Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pontypool vs. Dinner For Schmucks

* = My excitement continues to mount...

I watched a crapload of stuff this weekend, since it’s my blog; sit down, shut up, and allow me to tell you my obnoxious opinion of what I witnessed.

- Pontypool (**** out of 5) –

What to say about a movie that SO divided the Movie-A-Thon core crew? I loved it. I thought it was a perfect modern blend of Carpenter, a pinch of Wells’ War Of The Worlds broadcast, a dash of Cronenberg, a snip-it of Romero’s ‘The Crazies, and more than a nod to The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. It’s not really a zombie movie, it’s not really an apocalypse movie, hell it’s not even really a horror movie. It’s something else, something different. I also have to applaud how they did a flick that is essentially a one location flick with NO money and still made it look like a million bucks. Does the flick have some issues? Yes, yes it does. I felt the ending was a tad to existential, it started to break it’s own rules a bit, and I’m not sure I really ‘got’ all the Norman Mailer references. I do have to say though, if you are looking for something different, in a good way, and don’t mind the strange then do yourself a favor and watch Pontypool.

- Nightbreed (*** out of 5)
Sometimes the movies you LOVE in your youth do NOT hold up. This is an example of this phenomenon. I just finished reading the book, Clive Barker’s Cabal, this film is based on last week. As anyone who reads this shite I type weekly knows I really love Clive Barker. I find his work to be evocative, challenging, and laced with inspiration. I remember loving this movie as a kid, just being enveloped by the idea that that ‘monsters’ are the ‘good guys’. Watching this Saturday night just made me want to see the actual Barker cut of the film. Clive Barker wrote, produced, and directed this adaptation of his own work back in the day, and the studio took what he had done and basically cut it to pieces. Rumors always persist that somewhere out there is a different cut, or at least all the ‘lost’ footage from his original film. Chances of it ever seeing the light of day in a real way are next to zero, which is a shame, because this movie is all sorts of ‘potentially awesome’. I loved how Barker expanded on the mythology he was building in the book, how portions are refined and even improved. Also one cannot help but mention the tour de force that is David Cronenberg as Doctor Dekker. He is simply jaw dropping amazing in this film. As for the negatives, I hate the pacing. It’s as if he’s rushing, the camera work is ‘meh’, and the special effects look really dated, but hey what do you expect. I think my overall semi-negative view on this film has more to do with the non-ending ending. Barker built something in Cabal and the this film that I wanted more of, it looked as if this was simply the beginning, but in the end he’s never returned to Midian. I find that to be a shame because I so desperately would like to visit it again.

- Cedar Rapids (*** out of 5)

Not bad Ed Helms, not bad at all. I had read all sorts of high praise for this little flick so maybe my expectations were a tad high, but I have to admit I liked, not loved, this comedy. As much as I like John C. Reilly he was basically playing every character he’s played in a comedy in this flick. The other supporting cast was just odd; Ann Hesche was very likable until you sort of see the seedier side of who she is. Isiah Whitlock Jr. is also just ok, except for his scene spouting off lines from ‘The Wire’, which was hilarious, but it was a LONG way to go for a 5-minute joke payoff. Last, but not least Alia Shawkat is good in EVERYTHING she’s in, but her entire ‘thing’ in this movie was just strange. She went from prostitute, to love interest, to sooth-sayer, to bizarre moment of clarity. She seemed more of a plot device in the film than anything else. Ok, that was a lot of bitching about a movie that I really did like. Ed Helms was great as the lead, he has an earnestness that’s hard to ignore, and the reality is the sum of the parts of the cast make up for any of my perceived weaknesses in the film.

- How To Train Your Dragon (Infinte *'s out of 5)

I went in with high expectations, and I was blown away. This is not just a great kids movie, but much like Megamind (Infinite *’s out of 5) & The Incredibles (Infinite *’s out of 5) it’s just a GREAT movie. I loved the voice acting, the cutesy character designs, and in the end I really loved and was moved by the ending, which was slightly unexpected. The battle at the end was suitably amazing and the scope very epic in feel, while not becoming clinical, I’m looking at you Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers. I don’t know what else to say, except I could sit down and watch this flick again right now and most likely love it just as much. Fantastic film.

- The Slammin’ Salmon (** ½ out of 5)

I really enjoy the Broken Lizard guys and there stuff, but this one was just very ‘meh’ for me. I wanted very badly to like this film, but it was a lot of the same jokes we’ve seen in three other movies now. I also have to say that for me it lacked the charm of Super Troopers (***** out of 5), the campy homage of Club Dread (*** ½ out of 5), and the bizarre joy of Beerfest (**** ½ out of 5). Not even a bizarrely violent and bi-polar Michael Clark Duncan could save this flick.

