Category: Entertainment

Five Reasons You Should Be Watching ‘Community’

Few shows currently on television are as funny, intelligent and innovative as NBC’s Community. Week after week, creator Dan Harmon and his brilliant writing staff turn sitcom conventions upside down and toy with the very nature of television comedy. Whether crafting episodes that are an amalgamation of tribute to and spoof of classic cinema (“A Fistful of Paintballs,” “For a Few Paintballs More) or setting almost an entire episode in several alternate realities (“Remedial Chaos Theory”), Community is consistently entertaining and mentally stimulating.

The show follows a motley group of friends who attempt to navigate the strange world of Greendale Community College which is overseen by Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) whose implied sexual proclivities are both fascinating and disturbing. Former lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is the study group’s de facto leader since his magnetic charm is too strong for anyone to resist. Each week, the show either cleverly attacks a sitcom stereotype (“Cooperative Calligraphy”) or traces the absurdity of the college experience and what it means to be an adult.

However, much like another inventive show that was ahead of its time (Fox’s Arrested Development), Community is in severe danger of being cancelled. After a four-month hiatus, Community has returned to its Thursday night timeslot (up against CBS’ behemoth The Big Bang Theory) to finish Season Three, but NBC is yet to confirm whether or not the show will get a fourth season. If you aren’t already a loyal viewer, here are five reasons you should be watching Community each and every week.

5. Troy and Abed

Easily the biggest breakout stars of the series are Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) and Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi). These two unlikely best friends are usually the source of each episode’s biggest laughs. Troy is a former high school football star who ends up at Greendale because he broke his throwing arm right before leaving for college. Abed is, well…detached. He understands the world best through references to television and film and isn’t great at reading facial expressions.

Troy and Abed have inspired numerous additions to the pop culture lexicon, but the faux morning show they “host” at Greendale is one of the funniest running jokes on Community.

4. The Many Costumes of Dean Pelton

Even though he recently won an Academy Award for co-writing The Descendants, Jim Rash’s best work is on Community as the flamboyant and sexually adventurous Dean Pelton. Though it is always entertaining to watch Dean Pelton find a way to touch Jeff in every episode, it is his endless parade of ridiculous costumes that makes his character invaluable to the show.

3. Alison Brie as Annie Edison

What else needs to be said?

2. Season-Spanning Jokes

While most sitcoms are made up of self-contained, single episode jokes, Community has become known for setting up punch lines over multiple episodes or even multiple seasons. Here is just one example of how the writers are able to spread a single joke over an entire season. Watch the background carefully.

One of the show’s greatest supporting characters is Leonard (Richard Erdman), an elderly student at Greendale who is living the college life to its fullest. The recurring outburst of “Shut up, Leonard” followed by some insight into the senior citizen’s character is the highlight of any episode.

1. The Writers

Dan Harmon has amassed the most talented writing staff working in television today. Each episode contains hilarious jokes and brilliant dialogue with which no other show can compete. From the racist/sexist/ageist insults of millionaire businessman Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) to Shirley Bennett’s (Yvette Nicole Brown) caring Christian/slightly judgmental worldview, Community is the most reliably funny show since Arrested Development.

The writers are also wonderfully talented at creating “meta” episodes that either examine existing entertainment archetypes or the show itself. Websites created by fans take joy in dissecting the show’s endless references to pop culture and film as well as to past seasons or episodes. However, one of the series’ most crowning achievements is “Paradigms of Human Memory,” which is a flashback episode comprised of events that we’ve never seen before. According to the numerous alternate stories we see, at one time or another, the group was held captive by terrorists, committed to a mental asylum and trapped in a haunted house. If this one episode doesn’t make you a believer in Community, then nothing will.

Movies Every Guy Should See: ‘The Wrestler’ (2008)

In 2008, director Darren Aronofsky released only his fourth feature film, The Wrestler, to critical acclaim, earning his lead actor Mickey Rourke an Academy Award nomination and numerous year-end accolades from professional organizations. The film, which tells the story of washed up professional wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Rourke), was a surprisingly humble project from a filmmaker whose previous three films had each increased in size and scope. While Aronofsky’s films Pi (1998), Requiem for a Dream (2000) and The Fountain (2006) had each used a distinct visual style, The Wrestler was shot using hand-held cameras and natural light. This low-budget style allowed Aronofsky’s actors to be the film’s main focus, not dazzling cinematography or rapid speed editing.

