence, so he’s the lesser of two evils. I can almost guarantee though, if you decide to read this you’ll get to the final frame and think to yourself (no matter if you loved or hated the film), “Now why couldn’t they make THAT into a movie?”

Next Time: I’ll finally be finished with Twilight. Or I’ll start throwing in audiobook reviews too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

MTV: Harbinger of Cinematic Doom

It used to be that MTV was a barometer of what’s been going on in terms of the musical state of culture. It also used to be that you could leave your doors unlocked, trust your neighbors, and smoke as much as you wanted because it made you healthy…and look where all of those trends are today. Naturally when an element of society starts to lose its usefulness, it tries to take on other duties and methods that keep it current and “hip” as the kids would say. MTV, seeing that people were not satisfied with mere “music television”, decided to branch out into full fledged network programming. This decision was made in the 90’s when it all of a sudden was out of style to spend half of your budget on your employee’s coke habits, and it became in style to actually spend your budget on outputting product. This lead to MTV first foraying into animation with such classics as Aeon Flux and Beavis and ButtHead, and then into the newborn medium of reality television with The Real World and Road Rules. (To this day, nobody mentions the game show phase they went through in the late 90’s. For the record though, I was a big fan of The Blame Game. Another topic better left to die...the track record of MTV Films. Yeah, hurts doesn't it?)

Now, not content with unleashing the hell of Spencer and Heidi on the unsuspecting populace, MTV seems to have turned its watchful (and poisonous) eye towards movie news. If you like pain, go here (http://moviesblog.mtv.com/) and revel in the craptacular news that MTV has been reporting in their own craptacular way. (You heard me…I think your news sucks! Like I’m supposed to trust Kurt Loder with my journalistic appetite. Serena Altchul, though, I’d trust…she went on to CBS and CNN afte….oh crap, I don’t trust her either. She’s pretty, but I don’t trust her with the news either.) Maybe it’s just cosmic balance, maybe it’s just a bad month for movie news, but I saw the following two stories on there and they made me fear for my eyeballs and brain.

To begin, I submit to you the further horror that is Jerry Bruckheimer’s career: http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2009/01/25/jerry-bruckheimer-debuts-prince-of-persia-poster-within-his-own-film-confessions-of-a-shopoholic/

“Mega-Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has hidden the poster inside his latest film, "Confessions of a Shopaholic," appearing as a Times Square advertisement about halfway into the film. It joins posters for a number of other Bruckheimer productions, including the upcoming "G-Force," though "Persia" is unique in that it marks the first time the film's artwork has been seen anywhere. Prominently featured on the poster is lead actor Jake Gyllenhaal in full-costume as Prince Dastan.”

Ok, so first off we’re getting a video game movie nobody was exactly clamoring for. I know Prince of Persia is a big deal with gamers, seeing as it’s survived the jump from computer to next gen console after console. Seriously though, do we NEED a Prince of Persia movie? A dagger that controls time? A prince with a split personality? Do you honestly think it’s going to look THAT much better on film? Huh? Do you really, Jerry? I don’t think so.

Second, Jake Gyllenhaal is NOT the Prince of Persia. The Prince is ripped, and you my friend are not. You weren’t even seriously consider for Spider Man once Tobey Macguire came into the picture, and you two are like clones hatched from the same vat. (The vat that has now been converted to Disney’s “Pop Star Generation” program. More hellish details on that as they are uncovered/fabricated for humor purposes.) Stick to the prestige pictures and the indie flick. (I’m sure someone else will make at least one more about gay cowboys and the policy of extreme rendition. If they could combine the two, you’d be doubly qualified to get the role. By the way, that’s not a knock to the late Heath Ledger. Anyone who knows me knows I wouldn’t kid around with that sort of thing.)

Third, and finally, do you seriously think that you’re going to lure us geeks, nerds, and gamers into a movie like Confessions of a Shopaholic just so we can see a fleeting glimpse of a MOVIE POSTER? No, really, you expect us to shell out $10 for a possibly two hour commercial for the “glamorous life” that Fergie can’t shut the fuck up about? $10 on a movie made up of basically the Shopping portion of every episode of Sex and the God Damn City? No. Just no. I thought your guinea pig movie was my breaking point, and then this happened. Any, and I mean ANY good filmmaker would know that you premiere the image online and free for the geek populace. You want people to see your shitty movie…slap a half assed teaser trailer on the front of it, that always works. Uwe Boll knows better than to pull what you’re pulling. You’re better than that, you produced The Rock, for God’s sake!

As if that weren’t bad enough, I found another link that probably confirms what teaser trailer you WILL see at the beginning of Confessions…http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2009/01/21/hannah-montana-comes-home-battles-tyra-banks-in-new-trailer/

“Featuring a new song (the film will have 12 new song total), the trailer shows exactly where this movie is heading, and that’s to Miley’s hometown in Tennessee. With Hannah Montana’s status — and ego — getting out of control, Miley’s dad (played by her real-life pops) decides to ship her back to her hometown to humble the star. Toss in a good-looking cowboy and a full-on battle with Tyra Banks, and you’ve got yourself a movie.”

No, you don't have yourself a movie...you have yourself a future war crime! It’s that easy to get Jerry Bruckheimer off the hook, ladies and gentlemen, because THIS is a greater atrocity than his little marketing snafu. This, my friends, is what happens when you let Paul Blart: Mall Cop be number 1 at the box office for two weekends in a row, and one of those weekends just happens to be the one where Dakota Fanning says she’s signing up to be a vicious little bloodsucker for the new Twilight movie. (Well, maybe that last part isn’t too unbelievable.)

Unless those songs happen to include “My Daddy Creeps Me Out”, “I’m Sorry (for that Vanity Fair Business)”, and “Hannah Montana: Vicious Snake Monster”, chances are you won’t be seeing me at the theater for this one. Unless someone’s pulled a 24 on me and threatened all that I love…or if I was paid REALLY well to write a review trashing it.

