Friday, June 11, 2010

Review: Get Him to the Greek

Sean "Puffy" Combs. Puff Daddy. P Diddy. Diddy. Puffy. No matter what you call the guy, he completely steals the show in Get Him to the Greek. He's not a great thespian by any means, but he has an absolute knack for delivering funny lines with a straight face. P Diddy is worth the price of admission alone.

The film, produced by the great Judd Apatow, tells the story of fictional rock-god Aldus Snow (made famous by the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as he attempts to make a career comeback by playing a gig at the famous Greek Theater in L.A.. Russell Brand reprises his Sarah Marshall role by once again playing Snow. Brand really is a funny weird dude and steps up to the plate in his first staring turn. There's something silly and comical about a British guy throwing out words you don't quite understand every now and then. The sidekick role is filled by rotund funnyman Jonah Hill (from Superbad fame). Hill's reaction shots are priceless as he places a straight laced career-minded guy who's trying to get Aldus Snow to travel from London to L.A. to perform at the Greek. Unlike some of his other roles, Hill is very understated here and I think it brings out his best performance. He's very believable and his chemistry with Brand and Diddy is natural.

P Diddy is totally shot out of a cannon in this movie. All of his scenes are performed with such bravado that you really believe he's this serious music industry mogul (named Sergio) who has 6 kids and pushes everyone he has contact with to the limit. Let's be honest, it's not much of a stretch for Sean Combs to play a rich music executive, but Diddy plays the role so over the top that it completely works. He had me slapping my knee and literally almost falling out of my seat. I am not exaggerating. There's one scene in the film where the main stars are tripping on drugs (if you don't want to see drugs, sex, alcohol and profanity you shouldn't be seeing this by the way). One of the characters hallucinates and sees Diddy's head floating around eating mini Diddy heads. Yeah it sounds bizarre, but it is fricking hysterical. I know the Academy won't be thinking about Combs come Oscar-time but seeing that they honored Robert Downey Jr. for a similar scene-stealing role in Tropic Thunder, I'd like to see them give Puffy some love.

Originally I was planing on giving this film 4 JR's but after sleeping on it I feel that rating would really not be doing justice to Diddy's performance, not to mention the great script and overall excellent ensemble comedic acting in the movie. Therefore Get Him to the Greek gets a very solid 4.5 out of 5 JR's and sits at the top of the list for comedies in 2010. I can see myself buying this one on Bluray eventually. It's the kind of film that would still be funny when watched during multiple viewings. I highly recommend it if you enjoy the whole R-rated Apatow-style comedy scene.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Merry Strasmas

As most of you know by now, the one and only Nationals rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg (that's Strahhh-sburg, not Straaa-sburg) made his MLB debut on Tuesday night and exceeded all expectations. My friend Doe, Nate and myself all attended and had great seats in the OF to see #37 warm up pre-game. The picture to the left was taken during the warmups. Strasburg didn't disappoint the sellout crowd as he went 7, gave up only 4 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks and struck out a team-record 14 Pirates batters. Absolutely incredible for someone's first major league game.

It was good to be at Nats Park and see the whole crowd into the game. Strasburg struck out the side in the 6th and 7th and each strikeout brought a louder roar from the crowd. It was without a doubt the best baseball game I'd ever been to (and I've probably been to 100 or so games).

The sky is the limit for this kid. Let's hope he can stay healthy long-term. Both he and fellow #1 draft pick Bryce Harper will be the core for this team for a long time. It's looking like the next few years will be very exciting for us Nationals fans. I'll definitely be watching on Sunday when #37 takes the mound again against the Indians. If you missed any part of the game (or if you want to see shear pitching talent personified), check out the recaps of all 14 strikeouts below.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: Splice

** Apologies in advance for the language used in this review. I am fired up and mad that I wasted $11.50 today so I'm gonna let loose a bit**

Splice is a huge steaming turd of a film from the fucked-up mind of director Vincenzo Natali that is without a doubt one of the worst films of the past decade. I went into this film thinking it would have a nice sci-fi edge and entertain me for two hours. Unlike watching Maximus in Gladiator, I was definitely NOT entertained.

The plot (which I will happily reveal all of in hopes of preventing anyone else from seeing this movie) revloves around Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley who play scientists that are in a relationship and are world-renowned for splicing genes of various animals to produce new species for use in scientific research. They end up making two slug looking creatures that help generate funding for their ongoing research. Elsa (Polley) wants to try to create a human/animal hybrid and finally convinces Clive (Brody) to do so. I should have known early on that a movie with Clive and Elsa as the main character names would be a waste of my time.

