For whatever reason, I've always kept my old ticket stubs to movies, games and concerts. I don't know why or what I'll ever do with them, but luckily enough, there's a niche for everything on the internet.
There is one film that can be traced to the catalyst for the comic book movie explosion of the past decade. In May 2002, Spider-Man came to theaters, forever changing American pop culture. Raking in nearly $822 million dollars, Hollywood studios took notice and began translating our penciled heroes into movie stars.
I loved the original Spider-Man. Director Sam Raimi put together what I believe to be one of the better casted comic book films. Tobey Macguire perfectly embodied Peter Parker’s mild-manner personality mixed with his insatiable drive to protect the people of New York. Peter’s love interest Mary Jane Watson, played by Kirsten Dunst, was bubbly and oozed chemistry with Macguire on screen. Father and son duo Harry and Norman Osbourne, James Franco and Willem Dafoe, mirrored each others mannerisms and moussed hair.
Then with every successful summer movie, the sequels start. In 2004, Spider-Man 2 was released to positive reviews. It was considered one of the rare sequels to be better than its predecessor.
I loved Spider-Man 2. It was silly and the acting was pretty bad, but nonetheless, it was fun. The thing about Spider-Man is that it’s supposed to be campy and light hearted. Spider-Man dresses in bright colors and speaks in puns. He’s not Batman or even Wolverine. He’s the all-American kid who shoots webs from his wrists. Spider-Man 2 followed the formula of blending action, emotion and comedic relief.
I’ve gone into Spider-Man 3, so I won’t write anymore on the worst movie to be ever made in the history of movies ever made.
America needed Spider-Man back in their lives. We were robbed of a third installment that was worthy of our favorite web crawler. So the talks of reboot began quickly and the twitter campaign #Donaldforspiderman started circulating around social media. The young actor and rapper, Donald Glover, was the internet’s favorite to become the new face of Spider-Man.
If casted, this would be the first time Spider-Man would be black, a major milestone in the character’s history. The campaign developed from a small internet hashtag and comic book store chatter to legitimate conversation about Glover being casted. Spider-Man creator Stan Lee even offered his opinion on the matter.
"A lot of [my Twitter followers] have been saying that he ought to have a chance to audition for the role," he said. "So I tweeted back by saying, as far as I’m concerned … anybodyshould have a chance to audition for the role. I certainly think he should have a chance to audition.”
Ultimately, the role was given to Andrew Garfield. A british actor which many Americans recognize from the 2010 film, The Social Network.
The idea behind casting Garfield was to give Peter Parker a more of a hip, skater kid as opposed to the dorkier, science obsessed, graduate school aged Tobey Macquire.
I think Garfield is a decent actor. I thought he was excellent in The Social Network and is very convincing with an American accent. However, I think the producers for The Amazing Spider-Man should have taken the internet’s advice and casted Donald Glover.
In The Amazing Spider-Man and it’s newly released sequel, Andrew Garfield looks like more of a Gap model than Peter Parker. Why did Spidey have a gently tossed quiff all the sudden? To me, Parker has always been dorky and mild mannered, not landing kick flips in an abandoned lot.
I don’t know if Glover was serious about wanting to be chosen as Spider-Man, but I believe he would have been the best pick. He’s on the smaller-sized end, which fits with the image of a pre-bitten, easy to pick on Peter. Yet, Glover has a charm that he can seamlessly flip on and off with a shift from a genuine, contagious smile to a deeply emotional and dramatic frame of mind. Perfect for the dual identity of Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
The ironic thing is that Glover has actually modeled for Gap. However, if I’ve gathered anything from listening to his albums, Camp and Because the Internet, it’s that there’s no room for bull shit in his craft. He doesn’t need swag or nonsense to distract the audience from his level of talent. He’s just that good. He is the Spider-Man we deserve.
I’m a big comic book movie kind of guy. I love all the X-Men and most of the Spider-Man movies. I regularly replay scenes from The Dark Knight in my head. That movie came out like 6 years ago, but I still can’t get enough of it.