I tried to gain a little insight on what the hell was going on with MTV, and what their mission statement was for such a venture as the MTV Movies Blog. Here’s what they have to say for themselves:

“Welcome to the MTV Movies Blog, updated throughout the day with exclusive movie news, trailers, interviews and more. Our team of film experts joins with celebrity contributors - from Eli Roth to Judd Apatow - to ensure that when it comes to the hottest flicks, you'll hear it first. We know you’re out there, Mike. We’re coming to get you. We want you to jump. Jump Mike, Jump. That’s right, end it all. Miley is here to stay, so fucking get used to it and bow before her. KNEEL BEFORE MILEY!*”

Ok, there’s no mention of bringing about the Apocalypse, specific or implied. Everything looks fine here…wait, there’s something at the end there in small print. Let me blow it up a little.:

“We know you’re out there, Mike. We’re coming to get you. We want you to jump. Jump Mike, Jump. That’s right, end it all. Miley is here to stay, so fucking get used to it and bow before her. KNEEL BEFORE MILEY!*”

I honestly don’t know where that came from, but I already fear for my life. I’ll end here and say that maybe the casting director on New Moon should consider Miley for a role as well. I dare you to look at the following photo and think that Miley wouldn’t make a perfect evil vampire.

*You know as well as I do I made that up. But it was pretty heavily implied in that Hannah Montana: The Movie trailer post.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A note to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...


Fuck you for snubbing The Dark Knight. You couldn't have omitted The Reader, which hardly anyone's ever seen or heard of; or Milk, which seems more like an Acting nomination showcase than a Best Picture nominee? You even snubbed Casino Royale for Best Picture and Best Original Song back in 2007 (I thought you fuckers LOVED Paul Haggis!). Would it kill you to pull another Return of the King and give the awards to something that pulled in money while being an amazing artistic feat?!

Fuck you and all of your self important horses,

Mr. C

And now, on to more important matters...

Details for the 2009 AMC Best Picture Showcase (full details to be added tomorrow): http://amctheatres.com/promos/showcase/
Full list of nominations: http://www.imdb.com/features/rto/2009/oscars
Full list of IMAX theaters showing The Dark Knight: http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=52148

You decide which news is more important.

(Also, if you're in NY, LA, Or Chicago, you've got a double bill of Batman Begins @ 8 PM and The Dark Knight @ 11 PM in IMAX. NY and LA get it tonight, Chicago gets it tomorrow night, and the rest of us are left screaming "FUCKERS!" at the top of our lungs.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Cannonball Read: Entry 6 - "The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey Into the Mind of a Serial Killer" by Jason Moss

Book 6, book 6, away with book 6. Here’s yet another entry into the lovely madness we call The Cannonball Read. Boy it really seems like we’re into this pretty deep, but looking at the calendar I have to remind myself that there’s plenty of road ahead. 100 books isn’t anything to sniff at, but it’s sure a fun journey. After this entry, I’m thinking of including some graphic novels as unofficial reviews. (I like to read them in between every few novels so I give my eyes and mind a break). These will be labeled “Entry X Prime”, starting with Entry 7 Prime – Wanted.

As usual, if anyone has suggestions, requests, or dedications, feel free to post them on the Comments Board. Also, for the uninitiated, here's where to go for all the background you need on this epic quest,
http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm . Once more, special thanks to Brian Prisco for allowing me, and all the others, to participate in this clusterfuck of literary wonderment. What? You want to sign up? Start here: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/ Who knows? You might just get your review published on Pajiba, you lucky So and So!

Living a double life is not easy, nor is it cut out for everyone. Some are more cut out for it than others, merely because the mental and social sacrifices required by such a precarious position are more easily given by some more than others. After reading The Last Victim, it’s safe to say that Jason Moss is one of those few able to do it, but by the end of the book we learn as he does that sometimes it comes at a high risk.

Jason Moss was a brilliant 18 year old college student who one day happened upon a crazy (by conventional standards) idea: he was going to pose as the ideal victim/convert for some of the most infamous serial killers behind bars. Through various personas and correspondences, he would gain insight to their inner demons and try to find out just what made them the way they are. He wrote to Charles Manson and requested to become part of the family. He wrote to Richard Ramirez and said he would serve in Satan’s Army. He even wrote to Jeffrey Dahmer and talked to him about his ritual of eating parts of his victims. But perhaps the most chilling, and most dangerous relationship was the one that takes center stage in this book…his relationship with child rapist and serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

As Mr. Moss describes his methodology and the results he gained from his experiment, he also meticulously details the toll it took on his personal life. His relationships with friends and family suffered, his grades were starting to slip, and even in the end he was still plagued by nightmares of the maniacs he befriended. Naturally, Gacy is the one that’ll haunt him forever because of not only the volume of correspondence, but also the extent of knowledge Moss gained from his experience. He paints the Clown Killer as an enigma…all at once charming and terrifying, but almost always in control. Towards the end of the “experiment” Jason would learn this the hard way, by visiting Gacy in prison upon his personal request. The experience would scar him psychologically because it was that visit that showed him the true dichotomy of the man’s mind.

The gradual descent into Mr. Gacy’s psyche is the main theme of this book, and it’s gradually more and more frightening. I’d like to think I’m not that easy to unsettle, but with some of the letters that detail Gacy’s proclivities with his victims creeped me out big time. What’s scarier is the fact that this man was real and his crimes were real. This is the Boogeyman personified, and he claims a piece of everyone he touches…whether it’s real or metaphysical. I do not recommend this book to those who are sensitive to gory and explicit details of violent or sexual acts. However, if you love books and movies about fake serial killers, you owe it to yourself to meet a real one. It’s a quick and intriguing read that scares as it does teaches just how thin the line is between civilized and barbaric.

Next Time: It begins! I’ll review “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer, and follow it up with the rest of the Twilight Saga.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

JoBlo's DVD Clinic Audition 2: Pineapple Express (Unrated, Single Disc Edition)

As promised, here's the second review.

Mike Reyes reviews "Pineapple Express (Unrated Edition)"

Pineapple Express (Unrated Edition, Single Disc)

Movie: ***
DVD: ****
Overall: ***1/2

What's it about?

After Dale (Seth Rogan) witnesses a drug related murder, he and his pot dealer Saul (James Franco) run for their lives while trying to bring the bad guys to justice, and smoking the most rare breed of weed...the Pineapple Express.

Is it a good movie?

