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Oliver Beene (2003–2004)
OK -- I changed my mind
21 April 2003
I've watched a bit more of this show, and it is hilarious. Even if it it treading old ground, there is enough comedy to make you laugh out loud. And I love the character of Michael, whom Oliver tells us will grow up gay and adopt a Chinese orphan with his life partner. The kid who plays him is just hilarious!
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Greg the Bunny (2002–2004)
hilarious -- da bomb!
10 April 2003
I loved this show! The funniest characters were the puppets (fabricated Americans) who interacted on the same level as the humans, were just as vain and ridiculous as any other celebrity. They all graduated from Harvard (as they sing in the opening credits) and have started this kids' show.

The humans weren't all that as characters, but the writing was great. In one episode, Greg the Bunny is competing with Jimmy (Seth Green) for the attentions of Laura, a lovely female reporter. Greg imperiously tells Jimmy (as Laura only has eyes for the star of the show), "A vanilla cappuccino. Make that happen!" To which Jimmy bitterly says "Yeah, I could make a lot of things happen to your vanilla cappuccino."

Another favorite line is when someone accuses Count Blah of being a rip-off of Sesame Street's "the Count". "HE is the fake! His accent is fake! I am from Transylvania -- HE is from New Jersey!"

Or when one character laments "This party isn't going to be like that time you all came to my house and cleaned out my liquor cabinet!" and another one says "THAT was an intervention!"

Yeah, boozing puppets -- gotta love it!
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Oliver Beene (2003–2004)
funny enough, but it's all been done before
21 March 2003
Set in 1960s, voiceover by adult retelling his childhood, mean older brother, dream girl he can never have, nerd best friend (a girl this time) --- this is Kevin Arnold of "The Wonder Years". Nobody is fooled. This seems like an entertaining enough show but it's all been done before, so why bother?
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the dark side of kiddie TV is excellent!!
3 January 2003
Robin Williams is great as "Rainbow Randolph", a kiddie entertainer who is caught by the FBI for taking kickbacks. His replacement is Smoochy, a large pink rhino played by an honest, cheerful guy named Sheldon who just wants to make kids happy. Randolph plans to take out a hit on the popular Smoochy, who has turned him into a has-been within a New York minute.

Williams is hysterical as the obsessed, diabolical man who ironically works with kids. I laughed out loud several times watching him plot (and fail at) implementing various schemes to bring down Smoochy. The plot to plant an obscene-looking cookie for Smoochy to give to a child on live TV is both grotesque and ingenious. Ed Norton shines with his "gee whiz!" demeanor as he dances around in a rhino outfit.

As Randolph yells to God in the middle of Times Square, after he has again been shoved aside for Smoochy, "What does it all MEAN?" What does it all mean, indeed? Just how crass it is to make money off kids, and the tripe we produce as entertainment (including some rather comical ice capades.) How the most innocent-seeming of industries is rife with jealousy, politics and greed. That it can all be the basis for a black comedy.
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Rush Hour 2 (2001)
From Hong Kong to Las Vegas, Chan and Tucker rule!
2 January 2003
This movie teams up Chan and Tucker again as detectives, vacationing in Hong Kong but of course stumbling on to a counterfeiting case that needs their immediate attention. No matter what these two are doing, some stunts will be involved -- like when they go to a Thai massage parlor (watch Tucker's delighted face when he sees all the beautiful women and starts selecting them as if from a catalog. He is supposed to have one massage therapist but instead has 7 whom he regales with tales of a life in the USA that he does not actually live.)

Another great scene is the two detectives being ousted from the massage parlor by the villains, running through the streets naked except for some garbage can covers around their private parts.

The film takes them all the way to Las Vegas where Chan does some of the fanciest martial arts ever with his hands tied and himself bound in a chair. He rocks! The whole audience in the theater cheered when he slid himself through an impossibly small money slot in a window to escape.

The best scene is when they decide, being in Las Vegas, they should dress better and go to a boutique, where a gay stylist who is attracted to Chan assists them. Chan is upset because they are being pursued by the villains, and says "Can we hurry? There are a lot of men after us!" To which the stylist replies, "As well they should be!"
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has all the makings of a cult hit!!
2 January 2003
This movie is based on the true story of Frank William Abagnale, who, at the age of 16, had a short but brilliant career as a major con artist, faking a career as an airline pilot, pediatrician and lawyer, all the while being pursued by the FBI.

