Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Epic Roundup edition

So it appears I went a little overboard this week with the links; I was freaking out that I was behind schedule on this post and just started plugging away in compiling links. Next thing you know, the document was nine pages long. I guess I just kind of lost track of what I was doing. So while you wade through all the pop culture goodness I’ve cultivated for you over the last two weeks, I’m going to consider taking a nap after a job well done.

  • Chris Brown is facing possible jail time after an alleged hit and run incident. That’s kind of like getting Al Capone on tax evasion.
  • Don Draper’s childhood home is a real place (and for sale), though it was heavily CGIed for Mad Men. Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and scenes from Chinatown were filmed in the same neighborhood.
  • Get off the ledge – Robert Downey, Jr. is confirmed for Avengers 2 and Avengers 3.
  • Breaking Bad is the latest TV show to get its own beer. Anyone in Albuquerque want to send me some?
  • Um….am I the only one that finds it odd that they are using an Eminem song in the trailer for Despicable Me 2?

 

  • Starz has officially announced a new series Outlander, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. Not sure it is for me, but sounds interesting.
  • No shocker here – Dan Harmon finally watched the 4th season of Community and he wasn’t a fan.
  • Flavor Flav’s last chicken and ribs restaurant has closed. Fun fact – Flavor Flav is inexplicably one of my Twitter followers (Word up, Flavor FLAV!).
  • Stephen Colbert’s mother passed away last week. If you haven’t seen his touching tribute to her, it is a must watch. I bawled through the whole thing.

 

  • The national nightmare is over – Twinkies, Ho Hos and the rest of the Hostess cake family will return to shelves July 15. I’m guessing the people who dropped a ton of cash to stock up are feeling kind of foolish right now.
  • Someone (brave) got an Arrested Development inspired license plate:

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  • The Faceblock App from the new episodes of Arrested Development can now be downloaded.
  • Shark Week is coming in August – and if this promo is an indication, it’s going to be particularly twisted. RIP Snuffy.

 

  • CNN breaks down the accuracy of the recent Lifetime movie on Jodi Arias (which yes, I watched). Good job CNN – no worldwide crises you should be covering.
  • Nick Swisher and his actress wife Joanna Garcia have released the first picture of their baby daughter and she is just precious:

 

Welcome to the world, Emerson Jay!

Welcome to the world, Emerson Jay!

 

  • Finally! One of Taylor Swift’s (alleged) exes has (allegedly) written a song about her. Oh John Mayer – I knew you were the one that was douchey enough to do this and I love you for it.
  • Jon Stewart was on the Egyptian version of The Daily Show. It switches over to English about 2.5 minutes into the interview

 

I’m still reeling from the death of James Gandolfini and am touched with the various ways he has been honored:

  • The New York Yankees took a moment to observe his passing:

GTY 170957623 S BBA BBN BBO SPO USA NY

 

  • Holsten’s Ice Cream, the locale for the final scene of The Sopranos, saved a table in his honor:

obit-james-gandolfini

 

  • Sesame Street posted a clip of his 2002 appearance:

 

  • Gary David Goldberg, creator of Family Ties and Spin City, passed away. Michael J. Fox remembers him.
  • I’m regretting that I didn’t go to the Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival – it happened only a hop, skip and a jump away in North Adams, MA. I’m especially bummed I missed Wilco’s all cover set, but now I can listen to it online in its entirety.

 

  • Happy 50th birthday to Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou (George Michael to the uninitiated).  In honor of half a century, here’s one of my favorite songs:

 

  • A new poster has been released for the final season of Breaking Bad (did anyone else internally yell out Fame? Just me? Moving on….)

breaking bad poster

 

  • Men’s Wearhouse has fired their founder (and star of their commercials). I’m guessing they didn’t like the way he looks.
  • The Village Voice has an interview with my favorite member of The Roots, Questlove.
  • A Street Fighter parody – with cats. My Pumpkin would dominate in this.

 

  • Among the new Houseguest on this season of Big BrotherRachel’s sister (if you watched the show, you know what this means).
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was really exceptional last week – great guests and fun bits – but this Super Mario Brother’s rap is really fantastic:

 

  • Speaking of…this photo makes me deliriously happy:

Rob Stringer Honored As UJA-Federation Music Visionary Of 2013

 

  • The first episode of the Stephen King miniseries Under the Dome did very well for CBS. The rich get richer.
  • An infographic of Leonardo DiCaprio movies.