Pineapple Express was one of the most anticipated comedies of 2008, and when people keep telling you, "I heard people were falling out of their seats watching this", you kind of set your expectations at a certain level. I was expecting, at most, a buddy comedy with some good chase scenes and a couple quotable one liners from the pens of Rogen and Goldberg. With SUPERBAD under their belts, they've created a reputation for being funny when it comes to just two guys just having some laughs.

Make no mistake, this is a pretty funny movie, but it's still a little uneven. Everyone knows these guys love their improv, and it shows just as much as it did in SUPERBAD and KNOCKED UP. The only problem is that it's harder to get away with that type of structure in an action movie, since the story has to follow some sort of through line and the action has to be somewhat choreographed with the story. This leads to some chase sequences and fight scenes we've seen before in straight action movies, just with a couple one liners here and there that make them funny. (Think BOURNE ULTIMATUM meets UP IN SMOKE.)

What the movie lacks in clarity though, it makes up for with hysterical supporting performances. (Particularly those of Ed Begley Jr., Craig Robinson, and Bill Hader in a small cameo at the beginning of the film.) The quirks of side characters tend to be some of the funnier moments of movies like this, which is why there's still people out there today proclaiming that they are McLovin. The parts are more impressive than their sum with PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. While the total experience is a little underwhelming, there's still some pretty funny moments that make up for some of its inconsistent tone and multiple loose ends.


Video: 2.40:1 Widescreen. The look of the film is at times very 70's inspired and at times modern as can be. It's not distracting, but you can definitely tell the jump in style.

Audio: 5.1 Surround. The audio is pretty standard. In fact, it doesn't do much with the rear channels, except for playing the musical score. This leaves all the action and sound effects to be heard out of the front channels.

The Extras:

On top of having both the Theatrical and Unrated versions of the film on this disc, we have...

- Commentary by Seth Rogan, James Franco, Judd Apatow, Evan Goldberg, David Gordon Green, and Ed Begley, Jr. This commentary is worth watching the movie all over again, as it's not only informative but also hysterical. The cast is very comfortable with each other, and the jokes flow very easily. Plus, we all learn the valuable lesson that if you ever have back surgery, there's a good chance Jeff Goldblum is doing your wife.
- Extended and Alternate Scenes (9:58) Only four extended and alternate takes here, and the only one worth adding into the film would have been the "Asians In Van" scene. (The Asian subplot was underdeveloped, plus this would have been a great setup for one of the final gags in the movie.)
- Gag Reel (4:55) Naturally the gag reel is as funny as the movie and on the spot comedy makes for excellent goof ups. Plus you get to see Ed Begley Jr. get violent, which is an automatic laugh.
- The Making of Pineapple Express (21:07) More than the standard EPK, this gives us footage of table reads, filming on set, and on camera interviews. This is a "making of" that I would actually like to see expanded into feature length.
- Previews, which basically consists of the theatrical trailers for STEP BROTHERS, SUPERBAD, PAUL BLART: MALL COP, THE WACKNESS, AND BALLS OUT: GARY THE TENNIS COACH.

Final Diagnosis:

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS brings the stoner comedy into the 21st Century. More importantly it brings back the buddy action comedy in a way that redeems some of its lesser efforts of recent times. Plus, Huey Lewis and the News return in all of their glory with the theme tune over the ending credits. Movies like this tend to have impressive extras dedicated to the filming process and evolution of the jokes used in the film, and this is not a disappointment. Remember kids, never turn your back on Jeff Goldblum.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rock Bottom (or close enough to it)

I have an addiction, and I need to confront it. I'm sorry for you all to see me like this, but I have to address this publicly so I can be shamed like the shameful shame inducer I am. I'm a book addict. Sometimes, I can't help myself, and I buy tons of books at clearance because they sound GOOD! I need to seek help, but I also need to chastise those responsible for placing me in such a predicament. So it's time for me to take on Big Booksellers! That's right, Barnes and Noble are BOTH going to have to answer for why I have a cardboard box filled with books in my closet! They're pushers! Seriously, look at their Baltimore Harbor location...

Just look at it! IT LOOKS LIKE A FREAKIN' CHURCH OF LITERACY! So I have no choice, but to issue the following letter to Barnes and Noble.

Dear Barnes and Noble,

It has come to my attention that you are a book peddling pusher, a literary pimp, and dare I say you are most of all…one of the retail establishments I’ll not only seek consumer solace in, but I also like hanging around in your Starbucks lounges. Nevertheless, you are a purveyor of many bargain priced books, and good deals on anything with a spine and jacket copy. We need to talk about this.

Seriously, I can’t keep spending my money at your store. I’ve been ridiculed for buying tons of books but “never reading any of them”. I try, oh lord do I try to read them. See, it starts with the blurb on the book itself…the sales pitch. Chances are if it has anything from the following list on it, or deals with the following subjects, I’ll at least consider owning it:

- Anything by James Patterson, Ian Fleming or Michael Crichton
- Biographies on people I like/am interested in
- Legal/Political thrillers
- Dilbert
- Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
- Harry Potter
- Comedians I like
- Frank Sinatra
- Historical events/person I like/am interested in
- Something that’s become a phenomenon that I feel I have to read (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The DaVinci Code are two examples)
- Something my girlfriend would like

That last one is important because my girlfriend too is a Barnes and Noble addict, and she reads faster than me thus allowing her to indulge in her habit even moreso. Dare I say, we’ll need a whole wall of space to keep all of our books together when we move in with each other. But perhaps the greatest lure, like a siren to the ships at sea, is the Bargain Priced Books section. That’s where you bastards really hit me!

“Oh look…that Alex Cross books I wanted months/years ago…only $5.99? Mine!” You have all those hardcovers on display, stacked upon each other as if to say, “Please take these…we’re not going to use them and you know you want them”. I’m not made of freakin’ stone here, do you think I’m NOT going to look through this section? And then you populate it with books from bestselling authors, as well as other not so known books I might actually enjoy, along with very prestigious omnibuses of famed literary authors and their masterworks! (I got one of your Dickens compendiums this past Christmas, and I was amazed that not only does it have the “greatest hits” of his career, it’s also a hefty enough volume to kill a man, should the need arise to dispatch of some fuckwit decides to interrupt me whilst I’m deep in the prose of Oliver Twist.)

