director: Frank Sebastiano
starring: Artie Lange, Ralph Macchio, Cara Buono, Seymour Cassel
Shakespeare it ain’t, but fans of Howard Stern and Artie Lange alike will find plenty to appreciate about the latter’s crass, new comedy vehicle, Beer League. Written by SNL/Letterman writer Frank Sebastiano and comedian/Howard Stern sidekick Artie Lange, the movie centers around–guess what–a beer league softball team. If you’re unfamiliar with “beer leagues,” just add cases of beer to a few softball teams and you’ve got yourself a beer league. Simple in its’ utter genius. Said team is composed of a bunch of sloppy, drunk malcontents trying to hang onto the faded glory of their youth.
I’m not sure I should really try to analyze Beer League too much deeper, as that would be missing the point. It’s got laughs, beer, cursing and naked women, all in gratuitous amounts. That information alone should be enough to help make your decision on whether to view or not. It’s not gonna win any awards (just like this review), and the production budget looks to have been 20 bucks and a keg of beer, but it’s funny enough to be worth a watch for those who aren’t offended easily. I put about as much work into this review as they did into the movie. Or at least, as much as the appearance of the effort they made; I’m sure they worked hard. If you’re a Stern fan, Beer League is obviously a must-see, if only because you can join in on the ball-busting Artie gets on a daily basis during the show. So, there you go. Beer League.
Oh, and the Karate Kid is in it, albeit sans crane kicks and Mr. Miyagi. Disappointing, I know. This review will undoubtedly be revised or deleted altogether shortly, just because its quality is so overwhelming that every other post I’ve written on this site pales in comparison. So if you’re reading this, consider yourself one of the lucky few to have glimpsed this gem.
directors: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
starring: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, Abigail Breslin, Adam Arkin
While the movie-going masses spend their hard-earned cash going to see recycled dreck like Night at the Museum ($168M and counting), they’re missing out on something all the mega-budgets in Hollywood can’t buy: a great script that turned into a great, great film in the hands of some great writers, directors and actors. Little Miss Sunshine, written by Michael Arndt, is a dark comedy about a dysfunctional (that’s putting it mildly) family brought together by little Olive, the titular character they’re desperately trying to get to a beauty pageant in California.
Sunshine brought in around $60M at the box office, making it a successful independent film, but that number also means there are far too many people who haven’t seen it. I refuse to believe this kind of dark comedy isn’t to everyone’s taste, either; great filmmaking should be to everyone’s taste. Seemingly undiscovered gems like this movie deserve more than just critical acclaim; increased audience attention ($$$) assures great films like Little Miss Sunshine will keep getting made. And seeing movies like this makes up for having to sit through stinkers like The Longest Yard and the aforementioned Night at the Museum.
No, it’s not Joe Theismann this time around. Penthouse, long a bastion of hard-hitting, socially relevant journalism, published an interview with Bills running back Willis McGahee this week, featuring the final nail in the coffin that is his reputation and (hopefully) career with the Buffalo Bills.
First, the “highlights:”
McGahee also said he owes the Bills organization for taking a chance on him.
“I got a lotta love for Buffalo,” he said. “I thank God for the whole situation. I’m trying to make them proud. I’m trying to do some things here.”
Well, hey, maybe he isn’t such a bad guy after all.
When asked about the intensity of Bills fans, McGahee said, “A true Buffalo fan will tell a Bills player, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ But once that player performs it’s like, ‘I told y’all he was the best player.'”
I don’t know of too many Buffalo residents who regularly use the term, “y’all.”
All this comes on the heels of a Miami Herald report that McGahee is facing his third paternity suit in two years. He’s paying child support in two cases, and a third is pending. The three children were born between Jan. 2005 and Jan. 2006.
When asked about the possibility of an NFL team in Toronto, McGahee said, “That would be a good situation. Toronto is a beautiful place. But if they’re going to put a team there, they should just bring the Buffalo Bills to Toronto. Case closed.”
Strike Three, Willis. You’ve committed the Cardinal sin above all Cardinal sins for a Buffalo athlete: you don’t diss the city and get away with it. You’ve effectively become poisoned goods and turned the city’s fan base against you with one, simple sentence. Not surprising, as your interviews over the years have shown your intelligence quotient to be somewhere on the level of 4-year old child. Actually, that would be insulting to a 4-year old. Let’s compare your intelligence to that of a retarded cow.
