Archive for January, 2010

Day 49- I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but there is going to be an Oscar Winner in "Soul Plane!"

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Last Wednesday night, a gift was given to me. This gift wasn’t a material object. Twas no car, no book, nor temporary tattoo. Twas no gummy bear, no basket, nor CD-Rom. The gift I was given was HBO showing the 1978 film, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” last Wednesday, at 2 in the morning. I had kind of knew of this film’s existence because I had read a tiny blurb about it in a magazine when “Across the Universe” came out, but as I was watching this movie, I was shocked that no one had ever really spoken about it to me before as this movie fills satisfies two of my most major interests:

1. The Beatles
2. Crazy ridiculous comedy (intentional and unintentional)

Let me go into more depth about why I was shocked that I had never seen or been referred to this movie. As a Beatles fan/buff I figured I was at least familiar with all things even remotely Beatles related. I know all the Beatles stories, I’ve seen every episode of the Simpsons that had featured a Beatle (there are 3), I saw the Cirque del Soleil Beatles LOVE show, and I even took a pilgrimage to Liverpool last summer for crying out loud. (The picture on the left is me at John Lennon’s childhood home). So why hadn’t any person, book, or retrospective told me about ANOTHER movie that featured exclusively Beatles songs.

As a comedy fan, I am always on the lookout of things that are funny, and I think I do a pretty thorough job of finding all the funny in blogs, mustaches, books, comedians, movies, silly objects etc. And as much as I love intentional comedy, I sometimes equally love unintentional comedy. For example, I love old records with hilarious covers, I love Bushisms, Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, Teen Wolf, and pretty much anything that is hilarious because of how dated it is, or because of how serious it was supposed to be taken. (The picture on the right is what I found when I googled “unintentional comedy.” The one getting stretched is former NBA point guard Sam Cassell.

So you can imagine my delight when I began watching “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” about 1/3 of the way into the movie. By now you’re probably asking, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS MOVIE?! Why do you like it so much?! Why do my parents hate me? While I can’t help you with answering the last one, I will surely address the other two.

“Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a 1978 musical starring Peter Frampton and the BeeGees (who by themselves rate about a 9.5 on the unintentional comedy scale). This is the first hilarious part about this movie. What could the producers of this movie have possibly been thinking?

Producer 1: God I love the Beatles!
Producer 2: Who doesn’t?
Producer 1: Communists. That’s who.
Producer 2: Alright Producer 1 take it easy.
Producer 1: Sorry. Hey you remember those earlier Beatles movies? Like A Hard Days Night, and Help?
Producer 2: Sure. Those movies were the best!
Producer 1: Ok, well what do those movies have in common?
Producer 2: Are you serious?
Producer 1: Just go with me on this!
Producer 2: They both had the Beatles.
Producer 1: Aaaaaannnnddd…..
Producer 2: Aaaaaannnd what? This is stupid.
Producer 1: Aaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnddddd………
Producer 2: Alright I give up, just tell me.
Producer 1: AAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDDD……..
Producer 2 (pulls out a gun from his desk drawer): Say AND again! Say AND again!
Producer 1: Fine. I’ll tell you. They both feature Beatles MUSIC!
Producer 2: Well….yea. What else are the Beatles gonna sing?
Producer 1: Well, what if we could make a NEW movie featuring Beatles songs!
Producer 2: The Beatles broke up 8 years ago! They aren’t going to want to do another movie!
Producer 1: So we’ll get another group to sing their songs!
Producer 2: That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Who wants to hear anyone other than the Beatles sing their songs?
Producer 1: (Does line of coke) I KNOW! We’ll get the BEEGEES!
Producer 2: You’ve just done way too much coke. The BeeGees?!
Producer 1: Everyone loved their music in Saturday Night Fever (which I produced).
Producer 2: Well that’s because it was THEIR music. Why would the BeeGees even agree to do this movie?
Producer 1: Let’s just say there are some pictures Robin Gibb would not like the public to see.
Producer 2: You’re insane!
Producer 1: Oh I’m not insane! It will be a crazy psychedelic adventure! We’ll get Peter Frampton in it too!
Producer 2: Peter Frampton?!
Producer 1: Yea, and Alice Cooper! And Earth Wind and Fire! And we’ll put Steve Martin in it!
Producer 2: That stand up comedian?! He hasn’t even been in a movie! I dont think he sings!
Producer 1: And then George Burns will narrate!
Producer 2: George Burns! Why the hell would he agree to do this movie?
Producer 1: Lets just say there are some pictures George Burns would not like the public to see.
Producer 2: You’re crazy. You’ve done way too much coke today. Maybe you should lay off it a bit. Relax. You’re out of your mind!
Producer 1: CRAZY! I’m not CRAZY! (Pulls out a gun from his desk drawer)
Producer 2: Hey Producer 1, what are you doing?
Producer 1: I’m craaaazy all right! Crazzy like a fox!
Producer 2: Put down the gun ok. It’s not a toy.
Producer 1: You’ll see! You’ll all see! This movie will rule I tell you! I’m back baby! I’m back! Ma! Look at me! I’m on top! Haaaa haaaaa! MAMMA! LOOK AT ME!
Producer 2: Alright that’s enou–
(SHOT GOES OFF! Producer 2 looks down at his chest. Presses two fingers against his ribcage. Pulls them back and stares slowly at them. They are tainted with blood. He looks down. There is a bloody patch on his shirt that is growing. He looks back up at Producer 1. Producer 1 just stares back at him. Fade to black).