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  • The first trailer for the upcoming Lego movie has been released:

 

  • This screencap pretty much sums up the 90s:

colorbadd

 

  • Parks and Recreation will kick off its sixth season with an hour long episode that takes place outside Pawnee.
  • Disney has (thankfully) decided to change the name of the upcoming Muppets sequel from The Muppets…..Again! to Muppets Most Wanted.

 

  • Ridley Scott. Cormac McCarthy. Brad Pitt. Michael Fassbender. Penelope Cruz. Javier Bardem. Cameron Diaz. All associated with one movie – The Counselor

 

  • The actor in this character might look familiar – he was the awful Oliver on The O.C.

 

  • OK – I PROMISE this is the last Kanye-related thing this week. He made a terrible short film to promote his new album Yeezus that features fellow Kardashian baby daddy Scott Disick and Kim BFF Jonathan Cheban. They are not great actors, but this is kind of hilarious since Disick has always given off an American Psycho vibe. Glad to see he owns his sociopathic-ness.

 

  • This isn’t really pop culture related, but it’s far too crazy not to share (and it happened a few towns over from me).

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts

  • Here’s montage of famous movie actresses, edited to make their heads explode

 

  • Wonder what it would be like if John Lennon auditioned for The Voice? Wonder no longer

 

  • I’m still not tired of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky;” listen to it performed by President Obama:

 

  •  A supercut of all of Troy McClure’s credits on The Simpsons

 

  • Jon Snow gets an 80’s style training montage, as it should be:

 

  • This supercut seems to indicate that David Letterman is kind of obsessed with drums:

 

  • A supercut of zombie headshots

 

  • And finally – Hannibal’s open credits get an Arrested Development make-over:

 

Have a great week!

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone – A Review

When I was a kid, I went through a phase where I was fascinated by magic. I don’t know if a lot of kids find themselves drawn to magic at some point in their lives; I’m guessing it happens more often for boys than for girls, if for no other reason than I can’t think of any famous female magicians. David Copperfield specials were still a pretty routine thing to see on TV when I was growing up and while I knew that he didn’t actually make the Great Wall of China or the Statue of Liberty disappear, I was always intrigued with trying to figure out how the trick (or “illusion” so as not to anger Gob Bluth) was done.

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I even tried my hand at magic for a while. My parents bought me a Fisher Price magic set and I would put on shows when their friends came over to visit (folks who graciously endured what couldn’t have been much fun for them).  I occasionally talked my brother into being my assistant; I don’t remember if I gave myself a fancy magician name (probably something along the lines of “The Amazing Heather”), but I did remember the capes. I performed some magic for one of our elementary school talent shows, but no one was very impressed and my brief career in prestidigitation came to a quick and undistinguished end.

We probably don't have to tell my brother that I've posted this online.

We probably don’t have to tell my brother that I’ve posted this online.

This is to illustrate that I was firmly in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’s corner. With a likable and talented cast, a look into the world of Vegas magicians had a lot of promise. Unfortunately, there were just not enough laughs in this movie to make this film worth a trip to the theater. There were some sweet moments, but ultimately The Incredible Burt Wonderstone just isn’t magical.

Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) are childhood friends who have been headlining a Vegas magic show for years. Their show has grown stale, their friendship is frayed and their audiences are dwindling, though Burt’s oversized ego seems unable to comprehend this. The rising popularity of street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), who is in the mold of Mindfreak’s Criss Angel, makes Burt and Anton’s boss (James Gandolfini) think it might be time to move in a new direction.

Surprisingly, some of the problems with the movie stem from the casting. Steve Carell is very funny and brings a real vulnerability to a lot of his comedic roles, but it is a little hard to buy him and a womanizer that treats people so poorly. Carell is just too nice of a man for this jerky demeanor to fit him in any convincing way. Carell is a good actor, but he brings too much baggage from all of his other characters to the table for the first half of this movie to work. It is also a bit hard to accept Carell and Buscemi as former classmates; the actors’ appearances make their actual age difference appear greater than it really is. The real problem, however, is Carey; he looks good for his age, but he is far too old to be playing the role of the street magician who mutilates his body as his claim to fame. This is a role that should have gone to an actor in his twenties; it is hard to believe that a guy over fifty would perform this brand of magic. It simply wasn’t believable and distracted me every time that Carey was on stage.