And what's more, your coupons and emails that highlight new works by old and new authors...completely baiting! I'm supposed to "resist" 15% off coupons?! Or 40% off new and bestselling books? I'm supposed to turn a blind eye to the email you sent me alerting me that James Patterson's new novel is coming out, since I've bought past books of his with my membership card? I know this is like writing to a baker and bitching that they are the ones that are making me fat, but if the baker didn’t try so hard to push his or her goods like a fucking money hungry hustler, then I goddamn well wouldn’t be sitting in front of your books with a Starbucks Latte and a Dunkin Donut at my kitchen table now would I?!

We’re friends you and I, but we must reevaluate this pattern of financially destructive and alluring behavior. I can't just keep coming back to you for the sole purpose of buying a book. Sometimes, I just like to look around. Sometimes, I'm just browsing. You don't need to display your wares like some rouge tinted harlot when I step into your lovely establishment. You can romance me, and let me take some time to look around and find a book I truly need/love/want. I don't hate you...I just want you to better undersand me.


Mr. C

P.S. I might be going back to your After Holiday Sale page again when I get paid…I saw a couple good books I didn’t pick up the first time…DAMNIT, I CAN’T KEEP DOING THIS!

Monday, January 12, 2009

JoBlo's DVD Clinic Audition 1: Babylon A.D. Raw and Uncut

A little background for the readership here, I applied for an opening with JoBlo's DVD Clinic back in November/December of '08. Now, seeing as I've been a DVD doctorate for quite sometime now, I'm glad to say I'm one of the final 20 in the running for said candidacy. The assignment, a seemingly simple one: Watch 2 movies, and rate the film and its DVD content. It's still a breeze, but not as much of one as you would think. The two films assigned to the finalists: Pineapple Express and Babylon A.D. Naturally, you know how much I LOVE to rip into bad cinema, so the first review up will be Babylon A.D. Pineapple Express will be later on in the week, I'm anticipating a Wed./Thurs. posting. (The deadline is Friday.)

To the editors at JoBlo, I hope this audition at the very least entertains you, and I hope I've impressed you enough to get the job. If not, I can jump through fire hoops while reciting the script to The Last Starfighter. Just say the word. Also, sorry for stealing your DVD Clinic header, I wanted to format the post to get a feel for what the final product would look like posted on your site.

To the other competitors out there, if you're reading this, best of luck to you all! I'm glad to be included in such a group.

Mike Reyes reviews "Babylon A.D. - Raw and Uncut: Single Disc Edition

Babylon A.D. - Raw and Uncut: Single Disc Edition

Movie: 1/2
DVD: 1/2
Overall: 1/2

What’s it about?

I don't know...you tell me? Last I could tell it was about a mercenary (Vin “It's Go Time” Diesel) and a nun (Michelle Yeoh) escorting a girl to America from Eastern Europe.

Is it a good movie?

BABYLON A.D. doesn't know what type of movie it is, what it's doing with its characters, or what the overall message of the final product is. It is also one of the rare cases where the increasingly negative hype is completely believable. You know you have a problem when the director himself complains about how the studio financing his film has no imagination. (C’mon, Fox has plenty of imagination. They released MEET DAVE and imagined filmgoers around the world would embrace it!) If you look closely enough with this one, you can see the glue trails after they've pasted something new into the mix. (Trust me, there's plenty of examples.)

This movie is a complete and utter mess that quickly uses and discards plot devices from other, better movies and manages to throw in some terrible dialogue and action sequences that don't even move the plot. In fact, there's no semblance of plot whatsoever, because having a plot would mean they'd have to explain all the narrative threads laid down in the film and make them somewhat plausible. That's just too much to ask here, so instead they give us the cinematic equivalent of a clip show.

Along with the pseudo CHILDREN OF MEN scenario, they throw in a little bit of religious commentary that never really pans out the way it should, and roughly 30 seconds of background on Vin Diesel's character in the last act of the film. (He was a kid solider. He's now a mercinary. He needs a hug.) The end result seems less like a Sci Fi adventure and more like the CASINO ROYALE '67 of action films, with characters coming and going for no apparent reason explained in the plot. (Not to mention in the future the movie presents to us, Coca Cola apparently owns the world). The “Raw and Uncut” label to the DVD seems to exist only as a good excuse to add some F-bombs to the film's already...colorful script. (Hey...brown is a color.)


Video: 2.35:1 Widescreen. This movie is crap, but it's decent looking crap.
Audio: 5.1, but it really doesn't take full advantage of it. Only a couple action scenes seemed to use the full environmental effect.

The Extras:

Extras? You’re lucky you’re walking out of the rental store without getting laughed at. Ok, fine. How about the theatrical cut on the other side of the disc? Is that satisfactory? C’mon, it’s not like they were going to create any disc art for this one anyway. Oh, and there's trailers for THE ROCKER, MAX PAYNE, and X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE. Apologies to the fans.

Final Diagnosis:

BABYLON A.D. is so bad, I can only recommend this film to two demographics: Those who enjoy making fun of movies with their own running commentary, and those who enjoy pain. Vin Diesel, when he picks the right projects, is a good actor. (Rent FIND ME GUILTY, and try to argue with me after.) It’s hard to believe the guy who got a big break in THE IRON GIANT and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN has resorted to making movies like this and THE PACIFIER in order to make his car payment. Good luck with FAST AND FURIOUS, Vin!

Bastard in a Basket.com – The H.W. Plainview Blogs: Entry 2

Entry: “The Long Train Home, or My Father’s Forgotten Sins Are Nothing More Than Mere Tragedies of His Former Life”
Entry Dated: January 12th
Mood: Grumpy

The TRUE bastard of the Plainview household tried to put me on a train, AGAIN, in order to get me out of his sight. He still thinks that shit’s gonna work?! I counted, this is the fiftieth time he’s put me on a train! When is he going to realize I just jump off the caboose and hope for the warm embrace of Death, which never comes for me so I just walk back home. What’s worse, he pretends to MISS me yelling about how he “abandoned his child” and “abandoned his boy”. If I could hear, I’d probably go deaf anyway with all the howling he does. You’d think he was trying to win a fucking Oscar over here, he’s such a whiney bitch. A whiney bitch who’s pleased with the sauce, if you pick up on what I’m saying. I swear, if I have to trip over one more goddamn Jack Daniel’s bottle, I’ll bludgeon him with it. Talk about giving the old man a taste of his own medicine. Why the fuck did he have to find my basket? Why couldn’t I be raised by wolves? At least then, I’d have a cooler excuse for pissing on the fireplace besides, “I hate my old man”. *sigh* At least I have my Playboys. They always keep me company. Oh Miss January...you show no judgements, only cleavage.