- Dinner For Schmucks (** ½ out of 5)

Whomever wrote &/or directed this flick should be punched in their mouth. You have Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, Jemaine Clement, Zack Galifinianakis, Larry Wilmore, Nick Kroll, Kristen Schaal, & Ron Livingston and THIS is the best you can do? I can sort of forgive that the first hour is just you spoon feeding me that Steve Carrell’s character is a disaster, and that he’s going to get Paul Rudd into fiasco after fiasco, but you drag that out into one hour and twenty minutes and start getting that familiar feeling, you know the one that makes me want to punch babies. The dinner is ultimately funny, but it’s not worth sitting through the rest of the flick. The sad thing is everyone in it is trying, and there a ton of little comedy gem moments in the film, but it’s just so ‘BLAH’ and repetitive for the vast majority. I do have to state though that Jemaine Clement is, as always, fantastic. He was the only thing that kept me from checking out that first hour and twenty minutes.

- Old School Doctor Who – I’m working my way through season two, and let me say this last three serials of the season have some serious changes to the status quo of the show. So without further ado;
o The Space Museum (*** out of 5)
This might be the first time we get to see The Doctor deal with ‘potentiality’. The Doctor and crew find themselves unstuck in time in the first part of the serial viewing their potential future, and it is NOT pleasant. They then try and survive a Space Museum where the ‘curators’ want to make them an exhibit, a potential revolution, and The Doctor HILARIOUSLY hiding inside a Dalek shell. It’s not a bad serial, not at all, but it has a vibe of ‘been there, done that’ to it. I liked that Vicki is NOT Susan; she’s not scared, she isn’t always bickering with The Doctor, and she’s very proactive. Ian and Barbara remain Ian and Barbara. Over the course of the show they’ve grown on me, but they have established roles on the show and in every story, and this is no different. This serial also has the first time I can remember where The Doctor looked like he was in significant jeopardy. I felt that added a much-needed dose of tension to a serial that seemed a bit longer than it needed to be.

o The Chase (**** ½ out of 5)

Now this is what I want from a Daleks-centric serial! The Daleks have a time machine and are chasing The Doctor and his Companions through time to “EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!” them. Lots of time jumping going on in this serial as the crew speed through time and space in an effort to avoid doom. I did find it funny that in New York they’d meet a southerner who was an idiot. In the end The Doctor out smarts his nemeses, and we get a bittersweet moment. Ian & Barbara get to use the Dalek time shift and go home. You know you don’t really appreciate some things until they are gone. I didn’t realize how comfortable I’d become with those two as the Companions. It was neat to see them come and go without some sort of ‘drama’, which is so often what accompanies the ‘loss’ of a Companion on the Nu Who. I did find it incredibly moving and touching the way The Doctor sadly sums up his time with them. Hartwell shifts from sly codger here to that heartwarming grandfather instantly, and seems truly hurt and heartbroken when they go home. He and Vicki have a wonderful moment that both reminds one of his relationships with Susan, and yet shows just how different he views Vicki. On the sweet note, we get another new Companion in Steven. I really dug how Steven was a captive of the Mechonoids for two plus years, having NO contact with other humans, until The Doctor and Companions show up. He seems sort of a broken man, that is why it was SO surprising for me that he makes into the TARDIS escaping the Daleks, The Mechonoids, and the deadly fungus. It’s even more surprising how he just sort of adjusts quickly to life on the TARDIS. Oh and he should have kept that beard, it was KICK ASS!

o The Time Meddler (***** out of 5)

We get our first Steven & Vicki as Companions serial, as well as our first adversarial Time Lord in The Meddling Monk, and we get to see Steven call The Doctor ‘Doc’ much to the latter’s chagrin. This is a fantastic serial, as we get the historical implications of the Vikings invading Britain, The Meddling Monk’s battle of wits with The Doctor as well as his ‘Master Plan’, and just a really solid story that works on a lot of other fronts. I want to write more about why I really loved this serial, but instead I’ll just point to it being one of the ‘MUST SEE’ serials of Old School Doctor Who.

Holy crap I watched a BUNCH of stuff. It’s a wonder my brain didn’t rot out of my head. Since I’m much farther into this blog than I ever intended let me cap it off with some…


- I found this funny…

- I finished the D&D Shadowfell Boxset (***** out of 5)

Sunday. I have to admit that it’s changed my plans for my current campaign. Originally, the Shadowfell was going to have slight role in the campaign, but now it’s going to get a LOT more screen time, as I start to formulate the shape and breadth of the outpost & the ‘Dark Bazaar’.
- Sailor Jerry’s is ‘tatty’ but man did it have a kick in for Rum, WHEW!
- David needs a Backiotomy...