So, I’m a little embarrassed that I never got on the Captain America bandwagon. When Captain America: The First Avenger came out in 2011, I didn’t really have much of an interest in seeing it for whatever reason. I didn’t follow him much as a kid, I guess.
I read really solid reviews for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so I decided to ignore my unpatriotic doubt and go see it. I rented the first one the night before to get caught up and, well, this is where I admit that I’m an idiot blogger who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I ended up really enjoying it. I’m a sucker for history, especially WWII, so I appreciated the storyline interwoven with Hitler and Germany.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, takes place two years after the events of The Avengers and decades after the first film. Captain America (Chris Evans) is working for S.H.I.E.L.D. while adjusting to modern society. Joined by Agent Natalia Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America, aka Steve Rogers, assists in a successful mission to free hostages from a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel held by pirates. Upon returning back to headquarters, Captain America discovers Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is preparing to launch three Helicarriers that will monitor every citizen deemed a threat to national security. A sort of preemptive measure that disturbs the Captain.
Rather suddenly and unexpectedly, Agent Fury is attacked by a mysterious, cyborg assassin dubbed the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Upon escaping, a battle worn Agent Fury finds his way to Captain America’s home in order to warn him to not trust anybody.
With his words of caution, a suspicious Captain begins to question the actions of S.H.I.E.L.D. senior official Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford). Slowly, a devious plot linking powerful government officials to the Red Skull’s group, HYDRA, begins to unravel. Captain America recruits the help of Agent Romanoff and friend, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) aka Falcon, in order to defeat HYDRA and the Winter Soldier both.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fantastic movie that I highly recommend. This was the perfect way to prepare for the summer blockbuster season. Chris Evans is naturally charismatic and charming in his third incarnation as Captain America. Samuel L. Jackson nailed his role as Nick Fury and added a lot of depth and vulnerability to the character. Up until now, I just thought of Nick Fury as emotionally impenetrable and one dimensional. Furthermore when Scarlett Johansson played Agent Romanoff in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, she portrayed a sexy, cool and confident tough girl. Which is fine and she did a great job at it. However, this time she added a slice of comic relief that was just what this movie needed.
Over the past few years, Anthony Mackie has become one of my favorite actors. He has a way of transitioning his emotions effortlessly. In each of his roles, he goes from a smiling, easy going guy’s guy into stone faced, focused beast mode. I didn’t think he exactly stole the show in this one, but he didn’t necessarily need to in order for his acting to be considered great. Anthony Mackie has had an accomplished decade-long career so far, but I still feel we’re going to see him really emerge as a leading actor in both big budget, Hollywood movies and smaller, independent roles. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, rent The Hurt Locker.
If you haven’t seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet, go to the theaters and see it as soon as you can. I highly recommend it.
To be a Chicago Bulls fan during the 2010-11 season was an incredible experience. In Chicago, we’ve been absolutely spoiled with Michael, Scottie and Phil. We’ve seen two three-peats and have been the center of attention for the entire basketball loving world in the 90’s. Even the Lakers can’t say they defined the 2000’s without excluding Detroit, San Antonio, Boston and Miami. We owned our decade. For a small gap in the middle, the Bulls dominated the league with banner after banner, ring after right. That ended in 1998 when Jordan retired for the second time and Bulls basketball became just another club in a crowded league.
We watched Phil Jackson coach Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to 5 titles as draft picks bust and free agents pass us over.
However, after a decade of the nauseating post-Jordan hangover, the 2008 number one overall pick, Derrick Rose, came home to bring us back into contention for another title.
This was the first Bulls game I had been to in years. When I was a kid, Bulls tickets were ungodly expensive and understandably so. We couldn’t afford to go, so my first Bulls game came during the Ben Gordon/Ben Wallace era in 2007. All I remember from that game is that the Magic came into town and beat the Bulls in double over-time. The Bulls were a decent team, but could never get over being bounced early in the playoffs. So I stopped caring about going to games.
