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Norbit (2007)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Missed the mark., 22 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The synopsis of Norbit reads: "A mild-mannered guy who is engaged to a monstrous woman meets the woman of his dreams, and schemes to find a way to be with her." That's not really a problem - actually it could be funny. But this wasn't all funny - a few chuckles, if that.

I find fault in the development and casting of the characters and script. I would have loved Eddie as Rasputa only. And then Rasputa should have had as a husband - someone else. Her brother should have been Kat Williams, and he should have had an hired entourage as his "hit men".

Then there is Kate...well...another actress should have stepped in altogether, this was not the role for the lovely Thandie Newton. And Norbit...not Eddie Murphy - another comedic actor. Kate and Norbit needed that 'very cute' chemistry against Eddie's Rasputa who would have stole every scene. The funny thing is: I thought Cuba Gooding Jr. as the two timing player was the best casting out of the bunch.

And the script...Rasputa could have been as scheming and dirty-dealing as anyone...and funny...even with the extra girth, this character did not have to be obnoxious to be noticed or funny. So much more could have been done instead of the trash-can "vulger" route - there was so much rich comedic talent in this film...everyone was wasted.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Oh, this poor man....!, 13 January 2008

Currently airing in the USA on the 'Lifetime Network' as "Top This Party" (which now features several event planners over the United States who plan expensive parties for high end clients), I caught Brian doing a few "Orange County" parties and showing the trials and tribulations of "clients who are clueless with money who want planners to constantly pull rabbits out hats".

The positive thing about this program is for anyone who wants "in" on the careers of party planners, event planners, event promoters, party public relations professionals, et al., to see how 80% of their time is spent on psychology/catering to egos; and 20% on the actual event itself. This is a way to see how clients have "visions" of events, and how the service business of planners tries to make it happen - all within budget, of course. Orange County Residents are the best in pretentiousness to showcase for they love to throw money around, to claim all the attention they'd never get on a daily basis elsewhere, and wish to impress the OC 'joneses' for just a few hours - while the event planner is going nuts trying to make it happen.

Brian and his staff (and/or his Rolodex) are very capable...and at times very kind and patient...event planners/party planners that seem to go the extra mile for their clients. But do their clients notice -- or are these clients one banana peel slip away from the loony bin to care since all they care about is..."all the attention on me"?

Brian and staff has to envision their miracles, and actually make them happen - and in the cases shown so far, he manges to do so and stay out of the loony bin himself. One particular Orange County party (which is actually true to the Orange County, California culture itself!) had the stereotypical OC over indulgent, female, blonde, over middle aged client down his throat - and her stereotypical OC female Asian bleached blonde....assistant (to whom you would mistake was throwing the party herself) - nit-picking every item and thing Brian and staff did and then going back to her employer stirring up the pot of negativity against Brian, his staff, and his work; as much as she could.

While scenes like this make great television, (and to me, an actual thinly veiled tip-of-the-hat to the late Steve Rubell's way of creating the over the top, 'it's MY party' Studio 54 events but now for individuals!) the best thing I found about this program, is the honesty of Brian....such as in the case with this particular client. Anyone could tell they were stressing he and his crew out, but instead of having a 'happy commentary' at the end - such as Brian telling the audience how 'great' these folks were - he told the truth...he would never work with these folks EVER again.

Now that is refreshing. This is part of the production that would make one realize that no matter how much money there is in the world, how much these folks with money think they can push who they hire around, not everyone can be totally bought, but everyone in the service business can be polite, do their job and then choose to never take you on again - and let others know just how awful and pretentious you really were. Bravo.

You may not look at this program at every episode, but there will be a few episodes that capture your eye/keeps your attention for the half an hour, and give you an appreciation for those "behind the scenes" ---such as Brian and his staff, who go above and beyond to make it work -- and get minimal, if any, thanks for actually pulling rabbits out of their hats. Event/Party Planning is a great career, but a hard job these days - regardless of the budgets spent, for everyone wants a "wow". Brain and his staff and associates show you how they come together to do it, and if nothing else, this program will show everyone how and hopefully grant these folks the recognition, RESPECT for their talents (since the clients cannot do this themselves, mind you!), and accolades these professionals DO deserve.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
If you don't know where you are, you're probably in the Twilight Zone., 1 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rod Serling was himself one of the best writers in the 20th century and gathered/found more of the best writers, directors and producers to tell a television audience ...stories - that made us wonder, that found parallels with the present world, that were just so darned entertaining that they will last for centuries.