Alright. Now that we got that covered let me tell actually give you all some more detail about this movie. Here are some highlights that made me feel like this movie was made for me at that moment I was watching it.

1. Only 15 minutes before I was in my room where I have a hilarious BeeGees Record “Children of the World” taped up to my wall. I turn on the TV and there are the BeeGees! They are on top of a roof. BUT FROZEN LIKE STATUES. A girl gets off of a bus coming from HEARTLAND and stares at them. Then the camera cuts back to the girl. And back to them. Each time the camera cuts back to the girl we get closer and closer for no reason. Then the music starts. On top of an adjacent building we see 3 “Dreamgirls.” They begin to sing a really slow trippy version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Then, the main girl gives each Bee Gee Statue a stare, and they COME TO LIFE. Then magically they are transported to the Dreamgirls rooftop, about 5 meters away (!!). After about a minute of elbowing each other and looking happy and turned on by how “hot” the Dreamgirls are, they rush over and start to dance with the Dreamgirls. Again more weird close-ups of the girl. Did I mention Barry Gibb’s hair is out of this world.

2. Another scene had a mad scientist Steve Martin singing “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” in his crazy laboratory and then zapping the BeeGees with lasers as they try and steal a silver Trombone. Did I mention that the BeeGees never talk the entire movie. George Burns narrates and the BeeGees just sing in falsetto and make knowing glances at each other. At the end of the scene, Peter Frampton gets tased good.

3. After that, the girl (from the weird close-ups) takes unconscious Peter Frampton into her arms and starts singing Strawberry Fields Forever to him. The tears that swell up in her eyes during the song end up dropping on Peter Frampton. The tears also each have a different picture of the girl in them. Peter Frampton wakes up and he and the girl hug while the girl continues to sing. Then they look at each other, her still singing. Then they hug again. They do this for the rest of the song. Repeatedly looking at each other and then hugging. No kissing. Then she wouldnt be able to sing! It’s as if the producers said: well we spent too much money on the last scene, lets just not do anything during this song.

4. Alice Cooper sing-speaks “Because” in front of a bunch of people he is brainwashing. Think that scene from Zoolander where Mugatu makes that crazy video that tells Zoolander to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. This video is crazy trippy animation mixed with Alice Cooper, and the words “We Hate Love. We Love Money.”

5. The BeeGees decide to participate in a PARADE! They’re on a float singing and dancing to “For the Benefit of Mister Kite!” with elephants, clowns and jugglers! They’re all wearing ridiculous costumes too. Then suddenly…GEORGE BURNS APPEARS (sans his trademark cigar). He joins the procession and gets his own verse in the most insane musical numbers I’ve ever seen. It’s a parade. With the BeeGees. And Peter Frampton. And George Burns. And all wearing ridiculous costumes. And they’re singing Beatles songs. And they’re all smiling.

That’s all I’m going to give you. I IMPLORE you to watch this movie. To be honest, in a later viewing I watched the movie from the beginning, and the beginning just so bad and ridiculous (as is the plot–if you though the plot of “Across the Universe” was weak…) that I urge you to watch the movie halfway through with no idea what is going on. It’s much more fun that way.

