Monday, February 26, 2007

3rd Annual Post-Oscar Oscars

It’s that time again. Time for another piece where I hand out the Oscars for the most memorable moments of the Oscars show. Are you ready? Well too bad, here I go anyway.

(The awards are handed out in relative order of where they happened during the broadcast)

The Oscar For Most Interesting Turnabout Goes To… Ellen’s Al Gore joke during her opening monologue. In the joke, she talked about how the people voted for Al Gore but he didn’t win and the audience went crazy for it. Now you’re saying, how is this a turnabout? Hollywood folks are crazy liberal and they always were. Well let me take you back to the awards show of 2003 when Michael Moore received the Oscar for Best Documentary for Bowling For Columbine and then got booed by the audience for suggesting that George W. Bush didn’t really win the election (an event which spurned his decision to make Fahrenheit 9/11.) Now do you understand why this joke got this award? I thought so.

The Oscar For The Most Awkward Standing Goes To… All the people who stood up when Ellen marched around the room with the gospel choir at the end of her opening monologue. All ten or fifteen of them. Boy, they must have felt awkward during that moment.

The Oscar For The Best Act of Sympathy Goes To… Jack Nicholson who shaved his head, for what I can only assume was an act of sympathy with Britney Spears. Or at least I sure hope it was. (Turns out he did it for an upcoming role. What a dissapointment.)

The Oscar For The Biggest Surprise of The Night Goes To… Alan Arkin, for winning the Best Supporting Actor award that everyone knew was going to go to Eddie Murphy. I notice that I never saw Eddie again during the broadcast which leads me to two thoughts: 1. Eddie left after not winning, or 2. Every time they tried to put him on camera after that, he flicked off the camera. (Sadly it turned out that the first thought was true, and not the second one, which is almost as disappointing as finding out that Jack didn't shave his head for Britney.)

The Oscar For The Best Original Screenplay Goes To… Nope, not the real winner for Best Original Screenplay, which went to Little Miss Sunshine’s, Michael Arndt. This one goes to Ellen’s screenplay which she handed to Martin Scorsese during the broadcast. She claimed the movie was “Goodfellas meets Big Momma’s House.” I really wish I had thought of it. And I hope she also thought to get some kind of copyright on that idea, because I’m sure some poor scribe is out there working on that movie right now thinking Martin Scorsese might actually be interested in it. Or at least that Ewe Boll might be.

The Oscar For The Worst Tribute of The Night Goes To... The tribute to writers. This was one of the closest battles of the night, with the tribute to America finishing a close second, simply because it aired when the show was already ten minutes longer than originally scheduled. The reason the writers tribute grabbed the prize over the tribute to America wasn't simply due to its cliches, but rather because it was put together by Nancy Meyers, who managed to find a place for a clip from her own movie about a writer, the awful Something's Gotta Give (by the way, what gave was my patience). What a ridiculous self-promoter.

The Oscar For The Most Awkward Acceptance Speech Goes To... Best Adapted Screenplay winner, William Monahan. For some reason, the first thing that Monahan said when he got on stage was "valium does work!" Uhh. What the hell does that mean? Scratch that. I don't want to know.

The Oscar For The Best Performance By An Austin Powers Character Goes To... Best Costume Design winner, Frau Farbissina!

I thought you needed to see this to believe it. And now you have.

The Best Self Depricating Joke of The Night Goes To... Robert Downey Jr. for his joke about how the special effects in movies were like his drug induced hazes. You know, I really like Robert Downey Jr. and this joke only made me like him more. I'm really glad he's gotten cleaned up. See Britney, there is still some hope. If he can turn his life around, so can you.

The Best Live Edit of The Night Goes To... The cut to Borat star, Sacha Baron Cohen, while talking about foreign films. Just brilliant. They do know he isn't actually from Kazakhstan, right? (Yes, I know that he is British, but that still doesn't explain the cut to him.)

The Best Moment of Rubbing it in Goes To... Best Foreign Film Winning Director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (and yes, that really is his name). FHvD managed to rub his ass against the back of the head of fellow nominee, Guillermo del Toro, after it was announced that he had won. I'm all for rubbing it in, but honestly, this may have gone too far.

The Best Performance by a Drunk Goes To... My roommate, Crayzie Chris, who's sing-along with the Best Song nominees from Dreamgirls put him over the top. (He believes now that possibly there was something wrong with the wine he had that night, and I tend to agree with him. I think it had alcohol in it.)