What got me most about the movie was how simple it is to say anything and have people believe you. Frank is very clever and quick-witted, telling lies very smoothly, even when caught off-guard. He is perceptive and knows how to get information off people in a disarming conversation, then use it to further his schemes. The funniest scenes are when he watches TV shows about doctors or lawyers and uses the dialogue in his "real life" -- when he addresses a non-existent jury at a preliminary hearing after watching "Perry Mason", the judge yells, "Son, WHAT is wrong with you????"

The film also is well-directed and beautifully filmed, ranging from tony New York City shots to sunny Miami scenes, where all the women are very very blonde, it seems. The dialogue between DiCaprio and Hanks is very rapid-fire, and it's great to see two such talented box-office stars, known for playing diverse roles, acting together(as opposed to Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt in "The Mexican" -- they always play the same exact character!)

This is just plain good stuff, a diamond in the rough that is today's movie listings. You will get a kick out of this film, and decide it's well worth your time and money to see it more than once.
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great flick --- unfortunately has Tom Cruise
2 January 2003
This is a great story -- what if in the year 2054, the goverment has an experiment that uses "precognitive" people whose sole purpose is to stay unconscious and foretell crimes, then have a special "pre-crime" police force arrest the perpetrators BEFORE the crime is committed? This eradicates homicide in the District of Columbia (which, in the early 1990s, was known as the Murder Capitol of the World.)

However --- where do human rights begin and where do they end? The criminals have not technically committed the crime for which they are arrested, and there is no subsequent trial. And what about the rights of the "pre-cogs", as they are called, to live a real life?

It's interesting, except the aging Tom Cruise is there playing yet another variation of his role in Top Gun. It is so cloying now to see Mr. Unibrow-and-Queasy-Smile dress all in black and pretend to be some type of policeman whose job involves a lot of running. ugh. Should have had Russell Crowe or Ed Norton, just to mix it a bit!
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Doc Hollywood (1991)
a gem of a movie
2 January 2003
I didn't like Doc Hollywood the first time I saw it in 1991 --- then I watched it again a few years ago and was blown away by the writing, acting and all-around sweet nature of the film.

Dr. Ben Stone is leaving DC for a job doing plastic surgery for celebs in LA when he runs into a picket fence in a small Southern town and has to do 3 days of community service at their clinic as penance. His fancy sports car is totaled anyway and he has to get it fixed. Miffed at being waylaid in such a hokey place, he tries to get through the next few days in time for his new job.

He meets a wide cast of characters -- and to their credit, not everyone in a small town is so gosh-friendly. Some are mean, some are troubled, some are nice -- like any other array of people. Ben meets Lou, a single mother who drives the ambulance, as well as Nancy Lee Nicholson, a confused beauty who wants him to take her to LA.

This movie is great because it is about many people deciding for themselves how they want to live -- whether in a big city or in a small town -- and why they value what they do. It is also about an epiphany for Ben Stone and changing of his ways internally.
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excellent quintessential film about life
2 January 2003
This isn't really a Christmas movie, the story just takes place around Christmas. George Bailey has always wanted to be an explorer, but instead he lives in the same little town his whole life, marries his childhood sweetheart, and takes over his dad's savings and loan association, Now he is in danger of going bankrupt, through a mishap that is used to the advantage of the local evil codger and main competition to Bailey. Despondent, he decides to jump off a bridge and end it all.

Enter Clarence, a student guardian angel who is trying to earn his wings. Saving George Bailey will get him those wings, if only he can show George how the world would have been had he never been born. He reveals the impact George has had on others -- even saving lives --- to prove he is not a failure and very much needed and loved.

Keep an eye out for the grown-up Alfalfa (from the Little Rascals) as the jealous guy at the high-school dance who opens up the gym's swimming pool so the dancers fall in. It's priceless!
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interesting core plot
25 November 2002
Igby (Kieran Culkin) and his older brother Oliver (Ryan Phillippe) open the film by putting a plastic bag over their sleeping mother's head (Susan Sarandon.)

From there the film explains the brothers' upbringing -- their childhood with a severely depressed father (Bill Paxton), overbearing mother, sleazy debonair godfather (Jeff Goldblum). The movie also moves to present day when Igby meets older woman Suki (Clair Danes) as well as his married godfather's mistress (Amanda Peet) after a brief bout at military school. There are torrid ill-fated liaisons with both women as Igby figures out what he's doing in this world and how and with whom he should go about it.