I volunteer my free time with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago and one of the perks is that generous supporters will donate tickets to sporting events from time to time. So my little brother and I were super fortunate in that we were given a pair of tickets in the 5th row behind the visitor bench. Our first Bulls game in the Rose era.
The Bulls played the 76ers that night. The conversation about Derrick winning the MVP that year was no longer talked in what ifs, but rather in he’s already won. First year head coach Tom Thibodeau was building his case for coach of the year and the Bulls held fast to the best record in the league. This was unlike anything I had seen since the 90’s.
The United Center erupted in MVP chants and cheers every time Derrick touched the ball. Unlike the last game I had been to, which was lethargic and ghostly quiet, the United Center was flowing in a sea of number 1 jerseys and civic pride.
Derrick scored 31 points that night with Boozer adding 15 and Deng and Noah both contributing 10. It wasn’t enough for a scrappy Philly team fighting for a playoff spot. Andre Iguodala added 19 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists on top of Spencer Hawes 14 points, Elton Brand’s 13 and coming of the bench, Thaddeus Young’s 21 impressive points. Philly won 97-85.
As deflating as it was to see the Bulls lose at home, the energy surrounding this team was nearly tangible. I can easily take for granted the fact that I got to experience and live through the dynasty era. I remember in 1996, my mom taking me to buy a Bulls hat after their 72 win season and championship. That’s a very special memory I have and that is what I’ll always equate to the Bulls. But to the kids who’ve grown up after the Jordan years, Derrick Rose is their hero and the reason they’ll fall in love with basketball.
To my little brother and the thousands of other young Bulls fans, getting to see Derrick Rose play in person is comparable to me watching Scottie and Michael. Except, Derrick and Noah and all the other guys who wear red still have a lot of basketball to play and a lot to prove. All of us Bulls fans see it in this team. Even after a loss, we all know the great things this team is capable of and the bright future they have.
This game was a long time ago, and the path the Bulls have been forced down is far from what I had imagined when Derrick won the MVP award that year. The team has changed dramatically since 2011. I’m not sure what Derrick will look like next season when he comes back from his second devastating knee injury. However, the only thing I can guarantee is that for the hundreds of thousands of Bulls fans watching, we will be alongside our MVP and the United Center will be buzzing once again.
When I graduated college in the summer of 2010, my family wanted to take a trip to celebrate. Since I was the fresh grad about to be assaulted by the real world, I got to choose where we went. It wasn’t much of a decision, however. I chose Ireland. I’m of Irish decent and even though the members of my ancestry immigrated to America a long time ago, I felt it was important to see where we came from. My parent’s planned the whole trip and we flew into Dublin that fall for a 9 day visit.
Quickly, we learned everything in Ireland is completely over priced, so to save a few Euros, I went with my Mom, Dad and brother to the movies. Right next to our hotel in downtown Dublin was a small movie theater that had 6 screens. There wasn’t much playing other than Dinner for Schmucks. I like Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, so I figured it couldn’t be that bad.
It was a train wreck. I don’t remember a thing from the plot at all. I must have pushed it out shortly after witnessing what a disaster. It was completely unfunny and made me hate Steve Carell (only for a few hours). Zach Galifanakis played a supporting part in Dinner for Schmucks as lazy attempt at a reincarnated Alan from The Hangover. He comes on screen, he’s rude, awkward, bizarre and misunderstood. Who does that sound like? Zach Galifanakis is one of my favorite comedians, so I was legitimalnly pissed to see him take this role.
Obviously, I can only give my opinion, but I would fairly say that most people would agree that Dinner for Schmucks is just awful. Rotten Tomatoes has it at a 42%, which is pretty generous, I think. The fact that 42% of the critics would recommend this movie is insanity.