I’ll leave you with one more nugget of hilarity. Apparently, Robert DeNiro had was cast in one of the lead roles in Edge Of Darkness (the new Mel Gibson movie). But sources claim, “he was fired because he didn’t memorize his lines”. Now, Robert’s people would not confirm nor deny this statement. HOW CRAZY is that?! Robert DeNiro! One of the best actors of all time! Decided “fuck it, I dont want to memorize my lines.” This supports my theory that Robert DeNiro simply doesnt give a shit anymore. He made his good movies. He’s happy with them. Now he’s content to win lifetime achievement awards, and earn fat paychecks. Look at his imdb page and explain to me why every movie he’s made since 1997 is horrendous (save for Meet the Parents. I love that movie). Rocky and Bullwinkle? Showtime? Hide and Seek? Stardust? Righteous Kill? Ok, maybe he was swayed by Pacino on that, but FUCK THAT. When the third actor on the call sheet is 50 Cent, I think you have to know that you’re not making an actual movie. Is DeNiro waiting for his pal Martin Scorcese’s obsession with Leo DiCaprio to subside? DeNiro just changed agencies, so maybe this can be a good thing. All I’m asking is for one more awesome performance before you die Robert. You’ve become a parody of yourself now, it’s time to shape up. I know you’re old. But c’mon. Gimme one more. Please?

Oh, and just a reminder–Mel Gibson still hates Jews. Just because some time has past doesnt mean he hates us less.

Until Tomorrow–

Day 48- "Knight and Day" is One of the Stupidest Titles I’ve Ever Heard

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Since it debuted last year after the season finale of American Idol, GLEE has become a cultural phenomenon. People seem to love the cast, the music (which is hitting the tops of the iTunes charts), the tone, the stories and all of that hullabullo. I myself must admit that I do indeed enjoy the show from time to time. (FALSE. I never miss an episode on Hulu.) But as much as I love the beautifully Semitic Lea Michele and outrageously hilarious Jane Lynch, I do have a few petty gripes about the show.

1. The actors who play Finn and Puck are 27 years old! The actor who plays the Will Schuester, the teacher, is 31! True, both “high schoolersdont exactly look 27, but now that I know they are, it just is a bit weird for me. I wonder how old the actresses are…(Yea–the guy in the picture looks 16!)

2. Will Schuester tears up more than middle schoolers do at their last school dance. I feel like he cries in every episode! In the pilot he cries when he finds out his bitch wife is pregnant and when the kids sing “Dont Stop Believing.” I think Will cries in episode 3, when he finds out his dad is going to law school. He cries in another episode when he sees the fake sonogram of his fake baby. He cries when his kids do nice things with wheelchairs. He cries when he finds out his wife has been lying to him, he cries when he realizes that the teacher he has a crush on is getting married, and he cries when he hears the kids sing at sectionals over the phone. He cries when he ties his shoes. He cries when he has to make a number 2. The dude is one big crying pussy. As my friend Joseph “loves to go mountain climbing in the terrorist infested Sinai Desert” Rosenberg says way too often, “MAN UP!” Stop crying all the time. It cheapens real emotional moments if he cries every damn time something happens to him!

3. Terri Schuester. Will’s wife. She’s just plain annoying. You hate her from the first episode and never realize why Will is still with her. Luckily, it seems as if she’s out of the picture a bit more.

4. Everything Mercedes Jones says is cliched “sassy black woman” speak. For example:
“Oh, HELL to the naw! Look, I’m not down with this background singing nonsense! I’m BeyoncĂ©, I ain’t no Kelly Rowland.”
“Why do we need to go all vanilla on this song? What we need is my chocolate thunder.”

I feel like Mercedes’ only defining characteristics are that she is sassy, and proud to be black. There was one episode where her character was given a bit more depth (the one where she wants to date Kurt), but that storyline was used more as a plot device to help Kurt come out. All I’m saying is, give the sistah* more to do and say!
*J.Wizzle, as the “Ehollywood Nonsense Race Expert, maybe you have more to say on the subject…?

5. I dont think Puck is a great actor, and there’s too much baby mama drama. Hopefully that will all end soon.

THAT’S ENOUGH ABOUT GLEE. I’m going to switch gears now to do something I was thinking about today.

BEST OF LISTS
Here are some of my TV Best Ofs.

Best Sitcom of All Time- Seinfeld
– Perfect storytelling and timeless.

Best Animated Sitcom of All Time- The Simpsons
– Set the bar. And continued to raise it.