The Best Reference to a Movie That Is The Farthest Thing Possible From Being Oscar Worthy Goes To... It looked all night like this was going to go to Snakes on a Plane, which was referenced by the bendy dancers during one of their weird, but strangely awesome performances throughout the night. However, during the previously mentioned America montage we got to see a clip of Rocky IV, which while being one of my favorite movies ever, really is horrible. Probably not as stupid as Snakes, but since I like it more, it takes this much coveted award.

The Best "Finally" Moment of the Night Goes To... Tough call between the show ending after about 4 hours or when Scorsese took home the Best Director trophy. I'm going to go with Scorsese for two reasons though: 1. I Tivo'd the final moments of the show because it was going way too long, even for me, so I wasn't there for when it "finally" ended, and 2. If they had brought Steven Spielberg up there to present the Best Director award and then not given it to Martin Scorsese, that would probably have been worse than when that German director rubbed his ass on Guillermo del Toro's head, because you really can't rub it in any more than by having it pointed out that Steven Spielberg has won a Best Director award and the infinitely more talented Scorsese has none. (Unfortunately this win for Scorsese does end a funny joke where you could point out surprising winners and compare them to the previously shut-out, Scorsese, such as Three 6 Mafia 1, Scorsese 0, or Eminem 1, Scorsese 0, or for a brief time, Jennifer Hudson 1, Scorsese 0. However you still can do Spielberg 2, Scorsese 1.)

- Ben

More posts coming up later this week, including Lost recaps and a special tribute to a special show

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lost Episode Reviews

"Not in Portland" and "Flashes Before Your Eyes" aired on February 7 and February 14, 2007, respectively.


I apologize for the delay in reviewing last week’s episode of Lost. All I can tell you is that there was a bit of a crisis here involving no hot water in my shower and me heating up water on my stovetop. But of course, that is the very reason I have a Tivo. Well perhaps not the very reason, but you get what I’m saying. Anyways, I was able to watch last week’s episode and this week’s and that’s why I can now talk with you, my fellow Lost enthusiasts about the long awaited return of Lost. Let’s start with last week’s episode and work to the present.

I’ll be honest with you, when last week’s return of Lost finally came around, I had actually lost a bit of interest in the show. I attribute this completely to the fact that nearly three months off is way too long to wait between episodes and that in that hiatus I had become somewhat disillusioned with my choices on TV (but that’s for another column on another day). However, as soon as I started watching the so-called Spring Premiere of Lost, I remembered why I should have been missing the show that whole time. Last week’s episode was intense, surprising, and just plain weird; and I loved it.

I have to say though, I think the thing that surprised me the most was that Kate and Sawyer actually managed to get off of Island 2 as this was pretty much the exact opposite of how Lost normally works. In a typical Lost storyline, this departure from Island 2 would have taken like three or four episodes (at least, with several unrelated episodes in the middle of this, causing the storyline to actually take almost twice as long) and would have involved a lot of episodes in which people stood around and didn’t do a whole lot. But thanks to the added time pressure of Ben’s surgery (I’ve long since argued that the element of time can do wonders for a movie or TV show, just look at 24), they had no choice but to resolve this issue in a timely manner. Now if they can just manage to find several other people who need surgeries, they’ll be able to resolve virtually every major storyline by May.

However, the departure from Island 2 did raise a question for me, which might be related to the plot or might just be plot holes. When everyone was on Island 1, they were in constant fear of The Others because The Others were able to move through the jungle quickly and deftly and without mistakes, yet when Sawyer and Kate were being chased through the jungle on Island 2, The Others seemed a bit more Keystone Copish as they bumbled around and screwed up on a regular basis. Now this could just be that this was done to allow Kate and Sawyer to escape without a great deal of delay and without having to come up with clever ways in which Kate and Sawyer could outsmart The Others, or perhaps The Others on Island 1 aren’t quite the same as The Others on Island 2. Ever since the first appearance of the book, The Bad Twin, on the show last season, I’ve believed that there is a dichotomy to the show that has yet to be revealed. I could be wrong and it could just be the two islands or the two groups living on those islands, but I feel like maybe there is something more to it. At least I hope there is, because otherwise I’ll be disappointed.

The other big deal that was announced during this episode was that Alex, whom I’m pretty sure is the French Woman’s daughter, is apparently also the daughter of Ben. Now maybe this is all just a ruse that The Others have created to keep Alex from knowing the truth, but what if he is actually her biological father? All this time we’ve been led to believe that Rousseau just got shipwrecked on the island and that her husband and fellow shipmates got sick and she killed them. But maybe she’s really just a cast-off from The Others, kind of like her daughter, but just on Island 1. I know this is all random speculation and probably irrelevant, but that’s one of the best parts about watching the show; being able to make ridiculous guesses as to what things mean or as to what’s going on. And that’s another thing I missed during that hiatus, a period we’ll refer to as “The Daybreak Mistake.”