None of this, however, would be enough to derail a better written movie. These are all talented performers that are underserved with the story and dialogue that they are asked to deliver. For a comedy, there are just too few laughs. Some of that is a result of jokes that just don’t work as written; there are instances where the writers clearly thought that a joke was going to kill and it just sort of lays there. But often there are long stretches where it isn’t as clear that any jokes were even attempted. A comedy doesn’t have to be wall-to-wall laughs, as there needs to be time to breathe for both the audience and the story, but The Incredible Burt Wonderstone allows these pauses from the hilarity to last so long that you kind of forget that this is supposed to be a comedy. Some of the better jokes in the film are also featured in the trailer, so they lose some of their effectiveness. The pacing is also a little herky-jerky and the film is tonally inconsistent; the writers conveniently change the characters to fit the jokes that they want to tell. Burt is a jerk, until he doesn’t need to be. Anton is smart, until there is a joke to be told about him being dumb.

Some other thoughts:

  • Other thing that I didn’t really understand – Burt and Anton have been doing this gig at the hotel for the last five or ten years, but their style is forever frozen in the early 80s. It seems to me that before they were hired for the job, someone would have forced them to update their look. Their dated appearance would have made more sense if they had been doing the show longer. Then again, who can explain Vegas?
  • There were other chronology issues with Olivia Wilde, Steve Carell and her grandmother Grace. I cannot for the life of me make the math work to make any of that plot point make any sense.
  • I did enjoy the actual magic portions of the movie. Carell may have a second career for himself.
  • Steve Miller must have made some serious cash from this film – they played his song “Abracadabra” quite a bit.
  • David Copperfield has a small cameo in the film. That dude’s biggest trick is his refusal to age – I swear he looks exactly the same from when I was a kid.
  • Burt Wonderstone gives the ladies that he spends the night with a memento, which made me think about this story about Derek Jeter.
  • I’m not a Jim Carrey fan, but he’s fairly tolerable in this role. There really isn’t much to his character – his sole purpose is to serve as a foil to Burt – but it plays to Carrey’s strengths (such as they are).
  • Steve Buscemi must have tremendous self-esteem since there are quite a few jokes in this film about how unappealing his appearance is. Poor guy.
  • Lots of good people are wasted in very small parts: Gillian Jacobs (Community), Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Sonya Eddy (Legit) and Jay Mohr all turn up for a scene or two.
  • John Francis Daley (Sam, Freaks and Geeks) has a blink-and-you-missed-it part in the film and is credited as the co-writer, which leads me to believe he should stick to acting.
  • I’m beginning to think that any film that has “Incredible” or “Amazing” in the title is trying to oversell themselves and is going to result in disappointment.
  • My faith in America is modesty restored; one of the previews before Burt Wonderstone was for The Big Wedding, an absolutely dreadful looking comedy starring Robert DeNiro, Susan Sarandon and Diane Keaton:

When the trailer ended, the audience audibly groaned. This is a good sign. And WTF to Katherine Heigl getting billing over Diane Keaton. What kind of world are we living in?

 

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a light, but ultimately harmless film. It has an interesting premise but doesn’t do much of anything with it. My goodwill toward most of the cast and a few nice moments kept the movie from being completely boring and bland, but there isn’t too much to recommend here. Definitely not worth your hard earned money to see it at the theater, but might be mildly amusing on cable. Steve Carrel and cast deserved something better.

 

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Snow Day edition

Well, it was too good to last. We finally got some significant snow here in Albany; up until this point we’ve just had a dusting or two, but we had several inches by the time I left for work this morning with more snow and sleet on the way. I am miserable. I live in the totally wrong part of the country as I hate winter. I could handle it being really cold, but once the precipitation starts to fall I am not a happy camper. If I didn’t love my friends and family so much – and wasn’t kind of lazy – I would have taken off for a warner climate long ago. Now I’ll just pout until I go to Florida in March.

