Like any hopeful reader, I have boxes of books just waiting to be read in my garage and even a fair number waiting in the digital realm. There’s not much rhyme or reason to which ones I choose or why they take me so long to read, but I figured I’d put a few thoughts down about these four books I’ve finished in the relatively recent past including books by Joe Hill, Erik Larson, Tina Fey and Roger Moore. Continue reading Four Books I Liked By Joe Hill, Erik Larson, Tina Fey & Roger Moore
The missus and I had Date Night sitting around from Netflix for a while. It’s not that we weren’t excited about watching it, but with her going back to work and us having a newborn, there just wasn’t a lot of time for movie-watching. Then came the glorious weekend! After hanging out poolside for most of the day on Sunday, we came back to the house and watched this as well as You Again? which I didn’t see enough of to review, but would call it a not-bad romantic comedy in the vein of Meet The Parents. It’s not really the kind of movie for me, but there you go.
Date Night starts Steve Carell and Tina Fey as a tired and busy husband and wife who decide to kick things up a notch and go out on a legit date in New York City one night from their home base of New Jersey. When they can’t get their way into a hot new restaurant, they wind up snaking somebody else’s reservation and wind up in trouble with some crooked cops. Since they’re being chased by cops, they can’t go to the police and wind up spending the rest of the movie figuring out how to save their asses with the help of a former PI of sorts in the form of an always shirtless Mark Wahlberg. As these things go, it’s an over the top romp that goes from bad to worse.
If you’re a fan of Carell or Fey’s humor then this flick should be right up your alley as he plays a slightly smoother and less awkward version of The Office‘s Michael Scott and she plays a less emotionally damaged version of Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. That might sound boring or repetitive, but their senses of humor really play well off of each other. The story kind of reminded me of a crazy 80s teen movie like License To Drive or Adventures In Babysitting, but starring really good comedians who know how to deliver their lines like nobody else. Add in the fact that the cast also includes James Franco, Mila Kunis, Taraji P. Henson, Common, Jimmi Simpson from Breakout Kings, Ray Liotta, William Fichtner, Leighton Meester (as a babysitter no less), Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo, Bill Burr, Olivia Munn and you’ve got a recipe for success. My two favorite scenes from the movie were the car chase and the dance scene, the latter of which had me ROLLING.
It’s no secret that I love 30 Rock. Damn, that’s a good show and tonight it was finally back! I read a few reviews that said the season premiere was kind of lame, but I had a great time with this episode. Yes, it stuck with a lot of the same things we’ve seen before: Jack being a right wing tough guy, Tracey being, well, crazy, Kenneth being naive and innocent, and Jenna being a dunce. But isn’t that what we love about the show? In addition to the wicked sharp writing.
But even considering the familiar territory of the characters, I still laughed like crazy at Tracey outside of 30 Rock trying to make friends with people. My buddy Zach works there and I was really hoping to see him in the background, alas it wasn’t meant to be. I also really liked Jenna’s song about off season tennis, the video at the very end and how it kicked into Jay Leno’s show. I wonder how many people got the joke? And even though Kenneth played the sweet innocent mountain boy (did anyone understand his crazy mountain person speak?), I liked how he played hard ball, did the Alec Baldwin voice and stuck it to Jack at the very end, even though it didn’t get very good results. I’m hoping that Jack promotes Kenneth to some high level position at some point.
I was hoping that we’d get to see some of Liz and Pete’s search for new performers mining some of Tina Fey’s SNL experience, but maybe next episode. It was funny to see the long-missing Josh quit, fail to do the table flip (a long running inside joke amongst those of us who used to work at Wizard) and get the kind of meta commentary on how he had been missing last season (did anyone else notice when he showed up in a commercial during 30 Rock? That was pretty funny).
A few other quick notes. Tracey’s name for Nobody’s wife “Susan Walters-hyphen-nobody” is one word away from my mom’s last name. That’s just weird. Maybe it’s because we took a picture in front of the big Christmas tree outside 30 Rock last Christmas Eve. Next quick thought, Steve Buscemi looks really, REALLY creepy with a blonde lady-wig on. Seriously. They used a lot of what’s not in this episode for the promos and I can’t wait to see Liz’s encounter with the dude in the bookstore window, the return of Will Arnett and him talking to Obama’s daughters. Needless to say I’m jazzed for the rest of the season.
For whatever it’s worth, I also really enjoyed the rest of the Thursday NBC comedy line-up. Good stuff all around, especially how funny Chevy Chase was on Community. Also, did anyone else think that The Office was testing the waters in case Jim and Pam got their own show? Just saying.