Friday, January 9, 2009

R.I.P. Clovey! Never Neglect 1-18-08!

One of the guys over at Efilmcritic.com had this to say in his review for Bride Wars:

"After a while, the pranks become so cruel and vindictive that you’ll find yourself rooting for either the grooms to take a cue from Mr. Big and get the hell out while they still can or for the “Cloverfield” monster to arrive and make the entire argument moot." (for the full text, click it here: http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17990&reviewer=389)

Either great minds think alike, or Peter Sobczynski read the Men's Pain Index! Whatever the reasoning, I happen to agree and will carry this thought with me into the theater should I be brought to see this film.

The Cannonball Read: Entry 5 – “The Klone and I” by Danielle Steel

Either I finished this next book really fast, or I was really late on my “Why We Suck” review. At any rate, here’s another ball in the cannon that is the Cannonball Read. As usual, if anyone has suggestions, requests, or dedications, feel free to post them on the Comments Board. Also, for the uninitiated, here's where to go for all the background you need on this epic quest, http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm . Once more, special thanks to Brian Prisco for allowing me, and all the others, to participate in this clusterfuck of literary wonderment. What? You want to sign up? Start here: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/ Who knows? You might just get your review published on Pajiba! (Sweetheart, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I really tried with this one.)

Let me just start by saying I do not have a bias against female authors. (Anita Shrieve's "All He Ever Wanted and Jodi Picoult's "The Pact" are two really good books written by females that avoid the pitfalls and trappings that I describe here. Also, I have a literary, intellectual, and physical crush on J.K. Rowling.) I am a man, a 100% authentic, genetically and anatomically correct, and visually confirmed male specimen who is widely acknowledged as a man. I am also picky about entertainment (as if regular readers couldn’t guess that part). Both of these factors heavily interact with each other when I’m seeking something that’ll kill the hours between now and later. There has been no greater example of just how much of a picky male specimen I am than my reaction to “The Klone and I”. I’m especially picky, because I am a male, and males are kinda picky about the entertainments they select as males. In my heart of hearts, I would have to say that this book was not capable of executing even its own “quadruple flip” technique when it came to entertaining my very male mind.

Sorry folks, I didn’t mean to hurt you with that last paragraph, but that is exactly how Danielle Steel writes her books: constant repetition of details and phrases with minor variations, very gender (admittedly female) based storylines and humor, and at least one mention of the phrase “In her/my/his/it’s heart of hearts”. (Oddly enough, she wrote this book as a “Christmas Present” for her fifth husband, and inspiration for the novel’s male lead, Tom Perkins.) I remember my mother telling me one day when going over her book collection, “She writes the same book over and over again, just like Harold Robbins”. But she and my grandmother still read them and why they did I would never understand, until I decided myself to venture into uncharted literary waters. You see, my girlfriend is also a fan of the oeuvre that Danielle Steel produces, though when I asked her for a random book of hers to read she flat out told me, “You’re not going to like this”.

Which, I’m sad to say, is only 89% true. Strangely enough, this book started off well enough: Stephanie’s husband Roger leaves her after 13 years of marriage by simply saying, “I don’t love you anymore” and running off with Helena, his mistress. Left with their two kids Charlotte and Sam, Stephanie eventually gets over it and starts dating again. Naturally, she gets the really “special” ones to come out of the woodwork and present themselves to her, and we get only a glimpse into the weirdness she experiences. It isn’t until she randomly decides to meet her husband, his new girlfriend, and their kids in France that the story starts to flag…which begins in Chapter 2. You see, as soon as Stephanie arrives in France, she shops for all the hot clothing she never wore while being married, and for a couple paragraphs there’s random mention of her new pair of blue underwear. How, if the waiter saw it, he might gasp. How, if she were hit by a car, the police would notice them while examining her corpse. You kind of get the drift, however do not fear…this isn’t a book about underwear. It’s a book about flips.

See, she meets Peter, a wealthy and smart businessman (aren’t they all) who happens to work in Bionics. They meet-cute, they have sex, they go home to the States, and then as sure as Deux Ex Machina, he has to leave for California. (Stephanie and her family live in New York.) But don’t worry, Peter has a surprise for her. One that’ll make sure she doesn’t miss him. Sure enough, we’re introduced to Paul Klone…Peter’s bionic double. Now, this is a big point I have to make with Ms. Steel’s work…the guy isn’t a “klone”, he’s a cyborg. Human appearance, with bionics underneath, is a freakin’ cyborg. A clone is a fully organic copy of another entity…spelt with a “k” or not, get your facts straight ma’am. But I digress…so Paul shows up, and automatically sets himself apart from Peter. You see, Peter is the serious type. He dresses conservatively, reads the paper, and gets along with the kids. Paul, on the other hand, only shares the getting along with the kids part. Other than that, he dresses like a perpetual fashion victim (For example, his Christmas outfit towards the end of the book consists of a silver jacket with ornament balls adorning it, and pants that are lit by Christmas tree lights.), he drinks like a fish but doesn’t get drunk, and he has some special moves in the bedroom…the Double/Triple/Quadruple flips.

At first, Stephanie is weepy about the whole thing, but after some bionic sex she gets used to the fact that she’s dating The Mask, while waiting for Stanley Ipkiss to come home and restore normalcy. Insert the “conflicted woman” trope of a plotline (when one’s around, she doesn’t miss the other), add some “comedic” moments, along with a subplot dealing with Peter getting used to her kids, and you’ve got 230 pages of what my girlfriend calls, “literary chewing gum”. Which is appropriate, because to the book’s credit, it’s a light and easy read. It doesn’t take a long time to read something like this, and if you’re as morbidly curious as I, it’s not that painful…it’s just not that good either. Everything seems glossed over, with overly melodramatic emotions added in to qualify as “romance”. While reading this book, you can only think about how Lifetime would turn this one into a motion picture, seeing as the “high tech” angle is more Crichton than Steel. In fact, I was told this isn’t her best book, and I would have to say it shows. Ms. Steel, while adept at spinning a cotton candy yarn about love and bionics, doesn’t really have a grasp or an interest in the bionics part. It’s merely there to make the story “high tech”, and to make the Paul character such an irresistibly good lay that he makes this woman fall in love with her.