While I’m sulking at my desk and watching the snow fly, enjoy your (slightly delayed) bi-weekly roundup of pop culture stories you may have missed.

  • It was a sad Christmas as we lost two actors – Jack Klugman (The Odd Couple, Quincy) and Charles Durning (a prolific character actor who was Doc Hopper in The Muppet Movie) both passed away. Rest in peace.
  • If you need a Star Trek crash course, here’s a chart of all the character names and roles.
  • As a Seinfeld devotee, I ate up this New York Times Magazine piece on Jerry.
  • Grantland has a conversation with Quentin Tarantino. If you missed my review of Django Unchained, that’s here.
  • Frank Ocean’s song didn’t make the Django Unchained soundtrack, so he released it on his own. Take a listen:

 

  • Last Django Unchained reference (promise!) – check out this mashup with Blazing Saddles

 

  • Someone dressed up their dogs to look like Walter White and Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. I wonder if my cat would tolerate that?

breakingbad-dogs

  • Perhaps the third time is the charm: Kate Winslet married Ned Rocknroll (Best.Name.Ever) earlier this month. I’ve always really liked her, so I hope this works out for her. Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio gave the bride away.
  • UGH! CBS has renewed How I Met Your Mother for a ninth season. I used to really like this show, but it has had a serious drop off in quality the last two seasons and I finally stopped watching it a few weeks ago. Damn you, Jason Segel, for not refusing to come back. It would have been a mercy killing.
  • Here’s the trailer for the new Gossling/Cooper movie that was filmed locally and got everyone in such a tizzy (not that I blame them).

 

  • Another story with a local twist – Brewery Ommegang has teamed with HBO to bring us a Game Of Thrones themed beer, Iron Throne. Ommegang is a brewery in Cooperstown, NY (home of the Baseball Hall of Fame) and is pretty close to Albany. I’ve sampled many of their beers and they are all tasty – I am partial to Three Philosopher – so I am definitely trying Iron Throne when it debuts in March. Might be reason enough to take a trip to the brewery for a tour.
  • Wheel of Fortune is getting a lot of attention for this decision. Watch your pronunciation people! It may cost you $4,000.

 

  • I’ve always been a fan of Legos, so I’m pretty psyched for this Back to Future inspired set. And as a side note, when are MLB and Lego going to get together for licensed baseball stadium sets. I would absolutely buy that.
  • The Walking Dead has been renewed for a 4th season, but show runner Glenn Mazzara is leaving the show over a difference of creative direction. That’s too bad, as I thought he fixed a lot of the problems that I had with the show in the second season. AMC is now getting a reputation as a network that doesn’t work well with creative types; there is a lot of turnover and prolonged disputes.
  • Arsenio Hall is back

 

  • Steve Carell and Jim Carrey play rival magicians in the new movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. I don’t see any way this movie will not be fantastic.

 

  • File this under terrible ideas – Vin Diesel (remember him?) may play Kojak.
  • A moment of silence for Nick Swisher, who has signed with a baseball team that is not the Yankees. Right field will not be the same without him. Perhaps I will now move my seat location.
  • For those of you that miss Community as much as I do, hopefully this video of Alison Brie and Danny Pudi freestyle rapping will tide you over until new episodes (allegedly) debut in February

 

  • The League (FX) and Psych (USA) have both been renewed for their 5th and 8th seasons, respectively.
  • Yeah, this isn’t at all creepy. Larry Hagman will appear posthumously on an episode of CBS’s reality show I Get That A Lot.
  • NBC will also host a mini Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip reunion when Bradley Whitford stops by Matthew Perry’s sitcom, Go On.
  • Michael J. Fox’s new show just got a lot more interesting; The Wire and Treme’s Wendell Pierce has joined the cast.
  • The Rock+ Mark Wahlberg+ Rebel Wilson = Heather’s all in. I want to see Pain and Gain NOW!

 

  • I don’t care your political leanings – this photo of President Obama playing with a staffer’s son is fantastic

Obama spiderman

  • Speaking of Spider-Man, the latest issue has fans all riled up. (Contains spoilers)
  • And finally, it was probably inevitable. Here’s The Hobbit/The Hunger Games mashup, The Hobbit Games.