The weird part was that as much as myself and my family hated Dinner for Schmucks, all the other members of the audience loved it. I don’t mean that they laughed a little here and there. I mean that they were laughing to the point of losing their damn minds. Like when you laugh so hard you can’t breath. Belly laughing and falling out of chairs was the reaction the Irish had. I couldn’t understand why this movie was so funny to everybody else.
Perhaps one can deduce that it’s simply differences in culture and what is perceived as funny. That may be true and I’m not going to ever insult someone’s taste based on their culture. So if you feel like maybe this would be something you would like, you should rent it because you may get a good laugh out of it. Otherwise, don’t waste an evening watching Dinner for Schmucks.
When Nelson Mandela was elected as the first black president of South Africa in 1994, the age of Apartheid ended. While the era of legal segregation for whites and blacks had ceased, many held fast to hatred against other races. Violence erupted throughout South Africa and the schism between whites and blacks remained despite Apartheid’s finale. Arguably, President Mandela’s greatest challenge was peacefully integrating whites and blacks together during times of civil unrest and poverty.
Invictus is about President Mandela’s (Morgan Freeman) course of action in handling such a sensitive matter. The plan became to unite the country through the national Rugby team, the Springboks, by winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup set in South Africa. However, to many black South Africans, the Springboks represent white supremacy and they would openly cheer against them. President Mandela recruited team captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) to lead an effort in promoting unity. Slowly, the Springboks gain the support of black South Africans through visiting impoverished communities and establishing friendships.
Like all great sports movies, Invictus is based on true events. At the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the Springbok went on to defeat the New Zealand All Blacks in dramatic fashion during added time 15-12.
While it is categorized as a sports-drama film, Invictus is much more than that. I don’t understand a lick of rugby, but I still found scenes depicting the championship match incredibly tense and exciting. However, at the film’s core, it’s a story of how no mount of adversity could deter a man from spreading peace and acceptance. After nearly three decades in prison, President Mandela walked out from his cell and held no resentment for the men and the injustice that shackled him. Rugby is only the catalyst for Invictus, but dissolving hatred and accepting peace is it’s true theme.
I highly recommend renting Invictus if you haven’t seen it already. The events of it were only 20 years ago. It’s incredible to think about where we were just two decades ago and how much further we have to go in order to eliminate prejudice and inequality.
I’m not a big concert guy. I get super annoyed waiting through opening acts and navigating through hordes of people who are either way too drunk or way too hell bent on pushing their way to the front.
Except when the concert is Dustin Kensrue, the lead singer of Thrice. Because I became the type of person I may hate the most at his show. Since high school, I’ve been a devoted follower of Thrice when a friend of mine lent me their album, Vheissu.
Like a lot of lead vocalists, there’s always a solo album in the works. So in early 2007, we got the release of Dustin’s Please Come Home. I downloaded it album on iTunes, which was a big deal in 2007. I was still either buying CDs or stealing music off the internet like the rest of the world.
Right away I loved it. Thrice is typically known for experimenting with heavier sounds, especially in their early years. Please Come Home is entirely acoustic with a folk inspiration. The bridge between Thrice and Dustin’s solo work that makes him so successful is his impeccable lyric writing. He has always had a gift in story telling through his music. Please Come Home speaks more to the common man with songs such as I Knew You Before and Pistol. There are only eight tracks on Please Come Home, which was perfect for me. I could walk from my dorm to class and knock out about half the album while finishing the other half on my way back.
About two years later, I was still listening to Please Come Home regularly. I keep a pretty tight rotation on my iPod. I’m not sure why I did this, since I’m not a concert lover, but I checked the album’s official website for upcoming shows.
Scrolling down the list I kept seeing west coast cities. Thrice is based out of Southern California, so it didn’t surprise me. With each Orange County area show, I grew more discouraged. However, sitting so sneaky at the bottom of the list was, “The House Cafe….DeKalb, IL….January 21”
I’m not sure if it was pure luck or some sort of karma-type intervention for being a devoted fan that allowed this to happen, but I knew I was taking advantage of this opportunity to see Dustin Kensrue play live. Credit card numbers had never been entered quicker onto the internet. I tossed out a quick Facebook status and hooked a friend into going with me.