Funniest Show of All Time- Arrested Development
– Also the most brilliant.

Funniest Kids Show of All Time- Animaniacs!
– I’ve written about this before.

Weirdest Kids Show of All Time- Weinerville
– What isn’t weird about giant heads in tiny bodies?

Best Show about Presidents of All Time- The West Wing
– The theme music seals the deal for me.

Best Show from Australia- Summer Heights High
– Puck you Miss!

Best Comedy Series That Only Lasted One Season- Stella
– Modern day Marx Brothers shorts

Best Drama Series Set in an Office- The West Wing
– I love me some Jedediah Bartlett

Best Comedy Series Set in an Office- The Office (UK)
– I have to choose this over the US version because it came first.

Best US Version of a British Comedy Series- The Office (US)
– There you go.

Biggest Impact of a Show With A Short Lifespan- The O.C.
– Think about it, it is responsible for Laguna Beach, all the Real Housewives Shows, Gossip Girl, and the entire ABC Family lineup. It reinvented or perhaps reinvigorated the prime time soap opera by involving hot, rich teenagers.

TV Show that Launched the Career of the Biggest Star- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
– I was tempted to say E.R., but Up in the Air did not make $70 million opening weekend.

Best Series Taking Place in the 1960s- Mad Men
– Runner Up: The Brady Bunch

Best IMPROV TV Show- Whose Line is it Anyway?
– Half of America had never heard of improv until this show

Guy who felt the worst when another TV succeeded- Jamie Kennedy
– Seeing Punk’d become a cultural phenomenon, after his own hidden camera show, “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” bombed, must have SUCKED.

Best Dan Schneider (look him up–he created all of Nickelodeon’s shows and their spinoffs) Show- All That!

Best Sketch Comedy Show of All Time- SNL
– Name me another sketch comedy show that’s lasted 35 years

Best TV Theme Song of Al Time- Growing Pains
– There are so many good ones, but for me, this one sticks.

NOW SOME WORSTS!

Worst Game Show Involving Suitcases- Deal or No Deal
– SIDE BAR ANECDOTE. An episode of Deal or No Deal was on at the gym (YEA, I GO TO THE GYM! SO WHAT?) and it was a college edition. When I tuned in, the dude picking the suitcases had 4 left: $5, $10, $50, $50,000. He picks a case–it’s the $50,0000 one. He’s then given a deal for $25. He says no deal. He picks another case. It’s the $50 one. He’s given a deal now for $7.50!!! No deal! He picks another case! $10! So he’s left with his own suitcase worth $5. It was the least amount of money I’ve ever seen anyone win on any game show ever! Hilarious!

Worst IMPROV TV Show- Wild N’Out
– Nick Cannon is to comedy what Mariah Carey is to comedy

Worst Premise for a TV Show- My Mother The Car
– The guy’s mother was reincarnated as a talking car!

Worst Spinoff– Joanie Loves Chachi
– I love Joanie. I love Chachi. I dont like Joanie Loves Chachi.

Show that Most Definitely Was Racist- Homeboys from Outer Space
– This was a real show. It starred the guy from “One on One” (Flex Alexander). I think the NAACP staged an intervention.

Worst Lead Actress on a TV Show- Fran Drescher
– I dont want to talk about it.

Alright. I’m spent. I’m sure there are a lot more I could write about, but I’m tired and I want spaghetti. So…

Until Tomorrow—

PS. How do you pronounce Ke$ha’s name?
PPS. Agree OR disagree with my bests/worsts? Comment!

Day 47- Apparently I skipped entry 37, but i have 47 posts…interesting.

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The following stems from a conversation between myself and Daniel “I taped cotton balls around Bleeding Gums Murphy’s feet in my toy Springfield Universe tableau to replicate the exact moment in The Simpsons, episode “Round Springfield” where Lisa and Bleeding Gums jam to ‘Jazzman'” Arkin:

A series of Hollywood WTFs:

1. The New Spider-Man

Spider-Man 4 is suddenly becoming a Spider-Man origin story sans Director Sam Raimi and the original cast. Why? Because Sony wanted a new Spider-Man movie in the next 2 years and Sam Raimi wasn’t happy with the quality of the scripts and wanted a higher budget than the $230 Million they had planned.