My guess is that women read these books because Ms. Steel’s books are some sort of guilty pleasure. It’s not quite high brow lit, but it’s not quite the bodice ripping yarns that Harlequin pumps out on a daily basis. It’s very middle of the road, lightweight romance that fills the gaps in-between the latest Candace Bushnell, Emily Giffin, and Sophie Kinsella books that are released on as frequent a schedule as Ms. Steel’s. They do not strive for greatness, they just strive for an audience. I know a lot of the women out there are asking, “Mike, why’d you read this damn book if you knew it was for women”? Well, this whole Cannonball Read thing is about reading, yes? And it wouldn’t be fun if I just stuck to the straight and narrows of my own personal tastes, would it? Of course not. That’s why you’ll see books like this, Pam Anderson’s twin novels, and the Twilight series on the list. It’s an exercise in literature, and it’s supposed to be adventurous. Sometimes stepping outside of the box works, however this isn’t one of those times. In my heart of hearts, I will be giving this one back to my girlfriend, and I can safely say I won’t miss The Klone.

Next Time on The Cannonball Read: A review of "The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey Into the Mind of a Serial Killer" by Jason Moss

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bastard in a Basket.com – The H.W. Plainview Blogs: Entry 1

Yes, I know There Will Be Blood isn't a recent thing. Yes, I know that this might be seen as dated by some. No, I do not care. Yes, I hope you enjoy it. With that out of the way, here's the first entry of some blogging I stumbled upon over at MySpace.

Entry: “The Little Fish Gasping For Air in The Jet Black Darkness of the Soul of an Oil Tycoon”
Entry Dated: January 7th
Mood: Lethargic

Ho hum. Another day, another year, another opportunity to let down my father by not hearing a fucking word he’s saying. I swear, if I have to see him call me a bastard in a basket again, I’ll kick him in the balls and leave him moaning on the floor. He had a meeting today with some Arabs who said they’d buy his company from him for $50 million, plus 10% of their Annual Earnings. WHO CARES?! I haven’t been able to listen to my White Stripes album because that fuck let me get rocketed away on an oil rig. OIL HURTS, OIL SUCKS, OIL IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE REAL DEATH IN THE WORLD, OIL KILLED MY REAL FATHER! I swear, I could catch on fire in one of his shitty employee shanties near the rig, and he’d be rushing to save his, “Precious black gold!”.

Speaking of black gold Dad’s been hiring the hookers more frequently lately, ever since he axed that preacher dude. It’s a sad, sad day when the biggest accomplishment you can cite your father for is that he, “killed some dude with a bowling pin and got away with it.” I almost hate myself for him. *sigh* Looks like it’s time to draw the shades and listen to some Aiden again. I know I can't hear...I just pretend some little girl is screaming the lyrics at me with the pain of a thousand dead souls. (Which from what I hear is pretty much the same thing.) Life sucks.

The Cannonball Read: Entry 4 - "Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Lazy, Loud, and Stupid" by Dr. Denis Leary

Happy 2009 dear readers! It's going to be an interesting year, as well as an interesting nine months leading to the conclusion of The Cannonball Read. Don't puss out just yet, there's miles to go and the prize to be had. As usual, if anyone has suggestions, requests, or dedications, feel free to post them on the Comments Board. Also, for the uninitiated, here's where to go for all the background you need on this epic quest, http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm . Once more, special thanks to Brian Prisco for allowing me, and all the others, to participate in this clusterfuck of literary wonderment. What? You want to sign up? Start here: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/ Who knows? You might just get your review published on Pajiba!

2008 claimed one of the greatest comedians in the world, George Carlin. At 71 he was one of the best observational humorists of our time, creating the philosophy that maybe life is just about "places for your stuff". For a while now, Denis Leary has seemed to be not only the best, but really the only comedian who seemed bitter enough and funny enough to ever inherit the mantle that would eventually be left by Carlin's passing. We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Lazy, Loud, and Stupid is the work that'll solidify that for quite a while, at least for however long it takes you to read it. Because you probably don't read books very often, and you suck.

We all suck. Plain and simple. We talk too loud and too fast, we're too fat and thus we're too obsessed with perfection and extreme means of attaining said perfection, and we're too focused on other people's issues that we can't focus on our own. Dr. Denis Leary has published a whole book to cram this down the throats of all the stupid, fat, lazy, and loud motherfuckers that roam this Earth, and it goddamn works. But as a bonus, it is an entertaining reminder to the rest of us who are ahead of the game and see our culture for what it is. Some call us assholes for trying to point it out, and who better to make the case for Why We Suck than the Grand High Asshole himself.

Mixing in stories of his own life and experiences with stupidity (both executed and experienced by himself), as well as holding the mirror to the world and saying, "You're a fucking mess", Why We Suck isn't meant to offend, but it succeeds admirably at doing so anyway. Case in point: the much bitched about chapter, "Autism Schmautism", where Dr. Leary (it's an honorary doctorate from Emerson, it still counts) talks about how Autism is the new ADD in the respect that parents and doctors are quick to diagnose and medicate, simply because they don't give a shit for the scientific method. It's made pretty damn clear that he's not making fun of the actual medical condition, he's just pointing out that society tends to want a pill to make everything feel better again. Besides, if you get that offended that early on in reading the book, you really shouldn't be reading this book. But, if you've ever watched any of his TV specials, or even Rescue Me, you'll understand that a lot of the stuff Leary covers in this book is pretty typical for his sense of humor, while there's also a fair portion of it that's serious and heartfelt.

You might be asking, "What does Denis Leary stand for"? Here's a handy reference guide with a few key points:

- Red Sox? God's gift to baseball.
- Firefighters and Cops? God's gift to society.
- Are you fat? Then stop fucking eating, and exercise.
- Realized you have Autism after a life of social awkwardness? Bullshit, go talk to a real autistic kid then come back.
- Jesus? Not a bad guy...just don't fucking cross him.