The story of a man who has fallen from the heights of celebrity to the depths of obscurity contains many themes that connect with viewers on multiple levels. Randy was once the greatest, most beloved professional wrestler in the world, with fans lining up for hours just to get an autograph. But as his fans grew up and new generations became more interested in video games, his career plummeted, leaving him washed up, broken and wrestling in local gymnasiums for chump change.

The film is incredibly powerful for many reasons. The most obvious is the physically and emotionally raw performance from Rourke, a former Hollywood star who has more than a few things in common with Randy. Not only did he do most of his own stunt work (including having a dollar bill stapled to his forehead), he gave an incredibly vulnerable performance as a man who is desperate to connect with just one person, whether it is a fan, a stripper for whom he has feelings (Marisa Tomei) or his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). Rourke shows us that being a man is rarely about being tough or strong; most of the time it’s about doing right by those closest to you.

Few filmmakers working today are capable of creating the type of cinematic experiences which have made Darren Aronofsky one of the most inventive and interesting directors in modern cinema. Aronofsky consistently dissects high-minded, philosophical concepts through universally recognizable characters and stories which are accessible to every type of moviegoer. The Wrestler is not only a terrific film and a modern classic, it is also an excellent depiction of one man’s desperate attempts to escape overwhelming loneliness.

Dubstep on a Piano?

Movie Review: ’21 Jump Street’

In the past few years, we’ve seen an influx of movies based on old television shows, many of which have been awful. Even though Starsky & Hutch had an amazing cast (Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman) and a talented director (Todd Phillips), the movie fell flat with audiences who expected so much more. Get Smart suffered the same fate, despite starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. And did anyone even see The A-Team?

Now we have 21 Jump Street, based on the campy drama that ran from 1987-1991 and made Johnny Depp famous. The movie is not only hilarious, but deceptively intelligent. It works because the filmmakers acknowledge that a movie version of 21 Jump Street is an absurd idea. They even go so far as to have one character, Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman), admit, in reference to two grown men passing as high school students, that the “the guys who come up with this stuff have run out of ideas.” Brilliant.

In the movie, two less-than-capable rookie cops, Schmidt (Hill) and Renko (Tatum), are assigned to an undercover operation to infiltrate a high school drug ring. Even though they are yet to make an arrest, they are chosen for the assignment because they’re some young-looking, “Justin Beaver motherfuckers.” When they arrive at their new school, Schmidt and Renko, who pretend to be brothers, begin looking for the source of the new synthetic drug that has caused at least one death already. As they do, their fake high school experience draws them apart as they fall into drastically different social circles.

Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and screenwriter Michael Bacall have made 21 Jump Street exactly what it should be: a ridiculous, implausible movie for a ridiculous, implausible concept. Lord and Miller are having a blast just letting their incredibly talented cast run wild. Hill gives one of his funniest performances yet, while also showing some growth as an actor. Tatum is equally impressive, scoring some of the movie’s funniest lines while also creating a believable character with some depth.

The crux of the film, though, is the relationship (“bromance,” if you must) between Schmidt and Jenko. In high school, Schmidt was a dorky, Eminem wannabe and Jenko was the popular jock. Though they bond during the police academy (Schmidt helping Jenko study, Jenko helping Schmidt get in shape), their second go around at high school opens another chasm between them as Schmidt falls in with the popular kids and Jenko is befriended by the Chemistry nerds. The back and forth never feels forced and there are even some genuine moments of honest emotion.

Almost overshadowing the two leads are supporting cast members Rob Riggle and Dave Franco. Riggle plays Mr. Walters, the high school track coach who you know has crossed the line with many of his female students. Franco, always a great douchebag, plays Eric, the leader of the cool kids and an eco-friendly, green crusader. We also get a terrific performance from Ellie Kemper (The Office) as the sexually-charged teacher who throws herself at Jenko.

Bottom line: Go see 21 Jump Street. Then, go see it again to catch all the jokes you missed the first time because you were laughing so hard.

21 Jump Street

Rated: R

Run time: 109 minutes

Directed by: Phil Lord & Chris Miller

Written by: Michael Bacall, story by Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill, based on television series 21 Jump Street

Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Nick Offerman, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Ellie Kemper

Movies Every Guy Should See: “Unforgiven” (1992)

One of the greatest Westerns of all time and arguably Clint Eastwood’s best film as a director, Unforgiven is as powerful today as it was when it was first released 20 years ago. Part tribute to the genre which made Eastwood a movie star, part groundbreaking filmmaking, Unforgiven is both a masterfully made film and a superb depiction of responsibility, friendship and honor.

