Review, co-created by and starring Daly, will debut Thursday, February 27th at 10pm. Daly plays Forrest MacNeil, a TV critic who reviews life experiences like stealing, drug addiction, and sleeping with a celebrity. The supporting cast includes Jessica St. Clair as his wife, Fred Willard as his father-in-law, and James Urbaniak as his producer, with Andy Richter, Ashley Tisdale, Jason Mantzoukas, Rich Fulcher, Emo Phillips, Andy Blitz and Maria Thayer set to guest star.
What a day. Quickly some thoughts.
‘Catching Fire' is a vast improvement over 'The Hunger Games'. This is mostly thanks to the fact that it doesn't need to waste a lot of time on exposition, but it also managed to solve the problem of 1st person vs. 3rd person perspective. The first film departed from the book in that it gave us a much broader world view of Panem. This was fine for establishing the universe, but in the process it lost the emotional connection to Katniss and the whole point about it being her specific experience. The sequel wisely doesn't leave Katniss very often and does so only briefly and with great reason to. This means that the emotion between the characters, her frustration, the tension of the games, her confusion and lack of knowledge and the twist ending all work. The Capitol felt much more menacing in this installment which added an unprecedented gravitas, but that has more to do with the source material I'd say. regardless, the movie looked amazing in IMAX. When the top and bottom of the screen opened up (you'll need a true IMAX screen for this experience) during the Games sequence, I was giddy. I was so very glad I saw it on the biggest screen possible.
‘The Day of the Doctor’ had massive, impossible hype to live up to, but left me feeling satisfied for what it was. It struck the right balance of clever plotting, frightening monsters, touching emotion, self reflexive references both big and small and humor. Despite a deus ex machina ending that practically rewrote the modern era’s origin story*, it didn’t get bogged down by too much timey-wimey Moffat intricacies. Hurt gave a standout performance that makes me wish he had his own ‘Who’ series. I’m interested to see how the fans react to Billie Piper’s role, as it wasn’t really “Rose” and may not have been what many were expecting. Regardless, they opened up the door for an endless possibility of stories both backwards and forwards in time, and isn’t that what good ‘Doctor Who’ is supposed to do? Plus Tom Baker and Capaldi. Amirite?
*Except not really because Gallifrey instead of being destroyed is now missing and the Daleks are still nearly wiped out. Same place as we were before, but there’s a chance Gallifrey could be found.
I reviewed a supbar ‘Big Bang Theory’ for Huff Post.
The problem with Hail Mary passes is sometimes you complete and score a touchdown and other times the ball lands yards away from the receiver. Bringing all the characters together for what felt like a big Thanksgiving episode and then making Penny married on top of all was a big attempt — and it didn’t reach the end zone.
Forgot to post my review of this week’s ‘Big Bang Theory’ last night. So here it is.
For a show of this age and this magnitude to be this creative and this clever in its seventh season is a remarkable feat. Traditional sitcoms of similar age tend to blow character traits out of proportion, trying to wring every bit of comedy they can from characters that were once subtle. CBS sister comedy “How I Met Your Mother” is a prime example of this in action. And while “The Big Bang Theory” is typically far from subtle, and does on occasion fall back onto the aforementioned wringing, “The Itchy Brain Simulation” proved that it can mine as much humor from inverting its characters as it does in playing them straight. This season hasn’t been consistent hits every week, but this recent stretch of episodes has done something right.
I enjoyed it but wasn’t blown away — which may have been due to the hype. I think they lose the thread of Solomon’s ultimate goal in the middle and it ends up making the whole thing a bit disjointed and slightly episodic. Then again, it’s based on a true story and that’s not to say the performances aren’t of the highest caliber (they are) or the film is any less impactful. I had a follower ask earlier if any of it was hard to watch. A few scenes are, but not without purpose. The ending is extremely cathartic and brought many around me at the sparse11:20 am show to tears.
As a side bar, I would have liked to see someone else in Brad Pitt’s role. His stardom took me right out of the movie. All I could see was “Brad Pitt” and not who his character was supposed to be.
zachdionne asked: Tell us how Big Fish was! Please aim your response at someone like me, who has an inexplicable fondness for the film even though it's technically not that great.