This is the basic gist of Why We Suck, and it doesn't get any better than that. Yes, it's 320 pages, but it's an easy 320 pages to read when you imagine Denis Leary reading it to you, ranting and raving as usual. Should you buy this book? You fucking better believe it! Buy tons of copies and hand them out like a mad street prophet. It's 2009 kids...the dawning of a new era, an era of change, and an era of hope. Let's cut the bullshit together and get to that change and hope we've so desperately wanted.

Next time on "The Cannonball Read": I set out on a quest to understand just what the hell all the fuss is over Danielle Steel with her book "The Klone and I".

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Men’s Pain Index: Movies Guys Should Be Aware They'll Be Dragged To In 2009 (Winter Dump Season Edition)

Ladies, read at your own risk…because you might not agree with what’s said here, and you probably do want to see these movies.

Awards season is upon us, which means only two things: First, there’s going to be a lot of good movies in the theaters. Second, the really really bad ones that the studios have no confidence in will be released. The market is going to get FLOODED with crap, like it always does, during what I like to call the “Winter Dump Season”, named as such because it’s where studios like to “dump” pictures that have been “shelved” for various reasons. (The Accidental Husband was supposed to be released several times by now…yet never was.) A lot of the films that get dumped this time of year are, as you might have guessed, chick flicks. Why? It's the season with the closest proximity to Valentine’s Day. You need to be conditioned and shaped up for the big gift giving push. Plus, there’s some movies out there to prime the guys out there for the proposal of marriage.

It is this scourge that has motivated me to create The Men's Pain Index - a comprehensive catalog of the films you don't want to see...but will be dragged to and will pay to see anyway. Our first edition covers that ever painful Winter Dump Season, so heads up...for the next four months, this is what's going to be haunting your every waking nightmare.

Bride Wars (January 6)

Official Synopsis: “Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) are best friends who since childhood have planned every detail of their respective weddings. At the top of their bridal "must have" list: a ceremony at New York's ultimate bridal destination, the Plaza Hotel. Now, at age 26, they're both about to get married; they're about to realize their dreams; and they're about to live happily ever after. Or maybe not...when a clerical error causes a clash in wedding dates - they're now to be married on the same date!

Liv, Emma and their lifelong friendship are put to the ultimate test. Liv, a successful lawyer who is used to getting what she wants, including the perfect job and the perfect man, won't settle for anything less than the perfect wedding she has dreamed of for years. Emma, a schoolteacher who has always been good at taking care of others, but not so much in looking after herself, discovers her inner Bridezilla and comes out swinging when her own dream wedding is imperiled. Now, the two best friends who'd do anything for each other, find themselves in a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners struggle that threatens to erupt into all-out war.”

Translates into…: Bridezillas: The Motion Picture. C’mon, the synopsis uses the freakin’ term outright. Also, changing the name to “Bridezillas: The Motion Picture” helps not confuse the poor SciFi geeks who think this is going to be a film adaptation of “The Courtship of Princess Leia”. (Lucas isn’t THAT desperate for money yet, relax.)

Predictability Factor: Level Red. You know these two will fight, make up, and become friends at the end, probably marrying at the same time. The only thing we’re left to discover is the pranks and “jokes” they uses to get to the end.

Your Saving Grace: She might see this one with the girls, especially if one of the other girls is getting married. They’ll laugh, they’ll cry, they’ll feel “empowered”, you’ll get to sit home and play Xbox.

Why She’ll Drag You To See It: She wants IT, she wants the one ring to rule you always. Or, she happens to just enjoy films about weddings; which is the woman’s equivalent of men’s enjoyment of war movies.

For Revenge, Drag Her To See…: Defiance (January 16). Daniel Craig cures all, it’s another kick assed looking World War II movie, and she might actually enjoy the fact that it’s “based on a true story”. (For some reason, they believe “true stories” hook women into theaters. Mamma Mia proved that when it had the trailers for The Express and Flash of Genius attached to it.)

He’s Just Not That Into You (February 6)

Official Synopsis: “An all-star cast is featured in the stories of a group of interconnected, Baltimore-based twenty- and thirtysomethings as they navigate their various relationships from the shallow end of the dating pool through the deep, murky waters of married life. Trying to read the signs of the opposite sex, each hopes to be the exception to the "no exceptions" rule.”

Translates into…: Diary of a Mad White Woman. Actually, this was based off a book written by a man, so really who knows what to expect, except for at least one "Bad Dog!" moment for at least one of the guys. (Smart money's on the Mac kid.)

Predictability Factor: Level Orange (it’s never Green). I don’t know what to expect from this, except pain and the possibility of an Oprah Winfrey cameo in the epilogue.

Your Saving Grace: Some of the guys in this movie might actually be allowed to say something witty or insightful. Not to mention you have Ben Affleck as one of the guys who can do both and still remain entertaining.

Why She’ll Drag You To See It: It was one of those beach reads she read a while back when it first came out. The book spoke to her, and hit her right where she lived…so naturally she’s going to bring you along so you can gain insight into her psyche. (Read: she thinks if you see this movie, you’ll understand her and women that much better.)

For Revenge, Drag Her To See…: Push (February 6). A whole bunch of people have fun with psychic powers. She wants to see a movie that’s like a book…so take her to see a movie that’s like a comic book. That, and the director also made Gangster No.1 and Lucky Number Slevin. Plus, your lady can drool over Chris Evans while you geek out. (Hey, it worked with the Fantastic Four movies. Not to mention, it was a free pass to drool over Jessica Alba, while you still could.)

Note: I would have said Fanboys, but The Weinstein Company screwed around with the movie and delayed it out the ass, so rent it instead. They don’t deserve the money.

Confessions of a Shopaholic (February 13)

Official Synopsis: “In the glamorous world of New York City, Rebecca Bloomwood (ISLA FISHER) is a fun-loving girl who is really good at shopping—a little too good, perhaps. She dreams of working for her favorite fashion magazine, but can't quite get her foot in the door—until ironically, she snags a job as an advice columnist for a financial magazine published by the same company. As her dreams are finally coming true, she goes to ever more hilarious and extreme efforts to keep her past from ruining her future.”

