August 18, 2008

Weekend in Reviews - Olympics Edition

Between the shipping problems at NetFlix (we've made up now but the sting of disappointment still lingers), and the excitement of the Olympics, I didn't get much movie watching in this weekend.

Unaccompanied Minors: This was a perfectly harmless movie that reminded me a lot of the mid-nineties movie Camp Nowhere. Some kids are stuck in an airport during a blizzard on Christmas Eve. They hatch a plan to thwart a jerky adult's attempts to ruin their Christmas and in the process they become best friends and bring joy to the lives of everyone in the airport including the jerky adult who spent the whole movie trying to stop them. The kids are mostly pretty flat in the acting department with the notable exception of Tyler James Williams of Everybody Hates Chris. Wilmer Valderrama is the least obnoxious he's ever been in this movie which is pretty high praise considering how douchey I think the man is. Lewis Black is just the right villain for a movie like this because he plays truly unlikable really well. I guess the perfect way to rate this movie is to say that the next time I'm babysitting a kid between the ages of 7 and 14 and I need a movie that they can watch that won't make me die inside if I have to watch it with them, I would definitely rent this and Camp Nowhere.

The Olympics: Over the weekend I watched a bit of men's indoor volleyball, women's and men's beach volleyball (which I really do not enjoy at all), women's badminton (which is way funner to play than to watch), men's trampoline (yeah, that's an actual sport now apparently), and women's diving. I didn't really care that much about any of those. Diving is one of those things that I enjoy watching well enough but they all look so great that I don't really get why one is any better than the other. I can not explain why I hate beach volleyball but I like indoor volleyball but such is the case.

Saturday evening felt kind of like a hurry up and wait as they showed the entire women's marathon in real time while they waited for the final swimming races to commence. Don't get me wrong, I thought Constantina Tomescu Dita was brilliant with a finish so effortlessly ahead of her competition and then, after running over 26 miles, she took several victory laps that made me feel exhausted just watching. And the Kenyan and Chinese runners were really slugging it out for silver and bronze in that race too, just to add a bit of excitement. But still, 2 and a half hours of the same people running the same race lacks excitement.

The fastest man in the world is Usain Bolt who should change his name to Insane Bolt because he's insanely fast. He was sprinting with all of his might off the block but about 70 yards in, he finally looked around him, saw that he was to hell and gone from his competition and with just about 15 yards to go, he threw his hands up, let up on his speed, pounded his chest in victory and crossed the finish line with something less than all-out effort, besting his own world record by .03 second and the silver and bronze finishers by .20 and .22 seconds respectively. I can't even imagine how fast the man could run if he'd continued running with all his might right to the end.

I loved the women's gymnastics all-around competition. I was a bit bummed for Shawn Johnson because, though she's actually younger than Nastia Liukin, she seems much more well-rounded and less forced into it by a domineering father, and I kind of felt like the judges were unnecessarily harsh when scoring her, but during the post-event interview with Bob Costas both girls were gracious and genuinely proud of one another. Like everyone else on the planet I find the new scoring system convoluted, confusing and not entirely fair so the tie breaker for Liukin on the uneven bars last night was irritating. She was a great sport about it though which, to me, is the best thing about the games - sportsmanship.

Speaking of sportsmanship, I am in love with the entire US Olympics team but most especially the swimmers. Dara Torres, who blows my mind just by virtue of being the second fastest swimming woman in the world at the age of 41, seems to be such a genuinely warm and fun woman. She is chatty and friendly with all of the other swimmers and just before her semifinal race, did something that seems like not much but was, in fact, a great gesture when she went to the officials to ask them to delay the start of the race because one of the competitors had torn her suit and was in the process of trying to change. She lost her 50M Freestyle race by .01 second and though she was disappointed, she was pleased with besting her own best time by .02 seconds and then her relay team - with whom she swam a mere 4 minutes after collecting her silver medal - gave her and each other all terrific props for their silver finish in the 4X100M Medley Relay. Also, I'd just like to note that the combined ages of the Gold and Bronze medalists in her 50M Freestyle race are 40. She's one year older than the two fo them COMBINED!

My girl crushes on the female swimmers are nothing compared to my all-out super crushes on the entire men's swim team. Michael Phelps's wins by .01 in the 100M Butterfly to tie the 7 Golds in a single Olympics record and in the 4X100M Medley Relay for his own record of 8 Golds in one games was fantastic to watch but what was really awesome, was how happy FOR HIM his teammates were. He was, of course, a gentleman to each and every one of them making sure to thank them extensively and concede that he could not have done what he did without each and every one of them, but their excitement not just to have won their own Gold medals but to have been a part of his feat, was thrilling to watch. I'm sad that swimming is done now - and not just because I will miss watching all of them walk around bearing their gorgeous bodies or because of the extreme cuteness of Ryan Lochte, Aaron Piersol, Brendan Hanson, Jason Lezak, Ian Crocker and Michael Phelps (who, I've decided, is totally cute - especially when he doesn't smile), but because they made watching people swim the most fun I've had watching any sport in a very, very long time.

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