I too am a huge fan of this program, the writers and of course Rod Serling for putting it all together. The trivia alone to get this show going are stories within themselves. For example, Orson Wells was considered to do the opening? No, I cannot see it now, but this is how fate steps in and makes a classic -- a classic. This is not just classic television, but classic storytelling and groundbreaking visions.

My favorites are always the ones everyone seems to like as well: 'To Serve Man', 'Time Enough At Last', 'Living Doll', 'The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street', 'It's a Good Life'...but others that rank really high with me as well are the one hour episodes -- like with tween Ann Jillian in "Mute", or Robert Duval in "Minnitures" and my favorite Ann Francis in "Jess Belle".

My very favorite is "Number 12 looks Just Like You" - an episode I think should be run 24 hours a day 7 days a week in this day and time. "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" is a perfect example of a Twilight Zone episode that meant one thing for the time it came out (in 1964 - during the cold war, communism, etc.) and now can easily mean something even more sinister (with plastic surgeries, ideals of beauty, plastic celebrities, alleged obesity's, etc.) This is one of the amazing things about The Twilight Zone and why it lasts for decades. Can you see what stories, morals, lessons, visions were left for us? And how many shows can do that now...that is, without copying what already has been done by Mr. Sterling and these writers.

Sci-Fi Series? Horror? Thriller? Drama? Comedy? Yes...all of it and more. And as time goes on you can add one more thing: Preminition. How many times have you wondered what was going on when something straightforward got all screwed up and you remarked, "I must be in the twilight zone!" It's not just a series. It's pop culture. It's life.

The Twilight Zone you cannot doubt - It is amazing.

Superbad (2007)
8 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Super-sad, 24 December 2007

I adore gross-out teen comedy flicks. The last 30 years have brought film-goers real classics out of films you may have never thought would be -- and a few duds that tried to bounce off of the others alleging to be instant classics. Superbad falls into the latter category.

Superbad will become one of those films to those who looked at it today will look back years from now and say, "Why did I ever laugh at that?". The classic teen films were funny then, and are still funny now - that's the difference. Superbad is super-sad, disappointing, dull, lifeless and not very funny or gross. But it is a wanna-be for other wanna-bes.

I find the reasoning behind this film to an interest is to have liked the short lived TV program called "Freaks and Geeks". I didn't like it, and applauded when it was taken off the air. But it seems as though Judd Apatow has a way of drudging up elements of the failed show and creating the most horrible let down of films that ever were - hence Superbad.

There isn't one character in this film that didn't annoy the heck out of me. Especially the leads. Very annoying. The girls and the boys. Not because the leads were two testosterone-laden geeky friends were trying to fit in, get laid and get booze for a party they never would have been invited to in the first place - I mean that alone is a teen-angst comedy waiting to happen. But these teens were retreads upon retreads of other raunchy and drop-dead hilarious teen-angst films who have done the same set up 1000 times better, with more 'pop'..and interest than this. There is more to raunchy than just saying the "dirty-sexual" words millions of times and 'tee-heeing, nudge-nudge' behind it, or having the a-typical overweight, pseudo-sexual-knowledgeable-punching bag buddy slob over without a context, or the ways the leads tries to buy the liquor (an old set up in itself) - for a bunch of dead-pan female teens you wouldn't care about in the first place - I could go on, but urgh!!! What made the other grossed out teen comedies work is that you COULD identify with one or more characters and those characters were radically different from each other. Here, they were all the same. No difference in any of them whatsoever. That's what made them boring as all get-up. Who cares what these boys did, how they did it -- ? Yawn!