Willis talks to the invisible gnome wizard that resides in his helmet
After a couple years of mediocre play studded with a few above-average performances, you seemed to slowly win favor with Bills fans this year by playing hurt and actually showing some semblance of an emotional connection with the result of each Sunday’s games. As the season came to a close, however, stories started popping up about your agent, Douche-of-the-Week runner-up Drew Rosenhaus, seeking a contract extension with a signing bonus somewhere in the $10M range and a yearly salary of around $5-8M.
Your stats for this year, Willis:
Those are bad numbers for a 3rd down back, you ass. And you want more money than Ladainian Tomlinson? For what, exactly? I know you’ve perfected your patented move of falling down at the first sign of contact on a run, and no one in the league does it better, but wait–what? That’s not a good thing?
I’m sick of your half-ass play, sick of your stupidity, sick of your agent, sick of your inability to take responsibility for your kids, and sick of your attitude. I’m no saint and not one to judge, but I don’t have a problem holding someone who makes millions of dollars off of fans who live and die with their team every Sunday to a higher standard. And that “higher standard” isn’t exactly on par with the Pope–all it takes to reach it is displaying a modicum of effort every Sunday while showing some respect for the city you play in (by simply keeping your mouth shut). Herculean tasks, I know.
Good riddance; the Bills can’t trade you fast enough for my taste. I’ll take a running back drafted in the 6th round with something to prove over an self-entitled jerk-off like you. Go enjoy your life in South Beach or wherever else it is you want to go (anywhere that has 24-hour nightclubs and high-class escort services), since you “can’t find anything to do” in Buffalo. I guess you’re right, Buffalo just ain’t the happenin’ place to be for someone with a 3rd grade reading level. Here’s hoping GM Marv Levy continues to build this team on the foundation of character and ships this guy outta here, bidding farewell to the last vestiges of former GM Tom Donahoe’s disastrous reign.
This Pearl Jam cover of The Who song, “Love Reign O’er Me,” was played 1/8/07 on Seattle radio station KISW, to be featured in the forthcoming Adam Sandler movie, Reign Over Me. Awesome. Click on the Play icon below to listen.
Check out the movie’s trailer here.
director: Paul McGuigan
starring: Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci
Further proof that Hollywood marketing execs have absolutely no idea what they’re doing, Lucky Number Slevin is a wildly enjoyable film that made next to nothing at the box office (~$22.5M). I attribute this to the trailers and ads put out for the movie, making Slevin seem like another run-of-the-mill action flick. Instead of focusing on the talent involved and the off-beat angle of the story, they chose instead to highlight gunfights and explosions. How original. I mean, look at the poster over on the left. That concept’s been done to death. “Just slap every single actor on the one-sheet and mega box office will ensue, right? We can’t miss!” [ad execs high-five each other and bump chests]
Well, that’s why I’m here. Stop watching that Sanford & Son rerun and get to the video store to pick Lucky Number Slevin up. It’s got just about everything you want in a movie: comedy, action, drama, great acting, great direction and a bit of the old sexy-time (“A-very nice!”). I’d never heard of director Paul McGuigan before this movie (a quick IMDB check yields a roster of seven movies I’ve never heard of and a forthcoming job directing the highly anticipated, ahem, film adaptation of The Equalizer), but he did an outstanding job. As I’ve said in the past reviews, I have a very hard time writing about direction in concrete terms, other than to say “you know it when you see it.” Well, I saw it and I know it and I like it.
When did Josh Hartnett become a great actor? He more than held his own with the likes of Freeman, Kingsley and Willis, and was a pleasant surprise that made the movie all the more enjoyable. His quirky portrayal of Slevin has a high degree of subtlety, and despite some plainly slapstick moments for the character, Hartnett deftly handles the job of creating a fully-realized character. Does that last sentence sound as pretentious as it does to me? Anyway… As you’d expect, all of the aforementioned actors, in addition to Lucy Liu and Stanley Tucci, are fantastic. As good as the script is (it’s not great), they all take it to another level. Slevin, in terms of its story, becomes predictable at a certain point early on, but the talent involved is such that the story almost becomes secondary to simply enjoying the ride. With lesser actors involved, Slevin would probably rate a C or lower in my book.
I realize I’ve gotten to the end of the review and haven’t really told you what the film’s about. What, my high praise isn’t enough for you to just see it on good faith? How dare you. Lucky Number Slevin’s about a case of mistaken identity that leads to a rapidly-escalating series of events resulting in sex, gunshots, death, revenge and a bit of the old Kansas City Shuffle (which would also be a wholly appropriate title for the film, as you’ll find out). … Alright, maybe I was being too hard on those Hollywood ad execs. “Just see the movie, dammit.” Put that on the poster.
This is just about the coolest thing ever. Think about the larger ramifications and applications of this technology down the road.