I’ve got to apologize again for my lack of posts. Things have been crazy, but I’ve been spending most of my free time watching movies and reading comics, so hopefully that will translate into more posts (if I don’t fall asleep first).
So, one of the first things I did when I started watching Netflix stuff on Xbox Live was add the first season of 30 Rock. When 30 Rock premiered I wasn’t all that into the show, which is strange because most of you know of my love of Saturday Night Live and I also watch The Office and My Name Is Earl which are on the same channel at the same time. I think part of the reason is that I started watching and REALLY liked Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip which is basically SNL on the west coast (as written by Sorkin). So, for whatever reason, it was hardly on my radar and I missed out on most of the first season. But I’ve been watching it since then and am a huge huge fan (I think it makes me laugh more than The Office now).
The one thing that struck me the most is that I had no idea how the series started. I just assumed it was an SNL-like show with a smaller cast and more dancers and that Liz and Jack were always friendly. Well, that’s not the case, as the first episode shows Jack’s first day, coming in and changing the Jenna-starring The Girl Show into TGS Featuring Tracey Morgan. Even though the series has been a lot of fun anyway, this made everything make a lot more sense.
There’s a lot of great episodes, including the one where Tracey goes on Conan Obrien’s show, but my favorite episode of the season has to be the one about Cleveland. As an Ohioan, it’s always great to see one of our cities on TV (especially Cleveland where my mom is from and my Grandma still lives). It’s what hooked me to the Drew Carey Show too. Anyway, I like that they kind of flip the script and make Cleveland out to be this cool, great place to run away to. The funny thing is that, according to Grandma (mine, not a character on the show) Cleveland and its suburbs used to actually be the hot spot for wealthy New Yorkers to summer at because of Lake Erie and it’s relative proximity to NYC. Go figure, huh? It’s kind of like hearing how many people went on their honeymoon to Niagra Falls. But anyway, I laughed for pretty much the whole episode and all the rest. If you’re a fan of smart comedy, you can’t go wrong checking out the first season. Some people say it’s a little slow in the first disc, but I’m not one of them. Definitely give it a disc, though, to see if you’ll like it. I ended up burning through the whole series in about three days.
Oh, also, I love Tina Fey. She’s the cat’s pajams as far as I’m concerned.
Just wanted to say a few quick things about three movies that I’ve seen recently and really enjoyed.
Sometime last week or the week before Em and I watched Baby Mama, starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Steve Martin, Romany Malco and more. I am a big fan of Tina and Amy first from their work on SNL and later Fey on 30 Rock, Romany was awesome in 40 Year Old Virgin and I can’t wait for him to star in something on his own and Steve Martin is funnier in this as an aging hippy mogul that he’s been in anything I’ve seen in a while. The basic plot is that Tina Fey wants to have a baby, but she can’t so she goes through an agency and ends up with Amy Poehler as her surrogate. The plot itself is VERY formulaic (I had it nailed down about 20-ish minutes in), but it’s the performances that really make this movie worth watching. If you’re a fan of Poehler and or Fey, then it’s definitely worth checking out.
Then, just today we watched Speed Racer. I know it bombed in the box office, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. The Wachowski Brothers took a tired old cartoon that I generally disliked and turned it into this crazy mix of action and drama in a really effective live action cartoon. Oh, it also stars Christina Ricci who I’ve had a crush on since Casper. But really, I laughed and called out “Oh [bad word for poo]” off and on so many times during the 2 hour movie. Don’t believe the bad hype and check this flick out on DVD. Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox and Shaft himself Richard Roundtree all offer up fantastically believable performances even against the backdrop of this cartoony world. Plus, the chimp scenes in this movie are my second favorite next to Any Which You But Loose and its sequel. Big ups to the Wachowskis, I think there’s some kind of Hollywood conspiracy that kept this movie from doing well. A CONSPIRACY I tells ya!
Finally, tonight Em, her mom and I went to see the Coen Brothers’ latest flick Burn After Reading. It was 97 minutes of pure delight. Definitely more Lebowski than No Country. It was much funnier than I expected it to be (I actually didn’t really know what it was about going in, just that it was some kind of spy thriller). It’s also a pretty hard movie to summarize, so I won’t bother. Two of my favorite actors George Clooney and Brad Pitt were awesome, JK Simmons made me laugh so hard I almost watered up. And of course John Malkovich brought his A game. The Coen’s really wove an interesting yarn with this one, keeping me guessing as to what was going to happen next, but also challenging me to keep up with the story. Oh, I also really liked the poster. Well done, what a great week for movies.