Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tropic Thunder

This is second of the comedy/action flicks to come out this summer and I'm gonna say right off the bat that it is far better. Pineapple Express was funny for sure and Danny McBride and James Franco absolutely steal that show. But now that some time has passed and after seeing Tropic Thunder last night it was very clear to me what was wrong with Pineapple Express. Pacing, pacing pacing. Yes Tropic Thunder is frenetic and completely whacked out of it's mind, but it's a fun ride all the way through. Ben Stiller is wearing many hats for this flick but I think he finally found a comedy that works for him in front of the camera and behind it.I love how they skewer Hollywood with this pic. It's not original, I know, Hollywood has been making fun of itself for quite awhile. Quality flicks like the Player, Swimming with Sharks, Barton Fink, Bowfinger, Adaptation, An Incident at Loch Ness, Get Shorty, Wag the Dog and yes I kind of liked the Hard Way with Michael J. Fox and James Woods. Tropic Thunder fits in snuggly into this genre. We follow Tom Cruise like superstar Tugg "Tuggernuts" Speedman (Ben Stiller), Russell Crowe like chameleon and oscar winner Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), a spastic comedian in the vein of Chris Farley Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) and rapper turned actor Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) as they embark on a big scale Vietnam War pic. These guys are total prima donnas as the Director (Steve Coogan) tries to reign them in. With the help of his special effects guy (Danny McBride) and, totally insane, writer of this true story, Four Leaf Tayback (Nick Nolte), they decide to drop their actors literally into the shit. A remote area of Vietnam, specifically, and drop bombs on them so they can feel a real war in order to get that stare through a baptism of fire. Sorry my action cliche's just went into overload. Unfortunately they get caught between the jungle and a real Vietnamese drug cartel. The actors all fall apart in one way or another and it's up to the newbie actor Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) to get them through it alive.This film was funny from start to finish. From the bit parts of Tuggernuts' ass kissing Agent (Matthew McConaughey) to Tom Cruise as a funny as shit Producer who has some hilarious dance numbers. I loved the faux trailers and I really enjoyed Robert Downey Jr. Yes these guys poke fun at everyone in Hollywood and no it's not exactly PC especially the Simple Jack stuff but it is damn hilarious. Hollywood is obsessed with playing dimwits and mentally challenged people and many of them have received Oscars for their efforts. Like Forrest Gump and Rain Man and then you have the unbearable flicks like The Other Sister and I Am Sam. As Lazurus says in the film "You never never go full retard." Obviously Sean Penn and Giovanni Ribishi didn't heed that advice. That is what they are making fun of not the handicapped children. These special interest groups need to chill out on their boycott. It was definitely the funniest movie of the summer and it really had some great action sequences to boot. So go see it for the laughs, the thrills and especially Tom Cruise dancing like a gangsta'!

Grade: 4 Buckets

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pineapple Express

Judd Apatow and his minions strike again with another big honking summer comedy. I wonder does this guy get any sleep, I know he isn't directing all of these movies but everything he seems to touch turns into a solid gold production lately. With Talladega Nights, Knocked Up, Superbad, Stepbrothers and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. (I guess, technically, he does have a couple bombs like Drillbit Taylor and Dewey Cox.) This time around the director is a fellow NCSA alum David Gordon Green. Frankly I was very surprised that he was chosen for this film given that he has mostly done indie style dramedies for most of his career. This is also a bit of a departure for the Apatow/Rogan crowd as they extend into Comedy/Action with Pineapple Express. The end result was funny but I do think that Rogan and company are starting to wear a little thin.Dale Denton (Seth Rogan) is a pot head process server who pretty much plays the same doofus character he has played in his last few films. I can't remember the last movie that had a process server as the lead but I could imagine anyone who would dress up in funny disguises to serve court orders to unwitting citizens at their place of business would be either a complete loser or a total scumbag. Dale plays a combination of both. He's lazy and unmotivated and he is dating a senior at the local High School, played by the very attractive Amber Heard. As I mentioned before Dale likes to smoke a lot of pot. He picks up a new kind of bud called, you guessed it, Pineapple Express from his stoned out of his mind dealer Saul (James Franco). The shit hits the fan when Dale witnesses a murder by a crazy angry cop (Rosie Perez) and her drug dealer boyfriend Ted (Gary Cole). Dale and Saul go on the run and of course the comedy and action ensue. At this point the films jumps back and forth from a typical Judd Apatow stoner comedy to car chases and bloody action sequences and then back to the Laurel and Hardy style gags again.James Franco really steals this show with his bizarre and funny portrayal. Another NCSA alum, Danny McBride, puts in some good laughs as the fence swinging pimp/dope dealer Red. I enjoyed the Midnight Run homages, although, it made me think about how great that chase movie was compared to Pineapple Express. My brother and I laughed frequently but the pot jokes had mostly been used in other, better, films like Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke. Overall it was a silly action romp with some great laughs but it was ironically a forgettable film that finds itself 4th in my Judd Apatow/Seth Rogan film list.. so far:

1. Knocked Up
2. 40 Year Old Virgin
3. Superbad
4. Pineapple Express

Grade: 3 BucketsThe very gorgeous Amber Heard! I couldn't find a good pic from the movie so I thought I would use this one.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium

(left to right) Me, My Bro, My Uncle and my Pops

This past weekend my Father, Brother and Uncle all came up to visit me in New Jersey. The main focus of course was Yankee Baseball. I am the third generation Yankee fan in my family and I am proud to pass on all of that great legendary love of Americas Team to my son, Nathan. We started off with Friday's game against the Angels, ugh what a sloooooooooow game. Sydney Ponson pitched a great game for the Yankees keeping it scoreless until the bastards scored off of Mo in the 9th. The only problem is that the Angels pitcher Ervin Santana also pitched a peach of a game not allowing a run the entire game. The Yanks just couldn't get a run going, they had plenty of hits but they couldn't seem to drive anyone home. My uncle, a great guy, but a very pessimistic fan, was out in full force. According to him the Yanks were all bums and completely worthless. Thankfully his mood would change at least a little bit on Saturday. Needless to say the Yanks lost 1-0 dropping the second game against the Angels in the 4 game series. Yankee Stadium

We were concerned when we woke up Saturday morning when we looked at the weather reports and saw that it was supposed to rain cats and dogs all damn day. But we were determined to get to the stadium. Our plan, get there early and beat the crowd so we could see Monument Park which my brother has never seen. If you've read my previous posts on the Yankees you would remember that when my Grandfather died we found a way to sneak some of his ashes into Monument Park. The next game Cone had his perfect game, I kid you not. So as you could imagine Monument Park holds a special place in the Marvin family's hearts. It was raining hard at Yankee Stadium and we were pretty down, it didn't look good for us to see the game. We bought plastic bags with Yankee symbols on it that many claimed to be a poncho (10 bucks a piece) and met up with my good friend Cody. The rain finally stopped for a moment allowing us to enter the hallowed halls of the Bronx. We ran to get in line for Monument Park and even though it was long as hell we were able to make it inside. By then the rain started to fall again, but it didn't faze us we had our ponchos and we paid our respects to Grandpa and the Yankee legends of old. Me in between monuments for Thurman Muson and Don Mattingly.

We got our pictures and we came out of Monument Park only partly drenched. We got our food and headed up to our seats to watch what was to be the biggest gathering of Old Timers at Yankee Stadium in the history of the ballpark. Saturday's game was especially important because it fell on the tragic day of the death of the team captain Thurman Munson August 2nd 1979. It was special also because Thurman's best friend the late Bobby Murcer had his most memorable performance as a Yankee the day they buried their Captain. Murcer and the Yankees flew back to New York to play against the Baltimore Orioles and Murcer lifted the ailing Yankees with his batting to defeat the Orioles in that emotional and exciting win. The sky was still dark as they began to announce the names of the 72 former players. Here are a few of the names: Wade Boggs, Graeme Lloyd, David Wells, David Cone, Jimmy Key, Darryl Strawberry, Tommy John, Jim Abbott and as the names were mentioned the sun slowly crept out of the clouds. They also introduced three of the wives of former players. Thurman Munson's wife Diana, Jim "Catfish" Hunter's wife Helen, Elston Howard's wife Arlene, Billy Martin's widow Jill and Phil Rizzuto's wife Cora. They introduced some of the Yankees best like Goose Gossage, Ricky Henderson, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neil, Dave Winfield, Whitey Ford, Willy Randolph and of course Yogi Berra. Wouldn't you know it, by the time Yogi came running out of the dugout the sun was bright and beautiful and ready for a great day of baseball. Hall of Fame Pitcher Whitey Ford

Unfortunately because of Fox and because of the rain we were only able to see one full inning of the Old Timer's game but it was worth it. To see Goose Gossage, Jim Abbott, David Cone and David Wells pitch again was really fun. It was also really great to see everyone give Willie Randolph a standing ovation after all that he has been through with the Mets. Paul O'Neil, Tino and Ricky Henderson all had hits. The color commentary for the Old Timer's game was officiated by Keith Olbermann. The Old Timer's game was brief but fun and it was truly a memorable experience. Fans give Paul O'Neil a standing O

Oh and the fun was just beginning as the Yankees rolled to an 8-3 win over the Angels bringing my Yankee Stadium average to a whopping 2-2 for this year. Moose pitched a great game and we got to see some great home runs from A-Rod, Molina, Betemin and Abreau. It was great spending time with friends and family at the house that Ruth built. Hopefully it won't be my last time this year but if it is I got a great memory to tell my kids. Me, Cody, My Uncle and My Pops

Derek Jeter

Yogi Berra