Last couple things about this episode before I move on to the most recent one: why was Carl in that Clockwork Orange-type room listening to house music? And why do they even have such a room? Why was it a big deal that Juliet was able to get her sister pregnant? As far as I know, people have been getting pregnant without sex for quite some time now. Does Juliet really hate the island and was she basically kidnapped and taken there by those creepy dudes who had her ex-husband hit by a bus? And how did they get him hit by a bus? What is going to happen to Jack now that he’s served his purpose and he’s all alone? And most importantly, was the line that Juliet’s ex-husband delivered shortly before his death while on the phone the funniest insignificant line in the history of the show (to refresh your memory he said “ because you’re insufferable, and you’re mean. Well you asked me for the truth, Mom.”)?

Now on to the next episode, which I have to say, was one of my all-time favorites. It wasn’t just my one of my favorites because it answered two of the questions the show had presented for us (why Desmond could see the future and who he was protecting), and it wasn’t just one of my favorites because it was a cool, weird story, it was one of my favorites because I think Desmond has become of my favorite characters. This guy is clearly a top-notch actor (I’m not the only one who thinks so by the way. He was nominated for an Emmy last year for his work on the show), and on top of it, his character might be the most tragic figure of all. Sure all the other people on the island have had sucky lives, but what is more sucky than what happened to Desmond ever since he dumped his girlfriend (both times)? I think only Locke can really compete with Desmond in the suckiest life competition, but since Locke has gotten the use of his legs back, Desmond wins that battle in my opinion.

There isn’t really a whole lot to say about what actually happened in this particular episode, because most of the story was Desmond’s trip back in time, the specifics of which don’t have much meaning for the rest of the show, other than the fact that Desmond will always try and use his power to save people as a way of making up for his failure to fix his biggest mistake. I have to say though, when I first realized that Desmond was trying to save someone from a death that would come no matter what he did, I assumed it was Claire that he was trying to save, which I’m sure everyone thought. But when I found out it was Charlie, I felt a sense of relief. I mean really, what has Charlie brought to the table on this show, other than hobbit related jokes? If there’s anyone who can go, it really is him. So be forewarned, hobbit. Get your resume up to date right now, because your time is nigh.

The last thing I want to discuss relating to this episode is beards. From the moment I saw Desmond’s beardless face, I realized that he looked way better with a beard than without. And then I started realizing that the same could be said for Jack, Sayid, and obviously Sawyer. Now perhaps this revelation came to me because I have a beard now and I think that I look pretty good with it, but perhaps it really is true. So ladies, (and gents if you aren’t feeling like Tim Hardaway right now), what do you think? Have beards made these guys look better? And, most importantly, has a beard made me look better? Discuss.

Next Week on Lost: I had heard them promise that questions would be answered when the show returned from the dark period known as “The Daybreak Mistake,” but I didn’t really believe them. Next week however they promise that they will reveal the answers to three of Lost’s biggest mysteries (which leaves a mere 10,328 to go). What those mysteries are, I’m not sure. One of them definitely seems to be what happened to all the people that The Others kidnapped, but other than that, I’m not sure. They did suggest something about the meaning of Jack’s tattoos, but I don’t think that could be one of the show’s biggest mysteries, unless Jack has a tattoo which is a map of the island like Michael Scofield had a map of the prison on the show, Prison Break. The only thing we do know is that the people that The Others kidnapped are there to “watch” something. Perhaps they are watching the show, just like you and I, or maybe they are like the millions of people who surf the internet every day looking to just watch people do sexual things, I’m not sure. What I do know is though, that this upcoming episode looks awesome.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Directed by Brian Robbins
Starring Eddie Murphy, Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Terry Crews
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some nudity and language

Norbit is exactly what you think it will be. If you saw the trailers or the ads then you won't be surprised one bit when you head to the theater to see it. There are some decent jokes in the film that didn't make the ad campaign, but none of these jokes will amaze you. You might still laugh, but it won't be one of those deep, hearty laughs, it will just be one of those light laughs that you give for something that can simply be classified as amusing. Norbit is sadly a film experience that will feel much too familar.