In the film, former hard-drinking gunfighter William Munny (Eastwood) is enlisted by the brash and cocky Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) to help collect reward money for killing a man who cut up the face of a prostitute named Delilah (Anna Levine). Munny gave up his gun slinging ways for his wife many years ago, but picks up his rifle one last time ostensibly because he believes Delilah deserves justice. As the audience, we know he just wants to feel like a man again having failed miserably as a pig farmer and being a poor provider for his two children.

The film features a plethora of fascinating characters, all of whom exacerbate the self-reflective nature of Unforgiven within the Western genre. Munny’s best friend and former partner-in-crime, Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), is just as domesticated as he is and willingly goes along with the plan. In the town of Big Whiskey, where the attack happened, sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) rules with an iron fist, not allowing any guns within the town’s limits. He himself is probably the film’s biggest hypocrite and least likeable character. We also get to know English Bob (Richard Harris), a notorious gunslinger who is accompanied by W. W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek) to write his biography. All of these characters, in one way or another, serve to highlight how Unforgiven operates outside the standard Western archetypes.

Eastwood’s film makes more than a few winks to his own work in the Western genre. His reputation precedes him everywhere he goes and his name is spoken over and over almost with reverence. This is in stark contrast to Eastwood’s most famous character, The Man With No Name from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns Fist Full of Dolars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  The film is also staunchly anti-violence, a sentiment rarely, if ever, addressed in classic Westerns.

Unforgiven is a movie every guy should see because of its amazing storytelling (thanks to an excellent script by David Webb Peoples), brilliant performances and wonderful contribution to the Western genre. Plus, the next time you watch Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (another movie every guy should see), you’ll appreciate the numerous nods Tarantino makes to Eastwood’s masterpiece.

Money Owed Molina

Is it ironic that the new St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is a former big league catcher, and that at this very moment the St. Louis Cardinals are in negotiations with four time Gold Glove Award winner and catcher Yadier Molina? It’s safe to say that maybe Matheny understands the value to a solid catcher, who on most teams is a leader in more ways than one. A good catcher not only blocks balls in the dirt, aligns the defense, settles the pitcher down, visits the mound to break tension, tells the hurler to step out throw over, throws runners out, communicates with the manager and more importantly, calls the game. Insert Yadi who does all of these things extremely well and swings the bat a little. Well, swinging the bat a “little” is no longer a fair assessment. Read more

Linglorious Mastered

The emergence of Jeremy Lin is just another classic case of the underdog surpassing the expectations of everyone that watched him and the NBA from afar. What many fail to realize, is those close to Jeremy, himself included always felt the expectations were not high enough for the Harvard grad.  Read more

‘This Means War’: Fun For Guys and Girls

Ah, the eternal battle of finding a movie that will appeal to men and women alike. They are few and far between to be sure, but occasionally Hollywood gets it right and releases something that can appeal to both sexes. Though most guys can be talked into watching Die Hard any day of the week, few women are going to sit through John McClane fighting European thieves and wisecracking about his estranged wife. On the flip side, can any guy honestly say he enjoys The Notebook?

This past week, This Means War opened in theaters and it is one of the rare films that both men and women will likely enjoy. Though the movie is filled with plenty of action (and one very bad ass car chase), it also features a decent romantic plot as well. Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) are CIA operatives and best friends who both fall for the same girl, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). What ensues is the greatest show of one-upmanship ever seen since the men have every toy in the government’s artillery at their disposal.

The bromance between Pine and Hardy is not only believable, but pretty damn funny. Hardy, this century’s Bruce Willis, has become one of the Hollywood’s biggest stars after appearing in Inception and Warrior (last year’s most underrated film). If nothing else, hope that your girlfriend or wife falls in love with Hardy which might convince her to go see The Dark Knight Rises when it comes out in July.

It’s also nice to see Witherspoon back doing a decent comedy and, let’s be honest, she’s not bad to look at. Plus, you’ve got Chelsea Handler really pushing the PG-13 rating as Witherspoon’s sexually frustrated married friend.

So, if you need something to see this weekend and can’t decide on anything, give This Means War a shot. It’s not the greatest movie ever made (not by a long shot), but maybe the minimal action sequences in this movie will prepare her to one day sit down and watch Die Hard from beginning to end.

Tim Tebow Has a Beer Named After Him?

Tebrew: The Sunday Sipper

Tim Tebow is a craze now, and he looks to be a sensation for some years to come. “Tebowing” is the new craze, and there’s even a website dedicated to it(www.tebowing.com). Well, now he has his own beer in Colorado.

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I Forgot How Hot Lindsey Vonn Is

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