Then when the night came, my anxiety and excitement took hold and I drank myself into an oblivion in a pre-game fashion. When my friend and I got to The House Cafe, I was already pretty hammered. I hate waiting through the opening acts, no matter how talented they are. I just wanted to see Dustin Play. This show was unique, however, in that each act was a lead vocalist on a solo campaign, hence the tour name Where’s The Band. Matt Pryor from The Get Up Kids, Chris Conley from Saves the Day and Anthony Raneri from Bayside opened up for Dustin. Most of the people there knew their songs and were there to actually enjoy them. Not me. I was there just for Dustin. So I drank $8 beers to keep my buzz going and my mind off the wait.
When Dustin came on stage at The House Cafe, I completely lost my mind. I became the jerk I hate the most at concerts. I pulled out my digital camera and pushed my way to the front of the crowd. I wanted to record every second of Dustin’s performance so I could relive it every day for the rest of my life. The guy I hate at concerts was now me.
The House Cafe is a really small, intimate setting. There are only a few couches and tables in the front with a small stage in the back that is only a few feet above the floor. It can maybe fit 100 people in there before a fire code is in jeopardy.
Dustin put on one of the best concerts I have ever been to. He played just about all of Please Come Home in addition to a handful of Thrice songs and a few covers. This was done during a sub-zero temperature night in January on the final stop of the tour. Somehow, Dustin’s voice was flawless.
At one point during the night, Dustin finished off a beer he was drinking in between songs when someone from the audience yelled that he needed a new one. He looked out into the crowd and playfully asked back who could get him one. Sierra Nevada.
Just like before, I didn’t know if this was luck or intervention working in my favor. Maybe It was that I was right up front and stood out being well over six feet tall, but Dustin did the the snap and finger gun motion in my direction. I was his guy and this was my moment to shine. I barreled through skinny hipsters at full blast to back of The House Cafe where the bar sits. The bartender heard him say Sierra Nevada so he had a fresh one ready to go. I made my way back with his beer and waited until he got through his next song. This was literally the most important job I’ve ever had. I made sure to have my friend document our exchange.
What made this show so much fun was that the minute he was finished performing, he hopped right off stage at started interacting with all his fans. I’ve never seen or even heard of a singer of a successful band being this cool and down to earth.
When I got my turn to talk to Dustin and take a picture with him, I made sure to tell him how big of a fan I was of his. He gave me a very genuine appreciation for coming out to the show and thanked me for the beer. This may be the reason why I hate going to concerts now. There will never be another show as incredible as this one was for me. I got to give my favorite singer a beer and hang with him after the show. Not many people have gotten an opportunity like that and I’ll never forget it.
Luckily enough that teeter-totter between lucidity and black out drunk leaned in my favor and I remembered the whole show. The only downside of the night was that I was too drunk to realize that you can’t sing along right next to the camera mic. The next day I planned on watching the whole concert again on my computer only to hear my horrendous voice squealing over Dustin’s singing. Live and learn.
There is no greater city to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in than Chicago. There is no close second. When I was in Dublin a few years ago, I was on the Guinness Storehouse tour, where I spotted something familiar from home. There was a section of a wall with photographs. These photos depicted how Guinness and the Irish influenced other cultures. One of these just so happened to be a picture of the dyeing of the Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day. When the motherland herself is giving props to Chicago, you know it’s a big deal.
One of my favorite, semi-recent, St. Patrick’s Day traditions is when the Bulls wear green jerseys. First off, I can totally understand why someone would hate them. Obviously they’re not our colors and it looks like we’re the damn Celtics, but I don’t care about that. I appreciate the organization’s homage to the city’s strong Irish heritage. (However, what hated was that this year’s green jersey had sleeves. Stop pushing the sleeves, NBA and Adidas. They’re awful and completely unnecessary. You’re totally within your rights to push new products and sell them at $110 each to make more money, but quit trying to sell us bullshit. You’re going to ruin something that was never broken.)