This is upsetting on so many levels. We all know Hollywood (and apparently shareholders in the CORPORATION that wants as much of the aptly named unobtanium as it can get) is all about the bottom line. Money. So I can understand why Sony would not want to spend $230 million on a movie franchise who’s time in the cultural spotlight may be a little past. However, this tactic of going back to another origin story seems to me to be unwise. Firstly, even though the Spider Man 4 script has gone through 4 writers (among them Seabiscuit’s Gary Ross, and Pulitizer Prize Winner David Lindsay-Abaire), Sam Raimi has been resistant because he felt that the script was simply not good enough and that he could not make the start date of the movie and keep the film’s creative integrity.

So there you have it. A studio being impatient and now, having to start from scratch to make a 2012 release date. All business aside, I dont see how an origin story can help this franchise. It had an origin story nine years ago! It’s not that far from people’s minds. Reboot origin stories have worked in the past with Batman, James Bond, “Sister Act I: The Birth of Christ”, “Jingle All the Way I: The First Jingle….AND THE LAST(?)”, “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married” prequel, “Tyler Perry’s Why am I a Baby?” and the upcoming prequel to the yet to be released Miley Cyrus movie, “The Last Song,” entitled (but I think this is just a working title) “The First Period.” These movies have worked because, in the case of Batman and I believe 007, these famous characters had never had their origin stories on film (save for the couple minute introduction in Tim Burton’s Batman). Also, both Batman and Robin, and Die Another Day had strayed so far from the tone of the source material that there was no place else to go but back to the beginning. Both Batman Begins and Casino Royale preserved the artistic integrity of the source material, and carried the same tone. Batman comics were not always campy, silly and ridiculous, and Ian Flemming’s James Bond did not battle villains with fake faces who constructed space satellites intended to harness solar beams to cut through the minefield in the demilitarized zone in North Korea, allowing North Korea to invade other countries and rule the world. The original Bond worked on a slightly smaller scale.

Anyway–2001’s Spider-Man was an origin story that DID capture the tone of the comics. Tobey Maguire played Peter Parker, a high schooler with a crush on a girl, who along with the stress of being a teenager and living with an old geezer aunt, had to deal with super-powers and bad guys. So where do you go from here? A Spider-Man crime noir like the Dark Knight? A Spider-Man in which a naked Peter Parker gets repeatedly socked in the balls by a rope with two brass balls on the end of it (a weapon who’s only purpose appears to be hitting men in the swimsuit area)? Do you skew Spider-Man even younger by casting Zac Efron? Do you make Mary-Jane a little more Chicano?

In this version, when Spider-Man is nervous and excited he breaks out in a song called, “Nervous and Excited.”

Do you cast Jesse Eisenberg and make Peter Parker more intellectual and Jewish? Or do you cast Michael Cera and make Peter Parker a virgin? Do you cast Justin Long and make Peter Parker boring? Or do you cast Zach Galifinakis and make Peter Parker fat and with a beard?

Anyway, as you can see, I’m not too thrilled at the possibilities for this movie….Actually–just save us all the trouble and cast Justin Timberlake. Throw artistic integrity aside. I would totally see that movie. When’s the new album drop J-Tizzle? I think I speak for all of us when we say we’re ready for you to bring Sexy Back…AGAIN!

2. The Whole Conan/Leno Debacle
There already has been so much said on the Internet on the subject that I will try and remain brief. My opinion is this: NBC put themselves in a terrible situation, and did not have a plan B.
First, with the knowledge that Jay Leno was number one in the ratings, they still edged him to retire, and in 2006, all parties agreed that Jay Leno would leave the Tonight Show, Conan would host the Tonight Show, someone new (it turned out to be Jimmy Fallon) would host the Late Show, and Carson Daly would still be a huge tool bag who hasn’t really existed since 2002.

Even with, as Conan himself put it, “more lucrative offers” available, Conan waited it out expecting that as his contract as guaranteed, he would host the Tonight Show. The time came, he was given the show, and all was well….until a big boned butthead decided that he didnt want to retire, even though he had agreed to it 3 years prior. Ok, fine. He’s entitled to change his mind, but the Tonight Show wasn’t his anymore. This is where NBC screwed everything up. They decided that they wanted to keep Jay, as he was very popular. Again, understandable, as he would have otherwise gone to another competing network. But their plan did a lot more harm than good. Not only did they get rid of all of their 10 o’clock dramas, making network TV even more of a wasteland of shitty serials and reality shows, but they also screwed all of their affiliate stations whose news programs were losing viewers because they were coming after Jay, and no one wanted to watch another crappy talk show.

