Thursday, June 07, 2007

I always wonder why people look at me strangely when I follow up any reference to Portugal with "Ah, down South America way?"

So first things first: Knocked Up is very good. It has beaten Pirates 3 the last few nights at the box office – not that week nights particularly matter, but it all goes to the same place – and while it won’t outgross Oceans Thirteen this weekend, I think it’ll certainly reach the 80 million mark set by Hollywood Stock Exchange as its box office warrant[i].

The one thing I think that needs to be brought up about both Knocked Up and The 40-Year Old Virgin is not a criticism but more of an observation: These movies are somewhat more difficult to watch than your average chick flick or your average Will Ferrell comedy. Just when you get in the mode of busting your guy laughing, there’s a very serious scene about characters you’ve grown to care about. Just when things start to get kind of depressing, the jokes kick back in. It’s all done so well that the movie experience as a whole is good, it’s just not easy to walk in and say “This is going to funny the whole way through” or “This is going to be semi-serious with a dose of whimsy the whole way through”. The Break-Up tried to do this, but it failed because the character motives were really screwed up and it had a terrible ending. Both Virgin and Knocked Up are far superior movies, and we will continue worshipping at the altar of Apatow until Superbad comes out and proves us wrong.

Which it won’t.

I think this summer has enough potential to resemble 2005 that it’ll be worth doing Summer Academy Awards again, which is basically filling out Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor and Actress for the summer films. If we filled it out to this point, Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl would be up for Best Actor/Actress and both Paul Rudd (who was so awesome, love that guy) and Leslie Mann would be up Best Supporting from Knocked Up, which would currently lead the otherwise blank Best Picture race. I think I’d add in Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush from Pirates 3, but other than that, not a lot of goodness from the month of May.

Other than Rudd and Mann being awesome in their work, particular bright spots were Jason Segel, Darryl from The Office’s cameo and the eldest Apatow daughter, who played the eldest child of Rudd and Mann and did a bang-up job in turning some pretty funny lines into hilarious ones.

Best movie of the summer thus far, although that’s not saying much at all.


Dear Hollywood,

This is why people hate you. Shrek 4 and Shrek 5 already planned for 2010 and 2013? Really? Is that necessary? I mean, I know the third one still made a lot of money, but after the quality has declined since the original, don’t you think maybe it’s time to hang it up?




NBA Finals tip off tonight, and thanks to LeBron making his championship debut, this actually might be vaguely entertaining. The chic pick appears to be “Spurs in 5”, but I see this series at least getting back to San Antonio because you must allot one game to LeBron winning and one game to the crowd/shady officiating. Cleveland’s team is just really, really long, and I think that’ll give the perimeter players of San Antonio all kinds of trouble. That being said, Tim Duncan should have his way with whoever they throw at him. That being said being said, ain’t no way Bruce Bowen checks LeBron.

Couple of Finals links:

Henry at TrueHoop breaks down fifty possessions from the Spurs/Cavs game this season (the Cavs won both) and comes away with the Cavs getting good shots 42 of the 50 times. Interesting…

This link is only worthwhile because of this video. Awesome:

Official prediction: Spurs in six, but I’m obviously rooting for LeBron to start a carousel of championships with Dwyane Wade where they just alternate winning it for the next decade.


Your McSweeney’s Link of the Month, a note written to Billy the Pianoman.

Frankly, this has been bothering me since you started, but I figured since we get a regular crowd shuffling in on Saturdays when you play, why rock the boat? But this past Saturday I couldn't help notice that there was a lot of tension in the room. As you know, it was actually a pretty good crowd that night, customers who wanted to forget about life for a while by having some drinks and hearing some music. John the bartender provided the booze, so they looked to you for the songs. But instead they just heard their own sad lives echoed back to them. That nice old man wanted to hear something from his childhood but couldn't remember the tune all the way. It would have been great if you had at least guessed at one before loudly rephrasing his confusion in rhyming verse before firing off more "la la la, de de da da" lines. That old man—a regular customer, by the way—was so humiliated that he ended up performing a sexual act on his cocktail. Of course, I don't need to tell you that. You put that in the song, too. You had to be a big shot, didn't you?


I totally agree with Bill Simmons that we need to replace hockey with Real World/Road Rules challenge as our fourth major sport, if it hasn’t already happened. Last week’s episode was kinda blah, but the whole giraffe statue thing and the anti-gravity Inferno were both really entertaining. Two Tuesday ago on the night with the American Idol finale, NBA and NHL playoffs and the Buccos game, the best part about the whole night was Timmy’s retirement montage. I love the Challenge, and I hope it stays on forever.

On a more awkward MTV note, the Real World: Las Vegas Reunited is just painful. I’m glad to see that Frank is still the man (one of my favorite cast members for being so normal in the face of so many weirdos and crazy) and that the cast still retains incredibly high ratings in both the “Insanity” and “Sluttiness” categories. Of course I’m watching, but I feel extra awkward while doing so.