All of these subtle and life-changing situations culminate back to the bedroom to explain exactly what is behind the plastic bag on their mother's head. It is cleverly done, although at times there seems to be too many characters. Peet's character didn't seem all that necessary to the storyline, just to illustrate what a sleaze his godfather was then do drugs ad nauseum.
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Smallville (2001–2011)
Just when you thought nothing on TV would ever be any good
25 November 2002
... along comes a fresh, witty, exciting series like Smallville. It is one of those shows that just gets better with each passing week. I am amazed that the young actors (with the exception of the divinely talented Allison Mack) have had little prior acting experience yet quickly developed such full-fledged multi-faceted characters in one short season.

The story of Clark Kent discovering his powers is fascinating ... after all, it's not like there's anyone to really guide him through this! His own parents don't know what to expect. Meantime, he has to deal with all the typical teenaged problems --- unrequited love, being of limited means so he can't have everything he wants, parents not liking his friends (i.e. Lex Luthor.) And above all, feeling he's different and doesn't fit in --- multiplied about a million times from what the rest of us feel!

The show also has interesting subplots --- Pete likes Chloe likes Clark likes Lana likes Whitney. Oi!

Above all, I like the Chloe character best. She's smart, pretty, and spunky ---- she delivers her sarcastic lines perfectly but you know she's hiding some deeper hurt as well about her missing mother and seeing Clark swoon over Lana, with whom she's friends and now roommates.

So you see, this show is only going to get better as time goes on ---- catch up on the first season with the DVD to make sure you get the full force of everything that's going to happen. You know it's going to be good!
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obstacles to true love knows no time era
25 November 2002
One thing about the Bard -- he knew the plots that touches everyone's lives, no matter where on the social strata or when in history they may be. It is made apparent in the case of Cameron James, new kid in school, as he falls for the lovely Bianca, who cannot date until her older shrewish sister Kat will date. But Kat doesn't WANT to date, and thus Cameron must scheme to find a suitable guy for this harpy-with-the-heart-of-gold if he is to win the fair Bianca.

Julia Stiles may be no Elizabeth Taylor, but then, she doesn't have to be. This flick relays the same message to a brand-new audience and is fun and entertaining to boot (plus I don't think Taylor could dance on a table quite like Stiles does in one of the more memorable scenes.)

In the end, this is a charming movie that will entertain and educate high-schoolers as well as those several years past graduating. After all, Shakespeare knew what he was writing about -- there is no age limit when it comes to matters of the heart!
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Little Voice (1998)
Jane Horrocks is a wonder
25 November 2002
I was already a fan of Jane Horrocks for her comic portrayal of Bubble, the personal assistant, on "Absolutely Fabulous." Here,s eh stretches her wings as LV (short for Little Voice), an adult woman muted by life. Her father has passed away, her mother is boisterous and loud, drowning her out.

But LV actually has a very big voice when it comes to singing. She has an uncanny knack for imitating Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Bassey. Her mother's newest and sleaziest boyfriend (played by Michael Caine) sees -- or rather, hears -- a goldmine in LV and convinces the painfully shy woman to perform at his nightclub for one night.

LV meantime has met a pigeon-loving boy-next-door (Ewan MacGregor) and is figuring out what she wants in life too, and if she will ever get it.

Horrocks performs all her own songs in this flick and she is a wonder! Rent or buy it today!
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perfect for Halloween AND Christmas
25 November 2002
Jack, the scary king of Halloween, has grown weary of scaring kids and decides he should try a new tack with a different holiday -- namely, Christmas. To this end, he enlists the help of a few goblins to kidnap Santa Claus so that he, Jack, can take over.

The result is a hysterical mess as the Christmas gifts he makes are inevitably scary.

The music, written by Danny Elfman, is great with clever lyrics and ghoulish overtones "Kidnap Mister Santy Claus, put him in a box! Lock him up for 50 years, then see if he talks!"

Even though it is animation, it is not really for very young kids, who may be disturbed at the kidnap and torture of Santa Claus. But it is good fun for everyone else in the family!
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Sorority Life (2002– )
oh those pugnacious pledges!
13 September 2002
"Entertainment Weekly" described the show as "those pugnacious pledges" and frankly, it's what makes the show so watchable. It reminds me of the girls I actually knew in college, whether they were in a sorority or not, and you have to admit there is non-stop conflict and drama on this show. A lot of it is self-made (as the mom of one girl told her "everything in your life is drama!") but hey, that's what makes it real. When the Real World began in 1992, these girls were only 8-11 years old and most likely have seen it throughout the years, so they know how to talk to a camera in confessionals yet they don't turn themselves into camera-aware hogs.