By the way, it should be noted that this year, the dramas NBC has on the air now are: Trauma, Mercy, Friday Night Lights, Heroes and 2 Law and Orders. That’s it. I still love NBC comedies, but seriously? Putting on Jay Leno and having this drama lineup basically says, “We don’t know how to run a network, or find good material.”

Besides the network being an asshole to Conan now, stabbing him in the back and showing him zero support after he moved his whole family, staff, and life, and after only 7 months of show, my biggest problem is this I guess: Why does Jay even want to do a talk show anymore? He doesn’t need the money. He doesn’t need the affirmation–everyone knows he was a successful Tonight Show host for 17 years! Is it for the comedy? The need to put out something original, creative, and innovative? No. Have you seen the Jay Leno show? He just does his same old bits, and then hires OTHER comedians to do field pieces. Does he really like interviewing celebrities? I can’t imagine that. It’s not like he’s really asking them pressing questions anyway.

So Sandra Bullock, you are in The Proposal…what was it like when your husband proposed to you?
So Gabourey Sidibe, was the movie Precious really based on the book ‘Push’ by Sapphire?

I know Jay loves stand-up. But NOTHING is stopping him from doing that. He could do stand-up every day in front of a live audience for the rest of his life!

Conan LOVES the Tonight Show. He wouldnt have stayed on NBC this long if he didn’t. He also LOVES comedy and the talk-show format. He is always doing innovative comedy pieces and pushing the limits of what a talk-show can be. Why take that away from someone in order to put on mediocrity? Conan clearly has so much more to give.

I’m sure it all comes down to money, and no one at NBC wants to lose their jobs. But c’mon suits! You’ve become the laughing stock of the entire industry. Start problem solving and figure out a way to keep Conan, because if he leaves (and I believe he will unless something drastic happens) the brands of The Tonight Show and NBC will be tarnished forever.

***In the midst of writing this post it seems that the rumors are that Conan is going to leave, giving NBC a royal f-u, and hopefully recoup the $60 million that his contract entitled him to, if he were to be “fired,” and that Jay will either be given a new show called the “Tonight Show” or will leave too. NBC royally fucked up. Conan is in talks to have an 11-12 show at Fox. I will be watching that show.

****I just realized that I was entirely NOT brief. Oh well.

To end on happier notes
1. Go rent/buy the film: “In the Loop.” It was the smartest, and one of the funniest comedies of the whole year.
2. I’m very excited to see Ricky Gervais host the Golden Globes. Make no mistake, I could give 2 shits about the Golden Globes, but I LOVE Ricky Gervais. He promises to be cheeky, tart, funny, and drunk. If you dont believe me, check out any of his award show appearances ever. Or this clip of him and Elmo, which is one of my favorites:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kr9_5uZn6ds
3. Apparently on February 20th, live at the Nokia Theatre, Will Ferrell is with former Angelino and new Seattletino Pete Carroll, hosting a benefit show with performances from Tenacious D, Tim and Eric, Nick Swardson (who I saw at Century City the other day wearing very low shorts), Demetri Martin, and more. I will not be in town, but if I were, I would definitely get tickets.

Until Tomorrow—

Day 46- Should we refer to fans of Avatar as "Avatards?"

2

If you are a long time reader of the blog you may remember a feature I call, “Actors Who are the Same.” Well today I’m expanding that to….”MOVIES THAT ARE THE SAME.” Today I will be examining two blockbuster action films. “Commando” (1985) and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009). While made in different decades and seemingly different (one stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Commando and one stars Hugh Jackman as a Wolverine), these two films are in many ways, the same movie.

Essentially, both movies begin the same. “Commando” begins when you meet retired special agent named John Matrix (although he’s changed his name) living in a secluded mountain home with his daughter Jenny (a spunky young Alyssa Milano). John used to lead an elite unit but disagreed with the goals of some of his previous missions, so he retired.

In the beginning of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (which will be hereafter be referred to as simply “Wolverine”), you learn that Wolverine was also an elite commander in a special military forces unit. He has retired because he too disagreed with the goals of his missions. And he is living where? In a secluded cabin in the mountains with not his daughter, but his lover, Kayla. He too has been living with a different name.