- I’m a dick. I don’t get to say that very often, but I am. I literally turned into Kenny Powers yesterday evening when I began yelling for NO reason about something that really was not that big a deal, and then couldn’t stop. I wasn’t mad at my wife, in fact I felt terrible about how it effected her, but I was SO mad at the situation, and incredibly frustrated with myself that I was just amped up a lot further than I need to be. There is NO reason to ever raise your voice, there is less of a reason to raise it to a woman, and there is no excuse to raising it to your wife. Hello, my name is Ben, and I’m a dick, but I’m trying to change that.
- The Toilet is fixed, YEAH!
- Either this week or weekend Cassandra and I are going to try out or contest burgers. We finally have almost all the ingredients; we just need to have the time and the weather cooperate. I’m fairly confident about me creation, but I’m very eager to see how it comes to fruition.
- I miss football.
- We had MASSIVE branches fall the other night during the late night storm. One of them is at least as big around as my thigh and taller than I am. It’ll be great for the fire pit, but I’m not sure my neighbors enjoyed the fact that it crushed their lattice ‘fence’ when it fell. Stupid wind.
- I was lucky enough to hear the new Fairly Secret Army song ‘Dreamcrusher’, named after my mother’s nickname, this Saturday. And while it’s fantastic, and the bizarre Daverapping’ is hilarious, it does not beat ‘We Miss The Cold War’. Sorry Dave, just typing the name of the tune has already placed it firmly in my brain, where it will reside until I forcibly remove it.
- Fried Chicken, I need it.
- Frighteningly enough I'm actually enjoying True Blood this season, although I have to admit the Hillbilly Werepanther Reverse Gangbang that was taking place at the end of this week's episode was more than slightly disturbing. It's odd seeing Eric Northman

as a confused 'attack dog'. At least I'm not bored like I was the last two seasons.
- My anxiety is through the roof right now and I’m not sure why…
- In my constant ‘research’ for the upcoming Wrestling RPG, I’ve begun watching Ring Of Honor cards when I can find them. I have to say I’m impressed.

It’s got a Japanese stiff style, an ECW crowd, and low budget ‘aim high’ WWE production value. I also thoroughly love the wrestlers they’ve assembled. I’ve always been a ‘mark’ for Steve Corrino, and when they let him cut those in-ring promos about him trying to change his life it’s fantastic. So if you even sort of dig wrestling give R.O.H. a chance, it’s a damn fine product.
- I need to get my D&D encounters finalized this week so Saturday is simply about playing.

On that note I think I’ve done enough damage today.

“Life is so strange when its changin', yes indeed
Well I've seen the hard times and the pressure's been on me
But I keep on workin' like the workin' man do
And I've got my act together, gonna walk all over you

Gimme back my bullets
Put 'em back where they belong
Ain't foolin' around 'cause I done had my fun
Ain't gonna see no more damage done
Gimme back my bullets

Sweet talkin' people done ran me out of town
And I drank enough whiskey to float a battleship around
But I'm leavin' this game one step ahead of you
And you will not hear me cry 'cause I do not sing the blues

Gimme back my bullets
Ain't foolin' around 'cause I done had my fun
Ain't gonna see no more damage done
Gimme back, gimme back my bullets
Oh, put 'em back... where they belong

Been up and down since I turned seventeen
Well I've been on top, and then it seems I lost my dream
But I got it back, I'm feelin' better everyday
Tell all those pencil pushers, better get out of my way

Gimme back my bullets
Put 'em back where they belong
Ain't foolin' around, 'cause I done had my fun
Ain't gonna see no more damage done
Gimme back, gimme back my bullets
Oh put 'em back where they belong
Gimme back my bullets”

* = Look at that Majestic Moustache'!


  1. Do you know what else bugged me about Dinner for Schmucks? Never once did they ever call it that. They called it "Dinner for Winners" and said they were to invite "idiots to dinner" - but never once was it "Dinner for Schmucks." Why have a title that is not said or portrayed more obviously in the movie. That bugs me.

    P.S. You're not a dick. Comcast is a dick.

  2. I agree!

    Oh I'm still a dick 'cause I acted like one. I can blame it on other things, as I have in the past in other situations. Just ask David, or Anthony, or Jon, or Heidi, or anyone else. I can be a Grade +A Prick. I just do a reasonable job of not letting it be my default personality.
    Now that being said when I descend into assholish behavior, I don't trot down that proverbial lane I sprint! I don't sort of act like a massive douche I win the Charlie Sheen Memorial Cup Of Douchebaggery.
    So when I say I'm trying to get better at not being that way I mean it. I am, have been for about ten years now.

    Does it mean I always reach that mountain top? Nope, not at all. But I'll keep trying to be better than I was today, tomorrow, or the next day.

    Again, I'm sorry.

    Oh and fuck you Comcast.