I’m not a big-time connoisseur of horror movies, but I certainly can appreciate a well-crafted zombie flick or even some of the Unstoppable Slasher movies like Halloween, Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. One type of horror movies I simply do not understand is the Saw/Hostel-type of films which I think are best described as “torture porn”. For the lack of a better term, it’s just really fucked up that people want to see that kind of stuff.

I’m not exactly going crazy and taking a offbeat point of view here, as it’s certainly been discussed. Deadline Hollywood Daily considers Eli Roth and his messed up view on the future of cinema, while the commenters at Ain’t It Cool News get particularly nasty – not that they aren’t a nerdy, nasty group of people to begin with – over a glowing, defensive review of Hostel 2, that drops this weekend.

(If you’re unfamiliar with AICN, remember the episode of Entourage with Rainn Wilson at ComicCon as the nasty, nerd reviewer who’s going to bury Aquaman on his site and thereby ruin it? Dwight is simply a play on Harry Knowles, the head of AICN and the guy who wrote this review. Make more sense now? Hopefully.)


Confession to make: I haven’t watched the finale of Veronica Mars yet. It’s there on my Tivo, set to “Save Until The End Of Time Even If I Tell You To Delete It” status, but I just can’t bring myself to watch it. Very seldom do we have control over when things end, so I’m going to keep them there for a few more days until I get the heart to watch the final glorious two hours of Kristen Bell being amazing. I know I put on a brave face after it was cancelled, but it still hurts. Thankfully, I’ll be able to buy stuff like this as soon as I make my next Amazon binge. I’m kind of upset I wasn’t asked to write the Veronica vs. Buffy essay, but I suppose they’ll be plenty of time for that when an older, wise, balding version of myself teaches a “Veronica vs. Buffy: The Evolution of Televised Feminism At The Turn of the 21st Century” class a couple of decades from now.


Few throwaway links:

Crafting the worst movie ever. (I suggested adding Jennifer Aniston, Kate Bosworth, Horatio Sanz, Carlos Mencia and Jimmy Fallon in the comments, although that might be a little too much awful to handle)

FreeDarko looks at the draft workouts, and if Conley and Horford don’t go three and four, somebody is making a huge mistake.

The Friday Night Lights producer on how the show came together. Great stuff.

This link passed through a few months ago, but I finally rediscovered it and I think it’s worth posting in its entirety. How The Hills is even more manipulated behind the scenes than you thought it was:

“There are few reality-TV shows more faked than MTV’s The Hills, set in Los Angeles. So, naturally, it’s being renewed for a third season starting this summer. It reached something insane like 60 million viewers. But I wonder how many would have fled if they’d known what a cesspool of self-promotion and cross-promotion the series’ so-called stars are.

First, Heidi Montag, the blond nightclub promoter, used the show to score herself a record deal. Turns out she’s an aspiring singer recording a pop album with bigtime music producer David Foster for release later this year. (Now, Foster just happens to be the soon-to-be-ex-stepfather of Brody Jenner, best friend of Spencer Pratt, who has been Heidi’s boyfriend since the summer of 2006.) Spencer got a lot of inexplicable face time on this second season of The Hills. Here’s why: Heidi is now a client of Spencer’s management company, which also reps Brody. Because of the connection, Brody also got a lot of inexplicable face time on The Hills. (Foster, along with Spencer and Brody, were all featured on the Fox reality TV show The Princes of Malibu, which was yanked after only two episodes.)

Heidi met Spencer through ex–Laguna Beach star Kristin Cavallari, who was then dating Brody. This is the same Spencer-and-Brody tag team shamed by Details magazine for concocting a scheme whereby Brody would rise to fame by dating Nicole Richie and getting her to eat. Because of The Hills, Brody may now be getting his own faked reality-TV show about his love life, courtesy of MTV.

Meanwhile, the star of The Hills and intern at Teen Vogue, Lauren Conrad (ex–Laguna Beach), just scored a gig flogging Avon’s teen-targeted Mark cosmetics. And she also clinched a clothing deal to hawk those unflattering floaty dresses and stupid headbands she wears on the show. Last month, she and MTV announced the launch of a real-world fashion line scheduled to hit high-end boutiques, retail stores and online sellers later this fall. Notice the timing? It’ll be right around the end of The Hills’ third season.

Meanwhile, Lauren’s new BFF, Audrina Patridge, ostensibly works for Epic Records, which teamed up with MTV recently to release The Hills soundtrack.

Of course, none of this self-promo and cross-promo has ever made it on camera.”

[i] Explanation: For summer movies, HSX has contracts you buy with each movie having a certain projected gross. Spiderman 3 was set at 350 million, Knocked Up at 80, Oceans Thirteen at 100. You buy shares of this contract and for every million the movie earns over that value, you get a dollar per share. The movie doesn’t hit the mark, you get zero. Do I participate in this? Absolutely.

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