I wanted to experience a St. Patrick’s Day game in person, so I bought a pair of tickets and took my girlfriend. It was weird seeing Deng printed on the front. I’ve finally gotten used to him not being a Bull anymore. We could have used him on defensive Monday night.
We got to the game pretty early. It was Joakim Noah bobble head night and I wanted to get on that. To my disappointment, they were already out of them. Even at nearly an hour before tip. No biggie though.
The point of getting to a Bulls game early isn’t to get cheap crap, no matter how enticing it is. No, the most important part is to see the starting lineup. When Benny the Bull is at center court with only a spot light on him, waving a giant Bulls flag, the crowd goes bananas. The jumbotron lights up with charging bulls running through the streets of Chicago. The music starts and smoke and fireworks blast off from behind the screen. Very little has changed in the way the Bulls do the starting lineup since the days of Michael and Scottie, and thats the way it should be.
Except this time, green lasers beam out and focus on the floor. A gigantic shamrock forms and dances around and I lose my mind.
Playing the Oklahoma City Thunder is tough. This team has been so good every year since drafting Kevin Durant in 2007 and they have realistic championship hopes this season. I’ve seen the Bulls beat them before, but Kevin Durant is most likely the MVP this season and nearly impossible to stop.
The Thunder were coming off a loss at home against Dallas the night before, so the Bulls had the advantage in this game. The first half was solid on the part of the Bulls. They kept pace with the Thunder, even when falling behind two points at the half. The Thunder is a very well rounded team with a lot of depth. So there’s no simple way to stop them from scoring.
Jimmy Butler is one of the best defenders in the league, and he was the best option for Durant. Butler can guard 1’s and 2’s as well as 3’s and 4’s. He’s incredibly versatile and has shut down the likes of Kobe and LeBron. However, Durant is the perfect combination of height and fluidity. Part of Butler’s defense is to make the opponent settle for shots they’re not comfortable in taking. Durant is so relaxed out there that he’ll take any shot despite pressure and sink it. It didn’t matter where Butler had him. Durant would just raise his long arms above him and took the shot.
In the second half, the Bulls went ice cold in scoring. I can live with the fact that a defensive juggernaut like the Bulls has a low scoring average. You don’t need to score 110 points in a game if you’re holding your opponent to under 95.
What I can’t stand is watching this team get desperate in the fourth quarter and take stupid shots. The Bulls were only held to 18 points in the final twelve minutes. That’s not because the Thunder were heavy on defense. That’s because D.J. Augustin tried to play hero ball and take the shot on each possession. Augustin went 3-11 from the field and 0-6 from behind the 3-point line. That kind of offense is unacceptable and sloppy, especially from Augustin who has been dynamic this season. This is a high scoring, western conference team, so every possession the Bulls had needed to be efficient.
Ultimately, the Bulls lost 97-85. It was tough to see them play so poorly in the second half, but I still had a fantastic time.
The Bulls organization has done a wonderful job with it’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. While Chicago is a diverse city filled with many different ethnic backgrounds and traditions, the Bulls recognizing the culture of the south-side Irish has been a great homage to the city’s long lasting lineage to the emerald isle. As someone of Irish decent and with south-side roots, it was incredibly fun celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with 23,000 other fans. I can’t wait for next year.
After Will Ferrell left Saturday Night Live in 2002, the every-man movie invasion began. During his tenure at SNL, the common man found their hero in Will Ferrell, including myself. I’ve always identified myself with him. We’re both tall with a light skinned, Irish complexion. I’ve always had a baby face, but somehow still managed to look like I was 35 in my teens and twenties. Ever since I was 16, I had hair on my chest, belly and back. That’s not what your look should be ever, let alone as a teenager. But, when Will Ferrell would take off his shirt off onstage and start parading around, I would see myself in him. It made me proud to be the only kid with the body hair of a middle-aged man. It didn’t hurt too much with the ladies that the most popular man in America and I looked a little alike. Okay, maybe not.