For every teen, there is a film that gets next to them and touches what they're going through. If this is for teens today, I now understand the successes of a 'Brittney', a 'Beyonce', a 'Hillary', a 'Lindsay', a 'Kardasian', a 'Paris' et al, etc. Mindless, copycat, two seconds of interest in a 24 hour day dredge. For the other teens, I'm sure they may (grudgingly) agree that the original 'American Pie' is still the film to beat. Superbad is at the bottom, under the pile of dirty laundry.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Smoking Aces is all about the 'magic' of 'deception', 11 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wont lie - it took me some time to sit through one complete watching of this film, but when I finally did - I got it. Smokin' Aces - it's not so bad. It does have flaws, but it isn't totally horrid. It just misses the mark with many on what it seems to have wanted to do: Play out a big 'Vegas style' magic trick with a gangster/FBI related story to us, the viewing audience.

"Smokin' Aces", the title of the story, sums up all of what you are intending to see. Many folks deem this as guys-guy movie. Others an over-violent snooze. I have to remark, if that is what you focused on then you veered away from the "Smokin' Aces" - the trick. Understand the title and its context. Once you've done that, and can also get to end of the film -- it might dawn on you that its not bad. And what makes this film go all over the place - I have to say lies with the uncreativeness of the film's editing - not the acting, actors and script.

I want to stand up for the script: it is intelligent. The challenge is making such an intelligent script - entertaining and believable. Hiring a bunch of good actors is one element, not the ONLY element. And it seems like they might have put a bit too much stock into that element than others.

The basic story is a simple one: Buddy Israel, a slimy, pretty much well hated in his own circles, Las Vegas illusionist/entertainer who has been entrenched with one of the most powerful families of the mob in that State has information up to his nose and decides to turn evidence. The government wants this info, the mob wants him dead before he can turn over this info. Once the mob puts out a contract on a life worth 6 or 7 figures - it brings out all those who think they can fulfill the contract: the most vile and horrid hit men - and women. Teetering on this are bail bondsmen and other law makers caught up on one end of this or the other - not to mention Israel's own personal guards/entourage and confidants being put into a position of loyalty or betrayal by Israel's selfish hands.

The idea of "every scum and their momma" wanting to take down "Buddy Israel" for such a high fee is a good one, but there were just a few too many players in this bunch. is all part of deceiving us, the viewer like any good magician should.

If "Pulp FIction" has taught us anything, it taught us that editing (film and music)can be profound on the viewers enjoyment. Jarr you a little. Question sequence. Question time. Regardless, some folks cannot get beyond a normal start-middle-finish flow - but when you mix it up...and it WORKS...all of a sudden your intelligent story becomes entertaining. Here is a PERFECT example of where creative editing could have made this film quite the compelling piece of entertainment.

But...what I would like to get across to anyone who has seen 'Smokin' Aces' or are planning on seeing it -- is take it for what I felt was going on: A Vegas-stylized magic trick that tries to deceive the audience in the same manner. Did it deliver? Somewhat - sure it could have been tighter, better. But as I a a fan of "Casino-Vegas" type illusionists...there are those that 'wow' you and those that you think could have 'wow-ed' you ...if only.....

That's Smokin' Aces in a nutshell. You'll either buy into the trick/deception as the writer/director hopes you will -- or you wont. I kinda did, and in doing so, found a film - even somewhat flawed, that wasn't so bad.

204 out of 244 people found the following review useful:
Watch - and then thank goodness for your parents!, 28 October 2007

Sadly, IMDb doesn't have a rating system under 1 to grade reality shows - and this reality program is a perfect example where zero should be installed.

No matter how long you may look at "Keeping Up WIht the Kardashans", it has no value in any category whatsoever - just another entry into the 'fast food' genre of reality programing - lots of calories, non-filling and quickly forgetful.

Here you have another twenty something ungrateful Hollywood raised female woman-child, in another typically ungrateful for celebrity-family with parents who are so self absorbed and ungrateful towards themselves, that you wonder how they can have time left to be ungrateful towards the children under their roof/in their lives. But oh, they find time.