The show was fine but not anything life changing. The visual nature of the movie doesn’t really translate to the stage that well (though they try their best for a BIG production), and they all but abandon the film’s underlying darkness. The emotion of the movie, on the other hand, carries over well as does the basic plot. The stories from the movie provide a convenient template for the show as they’re turned into set pieces for musical numbers. Norbert Leo Butz and Bobby Steggert are both strong and sell a lot of what wouldn’t work with lesser actors. Only a few of the songs are truly memorable, which is the show’s biggest weakness probably. I’d say it’s worth a rush ticket or a TDF/Tkts discount if you love the movie, are a big Broadway fan in general or really want to see a show and nothing else appeals to you.
Look at that, I reviewed this week’s ‘Big Bang Theory’ for Huff Post TV.
Over seven seasons, “Big Bang" has struck a delicate balance of keeping its characters lovable without making them too insufferable. Sheldon is the trickiest and can vary from week to week. If you’re not on board with Dr. Cooper, you’re likely not on board with the show. And hopefully you like him, because this episode sees him at his possibly most frustrating.
[Editor’s note: Roger Ebert filed this review for use at Ebertfest. It was not the last review he ever wrote—that would be his piece on “To the Wonder"—but it’s one of them.]
I don’t know if this is exactly unbiased, as seeing it with that crowd will definitely sway a viewer, but here’s an excerpt from James Hibberd’s instant reaction.
My TV-business side wondered this a few times: Is this show accessible enough to be a hit? When you have a joke referencing “the sweaty cosplay girls crowding around Stark Tower,” okay, that’s funny if you’ve seen the Iron Man films and you know what cosplay is. I suspect that’s 80 percent of EW readers. Yet I bet it’s a much, much lower percentage of ABC viewers. Love or hate The CW’s Arrow pilot, you could understand every line without knowing anything about DC Comics or clocking time on Reddit. But S.H.I.E.L.D. does have one aspect that’s sure to meet with ABC’s approval: Everybody in the cast is hot looking.
– Here’s the question: If you strip away all the hype and history. Forget The Avengers, ignore that it’s Marvel, and somehow delete from your brain this is Joss Whedon’s TV return … if you do all that and just watch this pilot as a regular TV show … it still works. You can still imagine it on the air — though perhaps on Fox, not Marvel’s corporate cousin ABC. There’s been a lot of shows that have tried to resurrect the 1980s-style broadcast primetime procedural action hour in recent years. This one could really pull it off.
Looking back on one of Scrubs’ finest half-hours, with help from two of the series’ producers.
When I went on a year-long hiatus from covering Scrubs for TV Club Classic, one of the common refrains in the—less than common—pleas for coverage to continue was that the reviews had stopped before the show reached its finest episode. Although it’s possible I’ll continue on beyond the show’s third season at some point in the future, I knew “My Screw Up” is one of the most beloved Scrubs episodes, and saw it as an opportunity to do something a little bit extra.
Hopefully, this half review/half oral history—made possible with the generous participation of both Bill Lawrence and Neil Goldman—lives up to the episode in question.
Gonna go listen to “Winter” on repeat.
Review: 'Pacific Rim'
"Alright, I’ll tell you, because it’s cool." Charlie Day’s character sums up all of ‘Pacific Rim’ so perfectly with just one line. The film looks stunning. The art direction, lighting, coloring, CGI, creature design, costume design and set design are all exemplary. The look of Guillermo del Toro’s latest is utterly unique and absolutely wondrous on a massive screen (and in 3D). The large and small scale battles are awesome, in the proper sense of the word, without weighing you down with grief and mass on-screen casualties. Additionally, the pacing of the script and the tone of the whole thing properly reinforce its set pieces and Del Toro and co-writer Travis Beacham thoroughly shade a deep universe and mythology.
If only a little bit more time had been paid to the human characters. The human element of the story, of the little guy standing up to the big guy, and people coming together (literally) to bring down an enormous foe is ultimately lost. Charlie Day and Ron Pearlman are delightful in their scenes together and deliver much needed levity, but their efforts end up not being enough. Similarly, Idris Elba delivers the gravitas and speaks the words that would accompany “canceling the apocalypse,” but it all falls short of feeling grounded. And then you have Charlie Hunman, who by some error in either writing, acting or both, is cardboard and can’t ring out a drop of empathy from the audience.
In one of the film’s more telling scenes, the breastplate is being removed off a Jaeger (giant robot) and the characters marvel at the “heart” underneath. To the audience, it looked more like a bunch a of glowing wires and mechanics. Like Day said, it’s cool — but not much beats at the center.