In the forming years of the 2000’s, when we were trying to sort through the fads that will go on to define the decade, Will Ferrell marched onto our movie screens and grabbed our laughter with every shirtless installment. Films like Old School, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, Talladega Nights, Semi-Pro and Step Brothers dominated the box office. It didn’t matter if he was the lead or a cameo. If a movie was, and still is, attributed to him, it’s going to bring in millions for studios. He’s still going strong, depending on how you view his movies, but when we look back at the early years of the century, Will Ferrell Movies will help define it comparable to how Chaplin did in the 20’s.
I saw Talladega Nights in 2006, the summer I graduated high school, with some buddies of mine. We went shortly after its release in August, which is a scary month in the life of a high school graduate. It’s the final month of total parental dependence before going off to college and drinking ourselves into an oblivion. Maybe not for some kids, but for the suburban life we lived, we were pretty sheltered. Leaving home and starting a new life in a new town on our own caused a lot of anxiety.
At least that’s how dramatic I thought it was. In reality, we hung out all the time still on breaks and were still super dependent on mom and dad. But, we wanted to experience one final Will Ferrell movie together before we all split up for college.
Talladega Nights stars Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby, a delusional NASCAR driver who is obsessed with landing in 1st place. It’s like a lot of Ferrell’s other movies. He runs around and screams with his clothes off, he has a loving family who eventually get sick of him and he must win them back by showing he’s a changed man. Really, you could plug that same vague plot point into almost every movie ever written, but for Ferrell’s movies, it’s the standard.
There’s a lot of one liners in this movie, which makes it fun to repeat with your friends, but it’s a pretty forgettable movie. Truthfully, the only thing I remember about it is that Michael Clarke Duncan is in it, which I feel bad about now after his untimely death. Also I attribute this to be the movie that really launched John C. Reilly into the comedic forefront.
I walked out of the theater pretty unimpressed with Talladega Nights. To me, it just could never strike up that deep, belly laugh that Ferrell usually can do. I occasionally chuckled, but I couldn’t get that euphoric laughter where tears start fighting their way out and you can’t catch your breath. Turns out, I was in the minority over this.
Rotten Tomatoes rated Talladega Nights at a 72% approval rating. Clearly, I’m outnumbered in my opinion. Which is weird because I love Ferrell’s other movies. Perhaps it was because I knew that this movie was signaling the end of going to watch every Will Ferrell movie with my friends. It was scary to think about what was going to happen to our little group of friends after we left for school. I couldn’t get that off my mind throughout that entire summer, no matter what Will Ferrell did.
I’ve caught parts of it here and there on TV. I still chuckle a little, but I inevitably change the channel. It doesn’t have the same timeless feel like Old School or Step Brothers. I would recommend skipping the rental and just wait for it to cycle through on the USA Network or FX.
Imagine you’re a big time director that has just signed on to work with Liam Neeson on an action thriller with a big budget. You don’t have a script in mind but you want to combine the brilliant resourcefulness of Taken with the tension and energy of Speed into one big action movie. Except, you don’t work very hard and you end up combining Taken 2 and Speed 2 into one big dumpster fire of a movie.
Non-Stop, directed by Jaume Collet-Sara, is an action movie staring Liam Neeson as a U.S. federal air marshal Bill Marks, who is assigned to an overnight, transatlantic flight and Julianne Moore as a fidgety, window-seat obsessed passenger. Surprisingly, recent Academy Award winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o has a minor role as a rookie flight attendant. Pretty quickly on, text messages start popping up on Marks’ phone, threatening to kill someone aboard the plane every twenty minutes unless $150 million is transferred to an account.