So what keeps you watching? The 15 minute 'clinique' beauty of the twenty something self described "socialite"? The little "naughty-bits" they sneak in of T&A just under the radar of standards and practices? The self-absorption of the parents? The back-talk and snotty attitudes the children are allowed to give to these parents? The unruliness of a blended family? Or just the idea of taking a peek into the life of "folks with celebrity" and then taking a look at your own life and realizing that mom and dad ....maybe aren't SO bad.

The beauty of freedom is that there will always be something for everyone. And in that freedom, you can take a look and decide if it's good or bad. For me, this show is bad, meaningless. This is not to say that all TV must be 20 hours of "Leave it to Beaver" or the "Brady Bunch". That's unrealistic. We've got to be exposed to real family dysfunction to see that that the world isn't always sugary sweet and pristine perfect. Not parents, not kids, not even our pets.

But programs like this are getting to be a standard. There isn't anything warm or exciting about viewing the life of a young woman who's already hit her peak - mentally, educationally, sexually - and is heading downward fast. Or her mother who IS allowing it - even if it is only due to her own self-absorption. And a father who couldn't care less because he ISN'T her father particularly, just another man in a long line of men that the mother has luckily hooked her claws into. And the household siblings - the siblings to whom you have a bet going that they will either run out of the home screaming for real love, acceptance, stability, boundaries - or end up just like their older sibling on a YouTube edited soft porn segment or even worse - a real one.

Is this entertainment? Depends on you. It is a train wreck that you may stop to see for a minute or two - but there are so many OTHER train wrecks to see in "reality TV" these days from music television to classic television channels, why stick with this one? Even if its only for a minute? Well...maybe to hug mom and dad and thank them that you're not ever going to end up as dull, lifeless, and boring as this family no matter how much money, TV cameras or publicity there is in the world. This shows that fame, money -- the appearance of it or the chasing of it -- isn't all it's cracked up to be, but obviously will crack those who have it.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
If this is comedy, then hold a funeral - comedy is officially dead., 13 October 2007

I am not even about to consider this film in the field of "gross out comedies" because within that genre, there is a lot of black comedy executed that those who aren't seeking the dark corners of comedy are satired - and you laugh despite yourself - even when no one else is.

I didn't laugh ONCE throughout this film. Why? Nothing was humorous - although much was done as personal and religious shots against fellow human beings that some may find humorous. I'm not that big of a fan of laughing at other people's failures (of common sense, ethics and decency) or like to make fun over others failings. This is why 'Borat' did not appeal to me.

While I understand that this was a kind of "Candid Camera" or sorts not with a filmmaker but with an over-drawn out fictional character pulling the on screen jokes and situations to show how people would react, it still didn't deliver the goods for me. The humor was almost always based on some hind of body part - and personally this film went over board on male anatomy as the bunt of jokes. This got old very fast.

Then there is the shock value - there was plenty of that. But it wasn't shockingly funny - it was shockingly amateur. I found no satire. I found no black comedy. I found no ribald humor. I found no humorous cultural divide. I found no entertainment value. What I did find was almost two hours of my time wasted that I could have used to do something else that would have kept me entertained - and watching the grass grow would have been included in this scenario.

Goshawful film.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Not quite transferable to screen, 30 September 2007

Here you have all the elements for a great movie: a good book, good actors, good timing. But this film, "Running with Scissors" falls flat, becomes dull and disjointed making the viewer wonder more than getting into the crux of the film and its subjects.

Annette Benning did a bang up job here, as did Alec Baldwin as the alcoholic, uncaring hubby of the 60's. But there were so many continuity problems and disjointed music and pop references in time line, that it absolutely ruined this film for me.

I found myself wondering why in 1976 were they watching the series "Dark Shaddows" when it went off in 1971 (and no 'reruns' of soap operas were NOT done in the 70's)...and then in 1979 Augusten was "15" years old when in 1976 he seemed 19 years old in his references, but then when you go back to the late 60's..well, it gives one a headache. Bottom line, I didn't want to know more about this guy because I was too concerned with what was surrounding in the years that they were supposed to be reflecting.

