September 8, 2008

Weekend in Reviews

Holy shit did I watch some bad movies this weekend!

What Happens In Vegas - Ashton Kutcher is an immature fuckup who's been fired by his father and who can't commit to any relationship more serious than a booty call. Cameron Diaz is a type-A joyless idiot who gets dumped by her fiance in full view/earshot of all of their friends and family while she's trying to throw him a surprise birthday party. They both end up in Las Vegas with their respective best friends where they get plastered and married. The following morning after kindly dumping one another, they win three million dollars and through a series of stupid and illogical contrivances must live together and "make the marriage work" in order for one of them to get all the loot or, at least split it 50/50...or something. Then they end up falling for each other anyway. These actors are both unbearably obnoxious on their own so they really need to be in things with people who are exceptionally enjoyable to watch to cancel out their irritation quotient. When they're together it's like each person's annoyingness is amplified to the millionth degree by the other's and the next thing you know you're seriously considering climbing a clock tower with a semi-automatic weapon. If you think you might want to watch this movie, skip a step and just go straight to therapy.

Prom Night - A crazy teacher becomes obsessed with one of his freshman students, said student gets a restraining order against him which totally pisses him off so he comes to her house, kills her entire family while she hides under the bed and then gets sent to a mental hospital instead of jail, which he escapes from (after killing a couple of guards) three years later. He kills a guy at a train station, assumes his identity and then ends up at the hotel where the object of his obsession happens to be attending her senior prom. He kills a maid, a porter, three of her friends, her boyfriend, a couple of cops and nearly her before he's shot to death by a detective. The end. That is exactly how this movie is laid out. All matter of fact, no tension, no suspense, just crazy dude, killing, killing, killing, killing, killing, the end. Brittany Snow is an adorable girl with very little range who needs to stick to light comedies and Scott Porter needs to stop taking work that is this far beneath him. I know he's getting politely escorted out of Dillon, Texas 4 episodes into this season but if this is the best he can do, he needs to fire his agent IMMEDIATELY!

In non-movie reviews...

Joan of Arcadia - I re-watched the entire series starting Labor Day Weekend and then into last week. Watching it all at once, it's even more clear how uneven the second season was compared to the first but the entire run was still better than most things that last 4 times as long on TV. Season two isn't completely without awesomeness as "Friday Night" is one of the saddest and most beautiful episodes of television I've ever seen and the first time the character of Judith really felt like something more than a nuisance. And Friedman quoting Hamlet and then hugging Luke and Grace and Helen is just about the sweetest, most heartbreaking thing I've ever seen! Still, it's season one that offers "State of Grace" (Grace and Joan's friendship is tested and we find out God's definition of grace), "Death Be Not Whatever" (we meet Rocky and find out why Adam hates November), "Anonymous" (in a very subtle way we begin to realize exactly what the presence of the Girardi's has done to the friendship of Grace and Adam) and the unbelievably awesome "Jump". If I even think about the phrase "good ripples" I tear up. Damn it, there they are...the tears again! I cannot recommend this show highly enough.

The West Wing (season 1) - All that time spent watching political conventions had me reminiscing about how great politics can be when they're scripted perfectly, so I NetFlix'd TWW. The first three seasons are really the best that the show has to offer - the acting was outstanding, the writing was strong and Sorkin hadn't yet become the derivative blow-hard that he is now (I watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip because I like Matthew Perry a lot and I'd watch Bradley Whitford do anything at all, but it was like he put the scripts for TWW and Sports Night in a blender, set it to mince, grabbed a handful of the resulting confetti, randomly glued it together and called it a new script). I'm 13 episodes into the first season right now having finished "Take Out the Trash Day" last night before turning in. Interestingly enough, though I bitch about how much Sorkin re-used on Studio 60, I do notice that he is guilty of the same thing on TWW, it just doesn't really bother me, at least not in the early seasons. I put Sports Night very high up on my list of favorite shows of all time (at number 2 or 3), I've seen every episode at least a half dozen times and I know the dialogue like the back of my hand so when he drops a "sticky wicket" comment into TWW, it doesn't go unnoticed. In fact, both shows concluded their first seasons with episodes titled "What Kind Of Day Has It Been" which either shows a lack of imagination or a really deep love for that phrase. But in the beginning, these similarities were small and only came along once in a while and, most importantly, weren't noticeable to all that many people because Sports Night was a very low-rated show. By the time he was recycling material on Studio 60, many millions more people had already heard it on TWW and for those of us who'd heard it on Sports Night as well, it was especially tiresome.

But the other reason that I overlook the small redundancies is because everything else about those early seasons were spot on. The impassioned speeches give me chills, the lofty ideals cause a lump in my throat and the tenderness and compassion brings a tear to my eye. Sometimes, with just one soundbite, it does all three:

"I want to be a comfort to my friends in tragedy. And I want to be able to celebrate with them in triumph. And for all the times in between, I just want to be able to look them in the eye." - Josh Lyman

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