Just when we thought we knew exactly what Eddie Murphy's career had become, he threw us a curveball with his Academy Award nominated performance in Dreamgirls (which I still haven't seen, but would like to). And just when we thought that this kind of role might signal a new direction for the racy comedian turned family movie actor turned Academy Award favorite, he reverted back to that time period in his career that marked his transition from racy comedian to family movie actor, the time in his career after the Beverly Hills Cop movies, but before Daddy Day Care when he made such lame films as Metro and Vampire in Brooklyn, and gave us Norbit. That time in his career was often marked with films that weren't very creative and seemed more like the work of much lesser comedians, rather than the work of a comedic genius like Eddie Murphy, and I think that the same can definitely be said about Norbit. There is very little about this film that could be described as "new" or "different."

The story, which centers around the lovable, but unlucky Norbit and his quest to renew his love affair with the infinitely more attractive love of his life, Kate, who in standard fashion has a horrible, son-of-a-bitch fiancee, is a story that is pretty much as old as Eddie Murphy himself, so that is a strike against it. We've also seen movies with Eddie Murphy dressed up in funny makeup, playing many different roles, some of which are women. The film did add the rarely used "bad girlfriend" character, but since that part was played by a man (Eddie Murphy himself), then it kind of doesn't count. Basically this movie is just The Nutty Professor, except there aren't as many fart jokes, Murphy doesn't play quite as many characters, and the main character's flaw is that he's ugly instead of being fat. Oh yeah, and its just not as funny. That's kind of a big difference; and kind of an important one.

While it was disappointing to see that Eddie Murphy will likely never be the brilliant comedian that he once was, I think the greatest disappointment for this movie was that it couldn't have come out after the Oscars so that it could have been advertised as starring Academy Award winner, Eddie Murphy, thus unseating last year's Best Actress winner, Rachel Weisz, as the holder of the funniest potential use of their Oscar winning status (last year I joked that they could now advertise one of the many cable showings of The Mummy as starring Academy Award winner, Rachel Weisz). Although really, there's no way it would be funnier to hear Norbit, starring Academy Award winner, Eddie Murphy, than The Adventures of Pluto Nash, starring Academy Award winner, Eddie Murphy. Anyone who saw that film had to be sure of one thing; that no one associated with that film would ever win an Oscar. And pretty soon, that impossibility, will become reality. That Oscar though will not make either that hideously awful film, or the mediocre Norbit any better. Some things, just can't be changed.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The Ads of Super Bowl XLI

I think it was some where during the third (out of a total of four) features I saw the day after the Super Bowl discussing the ads of Super Bowl XLI that I realized the great Super Bowl ads are a thing of the past. Now I’m not just saying that because the ads of Super Bowl XLI were probably the worst set of Super Bowl ads I can remember, I’m saying it because whenever things become huge enough that they need that much coverage (and this was only on the ESPN family of networks, I can only imagine that practically every major newspaper and every morning show in the country had their own features on the ads), they tend to become more and more important to the people who do them, which means more input from the top. And not to insult all CEOs and other top executives, but those people didn’t get to where they were because they were funny and creative. I don’t necessarily blame them when so much is riding on a single ad. Think about it; it’s not just the huge amounts of money spent to secure the place during the broadcast for the spot and the money to actually produce it, its also that because people spend so much time talking about them after they’ve aired that a bad ad means what would have been a normal failure because a colossal one. So I get why this happens, sad as it may be.

Despite the overall crappiness I was able to compile a list of my favorite ads, a task that was much harder to come up with than the list of my least favorite ads. I didn’t rank the ads for two reasons: First, I didn’t think I was going to come up with ten I liked, and I figured having a top seven list would look dumb. Second, ranking is so much harder than just listing them in semi-chronological order. I hope you understand. And now, on to my list of the Best and Worst Ads of Super Bowl XLI. (By the way, if you can't remember the ads I'm talking about, go here to see all of the ads from this year's Super Bowl)

The Best

- Doritos Homemade ad – This was the ad that featured the guy driving in the car eating Doritos. It was mildly amusing and pretty well done, and strangely enough, professionals didn’t do it. People have been joking about what this means for the industry, I just say this is further proof that advertising is the fall back position for every college graduate. It’s so easy, even a caveman could do it.

- Sierra Mist Beard comb over – I thought this was funnier for the cutoff jorts than the beard comb over, but still, not that amazing. Lost points because anyone who drinks Sierra Mist Free cannot, and I repeat, cannot tell other people that their decision making is flawed.