Even trying to shield out the above, I was trying to "get" the problem. While Annette Benning did a bang up job as the mentally-ill mom, I didn't get her- was she really mentally ill, or was it the pills or was it she was just a bi-polar, bent up artist on the cusp of the 70's woman's movement being stifled...what? That was never clear to me in the movie (the book is another story!) And the film, you never "get" him either. (in the book, you do!) The film bounces around too much, too fragmented in telling this tale - never actually concentrating on what really made him this fully dysfunctional character - maybe it's because of the Director's lack of having the "time" to do so.

Same with the psychiatrist played by the wonderful Brain Cox. Was he nuttier than those there? Of course, that is obvious..but why? Why were folks STILL going to him even seeing the obvious - but most importantly - why did these parents GIVE their son to this man and his equally family? And one of the better parts of his wife - there were so many questions about her in this relationship while watching the film, it makes your head spin.

Sad for a film that should have been, could have been a blockbuster and known in the highest regard. It's not as though this film doesn't have a few moments here and there, but a "few moments" do not make up for the lack of depth, sadness, heart, this should have been of a real unconventional coming of age life.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
I tried not to laugh..but you jut can't help it!, 29 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was not a "Seinfeld" fan - to be honest, I didn't get a good look at the program until it was in syndication and even then, I found only a few episodes that were drop dead funny. But Larry David... I knew his work from back in the "Fridays" days. Even back then, you knew anything he touched would have that realistic sharp wit of comedy. 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is the definitive proof.

Again, I caught this show a few years in (a season or two ago)-- and I did not expect to laugh at folks problems...but I found myself laughing like crazy with this crew.

Larry and his situations are every day - and flow as if you are just waling into his life "that day" and experiencing it first hand. In what I have seen, there were MANY instances where Larry did what I thought but don't have the guts to say out loud! Larry is like a child - he speaks before he thinks, he doesn't care what he says to family, friends, associates because he is - who he is. He's not malicious, he's just Larry - take him for what he is - and he is hilarious.

The friends and associates around Larry are just as funny - Jeff Garlin is one the best and the two of them have great chemistry. Cheryl Hines as Larry's wife is one fine actress that has to rise to the comedy occasion with Larry and his situations and she does so overwhelmingly. She is just a joy to watch.

One thing I do remember hearing about this program was hearing that it is not "totally" scripted, which keeps the spontaneity of the program going. I can see that as I watch, and that is one of the key factors that hooks me in. Everyone interested in comedy should try to catch this show, you'll be glad you did and find a gem to become a classic in TV series comedy.

She's Too Young (2004) (TV)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Heart in the Right Place.., 9 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Lifetime Network has turned into the "Afterschool Specials" network with a slightly larger budget and more seasoned actors. To me, 'She's Too Young' was along the lines of the old "Afterschool Specials" of teen problems of the day that need immediate attention of teens and parents.

This is an important subject with an important way of raising red flags to help people really communicate on the subject. While in this movie, there are quite a few misclassification of the subject, the film's heart IS in the right place. It needs to bring attention to the issue of teen sex ...and the real/life changing consequences thereof no matter how teens think they are 'doing it' or not.

A few important points of note that the film was trying to touch upon besides the introduction of "what is sex..?" and how that can spread diseases, etc., there is the point that "honor"/"straight A"/"morally religious" students should know better and don't engage in this behavior because they are smart enough to know better. That mothers being their daughters "best friend" instead of their mother helps them. That 'boys will be boys' (ahem - 'boys NEED to be boys') is the shrug-off of males for being more sexually active than of women who are automatically labeled as "fast". And the list goes on for this film is pointing on: Teens getting baited to do things by their peer group and then ostracized when something happens to them such as diseases/pregnancy/AIDS ... and so on.

What makes this film palatable are the actors, led by Marsha Gay Harden as a mother trying to help her 14 year old daughter after a one time sexual encounter which leaves her with syphilis. The perspectives of her daughter and those friends and families around this community are of those to watch. Reactions, decisions - and actions...which was appropriate to you, the viewer. Of course there is the typical lifetime movie cheesy drama to give the movie it's way but the actors did great with the material as given.

There's much to address on both sides of the situation: with parents and teens and this film touched upon much - which is the point - to get families to openly communicate with themselves about real life, real life situations. And that is what is the overall point of this film.

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