I love when someone is speaking in English yet they give you English subtitles because they are so unintelligible -- it's a hoot!
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an embarrassment
5 September 2002
I watched the premiere with a bunch of friends who work for the State Department -- we had been so excited to see this, and were all cringing by the end.

Emma Brody is such an idiot that it is an embarrassment for America that she is portrayed working in our embassy. In the first episode, she takes home a minor, who is in the midst of an international custody battle, for the weekend like she is a puppy. WHY would the embassy do that? THEN the kid is kidnapped while Emma goes to flirt with a cute guy.

She is supposed to be 28 but she acts 18 (and is played by an unbelievable 36 years old.) Frankly, what is with the youth obsession --- why couldn't they write just about a 36-year-old single woman in London if that's who they cast? (Oh wait -- maybe that would make her Bridget Jones.)

This show had potential but they gummed it up with the lack of attention to detail and credibility. ugh.
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The Good Girl (2002)
good enough
27 August 2002
This film would have been good with any actress, and while I think Jennifer Aniston did a good job, I don't see this as a breakout role for her. The film did well in depicting the glum downtrodden world of working in a store like "Retail Rodeo" (as a former "K-Martian", it brought back a lot of memories I was trying to suppress.)

Aniston's character, Justine "Teeny" Last (her name just says it all), is supposed to be depressed, in a funk, but Aniston's eyebrows are a little too groomed and her skin a little too tan and clear for a small-town girl who has given up on life. She basically looks like Rachel wearing flannel. The other characters around her are sufficiently pasty and ordinary, and look like they should be depressed even when they aren't. But I guess Aniston's agent wouldn't hear of them uglifying his/her client.

The storyline is good -- Justin meets Holden, a 22-year-old cashier who believes he is the main character of "Catcher in the Rye" and sees him as her "last best chance." She is 30 and has been married for 7 years to Phil, a pothead painter who messes up her house with his best friend Bubba. She is trying to get pregnant by him but it's not happening. She meets Holden and starts an affair and seems a little more alive. Holden, meanwhile, seems a little more crazy.

What is amazing is how all these men seem proprietal about Teeny, especially her body. Phil, Holden, Bubba, even the security guard at Retail Rodeo who keeps bugging her to come to Bible study (who says she'll have many nights of fire and brimstone -- just kidding.) What's equally amazing is how one poor decision spirals into other poor decisions and irretrievable regret.
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An ethnic comedy without ethnic jokes - YES!
5 August 2002
I identified with Toula because, while not Greek, I am also first-generation and have just as many cousins as she does (27!) who live right by me and so are excitedly involved whenever anyone is getting married --- particularly a female relative in her late twenties whom everyone is sure was never going to get married!!!

Toula meets Ian, a nice non-Greek boy, once in the very start of the movie, and then after she transforms her life with a makeover and new career. Once she gets the ball rolling in these other arenas, she gains confidence and starts an unsanctioned romance. All of her cousins, aunts, and siblings set about convincing Toula's Old World father, who loves Greece and all things Greek and is personally offended that Toula has not chosen a Greek fiancee, to accept Ian and his world.

There is plenty of insights into the Greek culture and how Toula can love such a large warm family even while she is desperately trying to escape them. Embracing and accepting her past without letting it dictate her life is great -- especially when the grandmother, who has been crotchety and hilarious for most of the movie, touchingly brings her wedding wreath and photos to share with Toula on her special day.

You will laugh and cry, and thankfully not at a culture's expense.
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Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–2000)
great escapism
5 April 2002
This show was great in the beginning -- it started when I was in high school (and so were they) and we progressed at the same pace ... they were cool for high school kids but they fizzled out when they all went to (the same) college. Basically, when the Walsh as a family unit disintegrated, so did the rest -- it just stopped being unique and started getting contrived.

The "Brenda Years" were the best, you can catch Brenda in reruns like a latter-day Marcia Brady. She was just so whiny and nasty but she got into some good situations -- like when she wanted to marry that guy Stewart. She and Kelly were good foils for each other, best friends/bitter rivals that they were. (Donna just a hanger-on.)

Later years brought interesting Brenda-like characters (always a brunette!) in the form of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen's Valerie (a completely unbelievable character -- she buys the Peach Pit and turns it into the world's lamest nightclub) and Vanessa Marcil's Gina (she was great -- Donna's cousin, a personal trainer with family issues, and she had the heart of gold we were supposed to see in Val but never really could.) BTW -- this role turned me into a Vanessa Marcil fan.

