Monday, August 07, 2006

Shakin' and Bakin': Talladega Nights review and 'lots MORE

What up, cuz?

Well I'm back after a relaxing weekend. A weekend that included a trip to the Olive Garden, thus making it a fulfilling, and filling, one in my book. Hahahaha .... I'm hilarious.

Anyways, the relative quiet of this week will soon be interrupted when the Greek Wonder himself, Chris Agra, comes by to pay a visit this coming weekend. I'm not sure yet what the itinerary is, but if it's anything like our college days, there will be a lot of sleeping all day and staying up until 4 am playing videogames. Hahah, like I said, it's gonna be crazy! For those of you not in the loop, Chris was my random roommate freshman year of college, in the prison-like dormitories of BU's West Campus. I think at that point in our college days, each of us simply looked at the other wondering who the hell this weird dude was who sleeps about 5 feet away from me every night, and why is he always HERE? Oh man ... well anyways, m then-random roommate and I went on to become good pals, and were roommates again junior year first semester (before each of us went on to spend a few months in jolly olde England - me in London, Chris at Oxford), and then again throughout our senior year (though luckily, that time around, we each had our own room, albeit separated only be this weird partition thingy, but still, a huge improvement over our freshman living situation). Christos hails from sunny Phoenix, AZ, home of the SUNS, and is currently studying to be a lawyer / highly educated slacker at Gonzaga.

Chris is one of the few, the proud - People Who I was College Roommates With, an elite group to be sure. For the curious, here were my various living situations throughout college:

Freshman Year: single in West Campus - Sleeper Hall - me and Chris

Sophomore Year: suite in Shelton Hall - me and Dan "Remdog" Remin (aka "The Demon") in one room, Dan Levin and Aksel in the other (this suite was famously known as the home of 3 Dans and an Aksel).

Junior Year (first semester): BU apartment on Aberdeen St., South Campus - me and Aksel in one room, Chris and Gabby in the other (on bunk-beds - their room was really small ...).

Junior Year (second semester): BU apartment in South Kensington - LONDON, England - me and 6 other guys

Senior Year: BU apartment on Beacon St (right across from Fenway) - me and Chris (see how that all came full circle ...?).

Each year brought with it an assortment of interesting personalities, crazy neighbors, and varying walks to and from classes along the sprawling urban campus of BU, and a lot of crazy stories.

Okay, enough reminiscing for now. Let's get to the movie reviews, shall we?


For me, Will Ferrell is kinda overrated. To reiterate what I've probably said before, I really enjoy Will Ferrell SOMETIMES, usually when he's doing outrageous characters. When he's acting as an extension of his regular Will Ferrell persona, I can't say I'm that big of a fan. Some of the stuff that other people find hilarious, I don't really get. I always hated the Cheerleaders on SNL, and I couldn't stand the organ-players sketches. I loved Harry Kerry, Robert Goulet, James Lipton, him and Rachel Dratch as the crazy professor "lovers", and of course, Cowbell. But when Old School came out, and everyone was all into Will Ferell, I didn't quite get it. It was an OKAY movie, but not that great. However, I loved Elf, and then Anchorman was pretty hilarious. So I guess what I'm trying to say is: Will doing Anchorman-style deadpan humor = very funny. Will doing over-the-top frat-packish humor = kinda annoying. Luckily, Talladega Nights is, mostly, the GOOD, funny brand of Will Ferell.

Basically, this is just a really fun movie. It reminded me of a cross between the sincerity and affectionate redneck satire of King of the Hill combined with the irreverence and false bravado of Anchorman. It doesn't really rank as a classic comedy, and takes a lot of shortcuts with its plot and characters, but it has enough laughs to easily justify the price of a movie ticket.

I mean, for one thing, the supporting cast is great. Let me do a quick run through:

Gary Cole (Office Space) - very funny as Ricky's deadbeat racing Dad
John C Reilly - pretty much the funniest character in the movie - most actors would make you want to shoot them for saying "Shake n Bake" 5 billion times in one movie - Reilly makes you love it.
Jane Lynch (Best in Show) - one of the best comedic actresses out there, she's great as Ricky's mom
Sacha Baron Cohen - What can you say? We're talking about Ali G here. Cohen is never as funny as the gay, French racecar driver / villain Jean Girard as he is as Ali G, Borat, or Bruno, but he crafts a memorable antagonist who has some of the film's funniest moments.
Amy Adams - shows some legit acting chops and has some scene-stealing moments as Ricky's assistant / love-interest.

And man, the kids in this movie are pretty hilarious as well. The younger one in particular gets off a ton of great lines.

So yeah, this is a funny movie, but structurally it definitely feels a little rushed. There's a ton of characters, and a lot of the character arcs occur really quickly, so that even when they are deliberately absurd (John C Reilly moving into Ricky's house and taking up with his wife hours after Ricky is hospitalized), they still seem a bit off. The humor walks the line between being organic to the plot and left-field absurd, but mostly it works, in the same vein as Anchorman or The 40 Year Old Virgin. But like I said, some of the randomness here feels more the result of poor pacing and structure than purely part of the joke.

As a comedy it's funny - to me it isn't as memorable as Nacho Libre, and not quite as good of a Will Ferell vehicle or as smart of a parody as Anchorman, but still easily among the better comedies to come out this year. Compared to the lame You, Me, and Dupree, it is on another plateau of comedy prowess, and this one's laugh ratio blows Owen Wilson's as Dupree out of the water. This one is very, very solid - probably not one you'll revisit over and over, but at least upon first viewing you'll get plenty of laughs.

My grade: B

Speaking of comedy, I've been seeing a few reports online that THE STATE is indeed, finally, coming to DVD? Please let it be so! I also read about THE TEN, a new comedy from David Wain (who directed Wet Hot American Summer and Stella) that looks to have an all-star cast, though no Michael Showalter or Michael Ian Black. I'm curious about pretty much anything that comes from any member of The State comedy troupe. So far we've gotten Wet Hot American Summer (amazing), Stella(very funny at times), Reno 9-11 (has its moments), and The Baxter (have yet to see, haven't heard great things). Coming soon we have Reno 9-11 the Movie, and Balls of Fury (the premise, about an underground ping-pong league, sounds hilarious), both of which should be very funny. But I' ll definitely keep an eye out for more info about The Ten.

Well, I couldn't help myself, while they were on sale I bought the final two seasons of Futurama, meaning I now own the complete series. This show was comedy GOLD that was totally screwed by FOX during its orginal run. It really does combine the best of Simpsons-style humor with ongoing plot threads and story-arcs that go beyond what even The Simpsons ever really incorporated. Can't wait for the new eps.

And since my soul is in the process of being continually, slowly, painfully drained as I wither away in the bowels of corporate hell ...

... that's all I can think of to write for now.

The end - bye.

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