In “Commando,” John’s hideaway is found out by the military, and it is revealed to John (who like Wolverine most often appears shirtless), by his former boss, General Franklin Kirby, that members of his former unit are being killed one by one. It turns out that the one behind the killings is a former member of Matrix’s unit, BENNET.

Similarly, in “Wolverine”, Wolverine’s hideaway is found by the military, and his former boss, General Stryker informs him that someone has been going around killing former member’s of Wolverine’s elite mutant team. It is Victor! Wolverine’s brother and former super mutant elite squad team member!

In “Commando,” John Matrix is coerced by Bennett (who has kidnapped his daughter) to reluctantly go through with a political assassination for a man called Arius (impeccably portrayed by the incomparable Dan Hedeya), a South American warlord formerly bested by Matrix who wishes to lead a military coup in his home country. Arius threatens John that he will have Jenny killed if he does not accept the demand. One last mission.

In “Wolverine,” Victor kills Wolverine’s sexy girlfriend, which coerces Wolverine to reluctantly accept Stryker’s demand to find Victor and kill him. One last mission.

Rather than comply with Arius’s demands, Matrix, who has cinematically been transformed into COMMANDO, helped by a woman named Cindy, goes ape-shit on the bad guys trying to get him to set off the coup, and sets out to find where Arius and Bennett are holding Jenny captive. He goes straight into the lion’s den, him versus the thousands of armed guards (who dont stand a chance), stopping at nothing to get his daughter back. Finally, he faces off with his former partner, for the last time!

During the adamantium procedure that is supposed to give Wolverine the power to beat his brother, Wolverine overhears that they are going to also wipe out his memory. Rather than go along with these corrupt assholes, he goes apeshit, escaping his captors. Then with the help of Gambit, he finds out that Victor and Stryker are in cohoots, and so he goes back to the lion’s den (the giant military lab) to kill the men behind the murder of his wife (and the hundreds of guards who stand in his way). There, he faces off with his former partner, for the last time!

HAVE I CONVINCED YOU THAT THESE TWO ARE BASICALLY THE SAME MOVIE? If you are not convinced I suggest you rent Commando or watch it ondemand. It is truly one of the best films of the 1980s, and Arnold’s muscles are so huge clothes dont even fit him. He has no choice BUT to be shirtless. The cheesy Ahnuld quips are also to die for. For example:

Matrix: Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
Sully: That’s right, Matrix. You did.
Matrix: I lied.

AND

Cooke: You scared, motherfucker? Well, you should be, because this Green Beret is going to kick your big ass!
Matrix: I eat Green Berets for breakfast. And right now, I’m very hungry!

I couldn’t leave out:

Matrix: [after killing a man in the plane] Don’t disturb my friend, he’s dead tired.

Alright that’s enough…….Anyway you get the picture. Arnold is the best action star of all time and this movie—ALRIGHT ONE MORE!

Gen. Kirby: Leave anything for us?
Matrix: Just bodies.

This movie was so funny, that it also inspired Wild Willi$ and I to create an improv game. It is called COMMANDO. The game is, you are given the name of an object and you have to think of a funny quip Ahnuld would say after killing somone with that object. For example–Clock.
“Your time is up.”
“Time to die.”
“What time is it? It doesnt matter…YOU’RE DEAD!”

You get the picture. Anyway this movie is far better than Wolverine. In any sort of art duplication or replication, something is lost in the process, and the duplicate can never truly be as good as the original. Hence the reason why remakes and spin offs arent typically that good. GO SEE COMMANDO.

Finally, I was just watching “The Insider” (a 1999 movie about a tobacco company whistle blower (Russell Crowe) who tried to reveal top secret information about nicotine and cigarettes, and the 60 Minutes producer (Al Pacino) who tried to get the story on the air. First of all, this is a fabulous movie and I highly recommend it. But what I also liked about it, was that the cute girl from the old Pepsi commercials was in it! Hallie Eisenberg! She was soo cute! Much cuter than her brother, Zombieland/Adventureland/upcoming Facebook Movie actor Jesse Eisenberg. Remember how cute she was, singing with Aretha Franklin, bonding with Bicentennial Man Robin Williams, and talking to a stupid parrot named, Paulie? She hasnt done anything high profile as of late, and as the case with Mara Wilson, I think this is for the best. I would rather only remember her as adorable girl from those commercials. Anyway, I just wanted to remind everyone how cute that little girl was.

Until Tomorrow–

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