SPOILERY Stray thought: The film had the same exact ending as ‘The Avengers.’ Apparently the way to defeat violent aliens invading from another dimension is to hurl a nuclear bomb into the wormhole.
Review: ‘Monsters University’
My faith in Pixar has not been tested. I just want to get that out there first. Fourteen features in and many movie buffs are (justly) questioning the magic. I’ll be the first to tell you, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ deserved the Best Animated Feature Oscar over ‘Brave’ and that Pixar should be doing more original properties. But the studio is still operating at a level above so many of their contemporaries and ‘Monsters University’ is clear evidence of that.
After almost two decades, Pixar has not let go of the pursuit of a well-laid story. The story beats of ‘MU’ are wisely arranged and often times surprising. [SPOILERS HERE IN] Act one ends with Mike and Sully literally bombing their first semester final and getting booted from the scaring program. A lesser movie would have put their do-or-die final at the end of the film. Instead, that’s just the set up for a bigger, more interesting pursuit that then unfolds. Act two ends with a massive fake finale and a believable yet unexpected twist. As for act three … This is the part of the review where I bring up the obligatory “prequels are inherently unsurprising” idea. You already know how it’s going to end. But ‘MU’ isn’t interested in just telling the story that leads up to ‘Monsters Inc.’ They’re after the genesis of Mike and Sully’s friendship and how they became the “men” we know today.
Unfortunately though, they still have to draw the line to ‘Monsters Inc.’ and in doing so they appear to invalidate all of ‘Monsters University.’ So here’s what happpened. The climax of the film is wonderfully tense and emotional but Mike and Sully’s actions can end no where but in expulsion. It wouldn’t ring true if they had been accepted back into the scaring program after such a destructive, dangerous and highly illegal move. So they’re cast out and end up taking jobs in the mailroom at Monsters Inc. A montage then shows them rising through the ranks and eventually becoming the scarers we knew them as today. Wait, I thought this movie was about them learning to be scarers at college? Why did they even go to college if they could have just done it that way from the beginning? One can imagine this argument among the filmmakers in a Pixar back office somewhere. But if we look back on their year at college they did learn to become scarers and we are taught the valuable lesson that the path to your dreams is likely not what you thought it would be. Connecting the two films in this way actually cures the problem of prequels being unable to stand on their own.
Like the lesson of following the unexpected path, we learn that the path to your best companions is hardly a straight line. In a clever nod to our preexisting knowledgr of Mike and Sully’s friendship, on his first day, the small green cyclops stands infront of his dorm room door and says my future best friend is in there. But when he walks in, it’s Steve Buscemi’s disappearing lizard welcoming him to school, not John Goodman’s furry beast.
For all that ‘Monsters University’ (seemingly) borrows from ‘Animal House’ and ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ it is full of these flourishes. It sends up college lifestyle and how it’s representated in our culture while creating another fully realized alien world. Monsters Unversity not only looks real in its animated rendering but in its intangible presence.
The returning actors slip so easily back into these roles. Goodman again vanishes inside Sully, while Crystal is more distinguishable but fitting as ever. Welcome additions in the form of Josh Gad, Bobby Moynihan and Nathan Fillion only elevate the sharp universal humor. Moynihan in particular has an uncanny knack for stealing every moment he’s presented.
‘Monsters University’ has the distinct disadvantages of coming second in a series and being a prequel story. The novelty of the Monsters universe vanished with the first film, but they more than made up for it with a wealth of new and unexplored. The relationship building and emotions all land. But if nothing else ‘Monsters University’ is proof that there may be some surprises in a story you thought you already knew.
‘Kings of Summer’ was perfectly charming alternative summer fare, but damn if Moises Arias as Biaggio (center) didn’t run away with the whole movie. The similarities to Christopher Mintz Plasse’s McLovin are obvoius, but Arias creates a different kind of quirky outcast that feels deeper and more nuanced than McLovin could ever be. Much credit should be given to the casting and the writing of course, as many of the lines out of Biaggio’s mouth are hilarious, but the young actor brings a trademark, just-as-funny physicality. Easily one of my favorite film characters and performances of the year thus far. Pay attention to Moises Arias.
The movie is chock full of visual excitement, but very little else. When reading the book, whole lines of text can jump out for being poignant, meaningful, and beautifully written. At the end of the movie, lines literally jump out at you in 3D cheesiness. The book deserves the title The Great Gatsby because Fitzgerald didn’t have to beat anyone over the head with meaning or water-down his words with easy-to-understand replacements.