- Garmin GPS – Campy is good most of the time, and it was pretty good this time. I saw a piece Monday where someone rated this the third worst ad during the Super Bowl and in their description for why they didn’t like it they also managed to point out that they found the ad entertaining. Guess what? The person who said this was in the advertising industry. And once again I start to think about how if I quit my job today, I could be making six figures at some ad agency in no time at all.

- Surviving the Workweek – When I first found out that was removing monkeys from their ad campaigns I nearly cried; they did the best monkey ads ever. But I’ve got to say, it’s a real testament to their marketing department for their ads to make my top Super Bowl ads list. I was predisposed to hating them, and yet, I found myself enjoying their series of ads where work was likened to fighting for survival in the jungle. Could the ads have used monkeys? Hell yeah. But they didn’t suck. I’m a little sad, but yet, impressed.

- Old Person drinking the Coke for the first time – I’m not sure I buy that there is someone that old who had never had a Coke before, unless they were a Mormon or something, but I still liked this ad. It was cute and memorable and that counts for a lot I suppose.

- Bank Robbing Their Customers – This made me chuckle a bit. Decent concept, well executed. Can’t ask for much more than that.

- Emerald Nuts with Robert Goulet – While this ad doesn’t even come close to the Egomaniacal Normans, it was still pretty amusing. Although, if I’m fighting through the workday by eating Emerald Nuts, perhaps I should be logging on to to find a better job. Perhaps a job with monkeys. Now that’s synergy!!

- FedEx Ground – This ad featured a very simple concept, but it was done right. See people, it doesn’t always have to be tricky to work. Sometimes calling someone Mr. Turkeyneck is all it takes to succeed. At least in my book.

- K-Fed Nationwide ad – I suspect that this ad would have been funnier if only K-Fed had really allowed them to make fun of him. In the ad it made it seem like he was dreaming of having a rap star life while serving fries, but it should have been better about transitioning from being a rap star to serving fries. I get why K-Fed might not have wanted it to go like that, but sometimes you’ve got to suck it up for the sake of art.

- Bud Light Ax Murderer – Ordinarily I eliminate all beer ads from the start because every beer ad is a variation on the same theme of people doing stupid things to get a beer. However this ad, in which the people pick up the guy on the side of the road carrying the ax because he was also carrying Bud Light was actually entertaining to me. It wasn’t really the concept, it was all about the way the ax murderer responded to being questioned about why he was carrying the ax. I can’t really explain it, but something about the way he delivered that line was just perfect.

The Worst

- GM Robot committing suicide – This ad was chosen out of a group of finalists which included the robot who was forced into early retirement coming back to the plant with a gun and killing everyone and another ad in which the old robots were systematically destroyed by a group of new robots, who while much more cost efficient, were extremely brutal towards robots of different types. Seriously though, suicide and the Super Bowl are really two things that shouldn’t go together. People are trying to avoid their problems during the game, not face them head on.

- Rock, Paper, Scissors for Beer – You know what’s hilarious? How alcoholics will do terrible things to those around them just for a beer. Like throw rocks at them. Same thing here as with the previously mentioned ad. We don’t need depressing reminders while we’re trying to enjoy football.

- Snickers Gay Kiss Ad – Ignoring the extremely implausible scenario the ad starts with in which two men for some reason latch on to the same Snickers bar, this ad had potential until they decided that ripping out one’s chest hair was manly. Based on this logic, the following things are also manly: punching oneself in the crotch, sticking a fork in ones own eye, sawing off one’s own leg with a chainsaw, and drinking gasoline. Because as we all know, nothing says you’re a man like hurting yourself.

- Monkey Bud Light ad – I have always believed that ads with monkeys are guaranteed to be funny; until now. Seeing this ad was, for me, kind of like a young child finding out that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. I can only pick up the pieces of my shattered life and try and move on.

- Promos for Rules of Engagement – I’m supposed to believe that David Spade is a ladies man? Come on now. I’d sooner believe…nevermind. I’m not going to finish this joke, because I’m sure everyone has already made a similar version of it by now. Let’s just move on.

- – What the fuck was this thing? Seriously, what? An ad for sales leads. Not only could most of the public not use this service, but most of the public wouldn’t even care. These guys are getting ripped by everyone, and deservedly so.

- Revlon and Sheryl Crow – Before this ad I just couldn’t stand Sheryl Crow. Now, I can’t stand Revlon too. Good work there marketing department.

So what do you think? Are there any you liked or hated that I left off? I'd love to hear from you. Only my lovely girlfriend, Julie, has left me any comments, so why don't you be the second person to do so?