I won’t really go into the plot too much more, because it’s incredibly chaotic. On this flight to England, we see Agent Marks smoking in the bathroom with a tampered smoke detector, a brief case filled with cocaine and a bomb, plus all kinds of weapons on board. This entire movie could have been over in 10 minutes had basic, post 9/11 airport security been written into the movie. I get that air marshals are required to bring their firearms on board with them, but how can several pounds of coke and a bomb make its way. Plus at one point, there’s evidence that a blow dart device was used to kill people. This whole movie is nonsense.
The acting wasn’t all that bad. Moore and Nyongo’o did fine as well as most of the cast. There weren’t many big names involved, but if you’re a Downton Abby fan, you’ll recognize Michelle Dockery as the head flight attenedant. Hopefully for Nyong’o, she won’t need to participate in a movie like this after her Oscar win.
Neeson, however, just looked tired and ready to collect his check and go home. To be fair, his character is a depressed alcoholic, so I can see that perhaps that was what he was trying to do, but he really phoned it in during some of his scenes.
Don’t see it. I can’t even recommend renting it when it comes available. I didn’t even want to write about it because it was so awful. Maybe watch it with a buddy when you’re drinking one night and it’s on Spike TV or whatever. I only decided to document that I went to see it because I knew if I waited more than a few weeks, I would forget the entire movie. Now that I’ve logged it in, I can erase any detail my brain is holding onto.
Silver Linings Playbook, directed by David O. Russell, is a fantastic and quirky movie about the life of Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) After an eight month stint in a mental health facility for bipolar disorder, Pat returns home to restart his life. While living with his parents, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores, (Jackie Weaver) Pat obsesses over reading books and physical fitness as he believes this will win back the affection of his estranged wife, Nikki. Meanwhile, he meets a young woman who has had her own difficulty with mental illness after the untimely death of her husband. Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) promises to act as a courier between Pat and Nikki as long as he agrees to participate in a dance competition as her partner. In the mean time, Pat must juggle his commitment to Tiffany and time spent with his father, who believes Pat is the good luck mojo for the Philadelphia Eagles.
I read The Silver Linings Playbook novel, written by Matthew Quick, before I saw the movie. I read a lot of good reviews on Amazon and decided why not. However, there is no bigger rookie mistake than reading the book first.
I downloaded it to the Kindle app on my phone during a slow day at work. Right away, I couldn’t get enough. I read during breakfast and lunch. I read in the bathroom. I read whenever I got a free minute. I read this whole book on a 5 inch screen. Human eyes were not meant for that kind of strain, but it was worth it. I cranked through it at a record speed and finished it in a few days.
It’s an incredibly touching and emotional story. Quick balances humor and serious character depth and development particularly well. It is pretty easy to predict what’s going to happen throughout the story, but that’s not the point. The point is just to experience Pat’s post-Nikki life with him and observe his adjustment back into a healthy mental state. The chemistry between Tiffany and Pat is captivating and you want to completely envelop yourself in their relationship. It’s important to note that Quick is not using mental illness as the subject of his humor.
Obviously there are many differences between the book and the movie. Such as Pat’s last name (Peoples) and his experience at the Eagles game. In the book, a fight breaks out between Pat and a Giants fan, not a group of racist Eagles’ fans. Which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but when you’ve read the book first, you go in with certain expectations of scenes you’ve played through in your head. So coming out of the theater, I was a little disappointed.
However, I watched it for a second time the other night. I received the Blu-ray of Silver Linings Playbook for Christmas, so I felt I should give it another shot. I figured enough time had passed since reading the book.
On the second time around, I enjoyed this movie so much more. I forgot about all the expectations I had created and just went along with the story. Bradley Cooper did a fantastic job portraying Pat’s obsession with Nikki and Jennifer Lawrence fabulously captured Tiffany’s confident instability. Tiffany’s persona must have been incredibly difficult to master and there’s no doubt that Lawrence deserved to win the Oscar for best actress.
My recommendation is to rent Silver Linings Playbook, even if you’ve already watched it. It’s one of those rare movies that can be watched multiple times without losing its charm. Then, read the book. Don’t do what I did and read it first, because you’re only setting yourself up for problems later.