Translates into…: A live action version of your little sister playing Barbies. Don’t believe me? Look at the Russian version of the poster included above. It looks like an ad for your very own life size Isla Fisher doll, which would actually bring men to the theater, had it been manufactured and given away with each pair of tickets to see this. Not to mention, just like Barbie, she'll find her Ken after a day's worth of intense bargain hunting.

Predictability Factor: Level Orange. To a certain extent, this is essentially “Sex and the City” without the sex; plus they’ll probably take liberties with the reality of the book. Honestly, the trailer doesn’t even make it seem like she’s as in love with the guy she’s chasing as she is with her American Express Platinum card.

Your Saving Grace: Isla Fisher is hot, John Lithgow is funny, and Jerry Bruckheimer was involved in the production. Wait a second…this is starting to sound like another Coyote Ugly? Hot lead(s), funny father figure/older male actor, Jerry Bruckheimer producing…adjust your expectations accordingly.

Why She’ll Drag You To See It: It’s an excuse for her to shop and shop without remorse, because in the end she’ll sort it all out and live happily ever after!

For Revenge, Drag Her To See…: Friday the 13th (February 13). Show her the true meaning of “50% off” (read: decapitations) and “Everything Must Go” (read: nudity and high body count).

The Accidental Husband (March 27?)

Official Synopsis: “New York firefighter Patrick Sullivan had no idea his seemingly idyllic life was about to go up in smoke – especially as the unwitting, second-hand recipient of advice from famed love expert and radio host Dr. Emma Lloyd. One day he is a happy, go-lucky guy looking forward to a life with his soon-to-be-bride. The next thing you know, his fiancée Sophia (Justina Machado) is seeking couples counseling on the radio from Dr. Lloyd. The no-nonsense, ever practical Dr. Lloyd questions Sophia's concept of romantic love and advises her to break their engagement, which she swiftly does. But when Patrick and his computer-savvy neighbor decide to give Dr. Lloyd a taste of her own medicine and "accidentally" join them in holy matrimony – something that doesn't go over too well with her fiancée (played by Colin Firth) -- it isn't long before they learn that sometimes even an expert in love needs a second opinion...”

Translates into…: Here Comes “The Bride” How Uma Thurman could make “Kill Bill” and “The Producers, yet decide to star in movies like this and “Prime” is beyond me; but it’s her career’s funeral.

Predictability Factor: Level Red. Cut and paste fractions of “Bride Wars”, “The Ugly Truth”, and “27 Dresses”; lather, rinse, vomit, repeat for an hour and a half.

Your Saving Grace: The Comedian himself. You’ll have probably seen Watchmen by now, so you could just fall back to the good memories you’ve stored for a rainy day. Also, maybe after he’s played the whiney male lead for the umpteenth time, your girlfriend will stop talking about her huge crush on Colin Firth, or “Mr. Darcy” as she keeps referring to him as.

Why She’ll Drag You To See It: Brand recognition, on top of that wedding movie bit I mentioned earlier. She knows that Denny from “Grey’s Anatomy” (Jeffery Dean Morgan) is in it, and so is Bridget Jones’s (another beach read that “spoke to her”) boyfriend (Colin Firth). These are two guys who have played the non threatening heartthrobs before, and let’s face it…it’s bill paying season.

For Revenge, Drag Her To See…: Watchmen (March 6). You’ll be able to look at Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and for once not have to think about him being Katherine Heigl’s dead boyfriend on Grey’s Anatomy or The Accidental Husband ever again. Plus, you can imagine The Comedian pwning everyone with a flamethrower should this movie get that boring. (Imagining the Darkseekers from I Am Legend and Clover from Cloverfield helped me get some sort of laughs from seeing 27 Dresses, aka Heiglfield last year. Speaking of which…)

The Ugly Truth (April 3)

Official Synopsis: “The battle of the sexes heats up in Columbia Pictures' comedy "The Ugly Truth." Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl) is a romantically challenged morning show producer whose search for Mr. Perfect has left her hopelessly single. She's in for a rude awakening when her bosses team her with Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), a hardcore TV personality who promises to spill the ugly truth on what makes men and women tick.”

Translates into…: 28 Dresses Later. Katherine Heigl is bitter and nagging about men, while trying to chase them down and make one her own once more.

Predictability Factor: Level Black. This looks like another paint by numbers “try to make Katherine Heigl look cute” movie. You know she’ll discover that the “man’s man” is the one that she really loves, and you know the surgeon is going to turn into an asshole in the end. Face it, this thing kinda writes itself, and has for the past couple decades. When you’re faced with a Katherine Heigl movie that isn’t Bride of Chucky, you can kinda see where it’s going from frame one.

Your Saving Grace: Gerard Butler, King Leonidas himself. His character looks hysterical as the “typical guy”, so his performance might be the one you can enjoy. This is all dependant on your Heigl Tolerance Threshold (HTT). Sorry ladies, romantic comedies only work as well as their leads do, and she’s too good at playing the shrew/nag. Bonus points if you imagine Butler in Leonidas regalia shouting, “THIS IS BORING!” and kicking Ms. Heigl down the well.

Why She’ll Drag You To See It: Just looking at the poster, she’ll use it as grounds to prove that “Men think with their other head”, and she’ll probably look at you a couple times and say, “You know…you do that sometimes”, before punching you in the shoulder. You big Y-chromosomal meany!

For Revenge, Drag Her To See…: Crank: High Voltage (April 17), because it’s pure male adrenaline that you’ll need after Return to Heiglfield, and it might be your last chance to see Jason Statham before he too succumbs to the “easy rom-com payday”.

Alternate suggestion: Drag Me To Hell (May 29), because if she drags you to see all of these movies you can tell her that they finally made a movie that describes just how you feel when she asks you to see a chick flick. (MAKE SURE TO SMILE AND LAUGH AFTER YOU SAY THIS, SO SHE DOESN'T GET MAD AT YOU WHEN SHE REALIZES IT'S NOT A JOKE!)

Final Note: This guide is meant for men, in order to help them cope with the movies mentioned in the above text. Do not show this to your girlfriend, otherwise she'll probably kick your ass and/or make you sleep on the couch with no chance of getting near her sexually for about at least a month and a half. If you do show her this guide, it is at your own risk and I hope you have access to the Internet for that month and a half.

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