The human hybrid is a success and we see this kinda cool little duck-like creature with weird legs and a football shaped head (if the football was pointed at you, not like Stewie from Family Guy). That creature is cute enough and for a moment you think the movie may be half-good. But then that cute little creature grows rapidly to be a young teenage woman with four fingers on each hand and a fucking tail with a spike in it. Her legs are like the legs of the aliens in The Arrival (click here to see what I'm talkin' bout). For some stupid reason, Elsa calls her Dren (NERD spelled backwards. NERD is the acronym for their fucked-up science research corporation). We find out later that Elsa put her DNA into Dren and she cares for her like the daughter she always wanted. Except this daughter has retractable wings, can breathe underwater and speaks in little owl hoot tones. It's like they blindly threw some genes into a smoothie machine.

I considered walking out on this shit storm of a movie about 4 or 5 times. Let me tell you exactly what these moments were (again, you're not going to see this movie):

1. A scene in which Dren is freaking out and Elsa (with terrible acting by Polley) tells Clive to "do something" and when he asks she says "I don't know, just do something". Right, when a deer/fish/giraffe/human creature is freaking out and going ape shit, "do something" is a good enough command. So Clive tries to drown Dren and kill her (I was rooting for this to happen). But then they realize she can breathe underwater and Elsa thinks Clive is a hero. DAMN IT!

2. When Elsa gives Dren her special Barbie doll from when she was a child. Super fucking cheesy and lame. Keep in mind this creature does not at all resemble a normal little girl.

3. When Clive comes home and decides to turn on some music and then dances with Dren. I really almost got out of my seat here. It was so forced and totally gay.

4. (These last two are the best) When Clive decides he wants to have sex with this animal/human/Elsa-child creature. We see the creature topless for a while and a full on detailed sex scene which everyone in the audience is totally cringing over. To top it off, Elsa walks in at the end of the encounter (much to the delight and laughter of the audience). This was the funniest part of the movie actually. Then we see him shirtless chase after Elsa as she drives away and we're actually supposed to FEEL something for these characters. The acting is so damn wooden overall that I cared nothing about anyone on screen.

5. The coup de gras (I figure the movie was almost over at this point so why not stick it out) occurred right after Clive and Elsa had buried a dying Dren in the dirt. Dren pops out of her grave a few hours later and (SURPRISE!!) is now a MAN. Her breasts have turned into pecs and her face is different. Quickest sex change EVER! And not only that, but this male version of Dren is angry and pummels Clive and his friends and then proceeds to RAPE Elsa. I shit you not. This actually happened.

So in this movie, a scientist puts her DNA in a human/animal hybrid and the hybrid grows to be a teenage girl in a few months then proceeds to fuck the scientist's boyfriend, change into a man and rape the scientist herself in a matter of weeks. How come this wasn't advertised during the preview? And how come idiots on Rotten Tomatoes gave this poop stain of a movie a 74% fresh rating? WTF?

Of course the kicker is that Elsa is pregnant now at the end of the movie with her mutant daughter-son's demon child. Brilliant! ZERO JR's for Splice. No need to even post a graphic on this review. I'm planning on seeing Get Him to the Greek later this week to get this taste out of my mouth.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

Josh officially graduated from Kindergarten on Saturday with all the traditions that one would expect from a graduation ceremony (cap and gown, a procession and even post-grad cake). Since I don't remember my own Kindergarten graduation (and haven't been to any other 5-year-old graduation events), I assumed that the dress code was relatively casual. I showed up wearing what I'm wearing in the photo over there and a good number of the other parents were actually dressed up in a shirt and tie. Luckily I stood in the back of the room so I didn't stick out too much.

The whole ceremony was really well done and Josh's teacher Ms. Jackie prepped the kids in advance as they went through a whole set of poems, songs and dances. Josh got to participate in the Spanish portion of the ceremony (see video below). It was nice to see Ms. Jackie's relationships she's made with the kids. One boy in particular (Josh's best friend Bailey) broke down crying several times during the ceremony. Ms. Jackie got emotional at the end as well. You could really tell she loved teaching this class.

The video highlight of the day belonged to Josh's classmate Aveek, a little Indian dude that knows how to get his groove on. See the video below for the evidence. He's not very hard to spot.

Josh will be moving on to first grade in Alexandria in the fall. He's excited to be heading to a new school and I hope he will find things more challenging. I could see him getting bored with some of the homework he had to do in Kindergarten. Josh's reading is really stellar these days. When we play Super Mario Galaxy 2 (outstanding Wii game by the way) together, I have him read the dialog aloud when Mario talks to other characters. He mis-pronounced a word here and there but for the most part he picks up everything well. If only he could teach Alex how to read.

One other side note, we finished up our tee ball season today with a year-end party at a neighborhood swimming pool. It felt good to have coached the team through the whole season and I think everyone (including me) had a lot of fun. After handing out the trophies and souvenir baseballs, the kids gave me a few gifts including a gift card to Glory Days, an Orioles mug and a #1 Coach piggy bank. Even though we were delayed by 45 minutes due to the afternoon storm, the party went off very well and I actually think all players and parents were pleased with this season. I'm thinking of coaching next year after taking the Fall off to think about it.