Archive for the ‘T’Category

Ted

This past April, my brother-in-law and I had planned a great one day outing. After getting up early in the morning, we planned on going to a noon Twins game followed by a 7 PM Timberwolves/Thunder basketball game. After the Twins game, though, we had four hours to kill. We decided to check out “American Reunion,” which I really enjoyed. Before the movie, I saw my first preview for the movie “Ted.” It looked like the it had the possibility of being the dumbest movie I’d ever seen (really, an adult comedy about a talking teddy bear?), but I knew I had to see it.

“Ted” is the live-action directorial debut of the uber-talented Seth MacFarlane. It stars Marky Mark Mark Wahlberg as a 35-year old slacker who lives with his teddy bear who was brought to life (a la Pinocchio) when Wahlberg made a wish as a child.

The plot, as is the case in a lot of mindless comedies, is pretty lame, but irrelevant. The jokes and references, though, are fast and furious. Many of the long-running jokes throughout the movie (“Thunderbuddies,” Flash Gordon, Giovanni Ribisi’s character) are set up early and paid off in a big way later in the movie.

Part of the appeal of the movie is obviously the absurdness of a foul-mouth, pot-smoking, beer-guzzling Teddy Bear. The constant beating over the head with bad Adam Sandler movie after bad Adam Sandler movie has almost programmed me into thinking this kind of movie can’t be funny. While much of Ted comes of sophomoric, it’s still funny (which, obviously, is what separates Ted from every Sandler movie not-named “That’s My Boy” from the past 10 years). The movie maintains a surprising amount of consistency for a comedy that would very easy to fizzle out in the last third of the movie.

After making a boatload of money, it’s been predictably announced that a sequel to “Ted” is in the works. I’m a little concerned about this because, as James Benadelli pointed out in his review, it’s essentially a one-joke movie. It’s a very funny joke, but it’s still one joke.

Should you watch Ted? If you’ve got a sense of humor and aren’t easily offended, absolutely. As far as I’m concerned, it was the top comedy released in 2012 and I think it is going to have one heck of a shelf live on dvd/cable.

8.5

out of 10

04

12 2012

That’s My Boy

Adam Sandler. What happened to this guy? While he’s always been criticized for being sophomoric and dumb, some 15-20 years ago, he was actually funny. Some day, 15-20 years from now, my daughter will likely see Adam Sandler

After making Mr. Deeds, a movie that was critically panned (but admittedly, I enjoyed), his production company (Happy Madison Productions) has been a part of 23 films. On average, Rotten Tomatoes has given them around a 24 (which drops to 20 if you remove his two dramatic films – Reign Over Me and the unfunny Funny People). However, they’ve pulled in an average of $136 million for a grand total of over $3.1 billion. $3.1 billion for nary a good movie. Unbelievable!?!

However, when the previews for That’s My Boy came out, I didn’t have my normal reaction to seeing a trailer for a new Adam Sandler movie. Simply, I didn’t want to throw up in the back of my mouth. I actually really like Andy Samberg (Hot Rod was great and his work on SNL was always enjoyable). The director – Sean Anders – was responsible for one of the funniest movies of the past couple years (Hot Tub Time Machine) along with another underrated comedy (She’s Out of My League). Sandler, instead of playing the goofy guy in the PG-13 movie, went back to his juvenile, R-rated roots that everyone who grew up in the 90s loved (admit it… you loved “The Goat,” “At A Medium Pace,” and “Ode To My Car”) Kevin James and Rob Schneider weren’t in the credits. On paper, this movie looked like it had a tiny chance of actually being funny. Then, the movie came out, financially bombed (a rarity for anything Sandler-related) and got panned by critics who claimed it was “an ugly, tasteless, deadly and mean-spirited piece of filmmaking” and “vulgar, trite, sexist, misogynist, hacky, tacky, gross, sentimental and stupid, with occasional flourishes of racism and veiled homophobia thrown in to boot.”

That’s My Boy was certainly all of these things. Only, unlike anything else Sandler has touched in the past 10 years, it’s also really, really funny.

That’s My Boy is the story of Donny Berger (Sandler) who is a teenage boy who gets his teacher pregnant. She is sent to jail and their love child – Han Solo Berger (Samberg) – is raised by Donny until he moves out of the house and changes his identity. Donny Berger becomes a teenage star. Nearly 30 years later, Donny is broke and no longer famous. He finds out he needs to make a $43,000 payment for back taxes or else he’s going to jail. Donny tries to reunite with his son who has changed his name and is getting married.

As with any of the really good Sandler movies (yes, these exist), the plot is pretty pointless. We aren’t talking about highbrow comedy or an art house storyline. Had someone watched Sandler on SNL, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and The Waterboy, suffered a massive head injury and been in a coma for 14 years only to come back awake in time for the release of That’s My Boy, it would completely fit in with the narrative of his career. In fact, many times when I was watching this movie, I kept thinking that That’s My Boy felt like it had the spirit of an R-rated Billy Madison.

Surely, That’s My Boy will be unfairly be clumped in with the (many) steaming piles of poo Adam Sandler has lent his name to over the past 10 years. There are a few scenes (particularly those with Dan Patrick, Vanilla Ice, and especially Rex Ryan) that are brilliant. Chances are you’ve long since given up on Sandler movies, but if you’ve enjoyed some of the funnier “hard R” films of the past few years (Hot Tub Time Machine, any of the Apatow movies, etc), I suggest giving this a chance. At the very least, you’re out $1.50 from the Redbox.

7.0

out of 10

22

10 2012

The Two Escobars

In early 2009, Bill Simmons announced he was involved with a new thing called “30 for 30” at ESPN. It was going to be 30 documentaries made by talented filmmakers about 30 sports stories from the past 30 years (at the time, ESPN was celebrating their 30th anniversary as a network).

When the list of 30 movies were announced, a handful of them seemed somewhat hokey (I wasn’t real excited about documentaries about fantasy sports, the Baltimore Colts band, or the USFL). For the most part, though, I was genuinely intrigued. Once the first handful of documentaries aired and thoroughly impressed me, I knew I’d have to tape all of them.

Fast forward a few months to June 2010. My daughter was born on the opening day of the World Cup in South Africa. Having been a lifelong soccer hater (for the most part), I found myself watching the World Cup every morning when I got up early to care for my daughter. Within about 10 days, I found myself really enjoying soccer. Two weeks after she was born, 30-for-30 released “The Two Escobars,” a film by brother Jeff and Michael Zimbalist.

The film, which explored the deaths of Colombian soccer captain Andres Escobar and drug kingpin Pablo Escobar along with the direct ties between drug-money and the Colombian national soccer team, was absolutely groundbreaking. The interviews with the players and other Colombians really helps human this awful story about a time in Colombian history that was both awful (drugs, violence, etc) and wonderful (soccer).

Unfortunately, the drugs and violence was so bad it managed to ruin the (seemingly) one positive thing going on in the country. Shortly after the murder of Andres Escobar following his disappointing own goal against the USA in 1994 World Cup, many of the players on the Colombian national team decide to retire from soccer permanently. The downward spiral of Colombian soccer and corruption involving drug cartels continue to hang over the country like a black cloud even today.

All in all, it’s quite simply as good of a sports documentary as you are ever going to see.

9.5

out of 10

06

09 2012