But it did span the 1990s (from 1990 to 2000) and for better or worse, it reflected a lot of what was going on in the country during the time i.e. the 1992 riots in LA, etc. It's permanently branded in American pop culture -- and it was pretty entertaining to boot!

and KUDOS to Joe E Tata for his portrayal of Nat -- he is one of the original cast members who is almost never credited as such.
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excellent, jaw-dropping, great film
8 March 2002
Very original and beautifully done, The Time Machine is great for those haunted by those two most horrible words "What if?" (as Jeremy Irons states in his singular but movie-stealing scene.) Even the most jaded movie-goer will be shocked and captivated by the special effects that this movie has at nearly every second.

Orlando Jones is excellent as "a compendium of all human knowledge" in the NY Public Library. There is an excellent dig as he looks up the subject "time travel" for the hero, coming up with "The Time Machine" by HG Wells, now a musical with a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber -- which he proceeds to sing .....

Samantha Mumba, the Scottish pop star, proves she will not go the way of Britney Spears in "Crossroads" as a diva becoming an actress. She is completely believable as Mara, a futuristic woman of the Eloi people. Her younger brother Omero plays, well, her brother -- he is so cute and talented!

GREAT GREAT GREAT film -- you have to see it, it is indescribable!
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Stage Door (1937)
excellent film of rising stars
19 January 2002
This film features many Golden Age actresses at the beginning of their careers: Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn, and Ginger Rogers (in a non-musical role) amongst many others. The story centers around The Footlights Club, a boardinghouse for actress-wannabes newly arrived in New York to try and make it on Broadway. (Interesting side note: this house did exist -- though under another name -- in the early 20th century, and now the Museum of Modern Art occupies its address.)

The wisecracks are hilarious, and the relationships between the women as they strive towards the same goal -- a part in a major play --- are realistic. There is a "sisterhood" air to the scenes at the house, though there is jealousy and cattiness as well. Unlike the films of today, there are no pat happy endings and that just makes the film that more captivating.
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Friends (1994–2004)
You can tell what season it is by their hairstyles
3 January 2002
Something amazing about Friends -- you can only watch each episode once (if that) because they immediately cease to be funny whenever you see a rerun.

Once you get past that they have no minority friends or even OTHER friends (though when it's time to throw a party they can find enough people to fill their apartment), the 6 dorks are still annoying. They are immature, selfish and dumb. Sure, that was also true on Seinfeld, but that show REVELED in all that, you loved watching them but you weren't supposed to love THEM. Friends is like product hyper-placement, you are supposed to want to be like them and buy all the stuff they have. Ricky Ricardo on "I Love Lucy" owned his own NYC nightclub and couldn't afford all the stuff these 6 idiots have.

Essentially, this show is about the actors' hair and that's it. I am glad they're canceling it, it's just old. In 20 years we'll look at it the way we regard "Bosom Buddies" today.
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Loved the movie -- v.v. good!
11 April 2001
I saw a sneak preview of this and I loved it! I will admit I did not like the book, but the previews looked so good --- and I was not disappointed! The writers did a great job formulating a compelling plot from the book, you will not take your eyes off the screen the whole time you are in the theater!

The best part of the flick is Renee Zellweger herself --- she is excellent as the title character, expressing that bumbling side that does embarrassing things in public that every one of us has and is afraid will show itself --- right in front of the guy we really want. You have to feel for her when the embarrassing situation is not her fault --- someone gives her wrong information and she ends up looking silly, but she takes it all in stride.

And what girl hasn't vowed to take up a campaign of self-improvement because we hope our dream guy will sit up and take notice of our new and improved self?

The best thing is watching Bridget discover, over the course of a year, that her true self might be just fine after all.
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D.C. (2000)
so bad it's good
26 June 2000
As someone who has lived in DC since 1991 and is a few years older than the show's characters, I have to say this show is so bad it's good. There ARE 22-year-olds here as delusionally high on themselves as the people on this show, so I found it hilarious. It's kind of a "90210" in DC -- complete with fraternal twins. I particularly liked the episode where Lewis is defending his cousin in court -- Daniel Sunjata is a realistic actor and he handled this script well, he had to play every emotion for that role. Mark-Paul Gosselaar is amusing as Pete Komisky -- he seemed to be playing a sexually active Zack Morris though. This was the one show that made DC seem exciting for young people to live and work in (which it is) -- all other DC-based shows are staid political dramas involving the president. It is refreshing to see a show all about DC that barely spoke of the White House and instead about all the other people that make up this city, and it acknowledged it has a high rate of shootings, etc. It had potential -- sorry to see it go!!
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